Month: July 2019

U.S. Overdose Deaths Dipped In 2018, But Some States Saw ‘Devastating’ Increases

Good news came out from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Wednesday: Preliminary data shows reported drug overdoses declined 4.2% in 2018, after rising precipitously for decades. “It looks like this is the first turnaround since the opioid crisis began,” says Bertha Madras who served on President Trump’s opioid commission , and is a professor of psychobiology at Harvard Medical School. She says it won’t be entirely clear until the CDC finalizes the numbers but, “I think the tide could be turning.” But not everyone was celebrating. Some states actually saw double-digit increases. “It’s deflating,” Rachel Winograd says. She’s an associate research professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. “It’s incredibly discouraging to see the increase in Missouri in 2018 that happened at the same time as we really ramped up so many efforts to save lives and improve lives in our state.” The provisional data shows Missouri deaths increased by 17% — one of 18 states that saw a year

With Coal Revenue Down, Wyoming Eyes Another Opportunity: Storing Spent Nuclear Fuel

Wyoming lawmakers are exploring the possibility of storing spent nuclear fuel rods to bolster the state budget as coal revenue becomes less reliable. Such storage would be temporary, they say, before the material is sent to a permanent repository. James Anderson, a state senator in Wyoming, says the gist would be to store containers of spent fuel at old uranium mines, but the idea is only half-baked. At this point, he and other legislators on a committee created to explore the issue are mostly compiling a list of questions.
Bob Jack makes a comeback in the limelight with a riveting piece – Discovering Your Boundaries.

Bob Jack makes a comeback in the limelight with a riveting piece – Discovering Your Boundaries.

Bob Jack makes a comeback in the limelight with a riveting piece - Discovering Your Boundaries.

Book Cover designed by URLink Print and Media
This book is about the personal paradigms in our lives – the powerful underlying concepts & perceptions that shape our future life and how these mold our attitudes toward commitment. The book holds out the promise that these paradigms can be adjusted by personal experiences and work on oneself, including self-examination and the help of outsiders. Finally the most important behavior that the book encourages everyone to learn is to live within themselves by discovering their personal boundaries.

Author Bob Jack is an established author who has definitely made a stroke in the literary scene through his well-researched writings. He obtained his BA degree in Economics at the California State University in Los Angeles. He also acquired an MBA degree in Strategic Management from the Azuza Pacific University, and obtained his master’s degree in Advanced Management from Claremont Graduate University. He makes a comeback in the limelight with a riveting piece – Discovering Your Boundaries.

Life – when it fails you; when everything flops and every hurdle and struggle seem to be stronger than what a person can handle, you can say this is the true test of your existence. Let your steadfast faith, your self-commitment and life experiences become your stronghold and get back up – break away from the derailed path. Although setting your boundaries is accompanied with realistic strategy in achieving your goals and seeking contentment rely on how you perceive them and how you impose self-discipline. Your urge to obtaining absolute contentment should be your drive throughout the journey. Bob Jack’s piece will guide you – this is your gateway to discovering your boundaries. This is you living within yourself and for your purpose.

The knowledge that Jack acquired throughout his 40 amazing years of executive experience including leadership and management helped him in creating this riveting piece. Prior to attaining such success, he pointed out that the earlier years of his life were all pivotal and substantial – success was not handed clean. It took life coaches and professionals to help the author better understand his boundaries without having to compromise success, financial stability and most importantly, keeping a healthy relationship. You can only imagine how tight he was in achieving his goals and how precise he is in maintaining consistency in every aspect of his life. Clearly, Jack poured his heart to his book. He created it with love and pure dedication. This is a must-read guide for everyone!

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Cottonwood Heights church fire investigated as possible arson; fire officials offer $5,000 reward

UPDATE: United Fire Authority and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for starting the fire.

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah — Authorities are conducting an arson investigation in a church fire that occurred early Sunday morning, causing an estimated $800,000 in damage.

The fire, reported at about 3 a.m., burned part of a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints meetinghouse in Cottonwood Heights.

UFA said Sunday they did not believe the fire was suspicious. However, Monday they asked for the public’s help in identifying and gathering information to help with the investigation and announced the award for information leading to any arrests and convictions on Thursday.

In a press release, UFA asked anyone with information about the “possible identity of the persons or person involved” to contact Cottonwood Heights Police Department at 801-840-4000, Unified Fire Authority Investigations at 801-743-7100 or the ATF at 1-888-ATF-TIPS or online.

Completion of temporary Missouri River levee repairs not likely until 2021

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates it will be 2021 before complete repairs are made to the 52 flood-damaged levees along the Missouri River. Temporary repairs are finished on at least nine sections of levees that were damaged this spring. Bret Budd, chief of the Corps’ System Restoration Team for the Omaha District, says […]

rdnewsNOW showcases the Westerner Days Grub Hub

Who doesn’t love fair food?

Westerner Days is on until Sunday, June 21, and when you’re there, make sure to stop by the rdnewsNOW Grub Hub where you’ll find many a type of culinary creations.

For the second year, the rdnewsNOW team hit up the Grub Hub to show you what’s cookin’…

Dozens get tickets and a lesson in life jacket law

The Department of Natural Resources says conservation officers cited dozens of paddlers earlier this month for not having life jackets on board their kayaks as they floated down the Raccoon River. DNR paddling instructor Todd Robertson, says it is something that shouldn’t be overlooked. “It is law and we do have to understand that maybe […]

SAMBA versus SMB: Adversarial Interoperability is Judo for Network Effects

Before there was Big Tech, there was “adversarial interoperability“: when someone decides to compete with a dominant company by creating a product or service that “interoperates” (works with) its offerings.

In tech, “network effects” can be a powerful force to maintain market dominance: if everyone is using Facebook, then your Facebook replacement doesn’t just have to be better than Facebook, it has to be so much better than Facebook that it’s worth using, even though all the people you want to talk to are still on Facebook. That’s a tall order.

Adversarial interoperability is judo for network effects, using incumbents’ dominance against them. To see how that works, let’s look at a historical example of adversarial interoperability role in helping to unseat a monopolist’s dominance.

The first skirmishes of the PC wars were fought with incompatible file formats and even data-storage formats: Apple users couldn’t open files made by Microsoft users, and vice-versa. Even when file formats were (more or less) harmonized, there was still the problems of storage media: the SCSI drive you plugged into your Mac needed a special add-on and flaky driver software to work on your Windows machine; the ZIP cartridge you formatted for your PC wouldn’t play nice with Macs.

But as office networking spread, the battle moved to a new front: networking compatibility. AppleTalk, Apple’s proprietary protocol for connecting up Macs and networked devices like printers, pretty much Just Worked, providing you were using a Mac. If you were using a Windows PC, you had to install special, buggy, unreliable software.

And for Apple users hoping to fit in at Windows shops, the problems were even worse: Windows machines used the SMB protocol for file-sharing and printers, and Microsoft’s support for MacOS was patchy at best, nonexistent at worst, and costly besides. Businesses sorted themselves into Mac-only and PC-only silos, and if a Mac shop needed a PC (for the accounting software, say), it was often cheaper and easier just to get the accountant their own printer and backup tape-drive, rather than try to get that PC to talk to the network. Likewise, all PC-shops with a single graphic designer on a Mac—that person would often live offline, disconnected from the office network, tethered to their own printer, with their own stack of Mac-formatted ZIP cartridges or CD-ROMs.

All that started to change in 1993: that was the year that an Australian PhD candidate named Andrew Tridgell licensed his SAMBA package as free/open source software and exposed it to the wide community of developers looking to connect their non-Microsoft computers—Unix and GNU/Linux servers, MacOS workstations—to the dominant Microsoft LANs.

SAMBA was created by using a “packet sniffer” to ingest raw SMB packets as they traversed a local network; these intercepted packets gave Tridgell the insight he needed to reverse-engineer Microsoft’s proprietary networking protocol. Tridgell prioritized compatibility with LAN Manager, a proprietary Network Operating System that enterprise networks made heavy use of. If SAMBA could be made to work in LAN Manager networks, then you could connect a Mac to a PC network—or vice-versa—and add some Unix servers and use a mix of SAMBA and SMB to get them all to play nice with one another.

The timing of Tridgell’s invention was crucial: in 1993, Microsoft had just weathered the Federal Trade Commission’s antitrust investigation of its monopoly tactics, squeaking through thanks to a 2-2 deadlock among the commissioners, and was facing down a monopoly investigation by the Department of Justice.

The growth of local-area networks greatly accelerated Microsoft’s dominance. It’s one thing to dominate the desktop, another entirely to leverage that dominance so that no one else can make an operating system that connects to networks that include computers running that dominant system. Network administrators of the day were ready to throw in the towel and go all-Microsoft for everything from design workstations to servers.

SAMBA changed all that. What’s more, as Microsoft updated SMB, SAMBA matched them, relying on a growing cadre of software authors who relied on SAMBA to keep their own networks running.

The emergence of SAMBA in the period when Microsoft’s dominance was at its peak, the same year that the US government tried and failed to address that dominance, was one of the most salutary bits of timing in computing history, carving out a new niche for Microsoft’s operating system rivals that gave them space to breathe and grow. It’s certainly possible that without SAMBA, Microsoft could have leveraged its operating system, LAN and application dominance to crush all rivals.

So What Happened?

We don’t see a lot of SAMBA-style stories anymore, despite increased concentration of various sectors of the tech market and a world crying out for adversarial interoperability judo throws.

Indeed, investors seem to have lost their appetite for funding companies that might disrupt the spectacularly profitable Internet monopolists of 2019, ceding them those margins and deeming their territory to be a “kill zone.”

VCs have not lost their appetite for making money, and toolsmiths have not lost the urge to puncture the supposedly airtight bubbles around the Big Tech incumbents, so why is it so hard to find a modern David with the stomach to face off against 2019’s Goliaths?

To find the answer, look to the law. As monopolists have conquered more and more of the digital realm, they have invested some of those supernormal profits in law and policy that lets them fend off adversarial interoperators.

One legal weapon is “Terms of Service”: both Facebook and Blizzard have secured judgments giving their fine print the force of law, and now tech giants use clickthrough agreements that amount to, “By clicking here, you promise that you won’t try to adversarially interoperate with us.”

A modern SAMBA project would have to contend with this liability, and Microsoft would argue that anyone who took the step of installing SMB had already agreed that they wouldn’t try to reverse-engineer it to make a compatible product.

Then there’s “anti-circumvention,” a feature of 1998’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Under Section 1201 of the DMCA, bypassing a “copyright access control” can put you in both criminal and civil jeopardy, regardless of whether there’s any copyright infringement. DMCA 1201 was originally used to stop companies from making region-free DVD players or modding game consoles to play unofficial games (neither of which is a copyright violation!).

But today, DMCA 1201 is used to control competitors, critics, and customers. Any device with software in it contains a “copyrighted work,” so manufacturers need only set up an “access control” and they can exert legal control over all kinds of uses of the product.

Their customers can only use the product in ways that don’t involve bypassing the “access control,” and that can be used to force you to buy only one brand of ink or use apps from only one app store.

Their critics—security researchers auditing their cybersecurity—can’t publish proof-of-concept to back up their claims about vulnerabilities in the systems.

And competitors can’t bypass access controls to make compatible products: third party app stores, compatible inks, or a feature-for-feature duplicate of a dominant company’s networking protocol.

Someone attempting to replicate the SAMBA creation feat in 2019 would likely come up against an access control that needed to be bypassed in order to peer inside the protocol’s encrypted outer layer in order to create a feature-compatible tool to use in competing products.

Another thing that’s changed (for the worse) since 1993 is the proliferation of software patents. Software patenting went into high gear around 1994 and consistently gained speed until 2014, when Alice v. CLS Bank put the brakes on (today, Alice is under threat). After decades of low-quality patents issuing from the US Patent and Trademark Office, there are so many trivial, obvious and overlapping software patents in play that anyone trying to make a SAMBA-like product would run a real risk of being threatened with expensive litigation for patent infringement.

This thicket of legal anti-adversarial-interoperability dangers has been a driver of market concentration, and the beneficiaries of market concentration have also spent lavishly to expand and strengthen the thicket. It’s gotten so bad that even some “open standards organizations” have standardized easy-to-use ways of legally prohibiting adversarial interoperability, locking in the dominance of the largest browser vendors.

The idea that wildly profitable businesses would be viewed as unassailable threats by investors and entrepreneurs (rather than as irresistible targets) tells you everything you need to know about the state of competition today. As we look to cut the Big Tech giants down to size, let’s not forget that tech once thronged with Davids eager to do battle with Goliaths, and that this throng would be ours to command again, if only we would re-arm it.

Province decides MEL Society no longer eligible for FCSS funding

The Alberta Government has decided it will no longer fund the Medical Equipment Lending Society in Rocky Mountain House through the Family and Community Support Services program, and that they want the $18,000 back that was sent to it earlier this year.

“They consider the MEL Society to be medical in nature, and not FCSS eligible due to the service not directly being a preventative society program, and the service being aligned with another ministry.” FCSS Manager Andrea Vassallo told Rocky Mountain House Town Council.

Vassallo said the province is now wanting the local municipalities to cover the cost associated with the program. The funding would be split on a population basis with $6,368.40 from Rocky Mountain House, $523.80 from the Village of Caroline, and $11,107.80 from Clearwater County.

“The unfortunate thing is, if we don’t have a local MEL society, then people are forced to travel to Red Deer, and vulnerable populations often have difficulties affording transportation,” states Vassallo.

The money given from the municipalities would have to go straight back to the FCSS as the MEL Society has already spent the money.

The Town of Rocky Mountain House is the first to agree to pay their share of the funds that aligns with the request of the Clearwater Regional FCSS.

$900-million settlement reached in class action on sexual misconduct in military

OTTAWA – The federal government is paying $900 million to settle multiple class-action lawsuits lodged on behalf of survivors of sexual harassment, gender discrimination and sexual assault in the military.

The settlement provides $800 million for members of the Canadian Armed Forces and $100 million in compensation for another class of employees of the Department of National Defence.

Over the past few years, participants in several lawsuits alleging similar misconduct and systemic problems in the military agreed to co-operate in their legal actions against the government.

The government had originally sought to defend itself in court against the lawsuits, filing documents in December 2017 in an attempt to quash them.

But after facing criticism, the government moved to begin settlement proceedings in early 2018.

In Thursday’s settlement, the government also promises an external review of existing anti-harassment programs and revisions to how it deals with disability benefits for survivors of sexual assault or harassment.

The Canadian Press