Wednesday

US Senate Bill Threatens to Penalize Nicaraguans Responsible for Violence


A bipartisan group of 10 U.S. senators introduced a bill Wednesday threatening sanctions against officials responsible for the violence in Nicaragua.


The bill targets those behind the deaths of anti-government protesters, human rights violations and corruption. It also calls for early elections and a negotiated settlement.


“What started as legitimate peaceful protests has turned into a months-long massacre as Nicaragua’s citizens face state-sponsored violence from police and paramilitaries,” New Jersey Democrat Bob Menendez of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Wednesday.


“We can’t stay silent as [President] Daniel Ortega and [Vice President and first lady] Rosario Murillo target their own people, as evidenced by the images of students being shot while seeking refuge inside of a church.”


Nine other senators, Democrats and Republicans, echoed Menendez’s statement.


Meanwhile, the Organization of American States adopted a resolution Wednesday condemning the human rights abuses carried out by the Ortega government.


The resolution passed 21-3 with seven abstentions. It also calls for dialogue and early elections.





Friends and family bury 15-year-old Erick Jimenez Lopez in Masaya, Nicaragua, July 18, 2018. Jimenez Lopez was killed as government forces retook the symbolically important neighborhood of Monimbo, which had recently become a center of resistance to President Daniel Ortega's government.

Friends and family bury 15-year-old Erick Jimenez Lopez in Masaya, Nicaragua, July 18, 2018. Jimenez Lopez was killed as government forces retook the symbolically important neighborhood of Monimbo, which had recently become a center of resistance to President Daniel Ortega’s government.

Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Denis Moncada called the motion “illegal, illegitimate and unfair.”


“We have working institutions … a constitution. That’s why it is not right that this permanent council become a sort of court that no one has authorized … to pass judgment on Nicaragua,” he said.


Moncada, like Ortega, calls the protesters terrorists and coup plotters.


Anti-government protests in Nicaragua erupted in April when Ortega announced changes to the pension system. He soon gave up those plans, but police and pro-government paramilitaries have continued a violent crackdown on demonstrators.


The government says more than 200 people have been killed. Human rights groups say the death toll is much higher.


US Lawmakers Still Seething Over Trump-Putin Summit


President Donald Trump’s defense of the Helsinki summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin did nothing to quell furor on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers on Wednesday demanded answers from the administration and pressed punitive legislation aimed at Moscow.


“Americans and the members of this committee deserve to know what the president and foreign autocrats are agreeing to behind closed doors,” said the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Menendez of New Jersey.


Menendez expressed consternation over Russian statements signaling a willingness to launch security cooperation agreements Trump and Putin allegedly agreed to during their encounter.





U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) talks to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) before speaking to reporters at the Capitol as fallout continued over U.S. President Donald Trump's Helsinki summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, in Washington, U.S., July 17, 2018.

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) talks to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) before speaking to reporters at the Capitol as fallout continued over U.S. President Donald Trump’s Helsinki summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, in Washington, U.S., July 17, 2018.

“Pro-Kremlin media at this moment are putting out more information … than anything that I know as the senior-most Democrat on this committee, than any member of the committee knows, and that the American people know,” he said.


Testimony in Senate


Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to testify before the committee next week. The panel’s chairman, Tennessee Republican Bob Corker, said Democrats are not alone in demanding answers.





U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) speaks with news media at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, U.S., July 16, 2018.

U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) speaks with news media at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, U.S., July 16, 2018.

“I take a back seat to no one on challenging what happened at NATO, what happened in Helsinki,” Corker said in response to Menendez. “I look forward to working with you in putting whatever pressure we need to put on the administration to make sure we find out [details of Trump’s trip].”


One day after insisting he misspoke during Monday’s press conference with Putin in which he did not defend U.S. intelligence conclusions that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election, Trump blasted critics of his performance in Helsinki and proclaimed the summit a success.


Of his closed-door meeting with the Russian leader, Trump wrote on Twitter that he and Putin “discussed many important subjects” and added: “Big results will come!”


National security team excluded





U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks to reporters at the Capitol as fallout continued over U.S. President Donald Trump's Helsinki summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, in Washington, U.S., July 17, 2018.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks to reporters at the Capitol as fallout continued over U.S. President Donald Trump’s Helsinki summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, in Washington, U.S., July 17, 2018.

​Democrats’ suspicions of Trump have risen to new heights, prompting an unprecedented demand — that the U.S. interpreter who attended the Trump-Putin meeting testify as to what was said. The Senate’s Democratic minority leader, Chuck Schumer of New York, noted that Trump excluded all members of his national security team from the private chat with Putin.


“President Trump wanted no one else in the room. So to have the translator come testify and tell what happened there is an imperative,” Schumer said. “It is rare for translators to come before Congress, but in this case it’s warranted.”


Republican leaders did not echo that call, but some Republican lawmakers reaffirmed their support for bipartisan legislation to further sanction Russia if it meddles in U.S. midterm elections in November, and to protect the special counsel in the Justice Department’s Russia probe, Robert Mueller, a frequent target of Trump’s ire.





U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), an Intelligence Committee member, speaks to reporters outside the Senate floor as fallout continued over U.S. President Donald Trump's Helsinki summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, in Washington, U.S., July 17, 2018.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), an Intelligence Committee member, speaks to reporters outside the Senate floor as fallout continued over U.S. President Donald Trump’s Helsinki summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, in Washington, U.S., July 17, 2018.

“The only thing that Vladimir Putin understands is deterrence,” Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio said, advocating the DETER Act that he and Maryland Democrat Chris Van Hollen introduced in the chamber.


“Sanctions will go into effect immediately if the Director of National Intelligence … determines that Russia is once again interfering in our elections,” he added. “So that before he [Putin] even does it [orders meddling], he has a very clear understanding of what the price is going to be.”


Separately, Arizona Republican Jeff Flake told reporters he is working with Democrats to craft a Senate resolution affirming support for America’s intelligence community and demanding the administration fully brief lawmakers on Trump’s discussions with Putin in Helsinki.





U.S. Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) speaks with news media at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, U.S., July 16, 2018.

U.S. Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) speaks with news media at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, U.S., July 16, 2018.

Flake has said he was “floored” by the Trump-Putin news conference, calling it “shameful.”


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, on Tuesday did not rule out Russia-related votes, saying “there’s a possibility that we may well take up legislation related to this.”


Election security push


In the U.S. House, Democrats tried bringing an amendment providing $380 million in funding for election cybersecurity up for consideration Wednesday. Republicans blocked the measure from coming up for a vote, arguing previously approved funding is still available for states seeking assistance.


“I don’t know what the hell else we can do over here,” Rep. Jim McGovern, a Democrat from Massachusetts, said on the House floor after the attempt Wednesday. “I think the American people want us to do something. What happened in the 2016 election, what Russia did to our country, was a serious matter.”


House Democrats also proposed censuring the president for his remarks in Helsinki as well as legislation protecting special counsel Mueller’s investigation into allegations the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 election.


With just a handful of days left in session, House Republicans are unlikely to take any politically risky moves that would distance themselves from the president ahead of November’s midterms elections, which will determine party control of the U.S. Congress.


But retiring Rep. Ryan Costello, a Republican from Pennsylvania, told VOA Tuesday he did think this controversy would go away.


“It takes a little time to ascertain what the appropriate additional checks and balances might have to be. There’s at minimum a lot of frustration and embarrassment and just not accepting what happened,” Costello said.


Katherine Gypson contributed.

Poll: 49% of Americans Link Defense of NATO to Allies' Spending




Nearly half of Americans believe that the United States should not be required to defend NATO allies from attack if they do not spend more on defense, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted after U.S. President
Donald Trump’s trip to Europe.


America’s NATO allies have been shaken by Trump’s harangue against them in Brussels over their underspending on defense, and his unrestrained effort to curry favor with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting in Helsinki.


A commitment to collective defense is the bedrock of the NATO alliance. It was founded in 1949 to contain the military threat from the Soviet Union. Its charter’s Article V stipulates that an attack on one ally is an attack against all.


NATO diplomats have told Reuters they worry that Trump’s portrayal of NATO as an alliance in crisis has raised concern that the U.S. president’s nagging criticism might erode U.S. public support and risk America’s commitment to collective defense.


In the poll, 49 percent of respondents said the United States should not have to uphold its treaty commitments if allies do not spend more on defense. Another 18 percent said they were not sure if the United States had to uphold those commitments.


A third of those polled did not agree with the idea of linking America’s treaty commitments to an increase in allies’ military spending.


Two-thirds of registered Republicans said the United States should not have to uphold its treaty commitments, while almost four out of 10 Democrats held that view.


Reliance on U.S. might


NATO, which has viewed Moscow as a threat to European stability in the wake of Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, relies on the United States’ military superiority to face down a host of threats on Europe’s borders. That includes a resurgent, nuclear-armed Russia and militant attacks.


Trump lambasted allies for failing to meet a spending target of 2 percent of a country’s economic output. He also has claimed that the United States pays for 90 percent of European security, which NATO data show is incorrect.


While U.S. military spending makes up 70 percent of combined allied governments’ military budgets, just 15 percent of U.S. expenditure is spent in Europe on NATO-related defense.


After traveling to Belgium and Britain, Trump stunned the world in Finland on Monday by failing to hold Putin accountable for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election as the two stood side by side. Trump then said Tuesday that he had misspoken.


The Reuters/Ipsos poll gathered responses from 1,011 registered voters throughout the United States, including 453 Republicans and 399 Democrats. The poll has a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of 4 percentage points.


The poll also found that while more than half of Americans disapprove of the way Trump is handling relations with Russia, his performance at the Helsinki summit did not seem to have an impact on his overall approval rating.


Android Messages 3.4 has a working Dark Theme and preps Chromebook pairing


Android Messages, Google’s default messaging app on Android, has a long way to go before it overtakes other chat apps, but recent feature updates have made the app a more compelling offering. The best new feature is the recent integration with web browsers like Google Chrome and Firefox. Other upcoming features we’re on the lookout for are the Material Theme redesign and the Chrome OS integration. Now, Android Messages 3.4 is rolling out on the Google Play Store and it brings a functional dark theme and prepares for pairing with Chromebooks.



An APK teardown can often predict features that may arrive in a future update of an application, but it is possible that any of the features we mention here may not make it in a future release. This is because these features are currently unimplemented in the live build and may be pulled at any time by Google in a future build.



Android Messages Dark Theme


This feature was first hinted at in version 3.2 of the app, but it wasn’t functional then. This latest release now brings a working dark mode to the app, as discovered by XDA Recognized Developer Quinny899 (Kieron Quinn of Mighty Quinn Apps) and also enabled by us. As shown in the screenshots below, the app takes on a dark gray color when you enable dark mode in the menu. There are still a few areas where the dark theme is clearly incomplete such as when tapping on a contact to block them as the text is still black which contrasts poorly with the gray background.


Android Messages Chromebook Pairing


The next feature isn’t live yet, at least from what we can tell, but we did find a string in the APK that shows that the app will support pairing with a Chromebook. As we discovered earlier, Chrome OS will integrate with the Android Messages app as part of a broader feature-set called “Better Together.” “SMS Connect”, one of the features under the “Better Together” umbrella, was recently renamed to “Android Messages,” so clearly this upcoming integration is preparing for the launch of “Better Together.”


<string name="ditto_cros_pairing_foreground_service_notification_title">Pairing with Chromebook</string>


We’ll keep an eye out for when the dark theme or Chromebook integration officially launches in the app. Also, if we come across any new features or findings in our teardown, we will update this article with any more information. You can download Android Messages 3.4 from the Google Play Store once it rolls out for your Google account.




Android Messages

Android Messages


Price: Free




Thanks Duder for sending us the APK!



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Why I teach math through knitting

One snowy January day, I asked a classroom of college students to tell me the first word that came to mind when they thought about mathematics. The top two words were “calculation” and “equation.”


When I asked a room of professional mathematicians the same question, neither of those words were mentioned; instead, they offered phrases like “critical thinking” and “problem-solving.”


This is unfortunately common. What professional mathematicians think of as mathematics is entirely different from what the general population thinks of as mathematics. When so many describe mathematics as synonymous with calculation, it’s no wonder we hear “I hate math” so often.


So I set out to solve this problem in a somewhat unconventional way. I decided to offer a class called “The Mathematics of Knitting” at my institution, Carthage College. In it, I chose to eliminate pencil, paper, calculator (gasp) and textbook from the classroom completely. Instead, we talked, used our hands, drew pictures and played with everything from beach balls to measuring tapes. For homework, we reflected by blogging. And of course, we knit.


Same but different


One crux of mathematical content is the equation, and crucial to this is the equal sign. An equation like x = 5 tells us that the dreaded x, which represents some quantity, has the same value as 5. The number 5 and the value of x must be exactly the same.


A typical equal sign is very strict. Any small deviation from “exactly” means that two things are not equal. However, there are many times in life where two quantities are not exactly the same, but are essentially the same by some meaningful criteria.


Imagine, for example, that you have two square pillows. The first is red on top, yellow on the right, green on bottom and blue on the left. The second is yellow on the top, green on the right, blue on bottom, and red on the left.


The pillows aren’t exactly the same. One has a red top, while one has a yellow top. But they’re certainly similar. In fact, they would be exactly the same if you turned the pillow with the red top once counterclockwise.


Rotating two square pillows. Sara Jensen

How many different ways could I put the same pillow down on a bed, but make it look like a different one? A little homework shows there are 24 possible colored throw pillow configurations, though only eight of them can be obtained from moving a given pillow.


Students demonstrated this by knitting throw pillows, consisting of two colors, from knitting charts.


A knitting chart for a throw pillow. Sara Jensen

The students created square knitting charts where all eight motions of the chart resulted in a different-looking picture. These were then knit into a throw pillow where the equivalence of the pictures could be demonstrated by actually moving the pillow.


Rubber sheet geometry


Another topic we covered is a subject sometimes referred to as “rubber sheet geometry.” The idea is to imagine the whole world is made of rubber, then reimagine what shapes would look like.


Let’s try to understand the concept with knitting. One way of knitting objects that are round – like hats or gloves – is with special knitting needles called double pointed needles. While being made, the hat is shaped by three needles, making it look triangular. Then, once it comes off the needles, the stretchy yarn relaxes into a circle, making a much more typical hat.


Knitting to learn. Carthage College, CC BY-SA

This is the concept that “rubber sheet geometry” is trying to capture. Somehow, a triangle and a circle can be the same if they’re made out of a flexible material. In fact, all polygons become circles in this field of study.


If all polygons are circles, then what shapes are left? There are a few traits that are distinguishable even when objects are flexible – for example, if a shape has edges or no edges, holes or no holes, twists or no twists.


One example from knitting of something that is not equivalent to a circle is an infinity scarf. If you want to make a paper infinity scarf at home, take a long strip of paper and glue the short edges together by attaching the top left corner to the bottom right corner, and the bottom left corner to the top right corner. Then draw arrows pointing up the whole way around the object. Something cool should happen.


Students in the course spent some time knitting objects, like infinity scarves and headbands, that were different even when made out of flexible material. Adding markings like arrows helped visualize exactly how the objects were different.


Different flavors


An infinity scarf. Carthage College

If the things described in this article don’t sound like math to you, I want to reinforce that they very much are. The subjects discussed here – abstract algebra and topology – are typically reserved for math majors in their junior and senior years of college. Yet the philosophies of these subjects are very accessible, given the right mediums.


In my view, there’s no reason these different flavors of math should be hidden from the public or emphasized less than conventional mathematics. Further, studies have shown that using materials that can be physically manipulated can improve mathematical learning at all levels of study.


If more mathematicians were able to set aside classical techniques, it seems possible the world could overcome the prevailing misconception that computation is the same as mathematics. And just maybe, a few more people out there could embrace mathematical thought; if not figuratively, then literally, with a throw pillow.

Android P Restricts Network Activity Monitoring Apps







Android P Restricts Network Activity Monitoring Apps





Android P Restricts Network Activity Monitoring Apps



Whenever we download Apps from Play Store, we give full access to the apps and they can monitor your full network activity.


They can sniff your incoming and outgoing connection via TCP/UDP to determine if you are connecting to a server. Collective information of user data can be then sell to Advertisers.


xda-developers explains,
A new commit has appeared in the Android Open Source Project to “start the process of locking down proc/net.” /proc/net contains a bunch of output from the kernel related to network activity. There’s currently no restriction on apps accessing /proc/net, which means they can read from here (especially the TCP and UDP files) to parse your device’s network activity. You can install a terminal app on your phone and enter cat /proc/net/udp to see for yourself.


According to Google sources,
Files in /proc/net leak information. This change is the first step in determining which files apps may use, whitelisting benign access, and otherwise removing access while providing safe alternative APIs.



To that end, this change:


  • Introduces the proc_net_type attribute which will assigned to any new SELinux types in /proc/net to avoid removing access to privileged processes. These processes may be evaluated later, but are lower priority than apps.

  • Labels /proc/net/tcp,tcp6,udp,udp6 as proc_net_vpn due to existing use by VPN apps. This may be replaced by an alternative API.

  • Audits all other proc/net access for apps.

  • Audits proc/net access for other processes which are currently granted broad read access to /proc/net but should not be including storaged, zygote, clatd, logd, preopt2cachename and vold.



The  Android Security researchers said, that new changes coming to Android SELinux, access to some of this information will be restricted. In particular, the change applies to the SELinux rules of Android P and it means that only some VPN apps will be allowed access to some of these files. 



As we have already seen many Apps do Malvertising. Google has always been working on improving Android Security to keep your phone secure.



Worried about a slowdown? It already happened in 2016, says one new venture study

In today’s market, it’s hard to make sense of what’s what. Deals have grown incestuous for the first time, with outfits like GV investing alongside Uber last week — just months after its parent company, Alphabet, was at Uber’s throat. A $10 million-plus round of seed funding is no longer a joke. Venture firms continue to raise record-breaking amounts of money, despite what feels like creeping uncertainty about how much longer this go-go market can continue.

Unsurprisingly, there’s been some talk lately about deal flow and the possibility that some of the most well-regarded early-stage investors in the industry have quietly applied the brakes. Yet new analysis out of Wing, the 7.5-year-old, Silicon Valley venture firm co-founded by veteran VCs Peter Wagner and Gaurav Garg, draws a conclusion that might surprise nervous industry watchers. After tracking the investment activity of what Wing considers to be the 21 leading venture firms, it discovered that a pullback already happened . . . in 2016. In fact, Wagner, who oversaw the analysis, tells us there’s been so sign of a slowdown since then.

We caught up with Wagner last week to learn more about Wing’s findings — and what might be causing some confusion in the industry right now.

TC: First, why do this kind of study right now?

PW: There’s been a lot of analysts and reporters and LPs and VCs asking us about our investment pace really, and I think it owes to talk of Benchmark and Union Square Ventures slowing down, so we thought we’d look at some parameters and see what’s going on.

TC: Why not just refer to industry-wide statistics? It seems like there are plenty of these.

PW: They’re kind of swamped with the data of less discriminating investors, though. You really want to focus on the signal, which is why we track what the 21 leading venture firms are doing, and in that analysis, we found no signs of a slowdown. We found instead that there was a peak of activity in 2013 and 2014, a pullback in 2016, and an uptick since.

And we cut it different ways. We removed international deals in China and India, because they have their own rhythm and can get frothy. We moved seed deals, given there’s been some major schizophrenia among venture firms who waded into seed deals, then pulled out. Even still, 2017 saw an increase in deals over 2016, which was the lowest year in terms of deal activity since 2010.

TC: These were first-time investments?

PW: Yes, and the reason is that follow-on rounds are dictated more by the operational needs of companies. Some could be running out of cash, for example, so it’s non-discretionary. If you want to look at sentiment, you have to look at first-time investments in isolation.

TC: Do you have 2018 data?

PW: We have partial data, of course, and we’ve annualized it to “predict” that 2018 numbers will be close to 2017. That is, if you buy the idea of projecting out, which I don’t really. Also, because you’re looking at a smaller batch of numbers, you’re on thin ice statistically. But for now, at least, we’re seeing a level of activity that was higher than 2016.

TC: You can see why things might be ticking along now: the tech IPO market, SoftBank’s massive Vision Fund, big tech companies getting bigger, which keeps the wheels turning. What happened in 2016? Uncertainly about the U.S. presidential election? Bill Gurley’s warnings that a reckoning was coming?

PW: I really don’t know that it was down so much versus that prior years were up. It was a more a reversion to the mean. The 2016 number still represents a pretty decent and sustainable pace for this industry.

TC: Based on your findings, would you guess a downturn is closer than further away? It seems inevitable, but I’ve thought this for the last three years.

PW: It’s a known unknown. We know there will be a change but we don’t know when or how deep it will be.

TC: Could things have possibly changed, given that everything is impacted by tech, that software is, in fact, eating the world? That’s obviously the bull case.

PW: It’s pretty darn mainstream, whether via digital transformation or just the massive disruption of massive industries buy digitally native competitors. I don’t know, is the answer. But it’s true. Tech isn’t a sideshow anymore.