Why Are People So Angry At Ebola Responders In The Democratic Republic Of The Congo? – Nurith Aizenman October 30, 20184:32 PM ET

A U.N. military truck patrols on the road linking Mangina to Beni, the current epicenter of the Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of the Congo.
John Wessels/Getty Images

Last month Virgil Attia found himself surrounded by an angry crowd.

“Some of them had picked up rocks,” he recalls, speaking in French. “Some had empty bottles.”

Attia is an official with the International Federation of the Red Cross. He’s originally from Benin but based in a city in Democratic Republic of the Congo that is the current epicenter of an Ebola outbreak that has been raging there since August.

When someone in the community dies of Ebola at home, the Red Cross has been sending teams to collect the body and conduct a safe burial. Normally Attia coordinates these teams out of his office. But on this day he had come along as a team set out to pick up the body of a 7-year-old boy.

Attia says the crowd of about 150 people started gathering as soon as the team arrived in the neighborhood. At first people were just watching as the team pulled on protective suits and walked into the house.

Then, says Attia, just as the team was about to put the boy into a body bag, “the boy’s father rushed in and said he’d changed his mind. He didn’t want his son taken this way.”

That’s when the mood in the crowd shifted in an instant — from curious to menacing. The team immediately backed off and started taking off their suits – now contaminated with Ebola virus — as quickly as they dared.

“You just fear the worst,” says Attia. “You’re trying not to look like you’re rushing because showing fear will provoke the crowd. But you’re also trying to get out before someone throws the first rock. Because you know once that happens everyone will start throwing.”

Attia and the others managed to drive off in time. Just a few weeks later another burial team in a nearby city was less fortunate. A crowd pelted them with rocks. “Two of the team members were seriously injured,” notes Attia.

The DRC’s government reports that on average burial teams, health workers and other responders are being threatened like this as often as three or four times a week.

Partly it’s because many people in the communities where Ebola is now spreading had never heard of it — so they’re resistant to giving up their loved ones to strangers in scary plastic suits.

But there’s another issue, says Ashish Pradhan, a U.S.-based senior analyst with International Crisis Group, a research organization that is a leading authority on conflict areas: “The local population is very distrustful of the government. Their default mode is not to trust the government.”

Even though this part of the DRC has a lot of mineral wealth, people are desperately poor. “They haven’t seen anything from this government,” says Pradhan. And so many have concluded that the ruling authorities only care about exploiting the wealth for themselves.

Article continues:

Partisan divides color Americans’ election security views, survey shows – ERIC GELLER 10/29/2018 12:25 PM EDT

Voting booths
Eighty percent of Democrats say election interference is somewhat or very likely, compared to only 53 percent of Republicans. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Two-thirds of Americans believe Russia or other countries will try to digitally disrupt the midterm elections, with Democrats far more likely than Republicans to believe and worry about it, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

Eighty percent of Democrats say election interference is somewhat or very likely, compared to only 53 percent of Republicans.

The poll comes one week before the Nov. 6 elections and follows reports from top law enforcement and intelligence officials and social media companies about continued Russian disinformation operations aimed at influencing the election.

The Trump administration says it has made combating election interference a top priority, and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen this weekend told “Fox News Sunday” that the U.S. is “more prepared than we’ve ever been.”

But as in other areas, partisan attitudes are affecting the public’s confidence in the administration’s ability to thwart election interference.

Of the Democrats who predict it will happen, 83 percent consider it a major problem, compared to only 47 percent of the Republicans who predict it will happen.

Republicans are far more likely than Democrats to believe U.S. election systems are secure (59 percent versus 34 percent) and that federal officials are “making serious efforts” to prevent disruptions (72 percent versus 43 percent).

Article continues:

This Tiny Drone Uses Friction to Pull More Than Its Own Weight – RHETT ALLAIN SCIENCE 10.30.1810:00 AM

Last week, Stanford researchers revealed that that they had built tiny drones that can open doors. I’m not sure I’m happy about this: How will we keep the robots out of our houses if they can just open the doors?

But this is also pretty cool. These tiny drones (or micro air vehicles) are able to pull super heavy loads as compared to their own weight—up to a factor of 40. That might seem crazy. Well, I guess it’s crazy—crazy awesome.

Let’s get to the physics. How much of your weight can you pull?

Pulling with Normal Friction

Suppose you are trying to pull a large box with an attached rope while standing on flat ground. Why do you need a rope? You don’t—but it’s easier to draw a diagram that way.

Here is the important part. If you pull on the rope with some force (I will call it Tfor tension), that rope pulls back on you with the same magnitude force. Forces are an interaction between two things: Pulling with a force of 10 Newtons to the left on a rope means the rope pulls on you with a force of 10 Newtons to the right. That’s just the nature of forces.

That means that if I want to pull on a block with a rope, I will need another force pulling on me in the other direction that will prevent me from moving. That other force is the frictional force. I’ll be honest. Friction is super complicated. Just think about all the atoms in one material (your shoes) interacting with all the atoms in another material (the floor). That’s way too much for anyone to deal with. Fortunately, we have a pretty good approximation for the friction force. Here are the details of this friction model.

  • The friction force is parallel to the two surfaces.
  • The direction of the friction force is in a direction to prevent sliding.
  • The magnitude of the friction force is proportional to the force pressing the two surfaces together (we call this the normal force and typically represent it with the symbol N).
  • The friction force also depends on the two types of surfaces. The friction between wood and steel is different from the friction between wood and plastic. We express this as a coefficient of friction and use the symbol μ.
  • Finally, there is a different coefficient of friction for materials that are at rest with respect to each other (static friction) and sliding with respect to each other (kinetic friction).

Wow. I just summarized the friction model with bullet points. OK, that’s just a physics appetizer. If you need more friction, here is a post for you.

We are ready to look at the forces on a person (or micro air robot) pulling a larger object. I’m representing both objects as blocks because it’s easier.

Rhett Allain

In this diagram notice that the two blocks have different masses. With its greater mass, the blue block also has a greater downward gravitational pull since the gravitational force is the product of the mass and the gravitational field (g). Since the block doesn’t accelerate vertically (it stays on the table), the upward normal force must be equal to the gravitational force. That means that the blue block can also have a greater frictional force on it.

The only way the red block can move the blue block is for the coefficient of friction between the blue block and the surface to be much smaller than for the red block. Oh, but this can indeed happen. Just consider the case of pushing a car. You can push a car even though it is WAY more massive than you are. You can do this because the car is on wheels, which effectively makes it very low friction.

But this is the old way of pulling things.

Micro Air Vehicle Friction

Article continues:

We Posed As 100 Senators To Run Ads On Facebook. Facebook Approved All Of Them. (HBO) – VICE News Published on Oct 30, 2018 VICE News Published on Oct 30, 2018

One of Facebook’s major efforts to add transparency to political advertisements is a required “Paid for by” disclosure at the top of each ad supposedly telling users who is paying for political ads that show up in their news feeds. But on the eve of the 2018 midterm elections, a VICE News investigation found the “Paid for by” feature is easily manipulated and appears to allow anyone to lie about who is paying for a political ad, or to pose as someone paying for the ad. To test it, VICE News applied to buy fake ads on behalf of all 100 sitting U.S. senators, including ads “Paid for by” by Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer. Facebook’s approvals were bipartisan: All 100 sailed through the system, indicating that just about anyone can buy an ad identified as “Paid for by” by a major U.S. politician. What’s more, all of these approvals were granted to be shared from pages for fake political groups such as “Cookies for Political Transparency” and “Ninja Turtles PAC.” VICE News did not buy any Facebook ads as part of the test; rather, we received approval to include “Paid for by” disclosures for potential ads.

John Prine & Bill Murray Discuss Their Early Days Of Music, Comedy & More – Recording Academy / GRAMMYs Published on Oct 10, 2018

Two giants in their respective crafts, John Prine and Bill Murray, swap songs and stories about the early days in Chicago crossing paths with the likes of John Belushi, Steve Goodman and Kris Kristofferson. In this intimate Up Close & Personal conversation presented by the Recording Academy Nashville Chapter, the duo also talk as songwriting, improvisational comedy, record deals, friendship, and more.

White House won’t say which news outlets are ‘enemy of the people’ – BY BRETT SAMUELS – 10/29/18 02:54 PM EDT

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Monday declined to name which news outlets or journalists, specifically, President Trump believes are the “enemy of the people,” downplaying the role his rhetoric may have played in the political violence of the last week.

“The president is not referencing all media, he’s talking about the growing amount of fake news in the country, and he’s calling that out,” Sanders said at a White House press briefing when asked about the president’s use of the term to describe the press.

She declined to call out specific reporters or media organizations, saying “those individuals probably know who they are.”

CNN’s Jim Acosta called on Sanders to “have the guts” to say which outlets are enemies of the American people if the president is willing to use the term broadly, as he did again earlier Monday.

“I think it’s irresponsible of a news organization like yours to blame responsibility of a pipe bomb that was not sent by the president, not just blame the president but blame members of his administration for those heinous acts,” she added.

Article continues:

Signal Has a Clever New Way to Shield Your Identity – LILY HAY NEWMAN SECURITY 10.29.18 05:16 PM

Hottlittlepotato; Getty Images

A key part of what makes Signal the leading encrypted messaging app is its effort to minimize the amount of data or metadata each message leaves behind. The messages themselves are fully encrypted as they move across Signal’s infrastructure, and the service doesn’t store logs of information like who sends messages to each other, or when. On Monday, the nonprofit that develops Signal announced a new initiative to take those protections even further. Now, it hopes to encrypt even information about which users are messaging each other on the platform.

As much as it values privacy, Signal still needs to see where messages are going so that it can deliver them to the right account. The service has also relied on seeing what account a message came from to help verify that the sender is legit, limit the number of messages an account sends in a period of time to prevent it from spewing spam, and offer other types of anti-abuse checks.

But having access to metadata about the sender and recipient—essentially the address and return address on the outside of letters—offers a lot of information about how people use Signal and with whom they associate. Think of it as the address and return address on the envelope of a physical letter. So Signal’s developers created workarounds that will now allow the app to encrypt not just the contents of messages, but the identity of the sender.

“While the service always needs to know where a message should be delivered, ideally it shouldn’t need to know who the sender is,” Moxie Marlinspike, the creator of Signal, wrote on Monday. “It would be better if the service could handle packages where only the destination is written on the outside, with a blank space where the ‘from’ address used to be.”

Currently, Signal is testing this “sealed sender” feature in its beta release. Since the mechanism removes Signal’s ability to validate senders, the service is adding workarounds that still let users verify who sent incoming messages, and reduce their chance of receiving abusive content. Most importantly, Signal will only allow “sealed sender” messages to go between accounts that have already established trust, particularly by being in each others’ contact lists. If you block someone Signal has made cryptographic tweaks so they will still be barred from messaging you—even if you are in each others’ contacts.

Thanks to the change, if Signal is compromised, an attacker sitting inside the service will only see encrypted messages going to their destinations, and won’t be able to see where they came from. As “sealed sender” rolls out, users will be able to turn on a status icon if they want an indication of when messages have been sent using the scheme.

Article continues:

California Voters May Force Meat And Egg Producers Across The Country To Go Cage-Free – Lesley McClurg October 29, 20184:45 PM ET

A Berkshire pig at Root Down Farm in Pescadero, Calif. Californians will vote on a proposition in November that would require all pork sold in the state be from pigs raised in more spacious pens.
Lesley McClurg/KQED

California voters will soon decide whether to ban the sale of meat and eggs from farm animals raised in cages. A November ballot measure, Proposition 12, would require more spacious digs for pigs, veal calves and egg-laying hens. It applies to animals in California and to those raised elsewhere for products sold in the Golden State.

If you’re experiencing a bit of déjà vu right now, it makes sense.

Back in 2008, voters overwhelmingly passed a strikingly similar animal welfare law. But some farmers argued the measure’s language was too vague to interpret in practical terms.

After the 2008 law took effect, state agriculture officials ruled that farmers could comply with the law without getting rid of their cages as long as they provided more space within the cages.

To end confinement altogether, the Humane Society of the United States sponsored Proposition 12 this year.


The measure is also endorsed by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Sierra Club, the California Democratic Party, the United Farm Workers, and the Center for Food Safety. The Yes on 12 campaign has raised $6.1 million as of Sept. 28, while the opponents, Stop the Rotten Egg Initiative, have raised about $566,000. The next financial reporting deadline is Oct. 25.

Dede Boies supports the measure because it aligns with her farming philosophy. She raises chickens, ducks, turkeys and pigs on Root Down Farm, a huge open field in Pescadero, about an hour south of San Francisco.

“The point for me is to raise animals in a way that they were intended to live,” says Boies. “And to basically give them the best life possible.”

For Boies, confining animals in cages reduces them to products.

Proposition 12 requires each farm animal to have a specific amount of floor space beginning in 2020: 43 square feet for a veal calf; 24 square feet for a breeding pig; and 1 square foot for an egg-laying hen. Cage-free conditions will be mandatory for hens by 2022.


Article continues: