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Apple continues to encourage retail employees to work remotely; not confident U.S. offices will return to normal in 2020

iDownloadBlog - Mon, 07/13/2020 - 16:32

Apple does not expect to see the U.S. corporate offices return to normal workforce numbers before the end of 2020, while it's still encouraging retail employees to find work-from-home opportunities as retail stores are closed.
Categories: Geek

Top companies are calling on Trump to keep DACA in place following his threat to again end program

Daily Kos - Mon, 07/13/2020 - 16:30

More than 140 trade associations and top companies including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Apple, and General Motors are calling on Donald Trump to keep the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in place, following threats to yet again end the program after the Supreme Court’s ruling last month that he unlawfully terminated it in 2017.

“As large American employers and employer organizations, we strongly urge you to leave the DACA program in place,” they write, noting tens of thousands of beneficiaries who are critical in the novel coronavirus pandemic response. “Their work and commitment to our companies, their families and communities are critical to our nation’s strength, especially since there are tens of thousands of DACA recipients working as front line doctors and nurses and in other critical industries fighting COVID19.”

Categories: Politics

Cautionary COVID tales: Friends and families share deadly consequences of hoaxes and misinformation

Daily Kos - Mon, 07/13/2020 - 16:20

States across the country are experiencing an increase in new cases since reopening, and as a result, some states have paused their plans to reopen or have reissued restrictions in hopes of stopping the spread of the novel coronavirus. On Saturday, Florida shattered the U.S.’s single-day record of coronavirus cases. Despite this, counties in the state and elsewhere have been refusing to abide by health expert recommendations to wear face coverings or a mask.

Individuals nationwide gathering without social distancing and protective gear are only furthering the spread of the virus. The virus is far from over and many of those who once considered it a hoax are unfortunately dealing with the consequences. Various stories have appeared in the last few weeks sharing the stories of individuals who once denied the pandemic’s severity only to be infected by it. Family members and healthcare providers are hoping that sharing these stories will shed light on both the reality of the virus and the importance of following COVID-19 safety recommendations.

Categories: Politics

EXCLUSIVE: Lauded immigration attorney accused of advocating for ‘Family Separation 2.0’

Daily Kos - Mon, 07/13/2020 - 16:05

As the COVID-19 pandemic rips through immigrant detention centers, federal immigration authorities are presenting parents detained alongside their children with a “binary choice”: remain detained together where a deadly virus is spreading, or send their children away to live with sponsors—government-vetted relatives living in the U.S. Media outlets nationwide have blamed this latest “episode of cruelty” on the Trump administration, but evidence suggests that for several years, a similar binary option triggering family separation has been promoted by a lauded immigration attorney long responsible for representing thousands of detained children: Los Angeles, California-based lawyer Peter Schey.

Categories: Politics

Microsoft Flight Simulator Landing on Windows 10 Next Month

Slashdot - Mon, 07/13/2020 - 16:05
Fans of Microsoft's famous Flight Sim won't have long to wait until the latest incarnation arrives. From a report: This promises to be the most detailed and authentic version to date, with incredibly accurate landscapes that are ever-changing, coupled with highly detailed aircraft, covering everything from light planes to commercial jets. Microsoft Flight Simulator has been around since 1982 -- feeling old yet? -- and the new version will be available in three editions -- Standard ($59.99), Deluxe ($89.99) and Premium Deluxe ($119.99). The Deluxe edition comes with five extra planes and five extra international airports. The Premium Deluxe adds a further five planes and airports on top of that. Microsoft Flight Simulator launches on August 18, and you can pre-order on Windows 10 or pre-install with Xbox Game Pass for PC (Beta) today.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geek


Balloon Juice - Mon, 07/13/2020 - 15:57

I know I’m like a broken record, but goddamit New York did it right and everyone else screwed up.  California:

SACRAMENTO, Calif. —Places of worship, hair salons and other businesses are closing again after Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday rolled back the state’s reopening amid an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

Thirty counties the state is monitoring are now required to close indoor operations for the following:

  • Fitness centers
  • Places of worship
  • Offices for non-critical sectors
  • Personal care services
  • Hair salons and barbershops
  • Malls

Those 30 counties comprise an estimated 80% of California’s population. Among them are Sacramento, San Joaquin, Solano, Solano, Stanislaus, Sutter, Yolo and Yuba counties.

Additionally, Newsom is requiring all California counties to close indoor operations for the following sectors:

  • Restaurants
  • Wineries
  • Movie theaters, family entertainment
  • Zoos, museums
  • Cardrooms

Our re-opening here was much more fine-grained. Gyms are still closed, non-essential offices are partially closed and every office had to submit a re-opening plan. Hair salons just opened with PPE regs that make them look like half-empty operating theaters. Movie theaters – no fucking way! Cardrooms?!? Casinos in New York just announced massive layoffs because they’re all closed. Indoor dining just resumed here, and my wife and I visited a restaurant that would not seat indoors (not that we wanted to do that — we’re not sitting indoors in a restaurant for the foreseeable future). Malls are opening after upgrading filters in their A/C, which might or might not work, but we’re in Stage 4 at 1-2% transmission, so that might save our bacon if we don’t have superspreaders from other states visiting.

When California shut down, it was obvious to all paying attention that this disease loves the indoors, and that mask wearing is critical to the success of any containment plan. Mask wearing has been pretty good here — even so, Cuomo announced today that he added two new factors to re-opening: the progress of the virus across the nation, and local municipalities’ enforcement of mask and distancing regulations. Clearly, hindsight being 20/20, Newsom should have shut down any county where mask wearing wasn’t happening. And he should have phased the re-opening much more slowly. Because once you clamp back down like this, it just kills the economy, demoralizes people, and spreads fear.

The post Whiplash appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

Lunchtime Photo

Kevin Drum - Mon, 07/13/2020 - 15:30

This is yet another view of Slot Canyon X from my Arizona trip earlier this year. I wonder how they’ve weathered the COVID-19 shutdowns?

January 27, 2020 — Navajo Nation, Highway 98, Arizona
Categories: Politics

The Math of Social Distancing Is a Lesson in Geometry

Slashdot - Mon, 07/13/2020 - 15:28
Sphere packing might seem like a topic only a mathematician could love. Who else could get excited about finding the most efficient way to arrange circles in the plane, or spheres in space? But right now, millions of people all over the world are thinking about this very problem. From a report: Determining how to safely reopen buildings and public spaces under social distancing is in part an exercise in geometry: If each person must keep six feet away from everyone else, then figuring out how many people can sit in a classroom or a dining room is a question about packing non-overlapping circles into floor plans. Of course there's a lot more to confronting COVID than just this geometry problem. But circle and sphere packing plays a part, just as it does in modeling crystal structures in chemistry and abstract message spaces in information theory. It's a simple-sounding problem that's occupied some of history's greatest mathematicians, and exciting research is still happening today, particularly in higher dimensions. For example, mathematicians recently proved the best way to pack spheres into 8- and 24-dimensional space -- a technique essential for optimizing the error-correcting codes used in cell phones or for communication with space probes. So let's take a look at some of the surprising complications that arise when we try to pack space with our simplest shape. If your job involves packing oranges in a box or safely seating students under social distancing, the size and shape of your container is a crucial component of the problem. But for most mathematicians, the theory of sphere packing is about filling all of space. In two dimensions, this means covering the plane with same-size circles that don't overlap.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geek

Mike Huckabee Glorifies Trump For Saving Roger Stone: You'd Be 'Sentencing Him To Death'

Crooks and Liars - Mon, 07/13/2020 - 15:18

Donald Trump has taken a lot of criticism over his commutation of his pal, political confidant, and operative Roger Stone.

Stone was convicted on many charges including obstructing justice, lying to the FBI, and intimidating a witness. And he begged for a pardon while saying he had been loyal to Trump and keeping his mouth shut. This indicates Stone had a lot of dirt on Donald.

However, if you tuned in on today's Fox News' Outnumbered program with no Democratic voice on its panel, you would think Roger Stone was a poor, helpless victim who only committed a process crime, as if that is not a criminal act in itself. If not for the so-called "Deep State" Stone would never have been targeted, they insist.

Oh, and to at least one panelist, Trump was glorious for commuting Stone's prison sentence.

Harris Faulkner opened up and asked Mike Huckabee about Stone's get of jail card.

"Was this a great thing for the president to do given the timing? Commuting the sentence of Roger Stone? Or not?" she asked.

"I think it was a necessary thing," he replied. "To put Roger Stone in prison during a covert outbreak, basically sentencing him to death, they denied his motion to simply delay."

"This isn't a pardon. I think people need to keep in mind that he's not off the hook," he said.

Harris acknowledged that it's a commutation, but forgot to add that Stone wanted a commutation so he could try and erase the conviction altogether with an appeal.

And this: It's no jail time is what it was.

read more

Categories: Politics

Lawsuits over cruel ICE policy targeting international students keep climbing

Daily Kos - Mon, 07/13/2020 - 15:03

Nearly 60 universities including Stanford, Yale, and Princeton have filed a legal brief supporting a lawsuit filed by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) last week against the Trump administration over its dangerous attack on international students. “The brief cites examples of students affected by the guidance,” Bloomberg News reports. “They include a Rice University student working on Covid-19 research and developing low-cost ventilators who would be forced out of the country.”

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) policy that would force international students to either attend classes in person amid a pandemic or get out “forces international students to choose between pursuing their academic dreams or risking deportation, all the while throwing months of careful planning by colleges and universities into disarray,” attorney Ishan Bhabha said according to the report. The policy has been so reprehensible that advocates have reported at least eight lawsuits against it so far since ICE announced it a week ago.

Categories: Politics

Review: Doogee S95 Pro is a rugged, affordable & modular Android handset with triple cameras

iDownloadBlog - Mon, 07/13/2020 - 14:56

Today I’m testing the S95 Pro from Doogee, an impressive rugged Android smartphone that's also modular and features a 48-megapixel triple camera, a long-lasting 5,150mAh battery, a fast CPU and external accessories like a Hi-Fi speaker and a battery pack.
Categories: Geek

Google Search Upgrades Make It Harder for Websites to Win Traffic

Slashdot - Mon, 07/13/2020 - 14:50
Type a query into the Google search bar on a smartphone and there's a good chance the results will be dominated by advertising. From a report: That stems from a decision in 2015 to test a fourth ad, rather than three, at the top of search results. Some employees opposed the move at the time, saying it could reduce the quality of Google's responses, according to people familiar with the deliberations. But the company brushed aside those concerns because it was under pressure to meet Wall Street growth expectations, one of the people said. By 2016, the extra marketing slot was a regular feature. It's one of the many ways the search leader has altered how it presents results since its early days. Another example is the pre-packaged information Google often displays in a box at the top of a page, rather than sending users to other websites. Phased in gradually over years, changes like these have gone largely unnoticed by legions of consumers who regularly turn to Google to call up information and hunt for bargains. The company says these changes support its mission to organize the world's information and make it useful and accessible to everyone. But to many web publishers and other businesses that have historically relied on the internet giant to send users to their sites, Google's subtle tweaks have siphoned off vital traffic and made it harder -- and costlier -- to reach customers online.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geek

Anti-Mask Covidiots Protest In Florida Grilled Cheese Bar

Crooks and Liars - Mon, 07/13/2020 - 14:47

Since consequences for these sort of selfish actions are rarely enforced, it's probably safe to assume we'll see more of such protests, not less.

Source: Reuters

Anti-mask activists organized a protest on Saturday at a grilled cheese restaurant and bar in Windermere, Florida, which is in Orange County about 12 miles (19 km) from Walt Disney World.

The restaurant, 33 & Melt, has become a focal point of tension after owner Carrie Hudson said she was not requiring customers to wear masks. County officials have mandated the use of masks in public since June 20.

During Saturday’s protest, no customers wore face coverings inside the restaurant. Agents from the state’s Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco arrived during the rally and served Hudson with a warning, according to a video.

“This is a virus that is very well contained,” said one of the demonstrators, anti-mask activist Tara Hill. “Everyone is responsible for their own health care decisions … We want our choices respected as well.”

In addition to a record 15,000 new cases on Sunday, more than four dozen hospitals in Florida reported that their intensive care units are full due to a surge in COVID-19 patients.

read more

Categories: Politics

We Need a National Plan

Balloon Juice - Mon, 07/13/2020 - 14:40

I reflexively dislike sentences that begin, “The Democrats need to…” because what follows is often nonsense. Maybe this is too, but given our increasingly urgent situation with the pandemic, perhaps the Democrats need to release a comprehensive national plan to fix it. Now.

Politically, that’s almost certainly a bad idea — Trump and his Republican enablers are stomping their own dicks in golf spikes daily, so why interrupt them? Any realistic plan to get the virus under control will require pain, which means it will present copious opportunities for demagoguery. So politically, it’s probably best to let Republicans self destruct as denial blows up in their faces.

But politics aside, can we afford to wait until Trump is defeated and Congress turns over to fully address the scope of this problem? Don’t ordinary people — who are about to get increasingly desperate as housing, food and education insecurity rise — need to hear the straight dope on what it will take to tamp this down?

Biden has a plan, and it’s a good one within the confines of a presidential campaign. But it assumes the country will be largely salvageable after six more months of this dystopian shit-show. I don’t know about y’all, but every day, I grow less confident of that.

Maybe the thing to do is to level with people. I don’t just mean Joe Biden as the party’s presidential nominee but the Democrats as the opposition party at every level — starting with the schools issue since Trump helpfully raised it and back-to-school time is filling parents with fresh dread on a number of levels. Here’s an outline:

  1. We CAN and SHOULD reopen schools around Labor Day
  2. The only way to do it safely is to get the virus under control right now
  3. That will require another 3-week shutdown followed by phased reopening using scientific data to guide policy (since Trump squandered the gains of the original, piecemeal state shutdowns by bullying governors into prematurely reopening states)
  4. Congress must provide another — more generous — round of stimulus to families and businesses, plus fund local governments and schools, to get through this hardship
  5. A massive mobilization of people and materials must take place now so that proper testing, tracking and tracing assets are in place for reopening schools and businesses to avoid repeating the Republicans’ failed spring strategy

Democrats at various levels have said all or some of this, so maybe we can reach a broad consensus on this or a similar plan. None of it will happen in the short term because Trump is the POTUS, Mitch McConnell runs the Senate and between 27% and 40% of our fellow citizens are morons.

But my sense is the majority — the real “Silent Majority,” as opposed to the 1968 fantasy bloc Trump keeps tweet-screaming about — is starting to understand that it’s going to take something this drastic to get out of the fix we’re in. They’re looking for answers.

We can’t go on ping-ponging between half-assed responses and denial, not unless we want to experience Great Depression II and massively fail a generation of children. And while Democrats don’t have the power to enact a national plan, they have a platform to tell people the truth — with one voice — about what it’s going to take to end this nightmare and get on with life as every other industrialized country on earth has done or is doing.

Maybe my perspective is off because I’m sitting in the most failed of the failed states right now (12K new infections announced today after yesterday’s record-breaking 15K — and that’s with the books cooked!), but this sure seems like an existential crisis to me. It’s all well and good for Governor Cuomo to say he’ll quarantine visitors from Florida, but how does he enforce that without throwing up roadblocks at state borders?

This thing is bigger than any single campaign, so the response has to be bigger too. We tried Trump’s “let’s pretend it will go away” plan. It failed. It’s going to take a national mobilization on the order of WWII to tamp this virus down to levels where it can be managed. Democrats can’t do that without power, but we can build consensus now for what must eventually be done, and that’s a start.

The post We Need a National Plan appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

Donald Trump electorally broke the GOP

Daily Kos - Mon, 07/13/2020 - 14:34

Ideologically, the GOP isn’t broken. Today’s Republican Party is the honest representation of everything its ideology celebrated—government so small you could drown it in a bathtub, unable to respond to a global mass-death pandemic. Racism so central to its core, that a key Trump reelection plank is defending the confederacyAn utter disdain for science and experts that we are the global leaders in mismanaging the coronavirus pandemic, and have lost over 130,000 people (and counting) as a result. 

But electorally? Donald Trump has been the worst thing to happen to the Republican Party since Richard Nixon. 

Categories: Politics

Impacted by ‘batterygate’? You can now file a claim to get your $25 settlement

iDownloadBlog - Mon, 07/13/2020 - 14:33

iPhone battery replacement

Eligible iPhone owners impacted by the battery-throttling issues in older models can now submit claims to get up to $25 from Apple’s settlement.
Categories: Geek

COVID-19 relief PPP loan fund hasn't done the job. It's time to just give everyone money

Daily Kos - Mon, 07/13/2020 - 14:28

Since March 1, 66,000 or so businesses in the U.S. have permanently closed, according to data from Yelp. And in the last two weeks of June, those permanent closures were happening at a higher rate than in the previous three months. Harvard researchers think it's even worse than that, estimating about 110,000 business had folded by early May. It's clear that what Congress has done so far to keep businesses afloat, largely the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) in the March CARES Act relief bill, is not working across the board. (Disclosure: Kos Media received a Paycheck Protection Program loan.)

Restaurants and retail businesses, led by beauty supply stores, have been hit the hardest. Where the government could have stepped in by subsidizing payrolls to make sure that businesses could stay solvent for the duration and people wouldn't feel forced by imminent financial ruin to prematurely reopen, it didn't. It did create a cumbersome loan program with confusing rules that even the banks, which have made billions off of the loans, have had difficulty navigating. Many in the banking community are advising that PPP be scrapped in favor of straight-up grants.

Categories: Politics

Despite corporate messaging in support of Black Lives Matter, companies are banning ads in stories

Daily Kos - Mon, 07/13/2020 - 14:28

As the Black Lives Matter movement and related concerns make headlines around the world, and while corporations make mostly superficial statements of support for Black communities in the United States, corporations are actually not putting their money where their mouths are. In fact, corporations like Target and Viacom seem to be betting against the journalism that uncovers racial injustice across our country.

The Wall Street Journal reports that news outlets like Vice Media and others saw advertisement sales drop dramatically, even as more and more readers came to their site. The reason? “Blocklists.” According to the WSJ, Target Corp. told online publishers not to put their ads in articles about Black Lives Matter by adding search terms surrounding police brutality, murder, and racial injustice stories to “blocklists.” Names like “Breonna Taylor,” “George Floyd,” and even the term “protests” were added to corporate ad sales blocklists, meaning news outlets covering Black Lives Matter topics lost revenue—even as more people were engaging with their journalism.

Categories: Politics

Make that 20,000 lies on Trump's unending bender of an effort to rewrite reality

Daily Kos - Mon, 07/13/2020 - 14:26

It's fair to say at this point that Donald Trump isn't living in the real world. His mind is so overrun with conspiracy theories, half-baked truths, and utter B.S. that he has now spewed 20,000 verifiable lies, according to The Washington Post.

Like anything, practice makes perfect, and Trump's rate of lying is nearly double what it was in the first couple years of his presidency. The Post's calculations show that while Trump was lying an average of 12 times a day in the first 827 days of his presidency, he has averaged closer to 23 lies a day in the last 14 months. 

Categories: Politics

How Bad Is Facebook’s Civil Rights Record?

Kevin Drum - Mon, 07/13/2020 - 14:17

Facebook recently released a civil rights audit that’s been two years in the making. Kara Swisher describes it:

Facebook actually got an F, too, this week in an independent report that the company had commissioned about itself. The report decried Facebook’s decisions about how to protect its users from discriminatory content, including in ads….Sadly, the 89-page report was not much of a surprise to most critics of the company, which has been slow-walking its responsibility over hate speech and a range of other toxic waste on its platform since, well, always.

This is a columnist expressing an opinion, but it’s pretty typical of the news stories that covered the audit. That got me curious, so I read the report. You would never guess from reading the almost universally negative coverage of the audit that it spends three pages at the very beginning outlining all the things that Facebook has done well:

  1. Reaching a historic civil rights settlement in March 2019
  2. Expanding their voter suppression policies
  3. Creating a robust census interference policy
  4. Taking steps to build greater civil rights awareness and accountability
  5. Improved Appeals and Penalties process
  6. More frequent consultations with civil rights leaders
  7. Changing various content moderation practices
  8. Taking meaningful steps to create a more diverse and inclusive senior leadership team and culture
  9. Investing in diverse businesses and vendors
  10. Investing in a dedicated team to focus on studying responsible Artificial Intelligence methodologies
  11. Implementing significant changes to privacy policies and systems

You can read the report for more details, but these weren’t half-hearted endorsements. The auditors genuinely believed they represented significant progress. They were followed by a few items that Facebook could do better on, most of which were things Facebook was already doing, but needed to do better.

Overall, then, it seemed like the audit was at least moderately positive. So why the intensely negative press? Because of this:

Facebook’s decisions in May of 2020 to let stand on three posts by President Trump, have caused considerable alarm for the Auditors and the civil rights community. One post allowed the propagation of hate/violent speech and two facilitated voter suppression….While these decisions were made ultimately at the highest level, we believe civil rights expertise was not sought and applied to the degree it should have been and the resulting decisions were devastating. Our fear was (and continues to be) that these decisions establish terrible precedent for others to emulate.

The Auditors were not alone. The company’s decisions elicited uproar from civil rights leaders, elected officials and former and current staff of the company, forcing urgent dialogues within Facebook. Some civil rights groups are so frustrated that Facebook permitted these Trump posts (among other important issues such as removing hate speech), that they have organized in an effort to enlist advertisers to boycott Facebook. Worse, some civil rights groups have, at this writing, threatened to walk away from future meetings with Facebook.

Facebook has taken the position that posts from the president of the United States are, by definition, something that citizens have a strong interest in seeing without mediation. After all, if we’re going to vote for someone, we need to know what they think. Facebook has taken a similar stance on posts by other politicians.

The civil rights community, by contrast, takes the position that any post containing bad information about voting should be deleted, no matter who put it up. The president should be treated the same as anyone else.

Does it really make sense that a generally positive report should be treated instead as a huge indictment over this one disagreement? Especially since this disagreement strikes me as a very close call.¹ Why would three posts from Donald Trump, all by themselves, cause civil rights groups to threaten a boycott of future meetings with Facebook? Especially when their criticisms seem to have borne a fair amount of fruit so far?

And why would the news media play along with this? No fair reading of the audit would call it anything other than broadly, but not exclusively, positive. I’m no fan of Facebook generally, but in this case it sure seems like they deserve better press than they got. What am I missing?

For more on Facebook and Trump, Ali Breland has you covered here. For more on Facebook’s Oversight Board in general, Ali and Rebecca Leber have the story here.

¹This doesn’t really matter, but I tentatively think Facebook made the right decision. I don’t especially want them to be the arbitrator of what I’m allowed to see from the president and what I’m not.

Categories: Politics