Global soils underpin life but future looks ‘bleak’, warns UN report

Global soils are the source of all life on land but their future looks “bleak” without action to halt degradation, according to the authors of a UN report.

a truck traveling down a dirt road: Photograph: Zsolt Czeglédi/EPA

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Photograph: Zsolt Czeglédi/EPA

A quarter of all the animal species on Earth live beneath our feet and provide the nutrients for all food. Soils also store as much carbon as all plants above ground and are therefore critical in tackling the climate emergency. But there also are major gaps in knowledge, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) report, which is the first on the global state of biodiversity in soils.


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The report was compiled by 300 scientists, who describe the worsening state of soils as at least as important as the climate crisis and destruction of the natural world above ground. Crucially, it takes thousands of years for soils to form, meaning

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FTC warns of new Apple support call scam

Scammers are once again using the biggest names in tech to pry personal information from unsuspecting consumers, with the latest gambit involving fake calls from Apple support.

Flagged by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission on Thursday, scammers are invoking robocalling techniques to glean credit card numbers, account passwords and other sensitive data from Apple and Amazon customers.

The scamming effort is detailed in a blog post that warns consumers of suspicious calls claiming to be from Apple or Amazon support services. Both ask users to follow prompts that ultimately divulge personal information.

In the case of Apple, call recipients are informed of supposedly suspicious iCloud account activity or an outright breach. Fake calls from Amazon are similarly worded, claiming a user’s account shows suspicious purchase activity, a lost package, or problems with a recent order, the FTC says.

Robocalls are forwarded to “customer support” personnel with user

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Most detailed ever study of Greenland ice sheet warns of irreversible ice loss — ScienceDaily

In a study published this week in The Cryosphere, researchers from the National Centre for Atmospheric Science and University of Reading demonstrate how climate change could lead to irreversible sea level rise as temperatures continue to rise and the Greenland ice sheet continues to decline.

The massive ice sheet faces a point of no return, beyond which it will no longer fully regrow, permanently changing sea levels around the world.

The Greenland ice sheet is seven times the area of the UK, and stores a large amount of the Earth’s frozen water. At current rates of melting, it contributes almost 1mm to sea level per year, and accounts for around a quarter of total sea level rise.

Since 2003, despite seasonal periods of growth, Greenland’s ice sheet has lost three and a half trillion tonnes of ice.

Rising sea levels are one of the most severe effects of climate

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Technology in policing can reinforce racial bias, U.N. panel warns

GENEVA — Police departments across the United States have been drawn to the use of digital technology for surveillance and predicting crime on the theory that it will make law enforcement more accurate, efficient and effective. The alarming reality, United Nations human rights experts warned Thursday, is that they risk reinforcing racial bias and abuse.

The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, an influential 18-member panel, conceded that artificial intelligence in decision-making “can contribute to greater effectiveness in some areas” but found that the increasing use of facial recognition and other algorithm-driven technologies for law enforcement and immigration control risks deepening racism and xenophobia and could lead to human rights violations.

It warned that using these technologies can even be counterproductive, as communities exposed to discriminatory law enforcement lose trust in the police and become less cooperative.

“Big data and AI tools may reproduce and reinforce already

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Wolff warns of “fuel and oil war” with new F1 engines

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has cautioned against a “fuel and oil war” as Formula 1 continues its push for sustainability with the next set of power unit regulations.

a person wearing a mask: Toto Wolff, Executive Director (Business), Mercedes AMG

© Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images
Toto Wolff, Executive Director (Business), Mercedes AMG

The new rules are currently under discussion, and sustainability and lower costs the prime targets as the sport tries to attract new manufacturers.

Synthetic fuels are being phased in within the current hybrid regulations, and are set to play a bigger role in the future.

However, Wolff warned that they should not become an expensive performance differentiator as teams work with their respective suppliers.

“It’s very clear that batteries are getting ever more efficient, and that energy reconversion is happening,” he said of the direction the rules should take.

“I think more sustainable fuels, whether it is synthetic fuels or something else, can be very interesting.

“But they

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Britain warns tech firms over risks of China expansion

FILE PHOTO: Caroline Dinenage arrives for Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron’s first cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street, in Westminster, London, Britain, May 12, 2015. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) – The British government launched a website on Tuesday warning digital and technology firms of the ethical, legal and commercial risks of expanding into China and accepting Chinese investment.

Britain published this month a bill giving ministers far-reaching power to intervene in corporate deals which could threaten national security, the culmination of years of growing concern about Chinese and other foreign investment in key industries.

Launched with the slogan “China. See the Potential. Know the Challenge” the government website is designed as a guide for digital and tech firms, encouraging good practice and raising awareness of potential issues.

“The UK is determined to support our businesses to engage with China in a way that reflects the UK’s values and takes

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EU Rules ‘Hindering Banks’ In Tech Advances, Study Warns

Law360, London (November 17, 2020, 5:12 PM GMT) — Increasing regulatory requirements are hindering progress as the banking sector adopts emerging technology and new ways of working, according to a study by audit firm PwC and the Association for Financial Markets in Europe.

The study was published on Monday as new regulations that will govern use of technology loom — including the European Union’s proposed Regulation on Markets in Crypto Assets and the Digital Operational Resilience Act — the report’s authors said.

The proposed EU legislation package, which was published in September, focuses on regulating digital currencies and ensuring that banks can resist cyberattack.

“Innovation is crucial for banks to…

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Biden urges a new economic relief package and warns again of a ‘dark winter’ ahead

WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden urged Congress to immediately pass an economic relief package Monday as he warned that the coronavirus pandemic will worsen in the coming months.

Biden says ‘more people may die’ if Trump doesn’t allow coordination on pandemic planning



The incoming Democratic president also criticized President Trump for his refusal to concede his election loss and begin handing over power. Biden called Trump’s unprecedented actions “embarrassing for the country” and irresponsible.

The delay in cooperation is setting back plans for a coordinated rollout of a coronavirus vaccine, Biden said. Most of that rollout would fall to the Biden administration next year, but the Trump White House is not sharing details of its distribution plan.

Trump falsely claims that he won the Nov. 3 election and is holding up the normal transition process for a new president.

“I interpret that as

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Australian government warns of possible ransomware attacks on health sector

ACSC Australia

The Australian government has issued a security alert today urging local health sector organizations to check their cyber-security defenses, and especially their controls for detecting and stopping ransomware attacks.

The Australian Cyber Security Center said it “observed increased targeting activity against the Australian Health sector by actors using the SDBBot Remote Access Tool (RAT).”

While the ACSC has not provided any details about what the “targeting activity” means, the SDBBot RAT has been almost exclusively distributed by a cybercrime group known as TA505.

The group relies on massive email spam campaigns to target companies and infect workstations with malware. The group has been seen dropping various malware strains on infected systems, but since September 2019, TA505 has often deployed the SDBBot payload as a means to access infected hosts remotely.

“SDBBot is comprised of 3 components,” the ACSC explained. “An installer which establishes persistence, a loader which downloads additional components,

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IRS Warns On New Scam Related To Stimulus Checks

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), state tax agencies and the tax industry are warning taxpayers about a new scam – by text – to trick people into disclosing bank account information in order to receive an Economic Impact Payment, or stimulus check.

As part of the scam, thieves are texting messages to taxpayer. The message looks something like this: You have received a direct deposit of $1,200 from COVID-19 TREAS FUND. Further action is required to accept this payment into your account. Continue here to accept this payment …

The text then includes a link to a web address. The web address is not legitimate: it’s a phishing URL. This phishing URL, which appears to come from a state agency or relief organization, directs victims to a fraudulent website that impersonates the Get My Payment website. Those who visit the fraudulent website are encouraged to enter their personal

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