Tag Archives: The Apocalypticon

The Apocalypticon ~ Collapse of nature, the US, Trump and all that, food killing, suicides rising, sadder music, Tesla auto-death, ebola worsens, coal fail


How to prevent nature’s collapse — Scientists warned last week that a million species could go extinct, and it’s all our fault. ‘Our’ fault as in humanity’s. Gizmodo has some suggestions.
Carbon in the atmosphere hits record — Scientists recorded the first ever carbon dioxide reading above 415 parts per million (ppm) at the Mauna Loa Observatory. They’ve been measuring carbon dioxide levels continuously since 1958 at that location, but ice cores and other data show that it’s not just the highest carbon dioxide has been in 61 years of data. It’s the highest its ever been 800,000 years of data
Startling El Nino — Australian scientists have developed an innovative method using cores drilled from coral to produce a world first 400-year long seasonal record of El Niño events, a record that many in the field had described as impossible to extract. And clearly, Central Pacific El Niño activity increased in the late 20th Century.
Ice loss — a quarter of the ice sheets in West Antarctica, the most vulnerable part of the continent, have destabilised. Ice loss has sped up fivefold across the region’s most imperilled glaciers in just 25 years.
Remote islands strangled in plastic — a marine biologist from Australia traveled to a remote string of islands in the Indian Ocean to see how much plastic waste had washed up on the beaches, and found “373,000 toothbrushes and around 975,000 shoes, largely flip-flops,” says Jennifer Lavers of the University of Tasmania in Australia. And that’s not all: more than 414 million pieces of plastic debris are estimated to be currently sitting on the Cocos Keeling Islands, weighing a remarkable 238 tons.

US will not sign Christchurch call against online extremism — The US will not sign onto the Christchurch call to action against online extremism expected to be released Wednesday, citing concerns that the pact would violate free speech protections in the First Amendment, the Washington Post reports.
Is it because terrorists buy guns, and that’s profitable? A series of internal National Rifle Association documents leaked online have detailed lavish six-figure spending on clothing and travel expenses for CEO Wayne LaPierre. [Quick, right wing morons, donate more money!]
Mueller cover-up — If lawmakers eventually win, they — and potentially us — could learn more about what Mueller uncovered during his roughly 22-month investigation.
Trump welcomes hard-right Hungarian — President Trump has hosted Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban at the White House , a gesture the past two US presidents avoided granting to the hard-right European leader.
Navy SEAL gets hacked and tracked — Military prosecutors in the case of a US navy Seal charged with killing an Islamic State prisoner in Iraq in 2017 installed tracking software in emails sent to defence lawyers and a reporter in an apparent attempt to discover who was leaking information to the media, according to lawyers who said they received the corrupted messages.

Ultra-processed foods is killing people — Over the past 70 years, ultra-processed foods have come to dominate the US diet. They are made from cheap industrial ingredients and engineered to be super-tasty and generally high in fat, sugar and salt. The rise of ultra-processed foods has coincided with growing rates of obesity, leading many to suspect that they’ve played a big role in our growing waistlines. A new study suggests yes, it is.

Girl suicides rising — The number of people dying by suicide in the US has been rising, and a new study shows that the suicide rate among young teenage girls has been increasing faster than it has for boys of the same age.

Music getting sadder — Today’s music expresses an even deeper unhappiness than the songs of the past is the conclusion of two recent analyses examining thousands of US and UK hits from the last few decades.

Another Tesla autopilots into a death — In March, a Tesla Model 3 crashed into a semi-truck turning onto a Florida highway, killing the driver. After a preliminary investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board has concluded Autopilot, Tesla’s semi-autonomous driving technology, was engaged at the time of the fatal crash.

Second worst Ebola outbreak kills higher percentage — The current outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has infected 1720 and killed 1136, giving the viral disease a whopping 66% fatality rate. The situation is making public health experts on the ground increasingly nervous.

Fourth-largest coal producer in the US files for bankruptcy Wasn’t Trump going to save coal? [Take. Make. Use. Lose.]

The Apocalypticon ~ Royal baby, traditions; fat farmers; Infowars, info and wars; Facebook; plague in Mongolia; USA; Climate change; anti-vaxxer pox


Aw, a baby! Even better, a royal baby, born into a family that doesn’t have to do anything apart from act like they deserve it to get loads of tax payers’ dollars. So as a breath of polluted air, Gizmodo ran a story called ‘Here’s How Screwed By Climate Change The UK Will Be When The Royal Baby Turns 18.’
Talking about hallowed old traditions — Eugenics and anti-immigration laws of the past still resonate today, according to journalist Daniel Okrent. He sees echos of the 1924 act in President Trump’s hard-line stance regarding immigration. [I just see recurring short-sighted stupidity, but what do I know?]
Here’s another: farmers are slimmer and fitter than city dwellers — Not so, though. Comprehensively not so: over 1000 researchers representing the Non-Communicable Disease Coalition analysed 2009 studies of more than 112 million adults from 200 countries. The study found that global averages are creeping up for everyone — but faster for rural residents. [I guess riding around all day in a ute or on a quad-bike is not quite the same as old-time farming.]

Sword-missile — Seriously, imagine a drone-fired missile that doesn’t explode, but slices you up instead. It’s real: the RX9 redefines ‘surgical strike‘.

Infowars, info and wars— When you check your Alexa dialogue history, you can see text next to the recordings like “How’s the Weather” and “Set an Alarm.” Amazon lets you delete those voice recordings, but this gives you a false sense of privacy because the company still has that data as text logs of the transcribed audio, with no option for you to delete them. [I love how Zuckerberg and his ilk are now trying to sell you privacy: first they take it away, and then they offer it back as a commodity you can purchase to make them even richer.]
Facebook co-founder says break Facebook up — Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes just published a lengthy and extremely convincing argument for breaking up Mark Zuckerberg’s empire. Hughes warned that Zuckerberg’s power to censor and control speech on the Facebook platform, where the vast majority of the social media activity takes place, along with WhatsApp and Instagram which he also controls (WhatsApp has 1.6 billion active monthly users; Instagram 1 billion), is something that lawmakers should take more seriously. [Jeeze, you reckon?]
Surprise! Uber systematically exploits workers — Studies have repeatedly found that after fees and expenses, Uber drivers make less than minimum wage in major markets. One found that half of all Uber drivers in Washington, DC lived below the poverty line. Meanwhile the CEO took in US$72 million last year. [In NZ, I seriously recommend you switch to Olla and /or Zoomy if you can, which at least keep the profits here.]
AI smart-locks locked people in — Five tenants in Hell’s Kitchen sued their landlord in March after the owners installed a Latch smart lock on the building last year. It is unlocked with a smartphone, and reportedly granted tenants access to the lobby, elevator, and mail room. But the group that sued their landlords saw this keyless entry as harassment, an invasion of privacy, and simply inconvenient. [Latch’s privacy policy indicates that the company collects and stores user information, including someone’s GPS location. In other words, Latch’s ‘privacy policy’ ensures you don’t have any.]
AI gun detection — Tech company Athena Security believes its smart security cameras can prevent attacks like the tragedy in Christchurch, and says it plans to install its AI-powered systems in mosques around the world. [I wish them good luck in Iraq.]

Thousand-year-old part drug kit — Archaeologists in the Bolivian Andes discovered a 1000-year-old ritual bundle that was basically a stash of drug paraphernalia. It contained traces of five different psychoactive substances, including cocaine and the active ingredients found in ayahuasca. [Party like it’s 999 …]

Bubonic plague strikes in Mongolia — In Mongolia, a couple died of bubonic plague on May 1 after reportedly hunting marmots. These are large rodents that can harbour the bacterium that causes the disease.

USA — Infamous Russian agents’ actions described: Newly obtained documents describe what happened when two now-infamous Russians took their outreach campaign into the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve in 2015.

(IImage from The Atlantic)

Climate change — Ice collapses, world quails, Trump regime cheers: A rational person looking at the collapse of the Arctic as we’ve known it for at least 115,000 years would see an ecological and humanitarian crisis. For the Trump administration, it’s just another business opportunity and chance to peddle climate denial. In sum, Pompeo said that climate change isn’t happenihappiness training happinessng, but also that it is but that’s actually good because it’s melting the Arctic, but also that the US has reduced emissions which is also good … yeah.
Renewable energy stalls — Installations of renewable energy plateaued in 2018 for the first time in nearly two decades of record keeping. Even if it’s just a temporary hiccup, a pause in installations is an extremely worrisome sign about the world’s ambition to address climate change.
But: Britain passed one week without coal power for first time since 1882. 

In good news: anti vaxxer twit gets chickenpox: 18-year-old Jerome Kunkel and his family filed a lawsuit against the health department that banned non-vaccinated kids from attending school. The suit claimed the vaccine violated his religious beliefs because the cell line used as the base of the chickenpox vaccine was derived from foetuses that had been aborted. Now he has chickenpox. [Well, I guess it can’t make him any dumber.]
Finally, you can train yourself 8 points to help you enjoy things: you can be taught to have a more positive attitude. And, if you work at it, a positive outlook can lead to less anxiety and depression.

The Apocalypticon ~ Asia, hunger, Facebook, privacy, Russian internet, measles, Mexico, Nazis, asteroid, military spending, real news, fake meat


Hungry brains — The brain consumes a disproportionately large percentage of a person’s daily energy intake, suggesting cognitive function is tied to nutrition. In countries such as India where many children live below the poverty line, food insecurity – limited access to sufficient safe and nutritious food at home – may reduce children’s learning ability. Scientists in India and the UK warn that food insecurity negatively impacts the learning ability of adolescents in India, with almost half of Indian teens suffering from hunger.
PepsiCo Inc has sued four Indian farmers for cultivating a potato variety that the snack food and drinks maker claims infringes its patent. [There’s your moral rectitude right there.]
Smoking is pervasive and on the rise in Asia, according to an investigation spanning 20 prospective cohort studies from mainland China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and India. [So if big corporations can’t help starve people to death, give them lung cancer?]

Facebook — Facebook has announced it is banning a number of far-right political figures on its platforms, including InfoWars founder Alex Jones, former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopolous, and InfoWars contributor Paul Joseph Watson, among a host of others. Leaked internal emails from Facebook had previously described Jones as a “hate figure,” which led users to wonder why he hadn’t been banned sooner. [Zuckerberg hasn’t been banned, though.]
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reckons privacy is now important. He says he’s committed to turning his company around. Onstage at Facebook’s F8 developer conference, the chief executive said that privacy will be the defining pillar of his social network’s sprawling empire going forward. [Entire world lols. Yeah we all totally trust you, Mark.]
So will he quit? If Zuckerberg wants to prove just how serious Facebook is about guarding user privacy, though, he should it prove it by announcing he’s quitting, says Phillip Michaels.
The dead may outnumber the living on Facebook within 50 years — New analysis by academics from the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) [no, not Oxford Analytica] , part of the University of Oxford, predicts the dead may outnumber the living on Facebook within fifty years, a trend that will have grave implications for how we treat our digital heritage in the future. [So Zuck’s real challenge may be how to make a mint from dead people’s privacy.]

Around the world: Russia wants its own internet — Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed into law new measures that would enable the creation of a Russian national network, able to operate separately from the rest of the world. For now, the network remains largely theoretical though, with few practical details disclosed.
Measles leads to cruise ship quarantine — A cruise ship with nearly 300 passengers and crew was ordered quarantined in the Caribbean port of St. Lucia after a case of measles was confirmed on board, island health officials said Wednesday.
US/Mexican border DNA tests — The US Department of Homeland Security will start using Rapid DNA tests on some asylum seekers at the US–Mexico border next week. The tests are intended to determine whether adults and children who are travelling together are actually family members.
Meanwhile, giant tent structures have been erected in Texas to serve as short-term detention facilities to process a huge influx of families and unaccompanied minors from Central America arriving at the US-Mexico border.
Lost to Nazis — A Jewish family has lost a 15-year legal battle to recover a painting stolen by Nazis during World War II.

Global military spending is continuing to increase — It has grown for the second year in a row and reaching the highest levels since reliable global figures became available in 1988. That’s the finding of a new report out by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Total spending is up 76% from the post-Cold War low in 1998.

Asteroid threat — An asteroid slammed down and did away with all the dinosaurs, paving the way for such developments as the human race, capitalism, and posting on the internet: it’s the story we all know and love. Yet if things had shaken out differently – if the asteroid had stayed in its place, and the dinosaurs allowed to proceed with their business – what would things have looked like?Asteroid threat exercise — NASA, FEMA and other national and international agencies are once again gearing up for a hypothetical asteroid impact preparedness scenario. They hope to learn the best strategies for responding to a potential strike, starting from the moment a threatening asteroid is first detected by astronomers.

Biodegradeable plastic bags now biodegrading — Plastic bags that claim to be biodegradable were still intact and able to carry shopping three years after being exposed to the natural environment, a study has found. [‘Compostable’ bags were better, though.]

In good news — In the future, we were promised flying cars and fake meat. While the flying car part hasn’t panned out, fake meat appears poised to make inroads in even Americans’ lives, particularly through fast foods. And in the process, it could end up being a big deal for the planet. [If you honestly want to make a difference, why don’t you consider dropping one meat meal a week?]

The Apocalypticon ~ Stupidity unbound, climate costs, corruption and data wars


Stupidity unbound — Hundreds of students and faculty at two universities in Los Angeles have been asked to stay home unless they can prove they’ve been vaccinated against measles.
Car drivers think bike riders ‘subhuman’ — Researchers have an explanation for why many drivers act aggressively toward cyclists: they are actually dehumanising people who ride bikes, according to an April study by Australian researchers in the journal Transportation Research. And this dehumanisation – the belief that a group of people are less than human – correlates to drivers’ self-reported aggressive behaviour. [I ride a bike. Newsflash: like most bike riders, I also drive a car. The only cyclists I find annoying are those flocking cyclists in lycra.]
Apple CEO Tim Cook has called for more government regulation on the technology industry in order to protect privacy in an interview at the TIME 100 Summit in New York. [Yeah, right, how about regulating your profits then?]
Sitting bull — Time spent watching TV and videos has remained consistently high in the United States over the past 15 years, but time sitting at a computer has increased dramatically, new research finds.
Twitter can’t ban White Supemacists because this would also rule out Republicans — A Twitter employee who works on machine learning believes that a proactive, algorithmic solution to white supremacy would also catch Republican politicians. [Is anyone surprised?]
But apparently the Sri Lankan bombers were ‘smart‘ — They included a pair of brothers from a wealthy, upper-class family; a man with a law degree; and another who studied in the United Kingdom and did postgraduate work in Australia before coming home to settle down in his native Sri Lanka.

People are strange — The Japanese not having sex: Japan is home to one of the fastest aging populations in the world, exacerbated by a persistently low birth rate. As it turns out, these social changes can be explained by the lack of heterosexual intercourse among Japanese adults, say scientists led by Dr Peter Ueda at the University of Tokyo, Japan.
US retirees are blowing their savings on their kids — Financial independence, once a hallmark of adulthood, has gone by the wayside as adult children increasingly depend on their parents to help them cover the cost of rent, student loans, health insurance and more. But parents’ desire to give their children a financial assist could be misguided, and will backfire in the long run. [This is what you get when you collapse the middle class so the super rich can get super richer.]

Melting permafrost in Arctic will have $70 trillion climate impact — The release of methane and carbon dioxide from thawing permafrost will accelerate global warming and add up to US$70tn (£54tn) to the world’s climate bill, according to the most advanced study yet of the economic consequences of a melting Arctic.
Virgin Islands hurricane mental health impacts — More than a year and a half after two major hurricanes struck the US Virgin Islands, the effects of the storms are still obvious.  But the storms had another, less visible impact: on the mental health of island residents.

Data wars and corruption — The New York State attorney general’s office plans to open an investigation into Facebook’s unauthorised collection of more than 1.5 million users’ email address books.
A total of 50 malicious apps have managed to bypass Google’s security checks and land on the Google Play store, leading to millions of installs on Android devices.
It was only last week that researchers from Check Point uncovered a total of six apps laden with the PreAMo ad fraud malware on Google Play which had been installed 90 million times.
Companies that make tax preparation software, like Intuit, the maker of TurboTax, would rather you didn’t know you can file for free. Intuit and other tax software companies have spent millions lobbying to make sure that the IRS doesn’t offer its own tax preparation and filing service. In exchange, the companies have entered into an agreement with the IRS to offer a Free File product to most Americans — but good luck finding it.
Facial scans replacing boarding passes — Homeland Security in the US said it plans to scan the faces of over 97%” of departing international passengers by 2023. According to Buzzfeed, 17 US airports are currently part of the program.

Good news? A little. A major pharmaceutical distribution company and two of its former executives are facing criminal charges for their roles in advancing the nation’s opioid crisis and profiting from it.

The Apocalypticon ~ Climate, Plasticapocalypse, dirt on Trump, Facebook, racist China, UK surveillance, Bots and hackers, Ebola,


Climate — Anticipating accelerating climate change-fuelled disasters in the coming decades, telecommunications giant AT&T recently partnered with Argonne National Labs to build a three-decade model called a Climate Change Analysis Tool to help forecast the devastating impact of climate change on the company’s infrastructure and business on a level that details down to the individual neighbourhood.
Hurricane Maria was the rainiest storm known to have hit Puerto Rico, and climate change is partly to blame, according to a new study.
Snow power — Winters are only going to get more severe, but there’s at least one silver lining as researchers from UCLA have come up with a way to harness electricity from all that snow.

Plasticapocalypse — Amid the rugged peaks of the Vicdessos region of the French Pyrenees, the only visible signs of a human presence are a smattering of villages and the odd hiker or skier; it is considered a pristine environment. But even here, scientists have detected tiny pieces of plastic falling out of the air:  artificial dust.
Planet’s ocean-plastics problem detailed in 60-year data set —Scientists have uncovered the first strong evidence that the amount of plastic polluting the oceans has risen vastly in recent decades — by analysing 60 years of log books for plankton-tracking vessels.
Nestlé has come under fire what advocates say is an outsized contribution to the plastic crisis — So Greenpeace activists hauled a 4.57m-tall heap of garbage, artfully crafted to resemble one of those deep sea fish that’s about 90% jowl, in front of the Nestlé’s US headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.

Dirt on Trump — Mueller Report: The Justice Department has released a redacted copy (c400-page PDF) of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Militia messing with US town — Arivaca, Arizona is a tiny village, population about 700, with an outsize problem. Just 18kms (11 miles) from the US-Mexico border, it has become a magnet for self-styled militia groups from out of state that say they want to patrol the border and stop migrants. Their presence has strained the town that has long prided itself on its live-and-let-live, cooperative spirit.

AI to racially profile in China — According to a report from the New York Times, the Chinese government is using facial recognition to track Uighurs, the country’s Muslim minority. The technology reportedly targets this population based on their physical appearance.
And England has surveillance kiosks — A telecommunications company, free Wi-Fi service, police departments and local councils in the UK have developed and deployed a new system that aims to identify suspicious behaviour on free Wi-Fi kiosks in the nation and then automatically block related calls.

Faecesbook — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg oversaw plans to consolidate the social network’s power and control competitors by treating its users’ data as a bargaining chip, while publicly proclaiming to be protecting that data, according to about 4000 pages of leaked company documents largely spanning 2011 to 2015 and obtained by NBC News. All the while, Facebook was formulating a strategy to publicly frame these moves as a way of protecting user privacy…

Bots and hackers — Bots, in general, are estimated to make up roughly 37.9% of all Internet traffic. In 2018, one in five website requests – 20.4% – of traffic was generated by bad bots alone.
Hackers have stolen data from “several FBI-affiliated websites.” Now details on “thousands of federal agents and law enforcement officers” are floating around on the web.

Latest Ebola not a global health crisis … yet — The outbreak started in August of 2018 and is so far the second deadliest Ebola outbreak in history. As of today, 1206 people have been infected and 764 people have been killed.
It’s the 10th Ebola outbreak in the DRC in the past 40 years and a startling 29% of cases have been in kids under the age of 18.

Good news: will exercise prolong your life? Well, what do you think? High levels of physical activity and longer telomeres do not guarantee a longer life, they definitely increase the likelihood, and runners live on average 3 years longer than non-runners.
And ‘new’ cereals like this might help save the planet.

The Apocalypticon ~ Face-plant, tech woes, online extremism, the world of pain, climate change, schadenfreude


Tech execs in the gun — In the wake of the terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand last month, Australia is putting major pressure on Big Tech to prevent the spread of hateful and violent content on their platforms, with a new law that threatens major fines and imprisonment.
Microsoft’s culture of sexual discrimination — An internal Microsoft email chain, first reported by Quartz, reportedly details a litany of egregious acts of sexual harassment and discrimination experienced by women at the company.
Facebook paying for better press — Facebook is paying British newspaper the Daily Telegraph to run a series of sponsored articles called “Being human in the information age” defending it against claims it is encouraging the spread of misinformation, aiding in the spread of hate speech, violating privacy, and generally ruining society in myriad other ways. [So weird that new media is paying old media to make it look better! I hope it costs Facebook a lot before getting it nowhere.]
Meanwhile, in the US, the ABC network did the same — ABC News aired an exclusive interview with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg on Good Morning America, but instead of asking Zuckerberg tough questions, interviewer George Stephanopoulos lobbed softball after softball so Zuck could deliver his prepared talking points.
Facebook is still not doing enough to prevent the ongoing promotion of violence and hate in Myanmar on its social network, according to a member of the United Nations team.
Researchers uncovered more than 70 Facebook groups openly selling black-market cyberfraud services, some of which they say had been running for up to eight years.
Google’s ‘ethics’ — Vox and other outlets reported that Google’s newly-created AI ethics board was falling apart amid controversy over several of the board members.
Youtube’s extreme videos — Facing criticism over the videos it recommends to users, YouTube seems to have a new favourite talking point, one that might surprise anyone who has spent time online: extreme content, the company claims, just doesn’t do that well on the site. Yet even a cursory review of YouTube shows that the most shocking and inflammatory videos are regularly among news outlets’ most viewed content.

Around the world of pain — Donald Trump claimed wind turbines cause cancer with their noise This may be because the president has a grudge against wind power, or because he is a complete and total idiot, but it is a patently ridiculous claim that it would be more or less a total waste of our time to debunk. The claim has no scientific support whatsoever, yet his flunkies still pretended the President’s words weren’t idiotic.
Brunei now stones people — Brunei’s interpretation of Islamic law now imposes death by stoning as a punishment for sex between men and adultery, as well as amputation of limbs for theft. Lesbian sex can carry a penalty of up to 10 years in jail. [Um, peace be with you?]
South Korean wildfires — South Korea is using its military to contain a large forest fire that spread quickly after igniting in Gangwon Province, along the country’s east coast. Strong winds have moved the blaze from city to city.
Venezuela is in the midst of “a major, major emergencywhen it comes to health.
Proper procedure did not help crashing plane — The pilots of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 followed proper procedures before the March 10 flight that killed 157 people, according to a preliminary report by the Ethiopian government.
Job-changing in China can drop your social credit — Lots of things can hurt your social credit in China. Failing to repay your debts, plagiarizing academic articles and building a debt-laden tech empire and then fleeing to another country, to name a few. One province now wants to add another “discredited behavior” that seems much more harmless: switching jobs too often. [If only we could stop China’s atrophied leadership from watching Black Mirror and thinking all its concepts are good ideas.]
Chinese autism rates are the same — Around one in a hundred people in China has autism spectrum conditions – a proportion similar to that of the West
Russian military talking to dolphins — A journal published by Russia’s Ministry of Defence became the subject of mockery after publishing claims “Russian specialists” have communicated with dolphins, crashed computer programs and even looked into safes using the power of telepathy.
US strips visa from International Criminal Court prosecutor after they infer US war crimes in Afghanistan — The US has revoked the visa of the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor just weeks after warning it would take such an action against anyone from the ICC who is investigating allegations that US personnel may have committed war crimes in Afghanistan.
In the US, three-quarters of a million people would likely lose their food stamps later this year under a new proposal by the Trump administration. The goal is to encourage able-bodied adults to go to work and get off government aid. But opponents predict people would go hungry instead, if the rule goes into effect.

Climate — Great Barrier is not regenerating: Successive ocean heat waves are not only damaging Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, they are compromising its ability to recover, raising the risk of “widespread ecological collapse,” a new study has found.
Canada warming twice as fast — Canada is, on average, experiencing warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world, with Northern Canada heating up at almost three times the global average, according to a new government report.
Nebraskan flooding disaster — The byzantine networks of rivers and streams that drain the Midwest is facing a flooding crisis of historic proportions.
UK Labour declares climate emergency — The Labour Party declared a climate emergency. It likely marks the first major party declaring a climate emergency at the national level anywhere in the world, in yet another sign that climate politics are rapidly shifting.

Schadenfreude — Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno has accused Julian Assange of violating the terms of his asylum and leaking private photos of Moreno’s family and friends online in the latest dust-up between the WikiLeaks founder and his increasingly frustrated hosts.
So-called ‘pharma bro’ Martin Shkreli is now in solitary. Shkerli earned the eternal ire of the public when he was the CEO of a company called Turing Pharmaceuticals, which he bought the rights to the life-saving drug Daraprim then jacked the price from US$19 to $1052 a pill. He was caught still running one of his companies from inside.

Any good news? Coffee may limit prostate cancer: A research group in Japan has identified compounds found in coffee which may inhibit the growth of prostate cancer.

The Apocalypticon ~ Reprehensible Facebook, data breaches, underhand Uber, Zoomy, Russian Brexit, Putin, Venezuela, iTunes, cyclone Idai, temperatures rise, Jacinda Ardern


Facebook can’t be all profit and no responsibility — In my 101st Apocalpyticon, New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, gave a powerful speech expressing solidarity with the victims of Friday’s terrorist attack that left 50 dead and dozens injured. Ardern also had strong words for the social media companies that enabled the shooter to broadcast his massacre around the world. [But isn’t ‘all profit, no responsibility’ the American dream?]
The gunman explained he targeted New Zealand because Muslims feel safe here and explicitly mentioned President Donald Trump.
Arden has also called for a global fight against racism. [If I am bigoted against racists, what then am I?]
Facebook at first said only 200 people had seen the video the Christchurch gunman streamed, but later admitted it was seen at least 4000 times[I wonder how viewing that affected people’s ad algorithms?]
Of course, countless more views occurred in the hours afterward, as copies of the video proliferated online.
Facebook also recently admitted it was concerned about Cambridge Analytica well before it had previously admitted knowing about it. [Have I not been warning about Facebook for ages, now, along with many others?] The new information could suggest Facebook has consistently misled British lawmakers about what it knew and when about Cambridge Analytica. [Surprise!]
Facebook caves on discriminatory ads, then tries to sell it as a ‘triumph’ — After an 18-month court battle and years of fierce criticism, Facebook says it will stop allowing housing, jobs, and credit advertisers to show ads to only users of specific races, genders, or age groups.
Chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg went on to thank the groups that sued Facebook for “showing leadership” … [Gah!]

But wait, there’s more —  It’s scary how much personal data people leave on old devices. A recent experiment by Josh Frantz, a senior security consultant at Rapid7, suggests users are taking few if any steps to protect their private information before releasing their used devices back out into the wild.
Underhand Uber — Uber used a secret spyware program, codenamed Surfcam, to steal drivers from an Australian competitor with the aim of putting that company out of business. [I won’t use Uber, I use Zoomy, a NZ startup that pays its drivers better.]
Russian collusion on Brexit — Arron Banks was a British businessman who funded the most extreme end of the pro-Brexit Leave campaign, and he possibly did so with help from Russia. [Coz Russia benefits from a destabilised Europe and a destabilised US.]
President Vladimir Putin recently tightened his grip on the Russian internet by signing two censorship bills into law. One bans ‘fake news’ [except for his, anyway] while the other makes it illegal to insult public officials. [Vlad, maybe it’s time to grow that little moustache you’ve been dreaming of, hey?]
Venezuelan soldiers escape over the border — Over the past month, nearly 1000 Venezuelan troops have fled to Colombia to avoid arrest back home, according to the Colombian Foreign Ministry, which recognises Guaidó as Venezuela’s interim president.
Crashed Boeings had safety features available — but you had to purchase them as extras! The recent Boeing 737 MAX crashes involving an Ethiopian Airlines flight and a Lion Air flight may have been a result of two missing safety features that Boeing charged airlines extra for. [OK, I have to admit that’s as cynical as Facebook.]
Apple’s encryption for iTunes Store hacked — All 24 movies from the iTunes exclusive 4K James Bond Collection have leaked online,  further evidence suggesting pirates have found a way to decrypt 4K source files from the iTunes store. [Gold…finger …]

Cyclone Idai crashed into Mozambique and caused dramatic flooding

Natural disasters — Flash! Bang! Meteor! A meteor explosion over the Bering Sea late last year unleashed 10 times as much energy as the Hiroshima atomic bomb, scientists have revealed.
And again — The second-largest asteroid to hit Earth in the last 30 years went undetected, until now. Measuring several metres in size, the space rock exploded 25.6km above the Earth’s surface with an impact energy of 173 kilotons (about 40% of the above meteor).
Sharp and potentially devastating temperature rises of 3C to 5C in the Arctic are now inevitable even if the world succeeds in cutting greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris agreement.
Africa’s Cyclone Idai — Rescue workers are continuing the search for survivors of Cyclone Idai, which swept through Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe last week, destroying towns and villages in its path. Floods of up to six metres (19ft) deep caused incredible devastation over a huge area of Mozambique.

And the good news? New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has shown other world leaders how to lead, with love and understanding and firm resolution.
Thank goodness I am a citizen of her country!

The Apocalypticon ~ New Zealand mosque shooting, diseases, Mueller, Russia, corrupt Putin, the corrupt rich, flip the bird, Android malware, Arctic unravelling, Death Metal


It is with great distress that I have to accept that this happened in ‘clean, green, safe and multicultural’ New Zealand: ‘One Of New Zealand’s Darkest Days’: Shootings At Mosques Kill At Least 49‘ I have just returned from the vigil at Aotea Square in Auckland which was attended, in my estimation, by 5000-6000 people. Look, I’ll be honest: I think the Muslim faith is nuts … as nuts as all the others. But if we all killed each other for our odd beliefs, well, none of us would be here. Aroha, people, and my heartfelt condolences to all those families torn apart by this terrible crime. I am so, so sad this happened in our country of refuge. Jacinda Adern is going to change the gun law, and if there’s anything at all to thank any god for, in this mostly secular country at least, maybe it’s that. You have to wonder why 26,000 guns were imported to New Zealand last year when our Army strength is under 9000, so just what in hell is going on?
Want to help? You can be supportive to Muslims [come on, think now how frightened NZ Muslims must feel at the moment].
Facebook, YouTube both promised to remove footage of New Zealand mosque massacres, which the gunman live-streamed from a Go Pro. [You know, a nipple on a picture of a breast disappears in 2 seconds but it takes hours to remove a  video of someone murdering people. Go Facebook, go Facebook …]

Diseases — Measles: Amid two ongoing measles outbreaks on both sides of the United States, New York City health officials say an unvaccinated student attending school was linked to 21 other cases of the virus. Dozens of people have been infected since last fall in the city’s ongoing outbreak, one of particular magnitude. (It’s happening in New Zealand too.) [I have to wonder though: if someone with measles goes to school, aren’t they only infecting the others who didn’t have the vaccine?]
And here’s the harrowing story of a child in Oregon who contracted tetanus because he wasn’t vaccinated. This illness could have been prevented with five doses of the tetanus vaccine, for US$150. Instead, the ordeal cost US$811,929. [Bargain, then.]
Italian schools have begun turning away children who have not received mandatory vaccinations. The New York Times reported that at least 300 children were told they could not attend kindergarten in the city of Bologna this week.

Mulling Mueller —In an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote, the House of Representatives has called for special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election to be made public when it is completed. [Hear, here!] The Mueller investigation has resulted in criminal charges against more than 30 individuals and entities already, including multiple aides and associates of President Trump.

Around the world of craziness — Russia blocks encrypted email: Russia has told internet providers to enforce a block against encrypted email provider ProtonMail. [So you won’t be able to email stuff like ‘Putin’s a corrupt fascist arsehole’ any more. Yes, I wrote Putin’s a corrupt fascist arsehole. Decrypt that.]
Here’s what a ‘very likely’ sequel to California’s 1862 megastorm would look like. No, it’s not fun.
Yeah, everyone loves rich people. [Newsflash: I don’t.] Federal officials have charged dozens of well-heeled parents, including actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, in what the Justice Department says was a multimillion-dollar scheme to cheat college admissions standards.
But in California you can flip the bird at cops — If you’ve ever been tempted to make a rude gesture at a police officer, you can rest assured that the Constitution protects your right to do so, a federal appeals court says.
Google Android anti-virus apps are bullshit — Austrian antivirus-testing lab AV-Comparatives tested 250 antivirus apps in Google Play against 2000 malware samples. They found that only 80 (32%) of the apps could stop even a minimal amount of malware.

The Arctic is unravelling — Even if carbon pollution magically stopped tomorrow, the region’s winters would still warm an astonishing 5° Celsius by century’s end. Meeting the Paris Agreement pledges — which do not get us to the 2° warming goal — would lead to that level of warming by midcentury and up to 9° Celsius by 2100, along the way unravelling one of the most fragile ecosystems on the planet and displacing people who have done very little to cause the disruption.

Any good news at all? Death Metal actually makes people happy. [Well, that’s a relief.]
Also, this is the 100th Apocalypticon. Wow!

The Apocalypticon ~ Bad Chinese, data, crypto-creep, Police fraud, Chrome, Vaxxing, MMR, trash, Antarctic humans, Faceyuck, garlic, onions, sleep


Driving a car in 1909? Carry a gun — Life wasn’t easy for women in the early 20th century and race car driver and motorist Dorothy Levitt knew that for a fact, so published The Woman and the Car: A Chatty Little Handbook for all Women who Motor or Who Want to Motor in 1909. It tells women how to take care of themselves and their cars, and reminds them to always carry a gun.
‘Bad’ Chinese can’t use the train — China’s dystopian ‘social credit’ system penalises citizens found to have engaged in some type of misconduct by imposing a number of restrictions on their activities. This has already resulted in tens of millions of rejected attempts to purchase plane or train tickets. [All praise Xi Jinping.]
On data — Security researchers Bob Diachenko and Vinny Troia discovered an unprotected MongoDB database  belonging to an email verification service containing 150GB of detailed, plaintext marketing data, including hundreds of millions of unique email addresses.
Winnipeg police update their devices with fraudulent data — Winnipeg police have arrested a manager with the city for allegedly updating police radios with fraudulent software he got from a person considered to be a security threat by the US Department of Homeland Security. [Doh! But hey, he saved his department some money.]
Chrome meltdown — Google said this week that a Chrome zero-day the company patched last week was actually used together with a second one, a zero-day impacting the Microsoft Windows 7 operating system.
Artificial AI — Two-fifths of Europe’s AI startups do not use any AI programs in their products, according to a report that highlights the hype around the technology.
Crypto-wallets finally unlocked, but proved empty — The money was there, it was just locked away. At least that’s what the QuadrigaCX cryptocurrency exchange had been saying, before an auditor revealed it had finally accessed digital wallets set up by Quadriga’s late CEO Gerald Cotten, and that instead of holding US$137 million, the wallets were empty, drained in 2018. [Don’t invest in things you don’t understand.]

Trash talking — Gizmodo has reached out to a number of experts in geography, paleobiology, environmental science, engineering and more to figure out the absolute worst trash that humans produce. [I will stick with Donald Trump, but Xi Iinping, you’re up there.]
Microplastics host ocean-borne toxic bacteria — Plastic pollutants in the ocean serve as platforms for the growth of toxic bacteria, say scientists from the National University of Singapore (NUS). 
Human footprint surprisingly big in Antarctica — Antarctica is huge, stretching nearly 5,633km at its widest extent. Despite its enormous size, however, the frozen continent features a paltry amount of habitable space: a limited resource humans have claimed to the potential detriment of the local wildlife, as new research points out.
Nature strikes back! That’s the shared theme of these 10 eco-horror movies Gizmodo has compiled in honour of Garbage Week, all tales of terrible punishments that transpire when the environment lashes out against evil, wasteful, and destructive humans.
Deflecting asteroids … not easy! According to new asteroid collision models designed by scientists at Johns Hopkins University, deflecting a large rock headed for Earth will be harder than previously thought.
US Army reckons war robots won’t murder people [OK, two words: war robots.]

MMR does not increase autism risk — The measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine is not associated with an increased risk of autism even among kids who are at high risk because they have a sibling with the disorder, a Danish study suggests.
Adult son of anti-vaccination parents furious after contracting measles —Joshua Nerius of Chicago, Illinois, had no idea he wasn’t vaccinated until he came down with the highly contagious disease in 2016. But Facebook reckons it’s working on dealing with anti-vax poropganda.

Faceyuck — All the bad press about Facebook might be catching up to the company. New numbers from Edison Research show an an estimated 15 million fewer users in the United States compared to 2017, with the biggest drop is in the very desirable 12- to 34-year-old group. [Maybe Facebook should just rename itself ‘Faceplant’.]

Good news: The consumption of onions and garlic is associated with lower colorectal cancer risk, according to researchers in China. [Presumably, these researchers are allowed to get the train.]
And broken DNA is repaired while you sleep — Scientists have discovered that broken DNA builds up in brain cells in the daytime and repair work reverses the damage only during sleep. For an act so universal, sleep has enormous benefits: it restores the body and helps learning and memory. In the calm hours of sleep, the repair mechanisms at a neuron level have a chance to get on top of the job. 

The Apocalypticon ~ Send in the clouds, people tracking, hacking, relentless robotisation, various dangers, some good news


Send in the clouds — Cloud change climate change: People  are freaking out about how climate change is finally coming for the clouds, and silvering clouds could help defeat climate change (but would that mean people would stop bothering trying to change their damaging ways?)
Climates of stupidity:  The US Senate has confirmed Andrew Wheeler, former coal industry lobbyist, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. This in a 52-47 vote primarily along party lines. Wheeler, also a former Republican Senate aide on environmental issues, has been acting administrator since July, when former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned amid a host of ethics controversies. [Now we get the ‘mental’ part in ‘Environmental’.]
Climate change skeptic added to White House staff — Happer is back in the White House, still fighting against what he considers unfounded claims that our globe is in danger. But this time, his cause is backed by the man in the Oval Office.
First time Cat 5 — Cyclone Wutip the first Category 5 storm of any kind ever recorded in the Northern Hemisphere in February.
Drug-filled rivers — Medicines including antibiotics and epilepsy drugs are increasingly being found in the world’s rivers at concentrations that can damage ecosystems.
Government climate policy does work — Renewable energy use and reduced energy use overall have helped carbon emissions remain flat or below average as the global economy continued to grow over the years. But, as new research has found, government policy also appears to play a large role.
And for you, eating to save the planet — It’s also about what you don’t eat.

People, privacy, tracking — Canada tracking citizens: Police, social services, and health workers in Canada are using shared databases to track the behaviour of vulnerable people including minors and people experiencing homelessness. And there’s little oversight and often no consent.
China to track the way people walk — You can tell a lot of things from the way someone walks. Chinese artificial intelligence start-up Watrix says its softwares can identify a person from 50 metres away, even if they have covered their face or have their back to a camera.
Congresswoman destroys Equifax CEO over data breach — In a congressional hearing on Tuesday, Representative Katie Porter (D-CA) asked whether Equifax CEO Mark Begor would be willing to share his address, birth date, and Social Security number publicly at the hearing. Begor declined, citing the risk of “identity theft,” letting Porter criticise Equifax’s legal response to the 2017 security breach that exposed almost 150 million people’s data of that sort to an unknown intruder. [Hah hah, Begor.]
User passwords emailed in plain text — An anonymous independent security researcher noticed their power company’s website was offering to email – not reset! – lost account passwords to forgetful users. Startled, X fed the online form the utility account number and the last four phone number digits it was asking for. Sure enough, a few minutes later the account password, in plain text, was sitting in X’s inbox. In this day and age! The companies service 15 million clients …
PDFs not so secure — Academics from the Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany say they’ve managed to break the digital signing system and create fake signatures on 21 of 22 desktop PDF viewer apps and five out of seven online PDF digital signing services.
Privacy in theory and in practice — A new privacy survey from IBM’s Institute for Business Value found that 81% of consumers say they’ve become more concerned about how companies use their data, while 87% think companies should be more heavily regulated on personal data management. So you’d think people would take actions in response to companies losing or misusing their data, but they’re not.
Have you heard the mantra ‘update your software to stay secure’? Many US cities are still running on 1980s software.

PepsiCo is ‘relentlessly’ automating — PepsiCo is spending $US2.5 billion ($3.5 billion) on a plan to restructure that involves laying off an untold number of its workers. Pepsi’s new CEO, Ramon Laguarta had said in an earnings call last week that Pepsi was already “relentlessly automating and merging the best of our optimised business models with the best new thinking and technologies”.

Starbucks might consider this, since robots don’t care about the music — You may not give a second thought to the tunes spinning on a constant loop at your favourite cafe or coffee shop, but one writer and podcaster who had to listen to repetitive music for years while working in bars and restaurants argues it’s a serious workers’ rights issue. Adam Johnson told The Current’s Anna Maria Tremonti “I’m not suggesting that working at Applebee’s is the same as being at Guantanamo, but the principle’s the same.”
US companies installed more robots last year than ever before — Cheaper and more flexible machines put them within reach of businesses of all sizes and in more corners of the economy beyond their traditional foothold in car plants.
Those decent-paying oil jobs that help justify the industry? They’re getting automated, too.

Menagerie of dangers — Pedestrian deaths in the US reach 28-year high: the Governors Highway Safety Association has found the number of pedestrian deaths in the US has reached a 28-year high.
What happens to left over aid supplies? FEMA is planning to sell off hundreds of surplus trailer homes in Texas through a General Services Administration auction. [Ya know, coz they’ll never need those again!] But this does pose the question, what does happen to unused aid supplies?
Microsoft defends military work — Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is defending the company’s $479 million contract with the Pentagon to supply augmented reality headsets to the US military. [Ya know coz it makes money, basically.]
Drunk Russian captain sails massive ship into huge bridge — The ship hit the bridge and caused some damage to itself and the lower part of the bridge, though thankfully nobody was injured.

Good news? Despite the skeptics and powerful lobbying that seemed to all came from the same position of ‘what about the profits?!’, a new study found that the drinking habits of Berkeley residents got better and stayed better over the three years after a 2014 soft drink tax was passed.
And anger can be contagious, but you can stop the spread. For example, if you start to become happier with your life, a friend living close by has a 25% higher chance of becoming happy too. Yay!

The Apocalypticon ~ Trump’s attacks, hate groups heavily-armed Americans, hackers, blood, blockchain, no Huawei threat, sickness


Relentless attacks by Trump on FBI, and staggering Russian contacts — Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe condemned what he called the “relentless attack” that President Trump has waged against the FBI even as it continues scrutinising whether Americans in Trump’s campaign may have conspired with the Russians who attacked the 2016 election.
Trump wants to cancel Californian train — The Trump administration says it intends to cancel a $929 million federal grant for California’s high-speed rail project. The administration also wants to reclaim another $2.5 billion in federal funds already spent by California on the project. [Can’t think what they want that money for …]
US hate groups continue rise — For the fourth year in a row, the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights organisation that tracks hate groups, reports that hate and domestic extremism are rising in an unabated trend. The centre found a 30% increase in US hate groups over the past four years and a 7% increase in hate groups in 2018 alone, according to the centre’s annual Year in Hate and Extremism report.
A US Coast Guard lieutenant spent hours on end planning a wide-scale domestic terrorist attack — He even logged in at his work computer on the job at headquarters to study the manifestos and heinous paths of mass shooters, prosecutors say. He researched how to carry out sniper attacks, they contend, and whether rifle scopes were illegal. And all the while, investigators assert, he was amassing a cache of weapons as he ruminated about attacks on politicians and journalists.
Heavily-armed US mercenaries found in Haiti — We know their names, and where they were. But no one has given a public explanation for what five former elite US service members were doing in Haiti, and why they were driving without license plates, carrying an assortment of automatic rifles, drones and other gear.
Microsoft workers protest at having to build weapons —Microsoft workers are calling on the giant tech company to cancel its nearly $480 million US Army contract, saying the deal has “crossed the line” into weapons development by Microsoft for the first time. They say the use of the company’s HoloLens augmented reality technology under the contract “is designed to help people kill.”
Iranian and Chinese hackers step up attacks on the US — Businesses and government agencies in the United States have been targeted in aggressive attacks by Iranian and Chinese hackers who security experts believe have been energized by President Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal last year and his trade conflicts with China.
Rich people who want your blood —The Food and Drug Administration is officially not a fan of Elizabeth Báthory. On Tuesday, the agency sent out an advisory warning people to avoid clinics and companies that promise to rejuvenate health with infusions of blood plasma taken from young people. Among other things, they noted, there’s no proof these treatments do anything at all, let alone that they reverse the sands of time.

Huawei no threat to UK, Germany — Despite persistent US allegations of Chinese state spying, Britain said it is able to manage the security risks of using Huawei telecom equipments and has not seen any evidence of malicious activity by the company, a senior official said on Wednesday. Asked later whether Washington had presented Britain with any evidence to support its allegations, he told reporters: “I would be obliged to report if there was evidence of malevolence […] by Huawei. And we’re yet to have to do that. So I hope that covers it.” Germany has also found no evidence.
‘Unhackable Blockchain’ is getting hacked — Early last month, the security team at Coinbase noticed something strange going on in Ethereum Classic, one of the cryptocurrencies people can buy and sell using Coinbase’s popular exchange platform. Its blockchain, the history of all its transactions, was under attack. An attacker had somehow gained control of more than half of the network’s computing power and was using it to rewrite the transaction history.

Sickness — Hundreds have fallen ill in a US Salmonella outbreak tied to raw turkey, with the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention reporting more than 60 new cases in 24 states since its last report in December.
Philippine measles outbreak linked to anti-vexers — Thousands of people have been infected in a measles outbreak that has been linked to the deaths of 136 people, according to the Philippine health secretary. The Associated Press reported that most of those who died were young children, with roughly half between the ages of 1 and 4. The US Pacific Northwest is also facing an ongoing measles outbreak.

The Apocalypticon ~ That wall, idiots and sticks, measles, Spanish, 3D gun, data wars, threats to life, processed food, greener China


The wall, and blocks — Under the National Emergencies Act of 1976, the president of the US can declare an emergency for just about anything. As President Trump has considered using that authority to circumvent Congress and build a wall along the Southern border, that near-unlimited presidential power has gotten a lot of attention. Lots of presidents have used emergency powers in the past for, you know, emergencies. Trump’s declaration is categorically different, since the president is using his power to fund a border wall far bigger and more expensive than Congress was willing to pay for. [This is what you get for giving a big idiot a big stick.]
More bricks in the wall — Two women who were detained and asked to show identification after speaking Spanish in a convenience store in Montana are suing US Customs and Border Protection, saying the CBP agent violated their constitutional rights when he detained them and asked to see their identification.  [This is what you get for giving a little idiot any kind of stick.]
Talking about idiots and sticks — Amid a measles outbreak in Washington state that officials have confirmed has spread to at least 51 people and suspect to have spread to over a dozen others, hundreds of people showed up to a rally on Friday to demand the right to keep exposing their kids to the possibility of contracting easily prevented, potentially fatal illnesses.
3D gun printer had a hit-list of lawmakers — A Dallas man was sentenced to eight years in prison on Wednesday after the authorities caught him with a partially 3-D-printed rifle and what federal prosecutors described as a hit list of lawmakers in his backpack.
Fox News doesn’t want anti-Nazi content on its channel — Fox News has refused to air an ad for the short documentary film A Night at the Garden.
The 7-minute movie, which was recently nominated for an Academy Award, explores the terrifying day on February 20, 1939 when thousands of American Nazis held a rally at Madison Square Garden in New York. [That sick feeling when you see your grandfather giving a Sieg Heil … no, not me, I’m not American.]
Sexual assaults still rising at US military academies — Congress is keeping watch and the military has introduced prevention programs. Yet sexual assaults at military service academies keep rising. The leaders of those academies got an earful when they testified before a House Armed Services subcommittee.

Threats to life: US teens not sleeping or exercising — That is the unhealthy lifestyle of nearly all US high school students, new research finds.
Nanoparticals cause blood vessel leaks — A research group in Singapore has found that nanoparticles can cause blood vessels to become ‘leaky,’ which could help cancer spread in the body.
Yes, processed food shortens lives — A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine tracked diet and health over eight years in more than 44,000 French men and women. Their average age was 58 at the start. About 29% of their energy intake was ultraprocessed foods including instant noodles, soups, breakfast cereals, energy bars and drinks, chicken nuggets and many other ready-made meals and packaged snacks. They discovered an increase in early death.
Post-surgery more lethal than HIVm tuberculosis and malaria combined — About 4.2 million people worldwide die every year within 30 days of surgery. That’s more than from HIV, tuberculosis and malaria combined.

Data wars — Older satnavs and such devices won’t be able to use America’s Global Positioning System properly after April 6 unless they’ve been suitably updated or designed to handle a looming epoch rollover.
Photo-sharing service 500px announced it was the victim of a hack back in July 2018 — Personal data was exposed for all the roughly 14.8 million accounts that existed at the time.
Swiss invites hackers to sort eVoting — The Swiss government is offering bug bounties of up to CHF 50,000 (around $50,000) to anyone who can expose vulnerabilities in its internet-based e-voting system in a test later this month.

In good news — India and China are actually managing to get [literally] greener. I know, surprising, right?

The Apocalypticon ~ New Cold War, data pain, the cold, rich kids, people run-out, Earth eating, British Co2


New Cold War! It’s official: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the US will withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty with Russia, a landmark agreement first signed in 1987 that helped protect the world from nuclear war. [But hey, it’s going to make some very rich people very much richer. Yay for them.]
Russia’s defence minister has already ordered work to begin on new land-based intermediate range missiles, to be ready within two years.

NASA created a visualisation of the Polar Vortex

Talking about the cold — Rising temperatures in the Himalayas, home to most of the world’s tallest mountains, will melt at least one-third of the region’s glaciers by the end of the century (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source) even if the world’s most ambitious climate change targets are met, according to a report. If those goals are not achieved, and global warming and greenhouse gas emissions continue at their current rates, the Himalayas could lose two-thirds of its glaciers by 2100, according to the report.
Polar vortex — It was cold in the Continental US. Colder than Alaska, Mars (technically), and even parts of Antarctica, which isn’t so surprising because it’s presently summer in Antarctica, but sounds wild nonetheless.
A new gif by NASA’s Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) on the Aqua satellite offers a visual depiction of the dramatic and deadly cold snap, demonstrating temperatures plummeting to -40C.
Global warming could temporarily hit 1.5C above pre-industrial levels for the first time between now and 2023, according to a long-term forecast by the British Met Office.

Painful data — If you’ve experienced terrible pain after negative experiences online, you’re not alone. New research from Microsoft suggests that such agony is widespread, with over a third of global internet users reporting “moderate or severe pain” from online experiences, including 5% of survey respondents who said they suffered “unbearable pain.”
Crypto-pain — Canadian crypto exchange QuadrigaCX says it cannot repay most of US$262 million in client holdings after its founder Gerald Cotten, the only person who knew the passwords to its “cold storage,” unexpectedly died in India in December 2018. [OK, I’m aware I shouldn’t find that funny.]
House Democrats tell Ajit Pai to stop screwing over the public — The US House Commerce Committee is “reassuming its traditional role of oversight to ensure the agency is acting in the best interest of the public and consistent with its legislative authority,” Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (D-Penn.) said.
FBI wants your DNA — There are plenty of reasons to be wary of at-home DNA testing, particularly if you’re concerned about genetic privacy.
That’s especially true now that it’s come to light that FamilyTreeDNA, one of the largest private genetic testing companies, is cooperating with the FBI to give its agents access to its genealogy database.
German curbs Facebook — Facebook has been ordered to curb its data collection practices in Germany after a landmark ruling that the world’s largest social network abused its market dominance to gather information about users without their consent.
AI hears your anger in 1.2 seconds — MIT Media Lab spinoff Affectiva’s neural network, SoundNet, can classify anger from audio data in as little as 1.2 seconds regardless of the speaker’s language — just over the time it takes for humans to perceive anger.
Aussie cop used police databases for Tinder trawls — An ex-cop in Western Australia has been gaoled for six months for using police databases to snoop on the records of dozens of women he’d encountered on dating sites such as Tinder and PlentyOfFish.
Russian government accessing corporate data — A Dutch security researcher found credentials for the Russian government’s backdoor account for accessing servers of businesses operating in Russia.
Huawei admits security issues — In a remarkable piece of honest self assessment, Huawei has produced a letter to a UK House of Commons committee member in response to security concerns raised by the UK Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre (HCSEC) in its annual report, a body that includes Huawei, UK operators and UK government officials.

Rich kids in school cheating with their Apple Watches — There is one demographic that has embraced the Apple Watch with open arms: tech-savvy, upper middle-class teens and tweens. The Watch is a convenient workaround for classroom cell-phone bans; it can be used for everything from texting to cheating on tests. [That’s progress …]

Billions more people … or not — By 2050 there will be 9 billion carbon-burning, plastic-polluting, calorie-consuming people on the planet. By 2100, that number will balloon to 11 billion, pushing society into a Soylent Green scenario. Such dire population predictions aren’t the stuff of sci-fi; those numbers come from one of the most trusted world authorities, the United Nations. But what if they’re wrong? Not by a rounding error, either. By billions.
Eating like you’re going to save the Earth — That’s what Brian Kahn tried for Gizmodo. 
French government pays out to Holocaust survivors — Around three-quarters of a century after the Holocaust ended with the extermination of at least six million Jews, some survivors, as well as victims’ families and estates, are receiving reparations from France, in acknowledgment of the government’s role in deporting them to Nazi death camps via French trains.

Any good news? A little: the UK’s CO2 emissions peaked in the year 1973 and have declined by around 38% since 1990, faster than any other major developed country.