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Simulating 800,000 Years of California Earthquake History To Pinpoint Risks
aarondubrow shares a report from the Texas Advanced Computing Center: A new study in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America presents results from a new earthquake simulator, RSQSim, that simulates hundreds of thousands of years of seismic history in California. Coupled with another code, CyberShake, the framework can calculate the amount of shaking that would occur for each quake. [The framework makes use of two of the most powerful supercomputers on the planet: Frontera, at the Texas Advanced Computing Center, and Summit, at Oak Ridge National Laboratory]. The new approach improves [seismologists'] ability to pinpoint how big an earthquake might occur at a given location, allowing building code developers, architects, and structural engineers to design more resilient buildings that can survive earthquakes at a specific site.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

;
Bad News For Land-Speed Record Fans As Bloodhound Goes Up For Sale
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Bad news, land-speed record fans: the project to set a new 1,000mph (1,609km/h) speed record is yet again in serious doubt. On Monday morning, the Bloodhound Land Speed Record Project revealed that it's looking for a new owner in order to try and break the existing record. Whoever steps in will need pretty deep pockets, too -- almost $11 million, in fact. Trying to set a new land-speed record is probably one of the harder activities one can engage in. You need to design and build a vehicle capable of going faster than 763mph (1,228km/h), twice within an hour. You need to find somewhere flat enough to run the car, presumably away from neighbors who might get annoyed by the window-shattering sonic booms. And while all that sounds like a serious challenge, perhaps the biggest problem is finding the money to make it all happen. [...] 2019 was a good year for Bloodhound. It found a new owner who saved it from life as a museum curio, and it even arrived in South Africa for the start of high-speed testing. Although it was only equipped with its Rolls Royce EJ200 jet engine, Bloodhound still reached 628mph (1,010kmh) that year. But going faster will require integrating Bloodhound's other propulsion source, a monopropellant rocket made by Nammo (a Norwegian aerospace and defense company). And the cost to do that and then conduct the test program to set a new record will require about $11 million, according to current owner Ian Warhurst. In a statement, he said: "When I committed to take the car high-speed testing in 2019, I allocated enough funding to achieve this goal on the basis that alternative funding would then allow us to continue to the record attempts. Along with many other things, the global pandemic wrecked this opportunity in 2020 which has left the project unfunded and delayed by a further 12 months. At this stage, in absence of further, immediate, funding, the only options remaining are to close down the program or put the project up for sale to allow me to pass on the baton and allow the team to continue the project."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

;
Moderna Vaccine Appears To Work Against Variants
Moderna's Covid vaccine appears to work against new, more infectious variants of the pandemic virus found in the UK and South Africa, say scientists from the US pharmaceutical company. The BBC reports: Early laboratory tests suggest antibodies triggered by the vaccine can recognize and fight the new variants. More studies are needed to confirm this is true for people who have been vaccinated. Current vaccines were designed around earlier variants, but scientists believe they should still work against the new ones, although perhaps not quite as well. There are already some early results that suggest the Pfizer vaccine protects against the new UK variant. For the Moderna study, researchers looked at blood samples taken from eight people who had received the recommended two doses of the Moderna vaccine. The findings are yet to be peer reviewed, but suggest immunity from the vaccine recognizes the new variants. Neutralizing antibodies, made by the body's immune system, stop the virus from entering cells. Blood samples exposed to the new variants appeared to have sufficient antibodies to achieve this neutralizing effect, although it was not as strong for the South Africa variant as for the UK one. Moderna says this could mean that protection against the South Africa variant might disappear more quickly. Moderna says it's investigating whether a redesigned vaccine would be more effective against the new variants. It's also testing whether giving a third booster shot might be beneficial.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

;
Vancouver Seaplane Company To Resume Test Flights With Electric Plane
A Vancouver seaplane company says its retro-fitted all electric airplane is set to take to the skies for more test flights this year, as it pushes forward with its plans to make commercial air travel cheaper and greener. CBC.ca reports: "There's no wavering in our confidence and determination and interest in getting this done," said Harbour Air CEO Greg McDougall. Founded by McDougall in 1982, Harbour Air uses small propeller planes to fly commercial flights between the Lower Mainland, Seattle, Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and Whistler. In the last few years it has turned its attention to becoming a leader in green urban mobility, which would do away with the need to burn fossil fuels for air travel. In December 2019, McDougall flew one of Harbour Air's planes, a more than 60-year-old DHC-2 de Havilland Beaver float plane, which had been outfitted with a Seattle-based company's electric propulsion system, for three minutes over Richmond B.C. Harbour Air joined with Seattle-based company MagniX in early 2019 to design the e-plane's engine, which was powered by NASA-approved lithium-ion batteries that were also used on the International Space Station. At the time, based on the success of that inaugural flight, McDougall had hoped to be using the plane to fly passengers on its routes, such as between downtown Vancouver and downtown Victoria, by the end of this year. Now, that timeline has been pushed back at least one year due to the pandemic.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Google Says It May Have Found a Privacy-Friendly Substitute To Cookies
Google says its new machine learning algorithms could replace cookie-based ad targeting without invading your privacy. Axios reports: Google has been testing a new API (a software interface) called Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) that acts as an effective replacement signal for third-party cookies. The API exists as a browser extension within Google Chrome. The company said Monday that tests of FLoC to reach audiences show that advertisers can expect to see at least 95% of the conversions per dollar spent on ads when compared to cookie-based advertising. FLoC uses machine learning algorithms to analyze user data and then create a group of thousands of people based off of the sites that an individual visits. The data gathered locally from the browser is never shared. Instead, the data from the much wider cohort of thousands of people is shared, and that is then used to target ads. It's a big deal that Google says it's close to coming up with a technology that will replace cookies, because one of the toughest parts of phasing cookies out of internet ad-targeting is that there hasn't been a great solution for what to replace them with. [...] Google has other proposals to replace cookies in the works, so it's not guaranteed that FLoC will be the answer, but the company said it's highly encouraged by what it has seen so far.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

;
Hacker Leaks Data of 2.28 Million Dating Site Users
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: A well-known hacker has leaked the details of more than 2.28 million users registered on MeetMindful.com, a dating website founded in 2014, ZDNet has learned this week from a security researcher. The dating site's data has been shared as a free download on a publicly accessible hacking forum known for its trade in hacked databases. The leaked data, a 1.2 GB file, appears to be a dump of the site's users database. The content of this file includes a wealth of information that users provided when they set up profiles on the MeetMindful site and mobile apps. Some of the most sensitive data points included in the file include: Real names; Email addresses; City, state, and ZIP details; Body details; Dating preferences; Marital status; Birth dates; Latitude and longitude; IP addresses; Bcrypt-hashed account passwords; Facebook user IDs; and Facebook authentication tokens. Messages exchanged by users were not included in the leaked file; however, this does not make the entire incident less sensitive. The data leak, which is still available for download, was released by a threat actor who goes by the name of ShinyHunters. They also were responsible for leaking the details of millions of users registered on Teespring.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

;
Browser Makers Launch New Project For Writing Documentation For Web APIs
A coalition of tech companies announced today the launch of Open Web Docs, a new initiative to help write documentation for Web APIs, JavaScript, and other web tooling and platforms. From a report: The new project does not view itself as a replacement for MDN Web Docs, a website hosted by Mozilla, where all browser makers agreed to move the official Web API documentation back in October 2017, and stop developing their own, often diverging, documentation sites. Instead, in a press release and FAQ today, the Open Web Docs team said their role is to fund, coordinate, and contribute to MDN Docs going forward. The new initiative comes after Mozilla laid off 250 employees last summer, including many of its MDN Web Docs staff. Open Web Docs comes to fill this void and provide the labor force needed to continue updating the MDN Web Docs portal.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

;
Apple Watch Series 7 Rumored To Feature Blood Glucose Monitoring
According to Korea's ETNews, Apple is expected to feature blood glucose monitoring via an optical sensor in the Apple Watch Series 7. MacRumors reports: The report, which mainly focuses on the blood glucose capabilities of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, explains that Apple is intending to bring blood glucose monitoring to the upcoming Apple Watch Series 7 using a non-invasive optical sensor. Measuring blood glucose levels, also known as blood sugar levels, is vital to managing conditions such as diabetes. Normally, measuring blood glucose requires testing a drop of blood in a blood sugar meter or using an implanted continuous glucose monitor (CGM). The ability to observe any major increases or decreases in blood glucose may raise awareness of a potential health condition or simply help to improve a user's diet. Apple is said to have secured patents around blood glucose monitoring, and the company is now purportedly "focusing on securing reliability and stability prior to commercialization of the technology." The Apple-designed optical sensor is believed to be a skin-top continuous monitoring solution that does not require an implant. [...] The Apple Watch Series 7 is expected to arrive later this year, but there have been few rumors around what the new models may feature. While there have been reports of microLED displays and solid-state buttons with haptic feedback for the Apple Watch, these are not directly expected for the Apple Watch Series 7.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

;
Pyston 2.1 Is Blowing Past Python 3 Performance
Camel Pilot writes: Pyston 2.1, a closed-source but faster and highly-compatible implementation of the Python programming language, significantly outperforms Python 3 in a variety of benchmarks. All the system details and benchmarks in full can be found over on OpenBenchmarking.org.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

;
Renewable Energy Production Beat Fossil Fuels in Europe
Renewable energy became the biggest source of electricity in the European Union in 2020, beating fossil fuels for the first time. Germany and Spain also hit that milestone individually last year -- so did the UK, which officially left the EU in January 2020. From a report: Renewables powered 38 percent of electricity in the EU last year, according to a report released today by energy think tanks Ember and Agora Energiewende. That gives renewable energy a narrow lead over fossil fuel-fired generation, which accounted for 37 percent of Europe's electricity. The remaining quarter comes from nuclear energy. The rise of renewables is good news for the health of the planet. Still, renewable energy will need to grow at an even faster rate to stave off a future with more climate change-induced disasters. "Renewables overtaking fossils is an important milestone in Europe's clean energy transition. However, let's not be complacent," Patrick Graichen, director of Agora Energiewende, said in a statement. "Post-pandemic recovery [programs] need to go hand-in-hand with accelerated climate action."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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AMC Raises $917 Million To Weather 'Dark Coronavirus-Impacted Winter'
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Variety: AMC Theatres, the world's largest cinema chain, has raised $917 million in new equity and debt capital, the company said on Monday. "This increased liquidity should allow the company to make it through this dark coronavirus-impacted winter," the company said, adding that its "financial runway has been extended deep into 2021." AMC has raised the finances from Dec. 14, 2020. Of the $917 million, AMC has raised $506 million of equity, from the issuance of 164.7 million new common shares, along with the previously announced securing of $100 million of additional first-lien debt and the concurrent issuance of 22 million new common shares to convert $100 million of second-lien debt into equity. In addition, the company has executed commitment letters for $411 million of incremental debt capital in place through mid-2023, unless repaid before then, through the upsizing and refinancing of its European revolving credit facility. The chain says that it presumes that it will continue to make progress in its ongoing dialogue with theater landlords about the amounts and timing of owed theater lease payments, and is hopeful that the ongoing vaccination push will result in an increase in cinema attendance. As a result, AMC shares soared 36% in premarket trade Monday.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Myopia Correcting 'Smart Glasses' From Japan To Be Sold in Asia
Can a pair of unique spectacles banish nearsightedness without surgical intervention? Japan's Kubota Pharmaceutical Holdings says its wearable device can do just that, and it plans to start releasing the product in Asia, where many people grapple with myopia. From a report: The device, which the company calls Kubota Glasses or smart glasses, is still being tested. It projects an image from the lens of the unit onto the wearer's retina to correct the refractive error that causes nearsightedness. Wearing the device 60 to 90 minutes a day corrects myopia according to the Japanese company. Kubota Pharmaceutical has not disclosed additional details on how the device works. Through further clinical trials, it is trying to determine how long the effect lasts after the user wears the device, and how many days in total the user must wear the device to achieve a permanent correction for nearsightedness. Myopia is often results from the cornea and the retina in the eye being too far apart. This inhibits the proper focusing of light as it enters the eye and causes distant objects to look blurry. Asian are prone to nearsightedness. Of people aged 20 and under, 96% of South Koreans, 95% of Japanese, 87% of Hong Kongers, 85% of Taiwanese and 82% of Singaporeans are affected by the condition, according to Kubota.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

;
Twitter Launches 'Birdwatch,' a Forum To Combat Misinformation
Twitter unveiled a feature Monday meant to bolster its efforts to combat misinformation and disinformation by tapping users in a fashion similar to Wikipedia to flag potentially misleading tweets. From a report: The new system allows users to discuss and provide context to tweets they believe are misleading or false. The project, titled Birdwatch, is a standalone section of Twitter that will at first only be available to a small set of users, largely on a first-come, first-served basis. Priority will not be provided to high-profile people or traditional fact-checkers, but users will have to use an account tied to a real phone number and email address. "Birdwatch allows people to identify information in Tweets they believe is misleading or false, and write notes that provide informative context," Twitter Vice President of Product Keith Coleman wrote in a press release. "We believe this approach has the potential to respond quickly when misleading information spreads, adding context that people trust and find valuable." While Birdwatch will initially be cordoned off to a separate section of Twitter, the company said "eventually we aim to make notes visible directly on Tweets for the global Twitter audience, when there is consensus from a broad and diverse set of contributors."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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GameStop Stock Jumps To New Record
GameStop shares surged to a record Monday, before pulling back and giving up much of their gains, the latest sign that frenetic trading by individual investors is leading to outsize stock-market moves. From a report: Class A shares of the Texas-based games retailer surged as much as 145% to $159.18 in morning trading, before reversing course and briefly turning lower. By midday, the stock was up 27% at $82.55, up more than 330% in 2021. The rapid swings prompted the New York Stock Exchange to briefly halt trading multiple times. The rally has been fueled by individual investors, encouraging each other on social media to pile into GameStop shares and options. The buying pressure has led money managers to switch out of substantial bets that the stock would fall, analysts said. This resulted in a short squeeze, in which rising prices prompt investors to buy back shares they had sold short to cut their losses, pushing the stock higher still. The company has become a high-profile battleground between bullish chatroom-driven day traders, especially on online platform Reddit, and hedge fund short sellers, who have been betting against the stock. GameStop has been the most-actively traded stock by customers of Fidelity Investments in recent sessions, with buy orders outnumbering sell orders by more than four-to-one, according to the brokerage. "We broke it. We broke GME at open," one Reddit user wrote Monday after the NYSE halted trading, referring to GameStop's stock-market ticker. The tussle over the company, with a modest market value of about $5 billion at Friday's close and four years of declining sales, exemplifies the increased sway of retail investors. Many poured into the market during the coronavirus lockdown, congregating on online platforms to swap trading ideas and to boast about winning bets. From last week: Gaming the System: How GameStop Stock Surged 1,500% In Nine Months.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Dutch COVID-19 Patient Data Sold on the Criminal Underground
Dutch police arrested two individuals late last week for allegedly selling data from the Dutch health ministry's COVID-19 systems on the criminal underground. From a report: The arrests came after an investigation by RTL Nieuws reporter Daniel Verlaan who discovered ads for Dutch citizen data online, advertised on instant messaging apps like Telegram, Snapchat, and Wickr. The ads consisted of photos of computer screens listing data of one or more Dutch citizens. The reporter said he tracked down the screengrabs to two IT systems used by the Dutch Municipal Health Service (GGD) -- namely CoronIT, which contains details about Dutch citizens who took a COVID-19 test, and HPzone Light, one of the DDG's contact-tracing systems. Verlaan said the data had been sold online for months for prices ranging from $36 to $60 per person. Buyers would receive details such as home addresses, emails, telephone numbers, dates of birth, and a person's BSN identifier (Dutch social security number).

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Simulating 800,000 Years of California Earthquake History To Pinpoint Risks
aarondubrow shares a report from the Texas Advanced Computing Center: A new study in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America presents results from a new earthquake simulator, RSQSim, that simulates hundreds of thousands of years of seismic history in California. Coupled with another code, CyberShake, the framework can calculate the amount of shaking that would occur for each quake. [The framework makes use of two of the most powerful supercomputers on the planet: Frontera, at the Texas Advanced Computing Center, and Summit, at Oak Ridge National Laboratory]. The new approach improves [seismologists'] ability to pinpoint how big an earthquake might occur at a given location, allowing building code developers, architects, and structural engineers to design more resilient buildings that can survive earthquakes at a specific site.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

;
Bad News For Land-Speed Record Fans As Bloodhound Goes Up For Sale
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Bad news, land-speed record fans: the project to set a new 1,000mph (1,609km/h) speed record is yet again in serious doubt. On Monday morning, the Bloodhound Land Speed Record Project revealed that it's looking for a new owner in order to try and break the existing record. Whoever steps in will need pretty deep pockets, too -- almost $11 million, in fact. Trying to set a new land-speed record is probably one of the harder activities one can engage in. You need to design and build a vehicle capable of going faster than 763mph (1,228km/h), twice within an hour. You need to find somewhere flat enough to run the car, presumably away from neighbors who might get annoyed by the window-shattering sonic booms. And while all that sounds like a serious challenge, perhaps the biggest problem is finding the money to make it all happen. [...] 2019 was a good year for Bloodhound. It found a new owner who saved it from life as a museum curio, and it even arrived in South Africa for the start of high-speed testing. Although it was only equipped with its Rolls Royce EJ200 jet engine, Bloodhound still reached 628mph (1,010kmh) that year. But going faster will require integrating Bloodhound's other propulsion source, a monopropellant rocket made by Nammo (a Norwegian aerospace and defense company). And the cost to do that and then conduct the test program to set a new record will require about $11 million, according to current owner Ian Warhurst. In a statement, he said: "When I committed to take the car high-speed testing in 2019, I allocated enough funding to achieve this goal on the basis that alternative funding would then allow us to continue to the record attempts. Along with many other things, the global pandemic wrecked this opportunity in 2020 which has left the project unfunded and delayed by a further 12 months. At this stage, in absence of further, immediate, funding, the only options remaining are to close down the program or put the project up for sale to allow me to pass on the baton and allow the team to continue the project."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

;
Moderna Vaccine Appears To Work Against Variants
Moderna's Covid vaccine appears to work against new, more infectious variants of the pandemic virus found in the UK and South Africa, say scientists from the US pharmaceutical company. The BBC reports: Early laboratory tests suggest antibodies triggered by the vaccine can recognize and fight the new variants. More studies are needed to confirm this is true for people who have been vaccinated. Current vaccines were designed around earlier variants, but scientists believe they should still work against the new ones, although perhaps not quite as well. There are already some early results that suggest the Pfizer vaccine protects against the new UK variant. For the Moderna study, researchers looked at blood samples taken from eight people who had received the recommended two doses of the Moderna vaccine. The findings are yet to be peer reviewed, but suggest immunity from the vaccine recognizes the new variants. Neutralizing antibodies, made by the body's immune system, stop the virus from entering cells. Blood samples exposed to the new variants appeared to have sufficient antibodies to achieve this neutralizing effect, although it was not as strong for the South Africa variant as for the UK one. Moderna says this could mean that protection against the South Africa variant might disappear more quickly. Moderna says it's investigating whether a redesigned vaccine would be more effective against the new variants. It's also testing whether giving a third booster shot might be beneficial.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

;
Vancouver Seaplane Company To Resume Test Flights With Electric Plane
A Vancouver seaplane company says its retro-fitted all electric airplane is set to take to the skies for more test flights this year, as it pushes forward with its plans to make commercial air travel cheaper and greener. CBC.ca reports: "There's no wavering in our confidence and determination and interest in getting this done," said Harbour Air CEO Greg McDougall. Founded by McDougall in 1982, Harbour Air uses small propeller planes to fly commercial flights between the Lower Mainland, Seattle, Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and Whistler. In the last few years it has turned its attention to becoming a leader in green urban mobility, which would do away with the need to burn fossil fuels for air travel. In December 2019, McDougall flew one of Harbour Air's planes, a more than 60-year-old DHC-2 de Havilland Beaver float plane, which had been outfitted with a Seattle-based company's electric propulsion system, for three minutes over Richmond B.C. Harbour Air joined with Seattle-based company MagniX in early 2019 to design the e-plane's engine, which was powered by NASA-approved lithium-ion batteries that were also used on the International Space Station. At the time, based on the success of that inaugural flight, McDougall had hoped to be using the plane to fly passengers on its routes, such as between downtown Vancouver and downtown Victoria, by the end of this year. Now, that timeline has been pushed back at least one year due to the pandemic.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

;
Google Says It May Have Found a Privacy-Friendly Substitute To Cookies
Google says its new machine learning algorithms could replace cookie-based ad targeting without invading your privacy. Axios reports: Google has been testing a new API (a software interface) called Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) that acts as an effective replacement signal for third-party cookies. The API exists as a browser extension within Google Chrome. The company said Monday that tests of FLoC to reach audiences show that advertisers can expect to see at least 95% of the conversions per dollar spent on ads when compared to cookie-based advertising. FLoC uses machine learning algorithms to analyze user data and then create a group of thousands of people based off of the sites that an individual visits. The data gathered locally from the browser is never shared. Instead, the data from the much wider cohort of thousands of people is shared, and that is then used to target ads. It's a big deal that Google says it's close to coming up with a technology that will replace cookies, because one of the toughest parts of phasing cookies out of internet ad-targeting is that there hasn't been a great solution for what to replace them with. [...] Google has other proposals to replace cookies in the works, so it's not guaranteed that FLoC will be the answer, but the company said it's highly encouraged by what it has seen so far.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

;
Hacker Leaks Data of 2.28 Million Dating Site Users
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: A well-known hacker has leaked the details of more than 2.28 million users registered on MeetMindful.com, a dating website founded in 2014, ZDNet has learned this week from a security researcher. The dating site's data has been shared as a free download on a publicly accessible hacking forum known for its trade in hacked databases. The leaked data, a 1.2 GB file, appears to be a dump of the site's users database. The content of this file includes a wealth of information that users provided when they set up profiles on the MeetMindful site and mobile apps. Some of the most sensitive data points included in the file include: Real names; Email addresses; City, state, and ZIP details; Body details; Dating preferences; Marital status; Birth dates; Latitude and longitude; IP addresses; Bcrypt-hashed account passwords; Facebook user IDs; and Facebook authentication tokens. Messages exchanged by users were not included in the leaked file; however, this does not make the entire incident less sensitive. The data leak, which is still available for download, was released by a threat actor who goes by the name of ShinyHunters. They also were responsible for leaking the details of millions of users registered on Teespring.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

;
Browser Makers Launch New Project For Writing Documentation For Web APIs
A coalition of tech companies announced today the launch of Open Web Docs, a new initiative to help write documentation for Web APIs, JavaScript, and other web tooling and platforms. From a report: The new project does not view itself as a replacement for MDN Web Docs, a website hosted by Mozilla, where all browser makers agreed to move the official Web API documentation back in October 2017, and stop developing their own, often diverging, documentation sites. Instead, in a press release and FAQ today, the Open Web Docs team said their role is to fund, coordinate, and contribute to MDN Docs going forward. The new initiative comes after Mozilla laid off 250 employees last summer, including many of its MDN Web Docs staff. Open Web Docs comes to fill this void and provide the labor force needed to continue updating the MDN Web Docs portal.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

;
Apple Watch Series 7 Rumored To Feature Blood Glucose Monitoring
According to Korea's ETNews, Apple is expected to feature blood glucose monitoring via an optical sensor in the Apple Watch Series 7. MacRumors reports: The report, which mainly focuses on the blood glucose capabilities of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, explains that Apple is intending to bring blood glucose monitoring to the upcoming Apple Watch Series 7 using a non-invasive optical sensor. Measuring blood glucose levels, also known as blood sugar levels, is vital to managing conditions such as diabetes. Normally, measuring blood glucose requires testing a drop of blood in a blood sugar meter or using an implanted continuous glucose monitor (CGM). The ability to observe any major increases or decreases in blood glucose may raise awareness of a potential health condition or simply help to improve a user's diet. Apple is said to have secured patents around blood glucose monitoring, and the company is now purportedly "focusing on securing reliability and stability prior to commercialization of the technology." The Apple-designed optical sensor is believed to be a skin-top continuous monitoring solution that does not require an implant. [...] The Apple Watch Series 7 is expected to arrive later this year, but there have been few rumors around what the new models may feature. While there have been reports of microLED displays and solid-state buttons with haptic feedback for the Apple Watch, these are not directly expected for the Apple Watch Series 7.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

;
Pyston 2.1 Is Blowing Past Python 3 Performance
Camel Pilot writes: Pyston 2.1, a closed-source but faster and highly-compatible implementation of the Python programming language, significantly outperforms Python 3 in a variety of benchmarks. All the system details and benchmarks in full can be found over on OpenBenchmarking.org.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

;
Renewable Energy Production Beat Fossil Fuels in Europe
Renewable energy became the biggest source of electricity in the European Union in 2020, beating fossil fuels for the first time. Germany and Spain also hit that milestone individually last year -- so did the UK, which officially left the EU in January 2020. From a report: Renewables powered 38 percent of electricity in the EU last year, according to a report released today by energy think tanks Ember and Agora Energiewende. That gives renewable energy a narrow lead over fossil fuel-fired generation, which accounted for 37 percent of Europe's electricity. The remaining quarter comes from nuclear energy. The rise of renewables is good news for the health of the planet. Still, renewable energy will need to grow at an even faster rate to stave off a future with more climate change-induced disasters. "Renewables overtaking fossils is an important milestone in Europe's clean energy transition. However, let's not be complacent," Patrick Graichen, director of Agora Energiewende, said in a statement. "Post-pandemic recovery [programs] need to go hand-in-hand with accelerated climate action."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

;
AMC Raises $917 Million To Weather 'Dark Coronavirus-Impacted Winter'
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Variety: AMC Theatres, the world's largest cinema chain, has raised $917 million in new equity and debt capital, the company said on Monday. "This increased liquidity should allow the company to make it through this dark coronavirus-impacted winter," the company said, adding that its "financial runway has been extended deep into 2021." AMC has raised the finances from Dec. 14, 2020. Of the $917 million, AMC has raised $506 million of equity, from the issuance of 164.7 million new common shares, along with the previously announced securing of $100 million of additional first-lien debt and the concurrent issuance of 22 million new common shares to convert $100 million of second-lien debt into equity. In addition, the company has executed commitment letters for $411 million of incremental debt capital in place through mid-2023, unless repaid before then, through the upsizing and refinancing of its European revolving credit facility. The chain says that it presumes that it will continue to make progress in its ongoing dialogue with theater landlords about the amounts and timing of owed theater lease payments, and is hopeful that the ongoing vaccination push will result in an increase in cinema attendance. As a result, AMC shares soared 36% in premarket trade Monday.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

;
Myopia Correcting 'Smart Glasses' From Japan To Be Sold in Asia
Can a pair of unique spectacles banish nearsightedness without surgical intervention? Japan's Kubota Pharmaceutical Holdings says its wearable device can do just that, and it plans to start releasing the product in Asia, where many people grapple with myopia. From a report: The device, which the company calls Kubota Glasses or smart glasses, is still being tested. It projects an image from the lens of the unit onto the wearer's retina to correct the refractive error that causes nearsightedness. Wearing the device 60 to 90 minutes a day corrects myopia according to the Japanese company. Kubota Pharmaceutical has not disclosed additional details on how the device works. Through further clinical trials, it is trying to determine how long the effect lasts after the user wears the device, and how many days in total the user must wear the device to achieve a permanent correction for nearsightedness. Myopia is often results from the cornea and the retina in the eye being too far apart. This inhibits the proper focusing of light as it enters the eye and causes distant objects to look blurry. Asian are prone to nearsightedness. Of people aged 20 and under, 96% of South Koreans, 95% of Japanese, 87% of Hong Kongers, 85% of Taiwanese and 82% of Singaporeans are affected by the condition, according to Kubota.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Twitter Launches 'Birdwatch,' a Forum To Combat Misinformation
Twitter unveiled a feature Monday meant to bolster its efforts to combat misinformation and disinformation by tapping users in a fashion similar to Wikipedia to flag potentially misleading tweets. From a report: The new system allows users to discuss and provide context to tweets they believe are misleading or false. The project, titled Birdwatch, is a standalone section of Twitter that will at first only be available to a small set of users, largely on a first-come, first-served basis. Priority will not be provided to high-profile people or traditional fact-checkers, but users will have to use an account tied to a real phone number and email address. "Birdwatch allows people to identify information in Tweets they believe is misleading or false, and write notes that provide informative context," Twitter Vice President of Product Keith Coleman wrote in a press release. "We believe this approach has the potential to respond quickly when misleading information spreads, adding context that people trust and find valuable." While Birdwatch will initially be cordoned off to a separate section of Twitter, the company said "eventually we aim to make notes visible directly on Tweets for the global Twitter audience, when there is consensus from a broad and diverse set of contributors."

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GameStop Stock Jumps To New Record
GameStop shares surged to a record Monday, before pulling back and giving up much of their gains, the latest sign that frenetic trading by individual investors is leading to outsize stock-market moves. From a report: Class A shares of the Texas-based games retailer surged as much as 145% to $159.18 in morning trading, before reversing course and briefly turning lower. By midday, the stock was up 27% at $82.55, up more than 330% in 2021. The rapid swings prompted the New York Stock Exchange to briefly halt trading multiple times. The rally has been fueled by individual investors, encouraging each other on social media to pile into GameStop shares and options. The buying pressure has led money managers to switch out of substantial bets that the stock would fall, analysts said. This resulted in a short squeeze, in which rising prices prompt investors to buy back shares they had sold short to cut their losses, pushing the stock higher still. The company has become a high-profile battleground between bullish chatroom-driven day traders, especially on online platform Reddit, and hedge fund short sellers, who have been betting against the stock. GameStop has been the most-actively traded stock by customers of Fidelity Investments in recent sessions, with buy orders outnumbering sell orders by more than four-to-one, according to the brokerage. "We broke it. We broke GME at open," one Reddit user wrote Monday after the NYSE halted trading, referring to GameStop's stock-market ticker. The tussle over the company, with a modest market value of about $5 billion at Friday's close and four years of declining sales, exemplifies the increased sway of retail investors. Many poured into the market during the coronavirus lockdown, congregating on online platforms to swap trading ideas and to boast about winning bets. From last week: Gaming the System: How GameStop Stock Surged 1,500% In Nine Months.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Dutch COVID-19 Patient Data Sold on the Criminal Underground
Dutch police arrested two individuals late last week for allegedly selling data from the Dutch health ministry's COVID-19 systems on the criminal underground. From a report: The arrests came after an investigation by RTL Nieuws reporter Daniel Verlaan who discovered ads for Dutch citizen data online, advertised on instant messaging apps like Telegram, Snapchat, and Wickr. The ads consisted of photos of computer screens listing data of one or more Dutch citizens. The reporter said he tracked down the screengrabs to two IT systems used by the Dutch Municipal Health Service (GGD) -- namely CoronIT, which contains details about Dutch citizens who took a COVID-19 test, and HPzone Light, one of the DDG's contact-tracing systems. Verlaan said the data had been sold online for months for prices ranging from $36 to $60 per person. Buyers would receive details such as home addresses, emails, telephone numbers, dates of birth, and a person's BSN identifier (Dutch social security number).

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Simulating 800,000 Years of California Earthquake History To Pinpoint Risks
aarondubrow shares a report from the Texas Advanced Computing Center: A new study in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America presents results from a new earthquake simulator, RSQSim, that simulates hundreds of thousands of years of seismic history in California. Coupled with another code, CyberShake, the framework can calculate the amount of shaking that would occur for each quake. [The framework makes use of two of the most powerful supercomputers on the planet: Frontera, at the Texas Advanced Computing Center, and Summit, at Oak Ridge National Laboratory]. The new approach improves [seismologists'] ability to pinpoint how big an earthquake might occur at a given location, allowing building code developers, architects, and structural engineers to design more resilient buildings that can survive earthquakes at a specific site.

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Bad News For Land-Speed Record Fans As Bloodhound Goes Up For Sale
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Bad news, land-speed record fans: the project to set a new 1,000mph (1,609km/h) speed record is yet again in serious doubt. On Monday morning, the Bloodhound Land Speed Record Project revealed that it's looking for a new owner in order to try and break the existing record. Whoever steps in will need pretty deep pockets, too -- almost $11 million, in fact. Trying to set a new land-speed record is probably one of the harder activities one can engage in. You need to design and build a vehicle capable of going faster than 763mph (1,228km/h), twice within an hour. You need to find somewhere flat enough to run the car, presumably away from neighbors who might get annoyed by the window-shattering sonic booms. And while all that sounds like a serious challenge, perhaps the biggest problem is finding the money to make it all happen. [...] 2019 was a good year for Bloodhound. It found a new owner who saved it from life as a museum curio, and it even arrived in South Africa for the start of high-speed testing. Although it was only equipped with its Rolls Royce EJ200 jet engine, Bloodhound still reached 628mph (1,010kmh) that year. But going faster will require integrating Bloodhound's other propulsion source, a monopropellant rocket made by Nammo (a Norwegian aerospace and defense company). And the cost to do that and then conduct the test program to set a new record will require about $11 million, according to current owner Ian Warhurst. In a statement, he said: "When I committed to take the car high-speed testing in 2019, I allocated enough funding to achieve this goal on the basis that alternative funding would then allow us to continue to the record attempts. Along with many other things, the global pandemic wrecked this opportunity in 2020 which has left the project unfunded and delayed by a further 12 months. At this stage, in absence of further, immediate, funding, the only options remaining are to close down the program or put the project up for sale to allow me to pass on the baton and allow the team to continue the project."

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Moderna Vaccine Appears To Work Against Variants
Moderna's Covid vaccine appears to work against new, more infectious variants of the pandemic virus found in the UK and South Africa, say scientists from the US pharmaceutical company. The BBC reports: Early laboratory tests suggest antibodies triggered by the vaccine can recognize and fight the new variants. More studies are needed to confirm this is true for people who have been vaccinated. Current vaccines were designed around earlier variants, but scientists believe they should still work against the new ones, although perhaps not quite as well. There are already some early results that suggest the Pfizer vaccine protects against the new UK variant. For the Moderna study, researchers looked at blood samples taken from eight people who had received the recommended two doses of the Moderna vaccine. The findings are yet to be peer reviewed, but suggest immunity from the vaccine recognizes the new variants. Neutralizing antibodies, made by the body's immune system, stop the virus from entering cells. Blood samples exposed to the new variants appeared to have sufficient antibodies to achieve this neutralizing effect, although it was not as strong for the South Africa variant as for the UK one. Moderna says this could mean that protection against the South Africa variant might disappear more quickly. Moderna says it's investigating whether a redesigned vaccine would be more effective against the new variants. It's also testing whether giving a third booster shot might be beneficial.

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Vancouver Seaplane Company To Resume Test Flights With Electric Plane
A Vancouver seaplane company says its retro-fitted all electric airplane is set to take to the skies for more test flights this year, as it pushes forward with its plans to make commercial air travel cheaper and greener. CBC.ca reports: "There's no wavering in our confidence and determination and interest in getting this done," said Harbour Air CEO Greg McDougall. Founded by McDougall in 1982, Harbour Air uses small propeller planes to fly commercial flights between the Lower Mainland, Seattle, Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and Whistler. In the last few years it has turned its attention to becoming a leader in green urban mobility, which would do away with the need to burn fossil fuels for air travel. In December 2019, McDougall flew one of Harbour Air's planes, a more than 60-year-old DHC-2 de Havilland Beaver float plane, which had been outfitted with a Seattle-based company's electric propulsion system, for three minutes over Richmond B.C. Harbour Air joined with Seattle-based company MagniX in early 2019 to design the e-plane's engine, which was powered by NASA-approved lithium-ion batteries that were also used on the International Space Station. At the time, based on the success of that inaugural flight, McDougall had hoped to be using the plane to fly passengers on its routes, such as between downtown Vancouver and downtown Victoria, by the end of this year. Now, that timeline has been pushed back at least one year due to the pandemic.

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Google Says It May Have Found a Privacy-Friendly Substitute To Cookies
Google says its new machine learning algorithms could replace cookie-based ad targeting without invading your privacy. Axios reports: Google has been testing a new API (a software interface) called Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) that acts as an effective replacement signal for third-party cookies. The API exists as a browser extension within Google Chrome. The company said Monday that tests of FLoC to reach audiences show that advertisers can expect to see at least 95% of the conversions per dollar spent on ads when compared to cookie-based advertising. FLoC uses machine learning algorithms to analyze user data and then create a group of thousands of people based off of the sites that an individual visits. The data gathered locally from the browser is never shared. Instead, the data from the much wider cohort of thousands of people is shared, and that is then used to target ads. It's a big deal that Google says it's close to coming up with a technology that will replace cookies, because one of the toughest parts of phasing cookies out of internet ad-targeting is that there hasn't been a great solution for what to replace them with. [...] Google has other proposals to replace cookies in the works, so it's not guaranteed that FLoC will be the answer, but the company said it's highly encouraged by what it has seen so far.

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Hacker Leaks Data of 2.28 Million Dating Site Users
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: A well-known hacker has leaked the details of more than 2.28 million users registered on MeetMindful.com, a dating website founded in 2014, ZDNet has learned this week from a security researcher. The dating site's data has been shared as a free download on a publicly accessible hacking forum known for its trade in hacked databases. The leaked data, a 1.2 GB file, appears to be a dump of the site's users database. The content of this file includes a wealth of information that users provided when they set up profiles on the MeetMindful site and mobile apps. Some of the most sensitive data points included in the file include: Real names; Email addresses; City, state, and ZIP details; Body details; Dating preferences; Marital status; Birth dates; Latitude and longitude; IP addresses; Bcrypt-hashed account passwords; Facebook user IDs; and Facebook authentication tokens. Messages exchanged by users were not included in the leaked file; however, this does not make the entire incident less sensitive. The data leak, which is still available for download, was released by a threat actor who goes by the name of ShinyHunters. They also were responsible for leaking the details of millions of users registered on Teespring.

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Browser Makers Launch New Project For Writing Documentation For Web APIs
A coalition of tech companies announced today the launch of Open Web Docs, a new initiative to help write documentation for Web APIs, JavaScript, and other web tooling and platforms. From a report: The new project does not view itself as a replacement for MDN Web Docs, a website hosted by Mozilla, where all browser makers agreed to move the official Web API documentation back in October 2017, and stop developing their own, often diverging, documentation sites. Instead, in a press release and FAQ today, the Open Web Docs team said their role is to fund, coordinate, and contribute to MDN Docs going forward. The new initiative comes after Mozilla laid off 250 employees last summer, including many of its MDN Web Docs staff. Open Web Docs comes to fill this void and provide the labor force needed to continue updating the MDN Web Docs portal.

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Apple Watch Series 7 Rumored To Feature Blood Glucose Monitoring
According to Korea's ETNews, Apple is expected to feature blood glucose monitoring via an optical sensor in the Apple Watch Series 7. MacRumors reports: The report, which mainly focuses on the blood glucose capabilities of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4, explains that Apple is intending to bring blood glucose monitoring to the upcoming Apple Watch Series 7 using a non-invasive optical sensor. Measuring blood glucose levels, also known as blood sugar levels, is vital to managing conditions such as diabetes. Normally, measuring blood glucose requires testing a drop of blood in a blood sugar meter or using an implanted continuous glucose monitor (CGM). The ability to observe any major increases or decreases in blood glucose may raise awareness of a potential health condition or simply help to improve a user's diet. Apple is said to have secured patents around blood glucose monitoring, and the company is now purportedly "focusing on securing reliability and stability prior to commercialization of the technology." The Apple-designed optical sensor is believed to be a skin-top continuous monitoring solution that does not require an implant. [...] The Apple Watch Series 7 is expected to arrive later this year, but there have been few rumors around what the new models may feature. While there have been reports of microLED displays and solid-state buttons with haptic feedback for the Apple Watch, these are not directly expected for the Apple Watch Series 7.

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Pyston 2.1 Is Blowing Past Python 3 Performance
Camel Pilot writes: Pyston 2.1, a closed-source but faster and highly-compatible implementation of the Python programming language, significantly outperforms Python 3 in a variety of benchmarks. All the system details and benchmarks in full can be found over on OpenBenchmarking.org.

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Renewable Energy Production Beat Fossil Fuels in Europe
Renewable energy became the biggest source of electricity in the European Union in 2020, beating fossil fuels for the first time. Germany and Spain also hit that milestone individually last year -- so did the UK, which officially left the EU in January 2020. From a report: Renewables powered 38 percent of electricity in the EU last year, according to a report released today by energy think tanks Ember and Agora Energiewende. That gives renewable energy a narrow lead over fossil fuel-fired generation, which accounted for 37 percent of Europe's electricity. The remaining quarter comes from nuclear energy. The rise of renewables is good news for the health of the planet. Still, renewable energy will need to grow at an even faster rate to stave off a future with more climate change-induced disasters. "Renewables overtaking fossils is an important milestone in Europe's clean energy transition. However, let's not be complacent," Patrick Graichen, director of Agora Energiewende, said in a statement. "Post-pandemic recovery [programs] need to go hand-in-hand with accelerated climate action."

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AMC Raises $917 Million To Weather 'Dark Coronavirus-Impacted Winter'
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Variety: AMC Theatres, the world's largest cinema chain, has raised $917 million in new equity and debt capital, the company said on Monday. "This increased liquidity should allow the company to make it through this dark coronavirus-impacted winter," the company said, adding that its "financial runway has been extended deep into 2021." AMC has raised the finances from Dec. 14, 2020. Of the $917 million, AMC has raised $506 million of equity, from the issuance of 164.7 million new common shares, along with the previously announced securing of $100 million of additional first-lien debt and the concurrent issuance of 22 million new common shares to convert $100 million of second-lien debt into equity. In addition, the company has executed commitment letters for $411 million of incremental debt capital in place through mid-2023, unless repaid before then, through the upsizing and refinancing of its European revolving credit facility. The chain says that it presumes that it will continue to make progress in its ongoing dialogue with theater landlords about the amounts and timing of owed theater lease payments, and is hopeful that the ongoing vaccination push will result in an increase in cinema attendance. As a result, AMC shares soared 36% in premarket trade Monday.

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Myopia Correcting 'Smart Glasses' From Japan To Be Sold in Asia
Can a pair of unique spectacles banish nearsightedness without surgical intervention? Japan's Kubota Pharmaceutical Holdings says its wearable device can do just that, and it plans to start releasing the product in Asia, where many people grapple with myopia. From a report: The device, which the company calls Kubota Glasses or smart glasses, is still being tested. It projects an image from the lens of the unit onto the wearer's retina to correct the refractive error that causes nearsightedness. Wearing the device 60 to 90 minutes a day corrects myopia according to the Japanese company. Kubota Pharmaceutical has not disclosed additional details on how the device works. Through further clinical trials, it is trying to determine how long the effect lasts after the user wears the device, and how many days in total the user must wear the device to achieve a permanent correction for nearsightedness. Myopia is often results from the cornea and the retina in the eye being too far apart. This inhibits the proper focusing of light as it enters the eye and causes distant objects to look blurry. Asian are prone to nearsightedness. Of people aged 20 and under, 96% of South Koreans, 95% of Japanese, 87% of Hong Kongers, 85% of Taiwanese and 82% of Singaporeans are affected by the condition, according to Kubota.

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Twitter Launches 'Birdwatch,' a Forum To Combat Misinformation
Twitter unveiled a feature Monday meant to bolster its efforts to combat misinformation and disinformation by tapping users in a fashion similar to Wikipedia to flag potentially misleading tweets. From a report: The new system allows users to discuss and provide context to tweets they believe are misleading or false. The project, titled Birdwatch, is a standalone section of Twitter that will at first only be available to a small set of users, largely on a first-come, first-served basis. Priority will not be provided to high-profile people or traditional fact-checkers, but users will have to use an account tied to a real phone number and email address. "Birdwatch allows people to identify information in Tweets they believe is misleading or false, and write notes that provide informative context," Twitter Vice President of Product Keith Coleman wrote in a press release. "We believe this approach has the potential to respond quickly when misleading information spreads, adding context that people trust and find valuable." While Birdwatch will initially be cordoned off to a separate section of Twitter, the company said "eventually we aim to make notes visible directly on Tweets for the global Twitter audience, when there is consensus from a broad and diverse set of contributors."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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GameStop Stock Jumps To New Record
GameStop shares surged to a record Monday, before pulling back and giving up much of their gains, the latest sign that frenetic trading by individual investors is leading to outsize stock-market moves. From a report: Class A shares of the Texas-based games retailer surged as much as 145% to $159.18 in morning trading, before reversing course and briefly turning lower. By midday, the stock was up 27% at $82.55, up more than 330% in 2021. The rapid swings prompted the New York Stock Exchange to briefly halt trading multiple times. The rally has been fueled by individual investors, encouraging each other on social media to pile into GameStop shares and options. The buying pressure has led money managers to switch out of substantial bets that the stock would fall, analysts said. This resulted in a short squeeze, in which rising prices prompt investors to buy back shares they had sold short to cut their losses, pushing the stock higher still. The company has become a high-profile battleground between bullish chatroom-driven day traders, especially on online platform Reddit, and hedge fund short sellers, who have been betting against the stock. GameStop has been the most-actively traded stock by customers of Fidelity Investments in recent sessions, with buy orders outnumbering sell orders by more than four-to-one, according to the brokerage. "We broke it. We broke GME at open," one Reddit user wrote Monday after the NYSE halted trading, referring to GameStop's stock-market ticker. The tussle over the company, with a modest market value of about $5 billion at Friday's close and four years of declining sales, exemplifies the increased sway of retail investors. Many poured into the market during the coronavirus lockdown, congregating on online platforms to swap trading ideas and to boast about winning bets. From last week: Gaming the System: How GameStop Stock Surged 1,500% In Nine Months.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Dutch COVID-19 Patient Data Sold on the Criminal Underground
Dutch police arrested two individuals late last week for allegedly selling data from the Dutch health ministry's COVID-19 systems on the criminal underground. From a report: The arrests came after an investigation by RTL Nieuws reporter Daniel Verlaan who discovered ads for Dutch citizen data online, advertised on instant messaging apps like Telegram, Snapchat, and Wickr. The ads consisted of photos of computer screens listing data of one or more Dutch citizens. The reporter said he tracked down the screengrabs to two IT systems used by the Dutch Municipal Health Service (GGD) -- namely CoronIT, which contains details about Dutch citizens who took a COVID-19 test, and HPzone Light, one of the DDG's contact-tracing systems. Verlaan said the data had been sold online for months for prices ranging from $36 to $60 per person. Buyers would receive details such as home addresses, emails, telephone numbers, dates of birth, and a person's BSN identifier (Dutch social security number).

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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