The Verge – Anonymous users to be blocked from educational meetings – “Google is turning on new security features in its Google Meet video chat service for meetings held by education subscribers, the company has announced. The changes, which are due to go into effect over the next 15 days, will mean that anonymous users won’t be able to join meetings organized by G Suite for Education or G Suite Enterprise for Education subscribers. An anonymous user is anyone not signed into a Google account, the company says. The new features appear to be designed to prevent “zoombombing,” where unauthorized users connect to meetings and disrupt them by broadcasting shock videos, or hurling insults. ZDNet notes that as school lessons have moved online due to the pandemic, some students have shared links to their classes and have asked pranksters to disrupt them in the hope that they’ll be allowed to leave early…”
EFF Launches Searchable Database of Police Agencies and the Tech Tools They Use to Spy on Communities
“San Francisco—The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), in partnership with the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, today launched the largest-ever collection of searchable data on police use of surveillance technologies, created as a tool for the public to learn about facial recognition, drones, license plate readers, and other devices law enforcement agencies are acquiring to spy on our communities. The Atlas of Surveillance database, containing several thousand data points on over 3,000 city and local police departments and sheriffs’ offices nationwide, allows citizens, journalists, and academics to review details about the technologies police are deploying, and provides a resource to check what devices and systems have been purchased locally. Users can search for information by clicking on regions, towns, and cities, such as Minneapolis, Tampa, or Tucson, on a U.S. map. They can also easily perform text searches by typing the names of cities, counties, or states on a search page that displays text results. The Atlas also allows people to search by specific technologies, which can show how surveillance tools are spreading across the country…”
Above the Law – Robert Ambrogi – Robots are not coming for law librarians’ jobs. “…Already, law librarians’ evolving roles require them to wear a variety of hats. Increasingly, one of those is legal technologist. These days, one can hardly be an information professional without also becoming a technology professional because the two disciplines overlap in almost every way. For that reason, law librarians have begun to fill the role of technology gatekeeper within their firms and organizations. I hear this repeatedly from the vendors who sell to firms. Law librarians get it. They understand the importance of technology in advancing the legal profession, and they are more likely than other legal professionals to understand the mechanics of technology, to be able to get under the hood and size up whether a product is what it claims to be. We see this at law firms, where law librarians are often the screeners for new technology, helping to vet and evaluate products before their firms plunk down precious dollars. We see this at law schools, where law librarians are often at the forefront of pushing for teaching and program initiatives in technology innovation and competence. We see this in court systems and government agencies, where law librarians are often helping to lead the charge for expanding access to justice…”
“Documenting COVID-19 is a repository of searchable documents related to the COVID-19 pandemic obtained through state open-records laws and the Freedom of Information Act. Click on a state for details about the 54 document sets available as of July 13, 2020, and news coverage that have used those materials. Do you need help with COVID-19 public records, want to collaborate with us or want to contribute records you’ve obtained? Subscribe, follow us on Twitter and email us at email@example.com“
Salon: How 68,000 COVID-19 survivors created a world-class patient resource group in just four months. “Diana Berrent was one of the first people in her hometown of Port Washington, New York, to get COVID-19. Back then, in early March 2020, only immunocompromised and seniors were believed to be high-risk; hence, as a 46-year-old yoga practitioner and runner, Berrent was ‘shocked’ when she woke up with a 103-degree fever and respiratory infection — symptoms that strongly suggested she had coronavirus, which was later confirmed by a test…. Survivor Corps was created on March 24; as of July 10, it has over 68,000 members. Berrent said she started the group as a way to mobilize volunteers to donate convalescent plasma to those who would be later fighting COVID-19, or support scientific medical and academic research that they qualified for in order to help find a cure. “It was a way of gathering all these people who are currently sick, but who were going to be survivors pretty soon,” Berrent said. Once cases started to surge in New York, the Facebook group took off almost overnight. “As soon as April hit and New York got slammed our membership skyrocketed,” she said. “We now have a volunteer staff, a couple of dozen volunteers who work tirelessly to make sure that if you make a statement of health or medical facts and it’s not accompanied by a verified source, it gets taken down.”…
The Verge – Unsubscribe from and trash all those unwanted messages: “We all know how it goes: one day you look at your Gmail account, and you’ve got several thousand emails. Why be surprised? It’s all too easy to subscribe to dozens of company promotions without realizing it. If you buy anything online from a new service or retailer, you will be subscribed. If you want to read an article from a source that demands registration, you will be subscribed. If you sign a petition or give money to a charitable cause, you will be subscribed. It is, of course, easy to ignore all those subscriptions and just let them pile up in your Gmail Promotions tab. But what if there is a really good sale at your favorite clothing retailer, and you miss it because of the mass of other promotional emails? What if you’ve got so many emails stored up that they’re starting to eat into your Google storage limits? Or what if just the thought of having several thousand promotional emails sitting in your Inbox is just, well, irritating? Sometimes it’s a good idea to spend a little time cleaning out all those excess emails in your Gmail account and preventing more from coming. Here’s how. (Note: these all require using Gmail with a browser. There is very little you can do with your mobile app; those options are listed at the end of this article.)…”
Officials in both Oregon and West Virginia are tightening the limits as coronavirus cases rise in their states.
(Image credit: Gillian Flaccus/AP)
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the state is deploying teams to check for proof that travelers getting off flights have completed forms before leaving airports across the state.
(Image credit: Kathy Willens/AP)
Gallup: “It has been more than three months since the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reversed course and recommended that Americans wear face masks in public to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Gallup has been measuring U.S. adults’ use of face masks since early April and has found nearly nine in 10 say they have used one in the past week. Yet, new data on how often masks are being used reveals that less than half of Americans are heeding health officials’ guidance and always covering their nose and mouth when in public, especially when social distancing is difficult to maintain. Forty-four percent of U.S. adults say they “always” wear a mask when outside their homes, and 28% say they do so “very often.” At the same time, three in 10 report doing so less often, including 11% “sometimes,” 4% “rarely” and 14% “never.”
- 44% “always,” 28% “very often” wear mask outside their homes
- Three in 10 “sometimes,” “rarely” or “never” use a mask
- Women, Democrats, Northeasterners most likely to always use mask in public
“For many years, laboratory dogs have served as important animal models for biomedical research that has advanced human health. Conducted at the request of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), this report assesses whether laboratory dogs are or will continue to be necessary for biomedical research related to the VA’s mission. The report concludes that using laboratory dogs in research at the VA is scientifically necessary for only a few areas of current biomedical research. The report recommends that the VA adopt an expanded set of criteria for determining when it is scientifically necessary to use laboratory dogs in VA biomedical research; that the VA promote the development and use of alternatives to laboratory dogs; and highlights opportunities for the VA to enhance the welfare of laboratory dogs that are being used in biomedical research areas for which they have been deemed necessary.”
Vox: “…A lot of these terms are confusing (even to the scientists), and they don’t answer the question laypeople care about: Which air is safe to breathe in during the Covid-19 pandemic, and which air is not safe? To answer that question, it’s helpful to understand two different scientific perspectives on the matter. One is: What physically happens when a sick person breathes, sneezes, or coughs into a room? The other is: What patterns have epidemiologists observed in the way people are exposed to the virus and get sick?…There’s growing theoretical evidence for the airborne spread of the coronavirus. Lab studies, in idealized conditions, also show that the virus can live in an aerosolized form for up to 16 hours (the scientists in this case intentionally created aerosolized droplets with a machine). Another study tracked with lasers the various droplets expelled from a human mouth during speech. It found “normal speech generates airborne droplets that can remain suspended for tens of minutes or longer and are eminently capable of transmitting disease in confined spaces.” Some studies, the WHO reports, have found evidence of the virus’s RNA in the air of hospital rooms, but notes “no studies have found viable virus in air samples,” meaning the virus was either incapable of infecting others or was in very small quantities unlikely to infect others.
What we are trying to say is, well, let’s not worry about whether you call it aerosol or whether you call it a droplet,” Morawska, the co-author of the recent commentary imploring the WHO and others to address airborne transmission of Covid-19, says. “It is in the air,” she says, “and you inhale it. It’s coming from our nose from our mouths. It’s lingering in the air and others can inhale it.”…
Quanta Magazine – “Determining how to safely reopen buildings and public spaces under social distancing is in part an exercise in geometry: If each person must keep six feet away from everyone else, then figuring out how many people can sit in a classroom or a dining room is a question about packing non-overlapping circles into floor plans. Of course there’s a lot more to confronting COVID than just this geometry problem. But circle and sphere packing plays a part, just as it does in modeling crystal structures in chemistry and abstract message spaces in information theory. It’s a simple-sounding problem that’s occupied some of history’s greatest mathematicians, and exciting research is still happening today, particularly in higher dimensions. For example, mathematicians recently proved the best way to pack spheres into 8- and 24-dimensional space — a technique essential for optimizing the error-correcting codes used in cell phones or for communication with space probes. So let’s take a look at some of the surprising complications that arise when we try to pack space with our simplest shape…”
House Judiciary Committee Releases Transcript of Interview with Former SDNY Prosecutor Geoffrey Berman
“Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) released a transcript of the Committee’s July 9th interview with Geoffrey Berman, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York (SDNY). Chairman Nadler issued the following statement on the release of the transcript: “While Mr. Berman was U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, his office announced multiple investigations that implicated President Trump, including the prosecution of the President’s longtime legal fixer Michael Cohen. We know from public reporting that the Office may also have been investigating the President’s inaugural committee and his current counsel, Rudy Giuliani. Had Mr. Berman not been removed, he would have had final decision-making authority over whether to investigate the President leading up to the 2020 elections, as well. When he appeared before the Committee last week, Mr. Berman could not comment on these cases—but he was adamant that Attorney General Barr’s scheme to force him out of office and replace him with an outsider raised serious concerns for him, and was designed to disrupt and delay the work of the office—including those implicating the President…”
Restaurants, movie theaters and museums are among the businesses required to suspend their indoor operations statewide under Gov. Gavin Newsom's Monday announcement. Bars must close entirely.
(Image credit: Jae C. Hong/AP)
Dr. David J. De La Zerda, the director of medical ICU at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, says that many of the patients he's seeing are people in their 20s, 30s and 40s with no medical history.
(Image credit: Wilfredo Lee/AP)
More than 700 military health professionals are being sent to southern and western states where cases have skyrocketed, military officials say.
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The Trump administration says it will ban international students in the fall if their education is online-only. Colleges and businesses say that decision could devastate the economy.
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Robert Speker wanted to keep spirits up while visitors and outside entertainment were banned due to COVID-19. His ingenious idea: cast the residents as rock stars.
(Image credit: Screengrab by NPR/Robert Speker on Twitter)
The federal deficit is ballooning as the government tries to cushion the blow from the coronavirus pandemic. June's shortfall totals $864 billion — more than in an entire typical year.
(Image credit: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images)