Silicon Valley & Technology
0 Comments

YouTube to Block Comments on Most Videos Showing Minors

YouTube said Thursday it will disable user comments on a broad array of videos featuring children to thwart “predatory behavior” after revelations about a glitch exploited for sharing of child pornography.

The Google-owned video sharing service announced further steps to crack down on inappropriate comments a week after an investigation showing how comments and connections on child porn were being displayed alongside innocuous videos.

“We recognize that comments are a core part of the YouTube experience and how you connect with and grow your audience,” YouTube said in a posted message to creators.

“At the same time, the important steps we’re sharing today are critical for keeping young people safe.”

YouTube said that during the past week it has suspended comments on tens of millions of videos to prevent users from exploiting of the software glitch for nefarious purposes.

“These efforts are focused on videos featuring young minors and we will continue to identify videos at risk over the next few months,” YouTube said.

“Over the next few months, we will be broadening this action to suspend comments on videos featuring young minors and videos featuring older minors that could be at risk of attracting predatory behavior.”

A small number of video creators will be allowed to keep comments enabled, but will be required to carefully moderate commentary and to deploy software tools provided by YouTube, according to Google.

YouTube accelerated the release of an improved “classifier” that it said will detect and remove twice the number of policy-breaking comments by individuals.

‘Wormhole’

A YouTube creator last week revealed what he called a “wormhole” that allowed comments and connections on child porn alongside videos.

Shortly thereafter, YouTube deleted many comments and blocked some accounts and channels showing inappropriate comments.

Matt Watson, a YouTube creator with some 26,000 subscribers, revealed the workings of what he termed a “wormhole” into a pedophile ring that allowed users to trade social media contacts and links to child porn in YouTube comments.

The post by Watson sparked a series of news reports and boycotts of YouTube ads from major firms.

The incident raised fears of a fresh “brand safety” crisis for YouTube, which lost advertisers last year following revelations that messages appeared on channels promoting conspiracy theories, white nationalism and other objectionable content.

your ad here
Arts & Entertainment
0 Comments

Musical Virtuoso Previn Dies at 89 

Tributes poured in Thursday for Andre Previn, the multifaceted artist renowned for his mastery of classical music as well as jazz, who has died at age 89. 

 

The prolific German-American musician with four Oscars, 10 Grammys and a coveted Kennedy Center honor was known for his broad repertoire, working as a jazz pianist, film composer, principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra and music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. 

 

“We are deeply saddened to hear of the death this morning of our Conductor Emeritus Andre Previn,” the London Symphony Orchestra said in a statement. “He will be hugely missed by everyone at the LSO and remembered with great affection. 

 

“May he always play all the right notes in the right order.” 

 

Studies began at age 6

Born in Berlin on April 6, 1929, Previn’s father enrolled him at the German capital’s Conservatory of Music at age 6 upon realizing his son had perfect pitch. 

 

The family fled Nazi Germany in 1939, moving to Los Angeles, where Previn’s great-uncle was the music director for Universal Studios. 

 

An accomplished jazz pianist, he began working at MGM in 1946 while still in high school, launching an illustrious career in film composing that won him four Academy Awards for his work on films, including 1964’s My Fair Lady. 

 

But he left the studio in the 1960s to focus on classical music; in addition to the L.A. Philharmonic he served as music director of the Houston and Pittsburgh symphonies, and frequently guest-conducted worldwide. 

 

His mercurial tastes for music also applied to women: Previn married five times, most famously to actress Mia Farrow, with whom he had three biological children.  

 

He also adopted three more children with Farrow, including a daughter Soon-Yi, who married film director Woody Allen in 1997. The marriage resulted in a public feud with Farrow, who had had a long relationship with Allen. 

 

“See you in the Morning beloved Friend,” tweeted Farrow, who posted several photos of her and Previn. “May you rest in glorious symphonies.”

your ad here
Economy & business
0 Comments

US Craft Marketplace Makes Plans to Go Green by Offsetting Emissions

Online crafts retailer Etsy Inc will go green by offsetting planet-warming carbon emissions from its shipping activities, the U.S. company said Wednesday, joining a host of companies making public moves to battle climate change.

Etsy will buy clean energy certificates supporting tree conservation in the United States, wind and solar power in India and clean automotive technology, it said.

The online marketplace for buying and selling handmade and vintage goods said its initiative is the first time a global e-commerce company has made such a move.

“Fast, free shipping ultimately comes at a cost to our planet,” wrote Josh Silverman, chief executive officer of the New York-based company in a blog on the company’s website.

The certificates are a way for companies to offset the amount of carbon dioxide they produce by paying for projects that support clean development.

The 13-year-old Etsy said its greenhouse gas emissions from shipping in 2018 totaled about 135,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, similar to those of 29,000 cars in a year.

About 55,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent are released each day from the delivery of all packages ordered from online retailers in the United States alone, it said.

Budweiser, Amazon.com

Last month, at the U.S. Super Bowl championship game, giant beer maker Budweiser helped purchase clean energy certificates to offset greenhouse gas emissions linked to fans’ travel and the host city of Atlanta.

More than 100 U.S. companies have committed to setting emission-reduction targets that seek to limit rising temperature to 2 degrees Celsius as part of a United Nations-backed initiative, said Sabrina Helm, who heads the Consumers, Environment & Sustainability Initiative, a research group at the University of Arizona.

Online retailers have largely been absent from those efforts, and Etsy’s move sends a “very important signal,” she said.

“A lot of online retailers are not particularly transparent in what they do in terms of sustainability,” she told Reuters.

Last week, online retail giant Amazon.com Inc said it planned to make its carbon footprint public for the first time this year.

your ad here
Arts & Entertainment
0 Comments

Lady Gaga: Bradley Cooper Duet Was Acting, Not Love

It was acting, not love, when Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper sang a duet Sunday at the 91st Academy Awards.

 

Gaga discussed the emotional performance of “Shallow” from their film “A Star Is Born” during an appearance Wednesday on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live .” The duet led online posters to say the stars are in love.

 

The artist rolled her eyes and called social media “the toilet of the internet,” saying it has hurt pop culture.

 

Gaga said, “Yes, people saw love and guess what, that’s what we wanted you to see.”

 

Gaga says it was a love song in a love story and they had “worked all week on that performance.”

 

She said, “I guess we did a good job. Fooled ya!”

 

Gaga brought her Oscar for “Shallow” to the show.

 

 

your ad here
Economy & business
0 Comments

WTO Rules China Over-Subsidized Farmers

The United States won a World Trade Organization ruling Thursday that China subsidized its wheat and rice producers too much in recent years.

The WTO in Geneva agreed with the U.S. position that Beijing paid its farmers excessive amounts for growing wheat, Indica rice and Japonica rice from 2012 to 2015, but said the dispute over a corn subsidy had already expired.

The ruling came in a U.S. complaint filed in 2016 during the final months of the last U.S. administration of former president Barack Obama.

The decision can be appealed, but current U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer praised the ruling.

“China’s excessive support limits opportunities for U.S. farmers to export their world-class products to China,” Lighthizer said in a statement. “We expect China to quickly come into compliance with its WTO obligations.”

The U.S. claimed that China paid its farmers nearly $100 billion more than WTO rules allow, creating an incentive to grow more wheat and rice, thus undercutting global prices for the grains.

The ruling could have ramifications for India, which has calculated its price supports in a similar way as China.

The WTO decision comes amid intense trade talks between Washington and Beijing, with President Donald Trump expressing optimism a deal can be reached.

During a news conference in Hanoi after the abrupt end of his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Trump said, “I think we have a very good chance. Their (economic growth) numbers are down, but I don’t want that.  I want (China) to do great. But we’ve been losing anywhere from $300 to $500 billion dollars a year with China for many, many years. And again, like other things, many presidents should have done this before me. And nobody did. So, we’re doing it.”

The most recent U.S. statistics show China last year had a $382 billion trade surplus in deals with the United States through November. Trump is trying to alter trade terms between the two countries to end what the United States, Japan and European countries contend are China’s unfair trade practices, including state intervention in markets, subsidies of some industries and theft of foreign technology.

But Lighthizer on Wednesday told a congressional panel in Washington, a new deal is not close to being completed.

“Much still needs to be done before an agreement can be reached,” he said. “If we can complete this effort, and again I say if, and if we can reach a resolution on the issue of enforceability, we might have an agreement that enables us to turn the corner in our relationship with China.”

The United States and China, the world’s two biggest economies, have been negotiating for months on a new agreement, even as they have imposed hefty new tariffs on billions of dollars of each other’s exports.

Lighthizer said the countries’ negotiators, who have been meeting in Washington and Beijing, “are making real progress.”

Trump cited that progress on Sunday in postponing what would have been a sharp increase in U.S. duties on $200 billion in Chinese imports that would have taken effect Friday.

China has offered to increase its purchase of American farm products and energy as part of a new trade pact.

 

your ad here
Science & Health
0 Comments

Swiss Study Shows Language Learning During Sleep

A new study suggests you can learn language while you sleep.

Researchers from Switzerland’s University of Bern say they discovered people were able to learn new language words during deep levels of sleep. Results of the study that recently appeared in the publication Current Biology and other studies suggest the same findings.

The research group was led by Katharina Henke, a professor at the University of Bern and founder of the school’s Center for Cognition, Learning and Memory. The group carried out experiments on a group of young German-speaking men and women.

During normal sleep, human brain cells are alternately active and inactive. The Swiss experiments centered on periods of slow-wave peaks or deep sleep called “up-states,” which the researchers say are the best moments for sleep learning.  

Researchers observed individuals in a controlled environment and recorded brain activity as pairs of words were played for the study subjects. One word in the pair was a real German word. The other was a made-up foreign word.

Each word pair was played four times with the order changed each time. The goal was to create a lasting memory link between the false word and the German word that individuals could identify when awake.  

When the subject woke, they were presented with the false language words – both by sight and sound. They were tested on the false words played during sleep.             

During this part of the experiment, some subjects had their brain activity recorded by magnetic imaging technology to measure brain activity when subjects were answering questions.

Results of the study found that a majority of subjects gave more correct answers about the sleep-learned words than would be expected if they had only guessed. Researchers said memory was best for word pairs presented during slow-wave peaks during sleep.

The researchers say more study is needed to support their findings. However, the experiments provide new evidence that memories can be formed and vocabulary learning can take place in both conscious and unconscious states.

 

your ad here
Silicon Valley & Technology
0 Comments

Thai Lawmakers Approve Controversial Cybersecurity Act

Thailand’s legislature has passed a cybersecurity bill that would allow authorities access to people’s personal information without a court order.

The Cybersecurity Act addresses computer hacking crimes, but activists fear it will allow the government sweeping access to people’s personal information.

The National Legislative Assembly, which passed the bill in its final reading Thursday by a vote of 133-0, was appointed by the junta that came to power after a 2014 coup. It becomes law when published in the Royal Gazette.

The cybersecurity bill allows state officials to seize, search, infiltrate, and make copies of computers, computer systems and information in computers without a court warrant if an appointed committee sees it as a high-level security threat, and relevant courts can later be informed of such actions.

your ad here
Economy & business
0 Comments

US Economy Grew at 2.6 Percent Rate in Fourth Quarter

The U.S. economy slowed in the final three months of last year to an annual growth rate of 2.6 percent, the slowest pace since the beginning of 2018, as various factors including the government shutdown took a toll on growth. Economists believe growth has slowed even more in the current quarter.

The Commerce Department says growth in the gross domestic product in the October-December quarter was down from a 3.4 percent gain in the third quarter. The government says that slower consumer spending was the biggest factor in the slowdown. The 35-day government shutdown shaved an estimated 0.1 percentage point from growth in the fourth quarter.

GDP growth for all of 2018 came in at 2.9 percent, the best showing in three years.

your ad here