Senate Committee Spurns HASC Approach to Bolster Base Budget

first_imgIn contrast to the budget maneuver employed by its House counterpart, the Senate Armed Services Committee does not rely on DOD’s wartime account to sidestep the statutory spending caps and bolster the Pentagon’s base budget, under the fiscal 2017 defense authorization bill the panel approved Thursday.After the committee finished marking up its annual defense policy bill in closed session, Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) told reporters he planned to seek additional funding when the measure goes to the Senate floor, reported Defense News.“We went to the president’s mark, and then we will be looking to increase funding for much-needed programs on the floor,” McCain said.The committee adhered to the Obama administration’s request and shifted only $5 billion from the overseas contingency operations (OCO) account, which is not subject to the Budget Control Act limits. The House Armed Services dedicated an additional $18 billion from the uncapped account to base budget needs in an effort to restore shortfalls in military readiness.The Senate version, however, would authorize an increase of $2 billion for additional training, depot maintenance and weapons sustainment.“While the committee believes this is a positive step in the right direction, these additions were not enough to address the nearly $23 billion in unfunded requirements identified by the military services, almost $7 billion of which alone were considered readiness-related,” according to a committee summary of the measure.“Artificial budget constraints … have limited the committee’s ability to authorize a strategy-based level of defense funding demanded by the threats facing the nation and the ever-growing demands they impose on our military service members,” the committee said.The Pentagon and White House have criticized the budget maneuver employed by House Armed Services, saying it would shortchange overseas operations and force the next administration to request supplemental war funding before it runs out at the end of April.The conflicting approaches to funding the Pentagon adopted by the two panels could be difficult to resolve and likely set up a contentious budget battle at the end of the year.“This is a hard thing to resolve,” Todd Harrison, director of defense budget analysis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Defense News. “We have a significant disagreement, and looking at the legislative calendar, there will not be that much time to resolve it.” Dan Cohen AUTHORlast_img read more

Fireballs dazzle two continents in a single night

first_imgA fireball lighting up the east coast of the US. AMS; video screenshot by Eric Mack/CNET Late Tuesday into early Wednesday was a big night for combustible cosmic collisions, as multiple meteors flamed out over some of the biggest cities in the United States and Europe.  We might have the Lyrid meteor shower to thank for this show. The northern hemisphere’s annual spring shooting star bonanza officially became active Tuesday night and is known for producing fireballs.  One fireball was spotted in skies from Berlin to Amsterdam to Copenhagen just before midnight local time. Later, as midnight approached on the east coast of the US, another meteor was seen burning up as it crashed into our atmosphere. That fireball was spotted at 10:57 p.m. EDT and could be viewed all the way from New England to the Carolinas. The American Meteor Society received dozens of reports of the European fireball, which is estimated to have flamed out high over Germany, and hundreds of reports of the eastern US meteor that was over Delaware at its brightest moment of disintegration. Fireballs are actually a very common occurrence that might happen thousands of times every day, but the vast majority aren’t very bright, or they’re masked by daylight or happen over the ocean and other unpopulated areas and go unseen by human eyes. For two exceptionally bright fireballs to burn up over major population centers in the same night is more rare. Most fireballs are actually much higher in the sky than they might appear, generally well above 30 miles, which is why the same fireball was seen from a dozen different US states Tuesday evening.  There could be more to come this week. The Lyrid meteor shower is currently building toward its peak, Sunday night, when 10 to 20 shooting stars per hour may be visible, though some may be washed out by a nearly full moon.  Sometimes there can be an outburst of hyperactive meteor activity producing hundreds of visible trails per hour during a shower like the Lyrids. Though no outburst is predicted for this year, there’s always a chance, and this early fireball activity is reason to be optimistic.  Post a comment Sci-Tech Tags 14 Photoscenter_img 2018 Perseid meteor shower sizzles across the sky 0 Space Share your voicelast_img read more

Gaming can be toxic to women minorities EA wants to fix that

first_imgEnlarge ImageEA is taking harassment more seriously. James Martin/CNET When Amira Virgil is playing the world-building game The Sims, she likes to craft different characters, create houses for them and tell stories about their lives.She’s well known within the player community of Electronic Arts’ game, in part because she created modifications that gave characters more racially diverse skin tones and hair. She also started a website for people to share their own mods and other creations, called The Black Simmer. Often, she’s streaming a live broadcast of her play online, sharing her Sims exploits with hundreds of fans under the username Xmiramira. But every once in a while, people join her stream to cause trouble. Screenshot from The Sims 4Enlarge ImageThe Sims world-building game is one of the most popular video games ever made, with more than 200 million copies sold.  Electronic Arts One way they do that is to change their username to include racially charged language when they leave comments while she’s streaming. They’d include words “like ghetto, N-word and slurs,” she said.Virgil isn’t alone.Which is why EA held its first large-scale meeting, called the Building Healthy Communities Summit, with 230 gaming influencers it calls Game Changers who it flew in to the meeting to discuss the problem.Sitting in the conference room nestled in the Loews Hollywood Hotel ahead of the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, in Los Angeles, EA’s head of community engagement, Adam Tanielian, asked the roomful of influencers whether any of them had seen or been the target of bullying or harassment online. Nearly every hand shot up.”It’s a really crappy thing,” Tanielian said. Over the next three hours, EA outlined how it plans to combat this issue. It’s going to start releasing regular reports about the health of its online communities. It’s going to offer new tools to players to help tamp down on toxicity. And it’s going to bring together a council of players to regularly discuss these issues and what the company can do about it.EA said it also wants to inspire its players to help make change, too. That includes hearing about positive behavior from influencers they look up to. “You guys have a lot of power to try to solve some of these issues, or at least provide solutions,” Tanielian said.The company’s efforts come at a time when the video game industry is larger and more influential than ever. Its worldwide sales topped $137.9 billion last year, according to data from industry watcher Newzoo, more than music and movies combined. Online communities, such as the more than 250 million people who’ve signed up to play the hit online battle game Fortnite, are swelling with millions of players.Maintaining those large networks of gamers playing together has caused many companies to rethink the way they approach the lives people lead in the worlds they’ve created.e3-2019-chris-bruzzo-chief-marketing-officer-ea-electronic-arts3944Enlarge ImageEA’s Chris Bruzzo said the company feels a responsibility to work on these issues. James Martin/CNET In the past, companies largely left players to sort themselves out. But now, with multiplayer aspects of games like EA’s Battlefield war simulation franchise growing in popularity alongside gaming social networks like Microsoft’s Xbox Live, companies say they’re compelled to start influencing the culture of players in their games for the better.”There was a period of time where it was accepted — that’s how games are,” said Chris Bruzzo, EA’s head of marketing, who also helped head up its healthy communities summit. “We’ve started to hear more and more from players that this wasn’t something they wanted to tolerate anymore.”Of course, harassment and bullying are pervasive on social networking. And EA isn’t the only gaming company attempting to tackle these issues. In May, Microsoft posted its community standards, and committed to more moderation tools to help people avoid toxic players. Ubisoft, ahead of its E3 press conference Monday, played a video of the rapper and actor Ice-T talking about how to handle gaming online.”Video games are for everyone, and we need to keep a safe environment for the enjoyment of all, but not everyone’s cool like that,” he said. Tags Yves Guillemot, CEO of Ubisoft, said the company has been more actively discussing these issues in part because he feels it’s part of the company’s responsibility when creating online games that connect players.”Because our games are more and more social, we want those games to be safe. We want people to come in and feel good,” he said. “It is our job to make sure it’s as safe as possible.” There are also organizations like the Fair Play Alliance, a collection of companies working to encourage healthy communities. And there are anti-bullying nonprofits such as Ditch The Label, which EA supports financially, that promote equality and study the effects of toxic behavior.”Bullying is real, and it has real and devastating consequences,” said Liam Hackett, head of Ditch The Label, who spoke at the event. He said Ditch The Label’s data found that one in 10 victims of bullying has considered suicide and that one in five people has quit a game because of how they’re treated by other players. Bullying is real, and it has real and devastating consequences. Liam Hackett, head of Ditch The Label Now playing: Watch this: E3 2019 Aug 3 • E3 journalists see their personal info exposed by security flaw Aug 19 • Borderlands 3: FL4K, new endgame content and everything else we know Our E3 breakdown: Microsoft’s Project Scarlett looks… “It’s already hard enough being a content creator,” she said. But she’s often had to narrow her focus on playing with her community, rather than entering public matches for video games like Activision Blizzard’s popular multiplayer shooting game Overwatch, because of the environment she encounters. “I don’t want to deal with the racism, sexism and general toxicity that comes with being in the gaming space,” she said. As much as influencers might be able to help, she added, companies like EA and platforms like YouTube need to actively help solve some of these issues too.”It’s up to them to them to foster and create environments, and better to moderate the situations that we encounter on a day-to-day basis,” Virgil said. “It’s up to them, because there’s only so much we can do.” Jul 26 • Doom Eternal: QuakeCon ‘Year of Doom’ keynote shows more ‘Battlemode’ action 4:22 Brittney Brombacher, co-founder of the podcast What’s Good Games, said at EA’s event that bad behavior can also build on itself and affect the community. “Toxicity breeds toxicity,” she said.An increasing number of companies are taking notice. Last week, YouTube said it would take away advertising from the conservative personality Steven Crowder for using homophobic slurs against journalist Carlos Maza, a writer and video host at Vox. And some advertisers said they would no longer run ads on at least two gaming YouTube channels whose criticism and personal attacks went against their “strict” guidelines for advertising placement. Looking to the communityEA knows a thing or two about online behavior. The company’s run afoul of gamers many times.When EA began promoting its World War II-inspired shooting game Battlefield V last year, players immediately seized on the promotional materials that featured a woman on the cover. It wasn’t historically accurate to show a woman on the front lines, critics said. When the company stood up to them, saying don’t buy it if you don’t like it, the backlash grew got even worse. Ultimately, the game’s sales underperformed expectations despite a positive reception among some critics.characters-battlelfield-vEA was criticized for putting a woman on the cover while promoting Battlefield V, a World War II-inspired game. EA It’d be easy to dismiss EA’s Building Healthy Communities Summit as a knee-jerk reaction to all that. After all, EA’s sales and usage of its games are tied to customers being happy. Any effort to help everyone be nicer to one another could be dismissed as self-serving.But Bruzzo said it’s more than that. A player at a competitive event for EA’s Madden NFL football series shot and killed one of his competitors last year. Bruzzo said the company realized it didn’t just need to make sure the events were safe, but also to make sure there was mental health support for players too.”On the empathy side, there is work to be done,” he said. There are no clear answers yet. During a breakout discussion about research EA had done around the impacts of disruptive player behavior, attendees grappled with how involved any company should be in these issues and where the line should be drawn between banter, trash talk and hurtful actions. Some attendees said they’re frustrated by incessant harassment by other players. Some people in particular try to undermine them in a game, such as by accusing them of cheating. Some attendees said they’re targeted by disruptive players in an effort to make them look bad during a live stream.”Disruptive behavior doesn’t just disrupt the game, it disrupts people’s actual life,” said Andy Castell a 25-year-old gaming YouTuber from the UK who’s part of EA’s Game Changers influencer program. He often makes videos about playing EA’s FIFA soccer game at his channel, AJ3, which has nearly 1.5 million subscribers. “It’s obviously very important to create as positive an environment as possible in the game.”Castell said he hasn’t struggled too much with disruptive behavior himself, but he can see why it’s a problem. Solving this issue, he said, will take a delicate community discussion that doesn’t come off as paternalistic. “It’s hard in the environment that social media currently is, because you look like someone on a high horse trying to tell everyone they’re wrong, and people will take offense to it,” Castell said. “It does feel like the world’s playing catchup to this beast that’s just running out of control.”Finding solutionsFor now, EA’s focused on starting conversations. It held the Building Healthy Communities Summit ahead of E3 with its Game Changers influencers, and it made those commitments to releasing research and building tools to fight toxicity. It also plans to meet with other companies to swap ideas and to work with gamers themselves to come up with features and rules to help reduce these issues.”It’s going to be challenging to expect any one of the companies in this space will be able to ‘solve it,'” Bruzzo said.Virgil, of The Black Simmer, said she hopes this represents EA’s first steps toward seeking out more diverse perspectives — and not just from its player base but in its employee ranks as well. I don’t want to deal with the racism, sexism and general toxicity that comes with being in the gaming space. Amira Virgil, The Black Simmercenter_img reading • Gaming can be toxic toward women and minorities. Electronic Arts wants to help fix that • See All Aug 28 • Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order trailer, gameplay footage and everything we know Culture Tech Industry Gaming Comments 22 E3 2019 Share your voice Activision Electronic Arts (EA) Microsoftlast_img read more

Daredevil NASA spacecraft snaps asteroid Bennu from crazyclose orbit

first_imgOriginally published June 18, 9:56 a.m. PT.  The spacecraft is designed to reach out to Bennu, snag a sample of surface material and bring it back to Earth in 2023. NASA is currently assessing potential sample sites, a task it has asked the public to help with. Scientists hope to learn more about the formation of the solar system by studying Bennu. Osiris-Rex’s successful orbital space snuggle is a testament to the spacecraft’s capabilities, but it also happens to give us a spectacular view of an awesome asteroid to enjoy. Checking out Bennu Comment This is the view from the closest orbit a spacecraft has ever made around a planetary body.This navigation image of asteroid Bennu was taken shortly after orbital insertion on June 13 from a distance of 0.4 miles (690 m).Image details: https://t.co/8aFYUKK4cW pic.twitter.com/jraAXwRAw1— NASA’s OSIRIS-REx (@OSIRISREx) June 17, 2019 Tags Cosmic dead ringers: 27 super strange-looking space objects Share your voice In the image, you can see a massive boulder sitting toward the bottom of the asteroid. This boulder is about the length of school bus. Osiris-Rex (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer) settled into its new orbit on June 13, breaking its previous record of orbiting 0.8 miles (1.3 kilometers) above the surface.Bennu is classified as a potentially hazardous near-Earth asteroid, though its chances of smacking our planet are slim and distant. 1 Osiris-Rex meets asteroid Bennu for cosmic pickpocketing Osiris-Rex finds water in its first week at asteroid Bennu Enlarge ImageOsiris-Rex snuggled up close to asteroid Bennu. NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona/Lockheed Martin NASA’s Osiris-Rex spacecraft is a beast and a thrill-seeker. It broke its own record for “the closest orbit a spacecraft has ever made around a planetary body” and then it snapped a photo to prove its own audaciousness. The agency shared a breathtaking navigation image on Monday of asteroid Bennu from Osiris-Rex’s new orbital distance of a mere 0.4 miles (690 meters) above the ancient rubble-covered rock.  27 Photos Sci-Tech NASA Spacelast_img read more

Africa debt crisis looming

first_imgAfrica: debt crisis looming?2.6K viewsAfrica: debt crisis looming?2.6K views00:00 / 00:00- 00:00:0000:00Africa: debt crisis looming?2.6K viewsBusinessDebt crisis. It’s a phrase Europe has made its own in recent history. Could it be Africa’s turn next? SOUNDBITE (English) JUDITH TYSON, AUTHOR, OVERSEAS DEVELOPMENT INSTITUTE, SAYING: ”The riskVentuno Web Player 4.50Debt crisis. It’s a phrase Europe has made its own in recent history. Could it be Africa’s turn next? SOUNDBITE (English) JUDITH TYSON, AUTHOR, OVERSEAS DEVELOPMENT INSTITUTE, SAYING: ”The risklast_img

Blackmail actor Arunoday Singh announces separation from wife of Canadian origin

first_imgArunoday Singh and wife announce separationInstagramArunoday Singh, who tied the knot with Canadian girlfriend Lee Elton in December 2016, took to social media on Friday, May 10, to announce that they have decided to part ways.In the post, he expressed that although they were very good at love but couldn’t survive reality. Despite their best efforts, nothing worked out between them.”My marriage seems to be over. Turns out we were very good at love but couldn’t survive reality. Despite our best efforts, professional counselling and current trial separation, nothing seems to have helped bridge the fundamental differences that have emerged between us. It seems wiser to let go. I think we both deserve better. We shall try and resolve this with compassion and dignity,” the actor shared on Instagram.Lee wons a cafe in Goa and the duo met when the actor was shooting for Sonam Kapoor’s Aisha. The couple’s wedding was a grand one.On the work front, Arunoday made his Bollywood debut with Sikandar (2009) and went on to work in films like Aisha, Varun Dhawan’s Main Tera Hero and more. He was last seen in Irrfan Khan starrer Blackmail.Last year, celebrated fashion designer Masaba Gupta and husband Madhu Mantena had announced that they had decided to go on a trial separation after three years of marriage. However, in March 2019, Masaba, the daughter of veteran actor Neena Gupta and cricketer Vivian Richards, and filmmaker Mantena posted their joint statement on Instagram announcing that they have filed for divorce. Arunoday Singh and wife announce separationinstagramlast_img read more

Egypt mosque attack kills at least 235 State media

first_imgEgyptians gather around bodies following a gun and bombing attack at the Rawda mosque, roughly 40 kilometres west of the North Sinai capital of El-Arish, on 24 November 2017. A bomb explosion ripped through the mosque before gunmen opened fire on the worshippers gathered for weekly Friday prayers, officials said. Photo: AFPArmed attackers on Friday killed at least 235 worshippers in a bomb and gun assault on a packed mosque in Egypt’s restive North Sinai province, state media reported, the country’s deadliest attack in recent memory.A bomb explosion ripped through the Rawda mosque frequented by Sufis roughly 40 kilometres west of the North Sinai capital of El-Arish before gunmen opened fire on those gathered for weekly Friday prayers, officials said.Witnesses said the assailants had surrounded the mosque with all-terrain vehicles then planted a bomb outside.The gunmen then mowed down the panicked worshippers as they attempted to flee and used the congregants’ vehicles they had set alight to block routes to the mosque.State television reported at least 235 people were killed and 109 wounded in the attack, the scale of which is unprecedented in a four-year insurgency by Islamist extremist groups.Egyptians gather around bodies following a gun and bombing attack at the Rawda mosque, roughly 40 kilometres west of the North Sinai capital of El-Arish, on 24 November, 2017. Photo: AFPEgypt’s presidency declared three days of mourning, state television reported, as President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met his security ministers to follow developments.UK foreign minister Boris Johnson condemned the “barbaric attack” in a post on Twitter, while his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian expressed his condolences to the families of victims of the “despicable attack”.Ahmed Abul Gheit, head of the Arab League, which is based in Cairo, condemned the “terrifying crime which again shows that Islam is innocent of those who follow extremist terrorist ideology,” his spokesman said in a statement.- IS targeting of Sufis -There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.The Islamic State group’s Egypt branch has killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers, and also civilians accused of working with the authorities, in attacks in the north of the Sinai peninsula.They have also targeted followers of the mystical Sufi branch of Sunni Islam as well as Christians.The victims of Friday’s attack included civilians and conscripts praying at the mosque.A tribal leader and head of a Bedouin militia that fights IS told AFP that the mosque is known as a place of gathering for Sufis.Map of Egypt locating El-Arish in the northern Sinai region, where dozens of people were killed in an attack by gunmen on Friday, 24 November. / AFPThe Islamic State group shares the puritan Salafi view of Sufis as heretics for seeking the intercession of saints.The jihadists had previously kidnapped and beheaded an elderly Sufi leader, accusing him of practising magic which Islam forbids, and abducted Sufi practitioners later released after “repenting.”An IS propaganda outlet had published an interview earlier with the commander of its “morality police” in Sinai who said their “first priority was to combat the manifestations of polytheism including Sufism.”The group has killed more than 100 Christians in church bombings and shootings in Sinai and other parts of Egypt, forcing many to flee the peninsula.The military has struggled to quell jihadists who pledged allegiance to IS in November 2014.IS regularly conducts attacks against soldiers and policemen in the peninsula bordering Israel and the Palestinian Gaza Strip, although the frequency and scale of such attacks has diminished over the past year.The jihadists have since increasingly turned to civilian targets, attacking not only Christians and Sufis but also Bedouin Sinai inhabitants accused of working with the army.Aside from IS, Egypt also faces a threat from Al-Qaeda-aligned jihadists who operate out of neighbouring Libya.A group calling itself Ansar al-Islam — Supporters of Islam in Arabic — claimed an October ambush in Egypt’s Western Desert that killed at least 16 policemen.Many of those killed belonged to the interior ministry’s secretive National Security Service.The military later conducted air strikes on the attackers, killing their leader Emad al-Din Abdel Hamid, a most wanted jihadist who was a military officer before joining an Al-Qaeda-affiliated group in Libya’s militant stronghold of Derna.last_img read more

2 UPDF members detained in Khagrachhari

first_imgThe army detained two suspected members of hill tracts-based political party United People’s Democratic Front (UPDF) with firearm – a M4A1 carbine – and bullets from Guimara Upazila in Khagrachhari on Tuesday, reports UNB.The army raided Rainnamachhara area after being tipped-off about plans to create unrest in the hills after the national election.”A Lakshmichhari zone army patrol detained Sumanta Chakma, 20, and Dipankar Chakma, 22,” local police station’s in-charge Abdul Jabbar said.They were handed over to Lakshmichhari police.A foreign-made firearm, a magazine, 53 rounds of bullets, a machete and several mobile phones were recovered from them.”Sumanta and Dipankar are active members of UPDF,” the police officer said. “They were involved with terrorist activities.”The UPDF has rejected claims that the arrestees were its activists.last_img

Nobel literature body elects new members after rape scandal

first_imgIran-born Swedish author Jila Mossaed is photographed in Gothenburg, Sweden, on 5 October 2018. Photo: ReutersThe Swedish Academy, which awards the Nobel Literature Prize, on Friday announced an Iranian-born poet and a judge as new members as it seeks to recover from a #MeToo scandal that forced it to postpone this year’s Nobel.Eight of its total 18 members have either resigned or are on hiatus due to a deep rift within the Academy on how to manage its long-standing ties to a Frenchman recently convicted of rape.For the first time in 70 years, it postponed this year’s literature prize by a year while it attempts to sort out its problems.The election of Jila Mossaed, a 70-year-old Tehran-born poet who writes in Swedish and Persian, and Supreme Court judge Eric Runesson, brings the Academy’s active members to a quorum of 12.Members have traditionally been elected for life, but with several members no longer actively participating and in order to ensure the venerable body’s survival, its patron, Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf, changed its statutes to make it possible for members to resign and be replaced.”The election of two new members is positive. I hope the Swedish Academy will be given the opportunity to continue rebuilding the trust of the institution and that the Academy can now continue its important work,” the king said in a statement.”My words were not appreciated in my old home country, but my new nation is offering me one of the best literary positions because of what I write,” Mossaed, who’s been living in exile Sweden since 1986, told TT news agency.She replaces Swedish author Kerstin Ekman who ended her involvement with the Academy in 1989 over its refusal to condemn a fatwa issued by Iran’s former supreme leader Ayatollah Khomeini against author Salman Rushdie over his novel “The Satanic Verses”.Meanwhile, Runesson, who was born in 1960 and has also worked as a professor at Lund University, jokingly referred to himself as an “ignorant hellion” compared to his other Academy colleagues.”This is about two people with strong integrity, who with their different backgrounds, knowledge, and competence complete the Academy in a welcome and interesting fashion,” author and member Peter Englund told TT news agency.last_img read more

Lizzie Pannill Fletcher Raises 1 Million In Race To Unseat John Culberson

first_imgPu Ying Huang for The Texas TribuneLizzie Pannill Fletcher speaks to her supporters at her election party in Houston on May 22, 2018. Fletcher will face the Republican incumbent, U.S. Rep. John Culberson, in NovemberLizzie Pannill Fletcher, the Democratic candidate trying to unseat U.S. Representative John Culberson, said she’s raised more than a million dollars in the past three months.Culberson has not yet released his fundraising numbers for the second quarter of this year. Culberson has held that seat for 17 years. According to a press release over the second quarter of 2018, more than 75 percent of Lizzie’s funds came from within Texas, with more than 68 percent coming from Houston-area residents.Fletcher’s campaign said she’s now raised more than 2 million dollars in the battle for Texas’ seventh congressional district.“Our campaign is powered by people in this community, who have seen John Culberson choose Washington politics over people here in Houston,” Lizzie said in a press release.“I am extremely proud of the outpouring of local support that has come since day one of our campaign. The momentum we are creating, coupled with the broad coalition we continue to build, will help switch this seat and bring TX-07 the representation we deserve in Congress,” Lizzie said.7th Congressional District in West Houston has had a Republican representative since the 1960s. Sharelast_img read more

OrcaM is new kid on block for 3D data capture

first_img The OrcaM system involves a large sphere, likened by one viewer as a giant maw, inside which one places the desired object for 3-D scanning. Once the object is placed inside, the sphere is sealed shut and the seven cameras and lights go to work. The cameras take simultaneous high-definition photos of the object at different angles. Serving to define the object’s geometry, various combinations of lights illuminate the object differently for every shot, capturing the finest details. After the photo processing, computer processing of the image creates the 3-D model. Observers say the end result is a highly impressive agreement of the real object. © 2011 PhysOrg.com Explore further OrcaM Reconstruction Sequences The system is also identified on the DFKI site as having been developed “in the context of a project” of the Augmented Vision arm of DFKI, which stands for Germany’s Research Center for Artificial Intelligence.NEK sees the camera system as a way to conduct automated transfers of real objects into high-quality digital representations for media such as on the “Internet, cinema, and computer games.” The DFKI envisions its application being to create super-accurate models of museum and art objects, models that are good enough to be used instead of the originals. The 3-D models produced by OrcaM are said to be fully textured and of high enough quality for the archives of valuable artifacts from museums.A useful selling point for both the above two applications is that, with the OrcaM system, key tasks are automatic. The user does not have to calibrate the cameras or lighting system, which the system performs automatically. According to the web site I Programmer, which assessed the video, the wire frame model used 20,000 triangles based on 300 million measured points “accurate to less than a millimeter.” The camera system, said the report, is worth the look when accuracy is paramount.A camera system of this size and scope may seem easily destined for the confines of powerhouse R&D labs in the sciences, but OrcaM is also generating interest in how it is being promoted.Developers of the camera system are identified as NEK. According to the company, “Within the range equipment construction we developed and finished an automated photograph station (OrcaM) for digital visualizations and reconstructions of objects.” Citation: OrcaM is new kid on block for 3-D data capture (2012, January 21) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2012-01-orcam-kid-block-d-capture.htmlcenter_img More information: www.nek-kl.de/de_DE/produkte/o … bital-camera-system/ (PhysOrg.com) — Call it automated photograph station, seven-camera system, 3-D model showcase, or digital reconstruction tool. OrcaM is being described as all these things. Whatever the tag, the “OrcaM” name stands for Orbital Camera System, according to its Germany-based developers NEK GmbH. A video demo was making the rounds of web gadget blogs and news sites this week as a camera system to watch. Creating 3D models with a simple webcam (w/ Video) This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

Study suggests common pesticide clothianidin causes immunity problems in bees

first_img Journal information: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Headlines over the past couple of years have made it very clear that something is causing honeybees to die in unexplained ways. Whole colonies suddenly die, with no clear explanation. Now known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), the problem has reached the point of panic as honeybees are the chief means for pollination of crops around the world. At this point, scientists suspect that the disorder involves something that is causing the immune system in the bees to break down, leaving them unable to fight off bacteria and viruses. In this new effort, the research team contends that they’ve found one of the missing links—a single pesticide that causes bees exposed to it, to develop immunity problems.In their lab, the researchers started by isolating a family of proteins (called LRR) that are similar to other proteins found in other animals that are known to regulate immune response—specifically, its presence, they found, causes another protein (NF-κB) directly involved in immune response, to be inhibited. Next, they exposed honeybees to the pesticide clothianidin and subsequently measured gene expression and protein levels in them. They found an increase in the expression of the gene responsible for LRR levels and lowered levels of NF-κB, which the researchers claim, suggests a direct link between exposure to the toxin and a damaged immune system. The researchers ran the same tests on bees exposed to another pesticide— chlorpyriphos—and found no ill effects, which they suggest means CCD might be caused by one or a just a few pesticides. Next, the researchers exposed the bees that had been exposed to clothianidin to a pathogen called the deformed wing virus. Normally, healthy bees show resistance to the virus and are not impacted by it. After exposure to clothianidin, however, the researchers found the virus was able to reproduce in the bees, suggesting the bee’s immune response had been compromised. (Phys.org) —A team of researchers with members from several universities in Italy has found that exposure to the common pesticide clothianidin can cause immunity problems in honeybees, leading to an increased risk of dying from common viral infections. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers found that exposure to clothianidin resulted in an increase in a family of proteins that inhibit the development of other proteins that are involved in the immune process. More information: Neonicotinoid clothianidin adversely affects insect immunity and promotes replication of a viral pathogen in honey bees, PNAS, Published online before print October 21, 2013, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1314923110AbstractLarge-scale losses of honey bee colonies represent a poorly understood problem of global importance. Both biotic and abiotic factors are involved in this phenomenon that is often associated with high loads of parasites and pathogens. A stronger impact of pathogens in honey bees exposed to neonicotinoid insecticides has been reported, but the causal link between insecticide exposure and the possible immune alteration of honey bees remains elusive. Here, we demonstrate that the neonicotinoid insecticide clothianidin negatively modulates NF-κB immune signaling in insects and adversely affects honey bee antiviral defenses controlled by this transcription factor. We have identified in insects a negative modulator of NF-κB activation, which is a leucine-rich repeat protein. Exposure to clothianidin, by enhancing the transcription of the gene encoding this inhibitor, reduces immune defenses and promotes the replication of the deformed wing virus in honey bees bearing covert infections. This honey bee immunosuppression is similarly induced by a different neonicotinoid, imidacloprid, but not by the organophosphate chlorpyriphos, which does not affect NF-κB signaling. The occurrence at sublethal doses of this insecticide-induced viral proliferation suggests that the studied neonicotinoids might have a negative effect at the field level. Our experiments uncover a further level of regulation of the immune response in insects and set the stage for studies on neural modulation of immunity in animals. Furthermore, this study has implications for the conservation of bees, as it will contribute to the definition of more appropriate guidelines for testing chronic or sublethal effects of pesticides used in agriculture. Explore further Researchers find high-fructose corn syrup may be tied to worldwide collapse of bee colonies © 2013 Phys.org Citation: Study suggests common pesticide clothianidin causes immunity problems in bees (2013, October 22) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2013-10-common-pesticide-clothianidin-immunity-problems.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

Researchers suggest modern gourds would not have survived without domestication

first_img © 2015 Phys.org More information: L. Kistler et al. Gourds and squashes (Cucurbita spp.) adapted to megafaunal extinction and ecological anachronism through domestication, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2015). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1516109112AbstractThe genus Cucurbita (squashes, pumpkins, gourds) contains numerous domesticated lineages with ancient New World origins. It was broadly distributed in the past but has declined to the point that several of the crops’ progenitor species are scarce or unknown in the wild. We hypothesize that Holocene ecological shifts and megafaunal extinctions severely impacted wild Cucurbita, whereas their domestic counterparts adapted to changing conditions via symbiosis with human cultivators. First, we used high-throughput sequencing to analyze complete plastid genomes of 91 total Cucurbita samples, comprising ancient (n = 19), modern wild (n = 30), and modern domestic (n = 42) taxa. This analysis demonstrates independent domestication in eastern North America, evidence of a previously unknown pathway to domestication in northeastern Mexico, and broad archaeological distributions of taxa currently unknown in the wild. Further, sequence similarity between distant wild populations suggests recent fragmentation. Collectively, these results point to wild-type declines coinciding with widespread domestication. Second, we hypothesize that the disappearance of large herbivores struck a critical ecological blow against wild Cucurbita, and we take initial steps to consider this hypothesis through cross-mammal analyses of bitter taste receptor gene repertoires. Directly, megafauna consumed Cucurbita fruits and dispersed their seeds; wild Cucurbita were likely left without mutualistic dispersal partners in the Holocene because they are unpalatable to smaller surviving mammals with more bitter taste receptor genes. Indirectly, megafauna maintained mosaic-like landscapes ideal for Cucurbita, and vegetative changes following the megafaunal extinctions likely crowded out their disturbed-ground niche. Thus, anthropogenic landscapes provided favorable growth habitats and willing dispersal partners in the wake of ecological upheaval. Cucurbita seeds were found in mastadon dung. Credit: Lee Newsom, Penn State Cucurbita pepo gourds. Credit: Public Domain Explore further Prior evidence has shown that plants of the genus Cucurbita, which includes pumpkins, gourds and squashes, flourished during the Holocene in areas where large mammals such as giant sloths, mastodons and mammoths roamed—the huge mammals not only trampled and grazed in such areas, clearing land that the plants needed to survive, but also dispersed their seeds via their dung—thus there’s was a mutually positive relationship. But then things changed, the climate grew warmer and humans arrived with their advanced hunting skills—over time, the large mammals ceased to exist. The squash and gourds soon found it much more difficult to survive in overgrown vegetation and had little to no means of seed dispersal, which, the researchers suggest, means they would have all gone extinct had humans not begun to domesticate some varieties.To come to these conclusions, the researchers studied gourd and other seeds found in preserved large mammal dung (going back 30,000 years), which revealed a wide variety of lost species. They also tested the degree of bitterness in ancient gourd skin and then compared what they found with the results of a genome study they conducted looking at bitterness sensitivity in 46 modern animals–they found that the ancient varieties were so bitter that they would have been toxic to very small mammals and unpalatable to those somewhat larger, leaving just the largest mammals able to consume Cucurbita. The evidence indicates that most Cucurbita species began to decline approximately 10,000 years ago, and that most of them eventually went extinct. Those that we favor today only survived because humans began using them first as containers and floatation devices for fishing nets, then later, as a food source, presumably as domestication led to sweeter varieties. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Journal information: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Citation: Researchers suggest modern gourds would not have survived without domestication (2015, November 17) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2015-11-modern-gourds-survived-domestication.html (Phys.org)—A team of researchers with members from several institutions in the U.K. and U.S. has found evidence that suggests that modern gourds would have gone extinct long ago if humans had not domesticated them. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team describes their study of the history of gourds in the New World and why they needed domestication to survive. Researchers try to understand consequences of declining populations of large-bodied mammalslast_img read more

AlgorithmWatch report 7 key recommendations for improving Automated DecisionMaking in the EU

first_imgAlgorithmWatch, non-profit research, and advocacy organization released its report titled ‘Automating Society: Taking Stock of Automated Decision-Making in the EU’, in cooperation with Bertelsmann Stiftung ( a private operating foundation) supported by the Open Society Foundations, yesterday. The report includes findings compiled from 12 EU member states and the level of the EU surrounding the development and application of automated decision-making systems in all the countries. The report is based upon these findings and makes certain recommendations for policymakers in the EU and the Member States parliaments, the EU Commission, national governments, researchers, civil society organizations, and the private sector (companies and business associations). Let’s have a look at some of the key recommendations mentioned in the report. Focus on the application of ADMs that impact society The report states that given the popularity of ‘ Artificial Intelligence’ right now, it is important to understand the real current challenges and impact of this tech on our societies. It gives an example of how ‘Predictive analytics’ that is used for determining the maintenance issues on production lines for yogurt, should not be the real concern rather predictive analytics used for tracking human behavior is where the real focus should be. The report states that there is a need for these systems to be democratically controlled in our society using a combination of regulatory tools, oversight mechanisms, and technology. Automated decision-making systems aren’t just a technology The report mentions that considering automated decision-making systems as just a technology while not considering it as a whole shift the debate surrounding questions of accuracy, and data quality. All parts of the framework should be considered while discussing the pros and cons of using a specific ADM application. What this means is that more questions should be asked around: What data does the system use? Is the use of that data legal? what decision-making model is applied to the data? Is there an issue of bias? why do governments even use specific ADM systems? Is automation being used as an option to save money? Empower citizens to adapt to new challenges As per the report, more focus should be put on enhancing citizens’ expertise to help them better determine the consequences of automated decision making. An example presented in the report is that of an English online course called “Elements of Artificial Intelligence” created to support the goal of helping Finnish people understand the challenges in ADM. The course was developed as a private-public partnership but has now become an integral part of the Finnish AI programme. This free course teaches citizens about basic concepts and applications of AI and machine learning with about 100,000 Finns enrolled in the course. Empower public administration to adapt to new challenges Just like empowering citizens is important, there’s also a need to empower the Public administration to ensure a high level of expertise inside its own institutions. This can help them either develop new systems or to oversee outsourced development. The report recommends creating public research institutions in cooperation with universities or public research centers to teach, train, and advise civil servants. Moreover, these institutions should also be created at the EU level to help the member states. Strengthen civil society’s involvement in ADM The report states that there is a lack of civil society engagement and expertise in the field of automated decision making even in some large Member States. As per the report, civil society organizations should assess the consequences of ADM as a specific and relevant policy field in their countries and strategies to address these challenges.  Also, grant-making organizations should develop funding calls and facilitate networking opportunities, along with governments making public funds available to civil society interventions. Don’t look at only data protection for regulatory ideas The report mentions how Article 22 of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has been under a lot of controversies. According to Article 22, Automated individual decision-making, including profiling, “the data subject shall have the right not to be subject to a decision based solely on automated processing, including profiling, which produces legal effects concerning him or her or similarly significantly affects him or her”. Many people have developed a consensus around it, saying that it’s limited and that the use cases of ADM systems cannot be regulated by data protection. It talks about the importance of discussion around developing governance tools and states that stakeholders should look at creative applications of existing regulatory frameworks such as equal-pay regulation. This would further help them address new challenges such as algorithmically controlled platform work (Gig Economy) and explore the new avenues for regulation of the effects of ADM. Need for a wide range of stakeholders (including civil liberty firms) to develop criteria for good design processes and audits The report mentions that on surveying some of the countries, they found out that governments claim that their strategies involve civil society stakeholders just to bring “diverse voices” to the table. But, the term civil society is not well defined and includes academia, groups of computer scientists or lawyers, think tanks, etc. This leads to important viewpoints getting missed since governments use this broad definition to show that ‘civil society’ is included despite them not being a part of the conversation. This is why it is critical that the organizations focused on rights be included in the debate. For more coverage, check out the official AlgorithmWatch report. Read Next 2019 Deloitte tech trends predictions: AI-fueled firms, NoOps, DevSecOps, intelligent interfaces, and more IEEE Computer Society predicts top ten tech trends for 2019: assisted transportation, chatbots, and deep learning accelerators among others Unity introduces guiding Principles for ethical AI to promote responsible use of AIlast_img read more

Who was Juan Santamaría Five debated things you should know

first_imgRelated posts:Life in Juan Santamaría’s Costa Rica: A look back Automotores Orletti: Memories of the Argentine dictatorship Latin America between Kennan and Obama Cuba marks Castro uprising anniversary with call for US embargo end Costa Rica fetes its first and most-loved national hero, Juan Santamaría, on Saturday, April 11. His name adorns the international airport in his native Alajuela, and schoolchildren across the country learn his story. But how much of that story is legit?In the Battle of Rivas, Nicaragua, on April 11, 1856, the humble drummer boy set fire to a garrison lodging mercenary troops who sought to take control of Central America for the United States. His selfless act of bravery changed the course of the war and saved Costa Rica from becoming a slave depot.Or so the legend goes.As with most legends, people have debated the veracity of the details since shortly after the event took place. Costa Rica officially takes great pride in having made a working-class campesino its national hero rather than a military or political leader (Costa Rica claims to be the only Latin American country to have done so). However, some historians and sociologists say the original construction of the Juan Santamaría myth was, well, convenient.In the second half of the 1800s, Costa Rican leaders were looking for something around which to form a national identity, and particularly something — or someone — that would engage the lower and middle classes and secure their loyalty.That someone was Juan Santamaría.Five things to know about Costa Rica’s national hero:1) A Panamanian started Juan Santamaría’s path to heroism.The first time Juan Santamaría’s name was mentioned to a wide audience was in a speech and in pamphlets authored by Panamanian-Colombian politician José de Obaldía in 1864. (The two countries were several times united under the same flag.)De Obaldía was exiled in Costa Rica at the time, and as part of the September 15 Independence Day activities that year, he delved into the details of the 1856 Battle of Rivas and wrote:“Gentlemen, the humble hero…is named Juan Santamaría, known as Gallego. Honor his memory!”The reference to Gallego is unclear, though Juan Santamaría’s mother may have had the last name Gallegos.Despite de Obaldía’s prescience, the nation’s political leaders basically forgot about Santamaría until 1885, according to Costa Rican historian David Díaz Arias. That’s the year Guatemalan dictator Justo Rufino Barrios decided to revive the idea of uniting the isthmus in a single Federal Republic of Central America — by force, if necessary.Costa Rican leaders decided Juan Santamaría was the perfect figure around which to consolidate a national identity they hoped citizens would fight to defend.2) Juan Santamaría was mixed race.Santamaría’s nickname was “El Erizo,” which could mean “burr” or “sea urchin” — he had curly hair, a testament to his partly African heritage.But Costa Rican leaders at the time weren’t at all interested in emphasizing the country’s mixed heritage; they wanted the country to be seen as “white.”Part of the politicos’ plan to elevate Juan Santamaría to hero status was to build a statue, the one that currently stands in Alajuela. They hired a French sculptor to craft it, and when it was unveiled, in 1891, Santamaría looked a lot like a French soldier.Then, in 1897, Costa Rican painter Enrique Echandi Montero, threw a wrench in the hero’s identity. He painted a scene of Juan Santamaría’s legendary fire-setting deed, and in it he showed the hero as an exhausted-looking peasant with mulatto features.The image was more of a “fallen hero,” along the lines of Jesus on the cross, than a determined warrior, wrote historian Guillermo Brenes Tencio.The owner of the daily La República, Juan Vicente Quirós, did not like it. On Jan. 25, 1897, he wrote an article saying the painting was “worthy of the flames.”He called the work “reproachable from an artistic point of view” and “a caricature that sacrilegiously makes fun of the hero and makes the entire country look sadly ridiculous.”Look for a likeness of Juan Santamaría today and you’re likely to find one based on the French-made statue.3) Juan Santamaría was actually the third person to try to set fire to the mercenaries’ garrison.Santamaría was the guy who finished the job, not the one who started it. The first two to attempt to set fire to the garrison were a lieutenant from Cartago, who was wounded, and a Nicaraguan soldier, who died.In a paper, Alejandra Murillo Goussen postulated that the first two wouldn’t have worked as national heroes: the lieutenant because he didn’t actually die for the cause, and the soldier because he wasn’t Costa Rican. That left Santamaría.4) No one knows where Juan Santamaría is buried.In 1981, then-Sandinista commander Daniel Ortega made a big show of meeting Costa Rican President Rodrigo Carazo Odio at the border to hand over the supposed remains of Juan Santamaría and other Costa Rican soldiers killed in the Battle of Rivas.The story was that the remains of Juan Santamaría had been found buried underneath an atrium in Rivas in a box marked with the initials “JS,” historian Díaz Arias recounted in a 2014 article in La Nación.Díaz suggests that politicians from both countries used the event to attempt to renew the symbolism of Juan versus foreign meddlers (ahem, the United States) and to turn Santamaría into a Central American hero, not just a Costa Rican one.But some Costa Ricans were suspicious — both of the motives and of the contents of Santamaría’s supposed coffin.They were right: several months later, a commission of Costa Rican scientists formed to evaluate the authenticity of the remains issued a report saying that the promised sacred bones weren’t even human.5) Costa Rica’s reputation as the Switzerland of Central America may have started with Juan Santamaría.You might think the whole Switzerland comparison is about Costa Rica’s political neutrality and relatively high standard of living. But here too, Santamaría might have a role.In his scathing 1897 review of Enrique Echandi Montero’s painting of Santamaría, La República owner Quirós called the hero “the Guillermo Tell of our mountains.”Guillermo (Wilhelm in German) Tell is a 14th century Swiss folk hero who was ordered by a tyrant to shoot an apple off his son’s head. Tell, as legend has it, drew his crossbow and split the apple without so much as brushing the boy.The tyrant, Albrecht (or Hermann) Gessler, was impressed, but hauled Tell off anyway to spend his life in a dungeon. On the way, Tell made a daring escape, assissinated Gessler and went on to help lead a rebellion that eventually resulted in Switzerland.Or so the legend goes.Correction: The original version stated that Wilhelm Tell was ordered to shoot an apple off the head of a tyrant’s son. The text has been corrected to reflect that it was Tell’s son. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Price offers testimony on House Bill 5560

first_img Categories: News 16May Price offers testimony on House Bill 5560 Rep. Amanda Price, R-Park Township, testifies before the House Local Government Committee regarding House Bill 5560, which modernizes public notice laws and puts taxpayer dollars to more efficient use in Michigan. The bill remains before the committee for further consideration.last_img

Emerging markets pay TV systems specialist Exset h

first_imgEmerging markets pay TV systems specialist Exset has named Andrew Pons as global director of sales and marketing.Pons, who has worked at Exset for two years, will be charged with helping push the company to its next growth phase. Exset deploys its flagship digital monetisation system (DMS) and conditional access technology to markets including Asia, the Indian subcontinent, Africa and eastern Europe.Exset’s technology is designed to enable broadcasters to make money from digital services in new ways, enabling digital switchover to be taken forward in markets where it faces challenges, including Africa.Pior to joining Exset, Pons was director of international marketing at Pace and has also held senior sales and marketing roles at SysMedia and Harris.last_img

UKbased media services company TVT is expanding w

first_imgUK-based media services company TVT is expanding with the launch of full access services business unit and a new office in Los Angeles.TVT said that the launch of its access services unit will allow the company to build up the access and localisation services it already provides to the BBC, Netflix and others.The company has also brought on former Ericsson, RedBee Media and BBC executive, David Padmore, as an international adviser to help with the launch of the new division.“We are definitely in growth mode at the moment,” said TVT CEO, Ian Brotherston. “This expansion fits perfectly with the growing demand for international services we are seeing around the world.“Broadcasters and content owners are looking to new markets and require a whole range of services to address cultural sensibilities and comply with regulations – including access.”TVT said that its LA plans are still “in the early stages” but the office is slated to open later this year, allowing it to work more easily US clients including A+E Networks, Discovery and Hulu.last_img read more

Middle East and North African ondemand service S

first_imgMiddle East and North African on-demand service, Starz Play, has agreed a distribution deal with mobile operator Ooredoo Algeria.Starz Play will be available to Ooredoo Algeria customers for the first time this month, with the partnership going live to coincide with Ramadan.Starz Play offers Arabic content alongside Hollywood movies, current US TV series, documentaries and children’s entertainment. During Ramadan it has also added new premium series and movies to its library“By the end of Ramadan, Starz Play will be streaming more than 7,000 hours of blockbuster Hollywood movies, documentaries, children’s entertainment and ‘same-day-as-the-US’ series – plus 1,300 hours of Arabic content including Khaleeji, Egyptian and Levant series,” said the company in a statement.last_img