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Topics - vox_mundi

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The rest / Port of Beirut Explosion
« on: August 04, 2020, 08:37:50 PM »
This is very, very bad ...

Port of Beirut Explosion

As smoke clears, port of Beirut devastated- added to casualties- billons of $ in imports including national wheat silos-seem to have been eviscerated. Homes shattered for miles. Damages will be massive and could not come at worse time when everyone is broke and hungry.

I'll update shortly


The bane of working with 5pt type on a smartphone. Thanks bk


Glaciers / Vavilov Ice Cap - Severnaya Zemlya
« on: December 18, 2019, 01:37:17 AM »
Unusual Glacier Flow, First-Ever Look at Ice Stream Formation

Scientists have captured the birth of a high-speed ice feature for the first time on top of a Russian glacier.

In a remote archipelago of the Russian Arctic, Vavilov Ice Cap had been moving at a glacial pace for decades. Then, in 2013, it suddenly started spewing ice into the sea, flowing in what scientists call a glacial surge. But a new study suggests this surge has now become something entirely different.

The authors of the new study published in the AGU journal Geophysical Research Letters have documented what they believe is the first observation of a transition from a glacial surge to a longer-lasting flow called an ice stream.

Ice streams and glacial surges were believed to be separate phenomena driven by different mechanisms.

... if the authors of the new study are correct, glacial surges could instead be an early stage of an ice stream. If surging ice can form an ice stream on a glacier like Vavilov, then other ice caps (... Greenland, Antarctica) might also experience similar rapid ice loss

... "If that's true, we probably have to revise our predictions for the impact of global sea level rise in the future,"

- Whyjay Zheng, Ph.D. - lead author of the new study.

Glacial surges transport massive amounts of ice in a short amount of time, typically a few months to several years. On the other hand, ice streams can maintain a constant, rapid flow for decades to centuries.

From the time the surge at Vavilov began in 2013 until the spring of 2019, the ice cap lost 9.5 billion tons of ice, or 11 percent of the ice mass of the entire glacier basin. ...

Open Access: Whyjay Zheng et al, The Possible Transition From Glacial Surge to Ice Stream on Vavilov Ice Cap, Geophysical Research Letters (2019)

The politics / Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
« on: November 13, 2019, 05:52:27 PM »

The phase “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes,”is a Latin phrase by Juvenal, the Roman poet, translated as "Who watches the watchmen", "Who watches the watchers", "Who will guard the guards", or something similar.

I think it's an appropriate phrase for a thread to cover the subject of corporate & state surveillance, facial recognition, the erosion of anonymity and the use of this information to manipulate (or subjugate) people in today's cyber connected world.

This covers a lot of territory; from China's surveillance of Uyghurs and their own citizens, to the use of facial recognition by US police, and social medias intrusion into our lives.


To TPTB: If the subject is a distraction, feel free to make it invisible on the Home/Index page.


Google: You Can Trust Us With the Medical Data You Didn’t Know We Already Had

Google now has access to detailed medical records on almost 50 million Americans, but the company promises it won't mix that medical data with any of the other data Google collects on consumers who use its services. (... funny, I don't recall consenting to that)

... Patient data shared with Google includes names, birth dates, addresses, family members, allergies, immunizations, radiology scans, hospitalization records, lab tests, medications, medical conditions, "and some billing claims and other clinical records," according to a followup article in the Journal. The partnership "covers the personal health records of around 50 million patients of Ascension," the Wall Street Journal wrote.

The Journal said that "Neither doctors nor patients have been formally notified of the arrangement" and that Google and Ascension began the project "in secret last year."

Google said its work with Ascension is similar to what it was already doing with "dozens of other health care providers."

The news about Google's work with Ascension comes as Google is trying to buy Fitbit for $2.1 billion, in a deal that is pending regulatory approval. Fitbit devices are used for health tracking, among other things, and Google wants to use Fitbit to bolster its existing Wear OS platform.

Update ... The Google/Ascension project is now being investigated by the Office for Civil Rights in the Department of Health and Human Services, the Wall Street Journal reported in an update last night. The office said it "will seek to learn more information about this mass collection of individuals' medical records to ensure that HIPAA protections were fully implemented."


If You've Given Your DNA to a DNA Database, US Police May Now Have Access To It

In the past week, news has spread of a Florida judge's decision to grant a warrant allowing police to search one of the world's largest online DNA databases, for leads in a criminal case.

The warrant reportedly approved the search of open source genealogy database GEDMatch. An estimated 1.3 million users have uploaded their DNA data onto it, without knowing it would be accessible by law enforcement.

GEDmatch lets users upload their raw genetic data, obtained from companies such as Ancestry or 23andMe, to be matched with relatives who have also uploaded their data.

The terms of the warrant granted in Florida allowed access to the full database—including individuals who had not opted in. This directly overrides explicit user consent.


US Violated Constitution by Searching Phones for No Good Reason, Judge Rules

A federal court in Boston ruled on Tuesday that suspicionless searches of electronics at U.S. border crossings are unconstitutional, finding that reasonable suspicion of an actual crime is required before authorities can demand access to cell phones and other devices.

CBP defines "advanced" searches as those "in which an officer connects external equipment, through a wired or wireless connection, to an electronic device, not merely to gain access to the device, but to review, copy and/or analyze its contents." Anything short of that is a "basic" search.

The ruling came in a case filed "on behalf of 11 travelers whose smartphones and laptops were searched without individualized suspicion at US ports of entry," the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said today. The ACLU teamed up with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to fight the government on behalf of plaintiffs including 10 US citizens and one lawful permanent resident.

One plaintiff "observed a CBP officer viewing communications between her and her lawyer," another plaintiff's "phone contained information from his work as a journalist," and another plaintiff's "phone was a work phone officially owned by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory," the ruling said. Federal officials did not dispute that they retained information that they got from these searches of electronic devices.

Multiple plaintiffs had their electronic devices seized during the border searches, although they were later returned.

"The district court order puts an end to CBP and ICE's asserted authority to search and seize travelers' devices for purposes far afield from the enforcement of immigration and customs laws," the ACLU announcement said. "Border officers must now demonstrate individualized suspicion of contraband before they can search a traveler's device." ...


Facebook Bug Shows Camera Is Covertly Activated In Background During App Use

When you're scrolling through Facebook's app, the social network could be using your camera, concerned users have found. Multiple people have found and reported that their iPhone cameras were turned on in the background while they were looking at their feed.

The issue came to light through several posts on Twitter. Users noted that their cameras were activated behind Facebook's app as they were watching videos or looking at photos on the social network. 

After people clicked on the video to full screen, returning it back to normal would create a bug in which Facebook's mobile layout was slightly shifted to the right. With the open space on the left, you could now see the phone's camera activated in the background.

This was documented in multiple cases, with the earliest incident on Nov. 2.


Edward Snowden Says Facebook is Just as Untrustworthy as the NSA

... “Facebook’s internal purpose, whether they state it publicly or not, is to compile perfect records of private lives to the maximum extent of their capability, and then exploit that for their own corporate enrichment. And damn the consequences,” Snowden told Swisher. “This is actually precisely the same as what the NSA does. Google ... has a very similar model. They go, ‘Oh, we’re connecting people.’ They go, ‘Oh, we’re organizing data.’” Although, Snowden said, these companies still don’t know as much as the government, which can gather information from all of the many tech platforms.

“The more Google knows about you, the more Facebook knows about you, the more they are able ... to create permanent records of private lives, the more influence and power they have over us,” Snowden told Swisher. “There is no good reason why Google should be able to read your email. There is no good reason why Google should know the messages that you’re sending to your friend. Facebook shouldn’t be able to see what you’re saying when you’re writing to your mother.”

Snowden also pointed out that the Fourth Amendment — which protects citizens from searches unless law enforcement has a warrant or probable cause — only applies to government, not to companies. So while the FBI might need a warrant to probe your inbox, there’s no constitutional barrier to a company like Facebook searching and retrieving people’s private information without a judge’s approval.


US Customs Officer Harasses Defense One Journalist at Dulles Airport

A U.S. passport screening official held a Defense One journalist’s passport until he received an affirmative answer to this repeated question: “You write propaganda, right?

The incident took place about 4 p.m. on Thursday at Dulles International Airport. News Editor Ben Watson was returning from an assignment in Denmark when he entered permanent resident reentry aisle No. 17 at Dulles. After the Customs and Border Protection official asked the usual question about undeclared fruit or meat, the interaction took an unusual and unsettling turn.

Watson recalls the conversation:

CBP officer, holding Watson’s passport: “What do you do?

Watson: “Journalism.”

CBP officer: “So you write propaganda, right?

Watson: “No.”

CBP officer: “You’re a journalist?

Watson: “Yes.

CBP officer: “You write propaganda, right?

Watson: “No. I am in journalism. Covering national security. And homeland security. And with many of the same skills I used in the U.S. Army as a public affairs officer. Some would argue that’s propaganda.

CBP officer: “You’re a journalist?

Watson: “Yes.

CBP officer: “You write propaganda, right?

Watson waited five seconds. Then: “For the purposes of expediting this conversation, yes.

CBP officer, a fourth time: “You write propaganda, right?

Watson, again: “For the purposes of expediting this conversation, yes.

CBP officer: “Here you go.”

At that point, the CBP officer handed back the passport.


Consequences / IPCC Ocean & Cryosphere Report 2019
« on: September 25, 2019, 01:40:08 PM »
IPCC Ocean & Cryosphere Report: Humans are Rapidly Turning Oceans into Warm, Acidifying Basins Hostile to Life

A new UN report warns changes to the oceans this century will be “unprecedented.”

“The ocean has been acting like a sponge, absorbing heat and carbon dioxide to regulate global temperatures, but it can’t keep up,” IPCC vice chair Ko Barrett said at a press conference. “The world’s oceans and cryosphere have been taking the heat of climate change for decades. The consequences for nature and humanity are sweeping and severe.”

On Wednesday, the IPCC, convened by the UN to assess climate science, released a summary of the report on the oceans and frozen regions of the world, or cryosphere, for policymakers after more than 100 scientists reviewed thousands of scientific papers. The findings are immense and comprehensive, and seeing them all in one place is sobering.

In all, “over the 21st century, the ocean is projected to transition to unprecedented conditions,” the report warns. The ocean will be warmer, more acidic, hold less oxygen, be more greatly stratified (i.e. the top and bottom layers won’t mix as much). Ocean heat waves are growing more common, and it’s likely extreme El Niño and La Niña systems will form, leading to more extreme weather around the globe.

... The report makes it clear: the two largest ice sheets on Earth — the Greenland ice sheet, and the Antarctic ice sheet — are melting at an accelerating rate. “Mass loss from the Antarctic ice sheet over the period 2007 – 2016 tripled relative to 1997 –2006,” the report finds. “For Greenland, mass loss doubled over the same period.”

The new IPCC report finds that “between 1979 and 2018, Arctic sea ice extent has very likely decreased for all months of the year.” Additionally, every year, the amount of ice older than five years (which is thicker and more stable) decreases in proportion to young ice. It’s a sign the whole region is unstable.

Consequences / 2019 World Economic Forum: Global Risk Report
« on: January 16, 2019, 05:07:35 PM »
Warning to Davos: World 'Sleep-Walking' Into Climate Disaster

The risks of catastrophic weather and flooding from climate change top the list of concerns for business leaders heading into next week's World Economic Forum meeting in Davos

An annual WEF report—based on a survey of about 1,000 respondents drawn from the Davos community of company chiefs, politicians, civil society and academics—listed climate change as the dominant concern for a third year running.

The Global Risks Report 2019 is published against a backdrop of worrying geopolitical and geo-economic tensions. If unresolved, these tensions will hinder the world’s ability to deal with a growing range of collective challenges, from the mounting evidence of environmental degradation to the increasing disruptions of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

"The world is sleep-walking into catastrophe," Alison Martin, group chief risk officer at Zurich Insurance Group, said at the launch of the 114-page report in London on Wednesday.

The WEF report showed mounting alarm about the risks of extreme weather and a failure to take mitigating action as temperatures rise, detailing the possibility of many low-lying cities in Asia, Europe and North America being wiped off the map by flooding.

China alone has more than 78 million people in cities at risk of inundation, a number increasing by three percent every year, the report said, citing World Bank research.

Martin at Zurich Insurance Group said 2018 was already marked by historic wildfires, heavy flooding and rising greenhouse gas emissions.

"It is no surprise that in 2019, environmental risks once again dominate the list of major concerns. So, too, does the growing likelihood of environmental policy failure or a lack of timely policy implementation," she warned.

For environmentalists, such a policy failure has been made more likely by the election of Brazil's far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, who is due to address the annual WEF gathering.

Like Trump, Bolsonaro is a climate sceptic. But the two populist leaders won't get to rub shoulders in Switzerland after the US president cancelled his trip owing to the budget crisis in Washington.


... Future Shocks: As the world becomes more complex and interconnected, incremental change is giving way to the instability of feedback loops, threshold effects and cascading disruptions. Sudden and dramatic breakdowns—future shocks—become more likely. In this section, we present 10 such potential future shocks. Some are more speculative than others; some build on risks that have already begun to crystallize. These are not predictions. They are food for thought and action—what are the possible future shocks that could fundamentally disrupt or destabilize your world, and what can you do to prevent them?

- Food Supply Disruption Emerges As A Tool As Geo-Economic Tensions Intensify

- Use Of Weather Manipulation Tools Stokes Geopolitical Tensions

- Advanced And Pervasive Biometric Surveillance Allows New Forms Of Social Control

- In A World Of Diverging Values, Human Rights Are Openly Breached Without Consequence

- Escalating Protectionist Impulses Call Into Question Independence Of Central Banks

- Widening Gulf Between Urban And Rural Areas Reaches A Tipping Point

- Quantum Computing Renders Current Cryptography Obsolete

- AI That Can Recognize And Respond To Emotions Creates New Possibilities For Harm

- Low Earth Orbit Becomes A Venue For Geopolitical Conflict

When something goes wrong in a complex system, problems start popping up everywhere, and it is hard to figure out what’s happening. And tight coupling means that the emerging problems quickly spiral out of control and even small errors can cascade into massive meltdowns.

US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) Report: 'China Military Power'; China’s Military Is Getting Better at a Lot of Things at Once

DIA’s ‘Russia Military Power’

DIA's 2018 Global Nuclear Landscape

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