Trump Administration Begins Formal Withdrawal From WHO

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Hill: The White House has officially moved to withdraw the United States from the World Health Organization (WHO), a senior administration official confirmed Tuesday, breaking ties with a global public health body in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. has submitted its withdrawal notification to the United Nations secretary-general, the official said. Withdrawal requires a year’s notice, so it will not go into effect until July 6, 2021, raising the possibility the decision could be reversed.

The formal notification of withdrawal concludes months of threats from the Trump administration to pull the United States out of the WHO, which is affiliated with the United Nations. President Trump has repeatedly assailed the organization for alleged bias toward China and its slow response to the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan. But public health experts and Democrats have raised alarms that the decision may be short-sighted and could undercut the global response to the pandemic, which has infected 11.6 million people worldwide. The U.S. has the highest number of reported cases in the world at nearly 3 million. They have also argued that some of the WHO’s initial missteps can be attributed to China’s lack of transparency in the early stages of the outbreak.

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Source: Slashdot – Trump Administration Begins Formal Withdrawal From WHO

7th Former eBay Employee Charged In Cyberstalking Campaign Targeting Natick Couple

A seventh former eBay employee is now facing federal charges in connection with a cyberstalking campaign that allegedly targeted a Natick couple who wrote critical content about the company in its newsletter. From a report: Philip Cooke, 55, of San Jose, Calif. is charged with conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and conspiracy to tamper with witnesses. Cooke, who was a former Santa Clara police captain and was supervisor of security operations at eBay’s European and Asian offices, is expected to be appear in Boston federal court at a later date. James Baugh, 45, of San Jose, California, eBay’s former director of safety and security and former eBay director of global resiliency David Harville, 48, of New York City, was among the first six charged.

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Source: Slashdot – 7th Former eBay Employee Charged In Cyberstalking Campaign Targeting Natick Couple

EPA Approves Two Lysol Products as the First To Effectively Kill Novel Coronavirus on Surfaces

The US Environmental Protection Agency has approved two Lysol products as effective against the novel coronavirus when used on hard, non-porous surfaces. From a report: Lysol Disinfectant Spray and Lysol Disinfectant Max Cover Mist meet the EPA’s criteria for use against the SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the ongoing pandemic, based on laboratory testing that found both products kill the virus two minutes after contact, the agency announced in a statement.

While there are more than 420 products on the list of disinfectants that the EPA says are strong enough to ward off “harder-to-kill” viruses than the novel coronavirus, the two Lysol products are the first to have been tested directly against the virus and proved effective. […] The news comes one month after a CDC survey found that people said they were cleaning more frequently because of the pandemic, but only about half said that they really knew how to clean and disinfect their home safely. Of those people who were surveyed that acknowledged that they used high-risk cleaning practices to prevent the spread of Covid-19, more were likely to report health problems related to cleaning.

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Source: Slashdot – EPA Approves Two Lysol Products as the First To Effectively Kill Novel Coronavirus on Surfaces

Microsoft Will Axe Control Panel From Windows 10

Microsoft seems to be getting a kick out seeing users struggle to find Windows 10 features these days. After moving the Fresh Start feature in the latest version, 2004, and reducing the number of days Windows 10 Pro, Enterprise, and Education users can manually delay updates, the company is now experimenting with moving key Control Panel features, including System information, to Settings, Windows Latest blog spotted. From a report: It’s a change that some long-time Windows users might not take to easily. If you’re like me and have been using the Control Panel for decades, getting accustomed to this feature will be as arduous as unlearning a bad habit. To be fair, it’s a bit redundant to have information on your system’s specs located in three different places, not to mention all three don’t show the exact same information. Currently, Windows 10 users can access hardware information about their PC in several places, but the main ways are: Control Panel > System and Security > System, and Settings > System > About, or by typing ‘system information’ into the search bar.

System and About show nearly the same info, what processor you have and how much RAM you have installed, for instance, except About will show you what version of Windows you have. System Information shows more detailed information about your PC, including your motherboard, GPU, and other hardware. Microsoft is trying to centralize this information, and moving forward, it seems likely that Control Panel will be killed off entirely.

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Source: Slashdot – Microsoft Will Axe Control Panel From Windows 10

Walmart's Amazon Prime Competitor Will Launch This Month

Amazon may have a 15-year head start, but Walmart is close to finally unveiling its own membership program that it hopes will eventually become an alternative to Amazon Prime. From a report: Walmart plans to launch a new subscription service later this month called Walmart+ that will cost $98 a year. It will include perks like same-day delivery of groceries and general merchandise, discounts on fuel at Walmart gas stations, and early access to product deals, multiple sources told Recode. Walmart originally planned to unveil Walmart+ in late March or April, Recode reported in February, but the retailer pushed back the launch date after the Covid-19 pandemic began sweeping across the US in March. It’s unclear whether the program will launch nationally, or first on a regional level, later this month.

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Source: Slashdot – Walmart’s Amazon Prime Competitor Will Launch This Month

Billionaire-Backed Code.org Received $1-2 Million Federal PPP Loan

theodp writes: Code.org’s $10+ million “Diamond” supporters include Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, and Infosys. Its $3+ million “Platinum” supporters include Google, the Gates Foundation, and the Ballmer Group. And its $1+ million “Gold” supporters include Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates, the world’s two richest men. So, it was somewhat surprising to see the nonprofit — which is dedicated to pushing CS into K-12 classrooms — pop up on the list of Seattle-area tech companies that received a PPP loan from the federal government. According to Paycheck Protection Program data released by the SBA and Treasury, Code.org was approved on April 15th for a loan between $1-2 million to retain 81 jobs due to the pandemic. Khan Academy, another pet nonprofit of Gates and other billionaires, received approval for a $2-5 million PPP loan to retain 185 jobs.

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Source: Slashdot – Billionaire-Backed Code.org Received -2 Million Federal PPP Loan

US is 'Looking at' Banning TikTok and Chinese Social Media Apps, Pompeo Says

The U.S. is “looking at” banning TikTok and other Chinese social media apps, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News. From a report: His comments come amid rising tensions between the U.S. and China and as scrutiny on TikTok and Chinese technology firms continues to grow. When asked in a Fox News interview if the U.S. should be looking at banning TikTok and other Chinese social media apps, Pompeo said: “We are taking this very seriously. We are certainly looking at it. We have worked on this very issue for a long time,” he said. “Whether it was the problems of having Huawei technology in your infrastructure we’ve gone all over the world and we’re making real progress getting that out. We declared ZTE a danger to American national security,” Pompeo added, citing the two Chinese teleommunications networking companies. The remark comes days after India banned TikTok and 58 other apps and services developed by Chinese firms citing cybersecurity concerns.

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Source: Slashdot – US is ‘Looking at’ Banning TikTok and Chinese Social Media Apps, Pompeo Says

Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro Tests Positive for Covid-19 After Months of Dismissing the Seriousness of the Virus

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has tested positive for Covid-19, following months of downplaying the virus. From a report: Bolsonaro himself announced the result, speaking on Brazilian TV channels Tuesday. “Everyone knew that it would reach a considerable part of the population sooner or later. It was positive for me,” he said, referring to the Covid-19 test he took Monday. “On Sunday, I wasn’t feeling very well. On Monday, it got worse when I started feeling tired and some muscle pain. I also had a 38-degree [Celsius] fever. Given those symptoms, the presidential doctor said there was suspicion of Covid-19,” Bolsonaro said, adding that he then went to hospital where scans of his lungs “came back clean.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Bolsonaro told CNN affiliate CNN Brasil that he had been treated with hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin as he awaited the result of his fourth Covid-19 test in four months. Hydroxychloroquine, though enthusiastically boosted by both Bolsonaro and US President Donald Trump, has not been proven as an effective treatment for Covid-19. Bolsonaro nevertheless credited the controversial antimalarial drug for his well-being on Tuesday. “I am feeling very well. I believe that the way they administered the hydroxychloroquine on, the effect was immediate,” he said.

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Source: Slashdot – Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro Tests Positive for Covid-19 After Months of Dismissing the Seriousness of the Virus

Microsoft Seizes Six Domains Used in COVID-19 Phishing Operations

Microsoft has obtained a court order this month allowing the company to seize control of six domains that were used in phishing operations against Office 365 customers, including in campaigns that leveraged COVID-19 lures. From a report: According to court documents obtained by ZDNet, Microsoft has targeted a two-person phishing operation that has been targeting the company’s customers since December 2019. The duo operated by sending emails to companies that hosted email servers and enterprise infrastructure on Microsoft’s Office 365 cloud service. The emails were spoofed to look like they came from fellow employees or a trusted business partner. This particular phishing operation was unique because attackers didn’t redirect users to phishing sites that mimicked the Office 365 login page. Instead, hackers touted an Office document. When users tried to open the file, they were redirected to install a malicious third-party Office 365 app created by the hackers.

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Source: Slashdot – Microsoft Seizes Six Domains Used in COVID-19 Phishing Operations

Microsoft Exec Peggy Johnson Joins Troubled Augmented Reality Startup Magic Leap as CEO

Microsoft executive Peggy Johnson will join Magic Leap as CEO in August, the startup announced Tuesday. From a report: Johnson joins the augmented reality start-up after leading Microsoft’s M&A strategy and launching its venture fund as executive vice president of business development. She was hired by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in 2014 after a 24-year career at Qualcomm, where she worked in several roles, including running the internet services unit. At Microsoft, Johnson was a member of the company’s senior leadership team and navigated Microsoft through major partnership deals and acquisitions, including its $26.2 billion purchase of LinkedIn in 2016.

Magic Leap’s announcement comes weeks after founder Rony Abovitz announced in May he would step down as CEO, saying “it became clear to us that a change in my role was a natural next step.” Founded in 2011, Magic Leap was the subject of extensive hype in its early days, and managed to raise about $3 billion from Alphabet’s Google and other investors. But the company’s first product, released in 2018 for over $2,000, showed lowered ambitions since the company’s early demonstrations and did not sell well.

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Source: Slashdot – Microsoft Exec Peggy Johnson Joins Troubled Augmented Reality Startup Magic Leap as CEO

Alphabet's Loon Launches Its Balloon-Powered Kenyan Internet Service

Alphabet’s Loon has officially begun operating its commercial internet service in Kenya. This is the first large-scale commercial offering that makes use of Loon’s high-altitude balloons, which essentially work as cell service towers that drift on currents in the Earth’s upper atmosphere. From a report: Loon’s Kenyan service is offered in partnership with local telecom provider Telkom Kenya, and provides cellular service through their network to an area covering roughly 50,000 square kilometres (31,000 square miles) that normally hasn’t had reliable service due to the difficulty of setting up ground infrastructure in the mountainous terrain. Loon has been working towards deploying its first commercial service deployment in Kenya since it announced the signed deal in 2019, but the company says that the mission has taken on even greater significance and importance since the onset of COVID-19, which has meant that reliable connectivity, especially in light of the restrictions upon travel that the epidemic has placed, making the ability to remotely contact doctors, family members and others all the more important.

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Source: Slashdot – Alphabet’s Loon Launches Its Balloon-Powered Kenyan Internet Service

Big Tech Faceoff With China Risks Sparking Exodus From Hong Kong

Facebook, Google and Twitter — all of which are blocked in the mainland — are now headed toward a showdown with China that could end up making Hong Kong feel more like Beijing. From a report: Hours after Hong Kong announced sweeping new powers to police the internet on Monday night, those companies plus the likes of Microsoft and Zoom all suspended requests for data from the Hong Kong government. ByteDance’s TikTok, which has Chinese owners, announced it would pull its viral video app from the territory’s mobile stores in the coming days. Their dilemma is stark: Bend to the law and infuriate Western nations increasingly at odds with China over political freedoms, or simply refuse and depart like Google did in China a decade ago over some of the very same issues. Much like that seismic event shook the mainland in 2010, Big Tech’s reaction now could have a much wider impact on Hong Kongâ(TM)s future as a financial hub.

“Google is pretty important to people here, and if that’s cut off then it’s really extremely serious,” said Richard Harris, a former director at Citi Private Bank who now runs Port Shelter Investment Management in Hong Kong. “In Hong Kong we don’t know where the boundaries are, and that’s threatening to a lot of business people.” Over the past week, Hong Kong authorities have begun explaining how they’ll enforce a law that officials in Beijing called a “”sword of Damocles” hanging over China’s most strident critics. The legislation, which sparked the threat of sanctions from the Trump administration and outrage elsewhere, has had a chilling effect on pro-democracy protesters who demonstrated for months last year while also raising fresh questions for businesses.

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Source: Slashdot – Big Tech Faceoff With China Risks Sparking Exodus From Hong Kong

US Online Grocery Sales Hit Record $7.2 Billion In June

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Despite the slow reopening of the U.S. economy over the past several weeks, online grocery shopping is continuing to reach ever-higher numbers as Americans seem to be in no rush to return to the store. According to new research released today by Brick Meets Click and Mercatus, U.S. online grocery sales hit a record $7.2 billion in June, up 9% over May, as 45.6 million households turned to online grocery pickup and delivery services for a larger portion of their grocery needs. This figure is higher than the $4 billion seen in March 2020, when the U.S. first went under coronavirus lockdowns. Since then, online grocery sales have been growing quickly — jumping to $5.3 billion in April, then $6.6 billion in May, as more consumers shifted their shopping to online services, grocery included. The customer base for online grocery also grew from 39.5 million monthly actives in March to now 45.6 million as of June, the report found. Remarkably, only 16.1 million customers were using online grocery as of August 2019, totaling then just $1.2 million in sales. The growth can be attributed to a large influx of new online grocery customers, as well as more frequent orders.

“In addition, more retailers, including independents, have added capacity for online order fulfillment amid the coronavirus pandemic to meet consumers’ changing needs,” the report adds. “This has also resulted in an increase in sales as more customers are able to shop online and get a time slot for delivery or pickup.”

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Source: Slashdot – US Online Grocery Sales Hit Record .2 Billion In June

Hackers Are Exploiting a 5-Alarm Bug In Networking Equipment

Andy Greenberg writes via Wired: Late last week, government agencies, including the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team and Cyber Command, sounded the alarm about a particularly nasty vulnerability in a line of BIG-IP products sold by F5. The agencies recommended security professionals immediately implement a patch to protect the devices from hacking techniques that could fully take control of the networking equipment, offering access to all the traffic they touch and a foothold for deeper exploitation of any corporate network that uses them. Now some security companies say they’re already seeing the F5 vulnerability being exploited in the wildâ”and they caution that any organization that didn’t patch its F5 equipment over the weekend is already too late.

The F5 vulnerability, first discovered and disclosed to F5 by cybersecurity firm Positive Technologies, affects a series of so-called BIG-IP devices that act as load balancers within large enterprise networks, distributing traffic to different servers that host applications or websites. Positive Technologies found a so-called directory traversal bug in the web-based management interface for those BIG-IP devices, allowing anyone who can connect to them to access information they’re not intended to. That vulnerability was exacerbated by another bug that allows an attacker to run a “shell” on the devices that essentially lets a hacker run any code on them that they choose. The result is that anyone who can find an internet-exposed, unpatched BIG-IP device can intercept and mess with any of the traffic it touches. Hackers could, for instance, intercept and redirect transactions made through a bank’s website, or steal users’ credentials. They could also use the hacked device as a hop point to try to compromise other devices on the network. Since BIG-IP devices have the ability to decrypt traffic bound for web servers, an attacker could even use the bug to steal the encryption keys that guarantee the security of an organization’s HTTPS traffic with users, warns Kevin Gennuso, a cybersecurity practitioner for a major American retailer. While only a small minority of F5 BIG-IP devices are directly exploitable, Positive Technologies says that still includes 8,000 devices worldwide. “About 40 percent of those are in the U.S., along with 16 percent in China and single-digit percentages in other countries around the globe,” reports Wired.

“Owners of those devices have had since June 30, when F5 first revealed the bug along with its patch, to update,” adds Wired. “But many may not have immediately realized the seriousness of the vulnerability. Others may have been hesitant to take their load balancing equipment offline to implement an untested patch, points out Gennuso, for fear that critical services might go down, which would further delay a fix.”

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Source: Slashdot – Hackers Are Exploiting a 5-Alarm Bug In Networking Equipment

Moon's Metal-Rich Craters Challenge Popular Theories About Its Origin

schwit1 shares a report from UPI: The most popular theory of the moon’s origins contends the satellite was formed when a Mars-sized object collided with Earth, vaporizing large portions of Earth’s upper crust. While Earth’s upper crust is poor in metals, new research — published Wednesday in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters — suggests the moon’s subsurface is surprisingly metal-rich, undermining the satellite’s proposed origin story. Authors of the new study suggest planetary scientists consider alternative theories for the moon’s formation.

It’s possible the collision that forged the moon was more violent than scientists thought, gouging out even deeper portions of Earth’s crust and mantle. It’s also possible the moon experienced an unusual cool-down process, post-collision — a process that left the moon with large concentrations of metal.

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Source: Slashdot – Moon’s Metal-Rich Craters Challenge Popular Theories About Its Origin

Giant Flywheel Project In Scotland Could Prevent UK Blackouts

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: A giant flywheel in north-east Scotland could soon help to prevent blackouts across Britain by mimicking the effect of a power station but without using fossil fuels. The trailblazing project near Keith in Moray, thought to cost about 25 million British pounds, will not generate electricity or produce carbon emissions — but it could help keep the lights on by stabilizing the energy grid’s electrical frequency. The Norwegian energy company Statkraft hopes that from next winter the new flywheel, designed by a division of General Electric, will be able to mimic the spinning turbines of a traditional power station, which have helped to balance the grid’s frequency at about 50 hertz for decades.

Currently, the National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) is forced to shut down windfarms and run gas power stations even when there is more than enough renewable energy to meet Britain’s electricity demand, in order to keep the grid’s frequency steady. By simulating the spinning metal mass of a power station turbine without producing emissions, Statkraft should be able to help ESO rely less on fossil fuels and use renewable energy more. This is the first time a project of this kind will be used anywhere in the world and ESO believes it could be a “huge step forward” in running a zero-carbon electricity grid.

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Source: Slashdot – Giant Flywheel Project In Scotland Could Prevent UK Blackouts

Microsoft's Next Xbox Series X Game Showcase Coming July 23

Microsoft will be holding its next Xbox Games Showcase on July 23, the company announced today. Ars Technica reports: Unlike Microsoft’s May promotional event, which focused on third-party launch titles for the upcoming console, the July 23 event is expected to discuss first-party exclusives from Microsoft’s own Xbox Game Studios. That likely includes new footage of Halo Infinite, which saw a new teaser trailer a few weeks ago. That lineup of first-party studios now includes Psychonauts 2 developer Double Fine, which Microsoft acquired in June, and The Outer Worlds developer Obsidian Entertainment, which Microsoft acquired last November.

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Source: Slashdot – Microsoft’s Next Xbox Series X Game Showcase Coming July 23

New H.266 VCC Codec Up To 50% More Efficient Than Previous Standard

The Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute on Tuesday announced the H.266 Versatile Video Coding codec, which will power more data-efficient video capture and transmission on future iPhones. AppleInsider reports: Apple adopted the predecessor to the new codec, H.265/HEVC, in iOS 11. The updated video codec, which was developed after years of research and standardization, will bring a number of tangible benefits to future iPhone users. In its announcement, the Fraunhofer HHI said that H.266 will reduce data requirements by around 50% thanks to improved compression. With the previous HEVC codec, it took about 10GB of data to transmit a 90-minute ultra-high definition (UHD) video. H.266 can do that with 5GB. The codec, as detailed in a 500-page specification, was designed from the ground up for use with 4K and 8K streaming. It’ll allow users to store more high-definition video and reduce the amount of data on cellular networks.

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Source: Slashdot – New H.266 VCC Codec Up To 50% More Efficient Than Previous Standard

Microsoft Is Interested In Acquiring Warner Bros. Gaming Unit

According to a new report from The Information, Microsoft is interested in bidding on Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, which is currently a division of AT&T. From a report: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, or WB Games, is known for publishing the “Batman: Arkham” series, “Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor,” many “Lego” and “Harry Potter” games, “Mortal Kombat,” and “The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.” The unit consists of game-development studios in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. AT&T acquired the gaming business as part of the 2018 buyout of Time Warner assets. This deal and the 2014 acquisition of DirecTV increased AT&T’s debt and the company has been looking to ways to cut costs and unload assets.

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Source: Slashdot – Microsoft Is Interested In Acquiring Warner Bros. Gaming Unit