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  1. 8chan Criticized By Its Founder, Blocked by Australian and NZ ISPs - Several major ISPs in Australia temporarily blocked access to 8chan, along with "dozens" of web sites that hosted video of last week's mass shooting in Christchurch New Zealand, Ars Technica reports -- noting that the ISPs acted on their own in response to "community expectations." Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that 8chan founder Fredrick Brennan (who "cut ties" with the site in December) is now criticizing 8chan moderators for their slowness in removing posts inciting violence, including last week's post from the Christchurch shooter Brenton Tarrant: Their reluctance to do so, along with the proliferation of posts on 8chan praising Tarrant's actions, have persuaded Brennan that the toxic, white-supremacist culture that lives on parts of the site could someday be linked to another mass shooting.... Brennan, 25 years old, expressed regret that the site had consumed so much of his life. "I didn't spend enough time making friends in real life," he said. High-school events and classes in upstate New York didn't matter to him at all. What mattered was the community of like-minded provocateurs, trolls, libertarians and conservative thinkers he discovered online as a boy and that formed his identity as a young man. "I just feel like I wasted too much time on this stuff," he said. Washington Post reporter Drew Harwell (in a Post video) argues that 8chan "has grown from this central place for tech libertarians, trolls, just people looking to get a rise out of other people online, and it's really radicalized into this place of overt neo-Nazi, white supremacist, racist, sexist, anti-everything discourse... "We haven't really reckoned with how to deal with the negative parts of easy and free and anonymous connectivity around the world, and there's no real good mechanism for solving a problem like that."

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  2. The Other Recent Deadly Boeing Crash No One Is Talking About - New York magazine's Intelligencer remembers last month's crash of a Boeing 767 carrying cargo for Amazon and the U.S. Postal Service -- and shares a new theory that its cause wasn't a suicidal pilot or an autopilot malfunction: In online pilot discussion forums, a third idea has been gaining adherents: that the pilots succumbed to a phenomenon called somatogravic illusion, in which lateral acceleration due to engine thrust creates the sensation that one is tipping backward in one's seat. The effect is particularly strong when a plane is lightly loaded, as it would be at the end of a long flight when the fuel tanks are mostly empty, and in conditions of poor visibility, as Atlas Air 3591 was as it worked its way through bands of bad weather. The idea is that perhaps one of the pilots accidentally or in response to wind shear set the engines to full power, and then believed that the plane had become dangerously nose-high and so pushed forward on the controls. This would cause a low-g sensation that might have been so disorienting that by the time the plane came barreling out of the bottom of the clouds there wasn't enough time to pull out of the dive. It has been speculated that this might have been the cause of another bizarre and officially unsolved accident from three years ago: Flydubai Flight 981, which crashed 2016 in Rostov-on-Don, Russia.... While it's still too early to draw any kind of conclusions about Atlas Air 3591, the possibility exists that a firm conclusion will never be drawn -- and if it is, the cause could turn out not to be a design flaw or software malfunction that can be rectified, but a basic shortcoming in human perception and psychology that cannot be fixed as long as humans are entrusted with the control of airplanes.

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  3. AT&T, Comcast Announce Verification Milestone To Help Fight Robocalls - "The fight against robocalls can even bring telecom rivals together," reports USA Today: AT&T and Comcast said Wednesday that they can authenticate calls made between the two different phone providers' networks, a potential industry first and the latest in the long-running battle against spam calls... The system, which uses a method developed in recent years, verifies that a legitimate call is being made instead of one that has been spoofed by spammers, scammers or robocallers with a "digital signature." The recipient network then confirms the signature on its side. The companies said consumers will get a notification that a call is verified, but exactly what that will look like is not yet known. Both AT&T and Comcast will roll out the system to home phone users later this year at no extra charge. AT&T also said it will introduce the feature to its mobile users this year... Other major wireless and traditional home voice providers have pledged support for the verification method, including Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, Charter, Cox and Vonage, with several announcing plans to roll out or test the feature in 2019. The day Comcast and AT&T made their announcement, AT&T's CEO was giving a live interview that was interrupted by a robocall.

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  4. Online Petition Site Crashed By Millions of 'Cancel Brexit' Signers - "More than 3 million people have signed a petition to cancel Brexit on the U.K. government's official petitions website -- so many that the website crashed multiple times," reports Time: The petition had received some 600,000 signatures at a rate of 1,500 every 60 seconds before the site crashed at about 9 a.m. U.K. time on Thursday, the Guardian reported. By mid afternoon, the site was back online but suffering intermittent outages. There were 2 million signatures by Thursday evening and 3 million by midday Friday... The U.K. government must now allow a debate on the petition's contents in parliament. The Guardian notes that the CTO of company that built the petition site had bragged in a tweet Wednesday that the 1,000 signatures per minute was "Not too bad, but nowhere near crashing the site --you all need to try harder tomorrow." By the next morning he had tweeted âoeWell done everyone -- the site crashed because calculating the trending count became too much of a load on the database."

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  5. Oracle's Surprise Unannounced Layoffs 'Clear-Cut Teams of Engineers' - Oracle "swung the layoff axe" Thursday, reports IEEE Spectrum, saying that the move "clear-cut teams of engineers." The exact numbers of employees cut and their specific roles have not been reported by the company, but the layoffs are clearly significant. Fifty in Mexico, 50 in New Hampshire, 100 in India, at least that many in Silicon Valley -- the numbers, according to anecdotal reports on theLayoff.com and from internal chatter, are adding up quickly.... Oracle's layoff day started at 5 a.m. Pacific Time, when an email from Oracle executive vice president Don Johnson with the subject line "Organizational Restructuring" arrived in employee inboxes. The email informed staff members that, going forward, everything in the company would revolve around the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) operation... Then the email continued with a perky sentence that made some employees furious: "OCI's business is stronger than ever, and this team's future is bright." At approximately 10 a.m., I'm told, just five hours after that email, the layoffs began -- and according to anecdotal reports included significant cuts within at least part of that stronger-than-ever, bright-future cloud business. Those affected were given 30 minutes to turn in company assets and leave the building, and were told that Friday (today) would their last official day. "The morning felt like a slaughter," one Oracle employee told me. "One person after another...." And, that employee said, the layoff process was handled very badly, with entire teams being ushered into conference rooms as groups and told that they no longer had jobs. This employee indicated that technical teams, particularly those involved in product development and focused on software development, data science, and engineering, seemed to take the biggest hit. Business Insider reports that Oracle hasn't formally announced the number of people laid off, but adds that "One source we spoke to was told by his manager that 1,500 people worldwide were cut."

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  6. Car Crash ER Visits Fell In States That Ban Texting While Driving, Study Says - A new study finds that states with bans on texting while driving saw an average 4% reduction in emergency department visits after motor vehicle crashes, an equivalent of 1,632 traffic-related emergency department visits per year. CNN reports: Researchers examined emergency department data across 16 US states between 2007 and 2014. The states were picked based on the availability of information regarding motor vehicle accident injuries for which emergency department treatment was needed. In the United States, 47 out of 50 states currently have laws restricting texting while driving. Of the 16 states researchers looked at in the study, all but one (Arizona) had one of these laws. The states that had texting bans, regardless of the type or who it applied to, saw a 4% average reduction in emergency department visits, according to the results published Thursday in the American Journal of Public Health. The states that chose to implement primary bans on all drivers saw an 8% reduction in crash-related injuries. Drivers of all ages, even those older 65, who are typically not known for texting while driving, saw reductions in the number of injuries following crashes.

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  7. Jared & Ivanka: Couple 'Continues To Use' Private Messaging For White House Business, Top Democrat Says - Freshly Exhumed writes: Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, has revealed that senior White House advisor Jared Kushner's lawyer admitted in December that his client "continues to use" WhatsApp to conduct official White House business. The chairman also said that a lawyer for Ivanka Trump and Mr. Kushner told the committee late last year that they additionally used private email accounts for official White House business in a way that may have violated federal records laws. Mr Kushner's lawyer, Abbe Lowell could not say whether his client used WhatsApp to share classified information. Regardless, Cummings says the communications raise questions about whether Kushner and other officials violated the Presidential Records Act, which requires the president and his staff "take all practical steps to file personal records separately from Presidential records." As for Ivanka's use of a personal email account to conduct official business, her lawyer says she sent the emails before she was briefed on the rules. If you're not familiar with WhatsApp, here's what you should know about it: "As of January 2019, more than 1.5 billion users in over 180 countries use WhatsApp, created in 2009 as an alternative to text messaging," reports USA Today. "Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014 to make a bigger play in the rapidly-growing messaging market, along with its own Messenger platform, which also boasts 1.5 billion users." The service features end-to-end encryption, meaning the sender and recipient are the only ones who can view the messages.

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  8. Windows 10 Calculator Will Soon Be Able To Graph Math Equations - Earlier this month, Microsoft made the source code for its Windows calculator available on GitHub. This has spurred developers to add new features to the app, like a new graphing mode that will make its way to the official Windows Calculator app. The "Graphing Mode" is one of 30+ suggestions that open-source contributors have proposed so far. The ZDNet reports: As its name implies, Graphing Mode will allow users to create graphs based on mathematical equations, in a similar way to Matlab's (way more advanced) Plotting Mode. The feature was proposed by Microsoft engineer Dave Grochocki, also a member of the Windows Calculator team. In a GitHub issue Grochocki submitted to support his proposal, he argued that a graphing mode would help students learn algebra easier. "High school algebra is the gateway to mathematics and all other disciplines of STEM," Grochocki said. "However, algebra is the single most failed course in high school, as well as the most failed course in community college." By adding a Graphing Mode to Windows Calculator, an app included with all Windows 10 versions, the Microsoft engineer hopes to provide students and teachers with a free tool to help schools across the world. "Physical graphing calculators can be expensive, software solutions require licenses and configuration by school IT departments, and online solutions are not always an option," he added. "Graphing capabilities in their daily tools are essential for students who are beginning to explore linear algebra as early as 8th grade. [...] At present, Windows Calculator does not currently have the needed functionality to meet the demands of students." There's no timeline for when the new graphing mode will arrive, but it should arrive soon.

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  9. Researchers Created Reprogrammable Molecular Algorithms For DNA Computers - dmoberhaus writes: In a major breakthrough for DNA computing, researchers from UC Davis, Caltech and Maynooth University developed a technique for creating molecular algorithms that can be reprogrammed. Prior to this research, molecular algorithms had to be painstakingly designed for specific purposes, which is "like having to build a new computer out of new hardware just to run a new piece of software," according to the researchers. This new technique could blow open the door for a host of futuristic DNA computing applications -- nanofactories, light-based computers, etc. -- that would've been impossible before. The paper was published this week in Nature.

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  10. Lithuanian Pleads Guilty To Stealing $100 Million From Google, Facebook - schwit1 writes: Evaldas Rimasauskas, a Lithuanian citizen, concocted a brazen scheme that allowed him to bilk Facebook and Google out of more than $100 million. The crime defrauded Google of $23 million and Facebook of $99 million. Rimasauskas committed the crimes between 2013 to 2015, an indictment was issued in 2017, and he was formally indicted Wednesday in New York after he pleaded guilty to wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and three counts of money laundering. "As Evaldas Rimasauskas admitted today, he devised a blatant scheme to fleece U.S. companies out of over $100 million, and then siphoned those funds to bank accounts around the globe," said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman in a DoJ press release. How did he do it? The indictment reveals that he simply billed the companies for the amounts and they paid the bills. Rimasauskas was able to trick company employees into wiring the money to multiple bank accounts that he controlled and had set up in institutions in Cyprus, Lithuania, Hungary, Slovakia, and Latvia.

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