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Privacy-mad Germany turns to app to track virus spread

first_imgPersonal data protection is a thorny subject in privacy-loving Germany, but the country is nevertheless considering using a smartphone app to help manage the spread of the new coronavirus.Even Chancellor Angela Merkel — who often refers to her youth in surveillance-ridden communist East Germany — said Wednesday that if it turns out to be a helpful way of tracking the spread of the virus “I would… of course be willing to use it for myself”.In some ways, Germany appears to be faring better than many of its European neighbors in its battle against the coronavirus. Europe’s biggest economy has so far managed to limit the number of deaths from Covid-19 to under 1,000, partly thanks to aggressive testing modeled on the South Korean approach.It has also avoided a strict lockdown like those in France, Italy or Spain.Merkel and her government are already looking ahead to the next phase, when they hope it will be possible to relax social distancing rules and reopen some public spaces.And according to Health Minister Jens Spahn, “for that to be possible, we need to be able to identify and reach anyone who has had contact with an infected person very quickly”. ‘Voluntary sharing’ When the government first proposed using mobile phone data to help track the spread of the virus in mid-March, it was forced to back down after a public outcry.Under the proposals, mobile phone operators would have been required to hand over the data of 46 million customers to help the authorities trace the contacts of infected people.Such non-consensual mass surveillance was a shocking prospect in a country still traumatized by memories of Nazi dictatorship and later the Stasi secret police in the former communist east.The government is now reviewing proposals and will come up with a new plan “in the coming days”, according to Spahn, who is convinced that “the use of mobile phone data will be a key factor against the spread”.Under the new plans, data will be shared “on a voluntary basis”, according to Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht.A proposed smartphone app will track and record people’s interactions via bluetooth for two weeks, without using geolocation tracking and with a promise that data will be securely protected.If a person becomes infected, the app will automatically send a push notification to anyone they have crossed paths with in the past two weeks, to warn them of the risk of infection.Only those who have downloaded the app will receive the infection warnings, and the identity of infected people will be kept secret.The idea was inspired by a similar digital tool used in the city-state of Singapore, which has managed to limit the spread of the virus despite being very densely populated.It was developed by Germany’s Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute (HHI) telecommunications research institute, in collaboration with the Robert Koch Institute disease control center.”HHI is working on an application that will make it possible to record the proximity and duration of contacts between people on mobile phones over the past two weeks, completely anonymously and without the need to record their location,” a spokeswoman for the company confirmed to AFP.The firsts tests were carried out at an army barracks in Berlin on Wednesday, according to media reports. ‘Limited time only’ Using people’s data in this way also has the approval of Germany’s federal commissioner for data protection, with certain conditions.”The collection and evaluation of personal data to interrupt chains of infection can only be carried out with the consent of citizens,” commissioner Ulrich Kelber told AFP.”This data should be stored only for a limited and clearly defined period, and with the sole aim of fighting the pandemic. After that, it should be deleted,” he said, predicting a “strong willingness to participate” if these conditions are met.According to Kelber, implementing widespread Chinese-style surveillance would be impossible in Germany.”There is no comparable technological infrastructure for surveillance and, more importantly, Germany has no laws that allow virtually uninterrupted surveillance of citizens using smartphones, apps or other devices,” he said.Meanwhile, the German public seems to be softening to the idea of handing over their mobile phone data.According to a YouGov poll published on Tuesday, half of Germans are in favor of the idea, while only 38 percent consider it inappropriate. Topics :last_img read more

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Pennsylvania Announces First Grants Funded by Volkswagen Settlement to Reduce Air Pollution

first_img September 28, 2018 Environment,  Infrastructure,  Innovation,  Press Release,  Transportation Governor Tom Wolf today announced the first round of grant approvals through his Driving PA Forward initiative, funded by Pennsylvania’s share of the settlement with Volkswagen Group of America for cheating on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emissions tests. Six transportation projects designed to improve air quality in Pennsylvania are expected to permanently reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions statewide by 27 tons by accelerating the replacement of older, polluting diesel engines with cleaner technologies.“We are making strategic investments that will bolster our continued efforts to improve air quality throughout the commonwealth with the funding awarded from the VW emissions cheating scandal,” said Governor Wolf. “The projects announced today are only the first wave of projects that will be funded to build the next generation of cleaner transportation options.”Over 25 percent of NOx pollution in Pennsylvania comes from diesel engines in trucks, buses, forklifts, and other mobile sources. The emissions contribute to ground-level ozone, or smog, which the EPA has shown can have negative health impacts, including asthma attacks and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.“Through these first projects, old diesel-powered school buses, locomotives, and municipal vehicles will be replaced or updated with newer, cleaner transportation technologies for a sizable reduction in nitrogen oxide,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “Hydrocarbons, fine particulate matter, and carbon monoxide will also be reduced. All of this will help improve air quality in communities across Pennsylvania.”The projects are the first for the governor’s Driving PA Forward initiative, launched in May with the goal of permanently reducing NOx pollution by 27,700 tons by supporting clean transportation projects with funding from Pennsylvania’s $118 million settlement with Volkswagen.Six projects in four counties received more than $580,000 from Driving PA Forward and the EPA State Clean Diesel Program.Allegheny CountyThe City of Pittsburgh received $170,000 to replace two older diesel trash trucks with new trucks fueled by compressed natural gas.Elizabeth Township received $38,639 to replace an older diesel-powered construction vehicle with a new diesel-powered model.Allegheny Transportation Services, Inc. received $22,286 to replace an older diesel school bus with a newer diesel-powered bus. This family-owned business provides transportation for the City of Pittsburgh, two school districts, and community organizations.Lackawanna CountyThe City of Scranton received $128,723 to replace two older diesel-powered street sweepers with two newer diesel-powered street sweepers.Lancaster CountyShultz Transportation, which services four school districts, received $200,000 to replace 10 older diesel-powered school buses with 10 newer diesel school buses.Northampton CountyLehigh Valley Rail Management LLC received $30,086 to install idling-reduction units in six locomotives. The short-line railroad operates 20 hours daily over 40 miles of track in Bethlehem.The VW settlement will also support the roll out of grant and rebate programs for electric vehicle and hydrogen fuel cell equipment; shore-based electric power systems for ocean-going vessels; and replacement or repowering of heavy-duty trucks and transit buses; medium-duty trucks, school buses, shuttle buses, and port drayage trucks; and forklifts, airport ground support equipment, port cargo handling equipment, ferries, tugboats, and freight switcher locomotives.For more information on the Wolf Administration’s efforts to support clean energy and improve air quality, visit: www.depgis.state.pa.us/DrivingPAForward. SHARE Email Facebook Twittercenter_img Pennsylvania Announces First Grants Funded by Volkswagen Settlement to Reduce Air Pollutionlast_img read more

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Thai marine biologist pleads for dugong conservation plan

first_img“Wehave lost too much this year, I have hope we can get what we ask for and willbe able to start the program soon,” Thon wrote. Marium, a baby dugong, swims near the hull of a boat off Libong island, Trang province, southern Thailand on May 23. A top marine biologist is urging Thailand’s government to speed up conservation plans for the dugong, an endangered sea mammal, after their death toll for the year has already climbed to a record 21. AP Expertsbelieve only 250 dugongs are left in Thai waters. Dugongsare a species of marine mammal similar to a manatee and can grow to about 3.4meters (11 feet) in length. They are listed as a vulnerable species by the InternationalUnion for Conservation of Nature and are protected under Thai law. (AP) Thon,who has served on a government environment and development committee, says athree-year master plan for dugong conservation is awaiting Cabinet approval. BANGKOK– A top marinebiologist has urged Thailand’s government to speed up conservation plans forthe dugong, an imperiled sea mammal, after their death toll for the year inThai waters has already climbed to a record 21. Theplan is called the “Marium Project” after the name given a rescued ailing babydugong that became celebrated in Thailand after images of veterinariansembracing and feeding her with milk and seagrass spread across social media. Shedied two months ago despite the intensive care, and her demise was believed dueto shock – she was thought to have been chasedand attacked by a larger male dugong during mating season – and ingestingplastic waste. A large amount of plastic waste was found in her intestine,which led to gastritis and blood infection. ThonThamrongnawasawat said on his Facebook page that the carcass of a dugong wasfound Tuesday off the southern province of Krabi. The young female apparentlydrowned after being caught in fishing net, a common threat to the animals.last_img read more

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Lady Cardinals Lose To Lady Pirates

first_imgSt. Louis 8th Grade Volleyball team lost at home vs Greensburg. 25-22, 25-16.Leading servers were Molly Wachsmann with 9/9, 7 pts, 2 aces. Kayla Meyer was 5/5, 3 pts, 2 aces.Regina Gerstbauer helped us with setting. 10/10, with 2 assists. Alexa Miles was 7/7, 1 assist.Passing was lead by Grace Laudick & Alexa.Front row net play was led by Grace Laidick & Molly WachsmannWe play at home this Thursday at home. Come out to cheer us on.Courtesy of Cardinals Coach Julie Laudick.last_img

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Performance Engineering & Manufacturing renews Deery, Hawkeye Dirt Tour awards

first_imgSAINT CLAIR, Mo. – Pole starters in both the Deery Brothers Summer Series and Hawkeye Dirt Tour score awards from Performance Engineering & Manufacturing again this season.A set of standard quick change gears goes to drivers drawing the coveted starting spot in main events for both the Late Model and Modified series.Located in Saint Clair, Mo., PEM had returned as a sponsor last year; 2016 will be the company’s fifth season overall as an IMCA marketing sponsor.“As we have expanded our quick change rear end business the last two years, we are happy to support the weekend warriors of the Deery Brothers Summer Series Late Models and Hawkeye Dirt Tour Modifieds when they travel to special events based on their weekly rules,” said PEM Sales Manager Randy Harrison.Product certificates will be mailed from the IMCA home office the week following each event and will be redeemable through PEM dealers.Seventeen dates comprise the Deery Brothers Summer Series schedule. The first of a dozen Hawkeye Dirt Tour events will be on Memorial Day at Benton County Speedway.More information about the complete line of PEM racing gears and drivetrain components is available by calling 636 234-0975 or at the www.pemracing.com website.“We were able to recognize many different racers in 2015 through this program and are excited to be able to do so again this season,” IMCA Marketing Director Kevin Yoder commented. “PEM is a great partner and we’re pleased to be able to announce the continuation of their program.”last_img read more

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Benitez confirms summer exit

first_img He went on: “They have to concentrate on supporting the team, that’s what they have to do. “In the end, they are not doing any favours to the club, to the rest of the fans and to the players. “Every game they continue singing and they continue preparing banners, they are wasting time. What they have to do is support the team. “If we cannot achieve what we expect to achieve, that is to be in the top four and be in the Champions League for next year, I will leave; they will stay in the Europa League.” He also said: “I have been in charge in football for 26 years. I have won the Champions League, won the FIFA Club World Cup, the FA Cup, the Italian Super Cup, the Spanish league twice, nine trophies, all the trophies you can win at club level.” The interim manager, who was once again targeted by a section of his own club’s support during Wednesday night’s 2-0 FA Cup fifth-round victory at Middlesbrough, was in defiant mood after the game. He said: “A group of fans, they are not doing any favours for the team when they are singing and wasting time preparing banners. It’s because someone made a mistake. They put my title (as) ‘interim manager’, and I will leave at the end of the season, so they don’t need to waste time with me.” Chelsea boss Rafael Benitez has confirmed he will leave the club at the end of the season.center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

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Drogba’s still a handful – Terry

first_imgJohn Terry insists Didier Drogba is still a “nightmare” to play against as the veteran striker embarks on his second spell at Chelsea. “It’s important Didier is here because he brings that mentality of wanting to win every day and that rubs off on people like Kurt Zouma and the other young players he’s playing against.” While Terry mourns the loss of Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole – “it just doesn’t seem right to see them in different shirts” – he insists fans should be pleased with the business done in this window. Diego Costa, Cesc Fabregas and Filipe Luis have been brought in at a cost of £75million, in addition to Drogba’s arrival on a free transfer, while defender Zouma and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois have returned from loan spells. “The club are evolving. One day we’ll all be gone,” Terry said. “It’s time for these players to continue to keep winning trophies for this club and keep the fans and owner happy. “If I was a Chelsea fan I’d be impressed from what I have seen so far from Diego, Cesc, Filipe and all the boys that have come in like Kurt as well.” Terry approves of Drogba’s return to Stamford Bridge on a one-year deal and insists he continues to show the combative spirit that marked his first eight-year spell at the club. “Didier’s still the same. He’s been a nightmare to play against in training. He’s still physically strong, sharp and hungry as well,” Terry told Chelsea TV. center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

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Gestede could be Villa-bound

first_img Press Association Aston Villla are in talks with Blackburn over the sale of striker Rudy Gestede. The forward has been linked with a move to Villa Park and negotiations are ongoing between the clubs, Press Association Sport understands. The 26-year-old scored 22 goals for Rovers last season as they finished ninth in the Sky Bet Championship and has netted 34 times in 65 games for the club. center_img Crystal Palace were interested in Gestede in January and he has been continuously linked with a move away from Ewood Park this summer. Watford, Norwich and West Brom have been linked to the Benin international, who has been at Blackburn since signing permanently from Cardiff, after a loan spell, in 2014. Villa boss Tim Sherwood is searching for more firepower after the £32.5million sale of Christian Benteke to Liverpool. He is closing in on a loan deal for Emmanuel Adebayor, who he managed at Tottenham, with the deal expected to be completed soon. Adebayor was given a guided tour of Villa’s Bodymoor Heath training ground on Tuesday while talks continued on Wednesday. Nantes midfielder Jordan Veretout could also be a Villa player by the end of the week with the club holding talks with the 22-year-old. Sherwood has already signed seven players this summer and is prepared to let several squad members go, with left-back Aly Cissokho told he can leave. last_img read more

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Rafael Nadal crashes out of US Open

first_img…beaten in five sets by young Frenchman Lucas PouilleRAFAEL Nadal suffered an upset in the last-16 of the US Open as Frenchman Lucas Pouille inflicted yet more Grand Slam woe on the Spaniard in a five-set thriller.Nadal has not won a major title since winning his fourteenth at Roland Garros in 2014 and the wait goes on after he was beaten 6-1, 2-6, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (6) by No 24 seed Pouille in four hours and two minutes.It sets up an all-French clash between Pouille and Gael Monfils, as they join Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to make this the first time since Roland Garros 1947 that three Frenchmen have reached the last-eight of a Grand Slam.Pouille said: ‘It’s my first match on the centre court here against Rafa. I couldn’t dream better than this.’Pouille may still not be well-known among the more casual tennis fans but the 22-year-old has enjoyed a meteoric rise up the rankings this year from a position of No 91 in mid-February and reached the last-eight at Wimbledon.After missing much of this summer with a wrist injury, Nadal had made an impressive start to his Flushing Meadows campaign, progressing to the fourth round without dropping a set.But it took just 28 minutes for Pouille to take the opening set for the loss of just one game, Nadal struggling to make any impact on his French opponent’s serve.Nadal hit back to level the match at one set all but Pouille was unperturbed as he remained aggressive and pinned Nadal behind the baseline before serving out the third set.After exchanging breaks midway through the fourth set, Nadal edged ahead again for 5-3 and then swatted away a forehand winner to take the match to a fifth set, only the fourth he has played since Roland Garros 2013.At a break down, Pouille initially appeared to be showing effects of a already playing two consecutive five-set matches to reach this stage but he continued to battle hard and broke back for 4-4 as Nadal sent a forehand long.With the crowd on Arthur Ashe Stadium in raptures, the match came down to a deciding tiebreak. Pouille had three match points at 6-3 but hit a wild forehand long on the last as Nadal saved them all to level at 6-6.Pouille was gifted a fourth match point as Nadal dumped an approach forehand into the net and this time he took it with a stunning forehand winner down the line.Pouille said: ‘It’s just never over until the last point. I was a break down in the fifth set, I came back.‘At 6-3 [in the tiebreak] I was like, “OK, you’re going to win this one”, then at 6-6 it was not the same. Honestly I’m very happy.'(Mail on Line)last_img read more

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Farah happy for WADA to re-test his samples

first_imgLONDON, England (Reuters) – Four-time Olympic gold medallist Mo Farah said he would gladly have any of his previous blood or urine samples re-tested as part of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) investigation into the Nike Oregon Project.WADA wants to investigate all athletes who trained with banned coach Alberto Salazar at the Oregon Project, one of which was Britain’s Farah, the 5 000m and 10 000m champion at both the London 2012 and Rio de Janeiro 2016 Games.“I’ve seen reports of my name in connection to UKAD (UK Anti-Doping) and WADA about sample retesting,” Farah said in a post on Twitter yesterday. “Just to be clear, I was not consulted about this and as I’ve said many times, I am happy for any anti-doping body to test any of my previous samples any time.”Farah’s comments come after UKAD was criticised for saying it would need “credible evidence” that a sample given by a British athlete contained a banned substance before handing it over as part of an investigation.UKAD, which says it has worked closely with its American counterparts, declined a request for Farah’s historic samples from USADA in 2017, saying it was concerned such samples can degrade if retested or sent to a different location. Salazar stopped coaching Farah in 2017 when the runner decided to move back to England from the United States.Farah said at the time that the doping investigation surrounding Salazar was not the reason they parted ways. He has never failed an anti-doping test and denies any wrongdoing. Earlier this month he said he would have been the “first one out” had he known Salazar faced a ban for doping violations.He will return to track action this year to defend his Olympic 10 000m title at the Tokyo Games. Salazar, who was found guilty of doping violations by United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), has denied wrongdoing and has appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against his four-year ban.last_img read more

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