GilmerFreePress.net

Science and Technology

The Free Press WV

►  Google, GoDaddy boot neo-Nazi site that mocked rally victim

A leading neo-Nazi website was sporadically accessible Monday despite efforts by website registration companies Google and GoDaddy to oust it after it mocked the woman killed in a deadly attack at a white nationalist rally in Virginia.

Google said Monday that it was canceling the domain name registration of The Daily Stormer for violating its terms of service. The registration had moved there after GoDaddy tweeted late Sunday night that it had given The Daily Stormer 24 hours to move its domain to another provider, also because the site had violated the Scottsdale, Arizona-based company’s terms of service.

GoDaddy spokesman Dan Race said the move was prompted by a post on the site about Heather Heyer, who was killed Saturday when a car plowed into a group of demonstrators in Charlottesville. The post, written by The Daily Stormer’s publisher Andrew Anglin, called her “fat” and “childless” and said “most people are glad she is dead, as she is the definition of uselessness.”

“Given their latest article comes on the immediate heels of a violent act, we believe this type of article could incite additional violence, which violates our terms of service,” Race said in an emailed statement.

Shortly after GoDaddy tweeted its decision, the site posted an article claiming it had been taken over by hackers associated with “Anonymous” and would be shut down, and it was briefly down Monday before becoming accessible again.

One of The Daily Stormer’s contributors said the post about the site being taken over was just a prank.

“We’re a convivial publication. We have a lot of fun with it,” said Andrew Auernheimer, a notorious hacker and internet troll who writes for the site.

Auernheimer, known online as “weev,” said GoDaddy hadn’t contacted The Daily Stormer to explain its decision. He said the site has an alternate domain name that it can use if GoDaddy cancels its service.

“We’ll get it taken care of,” Auernheimer said. “If we need a new domain, we’ll get a new domain.”

GoDaddy isn’t The Daily Stormer’s host, which means the site’s content isn’t on the company’s servers, according to Race. “Only the domain is with GoDaddy,” Race added.

However, canceling a domain name has the effect of making a website unreachable, regardless of where it’s hosted.

Anglin’s site takes its name from Der Stürmer, a newspaper that published Nazi propaganda. The site includes sections called “Jewish Problem” and “Race War.”

The Daily Stormer is infamous for orchestrating internet harassment campaigns carried out by its “Troll Army” of readers. Its targets have included prominent journalists, a Jewish woman who was running for a California congressional seat and Alex Jones, a radio host and conspiracy theorist whom Anglin derided as a “Zionist Millionaire.”

In April, a Montana woman sued Anglin after her family became the target of another Daily Stormer trolling campaign. Tanya Gersh’s suit claims anonymous internet trolls bombarded Gersh’s family with hateful and threatening messages after Anglin published their personal information in a post accusing her and other Jewish residents of Whitefish, Montana, of engaging in an “extortion racket” against the mother of white nationalist Richard Spencer.

The Daily Stormer used a crowdfunding website, WeSearchr, to raise more than $152,000 in donations from nearly 2,000 contributors to help pay for Anglin’s legal expenses.

Other internet services have taken similar action against The Daily Stormer since Anglin founded it in 2013. In 2015, Anglin said PayPal had permanently banned him from using the service. And he complained in January that a Ukrainian advertising company had banned them, leaving an Australian electrician as the site’s only advertiser.


►  Netflix wins ‘Scandal’ creator Rhimes in blow to Disney, ABC

Netflix has lured Shonda Rhimes, the well-regarded creator of TV series “Scandal” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” from ABC, its latest big get as media companies old and new fight for viewers’ attention.

The streaming service’s announcement late Sunday comes just days after ABC owner Disney laid out plans to pull programming from Netflix.

Netflix said Rhimes’ Shondaland production company is moving to Netflix for a multi-year deal. New ideas and projects from Rhimes and her producing partner, Betsy Beers, will be available on the streaming service.

“Starting today, we are thrilled to begin creating new Shondaland stories with Netflix,” Rhimes wrote.

But her existing, well-known shows — “Grey’s Anatomy,” ?Scandal” and “How to Get Away With Murder” — will remain on the network. Upcoming Shondaland projects already in the works, like the drama “For the People” and a “Grey’s” spinoff, will also still stay with ABC. Rhimes has had exclusive deals with ABC Studios for nearly 15 years.

ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey said “fans can rest assured” that the network’s Thursday night lineup of Rhimes-produced shows “remains intact and will be as buzzed about as ever.” Rhimes’ shows have been among ABC’s top-rated series.

“I’m proud to have given a home to what have become some of the most celebrated and talked about shows on television,” Dungey said in an emailed statement.

Financial terms of the Netflix deal weren’t disclosed, nor were details on how long Rhimes and her company will produce series for Netflix.

Disney, meanwhile, said last week that it was creating a new streaming service of its own for kids and launching an online-subscription version of ESPN.

Disney said it will pull Disney and Pixar movies and shows from Netflix for the new service aimed at kids, expected to launch in 2019. ABC shows won’t be included, but Disney has hinted that it could shift more content to this new moDelegate Disney is also launching an ESPN streaming service, without pro football and basketball, early next year. It has said it might also sell the full ESPN channel directly to viewers online if viewership disintegrates; currently, a cable or satellite subscription is required.

Disney is setting itself up for the future as ratings for traditional TV have suffered. Competition for viewers is increasing and attention is shifting online, where video can be watched on a viewer’s schedule — an option Netflix has taught viewers to love.

ABC ended the traditional TV season in May at the No. 3 slot among the big broadcasters and down 9 percent in the ratings, according to NielSenator It’s rebooting “Roseanne” and “American Idol” in the 2017-18 season and bringing back popular comedies “black-ish” and “Modern Family.”

Netflix continues to invest in more original programming to win those eyeballs. It’s not competing with just cable anymore. Traditional TV companies have launched or are planning a slew of streaming services , and tech companies like Amazon and Google’s YouTube have as well. In the past few weeks, Netflix has signed up David Letterman and bought a comic book publisher to turn its characters into movies and shows.

Rhimes wrote in a statement that she was grateful to ABC for giving her career a start, but she was looking forward to expanding her audience and “creative identity” with Netflix.

Rhimes’ shows are known for their diverse casts, cliffhangers and dramatic twists set in American institutions like universities, hospitals and the White House.

“Shonda Rhimes paved the way for a lot of the transformation that we are seeing in television today,” said UCLA professor Darnell Hunt, who studies diversity in the entertainment industry.

Hunt said television executives are beginning to understand that getting more minorities in top roles isn’t just marketable, but “demanded by increasingly diverse audiences.” He said digital platforms like Netflix have lagged traditional TV in diversity — and Rhimes could help change that.

Rhimes wrote that she and Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos had developed a plan for the next phase of her career. She said Netflix offered her and her team “limitless possibilities.”

“I’ve gotten the chance to know Shonda and she’s a true Netflixer at heart — she loves TV and films, she cares passionately about her work, and she delivers for her audience,” Sarandos wrote.

Rhimes, 47, has been nominated for three Emmy Awards, all for her work on “Grey’s Anatomy.” The long-running series begins its 14th season next month. “Scandal” will return for its seventh and final season in October.


►  Science Says: Lightning is zapping fewer Americans, not more

Lightning — once one of nature’s biggest killers —is claiming far fewer lives in the United States, mostly because we’ve learned to get out of the way.

In the 1940s, when there were fewer people, lightning killed more than 300 people annually. So far this year, 13 people have died after being struck, on pace for a record low of 17 deaths. Taking the growing population into account, the lightning death rate has shrunk more than forty-fold since record-keeping began in 1940.

People seem to be capturing the phenomenon more on camera than before, making it seem like something new and sizzling is going on in the air. Separate videos last month of a Florida lifeguard and an airport worker being hit by lightning went viral. Both survived.

Lightning strikes have not changed — they hit about the same amount as they used to, said Pennsylvania State University meteorology professor Paul Markowski.

A big difference: Fewer of us are outside during bad weather. If we’re not huddled indoors, we’re often in cars. Vehicles with metal roofs — not convertibles — are safe from lightning, experts say.

“As a society we spend less time outside,” said Harold Brooks, a scientist at the National Weather Service’s National Severe Storms Laboratory. “Especially farmers. There aren’t just many farmers around.”

Decades ago, farmers would be in fields and were the tallest object, making them most likely to get hit, said National Weather Service lightning safety specialist John Jensenius Jr.

That helps explain the drop in yearly lightning deaths from about 329 in the 1940s to about 98 in the 1970s. The numbers have kept plunging since. From 2007-2016, average yearly deaths dropped to 31.

Improved medical care also has played a key role, including wider use of defibrillators and more CPR-trained bystanders.

When Dr. Mary Ann Cooper started out in the emergency room in the 1970s, there was nothing in textbooks about how to treat lightning victims.

Now instead of treating lightning patients the same way as people who touch high-voltage wires and are burned, doctors focus more on the neurological damage, said Cooper, professor emerita of emergency medicine at the University of Illinois in Chicago.

Perhaps the biggest reason deaths are down is because of efforts to teach people not to get hit in the first place.

“We’ve equipped the public by saying, ‘When thunder roars, go indoors .’ Three-year-olds can remember that,” Cooper said.

Men are four times more likely to be killed by lightning in the U.S. than women, statistics show. Men do riskier things that get them in trouble in storms, Cooper and Jensenius said.

“Our victims are at the wrong place at the wrong time. The wrong place is anywhere outside. The wrong time is anywhere that you can hear thunder,” said Jensenius.

In July — the deadliest month for lightning in the U.S. — vacationers Andre Bauldock and Lamar Rayfield were on a beach in Florida when a thunderstorm rolled in.

“We ignored it. We were just thinking it was going to pass over soon,” recalled Bauldock. “We could see the sun in the distance. I was admiring the lightning out in the ocean and I thought it was far away.”

The next thing Bauldock remembers is waking up in a parking lot surrounded by people. He was told the lightning struck his friend’s stomach and then hit him. They both fell over. Rayfield eventually died.

An analysis of 352 U.S. lightning deaths from 2006 to 2016 found people were most often doing something near water — fishing, camping and beach activities— when they were hit. Golf doesn’t even crack the top dozen activities, but soccer does, said Jensenius.

James Church was hit earlier this year in Florida as his first cast of the day flew through the air.

“I woke up. I couldn’t move. It was like an elephant sitting on me, not a single muscle would work,” Church recalled. “My eyes were working, my brain was working ... I couldn’t feel anything.”

Science and Technology

The Free Press WV

►  More than spectacle: Eclipses create science and so can you

The sun is about to spill some of its secrets, maybe even reveal a few hidden truths of the cosmos. And you can get in on the act next week if you are in the right place for the best solar eclipse in the U.S. in nearly a century.

Astronomers are going full blast to pry even more science from the mysterious ball of gas that’s vital to Earth. They’ll look from the ground, using telescopes, cameras, binoculars and whatever else works. They’ll look from the International Space Station and a fleet of 11 satellites in space. And in between, they’ll fly three planes and launch more than 70 high-altitude balloons .

“We expect a boatload of science from this one,” said Jay Pasachoff, a Williams College astronomer who has traveled to 65 eclipses of all kinds.

Scientists will focus on the sun, but they will also examine what happens to Earth’s weather, to space weather, and to animals and plants on Earth as the moon totally blocks out the sun. The moon’s shadow will sweep along a narrow path, from Oregon to South Carolina.

Between NASA and the National Science Foundation, the federal government is spending about $7.7 million on next Monday’s eclipse. One of the NASA projects has students launching the high-altitude balloons to provide “live footage from the edge of space” during the eclipse.

But it’s not just the professionals or students. NASA has a list of various experiments everyday people can do.

“Millions of people can walk out on their porch in their slippers and collect world-class data,” said Matt Penn, an astronomer at the National Solar Observatory in Tucson, Arizona.

Penn is chief scientist for a National Science Foundation-funded movie project nicknamed Citizen CATE. More than 200 volunteers have been trained and given special small telescopes and tripods to observe the sun at 68 locations in the exact same way. The thousands of images from the citizen-scientists will be combined for a movie of the usually hard-to-see sun’s edge.

Mike Conley, a Salem, Oregon, stock trader whose backyard is studded with telescopes, jumped at the chance to be part of the science team.

“Who knows? Maybe a great secret will come of this, the mysteries of the sun will be revealed, because we’re doing something that’s never been done before and we’re getting data that’s never been seen before,” he said. “A big discovery will come and everybody will say, ‘Hey, we were part of that!’”

You don’t need to have telescopes to help out. You can use the iNaturalist app via the California Academy of Sciences and note the reaction of animals and plants around you. You can go to a zoo, like the Nashville Zoo, where they are asking people to keep track of what the animals are doing. The University of California, Berkeley, is seeking photos and video for its Eclipse Megamovie 2017, hoping to get more than 1,000 volunteers.

Even with all the high-tech, high-flying instruments now available, when it comes to understanding much of the sun’s mysteries, nothing beats an eclipse, said Williams College’s Pasachoff. That’s because the sun is so bright that even satellites and special probes can’t gaze straight at the sun just to glimpse the outer crown, or corona. Satellites create artificial eclipses to blot out the sun, but they can’t do it as well as the moon, he said.

The corona is what astronomers really focus on during an eclipse. It’s the sun’s outer atmosphere where space weather originates, where jutting loops of red glowing plasma lash out and where the magnetic field shows fluctuations. The temperature in the outer atmosphere is more than 1 million degrees hotter than it is on the surface of the sun and scientists want to figure out why.

“It’s ironic that we’ve learned most about the sun when its disk is hidden from view,” said Fred “Mr. Eclipse ” Espenak, a retired NASA astronomer who specialized in eclipses for the space agency.

And they learn other things, too. Helium — the second most abundant element in the universe — wasn’t discovered on Earth until its chemical spectrum was spotted during an eclipse in 1868, Espenak said.

But that discovery is eclipsed by what an eclipse did for Albert Einstein and physics.

Einstein was a little known scientist in 1915 when he proposed his general theory of relativity, a milestone in physics that says what we perceive as the force of gravity is actually from the curvature of space and time. It explains the motion of planets, black holes and the bending of light from distant galaxies.

Einstein couldn’t prove it but said one way to do so was to show that light from a distant star bends during an eclipse. During a 1919 eclipse, Arthur Eddington observed the right amount of bending, something that couldn’t be done without the moon’s shadow eclipsing the sun.

“It marked a complete change in the understanding of the universe,” said Mark Littmann of the University of Tennessee, a former planetarium director. “Bang. Right there.”


►  SpaceX launching research to space station _ plus ice cream

SpaceX is about to launch a few tons of research to the International Space Station — plus ice cream.

An unmanned Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to blast off at 12:31 p.m. Monday from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center.

Experiments make up most of the 6,400 pounds of cargo. That includes 20 mice. The Dragon capsule is also doubling as an ice cream truck this time. There was extra freezer space, so NASA packed little cups of vanilla, chocolate and birthday cake ice cream for the station’s crew of six, as well as ice cream candy bars. Those treats should be especially welcomed by U.S. astronaut Peggy Whitson, in orbit since November.

As usual on these cargo flights, SpaceX will try to land its leftover booster back at Cape Canaveral.


►  Science Says: Fast-melting Arctic sign of bad global warming

One of the coldest places on Earth is so hot it’s melting.

Glaciers, sea ice and a massive ice sheet in the Arctic are thawing from toasty air above and warm water below. The northern polar region is heating up twice as fast as the rest of the planet and that’s setting off alarm bells.

“The melting of the Arctic will come to haunt us all,” said German climate scientist Stefan Rahmstorf.

While global leaders set a goal of preventing 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) of man-made warming since pre-industrial times, the Arctic has already hit that dangerous mark. Last year, the Arctic Circle was about 3.6 degrees (6.5 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than normal.

CAUSES OF WARMING

Earth is getting hotter because of the buildup of heat-trapping gases spewed into the air by the burning of coal, oil and natural gas, according to decades of peer-reviewed research. Scientists have long predicted the Arctic would warm first and faster than the rest of the globe. Real-time measurements are proving them right.

The Arctic is mostly ocean covered with a layer of ice; changes from ice to water often kick in a cycle that contributes to global warming.

Sea ice is white and it reflects the sun’s heat back into space. But when it melts, it’s replaced with dark ocean that strongly absorbs it, said former NASA chief scientist Waleed Abdalati, who heads the environmental research program at the University of Colorado.

That heat gets transferred back up to the atmosphere in the fall and winter. As that happens, water vapor — a greenhouse gas — hangs around, trapping more heat. More clouds form around that time, also acting as a blanket, said Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado.

ROLE OF WINTER

Winter is crucial. Three times in the past two cold seasons, air temperatures near the North Pole were near or even a shade above freezing. That’s about 50 degrees warmer than it should be. From last November through February, Barrow, Alaska — the northernmost U.S. city — was 7 degrees Celsius (13 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than the 20th century average, and much of the Atlantic Arctic off Norway and Greenland was as hot.

Warm winters weaken sea ice, which floats on the ocean surface. It’s supposed to recover, spread more across the Arctic and get thicker in the winter so it can withstand the warmth of the summer. But a warmer winter means less protection when the heat hits.

In September 2016, the time of year the spread of ice across the Arctic is at its lowest, Arctic sea ice was the second lowest day on record, about 40 percent below the lowest day measured in 1979 when satellite records started. Between those two days 37 years apart, the Arctic lost enough sea ice to cover Alaska, Texas and California combined.

Then it didn’t grow back that much this winter, setting record low amounts from November through March, when sea ice reaches its peak spread.

BEYOND THE ARCTIC

Of all the global warming warning signs in the Arctic, “it is the sea ice that is screaming the loudest,” Serreze said.

That’s a problem because a growing body of studies connects dwindling sea ice to wild weather. The reduced winter sea ice interacts with warmer oceans to change conditions in the air that then triggers a potent noticeable shift in the jet stream, the giant atmospheric river that controls much of our weather, said Rutgers University climate scientist Jennifer Francis. This theory is still debated by scientists, but increasingly more researchers are agreeing with Francis.

It’s not just sea ice on the decline. Glaciers in the Arctic are shrinking. And the massive Greenland ice sheet is slowly but steadily melting and that can add a big dose to sea level rise. Since 2002, it has lost 4,400 billion tons (4,000 billion metric tons) of ice.

Then there’s the Arctic carbon bomb. Carbon dioxide and methane — which traps even more heat — are stuck in the permafrost in places like Alaska and Siberia.

“Roast the Arctic and you create a mess everywhere on Earth,” said Princeton University climate scientist Michael Oppenheimer.

Science and Technology

The Free Press WV

►  HBO hackers leak episodes from upcoming season of ‘Curb

The hackers who broke into HBO’s computer network have released more unaired episodes, including several from the highly anticipated return of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” which debuts in October.

The latest dump includes Sunday night’s episode of “Insecure,” another popular show, and what appear to be episodes of other lower-profile shows, including “Ballers,” some from the unaired shows “Barry” and “The Deuce,” a comedy special and other programming. They did not release episodes of HBO’s ratings hit “Game of Thrones.”

HBO did not immediately respond to messages.

The network acknowledged the hack in late July, and the thieves have been dribbling out stolen video and documents since then. Their intrusion has so far fallen well short of the chaos inflicted on Sony when the studio was hacked in 2014.


►  Facebook anonymously launched an app in China

Facebook anonymously launched a new photo-sharing app in China in a new effort to make inroads in the world’s most populous country.

China’s ruling Communist Party controls internet traffic across the country’s borders and tries to keep the public from seeing thousands of websites including Facebook.

The app, called Colorful Balloons, was launched in China earlier this year and does not carry Facebook’s name. Facebook confirmed Saturday that it launched the app.

The social media company’s connection to the app was first reported Friday by The New York Times, which said it was released in China through a separate local company called Youge Internet Technology.

The launch of the app comes as China is cracking down on technology that allows web surfers to evade Beijing’s online censorship.

Last month, users of Facebook’s What’sApp messaging service, which normally operates freely in China, were no longer able to send images without using a virtual private network. That came amid official efforts to suppress mention of the death of Liu Xiaobo, the imprisoned Nobel Peace laureate.

China’s biggest internet service provider, China Telecom Ltd., sent a letter to corporate customers last month saying that VPNs, which create encrypted links between computers and can be used to see sites blocked by Beijing’s web filters, would be permitted only to connect to a company’s headquarters abroad. The move could block access to news, social media or business services that are obscured by China’s “Great Firewall.”

Chinese authorities have long blocked Facebook, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, arguing that foreign social media services operating beyond their control pose a threat to national security.

Science and Technology

The Free Press WV

►  private body cams raise transparency questions

America’s largest sheriff’s department still lacks a policy for body cameras after years of studying the issue, so hundreds — perhaps thousands — of its deputies have taken matters into their own hands and bought the cameras themselves.

It’s reassuring for those Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies who have the devices, which sell for about $100 online, but it raises a host of thorny questions about transparency. Chief among them: How can the public be assured critical footage will be shared if there are no policies for what gets disclosed?

“It’s a recipe for disaster,” said Melanie Ochoa, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California. “I would imagine officers would be quite willing to turn it over if it paints them in a good light, but what is the access if it does not?”

Nearly every large U.S. police department has a policy for officers who wear body cameras, and it has become somewhat common to see video from these cameras emerge — sometimes due to court orders — following high-profile shootings and other clashes.

An estimated 20 percent of Los Angeles County’s 10,000 deputies have bought cameras for themselves, according to the county’s inspector general. Sheriff Jim McDonnell concedes some deputies have their own cameras but disputes that as many as 2,000 wear them on duty.

Whatever the number, not a single frame of any video from these cameras has ever made it into the public domain.

A 2014 report released by the U.S. Justice Department and the Police Executive Research Forum advised police departments against allowing officers to use body cameras they purchased themselves.

“Because the agency would not own the recorded data, there would be little or no protection against the officer tampering with the videos or releasing them to the public or online,” the report said. “Agencies should not permit personnel to use privately owned body-worn cameras while on duty.”

There are some U.S. police agencies that allow officers to wear personal body cameras, but they have adopted policies to address those concerns.

A police department in northern Indiana adopted a policy in January that allows its officers to buy and wear their own body cameras. The Mishawaka Police Department’s rules came after a year of discussions about how to store and handle the recordings. A police official said in January that about 10 officers were wearing their own cameras.

In 2015, a video from a southern Ohio officer’s personal body camera showed the officer pointing his gun but not firing at the suspect who charged yelling, “Shoot me!”

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is developing a policy that would set out guidelines for deputies who wear their own cameras, though it’s unclear when that policy will be finalized and put in place.

“It’s something we saw the need for, we initiated it, and it is working its way through the system,” McDonnell told The Associated Press.

Deputies have never captured any use-of-force incidents or fatal shootings on personally owned body cameras, McDonnell said.

The sheriff’s department said it is confident its policies on confidentiality and professional standards would hold deputies accountable. Those policies require deputies to keep any evidence, including audio and video recordings, for at least two years and to turn it over to the department when requested, officials said.

Sheriff’s spokeswoman Nicole Nishida denied the AP’s request to see drafts of the policies the department says are being crafted.

Ron Hernandez, president of the union that represents rank-and-file deputies in Los Angeles, says most deputies who bought their own cameras want to protect themselves in case someone alleges misconduct.

“It’s really a personal preference,” Hernandez said. “The guys we have spoken to have said they thought it would be beneficial for them. They see the value in covering themselves.”

But Hernandez dismissed civil libertarians’ concerns that deputies would potentially abuse the footage because the department was not officially storing it.

“I would hope that if a deputy is recording, he is retaining it,” Hernandez said. “It would be counterproductive to a guy to get his own camera to cover himself and then assume he’s going to manipulate the footage. He’d be better off not having anything.”

Click Below for More...

Page 3 of 219 pages  <  1 2 3 4 5 >  Last »


The Gilmer Free Press

Copyright MMVIII-MMXVII The Gilmer Free Press. All Rights Reserved