Ozone Hole Over Antarctica Larger Than Usual, Scientists Say
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CBC.ca:
Scientists say the Southern Hemisphere ozone hole is larger than usual and already surpasses the size of Antarctica. The European Union's Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) said Thursday that the ozone hole, which appears every year during the Southern Hemisphere spring, has grown considerably in the past week following an average start. "Forecasts show that this year's hole has evolved into a rather larger than usual one," said Vincent-Henri Peuch, who heads the EU's satellite monitoring service. "We are looking at a quite big and potentially also deep ozone hole," he said. The Montreal Protocol, signed in 1987, led to a ban on a group of chemicals called halocarbons that were blamed for exacerbating the annual ozone hole. Experts say it's likely to take until the 2060s for ozone-depleting substances to be completely phased out. "[S]cientists have been closely monitoring the development of this year's ozone hole over the South Pole, which has now reached an extent larger than Antarctica," says the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service. "After a rather standard start, the 2021 ozone hole has considerably grown in the last two weeks and is now larger than 75% of ozone holes at that stage in the season since 1979."
Vincent-Henri Peuch, Director of the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, adds: "This year, the ozone hole developed as expected at the start of the season. It seems pretty similar to last year's, which also wasn't really exceptional until early September, but then turned into one of the largest and longest-lasting ozone holes in our data record later in the season. Now our forecasts show that this year's hole has evolved into a rather larger than usual one. The vortex is quite stable and the stratospheric temperatures are even lower than last year, so it may continue to grow slightly over the next two or three weeks."
US Judge Sentences Crypto Hedge Fund Scammer To Over Seven Years In Prison
The U.S. Department of Justice
announced Wednesday that Stefan He Qin, the founder of two cryptocurrency-focused hedge funds who pled guilty to securities fraud in February,
has been sentenced to 90 months in prison for his actions. Tom's Hardware reports:
Qin's funds were called Virgil Sigma and VQR. Both were supposed to offer investors a way to profit off the crypto market that "was not exposed to any risk from the price of cryptocurrency moving up or down and therefore provided a relatively safe and liquid investment." Those claims didn't seem to attract much scrutiny; the DOJ noted that The Wall Street Journal actually profiled Qin in 2018 to celebrate his fund's apparent success. But U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a statement that Qin's funds were actually devoted to his personal gain rather than solid financial returns for investors: "Qin's investors soon discovered that his strategies [emphasis Strauss'] weren't much more than a disguised means for him to embezzle and make unauthorized investments with client funds. When faced with redemption requests he couldn't fulfill, Qin doubled down on his scheme by attempting to plunder funds from VQR to satisfy his victim investors' demands. Qin's brazen and wide-ranging scheme left his beleaguered investors in the lurch for over $54 million, and he has now been handed the appropriately lengthy sentence of over seven years in federal prison." The DOJ said that in addition to the 90-month prison sentence, Qin "was also sentenced to three years of supervised release, and ordered to forfeit $54,793,532" and that "the Virgil Sigma fund and VQR have ceased operations and the liquidation and distribution of assets is being handled by a court-appointed receiver."
Free REvil Ransomware Master Decrypter Released For Past Victims
A free master decryptor for the REvil ransomware operation
has been released, allowing all victims encrypted before the gang disappeared to recover their files for free. BleepingComputer reports:
The REvil master decryptor was created by cybersecurity firm Bitdefender in collaboration with a trusted law enforcement partner. While Bitdefender could not share details about how they obtained the master decryption key or the law enforcement agency involved, they told BleepingComputer that it works for all REvil victims encrypted before July 13th. "As per our blog post, we received the keys from a trusted law enforcement partner, and unfortunately, this is the only information we are at liberty to disclose right now," Bitdefender's Bogdan Botezatu, Director of Threat Research and Reporting, told BleepingComputer. "Once the investigation progresses and will come to an end, further details will be offered upon approval." REvil ransomware victims can download the master decryptor from Bitdefender (instructions) and decrypt entire computers at once or specify specific folders to decrypt.
Lucid Air Electric Sedan Zips By Tesla With EPA-Rated 520-Mile Range
The EPA says the Lucid Air electric sedan
will do 520 miles on a full charge, which is well over 100 miles more than the Tesla Model S Long Range, which delivers an estimated 405 miles. CNET reports:
The 520-mile range estimate is specific to the Air Dream Edition Range with 19-inch wheels. Buyers should know the optional 21-inch wheels drop the range to an estimated 481 miles. Still, that's damned impressive. For those who select the Air Dream Edition Performance, they won't be penalized too much with a lower range. The car still comes in at an EPA-estimated 471 miles with 19-inch wheels and 451 miles with 21-inch wheels. The trade-off is there's 1,111 horsepower on tap with the Performance, compared to only 933 hp for the Range model.
The Dream Edition cars are two limited-edition choices Lucid sold out of a while ago, but don't fret, there are other options. For now, the EPA also got its hands on the Air Grand Touring trim, which returns 516 miles of range after the feds' tests. Even if you missed out on the Dream Edition Range, losing just four miles isn't the worst thing in the world. Opt for the larger 21-inch wheels on this model and the range figure drops to 469 miles. This particular configuration also provides a no-less-substantial 800 hp. If you ask me, there's nothing anyone's compromising on here. Production of the first customer cars is meant to start later this year, with prices for the Dream Editions starting at $169,000.
China Intensifies Hunt For Cryptocurrency Miners In Hiding
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg:
China's campaign against the cryptocurrency industry is now targeting miners who tried to disguise themselves as data researchers and storage facilities to stay in business, according to people with knowledge of the situation. Inspections intensified this month in several Chinese provinces, targeting illegal mining activities in colleges, research institutions and data centers, said the people who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter. Concern over the country's power supplies for the upcoming winter season is one reason for the urgency, they said. The new round of scrutiny could further depress the amount of crypto mining occurring in China, which for years had been the dominant player and as recently as April had a 46% share of the global hash rate, a measure of computing power used in mining and processing, according to the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index.
WhatsApp Reinvents the 'Yellow Pages'
testing a new "Yellow Pages" like feature in Sao Paulo, Brazil, that will let users search for local shops. The Next Web reports:
WhatsApp's head, Will Cathcart, announced this feature and said "we've built this in a private way." He claims that the company won't log your location or the businesses you're searching for. If you live in Sao Paulo, you'll be able to search for local shops using WhatsApp Business through the 'Businesses Nearby' menu in the new chat option. For years, Facebook and Instagram have been trying to connect you to businesses and make your shop through their platforms. While the WhatsApp Business app has been around, you couldn't really search for businesses using the app, unless you've interacted with them previously. The chat app doesn't have any ads, unlike Facebook and Instagram, so business interactions and transactions are one of the biggest ways for Facebook to earn some moolah out of it. Matt Idema, Facebook's vice president of business messaging, told Reuters that while the program is taking off in Brazil, India and Indonesia are the perfect next candidates for expansion.
AMC Theaters Will Accept Cryptocurrencies Other Than Bitcoin
In August, AMC Entertainment CEO Adam Aron said the company will
start accepting bitcoin as payment for movie tickets and concessions at all of its U.S. theaters. Now, Aron says he expects the company to also accept Ethereum, Litecoin, and Bitcoin Cash. In
a tweet, Aron said: "Cryptocurrency enthusiasts: you likely know @AMCTheatres has announced we will accept Bitcoin for online ticket and concession payments by year-end 2021. I can confirm today that when we do so, we also expect that we similarly will accept Ethereum, Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash."
Tech Giants Used 'Loopholes' To Duck Merger Reviews, FTC Says
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg:
Hundreds of deals by U.S. technology giants flew under the radar of merger watchdogs, fueling the companies' unchecked growth in the digital economy, according to a Federal Trade Commission study (PDF). The data on acquisitions by Apple, Amazon, Alphabet's Google, and Microsoft show that antitrust enforcers must be more aggressive in making sure companies aren't taking advantage of "loopholes" to avoid reporting deals to regulators, FTC Chair Lina Khan said Wednesday. "This study highlights the systemic nature of their acquisition strategy," Khan said about the tech companies during an FTC public meeting. "Digital markets in particular reveal how smaller transactions invite vigilance." The findings could bolster arguments that competition cops need to step up scrutiny of acquisitions by tech platforms to curb their power.
The data comes from a study the FTC announced last year to examine deals between 2010 and 2019 by the five tech giants to better understand whether acquisitions occurring outside the view of antitrust enforcers could be undermining competition. The FTC issued orders to the five companies requiring them to provide information about past acquisitions that weren't reported to antitrust agencies. The companies identified 819 such transactions, including acquisitions of voting control of companies, partial investments, patent acquisitions, and what the FTC called "hiring events" in which a group of employees were hired from another company. Although the FTC didn't identify specific transactions by companies, one example is Facebook's acquisition last year of image library Giphy for about $400 million. Bloomberg News reported last month that before the takeover, Giphy paid a dividend to investors. While perfectly legal, the payment lowered the value of Giphy's assets so that antitrust officials didn't have to be notified of the deal under the reporting thresholds at the time.
Home Computing Pioneer Sir Clive Sinclair Dies Aged 81
Sir Clive Sinclair, the man behind the Sinclair Spectrum and the first computer to retail for under a hundred dollars (the Sinclair ZX-81, A.K.A. The Timex/Sinclair 1000), died September 15 after battling a long illness. His daughter, Belinda, said he died at home in London on Thursday morning after a long illness.
Sinclair invented the pocket calculator but was best known for popularising the home computer, bringing it to British high-street stores at relatively affordable prices. Many modern-day titans of the games industry got their start on one of his ZX models. For a certain generation of gamer, the computer of choice was either the ZX Spectrum 48K or its rival, the Commodore 64. Belinda Sinclair, 57, told the Guardian: "He was a rather amazing person. Of course, he was so clever and he was always interested in everything. My daughter and her husband are engineers so he'd be chatting engineering with them." He left school at 17 and worked for four years as a technical journalist to raise funds to found Sinclair Radionics.
New Microsoft Office Arrives Early Next Month, and Won't Require You To Pay For a Subscription
Microsoft's new, flat-price version of its Office productivity software
will arrive on Oct. 5 -- the same day Windows 11 begins rolling out, according to a company blog post Thursday. From a report:
Microsoft previously emphasized that while its main focus remains in its subscription offering, Microsoft 365, it will release the one-time purchase Office 2021 for those who aren't ready to move to the cloud. Office 2021 arrives in two versions: one for commercial users, called Office LTSC (which stands for Long Term Servicing Channel), and one for personal use. Office LTSC is generally available today, the post said, and includes enhanced accessibility features, performance improvements across Word, Excel and PowerPoint, and visual improvements, like dark mode support across apps. It's meant for specialty situations, as opposed to for an entire organization, such as process control devices on the manufacturing floor that are not connected to the internet. Meanwhile, Office 2021 for personal use will arrive on Oct. 5, though Microsoft has not yet announced pricing information.
Wikipedia Bans Seven Chinese Users Amid Concerns of 'Infiltration, Physical Harm'
The Wikimedia Foundation has revealed efforts to gather personal information on some Chinese Wikipedia editors by entities opposed to their activities on the platform and likely to threaten the targets' privacy or well-being. The foundation's response has been to ban seven users in mainland China, cancel sysop privileges for another dozen, and warn plenty more Wikipedia editors to modify their behaviour. The bans and warnings were revealed in a Monday letter from Maggie Dennis, the foundation's vice president of community resilience and sustainability. This move followed the detection of what Dennis described in a statement as "information about infiltration of Wikimedia systems, including positions with access to personally identifiable information and elected bodies of influence."
The foundation contracted a security firm, which assessed that the ongoing situation "placed multiple users at risk." Dennis's letter describes the exposure of personal information of Chinese editors, and states "we know that some users have been physically harmed as a result." The Wikimedia Foundation therefore decided some of the perpetrators had to be sanctioned. "We have banned seven users and desysopped a further 12 as a result of long and deep investigations into activities around some members of the unrecognized group Wikimedians of Mainland China," Dennis wrote. "We have also reached out to a number of other editors with explanations around canvassing guidelines and doxing policies and requests to modify their behaviors." The letter and statement don't explain the source of the conflict, but do mention "recent world events" as one catalyst.
Instagram Boss Says Social Media is Like Cars: People Are Going To Die
An anonymous reader
shares a report:
Adam Mosseri isn't doing Facebook any favors. The head of Instagram was interviewed on the Recode Media podcast this week following a damning series of articles in the Wall Street Journal based on leaked internal Facebook documents. In the interview with host Peter Kafka, Mosseri attempted to defend the negative effects his platform has on its users by comparing social media to cars. The gist of his argument? Some people are just going to get run over, and that's the price we all pay. "We know that more people die than would otherwise because of car accidents, but by and large cars create way more value in the world than they destroy," argued Mosseri. "And I think social media is similar."
The Journal story in question explains how internal Facebook research (Facebook owns Instagram) found Instagram was making life worse for a segment of its users. "We make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls," read one 2019 internal slide obtained by the paper. "Teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression," read another. In response to Mosseri's car comments, Kafka rightly pointed out that automobiles are subject to intense safety regulation on a federal level, which Mosseri countered by pivoting between saying social media regulation is welcome and, well, that it's also potentially problematic. "We think you have to be careful," he said, "because regulation can cause more problems."
OpenSea's Product Chief is Out After Insider NFT Flipping Accusations
OpenSea head of product Nate Chastain, who was recently
accused of a form of NFT insider trading, appears to
no longer be working for the company. His Twitter bio now includes the phrase "Past: @opensea." From a report:
OpenSea has not publicly named the employee involved in the incident, but CEO Devin Finzer says the NFT trading platform asked for and received their resignation. Yesterday, Finzer put up a blog post saying an employee used knowledge gained from working at the company to purchase NFTs that were about to be posted to the popular trading site's homepage (and would thus likely go up in value). While an investigation is apparently still ongoing, OpenSea does say that it's implemented clearer rules to prevent employees from doing this kind of thing in the future.
Locast's Free TV Service Ordered To Shut Down Permanently After Copyright Loss
Locast has been
ordered to shut down its online TV service forever in a permanent injunction issued yesterday by a federal judge. From a report:
The order came two weeks after the judge gave major broadcast networks a big victory in their copyright case against Locast, a nonprofit organization that provided online access to broadcast TV stations. Locast will have to win on appeal in order to stream broadcast channels again. Locast already suspended operations after the September 1 ruling that said it does not qualify for a copyright-law exemption available to nonprofits, so the permanent injunction doesn't change the status quo. US District Judge Louis Stanton cited a December 2019 agreement between Locast and the networks that limited the scope of the litigation and said a permanent injunction should be entered if the court determines that Locast does not qualify for the copyright-law exemption.
The deal did not prohibit Locast "from applying for a stay of the permanent injunction pending appeal, nor to bar the broadcasters from opposing any such stay," the agreement said. ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC motioned for a permanent injunction after the September 1 ruling. The judge's order yesterday said the defendants "are permanently restrained and enjoined from operating Locast" but that "entry of an injunction will provide opportunity for appeal contemplated by the agreement."
Locast, a Free App Streaming Network TV, Would Love To Get Sued (January 2019).
New Tolling Systems Are Poised To Hit Highways
Electric vehicles might be good for the environment, but they're terrible for state budgets, which depend on fuel taxes to pay for road maintenance. So states like Oregon and Utah are
experimenting with new road user fees -- known as "vehicle mileage taxes" or VMTs -- that reflect changing mobility trends. From a report:
By charging drivers for the miles they drive -- instead of taxing the gas they use -- states can ensure that everyone pays their fair share for public roads. But some drivers might wind up paying more than they do now, and the preliminary technology involved is raising privacy concerns.
In Utah and Oregon -- where EVs and increased fuel efficiency are blowing a hole in road repair budgets -- drivers are being asked to enroll in voluntary experiments in pay-as-you-go tolling. Under a VMT system, drivers report their mileage electronically, using a plug-in device in their cars or a smartphone app. Per the Deseret (Utah) News: "Users are given the option to pay 1.5 cents per mile traveled or an annual flat fee of $120 for electric vehicles or $20 for gas hybrids." Oregon is testing several potential funding models based on the time of day and other factors. Under one potential scenario, a driver could pay a statewide 1.8-cents-per-mile fee, plus a 20-cent metropolitan Portland surcharge, plus a virtual toll on Interstate 5 and another fee for entering downtown Portland.
AMD: We Stand Ready To Make Arm Chips
AMD's CFO Devinder Kumar has commented that AMD stands
ready to manufacture Arm chips if needed, noting that the company's customers want to work with AMD on Arm-based solutions. From a report:
Kumar's remarks came during last week's Deutsche Bank Technology Conference, building on comments from AMD CEO Lisa Su earlier in the year that underscored the company's willingness to create custom silicon solutions for its customers, be they based on x86 or Arm architectures. Intel also intends to produce Arm and RISC-V chips, too, meaning that the rise of non-x86 architectures will be partially fueled by the stewards of the dominant x86 ecosystem. "But I'll tell you from my standpoint, when you look at compute solutions, whether it's x86 or ARM or even other areas, that is an area for our focus on investment for us," AMD CFO Devinder Kumar responded to a question about the company's view of competing Arm chips. "We know compute really well. Even ARM, as you referenced, we have a very good relationship with ARM. And we understand that our customers want to work with us with that particular product to deliver the solutions. We stand ready to go ahead and do that even though it's not x86, although we believe x86 is a dominant strength in that area."
Jay-Z's NFT Feud Spotlights Legal Peril in Hot Investment Trend
As a young rapper, Jay-Z once teamed up with Damon Dash to sell CDs of his music out of a car in the Brooklyn projects. Today, the co-founders of Roc-A-Fella Records are embroiled in a legal fight involving one of the most cutting-edge investments: non-fungible tokens. From a report:
The lawsuit is among a flurry involving NFTs as U.S. courts begin to grapple with the novel legal issues surrounding ownership and regulation of the assets, which have recently exploded in value. More than half a dozen suits citing NFTs have been filed in federal courts alone since the start of 2020, as monthly trading volume in the world's biggest NFT marketplace, OpenSea, soared from $8 million six months ago to more than $1 billion in August.
The dispute began in June, when Roc-A-Fella sued Dash, seeking to stop him from auctioning off the copyright to Jay-Z's debut album, Reasonable Doubt, as an NFT, which represents ownership of a digital object on a blockchain. Roc-A-Fella says that while Dash holds a one-third stake in the company, it owns the album itself, and he has no legal right to sell the NFT. The Jay-Z suit should serve as a warning to buyers and sellers of NFTs to make sure both sides know exactly what's being sold, said Christopher A. Cole, a partner with Crowell & Moring LLP in Washington. "They need to be very careful up front, when the NFT is created, to ensure that it's a valid instrument and the creators had the rights they needed to what's being sold, so that it's not attacked down the road," Cole said. More litigation involving NFTs is likely, from lawsuits on behalf of consumers who didn't understand the nature of the rights they were acquiring to government enforcement actions to protect them, said Pratin Vallabhaneni, a partner with White & Case in Washington.
China's Biggest Movie Star Was Erased From the Internet, and the Mystery Is Why
Zhao Wei was the Reese Witherspoon of China, then she was censored by the Communist Party
amid a clampdown of the country's entertainment industry. WSJ:
She directed award-winning films, sold millions of records as a pop singer and built a large following on social media, amassing 86 million fans on Weibo, China's Twitter -like microblogging site. She also made a fortune as an investor in Chinese technology and entertainment companies. Today, the 45-year-old star has been erased from the Chinese internet. Searches for her name on the country's biggest video-streaming sites come up blank. Her projects, including the wildly popular TV series "My Fair Princess," have been removed. Anyone looking up her acclaimed film "So Young" on China's equivalent of Wikipedia wouldn't know she was the director; the field now reads "---."
Ms. Zhao's online disappearance on Aug. 26 came at the onset of a broader clampdown on the country's entertainment industry as the Communist Party attempts to halt what it sees as a rise in unhealthy celebrity culture. The Chinese government hasn't publicly stated what prompted this sudden change to her status, raising questions among fans and observers about how far it is willing to go against her and other celebrities, and why. The mystery also has sparked open speculation about what, if anything, she might have done wrong. "Zhao Wei is like a poster child for what the Communist Party sees as what's wrong with celebrity culture in China," said Stanley Rosen, a professor at the University of Southern California who specializes in Chinese films and politics. "It's a demonstration that no one, no matter how wealthy or popular, is too big to pursue." In Zhao Wei's case, he added, the lack of explanation "will certainly make other celebrities extremely cautious and proactive in embracing regime goals."
FTC Warns Health Apps To Notify Consumers Impacted by Data Breaches
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) voted 3-2 Wednesday that a decade-old rule on health data breaches
applies to apps that handle sensitive health information, warning these companies to comply. From a report:
The new policy statement agreed to by the FTC was intended to clarify the agency's 2009 Health Breach Notification Rule, which requires vendors handling health records to notify consumers if the data is accessed through a breach or other means without the individual's authorization. The new policy states that the rule applies to health apps, such as those tracking fitness or menstrual cycles, which have been developed over the past decade.
"As many Americans turn to apps and other technologies to track diseases, diagnoses, treatment, medications, fitness, fertility, sleep, mental health, diet, and other vital areas, this Rule is more important than ever," the policy statement agreed to Wednesday reads. "Firms offering these services should take appropriate care to secure and protect consumer data." The FTC intends to enforce the new policy, with those in violation facing a financial penalty of over $43,000 per day.
Alphabet's Project Taara Laser Tech Beamed 700TB of Data Across Nearly 5km
An anonymous reader shares a report:
In January, Google's parent company, Alphabet, shut down Project Loon, an initiative exploring using stratospheric helium balloons to distribute wireless internet (an attempt to use solar-powered drones folded in 2017). However, some technology developed as a part of the Loon project remained in development, specifically the Free Space Optical Communications (FSOC) links that were originally meant to connect the high flying balloons -- and now that technology is actively in use providing a high-speed broadband link for people in Africa.
Sort of like fiber optic cables without the cable, FSOC can create a 20Gbps+ broadband link from two points that have a clear line of sight, and Alphabet's moonshot lab X has built up Project Taara to give it a shot. They started by setting up links in India a few years ago as well as a few pilots in Kenya, and today X revealed what it has achieved by using its wireless optical link to connect service across the Congo River from Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo and Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In 20 days, Project Taara lead Baris Erkmen says the link transmitted nearly 700TB of data, augmenting fiber connections used by local telecom partner Econet and its subsidiaries.
Walmart To Begin Driverless Deliveries With Ford and Argo AI
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica:
Our streets might not be overflowing with robotaxis as we were promised circa 2017, but here and there, AV companies are beginning commercial deployments. Argo AI, the AV startup heavily backed by Ford, Volkswagen, and others, is one of those companies. On Wednesday, Argo, Ford, and Walmart revealed that they will be working together to roll out last-mile deliveries from the retail giant's stores in Austin, Texas; Miami, Florida; and Washington, DC. "Our focus on the testing and development of self-driving technology that operates in urban areas where customer demand is high really comes to life with this collaboration," said Bryan Salesky, founder and CEO of Argo AI. "Working together with Walmart and Ford across three markets, we're showing the potential for autonomous vehicle delivery services at scale."
"Argo and Ford are aggressively preparing for large-scale autonomous vehicle operations across a broad footprint of US cities," said Scott Griffith, the CEO of Ford Autonomous Vehicles and Mobility Businesses. "Pairing Walmart's retail and e-commerce leadership with Argo and Ford's self-driving operations across these multiple cities marks a significant step toward scaling a commercial goods delivery service that will ultimately power first-to-scale business efficiencies and enable a great consumer experience." Argo AI and Ford have been testing their AV systems in Miami and DC since 2018 and began testing in Austin the following year. The trio says that the first autonomous deliveries to Walmart customers will begin later this year. Around the same time, Ford and Argo will start deploying passenger-carrying robotaxis in Austin and Miami.
Ransomware Encrypts South Africa's Entire Department of Justice Network
The justice ministry of the South African government is working on restoring its operations after a recent ransomware attack encrypted all its systems,
making all electronic services unavailable both internally and to the public. As a consequence of the attack, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development said that child maintenance payments are now on hold until systems are back online. BleepingComputer reports:
The incident happened on September 6 and the department activated the contingency plan for such events to ensure the continuation of some activity in the country. Last week, [Steve Mahlangu, spokesperson for the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development] said that court sittings continued after a switch into manual mode for recording the hearings. A manual process has also been adopted for issuing various legal documents. However, the ransomware attack impacted monthly child maintenance payments, which have been delayed until the systems are restored.
The department is still in the process of returning to regular operations but it is cannot say when the activity will become normal again. Part of this effort was setting up a new email system, to which some staff has already migrated. Coupled with the long time needed for network restoration, this is a sign that the hackers did not get paid. It is unclear who is behind this attack. Many ransomware gangs also steal data before encrypting it, to force the victim into paying the ransom under the pressure of a public leak. Mahlangu said last week that the Department's IT experts have found "no indication of data compromise." Until now, the attack has not been claimed by any of the gangs with a data leak site.
NASA Confirms Thousands of Massive, Ancient Volcanic Eruptions On Mars
Scientists found evidence that a region of northern Mars called Arabia Terra
experienced thousands of "super eruptions," the biggest volcanic eruptions known, over a 500-million-year period. NASA reports the findings in a post:
Some volcanoes can produce eruptions so powerful they release oceans of dust and toxic gases into the air, blocking out sunlight and changing a planet's climate for decades. By studying the topography and mineral composition of a portion of the Arabia Terra region in northern Mars, scientists recently found evidence for thousands of such eruptions, or "super eruptions," which are the most violent volcanic explosions known. Spewing water vapor, carbon dioxide, and sulfur dioxide into the air, these explosions tore through the Martian surface over a 500-million-year period about 4 billion years ago. Scientists reported this estimate in a paper published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters in July 2021. "Each one of these eruptions would have had a significant climate impact -- maybe the released gas made the atmosphere thicker or blocked the Sun and made the atmosphere colder," said Patrick Whelley, a geologist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, who led the Arabia Terra analysis. "Modelers of the Martian climate will have some work to do to try to understand the impact of the volcanoes."
One remaining question is how a planet can have only one type of volcano littering a region. On Earth volcanoes capable of super eruptions -- the most recent erupted 76,000 years ago in Sumatra, Indonesia -- are dispersed around the globe and exist in the same areas as other volcano types. Mars, too, has many other types of volcanoes, including the biggest volcano in the solar system called Olympus Mons. Olympus Mons is 100 times larger by volume than Earth's largest volcano of Mauna Loa in Hawaii, and is known as a "shield volcano," which drains lava down a gently sloping mountain. Arabia Terra so far has the only evidence of explosive volcanoes on Mars. It's possible that super-eruptive volcanoes were concentrated in regions on Earth but have been eroded physically and chemically or moved around the globe as continents shifted due to plate tectonics. These types of explosive volcanoes also could exist in regions of Jupiter's moon Io or could have been clustered on Venus. Whatever the case may be, Richardson hopes Arabia Terra will teach scientists something new about geological processes that help shape planets and moons.