Right-to-repair rules for electronics, appliances targeted for 2024, Canada says

ARS Technica - Fri, 03/31/2023 - 12:22
Mobile phone repair, closeup

Enlarge (credit: Getty)

Like in other parts of the world, Canada is working out what the right to repair means for its people. The federal government said in its 2023 budget released Tuesday that it will bring the right to repair to Canada. At the same time, it's considering a universal charging port mandate like the European Union (EU) is implementing with USB-C.

The Canadian federal government's 2023 budget introduces the right to repair under the chapter entitled “Making Life More Affordable and Supporting the Middle Class." It says that the "government will work to implement a right to repair, with the aim of introducing a targeted framework for home appliances and electronics in 2024." The government plans to hold consultations on the matter and claimed it will "work closely with provinces and territories" to implement the right to repair in Canada:

When it comes to broken appliances or devices, high repair fees and a lack of access to specific parts often mean Canadians are pushed to buy new products rather than repairing the ones they have. This is expensive for people and creates harmful waste.

Devices and appliances should be easy to repair, spare parts should be readily accessible, and companies should not be able to prevent repairs with complex programming or hard-to-obtain bespoke parts. By cutting down on the number of devices and appliances that are thrown out, we will be able to make life more affordable for Canadians and protect our environment.

The budget also insinuates that right-to-repair legislation can make third-party repairs cheaper than getting a phone, for example, repaired by the manufacturer, where it could cost "far more than it should.” 

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Categories: Tech News

Seattle fast-food worker charged with hate crimes against co-workers

Seattle Times - Fri, 03/31/2023 - 12:17

A Wendy's employee was arrested and fired after assaulting and berating four co-workers at the Ballard fast-food restaurant, prosecutors say.
Categories: Local News

<p>Taking us to the stars to look at

@Elfin - Fri, 03/31/2023 - 12:02

Taking us to the stars to look at the ground.

Virginia Norwood, a pioneer in land , dies at age 96


Andrew Tate and brother to be released into house arrest

BBC World News - Fri, 03/31/2023 - 12:01
Andrew Tate and his brother are to be moved from custody into house arrest, a Romanian judge rules.
Categories: World News

Sanna Marin, Finland’s Political Rock Star, Could Be Slipping

N.Y. Times - Fri, 03/31/2023 - 11:59
Parliamentary elections on Sunday are extremely tight among three biggest parties, with the prime minister’s Social Democrats in a tough fight to lead the next government.
Categories: Local News

Why Schwab Got Hit in the Panic Over Regional Banks

N.Y. Times - Fri, 03/31/2023 - 11:50
Like Silicon Valley Bank, the company holds billions in bonds that have declined in value. But it has access to billions in cash, if needed, analysts say, and is much more diversified.
Categories: Local News

McConnell is among few high-profile Republicans to stay silent on Trump’s indictment.

N.Y. Times - Fri, 03/31/2023 - 11:49
Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, had previously been a vocal critic of the former president’s conduct in connection with the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack.
Categories: Local News

EPA approves California’s rules phasing out diesel trucks

San Jose Mercury - Fri, 03/31/2023 - 11:43

By Sophie Austin | Associated Press/Report for America

SACRAMENTO — The Biden administration cleared the way Friday for California’s plan to phase out a wide range of diesel-powered trucks, part of the state’s efforts to drastically cut planet-warming emissions and improve air quality in heavy-traffic areas like ports along the coast.

The decision by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency allows California — which has some of the nation’s worst air pollution — to require truck manufacturers to sell an increasing number of zero-emission trucks over the next couple of decades. The rule applies to a wide range of trucks including box trucks, semitrailers and even large passenger pick-ups.

“Under the Clean Air Act, California has longstanding authority to address pollution from cars and trucks. Today’s announcement allows the state to take additional steps in reducing their transportation emissions through these new regulatory actions,” said EPA Administrator Michael Regan, in a statement.

Gov. Gavin Newsom applauded the state’s role as a leader for setting ambitious vehicle emission standards.

“We’re leading the charge to get dirty trucks and buses – the most polluting vehicles – off our streets, and other states and countries are lining up to follow our lead,” the Democrat said in a statement.

The EPA typically sets standards for tailpipe emissions from passenger cars, trucks and other vehicles, but California has historically been granted waivers to impose its own, stricter standards. Other states can then follow suit, and eight other states plan to adopt California’s truck standards, Newsom’s office said. In a letter last year, attorneys general from 15 states, Washington, D.C., and New York City urged the EPA to approve the California truck standards.

The transportation sector accounts for nearly 40% of California’s greenhouse gas emissions. Newsom has already moved to ban the sale of new cars that run entirely on gasoline by 2035. The EPA has not acted on those rules.

The new truck standards are aimed at companies that make trucks and those that own large quantities of them. Companies owning 50 or more trucks will have to report information to the state about how they use these trucks to ship goods and provide shuttle services. Manufacturers will have to sell a higher percentage of zero-emission vehicles starting in 2024. Depending on the class of truck, zero-emission ones will have to make up 40% to 75% of sales by 2035.

California has a long legacy of adopting stricter tailpipe emission standards, even before the federal Clean Air Act was signed into law, said Paul Cort, a lawyer with environmental nonprofit Earthjustice.

“We have a vehicle problem,” Cort said. “We’re addicted to our cars and trucks, and that’s a big cause of the air pollution that we’re fighting.”

But Wayne Winegarden, a senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute, said it’s too soon to adopt the California standards.

“The charging infrastructure is certainly not there,” he said about powering stations for electric vehicles. “And on top of the charging infrastructure, we have the grid issues.”

While California was hit this winter by atmospheric rivers that soaked much of the state, it has for years suffered from drought conditions, and in September, a brutal heat wave that put its electricity grid to the test.

The announcement came as advocates are pushing for more ambitious tailpipe emissions standards in other states and at the national level.

“We don’t just fight for California, we fight for all of the communities,” said Jan Victor Andasan, an activist with East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice. The group advocates for better air quality in and around Los Angeles, the nation’s second-most populous city that is known for its dense traffic and intense smog.

Andasan and other environmental activists from across the country who are a part of the Moving Forward Network, a 50-member group based at Occidental College in Los Angeles, met with EPA officials recently to discuss national regulations to limit emissions from trucks and other vehicles.

But some in the trucking industry are concerned about how costly and burdensome the transition will be for truck drivers and companies.

“The state and federal regulators collaborating on this unrealistic patchwork of regulations have no grasp on the real costs of designing, building, manufacturing and operating the trucks that deliver their groceries, clothes and goods,” said Chris Spear, president of the American Trucking Association, in a statement.

“They will certainly feel the pain when these fanciful projections lead to catastrophic disruptions well beyond California’s borders,” he added.

Federal pollution standards for heavy trucks are also getting tougher. The EPA released rules that will cut nitrogen oxide pollution, which contributes to the formation of smog, by more than 80% in 2027. The agency will propose greenhouse gas emissions limits this year.

The agency expects the new standards and government investment will lead to zero-emissions electric and hydrogen fuel cell trucks carrying most of the nation’s freight.

California activists Andasan and Brenda Huerta Soto, an organizer with the People’s Collective for Environmental Justice, are troubled by the impact of pollution from trucks and other vehicles on communities with a large population of residents of color that live near busy ports in Los Angeles, Oakland and other cities as well as warehouse-dense inland areas.

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Huerta Soto works in Southern California’s Inland Empire, where a high concentration of trucks pass through to transport goods. On top of truck pollution, the many cars, trucks and trains that travel through the area burden residents with noises, odors and pollutants these vehicles emit, she said.

“We have the technology, and we have the money” to move toward zero-emission vehicles, she said.

Associated Press writers Tom Krisher in Detroit and Matthew Daly in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.

Sophie Austin is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow Austin on Twitter: @sophieadanna

Categories: Local News

Federal inmate from California pleads guilty to sex ring leader’s death

San Jose Mercury - Fri, 03/31/2023 - 11:42

By Mark Hicks |The Detroit News

A federal inmate pleaded guilty Thursday to the slaying at the Milan Correctional Institution in 2019 of the leader of an international child exploitation ring, the Detroit U.S. Attorney’s office said.

Alex Albert Castro, 42, a former resident of Fontana, California, pleaded to second-degree murder before U.S. District Court Judge Jonathan J.C. Grey, records show. He was originally charged with first-degree murder.

Castro’s plea agreement calls for a sentence of up to life in prison, which could be imposed concurrently, partly concurrently or consecutively to a 42-year sentence he is serving for an underlying 2017 federal drug trafficking conviction, officials said Thursday.

Authorities linked him and two others to the death of Christian Maire, who had been serving time at the Milan facility for a 2018 conviction of running an international child exploitation ring. The three inmates also were accused of conspiring to prey upon smaller, weaker inmates, including Maire and another member of the child exploitation ring, Michael Figura, who survived his attack.

The three men met and discussed killing Maire before walking upstairs to Maire’s cell inside the detention center, prosecutors said. Maire, the 40-year-old computer graphics company founder from New York state, tried to flee, but he was caught and was kicked, stomped, stabbed 28 times and then thrown down a flight of metal stairs during an attack on Jan. 2, 2019.

Jason Kechego and another inmate, Adam Taylor Wright, repeatedly kicked and stomped Maire in the head, prosecutors reported.

Wright prevented corrections officers from intervening while Castro repeatedly stabbed Maire, according to court filings.

“Castro, along with his two codefendants, then threw Maire’s body down a flight of stairs,” officials said in a Thursday statement. “Maire died from multiple stab wounds (28 total) and blunt force trauma to the head from being thrown down the stairs.”

Corrections Officer Kurt Greenleaf tried to stop the attack but was assaulted by Wright, who punched a second officer, Clinton White, according to the government.

Castro’s sentencing is scheduled for 10 a.m. July 28.

“This savage crime deserves the most serious of consequences,” Detroit U.S. Attorney Dawn Ison said. “My office is committed to preventing violence wherever it occurs. These convictions show that we will not turn a blind eye to this type of conduct and will aggressively prosecute violence within our prisons.”

The assault happened less than one month after Maire was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison. Figura, 36, an information technology specialist at the University of Pennsylvania, was sentenced to 31 1/4 years in prison. Figura survived the attack and is serving his sentence at an undisclosed federal prison.

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Maire and Figura belonged to an international child exploitation ring that perfected the art of preying on preteen and teenage girls. Members of the ring who were called hunters posed as teenage boys and trolled social media websites to lure victims to a private online chatroom before manipulating more than 100 children, including at least one from Metro Detroit, to strip and perform sex acts on camera.

Last year, Kechego was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 28 years in prison.

Wright earlier pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to more than 24 years.

Kechego and Castro faced a federal trial that ended in July in a mistrial and partial verdict.

“The senseless murder committed by Mr. Wright and his codefendants jeopardized the safety of corrections officers, staff and inmates,” said James Tarasca, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office. “The FBI will continue to work with the Bureau of Prisons to hold violent offenders accountable for the crimes they commit while behind bars.”


Categories: Local News

Bail Law Is a Key Stumbling Block as New York’s Budget Deadline Looms

N.Y. Times - Fri, 03/31/2023 - 11:41
After she and her fellow Democrats endured a bruising election last year, Gov. Kathy Hochul seems intent on giving judges more leeway when imposing bail.
Categories: Local News

<p>Awww man. About this time last year,

@Elfin - Fri, 03/31/2023 - 11:36

Awww man. About this time last year, during Russia shelling, they managed to destroy THE (singular) Antonov An-225 Mriya cargo plane that was parked near Kiev.

(Oddly, that's going to piss off a lot of oil drilling companies.)

SF Giants add two-time All-Star to catching mix: report

San Jose Mercury - Fri, 03/31/2023 - 11:34

NEW YORK — The Giants were off Friday, Farhan Zaidi was busy. Apparently still unsatisfied with their unsettled catching situation, the president of baseball operations came to agreement Friday with another veteran backstop, according to The Athletic.

The club is adding Gary Sánchez, a 30-year-old two-time All-Star with the Yankees and one of the last remaining notable free agents, on a minor-league deal, per Ken Rosenthal. Sánchez, who remained unsigned throughout spring training, will first report to the Giants’ Arizona facilities, and San Francisco will have until May 1 to add him to their active roster.

The club has yet to announce the deal, and the terms have not been reported.

Sánchez, a former top prospect with the Yankees, was the runner-up for Rookie of the Year in 2016 and earned All-Star nods in 2017 and 2019, when he combined for 67 home runs over the two seasons with an .OPS north of .840 in both years, but New York let him walk after 2021, when he hit .204 with 23 homers in 383 at-bats, and the Twins did the same after the past season, after he largely replicated those numbers.

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After missing all of spring training, Sánchez will essentially have a month to build up and prove he deserves a spot on their major-league roster. However, that will also likely be dependent on the performance of the three catchers already on their 26-man, veteran Roberto Pérez, 26-year-old former first-round pick Joey Bart and Blake Sabol, the Rule 5 pick brought in as a catcher but started in left field on Opening Day.

Pérez got the nod behind the plate in Thursday’s 5-0 loss, after earning his way on to the team in spring training as a non-roster invitee. He provided one of the Giants’ four hits, and starter Logan Webb said he only shook him off once, echoing the praise the two-time Gold Glover earned the pitching staff throughout spring training.

Bart caught Webb on Opening Day in 2022, even homering in what seemed to be a handoff of the baton from Buster Posey, but it proved to only be the start of a tumultuous season, with a demotion to the minors, one of the highest strikeout rates in the majors and a dropoff in defensive performance in the second half.

The Giants told Bart, drafted No. 2 overall in 2018, that he would have to earn the job in spring training. And while he did enough to claim a spot on the roster, the club has signaled its feelings with its moves the past two days, starting Pérez on Opening Day and, now, bringing in Sánchez.

Categories: Local News

Hotline mailbag: The problem with partial shares for Oregon and UW (in the Big Ten), pondering Tulane and Rice, a Pac-8 and more

San Jose Mercury - Fri, 03/31/2023 - 11:33

The Hotline mailbag is published every Friday. Send questions to pac12hotline@bayareanewsgroup.com and include ‘mailbag’ in the subject line — or hit me on Twitter: @WilnerHotline.

Some questions have been edited for clarity and brevity.

How low would Oregon and Washington go, in terms of partial revenue shares, if the Big Ten comes a-calling? Why be a beta site for streaming college sporting events when you can be a ‘junior member’ of the Big Ten? — Jon Joseph

Your phrasing cuts right to the heart of the issue: Would Oregon and Washington accept being “junior members” of any conference?

We are highly skeptical, especially given that UCLA would have full membership despite possessing a lesser football program than the Pacific Northwest powers.

But there’s another piece to the discussion. And to be honest, the Hotline often feels like we’re in the wilderness on this matter while the public narrative focuses on the media revenue: The expanded College Football Playoff matters immensely in strategic decisions at the campus level.

Let’s say Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff presents a media deal to the schools worth $30 million per campus.

Now, we have seen zero indication that Big Ten presidents are willing to expand again, unless Notre Dame is involved (By and large, the campuses were never on board with adding more West Coast teams. That was commissioner Kevin Warren’s personal aim, and his public pronouncements on the matter were one reason he had so little internal support.)

But for the sake of this exercise, we’ll presume the Big Ten comes to Oregon and Washington and offers partial shares at $35 million or $40 million per year.

Is that enough to counteract the competitive disadvantage that would come from switching conferences?

Forgive the oversimplification, but it reflects the calculation:

— In a Pac-12 that had either 10 or 12 schools and lacked USC, the Huskies and Ducks would be competing with each other and Utah for the automatic CFP bid.

— In an 18- or 20- team Big Ten, they would be competing with USC, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State and others for the automatic bid.

(Yes, access to the CFP’s six at-large berths would have to be considered in both the Pac-12 and Big Ten, but those involve more variables.)

We believe the playoff matters a great deal to the Huskies and Ducks, particularly to a certain 85-year-old Oregon benefactor. Phil Knight wants to win a national championship.

And to a lesser degree, consider this: Hosting playoff games on campus would be momentous events for any school, with benefits for the entire university.

Let’s include Utah in this discussion, as well. If the Utes cast an eye to the future and expect college football to split into the haves and have-nots in the 2030s, the best way to elevate the Utah brand and eventually become a ‘have’ is to … participate in the playoff.

That’s far easier in the Pac-12 without USC than it would be in a 14- or 16-team Big 12.

Combine the psychological weight that comes with being a “junior member” in the Big Ten with greater playoff access in the Pac-12, and there’s a strong case to be made for the Ducks and Huskies staying right where they are.

Especially if the Pac-12 makes the smart move and creates a performance-based (i.e., unequal share) distribution model for postseason revenue.

Is there reason to believe that any Pac-12 schools have other legitimate options? Is the Big Ten willing to offer partial shares? Is the Big 12 able to offer full shares? Is independence an option for any school? — @Jalex0077

We addressed the Big Ten piece above, and the Independent path isn’t viable for any of the schools. The Big 12 option is available, but it would require some massaging.

Our understanding is the Big 12’s agreement with ESPN and Fox does not include a full pro-rata clause — meaning, new members would not be contractually guaranteed to enter the conference with the same annual revenue share ($31.7 million) as the schools currently under contract.

That wouldn’t preclude ESPN and/or Fox from offering to make any new members whole, but it would require a negotiation.

And given that Fox has what it wants from the Pacific Time Zone — the Los Angeles market — the onus seemingly would be on ESPN to make the math work.

The Big Ten and SEC had 15 total NCAA Tournament bids and didn’t send anyone to the Final Four. We keep hearing about the financial gap widening. When will that gap translate to tournament dominance, if ever? — @IceDevilCA

Excellent question, and one that can be summed up in this manner: Basketball and football have completely different economic models.

Football is capitalism. Immense resources are required to build a program that can recruit the players needed to succeed at the highest level.

Basketball is socialism, especially with the single-elimination nature of the NCAA Tournament. One or two good players and a weekend of hot shooting can propel a No. 9 seed into the Final Four.

Within that economic difference is the stark contrast in the talent pipelines.

There are plenty of 6-foot-7 kids across the country who can learn to shoot 3-pointers at an effective rate. There are very few 300-pound defensive linemen with the athleticism to be impact players.

The schools with the resources are more likely to land those blue-chip linemen.

Is Apple the leader right now in buying the Pac-12 media rights? If so, which linear providers are they most likely to partner with? — @flintaeroinc

I cannot confirm Apple’s position as the theoretical “leader” with any more certainty than I could confirm ESPN or Amazon.

But the ongoing narrative on social media and in media reports about the Pac-12 opting for an all-streaming deal is wholly misguided, in our opinion.

There is zero indication the conference will place all its football games on a streaming service; there will be a linear component, likely on ESPN/ABC.

Even if Apple or Amazon purchased everything, the agreement would undoubtedly be a sub-licensing deal that placed football games on a linear platform.

Boise State is a better cultural and academic fit with the Big 12 than the Pac-12. In the Hotline’s view, where does BSU fall when the realignment window closes? — @DamonDennett

The Hotline concurs about the conference fit: Boise State is better suited for the Big 12 than the Pac-12. But that doesn’t mean it’s an ideal addition for the Big 12.

The media market is small, the basketball program is solid but not high end, and football has lost needle-moving relevance over the years.

In our view, Boise State isn’t moving. The Broncos will be part of the Mountain West’s next chapter, in whatever form it takes.

Does Fresno State make sense as a Pac-12 expansion candidate to keep the Big 12 out of the California footprint? — @atqdave

Yes, but not to the extent that San Diego State is vital as a defensive play.

Fresno is located in the Central Valley, which is important for the Pac-12 but not strategically critical for media or recruiting exposure, in our view.

It’s 250 miles from Santa Ana, for example, where prep powerhouse Mater Dei High School is located.

San Diego is effectively part of the Southern California media market and only 90 miles from Mater Dei.

Additionally, Fresno State’s academic profile probably doesn’t meet the standard set by the Pac-12 presidents, whereas SDSU, which can now award doctorate degrees, seemingly clears the bar.

Hypothetical situation: Tulane is seen as Team 13 by the Pac-12. Who do you think is best fit for Team 14? Fresno St, Colorado State, or anyone else? — @OS_Beaver

In that situation, Rice would be the clear frontrunner as No. 14. If you add Dallas (SMU) and New Orleans (Tulane), it only makes sense to include Houston (Rice) in the expansion.

What’s more, Tulane and Rice work academically: The former is No. 44 in the U.S. News and World Report rankings; the latter is No. 15.

Both are members of the prestigious Association of American Universities.

Both are R1 research schools.

Academically, they are no-brainers. But are they financially accretive? They would add inventory in the Central Time Zone, but that’s only part of the valuation calculation.

And do they clear the bar competitively? You could make the case for Tulane, perhaps, but Rice is a stretch.

Adding campuses in Dallas, Houston and New Orleans massively expands the footprint of the conference, and I’m not convinced the presidents are interested in that strategic outcome.

So while it’s fascinating to contemplate, we are extremely skeptical that the Pac-12 would add more than two members.

Where do you believe the Arizona Wildcats end up? Are there any schools that could join the Pac-12 that would change the minds of schools that are considering leaving? — @J_Cuda90

As the Hotline has noted repeatedly, the 2030s could bring a seismic shift in the structure of major college sports. But for the near-term, the most likely outcome for Arizona is membership in the Pac-12.

And while there are no schools available that make the Pac-12 markedly more attractive, San Diego State’s performance in the NCAA Tournament certainly improves the perception of the Aztecs as a member.

Basketball doesn’t have the same impact as football. But it’s not meaningless, especially with the loss of a tentpole program (UCLA) and the other benefits SDSU would bring (with geography atop that list).

Bottom line: Perception matters, and the optics of adding SDSU have improved for the conference.

Is the faith and trust given to commissioner George Kliavkoff and his team by the presidents, athletic directors and media warranted? Seems his 21 months on the job are void of accomplishments in this field, but includes several gaffes. — @D1963Mr

Kliavkoff was hired to usher the conference into a new era, with the media rights agreement as the centerpiece. He was dealt and bad hand and then lost the L.A. schools, but the endgame hasn’t changed:

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— If he crafts a media deal that keeps the conference together, the trust is warranted (although the specifics of the agreement would add nuance to the assessment).

— If he doesn’t, the conference will cease to exist, he’ll be out of a job, and his tenure will be deemed catastrophic.

We continue to believe survival is more likely.

Why not a Pac-8? Quality over quantity might increase payouts on a per-school basis. Cutting Oregon State and Washington State and replacing Cal with San Diego State would also reduce inventory, for which Amazon and ESPN don’t appear keen. — Yoni Cohen

Nobody is getting “cut.” No school has ever been booted from a conference because it wasn’t deemed valuable enough. The intra-state politics simply wouldn’t allow it.

However, the quality/quantity calculation is central to the expansion decision.

The remaining 10 schools could decide they are better off competitively and financially by standing down — that splitting the pie 12 ways isn’t worthwhile, even if the new schools enter at reduced revenue shares..

We believe expansion is more likely than not, especially with San Diego State’s Final Four appearance as the backdrop. But until the presidents vote to add members, we are left to guess.

Let’s play pretend and say the Pac-12 has blown up and ceases to exist. What happens to the Hotline? — Marshall Brown

Appreciate the interest.

The Hotline isn’t going anywhere. We cover the schools and the issues that matter to them, regardless of conference affiliation.

*** Send suggestions, comments and tips (confidentiality guaranteed) to pac12hotline@bayareanewsgroup.com or call 408-920-5716

*** Follow me on Twitter: @WilnerHotline

*** Pac-12 Hotline is not endorsed or sponsored by the Pac-12 Conference, and the views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the Conference.


Categories: Local News

Italy temporarily bans ChatGPT over privacy concerns

San Jose Mercury - Fri, 03/31/2023 - 11:27

By Livvy Doherty and Sharon Braithwaite | CNN

Regulators in Italy issued a temporary ban on ChatGPT Friday, effective immediately, due to privacy concerns and said they had opened an investigation into how OpenAI, the US company behind the popular chatbot, uses data.

Italy’s data protection agency said users lacked information about the collection of their data and that a breach at ChatGPT had been reported on March 20.

“There appears to be no legal basis underpinning the massive collection and processing of personal data in order to ‘train’ the algorithms on which the platform relies,” the agency said.

The Italian regulator also expressed concerns over the lack of age verification for ChatGPT users. It argued that this “exposes children to receiving responses that are absolutely inappropriate to their age and awareness.” The platform is supposed to be for users older than 13, it noted.

The data protection agency said OpenAI would be barred from processing the data of Italian users until it “respects the privacy regulation.”

OpenAI has been given 20 days to communicate the measures it will take to comply with Italy’s data rules. Otherwise, it could face a penalty of up to €20 million ($21.8 million), or up to 4% of its annual global turnover.

A global phenomenon

Since its public release four months ago, ChatGPT has become a global phenomenon, amassing millions of users impressed with its ability to craft convincing written content, including academic essays, business plans and short stories.

But concerns have also emerged about its rapid spread and what large-scale uptake of such tools could mean for society, putting pressure on regulators around the world to act.

The European Union is finalizing rules on the use of artificial intelligence in the bloc. In the meantime, EU companies must comply with the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, as well as the Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act, which apply to tech platforms.

Meanwhile, so-called “generative AI” tools available to the public are proliferating.

Earlier this month, OpenAI released GPT-4, a new version of the technology underpinning ChatGPT that is even more powerful. The company said the updated technology passed a simulated law school bar exam with a score around the top 10% of test takers; by contrast, the prior version, GPT-3.5, scored around the bottom 10%.

This week, some of the biggest names in tech, including Elon Musk, called for AI labs to stop the training of the most powerful AI systems for at least six months, citing “profound risks to society and humanity.”

— Julia Horowitz contributed reporting.

Categories: Local News

New Mexico Supreme Court blocks local abortion ordinances

Seattle Times - Fri, 03/31/2023 - 11:24

The New Mexico Supreme Court has granted a request by the state's Democratic attorney general to block local anti-abortion ordinances pending the outcome of an ongoing case.
Categories: Local News

<p>Aha! Somehow it &quot;lost&quot; it&

@Elfin - Fri, 03/31/2023 - 11:23

Aha! Somehow it "lost" it's token. All better now.

(I am too lazy to copy and paste.)

<p>Ok, let&#39;s see if the browser

@Elfin - Fri, 03/31/2023 - 11:21

Ok, let's see if the browser plugin to "Click + Share" to Mastodon works again.

xkcd: Qualifications

Google Drive does a surprise rollout of file limits, locking out some users

ARS Technica - Fri, 03/31/2023 - 11:21
The Google Workspace icons.

Enlarge / The Google Workspace icons. (credit: Google)

"Please delete 2 million files to continue using your Google Drive account." That was the message that Reddit user ra13 woke up to one day. Google apparently decided to put a hard limit on the number of files you're allowed to have on one Google Drive account. Google rolled out this file limit without warning anyone it would happen. Users over the limit found themselves suddenly locked out of new file uploads, and it was up to them to figure out what was going wrong.

Did we mention this all started in February? A post on the Google Drive API issue tracker shows some users have been seeing this error for almost two months now. The original message said: "The limit for the number of items, whether trashed or not, created by this account has been exceeded." And sometime in March, it was updated to say, "Error 403: This account has exceeded the creation limit of 5 million items. To create more items, move items to the trash and delete them forever." Since there is nothing anywhere that informs users Google Drive has a file limit, users originally thought this was a bug and asked Google to quickly fix it. It has been two months now, though, and Google has not issued a public response. Some users say they have gotten Google Support to privately confirm the limit is intended, and a pop-up message is starting to show up in the Drive UI for some users.

It might be understandable to limit a data hog abusing a free account, but that's not what's happening here. Google is selling this storage to users, via both the Google Workspace business accounts and the consumer-grade Google One storage plans. Google One tops out at 30TB of storage, which costs an incredible $150 a month to use. Google Workspace's formal plans cap out at 5TB, but an "Enterprise" plan promises "As much storage as you need." From what we can tell in the various comments on reddit and the issue tracker, both consumer and business account types are subject to this hidden 5 million file limit.

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Categories: Tech News

How a Trump-Era Rollback Mattered for Silicon Valley Bank’s Demise

N.Y. Times - Fri, 03/31/2023 - 11:12
An under-the-radar change to the way regional banks are supervised may have helped the bank’s rapidly growing risks to go unresolved.
Categories: Local News

Travel rewards programs shouldn’t be so annoying to use

San Jose Mercury - Fri, 03/31/2023 - 11:12

Even after the “revenge travel” craze of 2022, Americans are still eager to get out there. According to an email survey of its members from Going, a travel deals service, 68% of the 3,274 respondents say they plan to spend more on international travel in 2023 than they did in 2022.

Yet there’s just one problem: Travelers are also going broke. The No. 1 barrier to travel this year, according to the same survey, was a lack of money. So while inflation zaps budgets and consumers keep racking up credit card debt at a dizzying pace, those dream vacations might fizzle out.

Is it time to tap into those credit card points, airline miles and hotel rewards? It might be, but actually figuring out how to use those dang points poses its own problems. Earning travel rewards through credit card offers and travel spending is one thing; successfully redeeming them is quite another.

Consumers are confused

A stunning 84% of travelers cited user experience issues as their biggest frustration when using travel rewards, according to a survey of 2,041 U.S. consumers by iSeatz, a loyalty program service provider. A second survey from the same company asked 291 loyalty program service providers about their perceived issues and found that only 20% saw user experience as their biggest challenge.

Travelers, it seems, are fed up with the poor usability of these loyalty programs. And the programs themselves don’t even know it’s a problem.

For example, one of the best ways to maximize the value of American Airlines AAdvantage miles is by flying in business class to international destinations, especially on partner airlines such as Japan Airlines. Yet the American website and app offer a confusing mix of filtering and viewing options, which force users to either check each day individually in search of award availability or use a broader calendar view that doesn’t allow filtering for specific airlines.

It would be more streamlined if users could set filters like “business class” or “Japan Airlines” in the calendar view so that it would only display relevant dates. Instead, users are forced to hunt and peck manually through a sparsely populated award calendar.

This kind of user-unfriendliness is the rule with travel rewards programs. Want to transfer your credit card points to an airline that flies to Hawaii? Good luck finding any help within the credit card website itself. Instead, travelers must spend time searching for and researching these redemption options on third-party websites and message boards.

No incentive to improve

These loyalty programs are big business for travel brands. A recent report from On Point Loyalty, an advisory firm, estimated the value of these programs in the tens of billions:

  • Delta Air Lines SkyMiles: $28 billion.
  • American Airlines AAdvantage: $24 billion.
  • United Airlines MileagePlus: $22 billion.

The root of the problem is not that these programs can’t hire a user experience designer (or 20) to improve their search tools. It’s that they have a strong incentive to sign travelers up for their rewards programs, but not to get them to spend their points.

Plus, it’s hard to hold these programs accountable for poor user experience. NerdWallet’s annual ratings of airline and hotel programs consider dozens of factors, from the value of the points and miles themselves to the onboard movie selection. Yet it’s hard to quantify the user-friendliness of a website or app and therefore difficult to hold these programs responsible for their poor experience.

All is not lost

Given the status quo, things are unlikely to change in the near future, yet frustrated consumers do have some options. Third-party services such as Point.Me offer custom award search tools and concierge services to help travelers spend their points. These services aren’t free, but they can cut through some of the noise and offer travelers clear, actionable ways to use their miles.

And it’s usually possible to avoid the worst travel loyalty headaches by keeping things simple. Booking one-way domestic fares or using credit card points to book travel directly in a portal (rather than transferring to partners) might not offer the razzle-dazzle value of some other redemption options, but these methods make it relatively easy to book.

And when it comes to travel rewards, actually using those dang points and miles is a win.

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Sam Kemmis writes for NerdWallet. Email: skemmis@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @samsambutdif.

The article Travel Rewards Programs Shouldn’t Be So Annoying to Use originally appeared on NerdWallet.
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