[-] [email protected] 1 points 14 minutes ago

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In a community cafe in Rock Ferry, one of the most deprived parts of Wirral, a landline phone connected directly to Frank Field’s Westminster office.

Field, who represented Birkenhead for 40 years, could often be found mingling with residents in the Neo Community centre, where he would make himself at home, even down to washing the dishes.

“He would just rock up all the time and sit in the middle of the cafe chatting to people,” said Ema Wilkes, the founder and chief executive of Neo Community, which distributes foods to thousands of local families each year thanks to the Feeding Birkenhead scheme set up by the former MP.

Jackie Knox, 62, remembers Field helping her mother with a minor dispute over some building work encroaching on to her terrace house decades ago.

In 2017 he reduced other MPs to tears when he described how one resident said they had had a “lucky week” because their family had been invited to a funeral and so they could eat the food left over after the wake.

Three years earlier, Field had established Feeding Birkenhead, which brings together churches, food banks, community groups and other organisations to try to eliminate hunger in the town, one of the UK’s poorest.

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[-] [email protected] 1 points 24 minutes ago

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Labour will fully nationalise the train network within five years of coming to power, with a pledge to guarantee the cheapest fares as part of “the biggest reform of our railways for a generation”.

In a speech on Thursday, the shadow transport secretary, Louise Haigh, will say renationalisation “is not going to be easy and it will take hard graft, but it will be my mission to get us to the right destination and to deliver for the Great British passenger”.

Labour insiders hailed the announcement as the moment the party would begin to champion its more radical proposals in the run-up to an election campaign, after a number of U-turns including over green investment.

Haigh, one of the most left-leaning remaining members of the shadow cabinet with close links to the unions, has been able to protect her renationalisation policy despite intense lobbying efforts to water it down.

Mick Whelan, its general secretary, said: “The commitment delivers for the economy, for the taxpayer, for passengers and for staff,” adding that privatisation had “allowed a few companies to make enormous profits, which have taken much-needed money out of the sector”.

Labour underlined that it would not extend renationalisation to the ownership of the actual trains, as urged by unions including the RMT, by publicising an endorsement by Mary Grant, the highly paid chief executive of the rolling stock leasing firm Porterbrook.

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[-] [email protected] 1 points 1 hour ago

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The firings come several days after chief executive Sundar Pichai told employees in a companywide memo that they should not use the company as a “personal platform” or “fight over disruptive issues or debate politics.”

“The corporation is attempting to quash dissent, silence its workers and reassert its power over them,” said Jane Chung, a spokesperson for No Tech for Apartheid, a group that has protested Google’s and Amazon’s contracts with the Israeli government since 2021.

The day before the Google sit-ins, activists blocked highways, bridges and airport entrances across the United States to protest the war in Gaza.

After circulating a petition regarding Google’s work with Israel among other employees, Mohammad Khatami, one of the fired workers, said he was called into a meeting with human resources and “accused of supporting terrorism.”

For years, Google had a reputation as the most free and open among the Big Tech companies in terms of office culture and collaboration.

“We have a culture of vibrant, open discussion that enables us to create amazing products and turn great ideas into action,” he said in the memo, which the company posted online.

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[-] [email protected] 1 points 1 hour ago

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The Senate last night approved a bill that orders TikTok owner ByteDance to sell the company within 270 days or lose access to the US market.

The "Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act" was approved as part of a larger appropriations bill that provides aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan.

"Congress is not acting to punish ByteDance, TikTok, or any other individual company," Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) said, according to the Associated Press.

"Congress is acting to prevent foreign adversaries from conducting espionage, surveillance, maligned operations, harming vulnerable Americans, our servicemen and women, and our US government personnel."

Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) expressed concern that the bill "provides broad authority that could be abused by a future administration to violate Americans' First Amendment rights."

In a statement today, TikTok said it "will ultimately prevail" in court and that "we have invested billions of dollars to keep US data safe and our platform free from outside influence and manipulation."

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[-] [email protected] 1 points 1 hour ago

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The unknown hackers, who may have ties to the North Korean government, pulled off this feat by performing a man-in-the-middle (MitM) attack that replaced the genuine update with a file that installed an advanced backdoor instead, said researchers from security firm Avast today.

eScan, an AV service headquartered in India, has delivered updates over HTTP since at least 2019, Avast researchers reported.

This protocol presented a valuable opportunity for installing the malware, which is tracked in security circles under the name GuptiMiner.

"This sophisticated operation has been performing MitM attacks targeting an update mechanism of the eScan antivirus vendor," Avast researchers Jan Rubín and Milánek wrote.

The threat actors then performed a MitM attack that allowed them to intercept the package sent by the update server and replace it with a corrupted one that contained code to install GuptiMiner.

Some variants of the infection chain stashed the malicious code inside an image file to make them harder to detect.

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[-] [email protected] 1 points 1 hour ago

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However, a raft of productivity apps are also due to drop out of support, meaning a double or triple whammy for administrators dealing with upgrades.

In March 2021, we confronted a serious reality: state sponsored threat actors were targeting on-premises Exchange servers."

Since then, Microsoft has focused on patching vulnerabilities within Exchange Server but has steadfastly refused to change the end of support date.

Microsoft also announced at the Ignite 2020 event that it planned to release a versionless on-premises solution dubbed vNext, saying that the upgrade from Skype for Business 2019 to vNext would be smooth, and the new server would be "the easiest path to migrate users to Teams in the future."

In 2023, analyst Directions on Microsoft asked a simple question: "Where is Skype for Business vNext?"

We asked Microsoft about the whereabouts of Skype for Business vNext and will update should the company have any information to share.

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[-] [email protected] 1 points 1 hour ago

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“People have been dreaming of high-speed rail in America for decades,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg before taking a stage with union representatives and company officials at the future site of a terminal to be built just south of the Las Vegas Strip.

Buttigieg cited Biden administration support for the project that he said will bring thousands of union jobs, boost local economies and cut traffic and air pollution.

Brightline West, whose sister company already operates a fast train between Miami and Orlando in Florida, aims to lay 218 miles (351 kilometers) of new track almost all in the median of Interstate 15 between Las Vegas and Rancho Cucamonga, California.

Officials hope the train line will relieve congestion on I-15, where drivers often sit in miles of crawling traffic while returning home to Southern California from a Las Vegas weekend.

But fast train connections for other U.S. cities have been floated, including Dallas to Houston; Atlanta to Charlotte, North Carolina; Chicago to St. Louis; and Seattle to Portland, Oregon.

In California, a proposed 500-mile (805-kilometer) rail line linking Los Angeles and San Francisco was approved by voters in 2008, but has been beset by rising costs and routing disputes.

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[-] [email protected] 1 points 1 hour ago

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When Marisa Fernández lost her husband to cancer a few years ago, her employers at the Eroski hypermarket went, she says, “above and beyond to help me through the dark days afterwards, rejigging my timetable and giving me time off when I couldn’t face coming in.”

Fernández, 58, who started on the cashier desk 34 years ago, and now manages the store’s non-food section, volunteered to work extra shifts over the weekend along with her colleagues to ensure everything was ready for Monday morning.

The list ranges from the sovereignty of labour and democratic organisation (one member, one vote), to wage solidarity and “social transformation” – which includes reinvesting surpluses to create new jobs, supporting local charities and community development projects, and strengthening the Basque Country’s Euskara language.

Overlaying these images are facts and figures that would have mainstream financiers salivating: €10.6bn (£9.1bn) in annual revenues; a dozen research and development facilities; a global roster of blue-chip clients; and a diversified sector spread – industry, retail, finance and education.

Pinned to a cork noticeboard beside a busy production line are photos of a recent charity run, a printout of donations to local causes (including €60,000 for a nearby organic food association), and a poster about a forthcoming “women in science” event.

The rise in mainstream corporations now talking the language of employee autonomy, horizontal management, dignified wages and similar themes suggests co-operativism is leaving its mark on business company practices if not – yet – on capitalist ownership

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[-] [email protected] 1 points 2 hours ago

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Last year water companies were ordered to cut more than £100m from customers’ bills after repeated failures to stop sewage pollution.

Richard Benwell, CEO of Wildlife and Countryside Link, said: “The growth duty once again privileges business bottom lines over nature.

Political parties should commit instead to a new green duty on regulators to ensure they take action to stop climate change and restore nature.”

The Liberal Democrat environment spokesperson, Tim Farron MP, said: “Conservative MPs have just voted to help water firms get off the hook.

A government spokesperson said: “Ofwat continues to have very clear environmental responsibilities to ensure water companies comply with existing protections, and the growth duty will not change that.

“This extension allows Ofwat to more effectively deliver economic growth alongside its regular duties and does not in any way restrict how regulators enforce the industry.”

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[-] [email protected] 2 points 3 hours ago

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden signed into law on Wednesday a $95 billion war aid measure that includes assistance for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan and that also has a provision that would force social media site TikTok to be sold or be banned in the U.S.

The European anxiety was heightened in February when Trump in a campaign speech warned NATO allies that he “would encourage” Russia “to do whatever the hell they want” to countries that don’t meet defense spending goals if he returns to the White House.

Biden in August requested more than $20 billion to keep aid flowing into Ukraine, but the money was stripped out of a must-pass spending bill even as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy traveled to Washington to make a personal plea for continued U.S. backing.

Biden had success finding common ground with Republicans earlier in his term to win the passage of a $1 trillion infrastructure deal, legislation to boost the U.S. semiconductor industry, and an expansion of federal health care services for veterans exposed to toxic smoke from burn pits.

In public, the administration deployed a strategy of downgrading intelligence that demonstrated Russia’s efforts to tighten its ties with U.S. adversaries China, North Korea and Iran to fortify Moscow’s defense industrial complex and get around U.S. and European sanctions.

For example, U.S. officials this month laid out intelligence findings that showed China has surged sales to Russia of machine tools, microelectronics and other technology that Moscow in turn is using to produce missiles, tanks, aircraft and other weaponry.

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[-] [email protected] 1 points 4 hours ago

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The pupils of our eyes get larger when we are focusing on a task–and the size may give clues about our working memory capabilities, a new study has found.

Moreover, they found that the more a person's eyes dilated when focusing on a task, the better they did on tests measuring their working memory.

They found that the pupils were more dilated in people who focused more intensely and consistently paid attention—and they performed better on the memory tasks.

"What we found was that the lowest performers on the tasks showed less pupil dilation," Robison said in a press statement.

"For the highest-performing participants, their pupil dilations were both larger overall and the individuals were more discerning about the information they were asked to recall."

"This is exciting research because it adds another valuable piece of the puzzle to our understanding of why working memory varies between individuals."

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[-] [email protected] 2 points 4 hours ago

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This message was driven home loud and clear Wednesday when the European Commission announced an investigation into China’s public procurement of medical devices, confirming an earlier report by POLITICO.

Trade tensions grew after the Commission opened a high-profile investigation into state subsidies for made-in-China electric vehicles in October, with China retaliating by launching an anti-dumping probe into European brandy exports.

The EU has been preparing the procurement investigation for months — with Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen giving the final green light this week.

Miriam D’Ambrosio, spokesperson for trade association MedTech Europe, said that while the organization had not submitted a complaint to the Commission to trigger the IPI investigation, the industry faces a difficult business environment.

In a hint the Commission was taking those concerns seriously, EU trade chief Valdis Dombrovskis said in September that “further work” was needed to “improve public procurement access for European medical devices.”

In its notice of initiation published Wednesday in the Official Journal, the first formal step of the inquiry, the European Commission warned that China’s practices result “in a serious and recurrent impairment of access of Union economic operators, goods and services to the PRC’s public procurement market for medical devices."

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