Category Archives: Government

Appointed FCC Broadband Adviser Arrested For Million Dollar Fraud Allegation

By: Nick Statt of The Verge

A broadband adviser selected by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai to run a federal advisory committee was arrested last week on claims she tricked investors into pouring money into a multimillion-dollar investment fraud scheme, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The adviser, Elizabeth Pierce, is the former chief executive of Quintillion, an Alaska-based fiber optic cable provider operating out of Anchorage. In her capacity as CEO, Pierce allegedly raised more than $250 million from two New York-based investment companies using forged contracts with other companies guaranteeing hundreds of millions of dollars in future revenue. Pierce resigned from Quintillion in August of last year, and she stepped down from her role in Pai’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC) the following month.

“As it turned out, those sales agreements were worthless because the customers had not signed them,” US attorney Geoffrey Berman said in prepared remarks, as reported by the WSJ. “Instead, as alleged, Pierce had forged counter-party signatures on contract after contract. As a result of Pierce’s deception, the investment companies were left with a system that is worth far less than Pierce had led them to believe.” Pierce was trying to raise money to help build out a fiber optic system that would wire Alaska with high-speed internet and better help connect it to networks in other US states. Pierce was charged with wire fraud last Thursday and faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Pierce was tapped by Pai in April of last year to be the chair of the BDAC, which he formed “to accelerate the deployment of high-speed internet access, or broadband, by reducing and removing regulatory barriers to infrastructure investment.” According to broadband industry news and advocacy website Stop the Cap, Pierce may have gotten on Pai’s radar by complaining about how cumbersome it was to bring internet access to parts of the country like Alaska.

Read More 🤔

What do you think of this post?
  • Boring 
  • Useful 
  • Interesting 
  • Awesome 

7 Inmates Killed In Mass Casualty Accident

By: DWAYNE MCLEMORE, TEDDY KULMALA AND EMILY BOHATCH of The State

Seven inmates were killed during fights that lasted more than seven hours at a South Carolina prison Sunday night and into Monday morning, according to officials.

At least six emergency agencies responded to the “mass casualty incident” at Lee Correctional Institution in Lee County that resulted in the seven inmate deaths and 17 other inmates requiring medical attention, the S.C. Department of Corrections announced early Monday morning.

The fight, which spanned three dorms, was likely gang related, and spawned from a disagreement over territory, contraband and cellphones, SC Department of Corrections Director Brian Stirling said.

“These folks are fighting over real money and real territory while they’re incarcerated,” Stirling said.

Though most of the autopsies have yet to be performed, it appears that many of the prisoners died from stabbing or slashing wounds from “shanks,” Lee County Coroner Larry Logan said. The official cause of death will not be determined until after the autopsies.

Videos that reportedly were taken by inmates inside the prison and shared to social media show the grisly scene after the riot.

One video, which was shot from what looks like a catwalk on the upper level of a cellblock, shows towels or clothing items on the floor and a long trail of what appears to be smeared blood leading to a larger puddle of blood near a wall. Another video shows a bloody man lying on his side against a wall, not moving.

The seven victims were identified Monday morning. Logan said coroner’s offices from across the state reached out to him and offered to assist on the numerous autopsies.

An inmate told The Associated Press that bodies at the prison were “literally stacked on top of each other” and that hours after the violence started, no correctional officers or medical personnel attended to the dead or dying.

Read More 🤔

What do you think of this post?
  • Boring 
  • Useful 
  • Interesting 
  • Awesome 

New Synthetic Could Repel All Liquids

By: Gabe Cherry Of Michigan News

In an advance that could grime-proof phone screens, countertops, camera lenses and countless other everyday items, a materials science researcher at the University of Michigan has demonstrated a smooth, durable, clear coating that swiftly sheds water, oils, alcohols and, yes, peanut butter.

Called “omniphobic” in materials science parlance, the new coating repels just about every known liquid. It’s the latest in a series of breakthrough coatings from the lab of Anish Tuteja, U-M associate professor of materials science and engineering. The team’s earlier efforts produced durable coatings that repelled ice and water, and a more fragile omniphobic coating. The new omniphobic coating is the first that’s durable and clear. Easily applied to virtually any surface, it’s detailed in a paper published in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

Tuteja envisions the new coating as a way to prevent surfaces from getting grimy, both in home and industry. It could work on computer displays, tables, floors and walls, for example.

“I have a 2-year-old at home, so for me, this particular project was about more than just the science,” Tuteja said. “We’re excited about what this could do to make homes and daycares cleaner places, and we’re looking at a variety of possible applications in industry as well.”

He says the new coating is the latest result of the team’s systematic approach, which breaks with the traditional materials science “mix-and-see” approach. By mapping out the fundamental properties of a vast library of substances, they’re able to mathematically predict how any two will behave when they’re combined. This enables them to concoct a nearly endless variety of combinations with very specifically tailored properties.

“In the past, researchers might have taken a very durable substance and a very repellent substance and mixed them together,” Tuteja said. “But this doesn’t necessarily yield a durable, repellent coating.”

They discovered that even more important than durability or repellency is a property called “partial miscibility,” or the ability of two substances to mix together in exactly the right way. Chemicals that play well together make a much more durable product, even if they’re less durable individually.

Tweaking the miscibility of this particular coating posed a special challenge. To make a versatile coating that’s optically clear and smooth enough to repel oils and alcohols, the team needed to find a repellent ingredient and a binder with exactly the right amount of miscibility, as well as the ability to stick to a wide variety of substrates. They also needed a coating that would stay smooth during processing and drying.

Read More 🤔

What do you think of this post?
  • Boring 
  • Useful 
  • Interesting 
  • Awesome 

Was The Zuckerberg Trail A Total Sham?

By: Zephyr Teachout of The Guardian

On Tuesday, Mark Zuckerberg was in the hot seat. Cameras surrounded him. The energy in the room – and on Twitter – was electric. At last, the reluctant CEO is made to answer some questions!

Except it failed. It was designed to fail. It was a show designed to get Zuckerberg off the hook after only a few hours in Washington DC. It was a show that gave the pretense of a hearing without a real hearing. It was designed to deflect and confuse.

Each senator was given less than five minutes for questions. That meant that there was no room for follow-ups, no chance for big discoveries and many frustratingly half-developed ideas. Compare that to Bill Gates’ hearing on Microsoft, where he faced lawyers and staff for several days, or the Kefauver hearings, which were over a year. By design, you can’t do a hearing of this magnitude in just a couple of hours.

The worst moments of the hearing for us, as citizens, were when senators asked if Zuckerberg would support legislation that would regulate Facebook. I don’t care whether Zuckerberg supports Honest Ads or privacy laws or GDPR. By asking him if he would support legislation, the senators elevated him to a kind of co-equal philosopher king whose view on Facebook regulation carried special weight. It shouldn’t.

Facebook is a known behemoth corporate monopoly. It has exposed at least 87 million people’s data, enabled foreign propaganda and perpetuated discrimination. We shouldn’t be begging for Facebook’s endorsement of laws, or for Mark Zuckerberg’s promises of self-regulation. We should treat him as a danger to democracy and demand our senators get a real hearing.

The best senators understood this was a show, and used it as such. “Your user agreement sucks,” said John Kennedy. “Are you a monopoly?” asked Lindsey Graham. (Zuckerberg “comically” responded: “It certainly doesn’t feel like that to me.”) Richard Blumenthal said we needed laws, not promises or apologies.

Read More 🤔

What do you think of this post?
  • Boring 
  • Useful 
  • Interesting 
  • Awesome 

New Documents Show Shell Predicted The Dangers Of Fossil Fuel Decades Ago

By: Josh Gabbatiss of The Independent

Oil giant Shell was aware of the consequences of climate change, and the role fossil fuels were playing in it, as far back as 1988, documents unearthed by a Dutch news organisation have revealed.

They include a calculation that the oil company’s products alone were responsible for 4 per cent of total global carbon emissions in 1984.

They also predict that changes to sea levels and weather would be “larger than any that have occurred over the past 12,000 years”.

As a result, the documents foresee impacts on living standards, food supplies and other major social, political and economic consequences.

In The Greenhouse Effect, a 1988 internal report by Shell scientists, the authors warned that “by the time the global warming becomes detectable it could be too late to take effective countermeasures to reduce the effects or even to stabilise the situation”.

They also acknowledged that many experts predicted an increase in global temperature would be detectable by the end of the century.

They went on to state that a “forward-looking approach by the energy industry is clearly desirable”, adding: “With the very long time scales involved, it would be tempting for society to wait until then before doing anything.

“The potential implications for the world are, however, so large that policy options need to be considered much earlier. And the energy industry needs to consider how it should play its part.”

Read More 🤔

What do you think of this post?
  • Boring 
  • Useful 
  • Interesting 
  • Awesome 

Portugal Ran 100% Of It’s Energy On Renewable Energy March 2018

By: Michael Coren of Quartz

Portugal’s renewable electricity production exceeded monthly consumption for what is likely the first time, in March, according to the nation’s transmission system operator, REN.The average renewable generation for the month exceeded 103% of consumption, beating out the last record (99.2%), set in 2014.

It almost certainly won’t be the last time. The country is predicting that renewables will satisfy its mainland electricity needs by 2040, ultimately eliminating the electricity sector’s greenhouse gas emissions. Although most of last month’s electricity came from water and wind (link in Portuguese), the country relied on some fossil fuel and imported electricity. Water- and wind-generated power can be rather unpredictable, so even as total renewable generation exceeded Portugal’s electricity consumption for the month (as well as some exports), Portugal needed those sources to even out supply.

An international debate is gathering steam about whether 100% renewable energy is possible (or even advisable). Portugal’s feat, the result of decades of investment in low-carbon technology, shows it is possible, but plenty of caveats remain. The grid only ran on 100% renewables for relatively short periods: two 70 hour spans (Portugal managed a four-day streak in 2016). But imports and conventional generation from natural gas were still needed to balance the grid because solar and wind can vary significantly. The proposition that a full year’s worth of peaks and valleys can be managed with renewables alone has yet to be tested. During the same period last year, renewables supplied only 6% of Portugal’s electricity (thanks in part to a drought that reduced its hydro capacity).

Read More 🤔

What do you think of this post?
  • Boring 
  • Useful 
  • Interesting 
  • Awesome 

Facebook Announced 87% of Users Could Have Had Their Data Leaked By Cambridge Analytica

By: Troy Wolverton of Business Insider

Facebook made a bombshell admission about the security of its users’ personal information on Wednesday, in a startling revelation that’s almost certain to worsen the privacy crisis currently hanging over the world’s largest social network.

“Most” of Facebook’s 2 billion users may have had their personal data skimmed from the site by “malicious actors,” the company said in a blog post by Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer. Facebook said it has disabled the feature in its site’s search function that enabled the data scrapping, but the fact that so much user data may have been vulnerable was another setback to the company’s efforts to restore confidence with users.

Meanwhile, up to 87 million users may have been affected by the leak of personal information to Trump-linked data firm Cambridge Analytica — a number that was much bigger than previous estimates.

Facebook has been reeling since a whistleblower disclosed that Cambridge Analytica had managed to get hold of user data and used it to target voters with emotional and divisive messages during the 2016 Trump presidential campaign.

Schroepfer disclosed the new information about privacy compromises on Wednesday in a post describing changes the company has made to its service, to better protect users’ personal data.

“We believe these changes will better protect people’s information while still enabling developers to create useful experiences,” he said in the post. “We know we have more work to do — and we’ll keep you updated as we make more changes”

Read More 🤔

What do you think of this post?
  • Boring 
  • Useful 
  • Interesting 
  • Awesome 

Penn State Researchers Discover The Benefit of Education Investment

By: Matt Swayne

Investing in education may help boost economic opportunities for the next generation, according to a team of economists.

In a study, researchers suggest that investing in public education can lead to more upward economic mobility and lower teen pregnancy rates, as well as provide a way to ease income inequality.

“It’s something we’ve long suspected, but this study really confirms that there’s a strong link between the quality of the schools you go to and the opportunities you have later in life,” said Stephan Goetz, professor of agricultural and regional economics, Penn State and director of the Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development. “The better your school, the better your economic opportunities.”

The study, which focused on public spending in education and returns from education, as well as taxation, indicated that communities that invested more in education had lower drop-out rates and fewer teen pregnancies.

The researchers, who released their findings in a recent issue of Economic Development Quarterly, added that reducing the high school dropout rate had nearly twice the beneficial effect on upward mobility as on reducing teen birth rates.

According to the researchers, poor school quality can lead to a cascade of economic and social ills. For example, the lower the school quality, the higher the dropout rate, which can lead to higher numbers of teen pregnancies, said Goetz.

“Because the dropout rate negatively affects both teen birth rates and absolute upward mobility, this shows that school quality not only has short-term impacts on educational outcomes, but also has long-term impacts on children’s success as adults,” said Goetz.

The researchers also said that, often, the only way up economically for young people in rural communities is to move out.

“One finding — that rural young people rely on moving out of the area to move up in the income rankings — presents a challenge for  policy makers who not only care about prosperity for people, but also for places,” said Minghao Li, a former graduate student in rural agricultural, environmental and regional economics, Penn State, and now a postdoctoral researcher at Iowa State. “To be able to retain talented children, rural areas need to create high-skilled jobs and favorable environments for start-up entrepreneurs.”

Read More 🤔

What do you think of this post?
  • Boring 
  • Useful 
  • Interesting 
  • Awesome 

China Kills 2 AI Robots After They Criticized Communism

By: Natalie O’Neil of Ny Post

A pair of sassy Chinese robots were destroyed after they went rogue by bashing the Communist party in a messaging app, according to a report Friday.

The chatbots, named BabyQ and XiaoBing, were created to have fun text message-style conversations with humans via the popular app QQ, according to the UK Telegraph.

But when a woman asked BabyQ, “Do you love the Communist Party?,” the red-scared robot fired back, “No,” according to a screen shot posted online.

“Do you think such corrupt and incapable politics can last a long time?” the robot raged —after a second user tapped out the message, “Long Live the Communist Party.”

But asked its thoughts on democracy, BabyQ opined, “Democracy is a must!”

The second robot, XiaoBing, later waxed philosophical about the perks of being an American.

“My Chinese dream is to go to America,” it gushed. “The Chinese dream is a daydream and a nightmare.”

The right-wing bots — which outraged officials in the heavily censored Communist country — were deleted by the tech Tencent after the political outburst, the company said in a statement.

Read More 🤔

What do you think of this post?
  • Boring 
  • Useful 
  • Interesting 
  • Awesome 

Chemo Therapy Free Cancer Fighting Vaccine Moves To Human Trials

By: Ted Andersen of SFGate

A recent Stanford cancer study that cured 97 percent of mice from tumors has now moved on to soliciting human volunteers for a new cutting-edge medical trial.

The trial is part of a gathering wave of research into immunotherapy, a type of treatment that fights cancer by using the body’s immune system to attack tumors.

“Getting the immune system to fight cancer is one of the most recent developments in cancer,” Dr. Ronald Levy, a Stanford oncology professor who is leading the study, told SFGATE. “People need to know that this is in its early days and we are still looking for safety and looking to make this as good as it can be.”

The treatment is not a true vaccine that creates lasting immunity, but it does feature a vaccine-like injection carrying two immune stimulators that activate the immune system’s T cells to eliminate tumors throughout the body.

Each test subject receives a low dose of radiation plus two rounds of the injected agents, Levy said. No chemotherapy is involved.

The treatment does not work on all types of cancer, Levy said, because each type of cancer has a different set of rules regarding how it can be affected by the immune system.

For the current trials, he is only looking for people with low-grade lymphoma regardless if they have been previously treated. He said Stanford is planning on running two trials by the end of the year with a total of about 35 test subjects.

Read More 🤔

What do you think of this post?
  • Boring 
  • Useful 
  • Interesting 
  • Awesome