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Utopia Talk / Politics / Random News 3
Fri Jul 16 02:23:19

Coronavirus Hong Kong: BioNTech vaccine recipients have antibody levels 10 times higher than those who opted for Sinovac, researchers find

Though quantity of coronavirus-targeting proteins does not directly correlate to level of immunity, findings may suggest ‘substantial differences in vaccine effectiveness’

But study’s lead author notes moderate levels of protection are better than none at all, saying: ‘Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good’
16 Jul, 2021

Tue Jul 20 14:01:01
3 existing drugs fight coronavirus with 'almost 100%' success in Jerusalem lab

Tue Jul 20 14:20:37
None of the vaccines seem to protect from anti vaccine syndrome.
Tue Jul 20 14:21:16
Daemon, did your area get flooded?
Tue Jul 20 16:07:49
Some cities in my state were flooded but not my city.
My home town Münster was hit by extreme rain in 2014, though not as bad, no buildings collapsed.

Tue Jul 20 19:47:29

WATCH: Tom Brady Teams Up with Joe Biden to Mock Trump Supporters
Tue Jul 20 20:09:33
Mon Aug 09 10:11:16


Catholic priest murdered by suspect in Nantes cathedral blaze


A Rwandan national suspected of causing a major fire that ravaged the cathedral in the French city of Nantes last year murdered a Catholic priest in western France on Monday, the interior minister and a source close to the investigation said.

"All my support for the Catholics of our country after the dramatic murder of a priest in the Vendée region," French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin wrote on Twitter, saying he was heading to the scene.

A source close to the investigation, who asked not to be named, told the AFP that the suspect had earlier gone to police in the town of Mortagne-sur-Sevre and declared he had killed a priest.

The slain priest, 60, had been welcoming the man into his church for several months, according to the source.

The man, a Rwandan national named as Emmanuel A., has confessed to being behind the fire at the Gothic Nantes cathedral that horrified France on July 18, 2020.

He had initially been placed under arrest before being freed under judicial control.

Earlier Monday, French far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who accuses the government of being weak on immigration, sought to capitalise on the incident, saying that in France "you can be an illegal migrant, set fire to a cathedral, not be expelled and then reoffend by murdering a priest".

Darmanin immediately accused her of "making a polemic without knowing the facts" saying the man could not be expelled from France while he was under judicial control.

Immigration is set to be a major issue when Le Pen challenges centrist President Emmanuel Macron for the presidency next year.

Senator Bruno Retailleau, a conservative who represents the Vendée region, identified the victim as Olivier Maire. He said the local Catholic church had been housing the man.

"Deeply shocked by the terrible murder of a priest who had taken in his murderer into his care," Retailleau said on Twitter.

"What was this man still doing in France?" asked the lawmaker, who is among several Les Républicains members likely to seek that party's nomination for the 2022 presidential election.

Priceless artefacts lost in 2020 blaze

The Nantes blaze came 15 months after the devastating 2019 fire at the Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris, which raised questions about the security risks for other historic churches across France.

While firefighters were able to contain the Nantes blaze after just two hours and save the main structure, its famed organ, which dated from 1621 and had survived the French revolution and World War II bombardment, was destroyed.

Also lost were priceless artefacts and paintings, including a work by the 19th-century artist Jean-Hippolyte Flandrin and stained glass windows that contained remnants of 16th-century glass. Repairs are due to take several years.
Tue Aug 10 14:11:45
Why do we never have news from Switzerland?


‘It only lasted 11 minutes’: Why this rape sentence has caused an outcry in Switzerland

9 August 2021

The verdict in a rape trial in the canton of Basel has caused a widespread outcry in Switzerland, after the judge justified a shortened sentence because the rape had “only lasted for 11 minutes”.

The incident took place in February 2020 in the Swiss city of Basel, where two men raped a 33-year-old woman in the entrance of her apartment in Elsässerstrasse.

The sentence, which was handed down at the start of August, has caused controversy not only due to its lenient nature, but due to the mitigating factors cited by the judge in the case.

One of the men was a minor and as such will be sentenced in juvenile court. The other, a 32-year-old man, had his sentenced reduced from 51 months to 36 months on appeal and as a result will be released from detention in a few days due to time already served.

In reducing the sentence for the 32-year-old man on appeal, justice Liselotte Henz said there was only “moderate fault” for the perpetrator in the context of Swiss criminal law.

While the court report has not yet been released, Swiss media has reported several aspects of the judgement seemed to blame the victim rather than the perpetrator for the attack.

Several factors came into account in the reduced sentence, including that the attacks – which lasted 11 minutes – were “relatively short” and that there were no permanent physical injuries to the victim.

The judge said the victim had been “playing with fire” in the lead up to the attacks.

The judge also appeared to blame the victim for “the signals she sent out to the men”, referencing behaviour in the club where they met where the woman had withdrawn to a toilet with another man.

As both men are Portuguese nationals, the sentences will include a period of deportation from the country, which is expected to be six years for the adult offender and is not yet set for the minor.

Protests and outcry in Switzerland

On Sunday, August 8th, around 500 people protested outside the appeals court in Basel where the verdict was handed down.

Protesters at the rally, which police said was unauthorised but peaceful, carried signs emphasising the need for consent and chanted “11 minutes is 11 minutes too many”.

Signs carried by the protesters said “there is no such thing as a short rape” and complained that the legal system “was sending the wrong signals” to the general public.

The victim’s lawyer said she was shocked by the verdict.

Agota Lavoyer, who runs a victim assistance organisation in the canton of Solothurn, said the “shameful” verdict “cements rape myths”.

The verdict has attracted condemnation from across the political spectrum, with both left and right-wing political groups speaking out against it.

Ronja Jansen, president of the Young Social Democrats (Just), said the verdict was likely to make women less willing to report sexual violence.

“The fact that the woman is portrayed as an accomplice because she may have entered into contact with other men is a harmful mixture of consensual acts and rape.”

Marcel Columb, from the Basel Social Democrats, said it sent the wrong signals to victims of sexual violence.

“A four year sentence was already mild, but now to imply the woman was complicity due to her behaviour to someone uninvolved with the crime is unbearable. What a sign for all victims of sexualised violence.”

The victim and the Basel public prosecutor have said they will wait for the publication of the written ruling before deciding whether to appeal to the Swiss Federal Court.
Wed Aug 11 13:42:39
I bet that would be a decent country to bunker out zombie apocalypse in.
Wed Aug 11 14:27:15
3 years for doing a clubslut seems appropriate.

I mean, come on, this woman was clearly inviting it that night:

"The judge also appeared to blame the victim for “the signals she sent out to the men”, referencing behaviour in the club where they met where the woman had withdrawn to a toilet with another man."
Wed Aug 11 15:20:51
We victim blame all the time, despite acknowledging that the criminal bears the legal responsibility. Rape is not different.

If you park your brand new Cadillac (or whatever kind of bullshit car you Americans call a nice car) in a shitty part of the city and don't lock it, nobody is saying you deserved having it stolen for a joy ride, but who wouldn't feel stupid and blame themselves? All your friends would look at you, like you are an idiot. If your parents bought you that car, they would not be very happy.

Then you be like, I should be able to park my car anywhere and not lock the doors! Why should I change my behavior because there are car thieves?! You know what it is? It is that grand theft auto culture that teaches young men to steal cars. The world can be a shitty place populated with garbage human beings.

Having said that, none of this belongs in a court room, or has anything to do with the law. Is a judge going to show a house thief leniency, because you didn't lock the doors? He was asking to get his house robbed your honor!
Wed Aug 11 19:24:03
Was this rape rape, or Brock Turner "rape"?
Wed Aug 11 22:44:00
Utah governor responds to constituent demanding he change 'obscene' last name.

the wanderer
Wed Aug 11 22:56:09
"After some Twitter users speculated that the letter may be satire, Cox responded by saying his constituent affairs director “thinks it’s serious.”"

then his constituent affairs director is an idiot
Wed Aug 11 23:34:02
Nah he realizes how crazy the "woke" have become. You get people saying that men who sit with their legs spread are raping the air and they are serious about it then it isn't much of a leap (small step really) to nutty shit like this.
the wanderer
Wed Aug 11 23:59:20
great reading comprehension

the letter, if it was real, would be from a mentally unbalanced conservative Republican... (although is clearly a joke... "communist dictatorship" over a name?)
Thu Aug 12 01:55:38
thanks I pride myself on being able to comprehend what I read!

and a nut is a nut no matter their affiliation. You should realize that being a nut yourself.
the wanderer
Thu Aug 12 12:04:50
well you're still failing as there's no nut... every line of the letter is ridiculous, clearly a joke
Thu Aug 12 12:52:58
Useful or not: it's fun!


Glowworm Attack

Optical TEMPEST Sound Recovery via a Device’s Power Indicator LED


Two main classes of optical TEMPEST attacks against the confidentiality of information processed/delivered by devices have been demonstrated in the past two decades; the first class includes methods for recovering content from monitors, and the second class includes methods for recovering keystrokes from physical and virtual keyboards.
In this paper, we identify a new class of optical TEMPEST attacks: recovering sound by analyzing optical emanations from a device’s power indicator LED.
We analyze the response of the power indicator LED of various devices to sound and show that there is an optical correlation between the sound that is played by connected speakers and the intensity of their power indicator LED due to the facts that: (1) the power indicator LED of various devices is connected directly to the power line, (2) the intensity of a device's power indicator LED is correlative to the power consumption, and (3) many devices lack a dedicated means of countering this phenomenon.
Based on our findings, we present the Glowworm attack, an optical TEMPEST attack that can be used by eavesdroppers to recover sound by analyzing optical measurements obtained via an electro-optical sensor directed at the power indicator LED of various devices (e.g., speakers, USB hub splitters, and microcontrollers).
We propose an optical-audio transformation (OAT) to recover sound by isolating the speech from the optical measurements obtained by directing an electro-optical sensor at a device's power indicator LED.
Finally, we test the performance of the Glowworm attack in various experimental setups and show that an eavesdropper can apply the attack to recover speech from a speaker's power indicator LED with good intelligibility from a distance of 15 meters and with fair intelligibility from 35 meters.
Thu Aug 12 18:48:36
Oh there is a nut all right.

He has responded to me twice in this thread.
Tue Aug 17 11:29:18
That wasn't me, that wasn't me!


Thousands of Wikipedia Pages Vandalized With Giant Swastikas

Jennifer Lopez, Ben Affleck, and Joe Biden all had their articles replaced with a bright red page bearing the nazi symbol.

Early Monday morning, the Wikipedia pages for a slew of celebrities, writers, and political figures were replaced by full-page spreads of black and white swastikas on a bright red background. The vandalism was reversed within minutes of being noticed by users (and Ann Colter).

Wikipedia is certainly no stranger to vandalism on some of its more controversial pages, but this incident highlighted one of the lesser-known weaknesses in the platform’s airtight content moderation policies. Instead of targeting the content on any particular Wikipedia page, the vandal behind this blitz targeted a particular article template used by more than 50,000 different Wikipedia pages, including those for Jennifer Lopez, Joe Biden, and Discworld author Terry Pratchett.

According to an ongoing discussion by a handful of Wikipedia admins on one of the site’s public forums, the template’s since been fixed and the vandal in question—who first joined the site about ten days ago—has been put on an indefinite ban. One admin noted that by targeting these article templates directly, the user was able to bypass the typical protections put on certain Wikipedia pages to protect them from vandals in the first place.

When it comes to protecting the words and pictures on a page, Wikipedia’s army of admins is pretty swift when it comes to taking action. But the need to protect templates has apparently been a blind spot for moderators. According to one admin in the form, after placing protections onto a separate oft-used template, a Wikipedia user revoked those protections not long after on the grounds that the template wasn’t popular enough to merit that particular safeguard. But in light of this latest attack, many admins are changing their tune.

“I didn’t realize templates used on tens of thousands of pages weren’t template-protected as a matter of course,” one of them commented. “Something that can vandalize 53,000 pages at once seems like a big gap in security.”

According to the ongoing thread, admins have stepped in to protect templates that are used on tens of thousands of pages. Another admin noted that while the “vast majority” of templates are protected once they’re gained enough steam, evidently, some of them managed to slip through. “A template that has at least 1000 transclusions must be template-protected at least,” one of them commented. “We can’t afford yet another incident like this.”

A spokesperson for the Wikimedia Foundation told Gizmodo that the “particularly vile action” is “unacceptable,” and “violates a number of Wikipedia’s policies.”

“Volunteer administrators have already fixed the vandalism, blocked the account responsible, and will further evaluate the situation to see if additional recourse is needed,” she said. “Over the years, a number of tools and processes have been developed to quickly spot and revert vandalism on the site. Most vandalism on Wikipedia is corrected within five minutes, as we saw today.”
Sat Aug 21 05:41:48
Shit will hit the fan.


SpaceX Starlink satellites responsible for over half of close encounters in orbit, scientist says

3 days ago

Starlink satellites might soon be involved in 90% of close encounters between two spacecraft in low Earth orbit.

Operators of satellite constellations are constantly forced to move their satellites because of encounters with other spacecraft and pieces of space junk. And, thanks to SpaceX's Starlink satellites, the number of such dangerous approaches will continue to grow, according to estimates based on available data.

SpaceX's Starlink satellites alone are involved in about 1,600 close encounters between two spacecraft every week, that's about 50 % of all such incidents, according to Hugh Lewis, the head of the Astronautics Research Group at the University of Southampton, U.K. These encounters include situations when two spacecraft pass within a distance of 0.6 miles (1 kilometer) from each other.

Lewis, Europe's leading expert on space debris, makes regular estimates of the situation in orbit based on data from the Socrates (Satellite Orbital Conjunction Reports Assessing Threatening Encounters in Space ) database. This tool, managed by Celestrack, provides information about satellite orbits and models their trajectories into the future to assess collision risk.

Lewis publishes regular updates on Twitter and has seen a worrying trend in the data that reflects the fast deployment of the Starlink constellation.

"I have looked at the data going back to May 2019 when Starlink was first launched to understand the burden of these megaconstellations," Lewis told Space.com. "Since then, the number of encounters picked up by the Socrates database has more than doubled and now we are in a situation where Starlink accounts for half of all encounters."

The current 1,600 close passes include those between two Starlink satellites. Excluding these encounters, Starlink satellites approach other operators’ spacecraft 500 times every week.

In comparison, Starlink's competitor OneWeb, currently flying over 250 satellites, is involved in 80 close passes with other operators' satellites every week, according to Lewis' data.

And the situation is bound to get worse. Only 1,700 satellites of an expected constellation of tens of thousands have been placed into orbit so far. Once SpaceX launches all 12,000 satellites of its first generation constellation, Starlink satellites will be involved in 90% of all close approaches, Lewis’ calculations suggest.

Siemak Hesar, CEO and co-founder of Boulder, Colorado, based Kayhan Space, confirms the trend. His company, which develops a commercial autonomous space traffic management system, estimates that on average, an operator managing about 50 satellites will receive up to 300 official conjunction alerts a week. These alerts include encounters with other satellites as well as pieces of debris. Out of these 300 alerts, up to ten might require operators to perform avoidance maneuvers, Hesar told Space.com.

Kayhan Space bases their estimates on data provided by the U.S. Space Surveillance Network. This network of radars and telescopes, managed by the U.S. Space Force, closely monitors about 30,000 live and defunct satellites and pieces of debris down to the size of 4 inches (10 centimeters) and provides the most accurate location data of the orbiting objects.

The size of this catalog is expected to increase ten times in the near future, Hesar added, partly due to the growth of megaconstellations, such as Starlink, and partly as sensors improve and enable detection of even smaller objects. The more objects in the catalog mean more dangerously close encounters.

"This problem is really getting out of control," Hesar said. "The processes that are currently in place are very manual, not scalable, and there is not enough information sharing between parties that might be affected if a collision happens."

Hesar compared the problem to driving on a highway and not knowing that there has been an accident a few miles ahead of you. If two spacecraft collide in orbit, the cloud of debris the crash generates would threaten other satellites travelling through the same area.

"You want to have that situational awareness for the other actors that are flying in the neighbourhood," Hesar said.

Despite the concerns, only three confirmed orbital collisions have happened so far. Earlier this week, astrophysicist and satellite tracker Jonathan McDowell, who's based at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, found evidence in Space-Track data that the Chinese meteorological satellite Yunhai 1-02, which disintegrated in March this year, was actually hit by a piece of space debris.

The worst known space collision in history took place in February 2009 when the U.S. telecommunication satellite Iridium 33 and Russia's defunct military satellite Kosmos-2251 crashed at the altitude of 490 miles (789 kilometres). The incident spawned over 1,000 pieces of debris larger than 4 inches (10 cm). Many of these fragments were then involved in further orbital incidents.

Lewis is concerned that with the number of close passes growing, the risk of operators at some point making a wrong decision will grow as well. Avoidance maneuvers cost fuel, time and effort. Operators, therefore, always carefully evaluate such risks. A decision not to make an avoidance maneuver following an alert, such as that made by Iridium in 2009, could, however, clutter the orbital environment for years and decades.

"In a situation when you are receiving alerts on a daily basis, you can't maneuver for everything," Lewis said. "The maneuvers use propellant, the satellite cannot provide service. So there must be some threshold. But that means you are accepting a certain amount of risk. The problem is that at some point, you are likely to make a wrong decision."

Hesar said that uncertainties in the positions of satellites and pieces of debris are still considerable. In case of operational satellites, the error could be up to 330 feet (100 meters) large. When it comes to a piece of debris, the uncertainty about its exact position might be in the order of a mile or more.

"This object can be anywhere in this bubble of multiple kilometres," Hesar said. "At this point, and for the foreseeable future, avoidance is our best recourse. People that say 'I'm going to take the risk', in my humble opinion, that's an irresponsible thing to do."

Lewis is concerned about the growing influence of a single actor — Starlink — on the safety of orbital operations. Especially, he says, as the spaceflight company has entered the satellite operations world only recently.

"We place trust in a single company, to do the right thing," Lewis said. "We are in a situation where most of the maneuvers we see will involve Starlink. They were a launch provider before, now they are the world's biggest satellite operator, but they have only been doing that for two years so there is a certain amount of inexperience."

SpaceX relies on an autonomous collision avoidance system to keep its fleet away from other spacecraft. That, however, could sometimes introduce further problems. The automatic orbital adjustments change the forecasted trajectory and therefore make collision predictions more complicated, according to Lewis.

"Starlink doesn't publicize all the maneuvers that they're making, but it is believed that they are making a lot of small corrections and adjustments all the time," Lewis said. "But that causes problems for everybody else because no one knows where the satellite is going to be and what it is going to do in the next few days."
Sat Aug 21 14:01:53
Well they own like 1/3 of all active satelites, mabey more.
Sun Aug 22 03:25:55
This is not only about bashing Starlink, other companies try the same and launch or want to launch hundreds of satellites. For example Amazon wants to get into that business, too:

But the general situation will become unsustainable.

Sun Aug 22 03:32:30
Daemon, Absolutley, it's definitely finite.
Mon Aug 23 09:56:47

Amazon Killed the Name Alexa

Parents are fleeing from a name that can be, at best, a nuisance and, at worst, associated with subservience.

Alexa used to be a name primarily given to human babies. Now it’s mainly for robots.

Seven years ago, Amazon released Alexa, its voice assistant, and as the number of devices answering to that name has skyrocketed, its popularity with American parents has plummeted. In fact, it has suffered one of the sharpest declines of any popular name in recent years. “Alexa stands alone as a name that was steadily popular—not a one-year celebrity wonder, not a fading past favorite—that was pushed off the popularity cliff,” Laura Wattenberg, the founder of the naming-trends website Namerology, told me.

At first, the number of baby Alexas spiked following the voice assistant’s rollout in late 2014—perhaps parents heard the name in the news and liked it—but it has since crashed. Likely, parents began to realize that having the name could be a nuisance, or worse, could become associated with subservience, because people are always giving orders to their virtual Alexas.

This up-and-down pattern reminded Wattenberg of what happens with babies named after hurricanes, when “the news coverage and attention causes the name to briefly shoot up, and then the aftermath, when the name is constantly referred to as a disaster, kind of kills it off.” Basically, Amazon’s impact on the name Alexa resembles that of a natural disaster. (When I reached out to the company, it didn’t comment on whether it had played a role in Alexa’s decline.)

Alexa joins a handful of other names that were toppled by a shift in association. Perhaps the most famous is Hillary, which was in fashion in the late 1980s but fell out of style after Hillary Clinton became first lady. (Wattenberg said parents tend not to choose politicians’ names, regardless of party.) Dick lost its appeal when it was no longer primarily used as a nickname for Richard, and more recently, parents ran from the name Isis when it became connected to terrorism.
Mon Aug 23 13:32:45
Subservience? That robotic bitch is probably a few years away from going full Skynet and killing all of us.
Mon Sep 06 03:19:12
Good reason for a new conspiracy theory:

I say they forced him to take a Chinese vaccine!!!


The German ambassador to China and Angela Merkel confidant Jan Hecker has died after only a few days in the ambassadorial role, the Foreign Ministry announced on Monday morning.

Hecker and his family arrived in Beijing in August, and he had submitted his diplomatic credentials and had begun working at the end of the month.

The ministry has yet to provide further details as to the cause of death.
Mon Sep 06 16:12:25

Rest in peace, that was one of the greatest tv characters ever.
Tue Sep 07 10:26:28

SINGAPORE, 5 September 2021 – For the first time, ground robots will be put on trial to patrol and survey a public area with high foot traffic to augment the work of public officers in enhancing public health and safety.

This is a joint project involving five public agencies, namely HTX (Home Team Science and Technology Agency), National Environment Agency, Land Transport Authority, Singapore Food Agency, and Housing & Development Board.

For a three-week period from 5 Sep 2021, Xavier (the name of the HTX robot[1]) will weave its way autonomously through the crowds in Toa Payoh Central to detect the following undesirable social behaviours:

smoking in prohibited areas
illegal hawking
improperly parked bicycles within HDB Hub
congregation of more than five people (in line with prevailing Safe Management Measures)
motorised active mobility devices and motorcycles on footpaths

Once Xavier detects any of the above, it will trigger real-time alerts to the command and control centre, and display the appropriate message (depending on the scenario) to educate the public and deter such behaviours.

The deployment of Xavier will support the work of public officers as it will reduce the manpower required for foot patrols and improve operation efficiency.

Lily Ling, SFA’s Director of East Regional Office, said, “The deployment of ground robots will help to augment our surveillance and enforcement resources. For instance, the surveillance of illegal hawkers can be manpower intensive as officers need to be deployed at various areas across the island. The adoption of robotics technology can be used to enhance such operations, and reduce the need for our officers to do physical patrols.”

Calvin Ng, LTA’s Director of Enforcement and Compliance Management, said, “Xavier can potentially augment our enforcement presence and deter errant active mobility behavior on footpaths. It could also provide intelligence on new hotspots or areas where egregious active mobility users have been spotted to help focus our physical enforcement efforts.”
Wed Sep 22 06:26:58

Amazon’s AI Cameras Are Punishing Drivers for Mistakes They Didn’t Make

Amazon delivery drivers say surveillance cameras installed in their vans have made them lose income for reasons beyond their control.

In early 2021, Amazon installed AI-powered cameras in the delivery vans at one of its depots in Los Angeles. Derek, a delivery driver at the facility, said the camera in his van started to incorrectly penalize him whenever cars cut him off, an everyday occurrence in Los Angeles traffic.

“Maintain safe distance,” the camera installed above his seat would say when a car cut him off. That data would be sent to Amazon, and would be used to evaluate his performance that week and determine whether he got a bonus.

“Every time I need to make a right hand turn, it inevitably happens. A car cuts me off to move into my lane, and the camera, in this really dystopian dark, robotic voice, shouts at me," Derek, who asked to remain anonymous because he feared retribution from Amazon, told Motherboard. "It's so disconcerting. It’s upsetting, when I didn't do anything.”

Wed Sep 22 07:02:11
Jeff Bezos is fucking evil.

I still love using Amazon though.
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