BBC: Fawlty Towers John Cleese backs Torbay social distancing plea

BBC: Fawlty Towers John Cleese backs Torbay social distancing plea. “Fawlty Towers legend John Cleese has joined in a call for social distancing in the seaside town where the comedy series was set. Cleese tweeted: ‘Going forward if I see you too close to one another I shall lay down in-between. Social distance!’ The tweet by Cleese who played hapless hotelier Basil Fawlty in the TV comedy, added ‘2 metres = 1 Basil Fawlty’.”

Mashable: Google smart speakers secretly updated to listen for more than wake words

Mashable: Google smart speakers secretly updated to listen for more than wake words. “The company admitted Monday, following a report by Protocol, that it had updated an unspecified number of Google Assistant-enabled devices to respond to auditory cues beyond the user-specified wake phrase. Google told Protocol this was a mistake that was quickly fixed, but did not appear to address the larger privacy concerns that such a mistake signifies. After all, how are users supposed to trust a live microphone in their home if someone can remotely update it to be even more invasive without their knowledge?”

BetaNews: Windows 10 has a dangerous print spooler bug, and there is no fix

BetaNews: Windows 10 has a dangerous print spooler bug, and there is no fix. “An unpatched vulnerability in the Windows Print Spooler exists that could be exploited by an attacker to run malicious software with elevated system privileges. The issue affects Windows 7, Windows 8.x, Windows 10 as well as versions of Windows Server. It is being tracked as CVE-2020-1048 and CVE-2020-1337 and has a severity rating of ‘Important’.”

Chicago Sun-Times: ‘Devastated’ Chicago college students opt to stay home after last-minute shifts to all online classes, strict COVID-19 restrictions

Chicago Sun-Times: ‘Devastated’ Chicago college students opt to stay home after last-minute shifts to all online classes, strict COVID-19 restrictions. “Eli Stone, of Lake View, was ready for the ‘normal college experience’ and set to start his freshman year this fall at Brandeis University outside Boston. But when Brandeis released its reopening plans, Stone, 18, said he couldn’t imagine finding new friends or developing new relationships when he was living in a single dorm and taking all his classes online. So earlier this summer, he deferred his enrollment for at least a semester.”

WPLG: Florida man spit at boy who refused to remove his mask, police say

WPLG: Florida man spit at boy who refused to remove his mask, police say. “A Florida man has been arrested after police say he confronted a child wearing a mask at a restaurant and spit in his face when the boy refused to take it off. Treasure Island police say 47-year-old Jason Copenhaver approached the child’s table Sunday and asked the boy to remove his mask.”

Niagara Gazette: Niagara Frontier Radio Reading Service goes online

Niagara Gazette: Niagara Frontier Radio Reading Service goes online. “In 1987, Bob Sikorkski founded the Niagara Frontier Radio Reading Service. It’s designed to give people who are blind, have low vision or have other print disabilities, the ability to hear books as well as local publications. On July 31, they took, their service online for streaming and podcasting. Previously, listeners would have to get a special radio to be able to listen in.” I checked in on the stream. It is not location-restricted and is free to listen to.

Tech Transparency Project: Instagram’s Hashtag Blocking Favors Trump, Hurts Biden

Tech Transparency Project: Instagram’s Hashtag Blocking Favors Trump, Hurts Biden. “When a person searches Instagram for a hashtag and clicks on it, the platform has automatically generated “related hashtags” pointing users to other relevant content. TTP examined related hashtags for 20 popular terms associated with the Trump and Biden campaigns and found starkly different treatment of the two candidates. Instagram blocked the display of related hashtags on all 10 of the Trump hashtags reviewed, including #donaldtrump, #trump and #trump2020. That means users were not directed to other content, including anything negative or critical about the president. But for all 10 similar Biden hashtags, Instagram did display related hashtags, which at times steered users to insults and disinformation about the former vice president, with phrases like #creepyjoebiden, #joebidenpedophile and #joebidenisaracist.”

Digital Trends: Google’s new Chrome add-on gives you a rundown of all the ads on a webpage

Digital Trends: Google’s new Chrome add-on gives you a rundown of all the ads on a webpage. “Nearly every website today hides underneath dozens of entities and trackers that monitor your activities in the background. Google wants to bring more transparency to the experience and it’s doing so with a new Chrome add-on appropriately called Ads Transparency Spotlight.”

Vanity Fair: How Jared Kushner’s Secret Testing Plan “Went Poof Into Thin Air”

Vanity Fair: How Jared Kushner’s Secret Testing Plan “Went Poof Into Thin Air”. “Six months into the pandemic, the United States continues to suffer the worst outbreak of COVID-19 in the developed world. Considerable blame belongs to a federal response that offloaded responsibility for the crucial task of testing to the states. The irony is that, after assembling the team that came up with an aggressive and ambitious national testing plan, Kushner then appears to have decided, for reasons that remain murky, to scrap its proposal. Today, as governors and mayors scramble to stamp out epidemics plaguing their populations, philanthropists at the Rockefeller Foundation are working to fill the void and organize enough testing to bring the nationwide epidemic under control.”

New York Times: The Strange Lives of Objects in the Coronavirus Era

New York Times: The Strange Lives of Objects in the Coronavirus Era. “A set of new objects has emerged in the last few months to address the new reality of illness, lockdown, social distancing and social protest. Some of these objects are wacky and unrealized — speculative concepts that may never see the light of day. Others, like cocktails-in-a-bag, thermometers and all manner of partitions, are already circulating widely. And some aren’t new at all: familiar household items like bottles of Lysol and rolls of toilet paper, which have taken on new meaning and importance because of scarcity or sudden unusual needs.”

Global Voices: Nigerians counteract COVID-19 denialism with social media campaigns

Global Voices: Nigerians counteract COVID-19 denialism with social media campaigns. “Nigerians are reducing the effect of COVID-19 denial narratives with powerful online Twitter campaigns such as #MyCOVID19NaijaStory and #COVIDStopswithMe. These counter-narratives aim to prove that the deadly coronavirus is not a hoax and more importantly, to encourage people to adopt good public health behaviours to mitigate its spread. As of July 29, Nigeria had recorded 41,804 confirmed COVID-19 cases,18,764 recoveries and 868 deaths.”

Slate: What Indians Lost When Their Government Banned TikTok

Slate: What Indians Lost When Their Government Banned TikTok. “Despite its myriad flaws, TikTok’s dominance of Indian social media was a nearly unalloyed good for many of the less well-off people who enjoyed it. In a highly stratified society, a video app with a notoriously addictive algorithm happened to cut across castes, faiths, and other gulfs, all so Indians could watch one another’s lip-syncs and skits. When the government pulled the plug—the app disappeared from the Apple and Google app stores, and users in the country can no longer access any videos—it deprived users of entertainment, a budding alternative media source, and in many cases income.”

Slate: No Relief in Sight

Slate: No Relief in Sight. “It’s been a week since the CARES Act’s enhanced unemployment benefits expired, and two weeks since its eviction moratorium expired. The Paycheck Protection Program, designed to keep small businesses afloat and their employees on board, expires Saturday. The unemployment rate, meanwhile, remains in the double-digits. These deadlines did not sneak up on anyone. The House had passed its sequel to the CARES Act, the $3.4 trillion HEROES Act, in May. But Senate Republicans took a wait-and-see approach until the last minute and, when McConnell finally released his counteroffer, half of his own conference instantly rejected it. With McConnell throwing his hands in the air, the business of propping up the American economy for another few months was left to negotiations between Democratic leaders and Trump’s White House envoys. It’s been a train wreck. Meanwhile, the evictions are set to begin.”

Coronavirus: Face covering use expanded in England and Scotland (BBC)

BBC: Coronavirus: Face covering use expanded in England and Scotland. “Face coverings have become mandatory in more indoor settings in England and Scotland following a recent spike in coronavirus cases. Places where coverings must now be worn in both countries include museums, places of worship and aquariums. Other new settings in England include cinemas and funeral homes, and in Scotland, banks and beauty salons.”

Coronavirus Vietnam: The mysterious resurgence of Covid-19 (BBC)

BBC: Coronavirus Vietnam: The mysterious resurgence of Covid-19. “The communist country acted fast and decisively where other nations faltered, closing its borders to almost all travellers except returning citizens as early as March. It quarantined and tested anyone who entered the country in government facilities, and conducted widespread contact-tracing and testing nationwide. So what went wrong?”