Pfizer CEO claims 400% price hike on COVID vaccines will be “free”

ARS Technica - Mon, 11/21/2022 - 12:16
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla talks during a press conference with the European Commission president after a visit to oversee the production of the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine at the factory of US pharmaceutical company Pfizer, in Puurs, on April 23, 2021.

Enlarge / Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla talks during a press conference with the European Commission president after a visit to oversee the production of the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine at the factory of US pharmaceutical company Pfizer, in Puurs, on April 23, 2021. (credit: Getty | John Thys)

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla claimed at a news event last week that the company's COVID-19 vaccines will continue to be "free to all Americans," despite the company's plan to raise the price of the vaccine roughly 400 percent—a price difference that will be picked up by health insurers.

The company said in October that it plans to raise the price of a dose of its COVID-19 vaccine from about $30 to somewhere between $110 and $130 as it moves the shots to the commercial market next year.

Until now, all COVID-19 vaccines in the US have been bought by the US government, which paid $30.48 per dose in its latest vaccine supply agreement from June. The US government had previously paid $24 per dose in July 2021 and $19.50 per dose in July 2020. The government offered all the doses to Americans for free.

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Categories: Tech News

How to Have Hot, Kinky (and Quiet) Sex When You’re Home for the Holidays

Motherboard (Vice) - Mon, 11/21/2022 - 12:01

Firstly, congratulations are in order. If you’re here, we assume you got it up/are attempting to get aroused at your parents’ house. That’s no small feat, Skyler, given that most of our visits home during the holidays easily turn into bubbling Jurassic cesspools of generational trauma, or (yet another) opportunity for that one that one uncle who smells like a wet carpet to give you the “Ronald Reagan deserves to be on money” lecture again. [Boner deflates.]

But your fight to bone while sleeping in your childhood bedroom is a valiant and horny one. Maybe you’re bringing your partner home for Thanksgiving, or just planning on swiping right on some people you went to high school with while you’re home for the holidays. Whatever the case, it’s crucial to know how to have quiet sex, or at least more discreet sex, when you’re in the same house as your relatives. This isn’t Game of Thrones; we don’t want them to be even remotely aware of any aspect of our intimate relations.

Do bring quiet sex toys. Maybe don’t play the Cum Face Duel Pump Action Penis Game (keep that NSFW game night classic in your own haus); start to invest in remote-controlled sex toys, travel-sized vibrators, and BDSM staples that can turn up the heat and restrain your partner from making too much noise.

Bust out your carry-on, and let’s drive you—and the big Os—home for the holidays.

The best discreet sex toys to take on vacation

TSA has seen weirder stuff than your G-spot dildo, mate. We can’t predict what your agents will/won’t pull out of your carry-on, but we can confidently say that we’ve never once had airport security take out our vibrator, and hold it up like a prized fish in front of everyone else. That being said, there are some sex toys we love to travel with for their size and discretion, such as Dame’s versatile Fin finger vibrator, which has a 4.5-star average rating on the site from over 500 reviews. As one fan writes, “[It has a] beautiful design & just the right amount of rumbliness/vibration. Appreciate that the finger hold is removable.” Use Fin for stimulation of the nipples, clitoris, shaft, and for all your E.T. roleplay needs.

Don’t underestimate the power of the small but mighty cock ring. Not only will an adjustable loop C-ring take up about as much space as a hair tie in your luggage, but it will make zero noise.

Lovehoney has also started slinging early Black Friday deals with up to 60% off sex toys, including this best-selling vibrating C-ring that has extra texture for even more heightened clitoral stimulation.

Bullet vibrators are another compact sex toy staple to have in your carry-on or in your nightstand drawer (your electric toothbrush will take up way more space). This rechargeable vibrator is 60% off, and selling fast thanks to a ​​slightly tapered tip that provides broader clitoral stimulation.

Do you have nosy in-laws/parents who will rifle through your stuff when you smell like pot after going for a smoke sesh walk with the cousins on Thanksgiving? (Same.) Try investing in sex toys that don’t look like sex toys, such as this necklace vibrator that will leave them none the wiser.

The best quiet sex toys

Does your childhood bedroom share a wall with the guest room where aunt Betty will be crashing? If so, you’re going to need some extra quiet sex toys and foreplay ideas to keep the ‘gasms flowing without waking up the whole house. The motor on LELO’s Gigi 2 wand vibrator—which has a curved, slightly bulbous tip for targeting your G-spot—was described by one Amazon reviewer as being no louder than “a teasing murmur.” Cop it while it’s 25% off at LELO for the brand’s Black Friday sale.

Hats off to this highly rated male masturbator, which is a true multitasker; not only does it have seven modes for thrusting, stroking, and “sucking” action, but it boasts an über quiet motor that produces a noise lower than 50 decibels and has earned many happy Amazon reviewers. In the words of one fan, “Usually you would need to pay $100+ for a toy of this quality.”

Go remote

You could be in the kitchen, wrapping up the dishes, while your partner claims to be sleeping off all that pumpkin pie they just pounded—but in reality, y’all are doing some remote-controlled hanky panky with Lovense’s app-controlled Lush 3 vibrator, which is a wearable vaginal vibrator designed to stimulate the G-spot and clitoris with deep and extra-quiet vibrations.

Have some restraint

This might not be the time to start playing with E-stim toys and cow prods, but there are plenty of other BDSM staples that are easy to travel with/won’t make your partner howl at the moon, such as a pair of bed restraints. Amazon is slinging a best-selling BDSM bundle with a tickler, blindfold, and faux fur-lined Velcro cuffs for about $26, while Lovehoney’s classic, satin black ties are an even more discreet accessory to have floating around your luggage or room.

Lean into the “no one can know” energy

Hush hush roleplay is top-tier Virgo/control freak behavior, and very hot when done right in the bedroom. So here’s an idea: Take this jolly red ball gag like a champ, and pretend to be the T-giving turkey while you get silently basted from behind.

Make clean-up easy

There’s a chance you may be sharing a bathroom when you’re home for the holidays, which means you might not be able to casually stroll over to the bathroom with your sex toys in hand; Meemaw is pretty progressive for 86, but that doesn’t mean she needs to see your stainless steel dildo in the dishwasher. Promescent’s hypoallergenic intimacy wipes will leave you and your toys feeling fresh and clean, and they come in handy individual packets for traveling.

Now go forth, and spank the bank in peace.

The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story. Want more reviews, recommendations, and red-hot deals?Sign up for our newsletter.

Categories: Tech News

NASA's meteor avoidance plan for James Webb Space Telescope: Turn it around

The Register - Mon, 11/21/2022 - 12:00
When a grain of sand moves fast enough to crack a mirror, it's best to put your back to the wind

After several months of discussions, NASA optics and micrometeoroid experts working on the James Webb Space Telescope have figured out how to reduce micrometeor damage to the $10 billion machine: turn it around.…

Categories: Tech News

Head of Intel Foundry Services resigns just as chip biz gets going

The Register - Mon, 11/21/2022 - 11:33
Randhir Thakur led Intel’s big bet to take on Asian foundry giants TSMC and Samsung

Exclusive  The head of Intel's revitalized contract chip manufacturing business plans to step down, The Register has learned, creating a setback for the x86 behemoth's big bet to take on Asian foundry giants TSMC and Samsung as part of its comeback plan.…

Categories: Tech News

Amazon Alexa is a “colossal failure,” on pace to lose $10 billion this year

ARS Technica - Mon, 11/21/2022 - 11:32
echo sphere

Enlarge / The fourth-generation Echo device is a cloth-covered sphere with a halo at the base, contrasting with the squat plastic cylinders of earlier-generation Echoes. (credit: Amazon)

Amazon is going through the biggest layoffs in the company's history right now, with a plan to eliminate some 10,000 jobs. One of the areas hit hardest is the Amazon Alexa voice assistant unit, which is apparently falling out of favor at the e-commerce giant. That's according to a report from Business Insider, which details "the swift downfall of the voice assistant and Amazon's larger hardware division."

Alexa has been around for 10 years and has been a trailblazing voice assistant that was copied quite a bit by Google and Apple. Alexa never managed to create an ongoing revenue stream, though, so Alexa doesn't really make any money. The Alexa division is part of the "Worldwide Digital" group along with Amazon Prime video, and Business Insider says that division lost $3 billion in just the first quarter of 2022, with "the vast majority" of the losses blamed on Alexa. That is apparently double the losses of any other division, and the report says the hardware team is on pace to lose $10 billion this year. It sounds like Amazon is tired of burning through all that cash.

A division in crisis

The BI report spoke with "a dozen current and former employees on the company's hardware team," who described "a division in crisis." Just about every plan to monetize Alexa has failed, with one former employee calling Alexa "a colossal failure of imagination," and "a wasted opportunity." This month's layoffs are the end result of years of trying to turn things around. Alexa was given a huge runway at the company, back when it was reportedly the "pet project" of former CEO Jeff Bezos. An all-hands crisis meeting took place in 2019 to try to turn the monetization problem around, but that was fruitless. By late 2019, Alexa saw a hiring freeze, and Bezos started to lose interest in the project around 2020. Of course, Amazon now has an entirely new CEO, Andy Jassy, who apparently isn't as interested in protecting Alexa.

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Categories: Tech News

Black Man Shot in the Head by Cop After Being Pulled Over for Tinted Windows

Motherboard (Vice) - Mon, 11/21/2022 - 10:57

Tinted windows and a modified exhaust pipe are why Derrick Kittling’s Chevrolet Silverado was pulled over in Alexandria, Louisiana, earlier this month. And in 58-seconds, an officer shot the 45-year-old Black father of three in the head.

This weekend, Louisiana State Police, in coordination with the Rapides Parish District Attorney’s office, provided the first look at multiple videos, including body and dash cam footage, from the Nov. 6 shooting. The update, which included a press conference Sunday as well as a 12-minute video dissecting the footage, also revealed the name of the officer involved—Rapides Parish Deputy Rodney Anderson—and why the routine stop escalated in the first place. 

In the videos, Kittling doesn’t appear to know why he’s being stopped. 

“What is wrong with you, what are you grabbing on me, man?” Kittling asks Anderson as the officer grabs him by the wrist.

“Turn around and up your hands behind your back,” the deputy says.

“For what? For what bro?” Kittling asks.

On Nov. 6, Anderson reportedly pulled over Kittling’s pickup truck for the window and exhaust violations, according to Louisiana State Police Col. Lamar Davis. Three different videos were released of the incident: dashboard camera footage from Anderson’s patrol car, Anderson’s police body camera footage, and cellphone video recorded by a bystander. (This video is different from the one shared with VICE News last week.)

The body cam footage shows Anderson pulling Kittling over and stepping partially out of his patrol car. The dash cam shows Kittling stepping all the way out. Anderson then orders Kittling nine times to step closer to the back of his truck before he makes his way to the rear of the Silverado.

The dashboard video shows Anderson approach Kittling and asking him to face the truck.

“What’s the issue?” Kittling asks twice as the officer grabs his wrist.

“You’re agitated, you’re turning, and you ain’t following directions,” Anderson says.

“I am following directions,” Anderson says. “I don’t hear you. Can I get my phone, sir?”

“We’ll get to that, just turn and face the truck,” Anderson says.

After Anderson asks twice more for Kittling around, Kittling asks why he’s being stopped. Anderson then draws his taser with his right hand and Kittling immediately grabs the deputy’s wrist before the officer’s arm could be fully extended to point the weapon. Holding each other, the two fall to the ground and the taser can be heard going off. 

As the two struggle out of sight of the dashboard camera, Kittling can be heard asking, “What’s wrong with you bro?” on the body camera footage.

“What is wrong with you, what are you grabbing on me, man?”

Kittling’s hand can then be seen grabbing the taser laying next to them, and the taser sounds off once more. The struggle continues for a few more seconds, as bystanders begin filming. From this angle, Kittling can be seen on top of Anderson. The Black man briefly gets to his feet before falling to the ground again in the struggle. Less than two seconds later, the deputy fires his gun. Only one shot can be heard on body camera footage, and police confirmed it struck Kittling in the head. 

State police say Anderson called for emergency services, but Kittling succumbed to his injuries after being rushed to the hospital.

State Police confirmed during Sunday’s press conference that Kittling’s family was shown the police video before it was released to the public.

Screenshot 2022-11-21 at 1.50.45 PM.pngRapides Parish Sherrif's Office Deputy Rodney Anderson pulls over Derrick Kittling on Nov. 6, in Alexandria, Louisiana. ​(Screenshot via footage released by Louisiana State Police and Rapides Parish District Attorney’s Office)

Last week, in an interview with VICE News, Haley questioned why Anderson chose to shoot Kittling after he grabbed a taser, considering that the cartridge in the taser had already been fired. On Sunday, Davis said that state police are in touch with the taser manufacturer and are verifying that this model, like many other traditional tasers, can only be fired one time per reload.

As previously reported by VICE News, Kittling was a mechanic who’d been visiting a friend in the Lower Third neighborhood of Alexandria to work on cars, according to his family’s attorney Ron Haley. In other bystander videos shared with VICE News last week, residents in the neighborhood can be heard saying Kittling was a frequent visitor to the neighborhood.

Anderson was in the Alexandria area, which lies outside of the Copseriff’s Office jurisdiction, because of prior reports of individuals “carrying weapons,” according to Davis. The Rapides Parish sheriff requested additional units go to that area to investigate but did not elaborate further.

Kittling’s family spokesperson, local community activist Tony Brown, told VICE News Monday that they still have questions about why Anderson was patrolling outside of his jurisdiction. They also question why Anderson didn’t explain to Kittling the reason for the stop, as Kittling asks in the video.

“I've never encountered in my 50-plus years of being on this planet, a police officer who did not let me know why I was being pulled over before he started putting hands on me to arrest me,” Brown said on the family’s behalf. “For this stop to take less than one minute … from the time that officer got out of his vehicle to the time Derrick was killed is unconscionable and deserves an explanation.”

Davis said he doesn’t know when the state police will have another update for the public but promised to keep information flowing as the investigation continues. He asked the public for patience.

“There is an expectation that we can wrap up an investigation of this magnitude in a week or two, and that’s just not the case,” he said. “And you’re going to get the facts as we get them. And then we’re going to turn them over to the district attorney’s office and allow them to do their jobs.”

While traffic stops are considered routine police action, they can turn deadly, particularly for non-white people. From January 2017 through April 2022, officers killed 589 people during traffic stops, 28 percent of whom were Black, The Guardian reported. Earlier this year, in a case strikingly similar to Kittling’s, 26-year-old Patrick Lyoya was shot in the head by a Grand Rapid, Michigan, police officer after the two scuffled during a traffic stop. Last month, a Michigan judge ruled the now-former officer will stand trial on murder charges.

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Categories: Tech News

TSMC confirms 3nm fab in Arizona to make neighbor Intel sweat a little more

The Register - Mon, 11/21/2022 - 10:50
Next-gen chip plant could appeal to customers for supply chain, national security reasons

Analysis  TSMC founder Morris Chang has confirmed the Taiwanese foundry giant's plan to build a 3nm chip manufacturing plant in Arizona alongside its 5nm fab that is slated to open in 2024.  …

Categories: Tech News

World's Richest Countries Agree to Pay for Climate Change Devastation in Vulnerable Nations

Motherboard (Vice) - Mon, 11/21/2022 - 10:34

World leaders at the 27th United Nations Climate Change conference (COP27), which was held this month in Egypt, have agreed to establish a “loss and damage” fund to support nations that are most vulnerable to the effects of human-driven climate change, according to an announcement from the conference that was released on Sunday after an all-night negotiating session.

The creation of the fund is a major achievement for climate activists who have long fought to secure more assistance to less developed nations that are bearing the brunt of climate impacts, such sea level rise and extreme weather, even though wealthier nations—like the United States—have contributed the most to the problem.

“This outcome moves us forward,” said Simon Stiell, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, in a statement. “We have determined a way forward on a decades-long conversation on funding for loss and damage—deliberating over how we address the impacts on communities whose lives and livelihoods have been ruined by the very worst impacts of climate change.”

Some of the biggest proponents for this fund include island nations, such as Vanuatu, and coastal countries, such as Pakistan, which have suffered more intense natural disasters as a result of anthropogenic climate change. Leaders from these communities, and others, have long argued for a more equitable partnership between the biggest emitters and less developed nations that do not have the adequate resources to recover from delirious climate effects.

Despite the climate disasters that are currently wreaking devastation around the world, the fund will follow a slow-moving process. Leaders at COP27, which was held from November 6 to 18 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, have convened a transitional committee to work out the details of this fund. Their recommendations will be presented at next year’s conference, which will be held in the United Arab Emirates. 

Despite this big win, the final COP27 deal falls short on many other issues, including a firm commitment in writing to phase out fossil fuels, which are the main driver of anthropogenic climate change. In the absence of a clear plan to transition the world to more sustainable energy sources, it is unclear how nations will keep global temperatures from warming by 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, which is the target set by the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.

“The loss and damage deal agreed is a positive step, but it risks becoming a ‘fund for the end of the world’ if countries don’t move faster to slash emissions and limit warming to below 1.5C," said Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, global climate and energy lead for the World Wildlife Fund, according to Reuters.  

António Guterres, secretary general of the United Nations, also celebrated the creation of the fund, while warning that it may not be enough to prevent enormously inequitable outcomes for the nations that are being battered by climate change. 

“A fund for loss and damage is essential—but it’s not an answer if the climate crisis washes a small island state off the map—or turns an entire African country to desert,” Guterres said in a tweet. “The world still needs a giant leap on climate ambition.”

Categories: Tech News

Arizona Republicans Are Working Through Stages of Grief

Motherboard (Vice) - Mon, 11/21/2022 - 10:32

It’s been nearly two weeks since Election Day, but Arizona Republicans remain convinced that the election was stolen from them because their far-right nominee for governor lost.

Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs narrowly defeated Kari Lake, a Donald Trump-endorsed former local news anchor, networks projected last week, concluding she had no chance of overtaking Hobbs in the ballots remaining to be counted. 

But Lake and her campaign have continued to challenge the election results claiming she’ll ultimately win the race, even as Hobbs has built a larger lead than President Joe Biden had when he won Arizona two years ago. 

They’re getting backup. In recent days, a conservative county in southeast Arizona voted to delay certification of its election, and an incoming GOP state representative pledged not to vote in the legislature until the election is done over again due to “clear signs of foul play,” despite the fact that there is no evidence at all of foul play. 

Meanwhile, the bombardment of threats toward Arizona officials and election workers has apparently not let up. A top Republican official in Maricopa who’s defended the county’s elections was reportedly moved to an undiscosed location and given protection by the Sheriff’s Office due to “security concerns.” 

Liz Harris, who was elected earlier this month to represent suburban Maricopa County in the Arizona House of Representatives, said in an Instagram post Thursday that she wouldn’t cast a vote in her new position until a new election is held. 

“There are clear signs of foul play from machine malfunctions, chain of custody issues and just blatant mathematical impossibilities,” Harris said in the statement. “How can a Republican State Treasurer receive more votes than a Republican gubernatorial or Senate candidate?”

Kimberly Yee, the incumbent state Treasurer, won re-election by double-digits. Far-right election denier candidates endorsed by Trump, however, did much poorly—Lake, Senate nominee Blake Masters, and Secretary of State candidate Mark Finchem all lost, while Attorney General nominee Abe Hamadeh is behind Democrat Kris Mayes by several hundred votes as the race appears set for a recount. (Of the above, only Masters has conceded.) 

“I call on all state legislators to join me in demanding a new election,” Harris wrote. “I will now be withholding my vote on any bills in this session without this new election in protest to what is clearly a potential fraudulent election.” 

Finchem, a state representative who unsuccessfully ran for Secretary of State on a platform of election denial, has also called for a new election.

Finchem lost to Democratic nominee Adrian Fontes by more than 100,000 votes, but has continued to claim without evidence that the election was fraudulent. He was one of several election-denying GOP nominees to run elections in swing states who lost earlier this month. 

Republicans are set to control the Arizona state House by just a two-vote margin next year.

Lake’s campaign has centered its frustration around Maricopa County, due to problems with printers that were spread evenly between Democratic and Republican areas. Maricopa County Board of Supervisors chair Bill Gates is a Republican who received threats after the 2020 election, when he defended the county’s elections from supporters of former President Donald Trump raging about Joe Biden’s win in Arizona. 

Gates has called Lake’s conspiracy theories “offensive” to election workers in the days after the election, and in the days since the election has frequently featured in the county’s efforts to combat disinformation about its elections. On Sunday, for example, Gates was in a video explaining the canvassing and certification process in Maricopa County.

But Gates was moved to an undisclosed location this weekend “for his safety,” and the official has a security detail from the county sheriff’s office, Fox 10 in Phoenix reported this weekend. It’s unclear what the nature of the threats were. 

On Saturday, Attorney General Mark Brnovich sent a four-page letter to Maricopa County officials demanding answers on the printer issues before the county certifies its election results. The deadline for certification is Nov. 28. 

And in Cochise County, which went for Lake by nearly 20 points, Republican officials voted Friday to delay certification of the results Friday after three conspiracy theorists baselessly alleged that vote counting machines weren’t trustworthy because the lab used to test them wasn’t certified, according to the AP

The state director of election services, Kori Lorick, testified before the board that the machines were “properly certified under both federal and state laws and requirements” and claims about the lab not having the proper accreditations were “false.” 

Hobbs, meanwhile, is building out her transition team as she prepares to succeed Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, who called and congratulated her last week. Ducey was also a frequent target of Trump after he certified the 2020 results despite the former president’s lies that the election was fraudulent.  

In an election where the GOP won the House but fell far short of the predicted “red tsunami,” Arizona was one of three states to vote to replace a Republican governor with a Democratic won. Hobbs will be Arizona’s first Democratic governor since 2009. 

“We are prepared to make the transition to the 24th governor as smooth and as seamless as possible,” a Ducey spokesperson told ABC 15. “It is a responsibility the governor takes very seriously.”

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Categories: Tech News

‘This Is the Point’: Colorado Shooting Follows Rise in Anti-LGBTQ Vitriol

Motherboard (Vice) - Mon, 11/21/2022 - 10:23

Late Saturday night, a 22-year-old gunman opened fire inside an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, killing five people and injuring 25 others in a tragedy that follows years of escalating anti-LGBTQ rhetoric in the U.S.—and, according to advocates, could have been prevented. 

“It didn't surprise me; it angered me,” Erin Reed, a trangender activist and researcher, told VICE News. “It doesn't feel like this was inevitable; it feels like this is the point.”

Advocates and experts have long warned that LGBTQ people and venues could increasingly be targeted in person as Republican lawmakers push false anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and increasingly introduce anti-LGBTQ policies. This year, the Boston Children’s hospital, which provides gender-affirming care to youth, received bomb threats after far-right figures posted about it online and wrongly accused healthcare providers of “mutilating” and “castrating” children. In September, a pride center was vandalized in Florida, and protesters in Eugene, Oregon, threw hand grenades and rocks last month outside a pub that was hosting a drag queen storytelling event. 

“All of us have been sounding the alarm that this was going to be the end result—we’ve all known it, and we've all tried to get people to listen to us,” Reed said.

In Colorado, people were already noticing an uptick in anti-LGBTQ sentiment, NBC reported.

"You can just feel it,” Parker Grey, a former regular of Club Q, told the outlet while pointing to the rise in violence targeting trans people, especially trans people of color. “As a community, being through so much grief and so much loss after so many years, it's almost like you can feel tragedy coming.” 

Grey had stopped going to the club over a year ago, he told NBC, “because of the growing hatred for our community that started in the Springs.” 

Though an investigation into the shooter is still underway, the gunman had been previously charged for threatening to hurt his mother “with a homemade bomb, multiple weapons, and ammunition,” according to a press release by the El Paso County Sherriff’s department. The suspected shooter is also reportedly the grandson of a California lawmaker who previously compared the Jan. 6 Capitol riot to the revolutionary war. 

“It has all the trappings of a hate crime. But we need to look at social media, we need to look at all kinds of other information that we are gathering from people who know the individual,” Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers told NBC

For several years, anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, including incendiary anti-trans and anti-drag disinformation, has been making the rounds on social media and in state legislatures, pushed by far-right personalities, including Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, the Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh, and LibsofTikTok founder Chaya Raichik. 

In 2022 alone, more than 300 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced in state legislatures across the U.S., according to Human Rights Campaign. Republicans like Florida Sen. Marco Rubio collectively spent at least $50 million on anti-trans ads during the midterms. Meanwhile, far-right pundits and politicians falsely accused transgender folks of being “groomers” and referred to drag queens as “pedophiles.” 

To be clear, countless studies have affirmed gender-affirming care for youth is safe and effective, and has been endorsed by several major governing medical bodies, because it improves mental health outcomes for trans youth into adulthood. Children aren’t being forced to transition.

And for many, the shooting at Club Q feels like the latest escalation in a trend that isn’t going away.

“It was clear this was going to happen,” Reed said. “Weeks, months, a year ago, accounts like LibsofTikTok were displaying their hate online. People were answering in the replies saying, ‘These people should be gunned down’ or posting pictures of people with assault rifles… You see the constant reactions to the hate these accounts drive up.”

Club Q was gearing up to host an all ages drag brunch on Sunday morning in celebration of the Transgender Day of Remembrance, and mere hours after the shooting, LibsofTikTok targeted another Colorado venue that was also planning a similar event. 

Though Twitter has suspended LibsofTikTok’s account in the past, that hasn’t been the case yet this week possibly due to the firings and resignations of thousands of Twitter employees following the start of Elon Musk’s reign. 

“The last few days have made it really clear that this is going to be a new reality for us; that the hate campaign and that the violence is going to be turned up,” Reed said, adding that Musk’s takeover of Twitter is also going to make things worse. 

“It feels like hate is being given a bigger megaphone, a stronger platform, and access to more people,” she said.

Categories: Tech News

Elon Musk's Twitter Reinstates Anti-Trans Activists on Same Weekend as Colorado Club Attacked

Motherboard (Vice) - Mon, 11/21/2022 - 10:19

As the LGBTQ community mourns the loss of five lives after a man went on a shooting spree in a  Colorado gay bar, Elon Musk’s Twitter has reinstated several accounts originally banned for abusing the community. 

On Saturday night a man walked into the Colorado Springs LGBTQ bar Club Q with a rifle and opened fire on the patrons. The man was stopped by people at the club who managed to tackle the attacker, take his weapon, and hit him with it, but not before five people were killed and 25 more injured. Police arrested Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, at the club, but have yet to announce charges.

The attack sent shockwaves throughout the LGBTQ community. Over the weekend, Twitter reinstated several large accounts that had once been suspended for breaking their policies—specifically against LGBTQ people—signalling that the new Musk Twitter will be more welcoming to that kind of far-right rhetoric. 

The account reinstatements are part of the reinvention of Twitter under the tumultuous leadership of Musk, who recently took ownership over the company (after he failed to get out of the purchasing deal). A part of shaping Twitter into his vision involves scaling back content moderation and bringing back large accounts that had been banned for breaking the company's rules surrounding the abuse of LGBTQ people. Musk had previously indicated he wanted to “review” the company's anti-trans harassment policy. 

The motive behind the shooting is still unknown but it comes at a time when anti-LGBTQ sentiment is ramping up to feverish levels, particularly due to the rhetoric coming from an increasingly mainstream element of the Republican Party. Hospitals believed to be offering gender-affirming surgeries are being targeted with bomb threats, and drag brunches are routinely protested and interfered with—both activities promoted by online anti-LGBTQ activists. Anti-LGBTQ laws have been passed or tabled across Red States within the country, anti-LGBTQ hate crimes are on the rise, and the SPLC has reported that hate groups targeting the community are also growing. 

One of the accounts that Twitter reinstated was James Lindsay, who rose to prominence by faking a “woke” peer-reviewed paper and parlayed that recognition into repeatedly calling people pedophiles and popularizing the term “ok groomer.”  

Also returning was the ultra-popular pop psychologist Jordan Peterson who was banned from Twitter for dead-naming actor Elliot Page—Peterson said he would rather “die” than delete the tweet. Another account reinstated was the Babylon Bee, a Musk favorite, which is a right-wing satirical outlet that frequently posts content ridiculing the LGBTQ community.

And finally, former President Donald Trump, who was banned for his role in the Jan. 6 riots, was reinstated by Musk over the weekend after the CEO put a poll on Twitter about allowing him to return, which narrowly passed. Trump has not said if he will return to Twitter, given he has his own social media platform, Truth Social. In his speech last week announcing his plan to run for president in 2024, Trump made several comments dog whistling gender identity, particularly within the school and athletic systems. 

Erin Reed, a trans activist and content creator, told VICE News “it feels different seeing all these accounts come back."

"I think that the last few days have made it really clear that this is going to be a new reality for us; that the hate campaign and that the violence is going to be turned up,” said Reed. “Something feels different about the last few days—and I felt this way before this attack happened. It feels like hate is being given a bigger megaphone, a stronger platform, and access to more people.”

The influencers active in online spaces targeting LGBTQ communities circled the wagons last night in reaction to the growing anger against the Twitter reinstatements. Several painted themselves as victims in the situation.

In other corners of the internet, where moderation is essentially non-existent, the Colorado Springs attack was celebrated with vigor or riddled with conspiracies. In the conspiracy-oriented groups, the focus was on the club being named Club Q, which has theorists believing this indicated a false flag. In neo-Nazi chat groups and websites, bigots applauded the attack. One influential Nazi website wrote about how these attacks will be “on the increase” and added, “only those who have been victims of these attacks are to blame.”

Musk, for his part, spent the weekend bathing in the praises of right-wing sycophants celebrating the billionaire, his decision to reinstate the previously banned accounts, and his lax content moderation.

With files from Anya Zoledziowski

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Google’s Black Friday deals: It’s hard to say no to a $300 Pixel 6a

ARS Technica - Mon, 11/21/2022 - 10:10
Google’s Black Friday deals: It’s hard to say no to a $300 Pixel 6a

Enlarge (credit: Google)

This week is everyone's favorite shopping holiday: Black Friday. Google's Black Friday deals are already running on the Google Store and Amazon. Many of these represent the first discounts for Google's new hardware announced last month.

First up, we have phones, with Google offering $150 off the Pixel 7 Pro (Google, Amazon) and Pixel 6a (Google, Amazon), and $100 off the Pixel 7 (Google, Amazon). That Pixel 6a deal is a serious head-turner: $150 off the already-good $449 price makes for a $300 device that will meet most people's basic smartphone needs. Remember that the Pixel 6a has a near flagship-class Google Tensor 1 SoC. With Google (and really every other Android SoC vendor) not doing much performance-wise year over year, you'll get nearly the same benchmarks from the Pixel 6a as the normally $900 Pixel 7 Pro, but now for a third of the price. It has a great camera, water resistance, Wi-Fi 6e support, and a fast and clean build of Android with day-one updates. You're not going to wow anyone with a 60 Hz display, but if you just need a basic smartphone, this is a steal for $300.

The Pixel 7 Pro for $150 off is also a great deal. That makes for $750 for a phone with all the fancy extras, like a 120 Hz display and wireless charging.

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Nvidia’s Magic3D creates 3D models from written descriptions, thanks to AI

ARS Technica - Mon, 11/21/2022 - 09:56
A poison dart frog rendered as a 3D model by Magic3D.

Enlarge / A poison dart frog rendered as a 3D model by Magic3D. (credit: Nvidia)

On Friday, researchers from Nvidia announced Magic3D, an AI model that can generate 3D models from text descriptions. After entering a prompt such as, "A blue poison-dart frog sitting on a water lily," Magic3D generates a 3D mesh model, complete with colored texture, in about 40 minutes. With modifications, the resulting model can be used in video games or CGI art scenes.

In its academic paper, Nvidia frames Magic3D as a response to DreamFusion, a text-to-3D model that Google researchers announced in September. Similar to how DreamFusion uses a text-to-image model to generate a 2D image that then gets optimized into volumetric NeRF (Neural radiance field) data, Magic3D uses a two-stage process that takes a coarse model generated in low-resolution and optimizes it to higher-resolution. According to the paper's authors, the resulting Magic3D method can generate 3D objects two times faster than DreamFusion.

Magic3D can also perform prompt-based editing of 3D meshes. Given a low-resolution 3D model and a base prompt, it is possible to alter the text to change the resulting model. Also, Magic3D's authors demonstrate preserving the same subject throughout several generations (a concept often called coherence) and applying the style of a 2D image (such as a cubist painting) to a 3D model.

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Federal Judge Orders Amazon to Stop Firing People for Organizing

Motherboard (Vice) - Mon, 11/21/2022 - 09:50

A federal judge filed a cease-and-desist order against Amazon on Friday, demanding that the company stop firing its employees for participating in union organizing.

The court order, filed in the Eastern District of New York by District Judge Diana Gujarati, demands that Amazon cease and desist from “discharging employees because they engaged in protected concerted activity” and “in any like or related manner interfering with, restraining, or coercing employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed to them by Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act.”

The order was a response to a petition filed by Gerald Bryson, a former Amazon employee who in 2020 was fired for protesting the company’s lack of safety protocols regarding COVID-19. Bryson worked at JFK8, the company’s Staten Island warehouse which has since become famous as the first Amazon facility to successfully unionize, earlier this year. He had participated in multiple protests alongside then-worker Christian Smalls, who is now the president of the Amazon Labor Union.

At the time, the National Labor Relations Board found that Amazon had illegally retaliated against Bryson by terminating him, and demanded that it reinstate him. Judge Gujarati’s order denied Bryson’s request to get his job back because, it claimed, it would not have a significant effect on workers’ willingness to organize.

The cease-and-desist order, however, will play a large role in future Amazon unionizations.

“This is of huge significance,” said Seth Goldstein, a lawyer for the ALU. “This is a national cease-and-desist order. That means that wherever in the country they violate it, theoretically the National Labor Relations Board can immediately seek a Contempt of Court order. A federal judge is not happy when a party violates their rule—there can be sanctions of all types.”

Amazon has previously retaliated against union organizers in its facilities. Workers were trying to organize at a warehouse in Albany earlier this year. The company responded by sending in third-party union-busting consultants, who would hold captive audience meetings and take workers off the warehouse floor for one-on-one talks. The warehouse, ALB1, lost its union election in October by a two-to-one margin. The ALU filed objections to that result, blaming Amazon’s retaliatory conduct.

“The employer’s coercive, threatening and retaliatory conduct destroyed any possibility for the Region to conduct a free and fair election while also creating a sustained atmosphere before and during the critical period where voters’ 'uninhibited desires' were completely chilled,” the ALU filing read.

Goldstein continued to say that Amazon was still violating the NLRB’s standards. “Within 24 hours of the order, one of our union organizers, Connor Spence, was disciplined for violating Amazon’s no-access policy, which is unlawful to begin with. They’re continuing to violate the law. They don’t abide by anything.”

An Amazon spokesperson said the company had “nothing to add at this point” regarding the cease-and-desist order.

“When it comes to the issue of the national order, it’s broad, it’s sweeping,” Goldstein said. “No one has gotten that yet against Amazon. I think it’s a well-drafted decision.”

Categories: Tech News

LG reveals vibrating speakers as ultra-thin alternative to traditional car audio

ARS Technica - Mon, 11/21/2022 - 09:22
woman holding LG Display Thin Actuator Sound Solution in a car

Enlarge (credit: LG Display)

LG Display will commercialize thin, vibrating speakers for cars in the first half of 2023, the company announced today. The Thin Actuator Sound Solution has similar dimensions to a passport and forgoes many of the bulkier parts of typical car speakers.

LG Display is known for developing display panel technologies and providing them to various companies, including the consumer LG brand. Its new speaker doesn't use a cone, magnet, or voice coil and doesn't require a speaker grille. Instead, the speaker relies on what the company described as a "film-type exciter technology," which vibrates off display panels "and various materials inside the car body" to create "3D" sound that LG Display claims is as good as what traditional car speakers produce.

LG even worked with a "global audio company" to develop the speakers, but we can't tell you if that's impressive or not because LG Display didn't specify the partner's name.

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Twitter reverses Trump ban; Trump refuses to return

ARS Technica - Mon, 11/21/2022 - 09:08
Twitter reverses Trump ban; Trump refuses to return

Enlarge (credit: The Washington Post / Contributor | The Washington Post)

Donald Trump has not tweeted since Elon Musk reinstated his Twitter account on Saturday. In interviews, Trump has suggested he no longer needs Twitter, planning to promote his next presidential run on his own social network, Truth Social.

"I don't see any reason for it," Trump said via video-conference when a panel at the Republican Jewish Coalition's annual leadership meeting asked if he’d be logging back in to Twitter, according to Reuters. Trump claimed that Twitter's "got problems," Bloomberg reported, and he could get better user engagement on Truth Social. Many have noted that Trump is also bound to give Truth Social a six-hour exclusive on any post before he’s allowed to post anywhere else.

Musk made the decision to reinstate Trump’s account after launching a poll that logged more than 15 million votes—with close to 52 percent voting in favor of bringing back the former president. Nobody’s sure how much of that vote was driven by bots, The Verge reported, but that didn’t stop Musk, who is painfully aware of how bots could impact polls, from claiming the vote was driven by legitimate users.

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Biden administration earmarks $13b to modernize electric grid

The Register - Mon, 11/21/2022 - 09:04
We need more transmission capacity, and we needed it yesterday

The US electric grid badly needs to modernize, and the Biden administration says it's ready to give as much as $13 billion to organizations willing to make it happen.…

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Domino’s buys 800 Chevrolet Bolt EVs as pizza delivery vehicles

ARS Technica - Mon, 11/21/2022 - 08:21
Domino's new fleet of 2023 Chevrolet Bolts are unmistakeable.

Enlarge / Domino's new fleet of 2023 Chevrolet Bolts are unmistakeable. (credit: Domino's Pizza)

While it may not be your favorite pizza-slinger, one has to respect Domino's Pizza for being forward-looking. Whether or not it actually launched the first pizza delivery service in 1960, it certainly popularized the idea and more recently has been testing autonomous vehicles and sidewalk robots to deliver pizza.

At some point, before robotic Domino's delivery is commonplace, its pizzas may speed their way to you in an electric car.

On Monday the company announced the arrival of more than 100 Chevrolet Bolts to select Domino's locations, with another 700 due by the end of 2023. You can even check on their progress online—of Bolt deliveries, not pizza deliveries, although that's possible, too, thanks to onboard telematics.

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Everything We Know About the Club Q Shooting Suspect in Colorado Springs

Motherboard (Vice) - Mon, 11/21/2022 - 08:16

A gunman shot and killed five people at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs on Saturday night.

The shooting suspect, named by police as 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich, also injured more than two dozen people at Club Q before a patron pinned him on the ground until police arrived. Two barmen who worked at the club were killed in addition to 3 still unnamed others. Of the 25 people injured, seven were in critical condition as of Sunday night.

The suspect, who is reportedly the grandson of California state lawmaker Randy Voepel, was arrested by El Paso County police last year and charged with felony menacing and first-degree kidnapping after he allegedly threatened to harm his mother with a homemade bomb and other weapons. The case was never prosecuted.

The shooting in Colorado took place hours before the LGBTQ club was due to host an all-ages drag brunch event to celebrate Transgender Day of Remembrance. Similar events have been the target of increasingly vitriolic attacks by far-right groups and Republican lawmakers in recent months who baselessly claim they are being used to groom children.

“Club Q is a safe haven for our LGBTQ citizens,” Colorado Springs Police Department  Chief Adrian Vasquez said in a statement. “Every citizen has the right to feel safe and secure in our city, to go about our beautiful city without fear of being harmed or treated poorly. I’m so terribly saddened and heartbroken.”

What happened?

The first reports of gunfire inside Club Q were placed to the Colorado Springs Police Department at 11:57 pm on Saturday. Officers arrived at the scene 14 minutes later, and the shooting suspect was taken into custody at 12:02 am, according to Lt. Pamela Castro, the CSPD public information officer.

The owners of the club told the New York Times that they had reviewed CCTV footage of the attack and saw the shooter enter the club “heavily armed and wearing a military-style flak jacket.”

The shooter opened fire within seconds of entering the club. According to police statements and eyewitness reports, at least two patrons of the club tackled the shooter after he opened fire. One person grabbed 1 of the shooter’s guns and hit him with it, before pinning him on the ground until the police arrived.

“Had that individual not intervened this could have been exponentially more tragic,” Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers said Sunday

The shooter’s primary weapon was an AR-15 but he also had a handgun and additional rounds of ammunition on him when he entered the club, law enforcement sources told AP.

“Club Q is devastated by the senseless attack on our community,” the venue said in a Facebook post on Sunday. “Our [prayers] and thoughts are with all the victims and their families and friends. We thank the quick reactions of heroic customers that subdued the gunman and ended this hate attack.”

The shooting is the latest attack targeting the LGBTQ community, who are twice as likely to be the victims of gun violence than their straight peers. 

El Paso County District Attorney Michael Allen said investigators were still looking into the motive behind the killings to determine if this was a “hate crime,” but that it was being investigated “with that lens.” He also said charges would likely include first degree murder.

Who is the suspected shooter?

Little is known about the 22-year-old suspected shooter, and VICE News was unable to find any accounts under his own name on any major social media platforms online.

Still, the suspected shooter’s mother, Laura Voepel, reported him to police in El Paso County in June 2021 for “threatening to cause harm to her with a homemade bomb, multiple weapons, and ammunition,” according to a press release by the El Paso County Sherriff’s department.

The suspected shooter was arrested after an armed standoff with police, and charged with five felonies, but a review of court records online show no indication that prosecutors moved forward with the case. The Colorado Springs Gazette reported that the district attorney’s office said no formal charges were pursued in the case. The district attorney’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

On her Facebook account, Voepel asked a group for women involved in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Colorado Springs area, for help with her son a month after he was arrested.

“Hello Sisters. Does anyone know of a fantastic defense attorney? I ask this with a heavy heart but my family really needs some help at this time. We have cash to retain good counsel. Thank you,” she wrote in a July 2021 post

In February 2022, Voepel asked the same group: “Hello Sisters. Can anyone please recommend a great trauma/ptsd therapist?” adding in the comments that it was for a 21-year-old.

Then, in May, she asked the same group if anyone knew of a good boxing coach for her son because he “hits like a freight train.”

Domestic violence is often a key feature in many mass shootings, with nearly 60% of them involving domestic violence incidents or beginning with some form of domestic violence. Gun control advocates have also asked following the Club Q why police didn’t trigger Colorado’s “red flag” law, which would have allowed authorities to seize the weapons his mother says he had.

The suspected shooter is also reportedly the grandson of outgoing GOP State Assemblyman Randy Voepel, a former mayor of Santee, California. Voepel represents the 71st district in the San Diego area, but was defeated in a primary earlier this year after redistricting forced two sitting Republicans to face off.

Four years before his apparent grandson reportedly shot and killed five people at an LGBTQ clubevent, Voepel was condemned by the California Family Council for being “openly hostile to Biblical values” after he voted in favor of a bill promoting LGBT Pride Month. 

Voepel also faced being expelled from the state Assembly last year after he compared the January 6 attacks to the Revolutionary War. “This is Lexington and Concord. First shots fired against tyranny,” Voepel told the San Diego Union-Tribune three days after the violent Capitol riot. “Tyranny will follow in the aftermath of the Biden swear-in on January 20th.” 

The response

For months, violent and hateful anti-LGBTQ rhetoric has been on the rise. Some in Colorado Springs say they felt something like the attack on Club Q was coming.

"You can just feel it,” Parker Grey, 25, who used to be a regular at Club Q, told NBC. “As a community, being through so much grief and so much loss after so many years, it's almost like you can feel tragedy coming. Grey said he had stopped going to Club Q about a year and a half ago “because of the growing hatred for our community that started in the Springs.”

Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert, who has spent years fomenting hate against the LGBTQ community in her home state, tweeted Sunday that “the news out of Colorado Springs is absolutely awful. This morning the victims & their families are in my prayers,” adding “this lawless violence needs to end and end quickly.”

Instantly, Twitter users reminded Boebert of her previous comments targeting the LGBTQ community in Colorado, highlighting a tweet in which she wrote: “Sending a message to all the drag queens out there: stay away from the children in Colorado’s Third District.”

Boebert was also a huge booster of the far right LibsOfTiktok account that has spearheaded attacks on the LGBTQ community in recent months and encouraged people to attack hospitals providing gender affirming care for children, leading to death threats being made against doctors working in those clinics.

Hours after the shooting took place in Club Q, the LibsofTiktok account—which now has a paid-for blue check verification mark thanks to Elon Musk’s lax new policies—posted a message urging its followers to attack a Colorado-based organization dedicated to helping young LGBTQ artists. 

On popular far-right forums, many users instantly called the Colorado attack a false flag, just like they did following the 2016 shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Florida where 49 people were killed. Others responded positively to links posted to news about the killings, with “thumbs up” or heart emojis.  

Tanner Pettit, who was at Club Q on Saturday night and narrowly avoided injury, posted a message on Facebook to say he had just moved to the area a week ago, and went to the club on Saturday night to “watch a drag show, make friends, and have fun.” 

“Last night I was witness to a disgusting and terrifying tragedy and my heart goes out to the beautiful people I was able to meet that night,”  Pettit wrote on Sunday. “My thoughts are with the families of the victims, and I hope that the person behind this disgusting and inhumane act is brought to justice.”

Categories: Tech News

Orion soars around the Moon with a lonely Earth in the distance

ARS Technica - Mon, 11/21/2022 - 08:13
This image taken by NASA's Orion spacecraft shows its view just before the vehicle flew behind the Moon.

Enlarge / This image taken by NASA's Orion spacecraft shows its view just before the vehicle flew behind the Moon. (credit: NASA)

NASA's Orion spacecraft flew to within 130 km of the Moon's surface on Monday morning after executing one of the most demanding maneuvers of its 25-day mission.

Since launching on top of the Space Launch System rocket last Wednesday, Orion's European Service Module had conducted four "trajectory correction burns" on the way to the Moon. These were brief firings of the service module's main engine, an Aerojet-built AJ10 engine. However, the propulsion system faced a stiffer test on Monday as part of a maneuver to enter orbit around the Moon. It passed with flying colors.

The AJ10 engine burned for 2 minutes and 30 seconds as Orion passed behind the Moon, out of contact with NASA back on Earth. When Orion reemerged from the lunar shadow, all was well, and the spacecraft was positioned to reach its temporary destination—a distant retrograde orbit around the Moon.

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