Blog Rolls

No Guarantee You'll Get Tested For COVID-19, Even If Your Doctor Requests It

There's still a big gap between what the federal government is promising in terms of testing capacity in the U.S. and what state and local labs can deliver.

(Image credit: CDC)

Categories: Just News

Giant Report Lays Anvil on US Cyber Policy

Wired Top Stories - Wed, 03/11/2020 - 05:00
Released today, the bipartisan Cyberspace Solarium Commission makes more than 75 recommendations that range from common-sense to befuddling.
Categories: Just News

3 TSA Screeners In San Jose, Calif., Have Contracted Coronavirus, Agency Says

The security officers, all of whom work at Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport, are the first confirmed cases of the virus within the Transportation Security Administration, officials say.

(Image credit: David Goldman/AP)

Categories: Just News

The best, and the worst, of the coronavirus dashboards

MIT Technology Review – There are dozens of sites that show you how coronavirus is spreading around the world. Here is our ranking. “If you’ve been on the web to learn more about the latest pandemic, chances are you’ve stumbled upon at least one or two coronavirus dashboards. These are the landing pages for interactive maps and visuals that show where the virus has spread, as well as numbers on the latest in infection rates and deaths, breakdowns of what countries are suffering from new cases and what regions are likely seeing new outbreaks, and much more. Not all dashboards are created equal, nor do all people have access to the same dashboards (for instance, US sanctions prevent Iranians from accessing the one run by Johns Hopkins University). Some present data you won’t find elsewhere. Some are easier to navigate than others. Some are simply much more stunning to look at…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Smithsonian Releases 2.8 Million Images Into Public Domain

The launch of a new open access platform ushers in a new era of accessibility for the Institution – “Culture connoisseurs, rejoice: The Smithsonian Institution is inviting the world to engage with its vast repository of resources like never before. For the first time in its 174-year history, the Smithsonian has released 2.8 million high-resolution two- and three-dimensional images from across its collections onto an open access online platform for patrons to peruse and download free of charge. Featuring data and material from all 19 Smithsonian museums, nine research centers, libraries, archives and the National Zoo, the new digital depot encourages the public to not just view its contents, but use, reuse and transform them into just about anything they choose—be it a postcard, a beer koozie or a pair of bootie shorts. And this gargantuan data dump is just the beginning. Throughout the rest of 2020, the Smithsonian will be rolling out another 200,000 or so images, with more to come as the Institution continues to digitize its collection of 155 million items and counting. “Being a relevant source for people who are learning around the world is key to our mission,” says Effie Kapsalis, who is heading up the effort as the Smithsonian’s senior digital program officer. “We can’t imagine what people are going to do with the collections. We’re prepared to be surprised.” The database’s launch also marks the latest victory for a growing global effort to migrate museum collections into the public domain. Nearly 200 other institutions worldwide—including Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago—have made similar moves to digitize and liberate their masterworks in recent years. But the scale of the Smithsonian’s release is “unprecedented” in both depth and breadth, says Simon Tanner, an expert in digital cultural heritage at King’s College London…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Waters to Wells Fargo CEO: The Bank You Inherited is Essentially a Lawless Organization

News release: “Following the release of a Majority staff report entitled, “The Real Wells Fargo: Board & Management Failures, Consumer Abuses, and Ineffective Regulatory Oversight,” Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, convened a full Committee hearing with Charles W. Scharf, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and President of Wells Fargo & Company…Among the disturbing findings uncovered in the report is that the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is aware of dozens of cases at Wells Fargo where the number of consumers or customer accounts requiring remediation for a consumer abuse exceeds 50,000 or the amount of harm exceeds $10 million. I am very concerned that the bank’s pattern of harming its consumers appears to persist. The Majority’s staff report also uncovered notes from a May 2019 Federal Reserve meeting with Wells Fargo reflecting that a senior Wells Fargo executive stated “if he were CEO, he would not allow the addition of any new customers to the company since the firm is operating in this environment.” Based on the findings of the Majority staff report, I agree with the sentiment that Wells Fargo isn’t ready to be America’s bank again. And this is the challenge before you, Mr. Scharf. You must not only rebuild this institution, you must also rebuild America’s trust in it…”

Categories: Law and Legal

U.S. coronavirus testing threatened by shortage of critical lab materials

Politico: “A looming shortage in lab materials is threatening to delay coronavirus test results and cause officials to undercount the number of Americans with the virus. The slow pace of coronavirus testing has created a major gap in the U.S. public health response. The latest problem involves an inability to prepare samples for testing, creating uncertainties in how long it will take to get results. CDC Director Robert Redfield told POLITICO on Tuesday that he is not confident that U.S. labs have an adequate stock of the supplies used to extract genetic material from any virus in a patient’s sample — a critical step in coronavirus testing. “The availability of those reagents is obviously being looked at,” he said, referring to the chemicals used for preparing samples. “I’m confident of the actual test that we have, but as people begin to operationalize the test, they realize there’s other things they need to do the test.”..,

The growing scarcity of these “RNA extraction” kits is the latest trouble for U.S. labs, which have struggled to implement widespread coronavirus testing in the seven weeks since the country diagnosed its first case. Epidemiologists and public health officials say that the delayed rollout, caused in part by a botched CDC test, has masked the scope of the U.S. outbreak and hobbled efforts to limit it…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Thrift Store Wood Engraving Print Turns Out To Be Salvador Dalí Artwork

"I needed to ... take it out of the frame, which was old and dusty, to take a closer look because it is very rare to find something like this at a thrift store," said art expert Melanie Smith.

(Image credit: WAVY TV)

Categories: Just News

LA Opera Finds 'Inappropriate Conduct' Claims Against Plácido Domingo Credible

On Tuesday, the California opera company released a summary of independent investigators' findings. They substantiated 10 claims of alleged incidents that took place between 1986 and 2019.

(Image credit: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

Categories: Just News

DuckDuckGo does not track you – ready to leave Google?

Via Jake Voytko’s personal log of bits – DuckDuckGo is good enough for regular use – “…I don’t personally miss most of Google’s result panels. Especially the panels that highlight information snippets. It’s easy to find these. Searching microsoft word justify text provides me a snippet from Microsoft’s Office’s support page explaining what to click or type to justify text. I’ve learned not to trust information in these panels without reading the source they came from. Google seems to cite this information uncritically. I’ve found enough oversimplified knowledge panel answers that I’ve stopped reading most of them. Recently, I was chatting with a Googler who works on these. I asked them if I was wrong to feel this way. And they replied, “I trust them, but I’ve read enough bug reports and user feedback that I don’t blame you.” So my position is wrong, but not very wrong. I’ll take that…[I have been using DuckDuckGo for many years – I do not miss Google – at – all.]

Categories: Law and Legal

Coachella Delays 2020 Edition Due To Coronavirus Concerns

The influential annual music festival in Indio, Calif. announced Tuesday that it has to move its dates from April to October.

(Image credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Coachella)

Categories: Just News

Google Scrubs Coronavirus Misinformation on Search, YouTube

Bloomberg – “Since Covid-19 began to spread, Google has aggressively intervened in some of its most popular online services to limit the spread of misinformation. This is a departure for a company that has relied heavily on software and automation to index and rank information throughout its 22-year existence. Google searches related to the virus now trigger an “SOS Alert,” with news from mainstream publications including National Public Radio, followed by information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization displayed prominently. In contrast, a recent search for “flu season” showed the website at the top, while another search for “flu” produced tweets, including one from U.S. President Donald Trump comparing coronavirus to the common flu…On YouTube, Google’s video service, the company is trying to quickly remove videos claiming to prevent the virus in place of seeking medical treatment. And some apps related to the virus have been banned from the Google Play app store, prompting complaints from developers who say they just want to help. An Iranian government app built to keep track of infections was also removed from the Play Store, ZDNet reported…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Harvard and MIT tell students not to return from spring break due to coronavirus

MIT Technology Review: “After an outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease Covid-19 was found spreading through Boston’s biomedical community, Harvard University said it will move classes online and is telling students not to return from spring break. This story is part of our ongoing coverage of the coronavirus/Covid-19 outbreak. You can also sign up to our dedicated newsletter. Online only: The nation’s oldest university said it plans to switch to online classes by March 23 and asked students not to return after spring break week, which begins on March 13.  (Update: later the same day MIT, in an email from its president Rafael Reif, asked its students to do the same, and canceled classes for the week of March 16 to 20. MIT’s spring break is the week after Harvard’s.) Harvard has more than 6,500 undergraduates and more than 20,000 students overall.“These past few weeks have been a powerful reminder of just how connected we are to one another—and how our choices today determine our options tomorrow,” said university president Lawrence Bacow in a statement posted to Harvard’s home page…”

See also the Washington Post – “…Both Maryland’s public university system and American University in the District announced plans to keep students away from campus for a short time after spring break, teaching them online instead of in person, in an effort to slow the spread of the virus in the region. Other colleges and universities in the region and throughout the country are taking similar steps…”

And Stanford, others switch to online classes temporarily amid coronavirus fears

Categories: Law and Legal

The best advice is – Cancel Everything

The Atlantic – Social distancing is the only way to stop the coronavirus. We must start immediately. “…The coronavirus could spread with frightening rapidity, overburdening our health-care system and claiming lives, until we adopt serious forms of social distancing.  This suggests that anyone in a position of power or authority, instead of downplaying the dangers of the coronavirus, should ask people to stay away from public places, cancel big gatherings, and restrict most forms of nonessential travel.stay away from work when they are sick—the federal government should also take some additional steps to improve public health. It should take on the costs of medical treatment for the coronavirus, grant paid sick leave to stricken workers, promise not to deport undocumented immigrants who seek medical help, and invest in a rapid expansion of ICU facilities. The past days suggest that this administration is unlikely to do these things well or quickly (although the administration signaled on Monday that it will seek relief for hourly workers, among other measures). Hence, the responsibility for social distancing now falls on decision makers at every level of society…”

See also Vox – How canceled events and self-quarantines save lives, in one chart – This is how we all help slow the spread of coronavirus.

Categories: Law and Legal

Why the US Sucks at Building Public Transit

Motherboard – America is worse at building and operating public transit than nearly all of its peers. Why is that? And what can we do to fix it? – “American cities are facing a transportation crisis. There’s terrible traffic. Public transit doesn’t work or go where people need it to. The cities are growing, but newcomers are faced with the prospects of paying high rents for reasonable commutes or lower rents for dreary, frustrating daily treks. Nearly all Americans, including those in cities, face a dire choice: spend thousands of dollars a year owning a car and sitting in traffic, or sacrifice hours every day on ramshackle public transit getting where they need to go. Things are so broken that, increasingly, they do both. Nationwide, three out of every four commuters drive alone. The rate in metro areas is not much different…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Life During Coronavirus: What Different Countries Are Doing To Stop The Spread

From a nationwide "red zone" to travel restrictions to school closures, governments around the globe are taking steps to try to slow the spread of the outbreak.

(Image credit: Antonio Calanni/AP)

Categories: Just News

You Have A Fever And A Dry Cough. Now What?

Whether your mild or moderate symptoms mean you have a cold, the flu, or COVID-19 doesn't change the medical advice right now. Stay home, rest, and call or email your doctor if symptoms worsen.

(Image credit: Guido Mieth/Getty Images)

Categories: Just News

Dow Bounces Back, Jumping More Than 1,100 Points After Market's Terrible Day

Stock indexes rose nearly 5% after the market's worst day since 2008. The jump followed President Trump's call for a payroll tax cut and other steps to help the economy amid the coronavirus epidemic.

(Image credit: Richard Drew/AP)

Categories: Just News

How The Painstaking Work Of Contact Tracing Can Slow The Spread Of An Outbreak

It involves making a very long list and a LOT of phone calls. Disease detection is drudgery but it's vital to public health.

(Image credit: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Categories: Just News

Why Taller Grass Can Be Bad News For Grasshoppers

Grass on the prairie is growing taller because there's now more carbon dioxide in the air. Paradoxically, though, this might be hurting wildlife, because the grass is less nutritious.

(Image credit: Savushkin/Getty Images)

Categories: Just News


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