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‘You can’t even face your own parents’, activist against cyberbullying tells Human Rights Council


According to findings from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), 130 million students worldwide experience bullying, which has been exacerbated by the spread of digital technologies. UNICEF estimates that one in every three students from 13 to 15 is a victim. 

Suicide risk

The Council heard heartfelt testimony from 15-year-old Santa Rose Mary, a children’s advocate from Uganda, who said that once one’s personal information or intimate photos have been shared online, “you can’t even face the community where you live, you can’t even face your own parents”. 

She warned that such situations can bring a child to take their own life when they “have that feeling of not being needed in the community”.

UN deputy human rights chief Nada Al-Nashif noted that according to the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), cyberbullying affects girls almost twice as much as boys

Far-reaching effects

Ms. Al-Nashif quoted research from the UN World Health Organization (WHO), showing that children who are subject to bullying are more likely to skip school, perform less well on tests and can suffer sleeplessness and psychosomatic pain. 

Some studies also show “far-reaching effects extending into adulthood”, such as high prevalence of depression and unemployment, she said.

Getting it right

Ms. Al-Nashif told the Council that the “complex” topic of cyberbullying lies at the intersection of human rights, digital and policy issues.

“To get this right, we must adopt a holistic approach, and address root causes”, she said, underscoring that “central to this is the voice of children themselves”.

She also stressed the “centrality and power of companies in the online space”, insisting on the responsibility of tech companies to provide adapted privacy tools and follow content moderation guidelines “in line with international human rights standards”. 

15 million attacks: Facebook and Instagram

A representative of Meta, Safety Policy Director Deepali Liberhan, took part in the discussion and spoke to the magnitude of the problem.

She said in the third quarter of 2023 alone, some 15 million pieces of content had been detected on Meta’s platforms Facebook and Instagram that constituted bullying and harassment; most were proactively removed by Meta before even being reported, she said. 

Ms. Liberhan highlighted the company’s content moderation policies and ways in which Meta was enforcing them on its platforms, partnering with experts to inform the action it takes, and incorporating anti-bullying tools into the user experience.

School violence and bullying, including cyberbullying, is widespread and affects a significant number of children and adolescents.

School violence and bullying, including cyberbullying, is widespread and affects a significant number of children and adolescents.

Collective responsibility 

At the conclusion of the session, panellist Philip Jaffé, Member of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, stressed the “collective” responsibility for the safety of our children.

“We need to make children more aware of their rights and make States and other components of society more aware of their obligations to protect [them],” he insisted.

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Hollywood writers agree to end five-month strike after studio deal


They can return to work while they vote on whether to approve a three-year deal that offers pay rises.

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Let Tube Archivist organize your YouTube collection


Tube Archivist indexes videos or entire channels from YouTube in order to download them with the help of the yt-dlp tool.

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World News in Brief: Crisis deepens for Mali’s children, human rights updates from Brazil, Montenegro


UNICEF Representative in Mali, Pierre Ngom, told reporters in Geneva that dozens of children have been killed this month alone by non-State armed groups in the north and centre of the country. 

An attack on a boat on the Gao-Timbuktu axis on 7 September claimed the lives of at least 24 youngsters.

Mr. Ngom called for urgent action to protect and support children in Mali: “Investments in peace and security must go hand in hand with getting all children in school and learning, fully vaccinated, protected from grave violations, and free from malnutrition.”

Peacekeeping withdrawl

He said that heightened insecurity has been further amplified by the ongoing departure of UN peacekeepers.

The UN Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) pull-out is scheduled for the end of the year. Mr. Ngom underscored that MINUSMA was helping ensure the safety of UNICEF teams implementing vaccination campaigns in insecure zones.

According to UNICEF, with just a few weeks until the start of the 2023-2024 academic year, more than 1,500 out of 9,000 schools are not functional.

In the southeastern Ménaka region, half of all schools are closed. In all, half a million children are affected, but UNICEF is working with the Government to provide classes through radio programming, and recruit community volunteers to fill in for teachers. 

Brazil: UN rights office hails ‘encouraging’ ruling on Indigenous Peoples’ land claims

The UN human rights office (OHCHR) welcomed on Tuesday a recent Brazilian Supreme Court ruling in favour of a land rights case brought by Indigenous Peoples. 

OHCHR said that the landmark decision rejected time restrictions on Indigenous People’s claims to their ancestral land and called it “very encouraging”.

An opposing legal argument would have blocked Indigenous Peoples who were not living on their ancestral land 35 years ago from laying claim to it today; 1988 was the year when Brazil’s constitution was adopted. 

OHCHR said that such limits would have “perpetuated and aggravated historic injustices suffered by Brazil´s Indigenous Peoples”.

The UN rights office said that it remained concerned that a draft bill currently being discussed in Congress was seeking to impose the 1988 deadline which has now been rejected by the Supreme Court.

Failure to ensure judicial independence impeding justice in Montenegro: UN expert

Failure to elect a seventh member of the Constitutional Court, the Supreme State Prosecutor and new lay members of Montenegro’s judicial council, has put plans for judicial reform at risk there, an independent UN rights expert said on Tuesday.

Margaret Satterthwaite, UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers said in a statement at the end of an official visit there that this would hinder access to justice “for all its citizens.” 

She added that Montenegro’s Parliament had failed, on multiple occasions, to elect the new members needed to staff these important institutions.

“As a result, strategic leadership in these institutions is lacking, and planning and action for reform of the system is not possible”, she said.

‘Country above politics’

“Members of Parliament must put the interests of their country above politics, and ensure these appointments take place without any further delay.” 

Ms. Satterthwaite said she had met with judges and prosecutors who reported working in conditions that were manifestly underfunded.

Buildings were old, too small, and in a poor state of repair. There was insufficient office space, creating security risks for judges and prosecutors. Up to date information technology and digitalisation was severely lacking, she said.

“During my visits to courts, I was shocked to see and hear about inadequate facilities for storage of archives and evidence, including firearms and drugs,” the independent expert added.

Special Rapporteurs and other independent experts are appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, are not staff and do not receive a salary for their investigative work. 

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The writers strike is over; here’s how AI negotiations shook out


After almost five months, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) has reached an agreement with Hollywood studios to end the writers strike. Starting Wednesday, writers will be able to resume work under the conditions established by their new contract.

During the historic strike, AI emerged as a key point of contention between the writers and studios. Though text-based generative AI tools like ChatGPT are very creatively limited as they stand, writers worried that studios would still try to take advantage of these fast-developing tools to avoid paying union members.

“I’m not worried about the technology,” comedy writer Adam Conover told TechCrunch at the start of the strike. “I’m worried about the companies using technology, that is not in fact very good, to undermine our working conditions.”

Along with better residual payments, minimum writers room staffing, and other terms that help screenwriters make a living, the WGA’s new contract outlines limitations on how AI can be used in writers’ rooms.

Per the agreement, AI cannot be used to write or rewrite scripts, and AI-generated writing cannot be considered source material, which prevents writers from losing out on writing credits due to AI.

On an individual level, writers can choose to use AI tools if they so desire. However, a company cannot mandate that writers use certain AI tools while working on a production. Studios must also tell writers if they are given any AI-generated materials to incorporate into a work.

As the WGA’s summary of the contract states, “The WGA reserves the right to assert that exploitation of writers’ material to train AI is prohibited by [the contract] or other law.”

Currently, the legal relationship between large language models and copyrighted material is murky. But where federal and state law lags behind, the WGA’s bargaining agreement makes clear that union members do not consent to their work being used to train studios’ AIs.

The actors union, SAG-AFTRA, remains on strike, and on Monday, its members voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike against the video game industry as well. While bargaining on behalf of stunt, motion capture and voice actors in video games, SAG-AFTRA has also expressed concerns about how AI could be used to undermine union members’ creative work.

“For many performers, their first job may be their last, as companies become increasingly eager to scan our members or train AI with their voices as soon as they show up for work,” reads the SAG-AFTRA website.

It’s yet to be determined how the contract for SAG-AFTRA members will pan out, but the WGA’s agreement sets a precedent for establishing limitations against how AI can be used in creative professions.

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FOSSPicks » Linux Magazine


Graham looks at Graphite, retrogram~rtlsdr, Piano Forte, OneTrick SIMIAN, The Command Line Murders, and more!

Vector image editor


Open source art and design tools have transformed what is possible for anyone needing digital illustration. It wasn’t so long ago that costly applications such as Photoshop or Illustrator were the only ways to produce professional output, but that has changed. Tools such as Inkscape and Krita can do just as well, and even the humble Gimp is great for multilayer bitmap editing – no subscriptions required. The new software idea in design and illustration tools is non-destructive node graph editing, and outside of Blender, open source options are currently few and far between. Graphite, however, is one such option, and while it’s only early in the developmental phase, and currently only available within a web browser, it’s an entirely open source vector graphics editor that promises a native Linux desktop client soon.

With non-destructive node graph editing, each distinctive tool or process you use adds a “node” to a graph, with each node linked to both the previous edit and the subsequent edit. A final session will consequently look like a row of various nodes all linked together. Graphite shows this graph beneath the editing canvas, and it’s the only part of the UI that comes from other graphics applications. There’s a large tool palette on the left, individual properties for tools on the right, and the canvas itself in the center. The palette includes tools for freehand drawing, a path generator, various shapes to draw, advanced typesetting, and flood-fill with lots of gradients. It’s all beautifully designed and rendered. Every element is drawn perfectly at the native resolution of your display. Even in a web browser, it’s fast to use. It may not be ideal, but it does also mean you can collaborate on an illustration, and it will even work on a smartphone or Android tablet. You can import images and use both raster and vector images as your sources and output, and HDR and WCG are supported for color rendering. The back-end render engine is “resolution-agnostic,” which means your designs are kept as algorithms until they’re finally exported at whatever size or resolution you need, as either a PNG, JPEG, or SVG file. Even raster images become infinitely scalable, with no pixelation, thanks to Graphite’s own scaling algorithms.

The properties for the path generator allow for transformations, solid fills, and gradient fills, with different types of strokes for the lines. It’s these properties, and the properties of the other tools, that you can revisit at any time by clicking on the node for the edit in the graph. And it’s exactly this kind of nonlinear editing that makes Graphite so powerful. It means you can busy yourself with the important parts of a design or illustration, such as its layout and arrangement, without worrying about the exact details such as widths or colors because these can always be adjusted later. If you’re doing work for a client, it means you can always go back to earlier steps in the design process to change properties without affecting later edits or values. This approach could also be potentially automated, and Graphite hopes to incorporate this parametric editing into studio production environments.


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Ban smoking and vaping in schools worldwide urges WHO


According to the UN health agency, the tobacco industry’s approach has resulted in increased use of e-cigarettes, with nine out of 10 smokers starting before the age of 18 – and some as early as 11. 

“Considering that children spend nearly one-third of their waking hours in school, and much of the peer pressure they encounter occurs within these educational environments, schools play a pivotal role,” WHO said.

Schools are in “a uniquely powerful position to play a major role in reducing the serious problem of smoking and other tobacco and nicotine use by kids”.

The appeal of e-cigarettes

Although smoking has continued to decline among European teens, WHO reported that there has been a rise in novel and emerging tobacco and nicotine products – including electronic cigarettes.

The UN agency pointed out these products have been made more affordable for young people owing to the sale of single-use cigarettes and e-cigarettes, which also typically lack health warnings. 

“If we don’t take urgent action now, we risk seeing the next generation of tobacco and nicotine users recruited through tobacco industries’ unethical practices,” said Dr Hans Henri Kluge, Regional Director for WHO European Region.

Vaping involves heating a liquid and inhaling the aerosol into the lungs.

Vaping involves heating a liquid and inhaling the aerosol into the lungs.

New guidance

The alert comes as the WHO released two new publications to coincide with the return to school of children in many countries of the global north: “Freedom from tobacco and nicotine: guide for schools,” and the “Nicotine and Tobacco-Free Schools Toolkit”.

The launch also coincided with a warning last month by regulators in the United States that companies must stop selling illegal e-cigarettes that appeal to youth by resembling school supplies, cartoon characters, and even teddy bears.

“Whether sitting in class, playing games outside or waiting at the school bus stop, we must protect young people from deadly second-hand smoke and toxic e-cigarette emissions as well as ads promoting these products,” said Dr Ruediger Krech, WHO Director of Health Promotion.

“It is deeply concerning that the tobacco industry is still targeting young people and makes vast profits, harming their health”, he continued.

Schools must be safe spaces for young people, where they are free from exposure to, or pressure to use nicotine products. Creating a smoke- and nicotine-free environment in school settings is fundamental to helping prevent young people from starting smoking”.

The WHO guides also highlight countries that have successfully implemented policies in support of tobacco and nicotine-free campuses. They include India, Indonesia, Ireland, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Qatar, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Ukraine.

‘Whole-of-school’ approach

WHO emphasized a “whole-of-school” approach to creating nicotine and tobacco-free campuses. Input is needed from teachers, staff, students and parents, WHO maintained. 

The UN health agency’s documents include information on how to support students wanting to quit, education campaigns, implementing policies and how to enforce them.

Advice to educators and policymakers includes:

  • Banning nicotine and tobacco products on school campuses 
  • Prohibiting the sale of products near schools 
  • Banning direct and indirect ads and promotion of nicotine and tobacco products near classrooms
  • Refusing sponsorship or engagement with tobacco and nicotine industries, for instance for school projects.

Dangers of tobacco smoke

Speaking to journalists in Geneva, WHO medical officer Dr Kerstin Schotte warned that tobacco kills “eight million people every year, or one person every four seconds”.

Meanwhile, 1.3 million people who die from tobacco smoke don’t even use the product themselves but breathe in second-hand smoke.

Dr Schotte noted that “half of the world’s children breathe tobacco polluted air and as a consequence, 51,000 children die every year due to exposure to tobacco smoke”. 

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NASA’s Chandra rewinds story of great eruption of the 1840s


Credit: NASA / SAO / GSFC / M. Corcoran et al.

Using snapshots taken over 20 years with NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, astronomers have learned important new details about an eruption from Eta Carinae witnessed on Earth in the mid-19th century.

Chandra data spanning decades has been combined into a new movie that contains frames of Eta Carinae from 1999, 2003, 2009, 2014, and 2020. Astronomers used the Chandra observations, along with data from ESA’s (European Space Agency’s) XMM-Newton, to watch as the stellar from 180 years ago continues to expand into space at speeds up to 4.5 million miles per hour. The new insights gleaned from Eta Carinae show how different space observatories can work together to help us understand changes in the universe that unfold on human timescales.

A paper describing these results appears in The Astrophysical Journal.

Eta Carinae is a system that contains two massive stars (one is about 90 times the mass of the sun and the other is believed to be about 30 times the sun’s mass). In the middle of the 19th century, Eta Carinae was observed to experience a huge explosion that have dubbed the “Great Eruption.” During this event, Eta Carinae ejected between 10 and 45 times the mass of the sun. This material became a dense pair of spherical clouds of gas, now called the Homunculus Nebula, on opposite sides of the two stars.

A bright ring of X-rays around the Homunculus Nebula was discovered about 50 years ago and studied in previous Chandra work. The new movie from Chandra, plus a deep image generated by adding the data together, reveal important hints about Eta Carinae’s volatile history, including rapid expansion of the ring and a previously unknown faint shell of X-rays outside it.

“We’ve interpreted this faint X-ray shell as the from the Great Eruption in the 1840s,” said Michael Corcoran at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, who led the study. “It tells an important part of Eta Carinae’s backstory that we wouldn’t otherwise have known.”

Because the newly discovered outer X-ray shell has a similar shape and orientation to the Homunculus Nebula, Corcoran and his colleagues think both structures have a common origin.

The idea is that material was blasted away from Eta Carinae well before the 1843 Great Eruption—sometime between 1200 and 1800, based on the motion of clumps of gas previously seen in data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. Later, the fast blast wave from the Great Eruption tore through space, colliding with and heating the clumps to millions of degrees to create the bright X-ray ring. The blast wave has now traveled beyond the bright ring.

Credit: NASA

“The shape of this faint X-ray shell is a plot twist in my mind,” said co-author Kenji Hamaguchi, a researcher at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and NASA Goddard. “It shows us that the faint shell, the Homunculus, and the bright inner ring likely all come from eruptions from the star system.”

With XMM-Newton, the researchers saw that the X-ray brightness of Eta Carinae has faded with time, agreeing with previous observations of the system obtained with NASA’s Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) telescope on the International Space Station. The authors applied a simple model to estimate how bright Eta Carinae was in X-rays at the time of the Great Eruption and combined this with the speed of the material—determined from the movie—to estimate how quickly the high-speed gas was ejected.

The researchers combined this information with an estimate of how much gas was ejected to determine that the Great Eruption likely consisted of two explosions. There was a first, quick ejection of a small amount of fast, low-density gas which produced the X-ray blast wave. This was followed by the slower ejection of dense gas that eventually formed the Homunculus Nebula.

A team led by Nathan Smith of the University of Arizona, one of the co-authors of the new X-ray study, has previously suggested that the Great Eruption was caused by the merger of two stars, in what was originally a triple system. This would also explain the ring-like structure seen in X-rays because it would cause material to be ejected in a flat plane.

“The story of Eta Carinae just keeps getting more interesting,” said Smith. “All evidence is suggesting that Eta Carinae survived a very powerful explosion that would normally obliterate a star. I can’t wait for the next episode of data to find out what other surprises Eta Carinae has in store for us.”

More information:
Michael F. Corcoran et al, The Expansion of the X-Ray Nebula Around η Car, The Astrophysical Journal (2022). DOI: 10.3847/1538-4357/ac8f27

NASA’s Chandra rewinds story of great eruption of the 1840s (2023, September 26)
retrieved 27 September 2023
from https://phys.org/news/2023-09-nasa-chandra-rewinds-story-great.html

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Tutorial – Duplicati » Linux Magazine


Duplicati lets you create backups of your data in next to no time – both locally and in the cloud.

It can’t be said often enough: Backups are important. This is something you painfully realize at the moment when you need to restore something and don’t have a backup. This magazine regularly presents backup applications and strategies to help readers avoid this kind of situation. Restoring the data in case of an emergency is equally as important as creating a backup, and something you definitely need to test up front.

The more valuable the data, the more important it is to have a well thought out backup strategy. For example, you could store backups locally for ease of access, but at the same time keep another backup in a secure location outside your home. This can be accomplished with a wide variety of tools for a wide variety of requirements. Duplicati [1] lets you do both with ease.

Duplicati Lab

Continuously evolving since 2009, Duplicati promises to securely store encrypted, incremental, and compressed backups on your home network, in the cloud, and on remote file servers. The open source backup client is licensed under the LGPL, and available for Linux, macOS, and Windows. On Linux it can be controlled using the GUI or at the command line.


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FTC Sues Amazon, Alleging Illegal Online-Marketplace Monopoly


High-stakes case pits the e-commerce giant against agency chair Lina Khan’s aggressive antitrust stance.

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