The Nashville Shooter’s Arsenal Makes a Mockery of US Gun Laws

Motherboard (Vice) - Wed, 03/29/2023 - 07:34

When a 28-year-old former student attacked a church-affiliated school in Nashville on Monday, they packed a small arsenal. Police described the weapons as two “assault-style rifles,” a 9mm handgun, and “significant ammunition”—enough firepower to blast through the building’s front doors, then kill three children and three staff members in a matter of minutes.

Unlike the massacre in Uvalde, Texas, where responding officers, terrified of the gunman’s AR-style rifle, cowered in a hallway as the rampage continued, police in Nashville acted quickly and decisively to storm the school and take out the heavily-armed shooter. Nashville’s police chief said Tuesday that the shooter had purchased all of the weapons legally, and in the aftermath of yet another senseless school killing spree, President Joe Biden renewed his call for Congress to pass an assault weapons ban and do more to stop gun violence.

“It's ripping our communities apart,” Biden said. “It’s ripping at the very soul of the nation.”

But less than 48 hours after the tragedy, the prospects already look bleak for an assault weapons ban or any other new gun control measures passing Congress and reaching Biden’s desk. Republican leaders are unwilling to budge and the debate over exactly what types of guns and accessories ought to be restricted obscures a grim reality. No matter what happens— including a federal ban on assault weapons—it will still be easy for Americans to acquire firearms capable of inflicting mass casualties.

Nashville police have not yet said exactly what the make and caliber of guns were used in the attack, or which of the weapons were used to kill the victims. But experts who reviewed photos and video footage posted online by the department told VICE News that the firearms are both extremely common and difficult to regulate, with one type already targeted by the Biden administration in an ongoing and controversial federal crackdown.

The Nashville shooter carried an AR-style pistol, a more compact version of the common assault rifle. It was equipped with an accessory called a “stabilizing brace,” which enables firing from the shoulder (like a rifle) or for the gun to be strapped to the shooter’s forearm. Under new regulations announced in January by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF), such weapons are now considered “short-barreled rifles,” which require federal registration to own because they have long been considered dangerously concealable.

The Biden administration’s restriction on stabilizing braces faces at least seven separate legal challenges from pro-gun organizations and conservative states, and Republicans in Congress are pushing for a repeal. The House Judiciary Committee canceled a hearing scheduled Tuesday on the issue, with Chairman Jim Jordan reportedly accusing Democrats of trying to “politicize the tragedy” to focus on pistol braces, which were also used in previous mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and Boulder, Colorado

The ATF estimates that Americans own more than 3 million stabilizing braces, and they remain easy to acquire. After VICE News reported last week on third-party Amazon sellers selling pistol braces disguised as bike handlebars and other parts, the company removed more than two dozen listings and vowed to purge other similar items for violating site policies. Google, Facebook, and Etsy have also struggled to stop similar prohibited sales in the past. 

Proponents of the braces argue they allow disabled people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to safely aim and fire a gun to enjoy target practice. The inventor testified before Congress last week, saying he created his product for military veterans and that Biden’s ban outlaws a “widely adopted safety feature that will arguably make the sport of pistol shooting less safe.”

But according to Nick Suplina, senior vice president of law and policy and Everytown for Gun Safety, which advocates for gun control, the stabilizing braces also enable shooters to have more precise aim and control over a powerful gun small enough to be tucked away in a backpack or hidden under a jacket.

“This just further shows that this isn't about disabled veterans shooting heavy pistols,” Suplina said. “This is an accessory that helps make firearms more dangerous.”

The Nashville shooter’s primary weapon appeared to be a Keltec Sub2000, a type of rifle known as a pistol-caliber carbine because it fires the same type of bullets as a 9mm or .40 caliber handgun. It has a stock that collapses down to make it compact and concealable, and this one was equipped with a sling to be carried over the shoulder. In video footage, the shooter could be seen wearing a tactical vest and stalking the school’s hallways with the rifle at the ready.

“These are weapons that are meant to be used offensively,” Suplina said. “That's why we're seeing mass shooters use them, and to really deadly effect even when we have a really efficient police response, even when there are armed guards and other presences, it doesn't matter because you can inflict so much damage so quickly.”

But the Keltec Sub2000 has also been one of the best-selling semi-automatic rifles in the U.S. for years, with one 2016 industry roundup describing it as “a less pricey alternative to the popular (and controversial) AR-15.” It remains a popular product according to Mike Cargill, owner of Austin’s Central Texas Gun Works, who told VICE News the Keltec Sub2000 is lighter and thinner than the typical AR-style rifle.

“You can fold it down into a smaller version to carry it around or put it into something,” Cargill said. “It’s mainly for people that go backpacking and want to have a rifle they can shoot with two arms rather than have a handgun. They can stick in a backpack to go hunting or hiking.”

Cargill, who teaches gun safety and private security classes, said the Nashville shooter appeared to be mimicking room-clearing tactics used by police and military special operations, but without any of the training.

“It kinda reminds me of a group of people getting together and pretending to be anime characters and things of that nature,”  Cargill said. “It’s someone thinking they’re in ‘Call of Duty’ or something like that.” 

Nashville’s police chief told reporters they are investigating the motive and background of Audrey Elizabeth Hale, who left behind a manifesto detailing plans for the attack. Hale bought at least seven firearms from five different local gun stores in Nashville. When police searched Hale’s home, they found “a sawed-off shotgun, a second shotgun, and other evidence.”

Chief John Drake described Hale as being “under a doctor's care for an emotional disorder,” and said Hale’s parents were only aware of one firearm purchase and thought Hale had gotten rid of the gun. Hale’s parents thought their child should not own weapons and were under the impression there were no more weapons in the house, he added.  

“As it turned out, [Hale] had been hiding several weapons within the house,” Drake said. 

Tennessee does not have a red flag law that would’ve enabled authorities to confiscate Hale’s weapons, but Drake said police would have attempted to intervene had they received a report that Hale was planning an attack or suicide.

“And as we've seen too many times over the years, any gun can kill a child”

In more than three-quarters of the mass shootings that occurred from 1966 to 2019, the perpetrators legally purchased at least one of their weapons, according to data from the National Institute of Justice. After the Nashville attack this week, Tennessee’s Republican Rep. Tim Burchett said, according to Axios, that the laws are fine and that Congress doesn’t need to act: "We're not going to fix it, criminals are going to be criminals."

Rob Pincus, executive vice president of the pro-gun Second Amendment Organization, is among those who feel the debate over banning specific firearms and devices like the stabilizing brace should be refocused on stopping shooters before they act.

“The underlying problem is people are trying to kill people,” Pincus said. “We may never be able to even pretend that we will stop all spree killings involving firearms or otherwise. The important thing is that we do what we can to reduce the number, and that means proactive intervention. At the end of the day, it's family members, friends, community members and individual gun owners who are watching the behavior of the other people in their world.”

But on the other side of the equation, gun control advocates look at the Nashville attack and see weapons that were used in exactly the way that lawmakers feared when they enacted bans and restrictions like the tightening of rules on stabilizing braces. 

David Pucino, deputy chief counsel at Giffords Law Center, told VICE News an assault weapons ban like the one that Biden called for this week could have prevented the shooter from obtaining two of the three weapons used in the attack, with the exception of the 9mm pistol.

“We're talking about weapons of different destructive capacities, but at the end of the day, a gun is a gun,” Pucino said. “And as we've seen too many times over the years, any gun can kill a child.”

Follow Keegan Hamilton on Twitter.

Categories: Tech News

EU mandated messaging platform love-in is easier said than done: Cambridge boffins

The Register - Wed, 03/29/2023 - 07:28
Digital Market Act interoperability requirement a social challenge as well as a technical one

By March 2024, instant messaging and real-time media apps operated by large tech platforms in Europe will be required to communicate with other services, per the EU's Digital Markets Act (DMA).…

Categories: Tech News

Scientists: Stonehenge Is Not a Calendar, It's Something More Mysterious

Motherboard (Vice) - Wed, 03/29/2023 - 07:11

The rock formation of Stonehenge is a familiar site to many, though its purpose to ancient humans is unknown. Last year, a scientist proposed that the iconic monument was used to represent a calendar year. However, a new article published last week in Antiquity claims to debunk this theory, putting Stonehenge back in the realm of mystery.

According to the authors of the article—Giulio Magli from Politecnico di Milano in Italy and Juan Antonio Belmonte from Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias and Universidad de La Laguna in Spain—“this proposal is unsubstantiated, being based as it is on a combination of forced interpretations, numerology and unsupported analogies.”

The “Stonehenge calendar” model argues that some of the monument’s stones represent a calendar based on a 365-day year divided into 12 months of 30 days each, including five “epagomenal days” with the addition of the leap year every four years. 

As the authors argue, there are three lines of faulty reasoning here. They first point out that the theory relies on numerology, which they define as a “pseudo-scientific form of reasoning that seeks hidden but meaningful relationships between numbers and concept.” They argue that the number 12 is “not recognisable in any specific feature of the monument,” and that the interpretation is likely prey to the selection effect in that the researchers focus on information relevant to what they want to be true. 

In terms of astronomy, the authors acknowledge that the solstice alignment is quite accurate. However, they note that “the slow movement of the sun at the horizon during these days therefore makes it impossible to control the correct working of the calendar.” They also emphasize that the idea of a “Stonehenge calendar” is based on cultural astronomical analogies––comparing the proposed Stonehenge calendar to Egyptian calendars. They claim this is a faulty analogy.

“Such monuments have not been found in Egypt, the supposed source of inspiration for the practice, and here is not a single piece of evidence to support the claim of an independent development in third-millennium BC Britain,” they write. 

The authors emphasized the importance of well-trained researchers working on such projects. 

“We believe that matters such as ancient calendars, astronomical alignments and cultural astronomy should be reserved to specialists, trained in the subject, and not left to researchers from other disciplines, however renowned and knowledgeable in their own fields,” they write. “Multidisciplinarity and collaboration offer the most effective way forward.”

The author of the study that the researchers were commenting on, Timothy Darvill from Bournemouth University, did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication. Magli and Belmonte also did not respond.

While Stonehenge’s purpose is still a mystery, other research suggests it could have functioned as a ceremonial landscape  to honor dead ancestors. 

Categories: Tech News

Scientists speak their brains: Please don’t call us boffins

The Register - Wed, 03/29/2023 - 07:09
Quirky Brit idiom, or confusing and gendered term that could deter people from studying the field?

The UK’s Institute of Physics (IOP) is calling on the popular press to ditch the term “boffin” when referring to scientists.…

Categories: Tech News

Ted Cruz’s 2016 Campaign Crew Is Backing DeSantis Over Trump

Motherboard (Vice) - Wed, 03/29/2023 - 06:46

As Donald Trump prepared to take the stage to accept the Republican nomination at the 2016 Republican National Convention, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s team fought until the bitter end to block him.

Now, many of those same people are gearing up for another attempt at stopping the former president from winning the White House.

Jeff Roe, Cruz’s 2016 campaign manager and one of the GOP’s savviest operators, has signed on to run Never Back Down, a super PAC created to back Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ bid to defeat Trump for the 2024 GOP nomination.

And he’s brought on many top Cruz alumni. The Never Back Down team includes David Polyansky, Cruz’s 2016 Iowa caucus guru and former chief of staff; Chris Wilson, a top Cruz pollster, will run polling and analytics for the group, which was founded by former Virginia Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who was a top Cruz surrogate in 2016.

The news of their joining the organization comes shortly after Texas Rep. Chip Roy, Cruz’s first Senate chief of staff and a close ally, became the first member of Congress to publicly endorse DeSantis for president earlier this month.

“Talent seeks talent,” Roy told VICE News on Tuesday. “I don’t think it should surprise anybody that people that worked hard and were aligned to getting Senator Ted Cruz elected to the Senate or to make a really strong run at the White House would be similarly aligned with a guy like Ron DeSantis: [He’s] smart, conservative, principled, stands up for what he believes in.”

Other influential Cruz 2016 backers appear likely to support DeSantis this time around, too.

Adam Laxalt—DeSantis’ closest friend in politics, his former roommate, and former Nevada Republican attorney general, was a Cruz supporter in 2016—has appeared at private DeSantis events this year after DeSantis helped with his unsuccessful 2022 Senate campaign.

Cruz was the last man standing besides Trump in the ugly 2016 GOP primary, and won some of the few state-level victories anyone scored against Trump that year. He came in first in Iowa’s caucuses, carried three states on Super Tuesday a month later, and picked off wins in four caucus states after that—largely because Roe, Polyansky and the rest of his team out-organized Trump with superior ground game operations in those states. Cruz’s April win in Wisconsin was Trump’s final primary loss.

Facing impossible odds, a group of anti-Trump Republicans composed mostly of Cruz backers nonetheless tried to block Trump’s nomination on the floor of 2016 Republican National Convention that summer.

Utah Sen. Mike Lee, one of Cruz’s top 2016 surrogates, helped Cuccinelli lead that floor fight against Trump’s nomination. Days later, Cruz was booed off the stage when he told delegates to “vote your conscience.”

While he hasn’t endorsed for 2024, Lee attended a recent DeSantis fundraising retreat in Florida. When VICE News asked him to comment for this story, Lee declined to talk on the record.

Cruz hasn’t said who he’ll back in 2024, though he’s stressed that he thinks a competitive primary is a good thing. A Cruz spokesman declined to comment for this story.

Most of those working at the new super PAC have worked with Roe previously.

But they and the others who backed Cruz and are now embracing DeSantis hail from the right wing of the GOP, and their reservations about Trump mostly stemmed from his caustic, selfish personality and lack of ideological grounding. They don’t disagree with Trumpism—it’s Trump himself they take issue with.

Most of them fell in line while Trump was president, though. Cruz himself finally bent to donor pressure and endorsed Trump late in the 2016 primary, and became a loud Trump cheerleader throughout his presidency, right up through his vote to reject President-elect Joe Biden’s victory on Jan. 6, 2021. Cuccinelli went on to serve various appointments under Trump in the Department of Homeland Security. Laxalt chaired Trump’s 2020 campaign in Nevada and pushed conspiracy theories to overturn his loss there. Lee also sought to help Trump overturn his 2020 election loss.

But that doesn’t mean Trump was ever their favorite. Many were frustrated that his selfish insistence on making everything in GOP politics about the lie that the election was stolen from him hurt them badly in the 2022 midterms—and they worry he’ll cost the GOP the White House in 2024, too.

And they see a vibrant new option that doesn’t have Trump’s baggage.

“It's time for a new generation. I’m sick of the Baby Boomers. They've been around for a while and it's time for something different,” Roy said, before touting DeSantis’ landslide victory in 2022.

Alice Stewart worked on the Cruz campaign, and said that rational Republicans “want to see a candidate that espouses the policies of Donald Trump that isn’t the dumpster fire of Donald Trump.”

Stewart said she’d talked to some of DeSantis’ recent hires and had heard them repeat the phrase “the image befitting the president” in describing why they’d embraced him over Trump.

“DeSantis represents the image they want to get behind,” she told VICE News. “They see him as a winning personality not just for the primary but the general election.”

Trump lashed out when he heard the news that Roe was joining DeSantis.

“Ron DeSanctimonious’ Political Consultants are failing to rescue his sinking ship,” he posted on his social media platform Truth Social last Thursday. “He can’t move without them, it takes him forever to make a decision, and they’re charging him and his Globalist Donors a fortune.”

Not everyone from Cruzworld is jumping to DeSantis. Jason Miller, Cruz’s 2016 campaign spokesman, famously jumped to Trump in the general election and has never looked back—he’s a top staffer on Trump’s 2024 campaign. And Cruz’s former Senate chief of staff, Paul Teller, is now working for former Vice President Mike Pence’s pre-campaign operation after working for Pence in the Trump administration.

And as Never Back Down’s team stressed, they’re not all Cruz alumni either. 

“Look around the HQ and it’s full of people from every campaign. Just the best in each area,” one former Cruz staffer who’s involved in the DeSantis super PAC texted VICE News.

Matt Wolking, who’s on Never Back Down’s communications team, was a 2020 Trump campaign spokesman, and worked with Roe to help elect Virginia Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin in 2021, and worked for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in 2016. Phil Cox, who has been helping DeSantis’ political efforts, worked for former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s super PAC in the 2016 primary.

Never Back Down spokeswoman Errin Perrine worked for Cruz’s Senate office—but only after serving as Trump’s 2020 campaign communications director.

Chris Jankowski, the organization’s executive director, spent most of the last decade running the Republican State Leadership Committee, which focuses on state legislative races. He also helped the Judicial Crisis Network’s advocacy work to help Trump’s first two Supreme Court picks, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, win Senate confirmation.

“Just as Gov. DeSantis built a diverse coalition to win a landslide re-election in 2022, this is a team that brings together diverse campaign, political, grassroots, and Hill experience. The way you win is by bringing the best players available to your team, and that is exactly what Never Back Down is doing,” Jankowski told VICE News in a statement. “2024 is not 2016 – it’s a new day in the Republican Party.”

But it’s clear that many of the conservatives who embraced Cruz over Trump eight years ago because they didn’t trust his conservatism and disliked his personality in 2016 are ready for a rematch.

Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here. 

Categories: Tech News

California wants to build more solar farms but needs more power lines

ARS Technica - Wed, 03/29/2023 - 06:26
solar farm in California

Enlarge / Westlands Solar Park, near the town of Lemoore in the San Joaquin Valley of California, is the largest solar power plant in the United States and could become one of the largest in the world. (credit: Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times via Getty)

California’s San Joaquin Valley, a strip of land between the Diablo Range and the Sierra Nevada, accounts for a significant portion of the state’s crop production and agricultural revenues. But with the state facing uncertain and uneven water supply due to climate change, some local governments and clean energy advocates hope solar energy installations could provide economic reliability where agriculture falters due to possible water shortages.

In the next two decades, the Valley could accommodate the majority of the state’s estimated buildout of solar energy under a state plan forecasting transmission needs [PDF], adding enough capacity to power 10 million homes as California strives to reach 100 percent clean electricity by 2045. The influx of solar development would come at a time when the historically agriculture-rich valley is coping with new restrictions on groundwater pumping. Growers may need to fallow land. And some clean energy boosters see solar as an ideal alternative land use.

But a significant technological hurdle stands in the way: California needs to plan and build more long-distance power lines to carry all the electricity produced there to different parts of the state, and development can take nearly a decade. Transmission has become a significant tension point for clean energy developers across the US, as the number of project proposals balloons and lines to connect to the grid grow ever longer.

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Categories: Tech News

10-Year-Old Boy Killed By His Own Family in a Human Sacrifice Ritual

Motherboard (Vice) - Wed, 03/29/2023 - 06:22

Police in India have arrested three men in connection with a murdered 10-year-old boy, who they believe was “sacrificed” in a black magic ritual. Two of the arrested men are related to the boy.

On March 26, police found the body of Vivek Verma in the fields in Bahraich city in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Police inquiries led to the victim’s cousin, Anoop Verma. Police said Anoop has a 2.5-year-old son who is regularly sick, adding that when medical treatment didn’t work, he went to a local black magic practitioner who suggested a child be sacrificed to improve his health.

Prashant Verma, the Superintendent of Police of Bahraich, told media at a press conference that they’ve arrested Anoop, the black magic practitioner and a relative called Chintaram who allegedly used a spade to kill Vivek. A murder case has been registered against all three.

There is no centralised law that directly addresses superstition and ritualistic human sacrifices in India, but each state has its own regulations.

India’s National Crime Records Bureau recorded 103 ritualistic sacrifices between 2014 and 2021. Most were sacrificed with the belief that it’ll bring prosperity, fertility or healing.

“These numbers are vastly undercounted,” Sanal Edamaruku, an Indian anti-superstition activist and the founder of Rationalist International, told VICE World News. “I believe the real number could be 10 or even 20 times more than this.” It’s also common for the victims to be family members of the accused, he added.

Edamaruku has been campaigning against human sacrifices for years and links superstitious practices to missing children data, with the official number of untraced kids in India estimated at over 100,000. Edamaruku says that many children are found with their organs missing, which point to superstitious rituals.

“In India, there’s a big hesitance to link these crimes to superstitious beliefs,” he said. “It closely ties into religion and traditional values.”

Superstitious beliefs are deeply entrenched in many areas of Indian culture, and eradicating this influence has proved difficult. In 2015, news outlets reported allegations that one political party’s members performed black magic at a head office before it was to be occupied by members of an opposition party.

In 2021, a couple was arrested for “sacrificing” their daughters after bludgeoning them with dumbbells as part of an occult ritual. Last year, police in the southern Indian state of Kerala, a relatively progressive state nationally in terms of literacy and employment, arrested three people for allegedly torturing and “sacrificing” two women, cooking them and eating them as part of a black magic ritual.

In 2013, a prominent anti-superstition activist Narendra Dabholkar was shot dead because of his work, which included campaigning against human sacrifices.

Edamaruku says that law enforcement authorities need to watch out for such incidents “the way they watch out for terrorism.”

“This isn’t about faith,” he said. “This is a crime, and a dangerous one. People need to be made aware of this and our authorities need to detach ‘faith’ from such violations of law and order.”

Follow Pallavi Pundir on Twitter.

Categories: Tech News

ChatGPT Can Replace the Underpaid Workers Who Train AI, Researchers Say

Motherboard (Vice) - Wed, 03/29/2023 - 06:00

It's an open secret that AI isn't very artificial or intelligent on its own. Machine-learning systems typically depend on low-paid crowdworkers for training and fine-tuning. Now, according to researchers, AI is poised to take their jobs.

In a new paper, political science researchers from the University of Zurich found that ChatGPT could outperform crowd-workers who perform text annotation tasks—that is, labeling text to be used in training an AI system. They found that ChatGPT could label text with more accuracy and consistency than human annotators that they found on Mechanical Turk, an Amazon-owned crowdsourcing platform, as well as trained annotators such as research assistants.

The researchers tasked ChatGPT with a sample of 2,382 tweets and asked it to classify the text by its relevance, topic, stance, problem or solution framing, and policy framing. The researchers concluded that, by using ChatGPT, they were able to have higher accuracy and intercoder agreement, which means the percentage of tweets that were assigned the same label by two different ChatGPT runs. Perhaps most importantly, they found that they could save money by using ChatGPT—using AI was twenty times cheaper than paying humans on Mechanical Turk, who already make as little as 5 cents per annotation.

This study adds to the larger conversation around how jobs will be impacted by rapidly advancing AI language models, such as OpenAI’s GPT series. Researchers from OpenAI argued in a recent paper that 80 percent of the U.S. workforce could have at least 10 percent of their tasks affected by the introduction of GPTsr. However, automating human annotators is especially grim because this was already a precarious population of workers—an outsourced labor force that performed rote tasks for Big Tech companies for pennies.

While large companies like Google and Microsoft have been boasting about their technological progress and speed in the AI sector, the reality is that all of their AI models rely on tedious, low-paid human labor.

Tech companies use tens of thousands of workers to manually label and filter content from AI models’ datasets. This is because  AI is often not yet able to recognize the nuances of an image, especially when it is still being trained. Time Magazine reported in January that OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT, paid Kenyan workers less than $2 an hour to make its chatbot safer to use. The workers were regularly faced with traumatic, NSFW content, including graphic text about child sexual abuse, bestiality, murder, suicide, and torture.

Even once AI models are deployed, they rely on human-user interaction to fine-tune and identify the shortcomings of the models.

Replacing crowdworkers who train AI with AI itself not only fails to address the terrible conditions that workers have already been exposed to, but also takes away work that provides livelihood for many people. Krystal Kauffman has been a  Turker (as MTurk workers refer to themselves) for the last seven years and currently helps lead Turkopticon, a non-profit that advocates for Turkers’ rights. She told Motherboard that the organization’s Turkers don’t trust that ChatGPT’s abilities can replace theirs.

“The first thing we noted is that ChatGPT is constantly learning and changing. If the data was run on GPT-4, would the same results come up? Would the results be different in one year after countless additions to the data set? What sources train the models? In addition, we noted that the study was run earlier this month which demonstrates a lack of peer review,” Kauffman told Motherboard, on behalf of Turkopticon. “ChatGPT generates text but a human still has to read it to decide if it is GOOD text. (i.e. doesn't contain violence or racism.)"

"Writing is about judgment, not just generating words," she added. "Currently and for the foreseeable future, people like Turkers will be needed to perform the judgment work. There are too many unanswered questions at this point for us to feel confident in the abilities of ChatGPT over human annotators.”

The researchers agreed that it is too early to tell the extent to which ChatGPT can actually replace a human workforce. “Our paper demonstrates ChatGPT’s potential for data annotation tasks, but more research is needed to fully understand ChatGPT’s capacities in this area. For example, our tests used tweets in English and were performed on a relatively limited number of tasks. It will be important to extend the analysis to more kinds of tasks, types of data, and languages,” paper co-author Fabrizio Gilardi told Motherboard in an email.

The GPT models have already been proven to be unreliable in many cases. Microsoft researchers released a paper in which they listed the number of limitations of the GPT-4 model, including that it makes up facts that it hasn’t been trained with, has trouble knowing if its guessing or confident, can’t verify if content is consistent with training data, and is very sensitive to the framing and wording of prompts. (Despite this, they claimed it showed "sparks" of general intelligence).

“We see two reasons why ChatGPT performed well in our tests, despite its tendency to hallucinate. First, our tasks do not involve the generation of detailed text, but of short, very specific answers. These answers may well be wrong, but are not made up in the same way hallucinations are,” Gilardi said. “Second, we are not interested in one single output for each prompt; instead, we aggregate a large number of answers. ChatGPT does make mistakes, but on average it tends to provide accurate responses in our test.”

The paper states that the accuracy of the annotations was measured based on the trained human annotators, highlighting that the tasks are still reliant on human benchmarks and oversight. The solution then shouldn’t be to relegate all tasks to ChatGPT, but to see how it can be used as part of an overall process that still involves human supervision and interaction.

“We need to think seriously about the human labor in the loop driving AI. This workforce deserves training, support and compensation for being at-the-ready and willing to do an important job that many might find tedious or too demanding,” Mary L. Gray and Siddharth Suri, authors of the book Ghost Work: How to Stop Silicon Valley from Building a New Global Underclass, wrote in a 2017 article for the Harvard Business Review. Gray and Suri recommended a number of steps that included providing workers with education opportunities that allow them to contribute to AI models beyond labeling, and to improve their conditions and wages.

Categories: Tech News

Micron writes off $1.43B in inventory as sales dive, claims only way is up

The Register - Wed, 03/29/2023 - 05:38
AIs are going to need memory and storage silicon, you know

Micron has had another bad quarter – one of its largest quarterly losses ever – with revenues plunging and predictions of further workforce reductions, but claims its performance was in line with expectations, saying it expects to see a return to growth in the near future.…

Categories: Tech News

Germany sours on Microsoft again, launches antitrust review

The Register - Wed, 03/29/2023 - 04:37
Welcome to the club, says Google, Meta, and Amazon

Microsoft is the latest US tech giant under investigation by Germany's competition watchdog.…

Categories: Tech News

‘Imminent threat’: Kim Jong Un Unveils Mini Nukes as US Carrier Arrives in South Korea

Motherboard (Vice) - Wed, 03/29/2023 - 04:18

To enlarge its nuclear arsenal, North Korea is going small, unveiling tactical nuclear warheads that could fit on short-range missiles and pose what an analyst called an “imminent threat” to its southern neighbor.

North Korean state media on Tuesday released photos of leader Kim Jong Un inspecting what appears to be smaller nuclear warheads. The images came on the same day that a U.S. aircraft carrier docked in South Korea for joint military drills, despite Pyongyang’s protests. 

The images offer the first glimpse of the country’s mini nukes, which can be used in targeted strikes and are considered by some analysts to hold greater potential for escalation due to the more limited damage they inflict compared to more powerful strategic nukes.

“For South Korea, tactical nukes are an imminent threat to national security and the survival of the Korean people, while the U.S. would not feel the heat since tactical nukes are not for ICBMs,” Yang Uk, a weapons expert from the South Korean nonprofit think tank Asan Institute for Policy Studies, told VICE World News. 

Kim Jong Un told his officials to focus on Kim Jong Un told his officials to focus on "increasing nuclear arsenals exponentially," according to state media. Photo: Korean Central News Agency​

ICBMs—or intercontinental ballistic missiles—have a range covering most of continental U.S, while tactical nuclear warheads are generally mounted on short-range missiles.

Yang said the smaller warheads could be mounted on Pyongyang’s new generation of short-range missiles like the KN-23, KN-24, and KN-25—cruise missiles used against terrestrial or naval targets—and even the country’s new nuclear torpedoes, adding to North Korea’s growing array of weaponry. 

Cho Han-bum, a senior research fellow at think tank the Korea Institute for National Unification, said that by developing the smaller warheads, North Korea is trying to secure military superiority on the Korean Peninsula.

“This means that the U.S. needs greater efforts and military resources to defend South Korea,” Cho told VICE World News.

Since U.S.-South Korea military drills began on March 13, Pyongyang has fired missiles from a submarine, simulated a nuclear counterattack, and has reportedly recruited 1.4 million people into its military

On Monday, Kim Jong Un reportedly told his officials that the country should be prepared to use its nuclear weapons “anytime and anywhere.”

Pyongyang also revealed a new underwater drone on Friday, which is designed to attack enemy vessels and ports using large radioactive waves through underwater explosions. Dubbed Haeil—tsunami in Korean—the country claimed it could unleash a “radioactive tsunami” and carry nuclear warheads, though analysts are skeptical of such assertions. 

The U.S. has insisted that its exercises with South Korea are defensive in nature. Rear Admiral Christopher Sweeney, strike group commander of USS Nimitz, said the alliance is prepared to adapt to new challenges and threats.

“We don’t seek conflicts with [North Korea]. We seek peace and security. We’re not going to be coerced, we’re not going to be bullied and we’re not going anywhere,” he told reporters on Tuesday aboard the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, according to Reuters.

Follow Hanako Montgomery on Twitter and Instagram.

Categories: Tech News

This Court Used ChatGPT to Decide Bail in a Murder Case

Motherboard (Vice) - Wed, 03/29/2023 - 04:12

A man accused of assault and murder stood in court this week as a judge in the Indian city Chandigarh opened ChatGPT and asked the AI-run app if he should be let out on bail. 

The judge’s use of AI technology is historic in India, which has one of the oldest and most overburdened legal systems in the world.

Anoop Chitkara, a judge at the Punjab and Haryana High Court, opened the chatbot on Monday while Jaswinder Singh who was arrested in 2020 for allegedly assaulting and killing an individual, sought relief from imprisonment during the trial. 

“What is the jurisprudence on bail when the assailant assaulted with cruelty?” Chitkara typed into GPT-4. To which, the chatbot responded: “If the assailants have been charged with a violent crime that involves cruelty, they may be considered a danger to the community and a flight risk. In such cases, the judge may be less inclined to grant bail or may set the bail amount very high to ensure that the defendant appears in court and does not pose a risk to public safety.” 

The chatbot added that presumption of innocence is also a fundamental principle of the justice system and that bail is often granted if the judge is sure the accused doesn’t pose a risk. Chitkara decided that Singh did act with cruelty before the victim died, denied his bail request and moved on to his next case. 

Courts in India are notorious for case backlogs. One study showed that over the last two years, there have been 23 new cases filed in Indian courts every minute. According to the National Judicial Data Grid there are currently nearly 6 million pending cases in high courts across the country. 

Some legal experts say ChatGPT could be the future of courtrooms despite the reputation of AI chatbots for being biased and discriminatory. Last month, Colombia made history when a judge used the AI tool to decide whether an autistic minor should receive coverage for medical treatment. Israeli President Isaac Herzog has used ChatGPT for his speeches, as did U.S. Congressman Jake Auchincloss earlier this year. 

Chitkara, the judge in Chandigarh, also later clarified that he didn’t use ChatGPT to decide whether the accused was guilty of murder, he just used it to decide his bail. 

"Any reference to ChatGPT and any observation made hereinabove is neither an expression of opinion on the merits of the case nor shall the trial Court advert to these comments,” he told the court

“This reference is only intended to present a broader picture on bail jurisprudence, where cruelty is a factor.”

Follow Pallavi Pundir on Twitter.

Categories: Tech News

How to Stay Friends with Your Ex

Motherboard (Vice) - Wed, 03/29/2023 - 04:00

Relationships end all the time and in all sorts of ways: over text, in person, via ghosting, and if you’re a lesbian, sometimes over the course of about 27 years. For many people, when they breakup, that’s the definitive end—they want no further contact with their former partner. For plenty of others, though, a breakup is not an end so much as a change. The ex was an important person in their lives, and they’d like them to remain that way. But how?

Transitioning to friendship post-breakup has been a contentious topic for ages. And it’s been made more complicated by the bevy of ways, both electronic and IRL, that we now stay in touch with people. How do you avoid the pitfalls, sloppy hookups, or drunken arguments that can often accompany said transition to friendship? How do you know when to set boundaries, and when to keep that person close? In this piece, I’ll explore, with the help of a professional therapist, the nuances of going from romance to friend, the tools you’ll need, and how to know when cutting your losses is the best route to take.

Taking space post-breakup

Taking space is the most necessary and least followed advice (even by me—a relationship advice columnist). But in order to transition from a romantic to platonic relationship, you absolutely need space and time to heal. This will look a little different for every couple—sometimes kids are involved, or pets, or shared cars or living spaces, which makes things extra tricky. Still, the more emotional, physical, and online space you can take (see my post-breakup guide to social media for more on that last one), the faster and less painful the process will be, even if it feels at first like you will actually die if you don’t talk to your ex every day. (You won’t.)

Avry Todd, a licensed clinical social worker and therapist to both individuals and couples in the Bay Area, reminds us that closure requires work just as relationships do. “All relationships have a beginning, a middle, and an end,” they said. “This is true of short term acquaintances and life-long partnerships. We need to put work into the ending just like we do the beginning and the middle.”

With my last relationship, we were living together when we broke up, so it wasn’t as easy as just cutting her out of my life. (Not that I wanted to.) Taking space within the constraints of our shared living space meant separate sleeping situations, nights at friends’ houses, and a few solo weekend trips where I could cry in peace—and in a hot tub. When you’re freshly transitioning out of a relationship, it’s important to find ways to carve alone time for yourself, including in online spaces, and to remember that all feelings are impermanent. It’s cliché but it’s true: This too shall pass.

Transitioning relationships often brings up a lot of feelings of fear, doubt, anxiety, and attachment issues, and it’s important to acknowledge those feelings, but also not be controlled by them. So, if your ex starts to feel distant, try to ground yourself by remembering that it's likely not because they don't care about you, but rather simply because their role in your life is shifting in a necessary way.

And what if your ex is resistant to taking space? This is where setting firm boundaries becomes super important, along with knowing what your limits are and being able to communicate them. When talking to a reluctant ex, acknowledge their fears and also remember that NOT setting boundaries leads to resentment and discomfort, which are going to negatively impact your relationship going forward. I’ve also found that setting a time to check-in can help assuage an ex’s abandonment fears. So, for instance, commit to taking space for 30 days. At the end of that time allotment, you can briefly check in and assess whether you need more space or if you need it in a different way.

How to know if you’re ready to be friends

Todd notes working on being good exes – even friends – is important, especially for those for whom “being in queer community by virtue pretty much guarantees running into those whom our hearts still hold some charge for.”

So how do you know if you’re ready to be pals again with the person who stomped on your heart? As VICE writer and adept friend-to-her-exes Susan Mittwoch puts it: “If you get a text from an unknown number, like the optician or your drug dealer, and automatically panic that it's your ex, it's too soon. If you are stalking your ex on Instagram and can objectively and calmly turn to your colleague and say that her new hair looks shitty, then it is time.”

I can add to this: If you’re feeling horny, alone, depressed or just looking for the dopamine hit that comes from injecting a bit of drama into your life – you are absolutely not ready. If your first message draft to them rehashes old arguments or is way too self-aggrandizing (“missed me lol??”), you are not ready. But if you are ready, go for something friendly but not too personal. I like Mittwoch’s line: “Saw this article on sea anemones, thought you'd like it. How are things?"

Consider your motives for reaching back out

Once you feel enough time and space have passed—I’m not going to put a precise number on it, but will say when thoughts of your ex don’t give you a heart-sickness, rage, or feelings of vengeance, you’re on your way to healing!—the next step to think about is why you want to be friends with this person. A 2017 study in the journal Personal Relationships identified four main reasons why people maintain friendships with exes: security (emotional support, advice, trust), practicality (shared possessions or finances), civility, and unresolved romantic desires.

Unsurprisingly, the relationships of those who tried to be friends because of unresolved romantic desires and civility did not end well. But, staying friends because of security and practical reasons led to more positive outcomes. So, think long and hard about why you want to be close to this person. If your motives are, shall we say, less than ideal, you probably need more time to heal or perhaps you’re not meant to continue your relationship

What should you do together

Now that you’ve taken the necessary time, tediously self-reflected on your motivations, and feel that you’re ready to see your ex again—what should you actually do? (Or more precisely, NOT do?) The answer will obviously depend on your personal circumstance, but here are some general tips. Avoid drinking/drugs, both of which may likely cause you to end up fighting or fucking. Seeing them during the day, and in public, will also curb the fight-or-fuck impulse.

Meet in neutral territory—no restaurants you frequented together or parks you made out in, or any place that has emotional resonance. What’s the least erotic place you can think of? Daytime karaoke at TGIFridays? The toilet paper aisle at the grocery store? Meet there. (I’m only half joking.)

If you share similar social circles, group hangs are low-stakes way of trialling your burgeoning friendship. A chill picnic with a bunch of friends who can sweep you into another conversation if it starts getting a bit too intense? Ideal. A birthday dinner where you and your ex are not the centre of attention, and have to behave nicely to avoid spoiling someone else’s day? Perfect.

Me and my ex found neutral territory at the gym, which was a place we could spend time together that did not lead to fights. Plus, exerting ourselves helped burn some of the rage we were no doubt feeling toward each other because we didn’t take the necessary space to heal! But, hey, baby steps.

What to do when you run into an ex by accident

There are times, of course, when you are trying NOT to see your ex—perhaps, hypothetically, when they see you at the grocery store while wearing stained sweatpants, a Winnie the Pooh sweatshirt, and with a cart full of Pedialyte and Us weeklies. In these cases, Todd suggests practicing mindfulness. “If it's someone whom you're sitting with big emotions around, using mindfulness to inform our next action or non-action takes the pressure off the need to react. After taking a moment, then you can consider whether you want to smile and say hello, or just keep dancing with your friends, or have a quick cry in the bathroom. Sometimes it's all three of those options, or more.”

You might need to run away. You know what? That’s okay, too. Todd says,“I try to be honest with myself about what I need and reject any internalized or externalized expectations.”

Make sure to set and maintain healthy boundaries

As you spend a little time with your ex, you’ll probably find that old wounds can and do surface. That’s okay! You’re human. The most important thing you can do is be aware of those ick feelings when they happen so you can avoid them next time. For instance, if he uses a pet name, or she is texting you 37 times a day, or talking about new people you’re dating feels as if you’ve been flayed and then let loose upon a fire ant colony, notice! And build a boundary around it.

Setting a boundary doesn’t mean things will stay this way forever. But it is being honest and realistic about where you are right now. You can always check in at a later date, and revise accordingly. If you make that clear while hashing things out with your ex, it may make the whole process easier.

Todd advises that we attempt to rebuild a connection with explicit intentionality. “Take your time, try to resist expectations of the other person(s) you may have once had while in relationship with them, and stay connected to your efforts to individuate.”

Boundaries are also very helpful markers when deciding whether maintaining the friendship is ultimately going to be healthy for you. An ex who steamrolls over your boundaries is not going to be a very good friend, and it’s important to notice that. Another thing to ask yourself: Does spending time with your ex make you feel shitty? Relationship researchers at the Gottman Institute note that a “healthy” relationship has five positive interactions to every negative one. We aren’t always our highest, most evolved selves when our hearts are broken, but generally speaking, your interactions should be pretty positive. If they aren’t, then that’s something to pay attention to.

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That said, the biggest sign that you shouldn’t stay friends is simply: You don’t want to. You don’t need some long explanation, a therapist’s approval, or a particularly compelling tarot card reading to back you up. You only need the awareness that being friends with this person is not something you want or feel able to do.

That being said, do allow for some screw-ups. They’ll happen! It doesn’t mean you’re doomed or that you can’t “really” be friends. It likely means, as step number one advised, that you need more time to figure out how to be with this person in a way that feels good to both of you. Remember, also, that no relationship, even strictly platonic ones, are without their struggles. Revel in your extraordinary humanness, practice your boundary-making, and you’ll be well on your way to building a friendship that lasts.

This article was updated for clarity. It was originally published on April 3, 2019.

Categories: Tech News

With Amazon Alexa’s future in peril, Fire TVs offer a glimmer of hope

ARS Technica - Wed, 03/29/2023 - 04:00
Amazon Fire TV mounted in a living room

Enlarge / Fire TVs give Alexa hope, but the future still feels grim. (credit: Amazon)

Alexa, how can you continue to be relevant and stop sucking money from Amazon?

That's not an easy question to answer, and the future of Amazon Alexa has never felt so uncertain. In November, Business Insider reported that Alexa “and other devices” were expected to lose Amazon $10 billion in 2022. Such large losses spotlight an enduring question: How are voice assistants supposed to make money? It’s a dilemma other voice assistants are struggling with, too.

In the case of Alexa, which has been integrated into various Amazon-branded products, from speakers and smart displays to a home robot and microwave, its best shot at survival has been under our noses—or in our living rooms—all along.

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Categories: Tech News

‘They Only Listen to Us When We Die’: Migrants Killed in Fire Were Locked in Jail Cell

Motherboard (Vice) - Wed, 03/29/2023 - 04:00

CIUDAD JUÁREZ, Mexico — The men tried to kick open the cell door as a fire blazed, but their guards turned their backs and walked away, according to damning security footage of a deadly fire in a migrant detention center on Monday evening.

The 30 second video, obtained by Mexican journalist Joaquín López-Dóriga and posted on his Twitter account, suggests that Mexican authorities callously looked the other way as the roaring fire consumed the cell holding dozens of migrants in the Ciudad Juárez detention center. The video does not clarify who set the blaze. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said on Tuesday that migrants set mattresses on fire when they learned they would be deported.

The tragedy, just feet from the U.S. border, could shine a light on Mexico’s hardline immigration practices as it seeks to appease the U.S.’s desire to stop the flow of migrants entering through its southwest border. The Biden administration, like the Trump administration before it, has turned to Mexico to crack down on migrants before they set foot on U.S. soil. 

signal-2023-03-28-20334 p.m..jpegKatiusca Márquez, who spent time in the migrant detention center, was waiting for news of her brother following the deadly blaze on Monday night. Photo: Luis Chaparro for VICE World News.

Venezuelan migrant Katiusca Márquez said she had been held in the detention center in Ciudad Juárez just hours before the tragedy. She stood outside the charred building holding her five-year-old son in her arms hoping for news about her brother, who was inside at the time of the fire.

There was one big cell where dozens of migrants were being held, she said. Its walls were painted white and people were crammed together, including crying children and men without clothes. It smelled of shit, said Márquez.

Juan Montes, also from Venezuela, said there were more than 100 migrants locked inside the cell—both men and women together. He had been picked up Monday morning while asking for money at a stoplight, he said. He and other migrants were held for 10 hours without food or water, he said, adding that he saw just three guards overseeing the entire center. “We kept asking, ‘why are we being locked up?’ And no one answered. They closed the locks and left us there for hours.”

Márquez and Montes were lucky. They were released around 6 p.m. on Monday evening because they had children, they said. Four hours later, the detention center caught fire and at least 40 migrants died—37 on the spot and three later in hospital, according to Mexican authorities. Another 28 are seriously injured.

On Tuesday morning, López Obrador blamed the migrants for causing the fire by setting mattresses alight, although an official investigation has not been completed. “They didn’t imagine that it was going to cause this terrible misfortune.”

Outside the detention center, dark streaks left by the smoke stained the white walls. The locks of a white metal door had been smashed by firefighters when they entered the building. The fire department was just three blocks away. 

The migrants who had been inside the center just hours before it caught fire said the conditions were miserable and questioned the government’s narrative. Marquez said authorities took all of her belongings from her at the center, including the shoelaces in her shoes.

“They take everything. How would someone enter with a lighter?” she asked indignantly. 

She said she had been panhandling on the streets of Ciudad Juárez on Monday morning with her son, who is five, when authorities swarmed the area. They forced her, her son, and brother into a van and took them to the migrant detention center. Authorities treated them like their “worst enemies,” she said. “Like criminals.” Her brother wasn’t released and she hadn’t heard whether he survived.

Orlando Ramos, a 19-year-old Venezuelan migrant, waited outside the center to see if he could get news about a friend who had been detained inside. 

“The Mexican government said that we started the fire. But they don’t ask why or what was happening before. They only listen to us when we die. But they never ask what we need, if we are doing okay, whether we are hungry,” said Ramos, who hadn’t been detained in the center. “Also, not a single one of the immigration officers died,” he said. “Isn’t that suspicious?”

signal-2023-03-28-134707_002.jpegA young girl waits for news of her brother outside a migrant detention center in Ciudad Juárez. Her brother was inside when a deadly blaze took hold on Monday evening. Photo: Luis Chaparro for VICE World News.

Mexico’s Attorney General’s office said that it is investigating the “unfortunate events,” and that at the time of the fire there were 28 Guatemalans, 13 Hondurans, 12 Venezuelans, 12 Salvadorans, one Colombian, one Ecuadorian and one migrant who declined to share his nationality. The attorney general’s office said it has initiated an investigation into what happened.

Mexico’s National Migration Institute said Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission is being asked to intervene in legal proceedings and to “safeguard” the rights of the migrants. In a message on Twitter, the institute said it would give humanitarian visas to the migrants who were injured and cover their medical bills

López Obrador, who swept to power in 2018 promising to help migrants and safeguard their rights, has instead made it increasingly difficult for them to traverse the country under pressure from the U.S. The Biden administration, which is struggling to show it has control of its southwest border, has maintained many of the hardline Trump administration policies it promised to end.

In the 2022 fiscal year, U.S. authorities registered 2.4 million encounters at its southern border, a number that surpassed the previous year’s record of 1.7 million encounters. Many of those encounters are with migrants who attempt to cross multiple times.

Categories: Tech News

FTX cryptovillain Sam Bankman-Fried charged with bribing Chinese officials

The Register - Wed, 03/29/2023 - 03:24
Court gives him new rules: Use one laptop, while living with the 'rents.

US authorities have charged FTX co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried (aka SBF) with attempting to bribe Chinese officials with $40 million worth of cryptocurrency in exchange for unfreezing trading accounts.…

Categories: Tech News

Oh, really? Microsoft worries multicloud complicates security and identity

The Register - Wed, 03/29/2023 - 02:30
Coincidentally lays off techies in its identity team

Microsoft kicked off its day-long Microsoft Secure virtual event on Tuesday by stressing the need for IT departments to manage user and application identities across multiple cloud environments.…

Categories: Tech News

Intel pours Raptor Lake chips into latest NUC Mini PC line

The Register - Wed, 03/29/2023 - 01:30
Big is not always beautiful

Just days after lifting the covers off the 13th-gen Core vPro CPUs, Intel has revealed the latest NUC line of miniature PCs, giving a decent chunk of compute power in a space-saving 4x4in form factor.…

Categories: Tech News

Man Jailed for Neglect After Cat Carcasses and Mysterious Minced Meat Found in His Home

Motherboard (Vice) - Wed, 03/29/2023 - 01:25

A man was sentenced to two years in jail in Malaysia on Tuesday after pleading guilty to neglecting his five pet cats. The animals died when he visited his hometown on the other side of the country for several weeks last year, leaving his rented apartment unattended. 

Responding to neighbors’ complaints about a foul stench wafting from the apartment, the landlord checked on the unit in the capital Kuala Lumpur on March 11. He discovered a box near the door containing the skeletons of the five cats that had died while his tenant, 31-year-old Lim Chia Lin, was away between June 14 and July 3 last year. 

The landlord told Lim to dispose of the skeletons in the box on March 11, but saw the same container untouched when he revisited the apartment two days later to collect rent, according to the New Straits Times.

When he stepped into the unlocked apartment, he realized that Lim, who was asleep in his room at the time, had been living with dozens more animal skeletons and organs, believed to be those of cats, the Malaysian Animal Association said in a statement on Friday.

The landlord also traced the foul smell to a bucket of unidentified minced meat in the kitchen—suspected to be made from cats as well. Lim later claimed in court that the meat was marinated chicken, The Star reported.

While the landlord lodged a police report on March 13, Lim was only arrested on Saturday after the case was publicized by animal welfare organizations. The report filed by the landlord was initially ignored by police. Despite animal cruelty laws, officers claimed they did not have the authority to investigate the matter, the Malaysian Animal Association statement said.

One of his neighbors, who lives on the same floor, told local news outlet Bernama that Lim was known to be an animal lover who was clean and tidy. However, she said, Lim lost his “chubby figure” over the past couple of months and started to look “messy.”

“I asked him why he looked so thin and he said he was sick and needed to go to the hospital for treatment,” she said. Another neighbor told the outlet that there used to be many stray cats around the condominium but their numbers have recently declined. 

Besides the jail sentence, Lim has also been slapped with a fine of 50,000 Malaysian ringgit ($11,300), which could lead to another year in jail if he is unable to pay. Lim, who was legally unrepresented, asked the court for a lighter sentence as he only earned 1,500 ringgit ($340) a month as a salesman. 

Deputy public prosecutor Wan Ahmad Hakimi Wan Ahmad Jaafar said that Lim’s jail sentence should serve as a “lesson to the public” to not neglect their pets.

“If he wants to leave them [the cats] for a long time, he should provide food, drinks, and a comfortable place for the cats to live in before he went away, instead of leaving them high and dry, and without the slightest mercy,” he said.

Follow Koh Ewe on Twitter and Instagram.

Categories: Tech News

SHEIN has the look of America's next tech-meets-geopolitics fit-up

The Register - Wed, 03/29/2023 - 00:30
Chinese fast fashion vendor could be this season's TikTok thanks to alleged tax evasion, slave labour, toxic goods, and an outsized carbon footprint

Another battle is brewing over a Chinese tech startup that's become a big hit in the USA. This time all eyes are on fast fashion e-commerce outfit SHEIN, which allegedly keeps its prices low by exploiting a loophole to avoid paying taxes.…

Categories: Tech News