Hot Dinosaur Summer – The New York Times


Dinosaurs, which ruled the planet for roughly 170 million years were one of the most successful animals ever, may have been in a 10-million-year decline at the time of their apocalypse, according to research published this week.

A study in the journal Nature Communications contends that rates of extinction increased the evolution of new species began to decrease 76 million years ago, before the “coup de grâce” of the Chicxulub impact some 66 million years ago. The reason, scientists suspect, was a changing climate — cold temperatures caused a cascade of collapse calamity. The paper is the latest entry in a long-running debate over why the dinosaurs died off, not all paleontologists agree that a steady decline was underway when the space rock struck.

The research serves as a backdrop to consider this week’s heat wave in the Pacific Northwest, the precariousness of any animal’s time on Earth. Including how quickly a more adaptive critter might take over.

In the dinosaurs’ case, it turned out to be the mammals. “The dinosaurs were mostly so huge they probably hardly knew that the furry little mammals were there in the undergrowth. But the mammals began to increase in numbers of species before the dinosaurs had gone, then after the impact they had their chance to build new kinds of ecosystems which we see today,” said Fabien Condamine, the paper’s lead author a research scientist at the Institut des Sciences de l’Evolution de Montpellier in France.

Which makes me wonder: What animals might take over if we humans can’t adapt? Are they currently underfoot, unnoticed?

Other scientists this week discovered a previously unknown beetle species in the coprolites, or fossilized feces, of dinosaur ancestors that lived more than 200 million years ago. Perhaps, 200 million years from now, super-evolved bugs will have their day, studying our coprolites for clues to our existence as the circle of life continues.





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Cryptocurrency scam costs online dating user £20,000 | Cryptocurrencies


In early May, James Evans* met a man on the dating app Grindr. The man, who said his name was David, was friendly chatty. “It started off as a normal conversation,” says Evans. “We moved to WhatsApp exchanged messages. After a few days he started telling me about crypto trading how he could show me how it worked how I could earn money from it. It seemed like a genuine connection.”

Unfortunately for Evans, , that wasn’t the case. He hadhooked up with a scammer, who within a week had convinced him to hover £20,000.

Dating scams surged during the lockdowns, with Which? reporting a 40% rise in cases involving people being tricked into transferring money to people they met online. In Evans’s case instead of asking for financial help the man he met persuaded him to sign up to an fake investment.

First he was persuaded to set up an account with Binance pay in £500. Binance is a cryptocurrency exchange – a website where investors can buy into digital currencies including bitcoin ethereum. The City regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, warned about the website last week, banned part of the group, Binance Markets Ltd, from operating in the UK.

Recently, it emerged that TSB plans to ban customers from buying cryptocurrencies amid fears there are “excessively high” fraud rates on the platforms where they are sold. Barclays, Monzo Starling Bank have already done likewise, blocking transfers to Binance other websites.

Evans used his First Direct account to pay in to the site, from there the fraudster showed him how to move his money to a trading platform where he could supposedly invest it.

His first payment on a Wednesday night was followed by more on Sunday Monday, totalling £12,000. Each time the fraudster walked him through moving the money “investing” it, the screen appeared to show him making money being free to transfer it back to Binance.

On Sunday, First Direct queried a payment to Binance for £3,000, which Evans confirmed. “At this stage I was still keen to take part did not believe I was part of a scam,” he says. “Again, I bought the currency on Binance, transferred it to the trading app, he showed me how to trade using WhatsApp screenshots, then transferred the funds back to Binance into my current account.”

Evans met the scammer on the dating app Grindr. Photograph: Leon Neal/Getty Images

But after the transfer on Monday things started to unravel. His “account” on the trading site stopped working “David” told him to contact its customer services. When he did he was told his account had been blocked he needed to pay a 50% deposit of his account balance to unlock the funds.

He suspected something was wrong, but “after an anxious 24 hours” decided to pay the fine. Then he tried to withdraw his money, just as he had been shown, but to no avail. A call to “customer services” resulted in another request for cash. “At this stage I was absolutely distraught knew that I had been scammed.”

Evans says he never intended to invest so much money, but the fraudster spent a week “emotionally mentally abusing manipulating” him, by the time he handed over the last payment he had been convinced it was the way to get his money back.

He reported the case to Action Fraud contacted First Direct to say he had been conned ask if it would refund his money. It refused told him the scam had happened after he transferred the money from Binance, so he needed to make his complaint there.

First Direct said: “We are very sorry Mr Evans has been a victim of an elaborate scam, fully appreciate how the situation has impacted him. Sadly, there are unscrupulous individuals who carry out criminal activities without any regard for the effect this will have on their victims.

“Upon investigation we have concluded our fraud detection systems worked as intended but, because Mr Evans sent the money to an account in his own name before transferring the money on again, there is no further action we can take.”

A Binance spokesman said: “Binance is very serious about our responsibility to protect users from attempted scams frauds. Where we are made aware of these kinds of claims, we immediately take action have an excellent record of working with law enforcement agencies globally to assist in their investigations.”

The spokesman did not explain what, if anything, had happened to Evans’ complaint. He said anyone who suspected they had been scammed should inform its customer services, local police Action Fraud.

Of the FCA notice, the company said it had “no direct impact on the services provided on Binance.com. Our relationship with our users has not changed.

“We take a collaborative approach in working with regulators we take our compliance obligations very seriously. We are actively keeping abreast of changing policies, rules laws in this new space.”

Grindr says it cannot comment on Evans’s case, but that it “takes a number of measures to help protect our users from bad actors”, including using machine learning to detect accounts involved in scamming.

“Unfortunately, scamming is an entire industry, with extensive resources dedicated to bypassing a company’s security authenticity measures,” it says.

“Social media dating apps are a prime target for these bad actors, as scammers seek to exploit people looking to make meaningful connections. That is why we also work to educate our users on potential scams. You can see our scam awareness guide here which outlines some common themes we’ve observed. We also publish our online general safety tips page as well as a Holistic Security Guide, available in multiple languages.”

Evans says: “I genuinely thought my interactions with David were genuine, we messaged late into the night, shared voice notes even made plans to meet up… At no point did I think he was out to manipulate me in this way neither did I think that I could be manipulated in such a way where someone could take my life savings everything I have spent years working hard for. I have been left with nothing.

“The police have said they do not have enough evidence to investigate Grindr, Binance my bank have all refused to investigate further. I feel a huge sense of injustice this person is free to scam others – that’s what really hurts about this situation.”

*Not his real name



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Andy Jassy steps out of the shadows – so who exactly is Amazon’s new CEO? | Business


Andy Jassy made a powerful – painful – first impression on the billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos soon after he joined the then start-up bookseller in 1997.

During a rambunctious game of “broomball” – a cross between lacrosse football that another Amazon executive invented is still overly competitively played at the company – Jassy, then a fresh-faced recruit from Harvard Business School, accidentally hit Bezos over the head with a kayak paddle.

Bezos, 57, forgave Jassy, 53, quickly (repeatedly) promoted the New Yorker, who he recognised as almost as competitively driven as he was.

On Monday, Jassy, who is currently chief executive of Amazon’s fast-growing cloud services division Amazon Web Services (AWS), will be promoted again to be installed as Amazon’s second-ever chief executive, with Bezos becoming executive chair of the board as he steps away from day-to-day control of the business. The handover comes on the 27th anniversary of Amazon’s official founding on 5 July 1994.

Jassy’s elevation to the top job is taking place at a critical time for Amazon, which is facing a growing threat of regulatory action to control its dominance of markets across the world. And, as Bezos takes on fresh challenges – including taking a flight into space on his Blue Origin company’s rocket later this month – Jassy will be tasked with retaining the company’s “day one” startup philosophy at what is now one of the world’s largest companies, employing more than 1.3 million people.

“He will have to balance trying to be everywhere everything to everyone with the limits to that,” says Natalie Berg, a retail analyst co-author of Amazon: How the World’s Most Relentless Retailer Will Continue to Revolutionise Commerce. “There is a risk of going from disruptor to disrupted. There is a challenge to innovate at scale maintain agility culture that’s allowed them to be as nimble as they have been. There are a lot of other disruptive businesses coming in. Fifteen-minute supermarkets like Weezy make Amazon look like a laggard.”

Coronavirus pandemic lockdowns helped Amazon’s sales soar by 38% in 2020 to a record $386bn, $23bn of “operating income” (profit, to you me). In the UK, Amazon’s sales jumped by 51% last year to a record $26.5bn (£19.5bn) as people trapped at home because of the lockdowns turned to the internet retail company to buy items unavailable in closed high street stores to keep them entertained at home.

A huge increase in demfor cloud storage – from big streaming companies such as Netflix Spotify government departments including the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) large parts of the UK civil service – has driven massive increases in revenue profit at AWS, which Jassy runs.

Jeff Bezos will step back from day-to-day running of Amazon to focus on other projects, such as his space exploration company Blue Origin. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

That success has heightened scrutiny of Amazon demands for further regulatory controls on a company that has been heavily criticised for its low tax payments treatment of workers.

Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, said Jassy’s biggest challenge will be handling that scrutiny. “The retail division got so frenzied to provide a remarkable [service] for customers, it probably did take advantage of employees. That stuff will have to be cleaned up,” Pachter says. “Jassy is going to have to become a spokesperson to be the guy who testifies before Congress.”

Jassy will have to do that, run the company, with Bezos sitting on his shoulder as chair. “Jassy will run the meetings but anything that requires a strategic decision a lot of money, they will take it to Bezos,” Pachter says.

On the plus side, Jassy has the trust of Bezos after running the AWS division, which brought in $13.5bn of revenue in the first three months of 2021, a 32% increase on the same period a year earlier. AWS is also Amazon’s most reliable source of profit. Despite AWS representing 12% of total first-quarter revenue, the division made $4.2bn in operating income, which works out at 46% of Amazon’s total profit.

Amazon’s move into cloud storage was Jassy’s idea. In the early 2000s, when Jassy was Bezos’s chief of staff, he was tasked with finding out why engineers were taking so long to develop new applications. He discovered the delays were being caused by the difficulty engineers were having sharing large amounts of data with one another, the idea for internal cloud storage was born.

Jassy pitched the idea of extending the internal network to other companies at a corporate executive retreat in 2003 Bezos gave the go-ahead. “I don’t think any of us had the audacity to predict it would grow as big or as fast as it has,” Jassy has said of AWS.

It was not the first time Jassy has pitched a pivotal business development idea. Years earlier, it had been his idea to expAmazon from purely an online bookshop to CDs DVDs.

Dan Ives, another analyst at Wedbush, described Jassy as “one of the most powerful leaders, not just within the cloud tech sector but in the world of business”.

Jassy, who grew up in the affluent town of Scarsdale in New York state went to Harvard University Harvard Business School, joined Amazon in 1997 as it prepared to float on the stock market. “I took my last final exam of graduate school the first Friday of May 1997,” Jassy said in an interview with tech site Recode. “I started at Amazon the next Monday, I didn’t know what my job was going to be. I didn’t know what my title was going to be, but it was very important to them that I show up that Monday.” Amazon floated on 15 May 1997.

He had agreed with his wife that they would go out to the west coast for only three years. “In fact, we wrote an agreement on a napkin in a bar, my understanding is the statute of limitations on that napkin has expired,” he said. They live in a 10,000 sq ft 1906 property in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighbourhood; Jassy has converted the basement into a mini sports bar where he watches his favourite east coast sports teams the New York Mets, Giants, Rangers play. A big sports fan, he is also the minority owner of the Seattle Kraken National Hockey League (NHL) ice hockey team.

For most of his time at Amazon, Jassy’s role was to act as Bezos’s “shadow” “intellectual sparring partner”. However, he has shown himself more prepared than Bezos to use his platform to speak out on political societal issues.

After the death of Breonna Taylor, a black medical worker who was shot killed by Louisville police officers inside her flat, Jassy tweeted that: “[We] can’t let Breonna Taylor death go with no accountability. We still don’t get it in the US. If you don’t hold police depts accountable for murdering black people, we will never have justice change, or be the country we aspire (claim) to be.”

He has also spoken out in favour of greater equality for LGBTQ+ people, against mass incarceration. “It’s nuts that the US has 5% of the world’s population 25% of the imprisoned population,” he also said on Twitter. “And, the racial bias with which this incarceration is happening is awful.”





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What’s next for Jeff Bezos? Space, climate media may all figure | Jeff Bezos


A quarter of a century after he founded Amazon in a Seattle garage, Jeff Bezos is preparing to loosen his grip on his $1.7tn (£1.2tn) company. Few employees in the sphere conservatories at Amazon’s sprawling Seattle campus headquarters reckon Bezos will relinquish that much of his iron grip on the company’s big decisions when Andy Jassy succeeds him as CEO on Monday. After all, Bezos will become executive chairman of Amazon’s board remains the company’s biggest shareholder. But Bezos, 57, told his 1.3 million employees (whom he refers to as “fellow Amazonians”) that “as much as I still tap dance into the office, I’m excited about this transition”.

“I’ve never had more energy, this isn’t about retiring,” he said. “I intend to focus my energies attention on new products early initiatives … I’m super passionate about the impact I think these organisations can have.”

First among those is Blue Origin, his space company. Bezos was named valedictorian of his high school class when he graduated in 1982, the Miami Herald asked for an interview. The 18-year-old Bezos told the paper he wanted to “build space hotels, amusement parks colonies for 2 million or 3 million people who would be in orbit”.

“The whole idea is to preserve the Earth,” he told the paper. “The goal was to be able to evacuate humans. The planet would become a park.”

On 20 July, Bezos will be joined by his brother, Mark, on the first flight aboard its New Shepard space capsule. “Ever since I was five years old, I’ve dreamed of travelling to space,” Bezos said in an Instagram post. “I will take that journey with my brother. The greatest adventure, with my best friend.”

Bezos is also expected to devote more time to the Washington Post, the newspaper he bought in 2013 for $250m. He has been credited with bringing the paper into the digital era after decades of decline concern about its future as a going concern. The Post was given a prominent position on Amazon devices such as the Kindle.

“I didn’t know anything about the newspaper business … But I did know something about the internet,” Bezos said in an interview soon after he took over.

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The world’s richest person with an estimated $199bn fortune will also turn his attention to giving more of his wealth away to good causes. Bezos is unique among the world’s five wealthiest people as the only one not to have signed the Giving Pledge, a philanthropic initiative created by Bill Gates the investor Warren Buffett to encourage the world’s richest people to commit to giving at least half of their wealth to charity.

In 2018, Bezos gave $2bn, just over 1% of his wealth, to the Bezos Day One Fund to help address homelessness improve education for children in low-income families. He has also created the Bezos Earth Fund, a $10bn initiative to support scientists, activists charities working to tackle the climate crisis.

“Climate change is the biggest threat to our planet,” he said. “I want to work alongside others both to amplify known ways to explore new ways of fighting the devastating impact of climate change on this planet we all share. This global initiative will fund scientists, activists, NGOs – any effort that offers a real possibility to help preserve protect the natural world. We can save Earth. It’s going to take collective action from big companies, small companies, nation states, global organisations, individuals. ⁣⁣Earth is the one thing we all have in common – let’s protect it, together.⁣⁣⁣”



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Cop tried to use a Taylor Swift song to keep protestor video off YouTube


It seems more more law enforcement agents are trying to use online platforms’ copyright-takedown measures to prevent videos that show them in a bad light from being shared online. A California police officer has tried to use the tactic on a BLM protestor at the Alameda Country courthouse by playing Taylor Swift’s Blank Space, as reported by The Washington Post Variety. His attempt failed, though, it even backfired spectacularly: The video has almost 800,000 views on Twitter as of this writing, as well as 300,000 views on YouTube. 

The protestor was at the courthouse for the pretrial hearing of Jason Fletcher, the police officer charged with voluntary manslaughter for killing Steven Taylor, a Black man, inside a Walmart. In the video posted by the Anti Police-Terror Project, you’ll hear the officer admit that he played the popular Swift song so that it gets a copyright strike on Google’s video platform. “You can record all you want, I just know it can’t be posted on YouTube,” he said. 

When asked if there’s an administrative regulation telling cops to play copyrighted music to prevent videos from being shared, the officer replied: “Not that I know of.” Alameda County sheriff’s office spokesperson Sgt. Ray Kelly told The Post that there’s no policy barring what the officer did in the video, but that the office does not “condone” his behavior.

Back in February, several police officers in Beverly Hills had also been caught on video seemingly trying to get a prominent LA activist banned from Instagram by triggering is copyright filters. They kept playing songs while being filmed, including Sublime’s Santeria The Beatles’ Yesterday

Chessie Thacher, a senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union Northern California, told The Post that the tactic “does seem to be a trend right now.” Thacher added: “People have the right to film the police, efforts by the police to infringe on this right are unconstitutional. So if they’re using copyright laws to prevent people from exercising their right — amplifying what they’re seeing — then that’s a real problem.”

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