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The One Tool You Need to Make Your Lawn Sparkle This Fall


While a mower will get your grass looking good, you’ll need this Swiss Army knife of gardening to make it—and your entire yard—look great.

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Human rights experts: Humanity facing ‘unprecedented global toxic emergency’


The fifth session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM-5), organized by UN environment programme UNEP and hosted by Germany, kicks off in Bonn on Monday.

“ICCM-5 is expected to be a watershed moment for international cooperation on chemicals and wastes”, said a statement released by the group of more than 30 experts.  

‘Once in a generation’ chance

“It is a once in a generation opportunity to deliver a robust outcome to confront the global toxic tide.”

They urged those attending the conference to be guided by human rights principles in line with a “post-2020 global policy framework on the sound management of chemicals and wastes.”

According to the experts, “the threats of infertility, deadly illnesses, neurological and other disabilities resulting from exposure to hazardous chemicals and wastes, reveal the widespread and systematic denial of basic human rights for countless persons and groups in vulnerable situations.”

The experts went on to list people who are mostly exposed to these toxic environments, including workers, women and children, the poor and Indigenous Peoples.

‘Toxification’ must stop

“Humanity cannot afford to further aggravate the toxification of the planet,” the experts added.  

“For ICCM-5 to deliver the ambition and strength needed to overcome the global toxic emergency facing humanity, it needs to explicitly embrace a human rights-based approach,” the group of UN experts warned.

Special Rapporteurs and other UN experts are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organisation. They serve in their individual capacity and receive no salary for their work. 

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World of Open Source Europe Spotlight 2023: Why It Matters and What It Reveals


World of Open Source Europe Spotlight 2023: Why It Matters and What It Reveals – Linux.com

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Negative ‘retweets’ appear to add to voter fraud conspiracy theories


The retweet distributions resulting from conformity, anticonformity, content, and follower influence using this ABM (100 iterations each), alongside the observed retweet distribution (in black). Biases were all modeled with a g of 0.25 and the following parameter values: a = 1.4 (conformity bias), a = 0.6 (anticonformity bias), c = 1 (content bias), and d = 1 (follower influence). The x-axis is the identity of each tweet ranked by descending retweet count, and the y-axis shows the number of times each of these tweets was retweeted. Both axes have been log-transformed. Credit: Humanities and Social Sciences Communications (2023). DOI: 10.1057/s41599-023-02106-x

A team of behavioral scientists using big data and a simulation-based model to analyze social media “tweets” around the 2020 presidential election found that the spread of voter fraud conspiracy theories on Twitter (now called X) was boosted by a negativity bias. Led by Mason Youngblood, Ph.D., a post-doctoral fellow in the Institute for Advanced Computational Science at Stony Brook University, the findings are published in Humanities and Social Sciences Communications.

The researchers simulated the behavior of around 350,000 real Twitter users. They found that the sharing patterns of some 4 million tweets about voter fraud are consistent with people being much more likely to retweet social posts that contain stronger negative emotion.

The data for their study came from the VoterFraud2020 dataset, collected between October 23 and December 16, 2020. This dataset includes 7.6 million tweets and 25.6 million retweets that were collected in real-time using X’s streaming Application Program Interface, under the established guidelines for ethical and social media data use.

“Conspiracy theories about large-scale voter fraud spread widely and rapidly on Twitter during the 2020 U.S. , but it is unclear what processes are responsible for their amplification,” says Youngblood.

Given that, the team ran simulations of individual users tweeting and retweeting one another under different levels and forms of cognitive bias and compared the output to real patterns of retweet behavior among proponents of voter fraud conspiracy theories during and around the election.

“Our results suggest that the spread of messages on Twitter was driven by a bias for tweets with more negative emotion, and this has important implications for current debates on how to counter the spread of and misinformation on social media,” Youngblood adds.

Through their simulations and numerical analysis, Youngblood and colleagues found that their results are consistent with previous research by others suggesting that emotionally negative content has an advantage on social media across a variety of domains, including news coverage and political discourse.

The model also showed that even though negative tweets were more likely to be retweeted, quote tweets tended to be more moderate than the original ones, as people tended not to amplify negativity when commenting on something.

Youngblood says that because the team’s simulation-based model recreates the patterns in the actual data quite well, it may potentially be useful for simulating interventions against misinformation in the future. For example, the model could be easily modified to reflect the ways that companies or might try to curb the spread of information, such as reducing the rate at which tweets hit people’s timelines.

More information:
Mason Youngblood et al, Negativity bias in the spread of voter fraud conspiracy theory tweets during the 2020 US election, Humanities and Social Sciences Communications (2023). DOI: 10.1057/s41599-023-02106-x

Negative ‘retweets’ appear to add to voter fraud conspiracy theories (2023, September 22)
retrieved 22 September 2023
from https://phys.org/news/2023-09-negative-retweets-voter-fraud-conspiracy.html

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part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

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Battery bad after installing iOS 17? Try these 7 tips


Tapping on interactive widgets on iOS 17 on an iPhone.

June Wan/ZDNET

Here we go again: Another September, another major iOS release in the form of iOS 17, and even more iPhone owners complaining of battery issues. 

Now, most iPhone users are all too familiar with seeing that faster-than-usual battery drain following an operating system update.  

Also: The best iPhones right now

But what should you do if you’re finding that it is degrading your battery life?

I’ve been keeping an eye on social media and Apple’s support forums, and opinions are, as always, mixed. Some say this update is a big improvement and that it fixes the overheating issue found in iOS 16.5. (I agree: I’ve definitely seen an improvement here.) 

Others describe the update’s impact as abysmal, claiming not only that they are getting less battery runtime, but also that their battery health plummeted. If you’re curious — or concerned — about battery health, I suggest reading about what Apple doesn’t want you to know about your iPhone’s battery

But, this is a major release, and pretty much without fail, major releases come with major battery bugs — not to mention other bugs — that show up in the first few days after release, which is why there’s usually a flurry of updates in the first few weeks following any big release.

Also: Why some people are buying MacBook Pros with broken displays

If you’re experiencing better battery life, good for you. You can stop reading here and get on with your day. However, if you are one of those people having battery issues, I have some tips and tricks to help you make it through the day.

7 tips if you’re having battery issues 

Here are a few things I’ve seen help with battery life on iOS 17 releases:

  • Turn down screen brightness.
  • Turn off Wi-Fi Assist, a feature that uses cellular data when your Wi-Fi connection is weak or slow. You can disable it by going Settings > Cellular, and scrolling down to the bottom to turn off Wi-Fi Assist.
  • Reset network settings. I’m not sure how or why this helps, but several people have reported back that it improved their battery life dramatically — go to Settings > General > Transfer or Reset iPhone and then tap on Reset and then Reset Network Settings.
  • Use Dark Mode. It really does make a huge difference.

The problem might not be an iOS issue but more a problem with apps that haven’t been updated, especially when new versions of iOS have been released. Therefore, it’s a good idea to make sure all your apps are updated before you spend a lot of time trying to diagnose what’s going on.

Also: My iPhone’s battery doesn’t stay at 100% for as long as it used to. Is there a problem?

Fire up the App Store app and tap your profile icon in the corner, then scroll down to Available Updates to look for updates. (I like to pull down this screen to refresh it, so I see all the latest updates.)

If none of the previous steps helped, what else could it be? It could be a rogue app that’s draining the battery. Fortunately, iOS offers you the tools you need to track down misbehaving apps.

Also: How to turn off Clean Energy Charging on the iPhone

Head over to Settings > Battery, where you will see a lot of data, including Battery Usage By App. Tapping on it also allows you to switch to Activity By App, which shows a breakdown of how much power the app is using while on the screen and how much it is using when in the background.

You can use this information to diagnose battery drain issues. Here are some other things you can use this information for:

  • An app going berserk in the background will show lots of activity in the background compared with screen activity. (Try disabling background activity for that app and see if that helps.)
  • You can spot charging problems. (Was the battery actually charging when you thought it was?)
  • You can also spot poor battery performance. (Look for battery charge falling rapidly.)

iOS 13 battery drain

Analyzing battery drain in iOS.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Is your iPhone getting on a bit? 

If your handset is four years or older, then the battery might need to be replaced. 

Tap on Settings, head to Battery > Battery Health & Charging, and check what the Maximum Capacity of the battery is listed as. A level below 80% indicates a worn battery and that it’s time for a replacement.

Don’t get into a competition to see how hot you can get your iPhone. That’s a path that leads to hardware damage. A stressed, hot battery is an unhappy battery, and that can lead to premature wear and performance issues.

Also: Using your iPhone in high temperatures can cause permanent damage. Here’s what not to do

So, if your phone is overheating, remove it from a hot window and don’t keep it in a hot car. I also recommend temporarily taking the phone out of any case it’s in.

Bugs do slip through the net, and sometimes all you can do is wait for Apple to fix the problem and roll out a new update.

Apple is getting much better about fixing issues like this, although you do have to wait for the fix and take a gamble that the new update does indeed fix the problem and not cause more chaos.

Also: iPhone or Android slow or buggy? Do this one simple thing every week

That said, given that pretty much every update Apple rolls out nowadays is packed with iOS security fixes, I recommend installing updates because not doing this can leave your iPhone vulnerable to attack.

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Open Source and the CRA: It Will Not Work


Open Source and the CRA: It Will Not Work – Linux.com

Home News Open Source and the CRA: It Will Not Work

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Yemen: Unsung heroes unite for lasting peace


Ongoing peace talks provide a glimpse of hope that a political resolution to the conflict is on the horizon. 

However, on International Day of Peace, celebrated annually on 21 September, humanitarian needs remain staggering and the funding to respond insufficient, as recently highlighted by almost 100 aid agencies.

Six months on from the last UN pledging conference for Yemen, only a fraction of what is required to meet the needs of millions has been pledged.

A displaced family in Marib, Yemen, carries a winter aid package back to their shelter.

A displaced family in Marib, Yemen, carries a winter aid package back to their shelter.

Durable solutions needed

Despite a significant decrease in fighting since last year’s UN-brokered truce, over 4.3 million people remain displaced across the country. Most do not feel safe enough to return home anytime soon and plan to remain in the areas they have settled in for the foreseeable future.

Many are dispersed across hundreds of displacement camps in underdeveloped areas, mainly along the frontlines. Others have sheltered in urban areas or among host communities where social services are more readily available, yet poverty is rife.

In the long term, concrete, durable solutions for displaced communities who have settled in new areas, likely for the long haul, is crucial, according to the UN International Organization for Migration’s (IOM).

It adds that significant investments must be made to allow them to continue this lifesaving work and to promote a more sustainable future and long-term recovery through revitalizing agriculture, education, water systems, and other infrastructure.

water systems, and other infrastructure.

A migrant rests at a clinic in northern Yemen after a long and exhausting journey.

A migrant rests at a clinic in northern Yemen after a long and exhausting journey.

Trafficking crisis

Migrants remain some of those most vulnerable to the effects of the crisis. The maritime route migrants take from the Horn of Africa to Yemen is the second busiest in the world.

According to the IOM displacement tracking matrix, an estimated 90,000 migrants – mostly Ethiopian – have arrived on Yemen’s shores in 2023 so far, in the hopes of reaching Saudi Arabia.

Tens of thousands have become stranded. They have traveled too far and gone too deep in debt to turn around, but know the journey ahead is too deadly or costly to continue, according to IOM, whose staff hears daily accounts from migrants of exploitation at the hands of traffickers and grave abuse on their journeys.

A young migrant looks out to see after arriving in Yemen from Djibouti.

A young migrant looks out to see after arriving in Yemen from Djibouti.

Slavery, torture, extortion

The migrants are often promised good jobs and decent living conditions and do not anticipate the challenges they will face. Instead, thousands of migrants are sold into sexual slavery, tortured on video while their families are extorted, or forced to work for months without pay on farms, according to IOM.

The situation has become a trafficking crisis of extraordinary proportions, the UN agency warned. Many also struggle to access essential public services, like health care, shelter, sanitation facilities, and food while also experiencing stigma and discrimination.

Humanitarians mobilized along the eastern corridor migration route are striving to ensure assistance is available to people on the move and that those who wish to return home can do so safely and voluntarily. But, the demand for these services continues to outweigh the resources available to respond to all migrants in need.

More meaningful efforts from world leaders to restore the rights of and end violence toward people on the move in Yemen – regardless of background or migration status – must also be made, the UN agency said.

IOM is providing services to patients at a health centre on the west coast of Yemen.

IOM is providing services to patients at a health centre on the west coast of Yemen.

Yemenis welcome newcomers

Confronted with these harsh realities, it is Yemeni community members who often go out of their way to help newcomers. Thousands of Yemenis work for humanitarian agencies in dangerous areas. Some have moved far from their homes to lend a hand to communities in need across the country.

Host communities, still reeling from years of war, have stepped up to support and welcome those in dire need.

Yemeni doctors provide relief to people suffering from ailments on their journeys, engineers build extensive water networks in arid lands, community leaders help mitigate conflict over dwindling resources, and teachers spread knowledge to children whose education has been compromised by war.

The realization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) depends on supporting these unsung heroes to make concrete contributions to development and peace in countries in crisis.

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Key Insights from “The European Public Sector Open Source Opportunity”


Key Insights from “The European Public Sector Open Source Opportunity” – Linux.com

Home News Key Insights from “The European Public Sector Open Source Opportunity”

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Less typing, fewer mistakes: How Gmail Snippets can save you time and effort



sdominick/Getty Images

Do you regularly have to type emails that include the same content over and over? You might have steps for a process, legalese, different email signatures, or other bits of boilerplate information. If that information is complicated or long, typing it out every time can be a chore. On top of that, if you have to regularly re-type it, the likelihood of a mistake grows considerably.

What if I told you that there was a handy Gmail add-on that saves you from having to retype that content every time you need to send it? 

Also: Gmail will help you write your emails now: How to access Google’s new AI tool

That feature is called Snippets and is included with the Gmail “Vault” addon. This simple tool can save you a lot of time and effort. 

Vault is free, is available to both the free and paid Google Workspaces accounts, and is very easy to use.

Let’s find out how.

How to create your first Snippet

What you’ll need: The only things you’ll need are a valid Gmail account and the Vault addon. You can access your Vault (and the Snippets contained within) from either the browser or mobile version of Gmail. I will demonstrate with the web version (as that’s what I use the most).

The first thing to do is install the Vault add-on for Gmail. To do this, open your web browser, point it to the Vault addon page, and click Install. Follow the prompts to complete the installation. Once the installation is complete, point your web browser to Gmail. Once Vault is installed (and Gmail is open), you’re ready to go.

With Gmail open, click the Compose button. you should see a new icon in the Compose window (a small square with a green/white check). Click that icon.

The Gmail compose window.

The Gmail compose window should now include the Vault icon.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

In the resulting window, click New Snippet at the bottom left corner.

The Snippet selector window.

You can add as many Snippets as needed.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

In the next popup, type everything you need for the Snippet, including Label, Content, Folder, and Team Members. At a minimum, you should type a Label and the Content, otherwise, the Snippet will either be hard to locate or be useless to you.

Once you’ve created the Snippet to your liking, click Save.

The Vault Snippet editor.

Don’t worry, the content for your Snippet can contain more than a single line.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Using your new Snippet

When you need to use the new Snippet, all you have to do is open the Gmail Composer, click the Vault icon, and click the Insert button associated with the Snippet you want to use. The content of the Snippet will automatically be placed in the body of the email, where you can finish composing and send it away.

The Snippet selector window.

A quick click of Insert and your Snippet is added to your email.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

A possible word of warning

For those who place a high importance on privacy and security, remember that Vault is a third-party add-on for Gmail. Because of that, I wouldn’t suggest adding sensitive information to a Snippet item. If you need to use sensitive information with a Snippet, I would recommend leaving placeholders in the Snippet for that content and adding it manually. Something like this:

Also: Google’s new Bard extensions link Gmail, Docs, Maps, and more to its AI chatbot

My SENSITIVE CONTENT PLACEHOLDER is where I add sensitive content.

If used wisely, Vault and Snippets can really save you time and typing in Gmail.

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Yemen’s leader says peace is possible, but flow of arms and resources to Houthi militias must stop


Peace remains elusive despite compromises by the Yemeni government and welcome support from Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Oman, as well as the UN, to end years of strife in the country, President Rashad Mohammed Al-Alimi told the high-level debate at the UN General Assembly.

“We hope that the Houthi militias will recognize a singular truth: Only a State that is based on the rule of law and equal citizenship will ensure that our country is stable, safe, and respected in the region” and wider international community, he said. 

“There is a sure path towards peace by rekindling the trust of the Yemeni people in international legitimacy and in their national government,” he continued. “For that, we need to support the legal government, we need to strengthen the economy so that the government can provide services so that we can put an end to the militias and build a brighter future.”

No more compromises to make

President Al-Alimi went on to commend those members of the international community that supported Yemen and its long-suffering and maintained policies of non-interference in its affairs. He was especially grateful for support that helped prevent the collapse of Yemeni state institutions and shored up the country’s resistance to the violence perpetrated at the hands of Iran-backed Houthi militias. 

Yet, he said, there is “not enough time or more compromises to make to convince Houthi militias to change their positions … or their approach … which will lead the Yemeni people back to the age of ignorance and oppression and even turn the country into a hotspot for the export of terrorism.” 

Any complacency from the international community or dealing with the Houthi militia as de facto authorities, will lead to the eradication of this behavior, the President of the Leadership Council continued, denouncing the Houthi’s agreement to peace deals as “delay tactics and means to acquire more resources.”

“We reaffirm the need to have the right guarantees for peace … pursuant to the Saudi initiative,” based on justice and fairness, he continued, adding that any peace agreement or trust-building measures should be targeted towards alleviating the suffering of the Yemeni people.

True humanitarian interventions

“We need to believe that superpowers should send a strong message to militias, not only in Yemen, but all over the world, that they should not overturn constitutional legitimacy so that we can end any wishes that groups could have to establish entities that compete with legitimate governments,” he said.

Welcoming the efforts of the UN to move away from relief interventions and towards sustainable development, President Al-Alimi said this transformation should also include financial pledges to the Yemeni Central Bank as a means to strengthen the national currency and ensure such funds do not fall into the hands of Houthi militias. 

Presently, international interventions are being channeled through institutions that are being controlled by Houthi militia, even as those militias continue to violate the rules and regulations of the banking sector and turn it into a money laundering network, he lamented. 

Such an approach means that Yemen institutions will remain weak and underfunded and will not have the resources to deal with cross border challenge and further feed the “war economy.” 

“We chose to promote health and prosperity, not violence and death like the Houthi militias do … Every delay in dealing with [the situation in Yemen] will lead to further losses for the Yemini people and gains by the Houthi militias” he warned.

Full statement available in Arabic here.

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