By 2050, the US Will Lose $83 Billion a Year Because of All the Nature We've Destroyed
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Fast Company:
The world economy depends on nature, from coral reefs that protect coastal cities from flooding to insects that pollinate crops. But by the middle of the century, the loss of key "ecosystem services" could cost the world $479 billion each year. The U.S. will lose more than any other country, with an $83 billion loss to the GDP per year by 2050. That's a conservative estimate. The projection comes from a report, called Global Futures, from World Wildlife Fund, which looked at only six of the services that nature provides and how those might change because of the impacts of climate breakdown, lost wildlife habitat, and other human-caused destruction of nature. (Many other services will also be impacted but can't currently be accurately modeled; the study also doesn't take into account the possibility of tipping points that lead to sudden, catastrophic losses of natural services.) By 2050, if the world continues on its current path, the global economy could lose $327 billion a year as we lose natural coastal protection from coral reefs, mangrove forests, and other natural systems. Another $128 billion could be lost annually from forests and peatlands that store carbon. Agriculture could lose $15 billion from lost pollinators and $19 billion from reduced water availability. Food costs are likely to go up, threatening food security in some regions. "In the U.S., the biggest losses will come from lost coastal protection and losses in marine fisheries," adds Fast Company. "Because of the size of the U.S. economy, it will lose most in absolute terms. But developing countries will be hit hardest in terms of the percentage of GDP lost; Madagascar tops that list, followed by Togo, Vietnam, and Mozambique."
If the world is able to radically change course and protect areas most critical for biodiversity and ecosystem services, the global annual GDP could, instead, grow $11 billion by 2050.
People Born Blind Are Mysteriously Protected From Schizophrenia
Motherboard reports on the possible explanations for
why people born blind are protected from schizophrenia:
Over the past 60-some years, scientists around the world have been writing about this mystery. They've analyzed past studies, combed the wards of psychiatric hospitals, and looked through agencies that treat blind people, trying to find a case. As time goes on, larger data sets have emerged: In 2018, a study led by a researcher named Vera Morgan at the University of Western Australia looked at nearly half a million children born between 1980 and 2001 and strengthened this negative association. Pollak, a psychiatrist and researcher at King's College London, remembered checking in the mental health facility where he works after learning about it; he too was unable to find a single patient with congenital blindness who had schizophrenia. These findings suggest that something about congenital blindness may protect a person from schizophrenia. This is especially surprising, since congenital blindness often results from infections, brain trauma, or genetic mutation -- all factors that are independently associated with greater risk of psychotic disorders.
More strangely, vision loss at other periods of life is associated with higher risks of schizophrenia and psychotic symptoms. Even in healthy people, blocking vision for just a few days can bring about hallucinations. And the connections between vision abnormalities and schizophrenia have become more deeply established in recent years -- visual abnormalities are being found before a person has any psychotic symptoms, sometimes predicting who will develop schizophrenia. But the whispered-about fact persists: Being born blind, and perhaps specific types of congenital blindness, shield from the very disorders vision loss can encourage later in life. A myriad of theories exist as to why -- from the blind brain's neuroplasticity to how vision plays an important role in building our model of the world (and what happens when that process goes wrong). Select researchers believe that the ties between vision and psychotic symptoms indicate there's something new to learn here. Could it be that within this narrowly-defined phenomenon there are clues for what causes schizophrenia, how to predict who will develop it, and potentially how to treat it?
AI Shortcuts Speed Up Science Simulations By Billions of Times
sciencehabit shares a report from Science Magazine:
Modeling immensely complex natural phenomena such as how subatomic particles interact or how atmospheric haze affects climate can take thousands of hours on even the fastest supercomputers. Emulators, algorithms that quickly approximate these detailed simulations, offer a shortcut. Now, work posted online shows how artificial intelligence can produce accurate emulators that can accelerate simulations across all of science by billions of times. The new system automatically creates emulators that work better and faster than those designed and trained by hand. And they could be used to improve the models they mimic and help scientists make the most of their time at experimental facilities.
California Introduces Law To Stop Delivery Apps Screwing Over Restaurants
On Tuesday, California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego)
introduced legislation to protect restaurants from being exploited by food delivery platforms that
add restaurants without permission and withhold customer data. Motherboard reports:
For years now, companies such as DoorDash, GrubHub, Postmates, and Uber Eats have engaged in shady practices to add more restaurants to their platforms, extract more fees from restaurants and customers, and defeat rival platforms. One consequence of this arrangement is that delivery apps do not share information with restaurants about where customers are located or how to get their feedback. According to a press release about the proposed legislation, this means restaurants have little control over the customer experience and the data may even be used by platforms to drive customers to so-called "host kitchens" that they operate.
Assembly Bill 2149 (the Fair Food Delivery Act) would require platforms to not only share customer information with restaurants but reach an agreement with restaurants before adding them onto the food delivery app. The hope with AB 2149 is that by giving restaurants the ability to opt-out of being added to the platforms (or get the customer data if they opt-in), there will be less of this exploitative extraction directed at restaurants. As for protecting workers from exploitation, Gonzalez also introduced bill AB 5, which went into effect this year and promises to reclassify gig workers (including delivery drivers) as employees owed a minimum wage, benefits, and dignity that these platforms deny them.
WHO Has Finally Named the New Coronavirus
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ScienceAlert:
The UN health agency on Tuesday announced that "COVID-19" will be the official name of the deadly virus from China, saying the disease represented a "very grave threat" for the world but there was a "realistic chance" of stopping it. "We now have a name for the disease and it's COVID-19," World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva. Tedros said that "co" stands for "corona", "vi" for "virus" and "d" for "disease", while "19" was for the year, as the outbreak was first identified on 31 December.
Tedros said the name had been chosen to avoid references to a specific geographical location, animal species or group of people in line with international recommendations for naming aimed at preventing stigmatization. WHO had earlier given the virus the temporary name of "2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease" and China's National Health Commission this week said it was temporarily calling it "novel coronavirus pneumonia" or NCP. Under a set of guidelines issued in 2015, WHO advises against using place names such as Ebola and Zika -- where those diseases were first identified and which are now inevitably linked to them in the public mind. More general names such as "Middle East Respiratory Syndrome" or "Spanish flu" are also now avoided as they can stigmatize entire regions or ethnic groups. WHO also notes that using animal species in the name can create confusion, such as in 2009 when H1N1 was popularly referred to as "swine flu." This had a major impact on the pork industry even though the disease was being spread by people rather than pigs.
15-Year-Old Fights the FAA's Anti-Model-Flying NPRM With Social Media
The FAA has issued an NPRM (Notice of Proposed Rule Making) that would effectively see the end of the traditional hobby of flying RC planes, helicopters and drones. As well as mandating remote ID on store-bought products it would effectively (over time) outlaw scratch-built craft as well. This stands to have a hugely negative impact on those STEM/STEAM programs that have in the past used drones and RC planes as a teaching tool and a way of getting kids into electronics, engineering, and aerospace-related subjects. Although many older folk have tried to rally public support for some pushback on these outrageous proposed new rules, a 15-year-old named Jack Thornton has outclassed everyone with his four-and-a-half-minute YouTube video. Not only does he explain what's going on but he makes a fantastic case for the continuation of the hobby and even uses some of the tech to create the video. I am seriously impressed by what this guy has done!
Federal Workforce Too Reliant On College Degrees, Says Trump Administration
In the federal government, approximately 30% of the 2.1 million civilian employees have a master's degree or above. That's compared to about 15% at large firms in the private sector, according to the White House's 2021 budget. The federal workforce is also older than the private sector. The average age of federal workers is 46, versus 42 for all others. The age gap is most acute for the youngest workers, with only 7.3% of the federal workforce younger than age 30 compared to 23% of private sector workers. "Over-reliance on degrees can be a barrier to entry" to federal jobs, the White House argued. Others disagree and say that many government jobs, such as economists and attorneys, require advanced degrees.
Man Who Refused To Decrypt Hard Drives Is Free After Four Years In Jail
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica:
A Philadelphia man has been freed after a federal appeals court ruled that his continued detention was violating federal law. Francis Rawls, a former police officer, had been in jail since 2015, when a federal judge held him in contempt for failing to decrypt two hard drives taken from his home. The government believes they contain child pornography.
After losing that appeal, Rawls raised another challenge: the federal statute that allows judges to hold witnesses in contempt for refusing to testify, passed in 1970, states that "in no event shall such confinement exceed eighteen months." The government argued that this provision didn't apply to Rawls because he was a suspect, not a witness. Also, the rule applies to a "proceeding before or ancillary to any court or grand jury." But because the government hadn't formally charged Rawls with a crime, the government argued, there was no court proceeding under way. Last week, a three-judge panel of the 3rd Circuit rejected this argument in a 2-1 vote. The court's two-judge majority held that Congress had intended for the 18-month limitation to apply broadly to any legal proceeding, not just a formal trial. And while Rawls was a suspect in the case, he was also a witness. The practical result is that, at least in federal court, someone can only be imprisoned for 18 months for refusing to open an encrypted device. The government says it has other evidence suggesting that Rawls possessed child pornography, "so prosecutors may be able to piece together enough evidence to convict him, even without access to his encrypted hard drives," the report adds. "One of the two judges who formed the 3rd Circuit's majority urged the trial court judge to consider the four years of imprisonment Rawls has already served if he eventually has to sentence Rawls after a child pornography conviction."
Facebook Accidentally Blacked Out an Entire Language
On January 16th, Facebook users received an error message when posting in Jinghpaw, a language spoken by Myanmar's ethnic Kachin and written with a Roman alphabet. From a report:
"We couldn't post this. Tap for more info," the message said. When clicking, a second appeared: "Your request couldn't be processed. There was a problem with this request. We're working on getting it fixed as soon as we can." A Facebook representative told The Verge that the issue was caused by "a bug in our language infrastructure," and coincided with the launch, the same day, of an updated language identification model supporting ten new languages, including Jinghpaw. The representative said Facebook fixed the issue within hours of receiving reports on January 17th. But while the disabling of Jinghpaw was not an active move of censorship, it alerted many Kachin people that Facebook had the capability to identify their language, an alarming thought for the embattled minority group. That realization has evoked a visceral reaction from the Kachin, and brought forth new calls for the company to be more transparent about its technology and the ways it will be used.
Tim Sweeney: Android is a Fake Open System, and iOS is Worse
Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney opened a game event in Las Vegas today with a call to make the industry more open and
liberate it from the monopolistic practices of platform owners such as Google and Apple. From a report:
In a talk about his vision for games in the next decade, Sweeney alternated between criticizing all of the big players in the game industry to criticizing specific players with examples of how their behavior isn't good for consumers or for competition. [...] Sweeney called Android a "fake open system" for putting up barriers in front of users when Epic Games wanted to enable players to sideload Fortnite directly from the Epic Games site, rather than through the Google Play store. Sweeney said that Google put up "scary" pop-ups in front of users about the risks of sideloading (viruses, malware) and other steps that users had to engage in order to get Fortnite on Android. Epic also had in "tough discussions" with Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo to make Fortnite available as a crossplay title (meaning you can play against people on other systems, and your progress, items, and so on are available regardless of device) across the platforms.
One of the principles that Sweeney argued for was that "gamers should be free to engage in any game with their friends anyplace they want without any unnecessary friction." He said that the platforms have been too balkanized, and Microsoft lost a whole decade of progress as it tried and failed to make its Windows marketplace more like Apple's closed system. Microsoft has since backed off on that. Gamers and game vendors should be "free of lockdown." He drew a comparison to Visa and Mastercard and the global credit card payment system, where vendors charge 2.5% to 3.5% fees for transactions, while store vendors such as Steam, Apple, and Google charge 30%. He said the global payments industry is proof that highly profitable companies can arise from just taking the 2.5% to 3.5% cut.
Average Tenure of a CISO is Just 26 Months Due To High Stress and Burnout
Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs, or CSOs) across the industry are reporting high levels of stress. From a report:
Many say the heightened stress levels has led to mental and physical health issues, relationship problems, medication and alcohol abuse, and in some cases, an eventual burnout, resulting in an average 26-month tenure before CISOs find new employment. The numbers, reported by Nominet, represent a growing issue that's been commonly acknowledged, but mostly ignored across the information security (infosec) community, but one that is slowly starting to rear its ugly head as once-ignored infosec roles are becoming more prominent inside today's companies. [...] The survey's results paint a gloomy picture about one of today's most in-demand jobs. According to the numbers: 88% of CISOs reported being "moderately or tremendously stressed." 48% of CISOs said work stress has had a detrimental impact on their mental health. 40% of CISOs said that their stress levels had affected their relationships with their partners or children. 32% said that their job stress levels had repercussions on their marriage or romantic relationships.
Trade Fair Mobile World Congress Has Been Cancelled
In an emailed statement, John Hoffman, the CEO of GSMA, which organizes the trade fair, said the coronavirus outbreak has made it "impossible" to hold the event.
Further reading, from earlier today:
MWC Hangs by a Thread After Nokia, Vodafone, DT and Other Big Names Back Out
Andy Rubin's Essential is Shutting Down
Essential, Android creator Andy Rubin's
high-profile phone startup,
is shutting down. From a report:
As a result of the shutdown, Essential says it will no longer support the Essential Phone with further security updates or customer support. Additionally, Newton Mail, which Essential acquired when it purchased developer CloudMagic in 2018, will stop working on May 1st. On its blog, Essential cites Project Gem, the tallish concept phone the company teased late last year, and its inability to find a "clear path" to get the device to consumers as the main reason for the shutdown. The startup had raised about $330 million.
The Court Let T-Mobile Buy Sprint Because Sprint Completely Sucks
Nilay Patel, a lawyer and editor-in-chief of The Verge, on
court's approval of T-Mobile and Sprint merger:
The decision itself is extremely surprising: Judge Victor Marrero of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York basically decided that the various data and experts put forward by the 10 state attorneys general who sued to stop the merger weren't worth taking seriously and that he would decide for himself whether T-Mobile and Dish seemed like cool companies worth trusting. And... it turns out that Judge Marrero thinks CEO John Legere and the rest of T-Mobile's executives are extremely cool and smart and that Dish Network is definitely trustworthy and that everything is going to work out great. Also, the judge thinks that Sprint sucks. Really, if there's one major takeaway here, it's that Victor Marrero, a federal judge selected by Bill Clinton for a lifetime appointment on the federal judiciary, thinks that Sprint is a bad company with a crap network run by dummies. This is the law now. Let's go through the decision.
Data Protection Authority Investigates Avast for Selling Users' Browsing History
The Czech data protection authority has announced
an investigation into antivirus company Avast, which was harvesting the browsing history of over 100 million users and then
selling products based on that data to a slew of different companies including Google, Microsoft, and Home Depot. From a report:
"On the basis of the information revealed describing the practices of Avast Software s.r.o., which was supposed to sell data on the activities of anti-virus users through its 'Jumpshot division' the Office initiated a preliminary investigation of the case," a statement from the Czech national data protection authority on its website reads. Under the European General Protection Regulation (GDPR) and national laws, the Czech Republic, like other EU states, has a data protection authority to enforce things like mishandling of personal data. With GDPR, companies can be fined for data abuses. "At the moment we are collecting information on the whole case. There is a suspicion of a serious and extensive breach of the protection of users' personal data. Based on the findings, further steps will be taken and general public will be informed in due time," added Ms Ivana Janu, President of the Czech Office for Personal Data Protection, in the statement. Avast is a Czech company.
This App Automatically Cancels and Sues Robocallers
DoNotPay, the family of consumer advocacy services meant to protect people from corporate exploitation, is launching a new app aimed at helping end our long national nightmare
surrounding robocalls by giving you a burner credit card to get their contact details then giving you a chatbot lawyer to automatically sue them. From a report:
DoNotPay Founder and CEO Joshua Browder's Robo Revenge app is unique from every other app looking to protect you from robocalls in that it can get you cash while stopping them completely. "All of the big companies like AT&T and Apple have failed to protect consumers," Browder told Motherboard over the phone. "Consumers have to protect themselves. The only way the problem will end is if the robocallers start losing money every time they call someone."
In the past, DoNot Pay has offered various apps to help consumers fight back. DoNotPay's Free Trial Card creates a virtual, one-time-use credit card to protect you from getting charged by "industrialized scams" like free trials. DoNotPay's original offering was a chatbot lawyer program that automatically disputed parking tickets in small claims court. Robo Revenge combines both features to automatically add you to the Do Not Call Registry, generate a virtual DoNotPay burner credit card to provide scammers when they illegally call you anyways, use the transaction information to get the scammer's contact information, then walk you through how to sue them for as much as $3,000 per call under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), a law already on the books meant to protect consumers from calls that violate the Do Not Call Registry. The app also streamlines the litigation paperwork by automatically generating demand letters and court filing documents.
Trump Signs Order To Test Vulnerabilities of US Infrastructure To GPS Outage
U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order directing U.S. agencies to
test the vulnerabilities of critical infrastructure systems in the event of a disruption or manipulation of global positioning system services (GPS). From a report:
GPS is critical to a variety of purposes ranging from electrical power grids, weather forecasting, traffic signals, smartphone applications and vehicle navigation systems. The order said "disruption or manipulation of these services has the potential to adversely affect the national and economic security of the United States."
Samsung Galaxy Book S is Thinner, Lighter, Faster Than MacBook Air
An anonymous reader shares a report:
The Intel Core i5-8210Y delivers a multi-core score of 1544 which compares poorly with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx multi-core score of 2745. Yet, despite fitting the MacBook Air with a 49.9 Wh battery, Apple claims it will deliver just 13 hours of continuous video playback. However, because of the superior performance-per-watt of the Snapdragon 8cx when paired with the smaller 42 Wh battery in the Galaxy Book S, it delivers up to 25 hours (claimed) of continuous video playback. You can probably also argue that Microsoft has done an excellent job of optimizing Windows on ARM so that it works so harmoniously in this WinARM union. The MacBook Air weighs 1.25 kg (2.75 pounds) and is 15.6 mm (0.61-inches) at its thickest point. This compares with the Galaxy Book S which weighs 0.96 kg (2.11 pounds) and measures 11.8 mm (0.46-inches). Given that buyers of the slightly more expensive MacBook Air (US$1,099) are also only going to be doing relatively light-weight tasks on it like internet browsing and running Microsoft's Office suite on it, why would anyone choose the MacBook Air over the Galaxy Book S (US$999)? Like the MacBook Air, the Galaxy Book S runs its operating system, pre-installed apps and the Office suite natively while also giving users the option to use 32-bit x86 apps for those occasions where you might want to use other apps.
WhatsApp Hits 2 Billion Users
WhatsApp, the most popular messaging service, revealed today just how big it has become. From a report:
The Facebook-owned app said it has amassed two billion users, up from 1.5 billion it revealed two years ago. The announcement today makes WhatsApp the only second app from Facebook to join the two-billion-users club. (Facebook's marquee app has 2.5 billion users.) In an earnings call late January, Facebook also noted that that there were 2.26 billion users that opened either Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, or WhatsApp each day, up from 2.2 billion last quarter. The family of apps sees 2.89 billion total monthly users, up 9% year-over-year. WhatsApp, founded 11 years ago and sold to Facebook for $19 billion six years ago, took the opportunity today to reiterate how committed it is to providing end-to-end encryption to its customers all over the globe -- a crucial feature lauded by security experts everywhere but something that many governments are increasingly trying to contest. "Strong encryption acts like an unbreakable digital lock that keeps the information you send over WhatsApp secure, helping protect you from hackers and criminals. Messages are only kept on your phone, and no one in between can read your messages or listen to your calls, not even us. Your private conversations stay between you," WhatsApp wrote in a blog post.
MWC Hangs by a Thread After Nokia, Vodafone, DT and Other Big Names Back Out
More big names are
stepping away from the world's biggest phone and telecom trade fair, they announced today, prompting the organizers to urgently decide what they wish to do going forward. From a report:
Nokia, one of the omnipresent firms at major tech trade conferences, won't be attending this year's Mobile World Congress, it said Wednesday citing health and safety concerns over coronavirus outbreak. Electronics giant HMD, which sells smartphones under Nokia brand, cited similar reasoning for its withdrawal, too. The iconic Finnish firm, one of the cornerstone companies at MWC, and HMD have become the latest to back out of the trade fair. In recent days, scores of firms including Ericsson, Amazon, Vivo, LG, Facebook, and Sony have withdrawn their participation from the world's biggest smartphones-focused trade show.
German telecommunications giant Deutsche Telekom, London-headquartered telecoms giant Vodafone, and BT, Britain's biggest telecommunications group, have also backed out citing coronavirus outbreak, they announced on Wednesday. MWC attracts over 100,000 attendees, thousands of companies and high-profile executives who use this global platform to broker deals and unveil their upcoming gadgets and innovations to the world. The trade fair also contributes to the bottom line of Barcelona city. This year, the four-day trade show was scheduled to take place from February 27.
The Price of a .Com Domain Is Set To Rise, and Some Sellers Aren't Happy
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Engadget:
If you're the sort who buys domains for fun, or to inspire you to start a future project, your hobby's about to get a little pricier. ICANN is just days away from ending a consultation into the future of the .com top-level domain that'll put an end to Obama-era price freezes. If successful, it'll see the cost of a .com address rise by two bucks by the end of 2026, and potentially more thereafter. Verisign has the exclusive right to sell .com domains, and since 2012 the price of a .com has been frozen at $7.85. ICANN and Verisign are planning to reverse the freeze, allowing the company to increase its price four out of every six years, potentially in perpetuity. The other part of the deal will offer Verisign the right to operate its own registrar for other domains it offers, allowing it to compete with other DNS businesses.
Price-wise, Verisign will be able to increase the wholesale price of a .com name by up to seven percent for four of the next six years. That means that, potentially, the cost of one such domain would rise to $10.26 by the end of 2026, although existing owners will have advance notice of any change to lock in existing prices for up to 10 years at a time. The cause of this is a desire to roll back an Obama-era initiative, something that the Department of Commerce has been open about. In 2018, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, part of the Department of Commerce pretty much said so. "In line with policy priorities of the Trump administration," it explained in a release, "the amendment repeals Obama-era price controls." The other issue is a change to the rules about vertical integration, specifically about what Verisign can and can't do with the domains it sells. ICANN wants to bring Verisign's rights broadly in line with other registrars, allowing the company to operate a TLD and act as registrar. Whereas before, the documentation said that Verisign couldn't compete at all, now the rule is to be shrunk to only apply to .com, and not .net or any other domains it offers. Richard Kirkendall, CEO of rival domain registrar Namecheap, is accusing ICANN and Verisign of a stitch-up, saying the body has a "history of making similar deals behind closed doors" -- even though the announcement has
been public for nearly two years.
Internet Commerce Association, a body representing domain registrars like GoDaddy, is also objecting the deal. "It says that, because Verisign is the only company that can offer .com names, it has 'an effective monopoly,'" reports Engadget. "And that because it costs less than $3 to actually process a DNS registration, the company could have room to operate uncompetitively."
One of the Most Destructive Botnets Can Now Spread To Nearby Wi-Fi Networks
The sophistication of the Emotet malware's code base and its regularly evolving methods for
tricking targets into clicking on malicious links has allowed it to spread widely. "Now, Emotet is adopting yet another way to spread:
using already compromised devices to infect devices connected to nearby Wi-Fi networks," reports Ars Technica. From the report:
Last month, Emotet operators were caught using an updated version that uses infected devices to enumerate all nearby Wi-Fi networks. It uses a programming interface called wlanAPI to profile the SSID, signal strength, and use of WPA or other encryption methods for password-protecting access. Then, the malware uses one of two password lists to guess commonly used default username and password combinations. After successfully gaining access to a new Wi-Fi network, the infected device enumerates all non-hidden devices that are connected to it. Using a second password list, the malware then tries to guess credentials for each user connected to the drive. In the event that no connected users are infected, the malware tries to guess the password for the administrator of the shared resource.
"With this newly discovered loader-type used by Emotet, a new threat vector is introduced to Emotet's capabilities," researchers from security firm Binary Defense wrote in a recently published post. "Previously thought to only spread through malspam and infected networks, Emotet can use this loader-type to spread through nearby wireless networks if the networks use insecure passwords." The Binary Defense post said the new Wi-Fi spreader has a timestamp of April 2018 and was first submitted to the VirusTotal malware search engine a month later. While the module was created almost two years ago, Binary Defense didn't observe it being used in the wild until last month.
Coronavirus Crisis Disrupting Flow of Mail Into China
According to The Associated Press, the U.S. Postal Service said on Tuesday that it is "experiencing significant difficulties" in dispatching letters, parcels and express mail to China, including Hong Kong and Macau, "because most of its supplier airlines have
suspended their flights" to those destinations. As a consequence and "starting immediately," USPS said it
can no longer accept items destined for China, Hong Kong and Macao "until sufficient transport capacity becomes available." CBS News reports:
Likewise, in another, separate note seen by the AP, Singapore Post told its global counterparts that it is no longer accepting letters, parcels and express mail items destined for China, "until sufficient transport capacity becomes available." The notes were shared with postal services around the world via the Universal Postal Union, a U.N. agency headquartered in Switzerland that is a main forum for postal cooperation between its 192 member countries.
In a statement to the AP, the UPU said that the suspension of flights because of the virus "is going to impact the delivery of mail for the foreseeable future." "But it is hopefully temporary. The Universal Postal Union is carefully monitoring the operational situation, and is in constant contact with postal operators to ensure any backlog is cleared in the shortest possible time," it said. The Chinese mail service, China Post, said it is disinfecting postal offices, processing centers, and vehicles to ensure the virus doesn't travel via the mail and to protect postal staff. The virus does "not survive for long on objects. It is therefore safe to receive postal items from China," said a China Post noted transmitted via the UPU. Letters, parcels and express mail that do still make it to China will be delivered "via non-face-to-face methods," the note said.