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Last updated 10 Dec, 06:08 AM

BBC News - Home

Israel-Gaza war: Half of Gaza's population is starving, warns UN - Conditions in Gaza have made the delivery of food almost impossible, the UN World Food Programme says.

Kuenssberg: Disunited Tory party puts Sunak under serious pressure - The PM's unique selling point - ending the chaos of the Truss and Johnson years - is taking a battering.

Gap between haves and have-nots widening, report warns - Report mentions stagnant wages and mental health issues, and says the gap widened in the pandemic.

Grand Theft Auto 6: Car-top twerking, flamingos in a crazy Miami - The Grand Theft Auto 6 trailer depicts the city's extremes - what does it tell us about US culture?

Royal Family members reveal family Christmas card images - Prince and Princess of Wales use a monochrome image, while King and Queen go for Coronation photo.

The Register

Hollywood plays unwitting Cameo in Kremlin plot to discredit Zelensky - Microsoft spots surge in pro-Russia exploits of video platform to spread propaganda An unknown pro-Russia influence group spent time recruiting unwitting Hollywood actors to assist in smear campaigns against Ukraine and its president Volodymyr Zelensky.…

To be, or not to be, in the office. Has returning to work stalled? - Register journos brew up on the future of hybrid in our latest Kettle Kettle Readers have been up in arms this week about a study by Stanford boffins suggesting that the return to the office trend is stalling, as workers rebel against demands that they take up the commute again.…

Google's Project Ellman: Merging photo and search data to create digital twin chatbot - 'This is a brainstorming concept a team is at the early stages of exploring' Google is reportedly toying with the idea of using its latest Gemini AI models to analyze images from Google Photos and text from Search to put together a life story for users.…

Competing Section 702 surveillance bills on collision path for US House floor - End-of-year deadline looms on US surveillance Two competing bills to reauthorize America's FISA Section 702 spying powers advanced in the House of Representatives committees this week, setting up Congress for a battle over warrantless surveillance before the law lapses in the New Year.…

Musk takes SEC 'Twitter sitter' consent decree appeal to US Supreme Court - Same old argument about free speech – let's see if it sticks this time Elon Musk's lawyers are again trying to get the world's richest man out of his "Twitter sitter" consent decree with the US Securities and Exchange Commission via an appeal to the US Supreme Court.…

New Scientist - News

Cannabis can relieve pain short-term, but we still don't know how - There is some evidence that cannabis is an effective short-term pain-reliever but long-term users may experience more pain

Having children earlier in life is genetically linked to dying younger - An analysis of over 270,000 people's genomes has found that people with genes linked to having children earlier in life are also more likely to die before the age of 76

Great Wall of China protected from erosion by coat of lichen and moss - Much of the Great Wall of China is covered in a biocrust of lichen, moss and cyanobacteria – it turns out this isn’t slowly destroying the wall, as was previously thought, but is slowing its degradation

Scientists have invented virtual reality goggles for mice - Studying the brain activity of a mouse while it scurries around different virtual reality scenarios typically requires cumbersome equipment, but the invention of miniature goggles may have solved that problem

This mathematical trick can help you imagine space-time - Visualising space-time can be a mind-melting exercise, but mathematician Manil Suri has a trick that makes it easier

Hacker News

Gooey: Turn almost any Python command line program into a full GUI application - Comments

A Matter of Millimeters: The story of Qantas flight 32 - Comments

Trippy – A Network Diagnostic Tool - Comments

Sony debuts first PS5 controller for disabled gamers - Comments

Cramming a tiny program into a tiny ELF file - Comments


Retro Computing Enthusiast Tries Restoring a 1986 DEC PDP-11 Minicomputer - More than half a century ago, Digital Equipment Corporation released the first of their 16-bit PDP-11 microcomputers, continuing the PDP-11 line until 1997. This week long-time Slashdot reader Shayde writes: I've been working on a 1986 PDP/11 that I basically got as a "barn find" from an estate sale a year ago. The project has absolutely had it's ups and downs, as the knowledgebase for these machines is aging quickly. I'm hoping to restore my own expertise with this build, but it's been challenging finding parts, technical details, and just plain information. I leaned pretty heavily on the folks at the Vintage Computing Federation, as well as connections I've made in the industry — and made some great progress... Check it out if you're keen on retrocomputing and old minicomputers and DEC gear. The entire saga is chronicled in three videos titled "Barn Find PDP 11/73 — Will it boot" — part 1, part 2, and this week's latest video. "What started as a curiosity has turned into an almost 10-month-long project," it concludes, creeping up hopefully on the possibility of an awe-struck glimpse at the PDP-11's boot sequence (over two minutes long) "So cool," responded Jeremiah Cornelius (Slashdot reader #137) in a comment on the submitted Slashdot story. "I have huge affection for these beasts. I cut my teeth in High School on a DEC PDP11/70 and AT&T SysV, and a little RSTS/E in 1979-82. We switched systems by loading different cakelid platters into the washing-machine drives, and toggling the magenta keys. "I've thought about the Blinkenlights 7/10 scale emulator, tha uses an RPi, but I envy you and hope you have fun." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Harvard Accused of Bowing to Meta By Ousted Disinformation Scholar in Whistleblower Complaint - The Washington Post reports: A prominent disinformation scholar has accused Harvard University of dismissing her to curry favor with Facebook and its current and former executives in violation of her right to free speech. Joan Donovan claimed in a filing with the Education Department and the Massachusetts attorney general that her superiors soured on her as Harvard was getting a record $500 million pledge from Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg's charitable arm. As research director of Harvard Kennedy School projects delving into mis- and disinformation on social media platforms, Donovan had raised millions in grants, testified before Congress and been a frequent commentator on television, often faulting internet companies for profiting from the spread of divisive falsehoods. Last year, the school's dean told her that he was winding down her main project and that she should stop fundraising for it. This year, the school eliminated her position. As one of the first researchers with access to "the Facebook papers" leaked by Frances Haugen, Donovan was asked to speak at a meeting of the Dean's Council, a group of the university's high-profile donors, remembers The Columbia Journalism Review : Elliot Schrage, then the vice president of communications and global policy for Meta, was also at the meeting. Donovan says that, after she brought up the Haugen leaks, Schrage became agitated and visibly angry, "rocking in his chair and waving his arms and trying to interrupt." During a Q&A session after her talk, Donovan says, Schrage reiterated a number of common Meta talking points, including the fact that disinformation is a fluid concept with no agreed-upon definition and that the company didn't want to be an "arbiter of truth." According to Donovan, Nancy Gibbs, Donovan's faculty advisor, was supportive after the incident. She says that they discussed how Schrage would likely try to pressure Douglas Elmendorf, the dean of the Kennedy School of Government (where the Shorenstein Center hosting Donovan's project is based) about the idea of creating a public archive of the documents... After Elmendorf called her in for a status meeting, Donovan claims that he told her she was not to raise any more money for her project; that she was forbidden to spend the money that she had raised (a total of twelve million dollars, she says); and that she couldn't hire any new staff. According to Donovan, Elmendorf told her that he wasn't going to allow any expenditure that increased her public profile, and used a number of Meta talking points in his assessment of her work... Donovan says she tried to move her work to the Berkman Klein Center at Harvard, but that the head of that center told her that they didn't have the "political capital" to bring on someone whom Elmendorf had "targeted"... Donovan told me that she believes the pressure to shut down her project is part of a broader pattern of influence in which Meta and other tech platforms have tried to make research into disinformation as difficult as possible... Donovan said she hopes that by blowing the whistle on Harvard, her case will be the "tip of the spear." Another interesting detail from the article: [Donovan] alleges that Meta pressured Elmendorf to act, noting that he is friends with Sheryl Sandberg, the company's chief operating officer. (Elmendorf was Sandberg's advisor when she studied at Harvard in the early nineties; he attended Sandberg's wedding in 2022, four days before moving to shut down Donovan's project. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Reports of Active Directory Vulnerability Allowing DNS Record Spoofs to Steal Secrets - Long-time Slashdot reader jd writes: The Register is reporting that Akamai security researchers have found a way to hack Active Directory and obtain the information stored within it. The researchers go on to say that Microsoft is NOT planning to fix the vulnerability. From the article: While the current report doesn't provide technical details or proof-of-concept exploits, Akamai has promised, in the near future, to publish code that implements these attacks called DDSpoof — short for DHCP DNS Spoof. 'We will show how unauthenticated attackers can collect necessary data from DHCP servers, identify vulnerable DNS records, overwrite them, and use that ability to compromise AD domains,' Akamai security researcher Ori David said. The DHCP attack research builds on earlier work by NETSPI's Kevin Roberton, who detailed ways to exploit flaws in DNS zones. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

How AlmaLinux's Community Supported RHEL Binary Compatibility - Linux magazine interviewed an AlmaLinux official about what happened after their distro pivoted to binary compatibility with Red Hat Enterprise Linux rather than being a downstream build: Linux Magazine: What prompted AlmaLinux to choose ABI over 1:1 compatibility with RHEL? benny Vasquez, chair of the AlmaLinux OS Foundation: The short answer is our users. Overwhelmingly, our users made it clear that they chose AlmaLinux for its ease of use, the security and stability that it provides, and the backing of a diverse group of sponsors. All of that together meant that we didn't need to lock ourselves into copying RHEL, and we could continue to provide what our users needed. Moreover, we needed to consider what our sponsors would be able to help us provide, and how we could best serve the downstream projects that now rely on AlmaLinux. The rippling effects of any decision that we make are beyond measure at this point, so we consider all aspects of our impact and then move forward with confidence and intention. LM: How did AlmaLinux's mission of improving the Linux ecosystem for everyone influence this decision? bV: We strongly believe that the soul of open source means working together, providing value where there is a gap, and helping each other solve problems. If we participate in an emotional reaction to a business's change, we will then be distracted and potentially hurt users and the Enterprise Linux ecosystem overall. By remaining focused on what is best (though not easiest), and adapting to the ecosystem as it is today, we will provide a better and more stable operating system. LM: What opportunities does the ABI route offer over 1:1 compatibility? bV: By liberating ourselves from the 1:1 promise, we have been able to do a few small things that have proven to be a good testing ground for what will come in the future. Specifically, we shipped a couple of smallish, but extremely important, security patches ahead of Red Hat, offering quicker security to the users of AlmaLinux... This also opens the door for other features and improvements that we could add back in or change, as our users need. We have already seen greater community involvement, especially around these ideas. LM: Does the ABI route pose any extra challenges? bV: The obvious one is that building from CentOS Stream sources takes more effort, but I think the more important challenge (and the one that will only be solved with consistency over time) is the one of proving that we will be able to deliver on the promise... We will continue on our goal of becoming the home for all users that need Enterprise Linux for free, but in the next year I expect that we will see an expansion in the number of kernels we support and see some new and exciting SIGs spun up around other features or use cases, as the community continues to standardize on how to achieve their goals collectively. Linux magazine notes that in August AlmaLinux added two new repositories, Testing and Synergy. "Testing, currently available for AlmaLinux 8 and 9, offers security updates before they are approved and implemented upstream. Synergy contains packages requested by community members that currently aren't available in RHEL or Extra Packages for Enterprise Linux (EPEL, a set of extra software packages maintained by the Fedora SIG that are not available in RHEL or CentOS Stream)." The article also points out that "On the upside, AlmaLinux can now include comments in their patches for greater transparency. Users will see where the patch comes from, which was not an option before." Vasquez tells the magazine, "I think folks will be seriously happy about what they find as we release the new versions, namely, the consistency, stability, and security that they've come to expect from us." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Reactions Continue to Viral Video that Led to Calls for College Presidents to Resign - After billionaire Bill Ackman demanded three college presidents "resign in disgrace," that post on X — excerpting their testimony before a U.S. Congressional committee — has now been viewed more than 104 million times, provoking a variety of reactions. Saturday afternoon, one of the three college presidents resigned — University of Pennsylvania president Liz Magill. Politico reports that the Republican-led Committee now "will be investigating Harvard University, MIT and the University of Pennsylvania after their institutions' leaders failed to sufficiently condemn student protests calling for 'Jewish genocide.'" The BBC reports a wealthy UPenn donor reportedly withdrew a stock grant worth $100 million. But after watching the entire Congressional hearing, New York Times opinion columnist Michelle Goldberg wrote that she'd seen a "more understandable" context: In the questioning before the now-infamous exchange, you can see the trap [Congresswoman Elise] Stefanik laid. "You understand that the use of the term 'intifada' in the context of the Israeli-Arab conflict is indeed a call for violent armed resistance against the state of Israel, including violence against civilians and the genocide of Jews. Are you aware of that?" she asked Claudine Gay of Harvard. Gay responded that such language was "abhorrent." Stefanik then badgered her to admit that students chanting about intifada were calling for genocide, and asked angrily whether that was against Harvard's code of conduct. "Will admissions offers be rescinded or any disciplinary action be taken against students or applicants who say, 'From the river to the sea' or 'intifada,' advocating for the murder of Jews?" Gay repeated that such "hateful, reckless, offensive speech is personally abhorrent to me," but said action would be taken only "when speech crosses into conduct." So later in the hearing, when Stefanik again started questioning Gay, Kornbluth and Magill about whether it was permissible for students to call for the genocide of the Jews, she was referring, it seemed clear, to common pro-Palestinian rhetoric and trying to get the university presidents to commit to disciplining those who use it. Doing so would be an egregious violation of free speech. After all, even if you're disgusted by slogans like "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free," their meaning is contested... Liberal blogger Josh Marshall argues that "While groups like Hamas certainly use the word [intifada] with a strong eliminationist meaning it is simply not the case that the term consistently or usually or mostly refers to genocide. It's just not. Stefanik's basic equation was and is simply false and the university presidents were maladroit enough to fall into her trap." The Wall Street Journal published an investigation the day after the hearing. A political science professor at the University of California, Berkeley hired a survey firm to poll 250 students across the U.S. from "a variety of backgrounds" — and the results were surprising: A Latino engineering student from a southern university reported "definitely" supporting "from the river to the sea" because "Palestinians and Israelis should live in two separate countries, side by side." Shown on a map of the region that a Palestinian state would stretch from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, leaving no room for Israel, he downgraded his enthusiasm for the mantra to "probably not." Of the 80 students who saw the map, 75% similarly changed their view... In all, after learning a handful of basic facts about the Middle East, 67.8% of students went from supporting "from the river to the sea" to rejecting the mantra. These students had never seen a map of the Mideast and knew little about the region's geography, history, or demography. More about the phrase from the Associated Press: Many Palestinian activists say it's a call for peace and equality after 75 years of Israeli statehood and decades-long, open-ended Israeli military rule over millions of Palestinians. Jews hear a clear demand for Israel's destruction... By 2012, it was clear that Hamas had claimed the slogan in its drive to claim land spanning Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank... The phrase also has roots in the Hamas charter... [Since 1997 the U.S. government has considered Hamas a terrorist organization.] "A Palestine between the river to the sea leaves not a single inch for Israel," read an open letter signed by 30 Jewish news outlets around the world and released on Wednesday... Last month, Vienna police banned a pro-Palestinian demonstration, citing the fact that the phrase "from the river to the sea" was mentioned in invitations and characterizing it as a call to violence. And in Britain, the Labour party issued a temporary punishment to a member of Parliament, Andy McDonald, for using the phrase during a rally at which he called for a stop to bombardment. As the controversy rages on, Ackman's X timeline now includes an official response reposted from a college that wasn't called to testify — Stanford University: In the context of the national discourse, Stanford unequivocally condemns calls for the genocide of Jews or any peoples. That statement would clearly violate Stanford's Fundamental Standard, the code of conduct for all students at the university. Ackman also retweeted this response from OpenAI CEO Sam Altman: for a long time i said that antisemitism, particularly on the american left, was not as bad as people claimed. i'd like to just state that i was totally wrong. i still don't understand it, really. or know what to do about it. but it is so fucked. Wednesday UPenn's president announced they'd immediately consider a new change in policy," in an X post viewed 38.7 million times: For decades under multiple Penn presidents and consistent with most universities, Penn's policies have been guided by the [U.S.] Constitution and the law. In today's world, where we are seeing signs of hate proliferating across our campus and our world in a way not seen in years, these policies need to be clarified and evaluated. Penn must initiate a serious and careful look at our policies, and provost Jackson and I will immediately convene a process to do so. As president, I'm committed to a safe, secure, and supportive environment so all members of our community can thrive. We can and we will get this right. Thank you. The next day the university's business school called on Magill to resign. And Saturday afternoon, Magill resigned. Read more of this story at Slashdot.