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Smartphones in school: Ban, restrict or allow?

BBC News

Hands holding smartphones

Love them or hate them, smartphones have become an integral part of our daily lives. But should they be left outside the classroom?

Nick Gibb, the minister for school standards in England, told the BBC he believes schools should ban their pupils from bringing in smartphones.

Opinions are certainly divided, with many people saying that pupils should be taught how to use their phones responsibly.

Preparation for life after school

Peter Freeth, whose daughters are aged 13 and 18 years old, says schools should do more to integrate phones into the learning experience.

Peter Freeth with his two daughters
Peter Freeth, here with his daughters, says “It’s too late to take phones off kids so get them using them for something valuable”

“Schools expect children to do their homework on computers. They need to use apps in the classroom as part of the process, to watch videos, stream content, log attendance and participate in study groups. Basically, all the things that smart businesses do.”

“Banning phones is based on an old idea that students should sit quietly in front of the teachers. There shouldn’t be a disconnect. In the work place we’re adapting the learning process to the learner. The idea of getting rid of smartphones is about conformity.”

A fantastic power in their hands

Astrid Natley

Astrid Natley says there’s a hypocritical divide where adults “choose to reject the reality of the 2019 world and how so many people function and communicate”

Astrid Natley, an English teacher at a secondary girls grammar school in Lincolnshire, incorporates phones into her classroom.

“My school does not have money for classroom tablets and technology.”

“When students use their phones for research, they learn that they have a fantastic power in their hands. We can give the student the ability to see how education can be accessed at home without it feeling like a despised departure from their own world.”

“For reading difficulties, font size can be increased on their phones; for recording their work, photos can be taken, and I also use group quizzes to engage the students.”

“If we stop children using phones, then we’re rejecting something they care about. Phones are important for them and that’s not going to change.”

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‘No place in a child’s life’

Meanwhile, Yvonne Lockhart, a registered nurse who has worked for community education supports a complete ban.

“I am banned from mobile phone usage at work, and my phone must be ‘removed’ from my person or handed in. If I am caught with it in my pocket, I will be subject to a disciplinary procedure which will impact on my career.”

“We need to teach children how to behave like the professionals they are striving to become. Ban the phones, they have no place in a child’s life.”

Kids are socialising

On Facebook, Tara Blount reveals her children’s school has implemented a ban and are seeing the benefits. Image copyright .

Richard, a secondary school English teacher in the independent sector, thinks there should be a clear separation between school and home.

“We wouldn’t expect children, left to their own devices all day with no formal schooling, to voluntarily pick up text books at home and learn, so it is inherent in the system that they do things differently in the two environments.”

“Children are getting more than enough screen time and access to this technology in their lives without the need to bring it into the classroom. The internet is too easy and too unreliable a research tool, so let’s leave phones and laptops at home, and show them a different world in their lessons – one of books and pens.”

Stop bullying

Assistant head teacher Alison Gill, from Shropshire, agrees an all-out ban is necessary so staff can “do what they’re trained to do and not take on the role of the police or social services.”

“We have a computer suite, where students can use the internet, under supervision. We’ve no way of tracking what they’re looking at on their phones, iPads or smart watches.”

“We have already had a case of harassment whilst a student was off school. Allowing students mobile technology into school adds another layer of issues for teaching staff to deal with and also leads to further confrontations inside and outside of the classroom.”

Safety is key

Many people accept that mobile phones are a very useful way of keeping in touch with children and making sure they travel safely to and from school. Parents with children who have medical conditions say a smartphone is vital to keep tabs on their health.

Insulin pen being administered
Kay Bellwood’s son’s mobile phone monitors his glucose levels

Kay Bellwood’s 11-year-old son has Type 1 diabetes and relies on his phone to to tell him his blood glucose levels.

“His phone has tracking, so if his blood glucose level is too low he can be found if he’s unable to walk or talk. He can send an SOS.”

“It is literally life saving medical technology. A ban would be direct discrimination under the equality act.”

Written by Sherie Ryder, UGC and Social News

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Military called in to help with Gatwick drone crisis

The Guardian

https://youtu.be/RqP5xCrrXZE

Airport still closed after what police describe as deliberate attempt to disrupt flights

Matthew Weaver, Damien Gayle , Patrick Greenfield and Frances Perraudin

Thu 20 Dec 2018 17.02 GMT First published on Wed 19 Dec 2018 23.16 GMT

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First flights leave Gatwick after drone disruption – video report

The army has been called in to help with the ongoing crisis at Gatwick airport, where drones flying near the runway have kept planes grounded for more than 24 hours.

The airport has been closed since Wednesday night, when the devices were repeatedly flown over the airfield in what police and the airport described as a deliberate attempt to disrupt flights.

Tens of thousands of travellers have been affected, with 110,000 passengers on 760 flights due to fly on Thursday. People camped out overnight at Gatwick, waiting for news of whether the airport would reopen on Friday.

At around 9:30pm on Thursday Gatwick’s chief operating officer Chris Woodroofe said the airport would be reviewing the situation overnight to see “whether there is any potential to open tomorrow” but they are “working up contingency plans all the way through to no flights tomorrow.”

How dangerous are drones to aircraft?

Woodroofe said the situation remained “fluid”, given the drone operator had not yet been found. He said the airport is expected to be closed for the “foreseeable future” while the hunt for the drone operator continues.

The airport’s advice is that those due to travel on Friday should check with their airline before arriving at the airport.

The defence secretary, Gavin Williamson, told Sky News Sussex police had requested support from the armed forces. “We will be deploying the armed forces to give them the help that they need to be able to deal with the situation of the drones at Gatwick airport,” he said. Advertisement

Williamson added that he could not say how the armed forces would help but said: “The armed forces have a range of unique capabilities and this isn’t something we would usually deploy but we are there to assist and do everything we can so that they are in a position to open the airport at the earliest opportunity.”

Flights were suspended at Gatwick just after 9pm on Wednesday, when two drones were spotted flying near the runway. The runway briefly reopened at 03.01 on Thursday morning but closed 45 minutes later after a further drone sighting. There was another sighting around midday.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday afternoon, Theresa May said: “I feel for all those passengers whose travel plans have been disrupted by this drone activity and the action that has had to be taken in response to it. At this particular time of year this is particularly difficult for people.

“We have already passed legislation in relation to the use of drones. As it has been made clear, the activity we have seen is illegal and those who are caught endangering aircraft can face up to five years in prison. And we’re consulting on further aspects of this, including further police powers.

“We will continue to work with the Gatwick authorities in order to bring this to a close such that people will be able to get on to the travel that they were expecting over the Christmas.”

Woodroofe told BBC News: “There are 110,000 passengers due to fly today, and the vast majority of those will see cancellations and disruption. We have had within the last hour another drone sighting so at this stage we are not open and I cannot tell you what time we will open.

“It was on the airport, seen by the police and corroborated. So having seen that drone that close to the runway it was unsafe to reopen.

“Realistically if we do reopen today, what the airlines will seek to do is deal with the passengers who are on site and to prepare for an operation tomorrow morning where we repatriate passengers who are in the wrong place. It’s realistically going to take several days to recover.”

Earlier, he said the drones could not be shot down because of the risk posed by stray bullets. Officers from Surrey and Sussex police forces have been scouring the perimeter to try to catch the operators of two drones. Sussex police said there was no indication that the ongoing incident was terrorism-related.

Updating the House of Lords on events, the transport minister Elizabeth Sugg revealed the scale of the response. “Sussex police are in the lead and have officers on the ground. They are doing everything they can to locate drone and its operators,” she said.

“All relevant parts of government including the Department for Transport, Home Office and the Ministry of Defence, are involved in the response.”

Justin Burtenshaw, Gatwick’s policing commander who was in charge of trying to catch the operators of the drones, told the BBC it was a painstaking process because the bigger the drone the further away the operator could be. “Each time we believe we get close to the operator, the drone disappears,” he said.

“When we look to reopen the airfield, the drone reappears, so I’m absolutely convinced it is a deliberate act to disrupt Gatwick airport.”

Some people reported being left on aircraft for several hours while they waited to find out what was going on. Gatwick advised anyone flying from the airport, or collecting someone, to check the status of their flight. EasyJet advised its passengers not to travel to the airport if their flights had been cancelled.

Arthur Serbejs, 22, and Domante Balciuniate, 21, factory workers from Hastings, sat on the floor by a prayer room on Thursday morning, approaching their 16th hour of waiting for a flight to Barcelona.

“We came about 6pm yesterday, and we’re going to be here until like 7pm,” Serbejs said. “At 9pm yesterday we were on the plane for four hours – they turned the lights off and everything like it was going to take off.”

“But we were still sitting there,” Balciuniate added. Serbejs said he had fallen asleep while the plane sat on the airport apron, hoping to wake up in Spain, “and I woke up and we hadn’t moved”.

How have you been affected by the delay at Gatwick airport?

Eventually they were taken off the flight, and offered a hotel in Brighton, which they declined as they live nearby. They were told they would get an email with a ticket for another flight, but none came. “We stood in line for three hours for a 30-second conversation saying: ‘Your flight has already been transferred hours ago,’ but we didn’t know about it,” Serbejs said.

“It’s crazy, it’s my worst airport experience.”

“We don’t even expect to go to Barcelona any more,” Balciuniate said. “Maybe there’s another drone up there – but we have hope. There’s a prayer room over there, we were thinking about going.”

Mamosta Abdulla said he was on an Iraq-bound flight on Wednesday evening before getting stuck on the tarmac for four hours. He would miss his father’s memorial service, he said.

“We got here at 6pm and should have flown at 9.10pm, but we were stuck four hours on the plane with a crying baby, the child was disabled, and everyone was sweating because it was so hot in there,” he said.

Passengers were given a voucher for food, he added, but were left to sleep “in a freezing place on uncomfortable chairs”.

“We are in Iraq with bombs going off nearby and the plane still lands. But here some drones have shut down the airport.”

View image on Twitter

There was criticism from opposition parties as well as unions representing pilots and engineers that the rules on drones needed to be toughened up and enforced. The British Airline Pilots Association said the government should consider creating a larger no-fly zone around airports.

Labour said the government has been too slow to address safety concerns about drones and should fast-track laws to protect against their misuse and create a drone exclusion zone around airports. The Liberal Democrats also called for more stringent rules.

Lady Sugg said: “We absolutely need to make sure that we introduce new laws to ensure that drones are used safely and responsibly. Earlier this year we brought in a law that makes it illegal to fly within a kilometre of an airport and above 400ft.

“We are also introducing a registration system, which will include a mandatory safety check before you are able to fly your drone.”

She added that research was being carried out into counter-drone technology.

An airport spokeswoman said that airlines were working to provide affected passengers with hotel accommodation, or transport for those whose flights were diverted.

Luton, Heathrow, Stansted and Manchester were among the airports that accepted diverted flights. Passengers were also sent as far as Amsterdam and Paris.

• The graphic in this article was amended on 21 December 2018 because an earlier version said drones must not fly within 50 metres of crowds and built up areas. This has been corrected to say 150 metres.

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Man drinking sex drink- file-20181206-128190-hd2cwb

Beware of natural supplements for sex gain and weight loss

The Conversation


Natural supplements may be popular, but they can have dangerous side effects when they include prescription drugs. Oleksandr Zamuruiev/Shutterstock.com

December 7, 2018

Many consumers consider dietary supplements to be natural and, therefore, safe. In fact, the Council for Responsible Nutrition reported in 2017, that 87 percent of U.S. consumers have confidence that dietary supplements, such as vitamins, minerals, herbs, botanicals, oils, microbiome bacteria, and amino acids, are safe and effective. Unfortunately, their confidence may be misplaced when it comes to supplements for male sexual dysfunction and weight loss.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, 776 dietary supplement products from 146 different manufacturers sold between 2007 and 2016 contained synthetic/prescription drugs. Most of these products are marketed for just two conditions, sexual enhancement (45.5 percent) or weight loss (40.9 percent). Most recently, on Nov. 30, 2018, the FDA advised consumers not to purchase a product called Willy Go Wild, available online and in some retail stores because the product includes hidden prescription drugs.

Why does this matter?

As a pharmacist and dietary supplement researcher, I’m concerned about the hidden inclusion of these prescription drugs in supplements. It increases the risk of patient harm, and it allows people to attribute the benefits and harms they experience to an herb rather than to the true culprit – the added drug. This makes it harder for doctors and pharmacists to decipher in what types of patients these natural therapies could be used and in whom they should be avoided.

Risky sex enhancement pills

Packaging for Viagra in a Madrid pharmacy. Enriscapes/Shutterstock.com

It is considered malpractice for pharmacists to fill prescriptions for erectile dysfunction (ED) drugs like Viagra, Levitra or Cialis if patients are taking nitrate drugs, such as nitroglycerin pills or spray or isosorbide mono/dinitrate. These nitrate drugs are often used to treat chest pain or heart failure. Combining them with a drug to treat ED; as the FDA said the makers of Willy Go Wild did, can cause a patient’s blood pressure to drop precipitously. This in turn can lead to hospitalization or death.

Some patients taking nitrate drugs, who cannot safely take one of the ED drugs, have turned instead to so-called natural products. Had they bought one of the 353 tainted products, they would have gotten the same active ingredients nonetheless.

In addition, prescription erectile dysfunction drugs can cause priapism, a medical emergency where the penis can be irreparably damaged. The higher the dose consumed, the greater the risk. So imagine you want to enhance your prescription erectile dysfunction drug with an herbal remedy only to find out you were getting a prescription drug’s active ingredient instead. There are cases of priapism with herbal sexual dysfunction medications.

ED drugs and antidepressants

Some other dietary supplement products for male enhancement added a drug called daptoxetine. The FDA has not approved it for any reason, including sexual dysfunction. People on other serotonin-enhancing drugs for depression or intestinal issues are more likely to end up with a condition called serotonin syndrome when inadvertently exposed to this undisclosed drug. Serotonin syndrome is a life-threatening problem with high body temperatures, muscle stiffness, seizures and kidney damage.

Sibutramine, an appetite suppressant, was removed from the U.S. market by the FDA in 2010 because its use increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes. However, 269 dietary supplement products touted for weight loss contained sibutramine, and others contained the stimulants ephedrine and fenfluramine.

Ephedrine, a stimulant, was banned in the U.S. because it also increased cardiovascular risk. Fenfluramine, an amphetamine derivative, was combined with phentermine in the popular “fen-phen” diet that was banned after numerous cases of pulmonary hypertension, heart valve damage and heart failure occurred.

Still other dietary supplement products for weight loss contained the laxative phenolphthalein or prescription diuretics. Phenolphthalein is no longer used as a laxative in the U.S. because it may cause cancer and hurt fetuses. Laxatives and diuretics only cause weight loss through diarrhea or loss of water weight. They do not result in fat loss. They can cause dangerously low blood pressure and low blood potassium concentrations.

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2015 estimated that dietary supplements led to 23,000 emergency department visits and over 2,000 hospitalizations a year. Weight loss products or those related to increased energy also caused 72 percent of supplement-related adverse events, including palpitations, chest pain or racing heart rate. I suspect the predominance of deliberate synthetic drug tainting of these dietary supplements might explain some of these findings.

How can you protect yourself?

If a package claims to be magic or to provide a miracle cure, don’t buy it. Peter Hermes Furian/Shutterstock.com

The FDA does not approve dietary supplements, and in many ways you are on your own. The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994 created a new category of health product. As long as the product contains natural ingredients intended to promote or support health and not to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease, it qualifies as a dietary supplement. Under DSHEA, the FDA has to prove risk to human health before removing these products from the U.S. market.

The FDA, however, does have an ongoing list of products in which they have detected synthetic or prescription drugs, and you can check that out. If the product you have purchased is on that list, don’t use it. On Nov. 20, 2018, two dietary supplements for pain or drug addiction were found to be tainted with tianeptine, an antidepressant drug that is not FDA-approved for use in the U.S. market. If your product is not on that list, however, it doesn’t guarantee lack of tainting. The FDA simply does not have the resources to check the tens of thousands of dietary supplements on U.S. shelves.

Independent laboratory verification from the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) can help assure that the vitamin or herb specified on the label is in the bottle and that the product has a low risk of microbe, heavy metal or PCB contamination. Unfortunately, USP does not routinely test dietary supplements for synthetic or prescription drug tainting.

ConsumerLab.com does not usually test for prescription drug tainting during their product verification either. However, for sexual dysfunction drugs, ConsumerLab.com did test for prescription drug tainting.

Beware of dietary supplements manufactured in Asia, because they are more likely to be contaminated and tainted according to the FDA. Also, ethnically diverse, non-English speaking and poor people are more likely to come across tainted dietary supplements because they shop for these products at ethnic stores, flea markets, swap meets or online. Buying from reputable brands in reputable stores or websites might reduce the risk. Finally, don’t believe miraculous claims of effectiveness, especially if the only data to back it up comes from testimonials.

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PANCAP Director, Derek Springer

Message from the Director of PANCAP, Mr. Dereck Springer

on the occasion of World AIDS Day 2018

PANCAP Director, Derek Springer

(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana)     This year’s World AIDS Day theme “Know your status” encourages us to be tested to know whether we are HIV negative or positive. This theme is very relevant as the world has committed to Fast Track actions towards achieving the 90-90-90 treatment targets by the year 2020. The UNAIDS 2018 Global AIDS Monitoring (GAM) report informs us that there are an estimated 310,000 adults and children living with HIV in the Caribbean, of which nearly 55,000 are unaware that they have HIV. 
 
While many people experience anxieties when contemplating being tested, it is good to know that the majority of these will test HIV negative. What is important is those who know that they are HIV negative have an incentive to keep themselves free from HIV by adopting changes to their lives that can reduce their risk and vulnerability to HIV. The few who test positive for HIV can have immediate access to life-saving antiretroviral drugs that would enable them to enjoy a good quality life and live much longer.
 
The 2018 UNAIDS GAM report also helps us to understand that we still need to place 74,400 persons who are living with HIV on treatment and 103,000 are yet to achieve viral suppression, that is, having very low levels of virus in the body, even though the virus is still present.
 
Science and evidence show that AIDS can be defeated once we get 90 percent of people to know their HIV status, of those who are HIV positive 90 percent receive anti-retroviral drugs and are retained in care, and 90 percent of those on treatment achieve viral suppression. Once this happens, we are well on the way to achieving the end of AIDS, by 2030.
 
So what is stopping us from achieving these 90-90-90 targets? The biggest challenges we face are persistent judgment and unfair treatment of people living with HIV and persons belonging to key population groups such as gay men and other men who have sex with men, transgender persons, sex workers, persons who use drugs, migrants and other mobile populations, and persons with disabilities. We judge persons who are different from us and we often times treat them differently. We do so because we do not take the time to understand.  This year’s theme must, therefore, serve as a catalyst for increased strategic advocacy using the PANCAP Regional Advocacy Strategy 2017 and national advocacy plans for increasing political will to remove the policies and legislative barriers that obstruct people from coming forward to know their HIV status. The fear is real as people are concerned that they will be treated differently if they test positive.
 
We must bring into the spotlight the critical need for laboratory improvements and increased coverage in our region. We need more laboratory facilities including those led by the communities themselves to know our status. We need laboratories to confirm community-led HIV screening tests.  We need laboratories and point-of-care diagnostic systems to monitor our viral loads and health care providers who are trained to provide clinical management for HIV-related illnesses.
 
We cannot get people tested if we do not have test kits, the right diagnostic equipment, and the right human resources. When we talk about placing 90 percent of people who are HIV positive on treatment and retaining them on treatment we must also ensure that we do not have stock-outs of key drugs. How can we be taken seriously when we encourage people to be tested and then fail to provide uninterrupted treatment? How can we fail to respond to people living with HIV when sometimes drugs are not available and people become anxious because their health care provider had stressed the importance of adherence to treatment and the impact of non-adherence on their health, including the potential for drug resistance?
 
If we are serious about getting people to know their status, we must move beyond the rhetoric to decisive actions to demonstrate that we understand the full implication of what it means to move someone who tests HIV positive to sustained viral suppression. We must guarantee good quality laboratory testing and laboratory services, uninterrupted treatment and monitoring within our health care system. And we must begin to tackle the reform of the justice system to enable persons who suffer discrimination to obtain redress in a timely manner. This calls for the engagement and involvement of our ministries of justice and attorneys general among others.
 
I call upon our governments and all who can make this happen to take the necessary actions to create an enabling environment in which people who want to know their status can come forward with the knowledge that they will not be treated differently, and that if they test positive they will be provided with the treatment, care and support they need to enjoy good quality lives and achieve viral suppression. Only then can we get them to know their status and begin the journey towards ending AIDS as a public health threat in the Caribbean. 
 
 
 

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AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky, Pool

US, Russian Astronauts Safe After Emergency Landing

It was the latest in a recent series of failures for the troubled Russian space program, which is used by the U.S. to carry its astronauts to the station.

AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky, Pool

 

It was the latest in a recent series of failures for the troubled Russian space program, which is used by the U.S. to carry its astronauts to the station.

NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos’ Alexei Ovchinin were subjected to heavy gravitational forces as their capsule automatically jettisoned from the Soyuz booster rocket and fell back to Earth at a sharper-than-normal angle and landed about 20 kilometers (12 miles) east of the city of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan.

“Thank God the crew is alive,” said Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, when it became clear that they had landed safely. He added that the president is receiving regular updates about the situation.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, who watched the launch at Baikonur along with his Russian counterpart, tweeted that Hague and Ovchinin are in good condition. He added that a “thorough investigation into the cause of the incident will be conducted.”

Hague and Ovchinin lifted off as scheduled at 2:40 p.m. (0840 GMT; 4:40 a.m. EDT) Thursday from the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The astronauts were to dock at the International Space Station six hours after the launch.

But the three-stage Soyuz booster suffered an unspecified failure of its second stage about two minutes after launching. Search and rescue teams were immediately scrambled to recover the crew and paratroopers were dropped from a plane to reach the site and help the rescue effort.

It was to be the first space mission for Hague, who joined NASA’s astronaut corps in 2013. Ovchinin spent six months on the orbiting outpost in 2016.

While the Russian space program has been dogged by a string of launch failures and other incidents in recent years, Thursday’s mishap marked the program’s first manned launch failure since September 1983, when a Soyuz exploded on the launch pad.

The astronauts were flown by helicopter to Dzhezkazgan and will later be taken to Baikonur and on to Star City, Russia’s space training center outside Moscow.

NASA posted pictures of Hague and Ovchinin undergoing a medical check-up at Dzhezkazgan’s airport. One of the pictures showed Hague smiling and another had him sitting next to Russia’s space agency chief Dmitry Rogozin.

Dzhezkazgan is about 450 kilometers (280 miles) northeast of Baikonur, and spacecraft returning from the ISS normally land in that region.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov said all manned launches will be suspended pending an investigation into the cause of the failure. He added that Russia will fully share all relevant information with the U.S.

Earlier this week, Bridenstine emphasized that collaboration with Russia’s Roscosmos remains important.

Relations between Moscow and Washington have sunk to post-Cold War lows over the crisis in Ukraine, the war in Syria and allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential vote, but they have maintained cooperation in space research.

The Russian Soyuz spacecraft is currently the only vehicle for ferrying crews to the International Space Station following the retirement of the U.S. space shuttle fleet. Russia stands to lose that monopoly in the coming years with the arrival of SpaceX’s Dragon v2 and Boeing’s Starliner crew capsules.

The last time the Russian space program had a manned launch failure was in 1983. Soviet cosmonauts Vladimir Titov and Gennady Strekalov jettisoned and landed safely near the launch pad after the Soyuz explosion.

Russia has continued to rely on Soviet-designed booster rockets for launching commercial satellites, as well as crews and cargo to the International Space Station.

While Russian rockets had earned a stellar reputation for their reliability in the past, a string of failed launches in recent years has called into doubt Russia’s ability to maintain the same high standards of manufacturing.

Glitches found in Russia’s Proton and Soyuz rockets in 2016 were traced to manufacturing flaws at the plant in Voronezh. Roscosmos sent more than 70 rocket engines back to production lines to replace faulty components, a move that resulted in a yearlong break in Proton launches and badly dented Russia’s niche in the global market for commercial satellite launches.

In August, the International Space Station crew spotted a hole in a Russian Soyuz capsule docked to the orbiting outpost that caused a brief loss of air pressure before being patched.

Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin has raised wide concern by saying that the leak was a drill hole that was made intentionally during manufacturing or in orbit. He didn’t say if he suspected any of the current crew — an American, a Russian and a German aboard the station. The current crew’s stint in orbit will likely be extended following Thursday’s aborted launch.

Vladimir Isachenkov and Jim Heintz contributed to this report from Moscow.

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CNET

Facebook breach put data of 50 million users at risk

The vulnerability had to do with the social network’s “view as” feature.

by

Facebook on Friday said a breach affected 50 million people on the social network. 

The vulnerability stemmed from Facebook’s “view as” feature, which lets people see what their profiles look like to other people. Attackers exploited code associated with the feature that allowed them to steal “access tokens” that could be used to take over people’s accounts. 

While access tokens aren’t your password, they allow people to log in to accounts without needing it. Facebook also said later Friday that the breach also affected third-party apps that you have linked to your Facebook account, including Instagram. As a precautionary measure, Facebook logged about 90 million people out of their accounts, the company said.

The social network said it discovered the attack earlier this week. The company has informed the FBI and the Irish Data Protection Commission. Facebook said the investigation is in the early stages and it doesn’t yet know who was behind the attacks. 

“This is a really serious security issue,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on a conference call with reporters Friday. “This underscores there are just constant attacks from people who are trying to take over accounts and steal information from our community. This is going to be an ongoing effort.” 

The news comes as Facebook has been under intense scrutiny for its ability to keep the data of its more than 2 billion users safe. The company is still reeling from its Cambridge Analytica scandal in March, in which a UK-based digital consultancy harvested the personal information of 87 million Facebook users.

The vulnerability disclosed on Friday came from a change issued in July 2017, when Facebook pushed a feature that prompted people to upload “Happy Birthday” videos, Facebook vice president of product management said on the call. The company is still investigating the attack, and doesn’t know how much information was stolen or who is behind the hack. Because it was access tokens stolen and not passwords, Facebook said that affected users don’t need to change their security settings, including their passwords.

Access tokens are a set of code granted to a user after logging in for the first time. They’re often used across websites so that you don’t have to log back in every time you go to a page. Facebook uses them for logins, and allows for secure access without needing a password.

facebook-f8-mark-zuckerberg-2018-0263
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, “This is a really serious security issue.”

James Martin

Attackers carried out their attack with a series of steps that let them hop, skip and jump their way into generating access tokens for millions of Facebook users. They started by viewing a Facebook profile they had access to as another user. The “view as” feature is meant to allow users to see how their profile looks to the public or specific friends based on their privacy settings. 

But when hackers viewed a Facebook profile as another user, sometimes the tool for posting a birthday video would appear. That shouldn’t have happened, but did at times because of a bug, according to Facebook. Then, because of yet another bug affecting the video tool, hackers were able to generate an access token for the targeted user, giving them access to the user’s account.

With the access token, hackers had control over the user’s account. They could then “pivot,” Rosen said, and view their victim’s account as yet another user. Then they would repeat the process and generate an access token for that user, too.

The hackers were able to dramatically scale up this multi-step attack, so much so that Facebook noticed an unusual spike in user activity in Septermber and began investigating, Rosen said.

Fatemeh Khatibloo, an analyst at Forrester who focuses on consumer privacy, said in an email it appeared Facebook contained the damage from the breach at an early stage. She added that users probably heard about it sooner than they would have since new privacy regulations came into effect in the European Union earlier this year. The General Data Protection Regulation requires companies to tell users about a data breach no more than 72 hours after learning of it themselves.

“GDPR has forced [Facebook]’s hand in reporting the breach much earlier than they perhaps would have liked, and before they understand the full scope,” Khatibloo said.

Debra Farber, senior director of privacy strategy at tech firm BigID, said the increased speed in reporting data breaches will have a positive long-term effect for the company. “It may not be today or tomorrow, but such actions are sure to engender significantly more trust,” she said. BigID helps companies comply with privacy regulations.

The breach has also led to more criticism from lawmakers, who have already discussed introducing regulation to rein in big tech companies.

“A full investigation should be swiftly conducted and made public so that we can understand more about what happened,” Sen. Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia, said in a statement. “Today’s disclosure is a reminder about the dangers posed when a small number of companies like Facebook or the credit bureau Equifax are able to accumulate so much personal data about individual Americans without adequate security measures.”

As news spread of the data breach Friday, Facebook’s own platform blocked users from posting two articles about the hacking attack. One article was by the Guardian and the other was by the AP. Facebook confirmed that its system was blocking the articles, saying it was an error. “We fixed the issue as soon as we were made aware of it, and people should be able to share both articles,” the company said in a statement. “We apologize for the inconvenience.”

Facebook has been without a chief security officer since Alex Stamos Facebook security chief departing company for Stanford in August to teach and do research at Stanford University. His departure took place during a larger reorganization of the company’s security team that was ongoing when the cybersecurity attack began. 

The departmental shifts made the cybersecurity team stronger, Rosen said. “If anything, we think this means we were able to find and address this faster,” he said.

First published September 28, 9:52 a.m. PT.
Update, 2:52 p.m. PT: Adds information from a follow-up conference call with Facebook.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Entertainment, Featured, International, Local, News, Regional, Science/Technology, Technology0 Comments

Caribbean countries sign historic Escazu Agreement

Caribbean countries sign historic Escazu Agreement

UNITED NATIONS, Sept 28, CMC – Caribbean leaders were joining their counterparts in Latin America in signing the Escazu Agreement that seeks to protect the rights of access to information, public participation and access to justice in environmental matters.

The leaders of Antigua and Barbuda and St. Lucia were the latest to affix their signatures to the accord that the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) said is poised to be the new environmental instrument synonymous with non-discrimination, transparency and greater democracy for all.

St. Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet singing the Escazú Agreement on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly

“This agreement will help fight crime, poverty, inequality and is crucial to the protection of the environment in general. The agreement is sometimes referred to as ‘environmental democracy,’ which is a new legal term that implies the participation of all in protecting the environment,” according to an Antigua and Barbuda government statement.

It quoted Prime Minister Gaston Browne as outlining the importance of Antigua and Barbuda taking the bold step in becoming signatory to the agreement.

“The island is regarded as one of the front runners within the region with a progressive climate agenda, with the hope of transforming Antigua and Barbuda into a climate smart country,” it said.

Or its part, St. Lucia said it has put itself safely at the vanguard of sustainable development with equality at its core, when it joined other countries in signing the agreement that will be open for signatures until September 26, 2020.

Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, joined his Antigua and Barbuda counterpart as well as the leaders of Guyana, Brazil, Costa Rica, Argentina, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Peru and Uruguay in signing the agreement.

The Escazú Agreement was adopted on 4 March 2018, in Escazú, Costa Rica and ECLAC said that it reflects regional ambitions, priorities and uniqueness, while addressing environmental protection and management in sustainable leveraging of natural resources, preserving biodiversity, combatting desertification and climate change, and building disaster resilience.

The Escazú Agreement is the only treaty to emerge from the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Río+20). It is also the first regional environmental treaty of LAC countries, and the first with binding provisions on defenders of human rights in environmental matters.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, Education, Environment, International, News, Opinions, Regional, Science/Technology, Technology, TOURISM0 Comments

eathquale Jamaica

Earthquake rocks Jamaica’sCorporate Area and neighbouring parish

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Sep. 16, CMC –  Sections of the Corporate Area and the neighbouring parish of St. Catherine were rocked by an earthquake on Sunday afternoon.

According to the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) , it had not received reports of damage.

“We are aware of the earthquake…however the ODPEM and the Earthquake Unit will continue to monitor the situation and provide on update once it becomes available,” the agency said in a post on its twitter page.

The Gleaner reported meanwhile, the tremor was felt mainly in Old Harbour, Portmore and Spanish Town in St Catherine, as well as Kingston and St Andrew, according to the Earthquake Unit.

However, callers to our newsroom from as far away as Clarendon and St Mary reported feeling the tremors.

The United States Geological Survey in its report said the earthquake with a magnitude of 3.3, had a  depth of 10 kilometres and was centered in Riversdale, St. Catherine.

Later reports from the Jamiaca Observer headlines the shake as a  Light 4.6 magnitude earthquake with a magnitude of 4.6, felt in the Corporate Area and St Catherine at 1:47 this afternoon.

The tremor had a focal depth of 23.1 kilometres, the unit reported.

Meanwhile, The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management, says it has, so far, not received reports of damage.

Many social media users across the Corporate Area, St Catherine and Clarendon have confirmed feeling the tremor, while others as far away as Falmouth in Trelawny, and some in St Ann, have reported the earthquake.

Posted in Earthquake, Local, Regional, Science/Technology0 Comments

Guyana and Austria sign MOU

Guyana and Austria sign MOU

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Sept 12, CMC – Guyana Wednesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Austria for transport, innovation and technology to enhance the local healthcare facilities.

Health Minister Volda Lawrence said the MOU is the beginning of a process which will result in enhanced healthcare facilities for citizens and that “concrete” projects could begin next year.

Health Minister Volda Lawrence and Dr. Gernot Grimm signing the MoU

“We are looking at the GPHC (Guyana Public Health Corporation) since it is our tertiary institution. You will be aware that particularly our A and E (Accident and Emergency) department is really under the threshold, in terms of a standard operating procedure that should pertain in a critical care unit.

“So, the first two aspects we will be getting involved with is a trauma centre and a critical care centre which will be able to take off the deficiencies which we do have presently. This will ensure improved delivery of care for our patients and also upgraded equipment for the staff works,” Lawrence said at the signing ceremony.

Chief of staff at the Austrian Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology, Dr. Gernot Grimm said the signing of the MOU is in keeping with the good relations enjoyed by the two countries over a number of years.

He said the success of the MOU would be seen in the tangible achievements sooner rather than later.

“We have brought along a couple of technical experts from Austria to have this work done as soon as possible to our bilateral negotiations, so we really want to show and speed up the whole process to be in a position to start as soon as possible,” he said.

The signing of the MOU was witnessed by Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge, Minister within the Ministry of Public Health Karen Cummings along with GPHC chief executive officer, Patrick West.

Meanwhile, the Austrian-based AMED Engineering Company has pledged to support Guyana in its efforts to modernise the public health and other sectors.

The company is holding discussions with the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Public Health in developing the “Lighthouse” project and Grimm said ‘the health sector is not the only technology we are ready to co-operate with you but it’s the first one.

“I call it the lighthouse project to show the public in Guyana and in Austria that a co-operation can exceed political excellent relations by far through well-functioning economic ties and relations.”

VAMED is recognised internationally as one of the leading companies in the healthcare sector. VAMED provides a complete package of services for every type of healthcare facility. The range of services provided covers the entire healthcare value chain, from project development, planning and construction to total operational, biomedical engineering and facility management.

Greenidge said Guyana has long benefitted from initiatives introduced by the Austrian government. He added however that the administration is prepared to take advantage of the advanced ideas and projects that VAMED has to offe

Posted in Announcements/Greetings, Business/Economy/Banking, Health, International, Labour, Local, News, Politics, Regional, Science/Technology0 Comments

ExxonMobil makes ninth discovery offshore Guyana

ExxonMobil makes ninth discovery offshore Guyana

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Aug. 30, CMC – The US based oil giant, ExxonMobil has announced the discovery of approximately 197 feet (60 metres) of high-quality, oil-bearing sandstone reservoir at the Hammerhead-1  – the ninth discovery of oil in the Stabroek Block  and the fifth within the last year.

President of ExxonMobil, Steve Greenlee says the Hammerhead-1 discovery reinforces the potential of the Guyana basin, where ExxonMobil is already maximizing value for all stakeholders through rapid phased developments and accelerated exploration plans.

“The Development options for Hammerhead will consider an ongoing evaluation of reservoir data, including a well test,” Greenlee said.

Discoveries of approximately four billion oil-equivalent barrels were made prior on the Stabroek Block at Liza, Liza Deep, Payara, Snoek, Turbot, Ranger, Pacora and Longtail with the potential for up to five floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessels producing more than 750,000 barrels per day by 2025.

A second exploration vessel, the Noble Tom Madden, is due to arrive in Guyana in October to accelerate exploration of high potential opportunities and will commence drilling at the Pluma prospect, approximately 17 miles (27 kilometres) from Turbot.

The Stabroek Block is 6.6 million acres .

ExxonMobil affiliate, Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited, is the operator and holds 45 percent interest in the Stabroek Block. Hess Guyana Exploration Limited holds 30 percent interest and CNOOC Nexen Petroleum Guyana Limited holds 25 per cent interest.

First oil is expected to be produced in the first quarter of 2020.

Meanwhile, the government continues to put systems in place for the management of revenues from this new developing natural resource. Just recently, a green paper on the National Resource Fund (NRF) Guyana’s version of a Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) was laid in the National Assembly.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, Environment, International, Local, News, Regional, Science/Technology0 Comments

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