(c) Photo: LE WEB PARIS, 2013. Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
Addressing racial injustice
Jun 23, 2020
Microsoft Corporate Blogs
An email from CEO Satya Nadella to Microsoft employees:
As I shared in our Employee Town Hall last month, and in my email earlier this month, we are committed to take action to help address racial injustice and inequity, and unequivocally believe that Black lives matter. Below you will see many of the steps we are taking.
Over the past several weeks, the senior leadership team, board of directors, and I have spent time reflecting, listening, learning, and discussing what role the company – and all of us collectively – must play in helping to drive change, both within Microsoft and in our communities. With significant input from employees and leaders who are members of the Black and African American community, we have developed a set of actions that we believe are both meaningful to improving the lived experience at Microsoft, as well as driving change in the communities in which we live and work.
Today, we are making commitments to address racial injustice and inequity for the Black and African American community in the United States. We will additionally take important steps to address the needs of other communities, including the Hispanic and Latinx community, across the company in the next five years. We are focused on three multiyear, sustained efforts:
- Increasing our representation and culture of inclusion. We will build on our diversity and inclusion (D&I) momentum from the past five years by adding an additional $150M of D&I investment, and will double the number of Black and African American people managers, senior individual contributors, and senior leaders in the United States by 2025.
- Engaging our ecosystem. We will use our balance sheet and engagement with suppliers and partners to extend the vision for societal change throughout our ecosystem, creating new opportunities for them and the communities they serve.
- Strengthening our communities. We will use the power of data, technology, and partnership to help improve the lives of Black and African American citizens across our country, including to address the safety and well-being of our own employees in the communities in which they live.
Below are key details on how we will accomplish this.
We need to ensure that our culture of inclusion is a top priority for everyone. It starts with our values of respect, integrity, and accountability. Each of us must be able to thrive in diverse teams. Every manager must be able to attract, retain, and grow employees of all backgrounds. This is certainly true at Microsoft, and also more broadly. It is the new baseline for manager excellence across industries across the globe.
We will meet this new goal in three key ways:
1. We will accelerate our cultural transformation through further investment in inclusion. Managers who have a deep understanding and commitment to building inclusive culture are key to our company’s success. Starting in FY21, our training on allyship, covering, and privilege in the workplace will be required for all employees, with additional new content on understanding the experience of the Black and African American community. Because leadership sets the tone, we will have required live sessions for CVPs and EVPs to ensure they better understand the lived experience of these specific communities.
2. We will strengthen our intentional career planning and talent development efforts. This will apply across our workforce, beginning with Black and African American employees. These programs will expand to include other employee groups as we learn and grow. We will expand on our leadership development programs for select Black and African American midlevel employees and their managers, to help prepare for promotion to Director/Principal. For Director/Principal level, we will create a new development opportunity to expose them to the leadership expectations of the Partner/GM level and match them with senior-level sponsors and mentors. For Partner/GMs, we are continuing to invest in the dedicated leadership development programs.
3. We will further strengthen company accountability for progress on representation. We will deepen our practice of evaluating each CVP/GM’s progress on diversity and inclusion when determining their impact and rewards, as well as promotion considerations. We will provide CVPs with dedicated D&I coaches to confront and resolve systemic obstacles within their organizations. We will expand our global, quarterly promotion process to ensure we build diverse leadership teams at all levels. This will include direct engagement with business leaders on review of all candidates for people management, Director/Principal level, and Partner/GM level.
A vast business ecosystem surrounds Microsoft from our supply chain to our partner community. We recognize that a stronger and more productive ecosystem requires better representation of the diversity in our communities. We will evolve our engagement with our supply chain, banking partners, and the broad Microsoft partner ecosystem in this effort.
1. We will double the number of Black- and African American-owned approved suppliers over the next three years and spend an incremental $500M with those existing and new suppliers. We’ll do this by ensuring our existing guidance to include diverse minority-owned suppliers in all RFPs is well understood, evaluate supplier portfolio composition, and enhance the weighting of diversity characteristics (both in ownership and in broad workforce) during the supplier evaluation and selection process. We will also encourage Black and African American representation progress in our top 100 suppliers, which account for over 50 percent of our indirect spend, by requesting annual disclosure of their diversity profile information (e.g., workforce diversity, goals) that we will incorporate into our RFP evaluations.
2. We will use our own banking needs to grow our portfolio investment activity with Black- and African American-owned financial institutions. Over the next three years, we will double the percentage of our transaction volumes through these Black- and African-American owned banks and external managers where we have existing strong banking relationships and look to grow that base, which provides an increased opportunity for these firms to attract more capital. We will create a $100M program that will make its initial investment in collaboration with the FDIC to target Minority Owned Depository
3. Institutions (MDIs), which directly enables an increase of funds into local communities (businesses, restaurants, housing, etc.). And, we will establish a $50M investment fund focused on supporting Black- and African American-owned small businesses. The fund will initially focus on investing to improve access to capital, increase skill development, and reduce the technology gaps that exist today.
4. We know how important partners are to the growth of our business. We look forward to investing to increase the number of Black- and African American-owned partners in our US partner community by 20 percent over the next three years. A new $50M partner fund will help with access to capital providing loans to support these partners through their startup phase with the loans recovered over time as their business grows. We will provide $20M of financing to existing and new partners to support their cashflow needs. And, we will invest an additional $3M in training programs covering financial management, tech solutions, and go-to-market readiness.
No company can change the world by itself. But we believe that Microsoft can put the power of data, technology, and partnership to work to help improve the lives of Black and African American citizens across our country. That’s what we’re committed to doing, through a four-part effort.
1. We will strengthen and expand our existing justice reform initiative with a five-year, $50 million sustained effort. Since starting this work in 2017, we’ve come to appreciate the importance of this issue not only to the nation, but to the personal lives of our employees and their families. No one should have to live with the fear of being stopped by the police, harassed while shopping, or bullied in school because of the color of their skin. This conviction has led us to do increasing work advocating both in the Puget Sound and nationally, including in the communities where our employees live.We will build on this foundation by using data and digital technology toward increased transparency and accountability in our justice system. All this work will be backed by public policy advocacy that will increase access to data to identify racial disparities and improve policing. We’ll also use our technology and expertise to support evidenced-based and unbiased diversion programs that direct people into treatment alternatives instead of incarceration. We’ll also use data to promote racial equity in the decisions made by prosecutors, including decisions about who to charge with a crime, the nature of the charge, plea offers, and sentencing recommendations.
2. We will expand our skills work to help Black and African American students and adults develop the skills needed to succeed in the digital economy. Over the next five years, we will expand in 13 states and the District of Columbia the Microsoft TEALS industry volunteer program to bring computer science education to an additional 620 high schools primarily serving Black and African American students. We will also strengthen Microsoft’s support for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, including in computer and data science programs, campus initiatives and partnerships, and curriculum development. Finally, we’ll offer digital skills training to Black and African American adults seeking new jobs. As part of a global skilling initiative, we will provide $5 million in cash grants to community-based nonprofit organizations led by and serving communities of color, enabling them to better support digital skills programs.
3. We will help expand access to broadband and devices for communities of color and the key institutions that support them in major urban centers, by working with carriers, OEMs, our own hardware team, refurbishers, and nonprofits to enrich low-cost broadband access by providing affordable PCs and Microsoft software. We’ll work to ensure these services can be put to effective use to improve people’s lives, with a focus on telehealth services and educational offerings. Backed by public advocacy, we’ll start by focusing on six cities that currently confront the largest urban broadband gaps.
4. Finally, we will increase technology support for nonprofits that support and are led by people of color. We will help support the digital transformation that we know from experience can make nonprofits more effective. We’ll provide access to Azure and Dynamics credits and financial grants that will enable these organizations to add the IT staff needed to better deploy and maximize technology. We look forward to tapping into the knowledge and expertise of our own employees as we identify effective groups we can support more strongly.
Change begins by looking inward. We expect this change in ourselves. Employees expect this change from their leaders. Our customers and partners expect this change from Microsoft. And the world demands this change.
This is not a one-time event. It will require real work and focus. We will listen and learn. We will take feedback and we will adjust. But it starts with each of us making a commitment to do the work, to help drive change, and to act with intention.
#microsoft #ms #software #os #windows #programming #job #technology #whitelivesmatter #USA #America #civil #rights #protest #activism #activist #riot #freedom #blacklivesmatter #news #racial #racism #black #white #photo
Russian space agency chief Dmitry Rogozin once ridiculed the lack of a U.S. manned flight programme, saying it might as well "deliver its astronauts to the ISS by using a trampoline".(c) Photo: MK
Six years later Elon Musk and NASA had the last laugh.
"The trampoline is working," quipped the 48-year-old U.S. entrepreneur at a post-flight news conference alongside NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine.
Both men laughed. "It's an inside joke," Musk added.
On Saturday, his SpaceX made history by becoming the first commercial company to send humans into orbit.
The U.S. feat and Musk's joke set Russian social media alight, with wits ridiculing Rogozin, and the Russian space chief's name began trending on Twitter.
"How do you like this, Dmitry Rogozin?" one critic prodded.
Russia still prides itself on sending the first human into orbit in 1961 and other achievements of the Soviet-era space programme.
Rogozin has remained conspicuously silent but his spokesman was forced to react.
"We don't really understand the hysteria sparked by the successful launch of a Crew Dragon spacecraft," spokesman Vladimir Ustimenko said on Twitter.
"What should have happened a long time ago happened," he added.
While cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev, Roscosmos executive director for crewed space programmes, saluted the US achievement in a brief video address, not everyone was in such a gracious mood.
Alexey Pushkov, a member of the upper house of parliament, declared Saturday's flight was not a big deal.
"This is a flight to the International Space Station, not to Mars," he said on messaging app Telegram.
He pronounced it time to stop ferrying Americans to the orbiting lab.
"Russia needs spaces for its own young cosmonauts."
Trading Standards squad targets anti-5G USB stick
Trading Standards officers are seeking to halt sales of a device that has been claimed to offer protection against the supposed dangers of 5G via use of quantum technology.
Cyber-security experts say the £339 5GBioShield appears to no more than a basic USB drive.
"We consider it to be a scam," Stephen Knight, operations director for London Trading Standards told the BBC.
His said his team is working with City of London Police's Action Fraud squad.
They are seeking a court order to take down the company's website.
"People who are vulnerable need protection from this kind of unscrupulous trading," he added.
The intervention follows an examination of the device, which was first reported by the BBC.
The vendor - BioShield Distribution - had previously said the device was backed by "research", but has not responded to the latest development.
'Holographic nano-layer catalyser'
The rollout of the new 5G mobile networks began in the UK only last summer and has not yet reached outside urban areas.
Yet across the country there is already a cottage industry offering protection against the supposed negative health effects, even though they have been dismissed by regulators and mainstream scientists.
The 5GBioShield was recommended by a member of Glastonbury Town Council's 5G Advisory Committee, which has called for an inquiry into 5G.
One of nine external members, Toby Hall, said: "We use this device and find it helpful," and provided a link to its website, which describes it as a USB key that "provides protection for your home and family, thanks to the wearable holographic nano-layer catalyser, which can be worn or placed near to a smartphone or any other electrical, radiation or EMF [electromagnetic field] emitting device".
"Through a process of quantum oscillation, the 5GBioShield USB key balances and re-harmonises the disturbing frequencies arising from the electric fog induced by devices, such as laptops, cordless phones, wi-fi, tablets, et cetera," it adds.
Each of these USB keys costs £339.60 including VAT, though there is a special offer of three for £958.80.
But, at first sight, it seems to be just that - a USB key, with just 128MB of storage.
"So what's different between it and a virtually identical 'crystal' USB key available from various suppliers in Shenzhen, China, for around £5 per key?" asks Ken Munro, whose company, Pen Test Partners, specialises in taking apart consumer electronic products to spot security vulnerabilities.
And the answer appears to be a circular sticker.
"Now, we're not 5G quantum experts but said sticker looks remarkably like one available in sheets from stationery suppliers for less than a penny each," he says.
Mr Munro and his colleague Phil Eveleigh proceeded to dismantle the USB key to find out if there were any whizz-bang electronics inside.
But all they found was an LED light on the circuit board, similar to those on any other USB key.
Their conclusion was that trading standards bodies should carry out their own investigations.
A search in Companies House shows the two directors of BioShield Distribution are Anna Grochowalska and Valerio Laghezza.
Both of them appear to have been involved previously in a business called Immortalis, which sells a dietary supplement called Klotho Formula.
Its website - rather similar in design to that of the BioShield - says Klotho Formula uses a "proprietary procedure that leads to relativistic time dilation and biological quantum entanglement at the DNA level".
Ms Grochowalska told BBC News her company was the sole global distributor of the 5GBioShield - but it did not manufacture or own the product.
"We are in possession of a great deal of technical information, with plenty of back-up historical research," she said.
"As you can understand, we are not authorised to fully disclose all this sensitive information to third parties, for obvious reasons."
And she rejected the suggestion selling a £5 product for more than £300 was unreasonable.
"In regard to the costs analysis your research has produced, I believe that the lack of in-depth information will not drive you to the exact computation of our expenses and production costs, including the cost of IP [intellectual property rights], and so on," she said.
"It is therefore hard to take your evaluation seriously, since you have evidently not researched the background facts in any meaningful way."
(...) When plugged in to our test machine we may have missed the bubble of “quantum holographic catalyzer technology” appearing.MORE:
The stick comes loaded with a 25 page PDF version of the material from 5GbioShield ‘s website. It included a Q&A of distances for the “bubble” and how to know if it is working. It’s an “always on” system apparently, is always working, powered or not, so no visual checks needed.
A review of the stick’s properties revealed nothing more that what you’d expect from a regular 128MB USB key. We weren’t even sure that 128s are still in production! (...)
Photo: (c) University of Manchester.
Dead Sea Scroll fragments thought to be blank reveal text
May 15, 2020
Posted in Archives & Collections
Our new research has revealed that four Dead Sea Scroll manuscript fragments housed at The University of Manchester’s John Rylands Library, which were previously thought to be blank, do in fact contain text.
The discovery means that The University of Manchester is the only institution in the UK to possess authenticated textual fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Unlike the recent cases of forgeries assumed to be Dead Sea Scrolls fragments, all of these small pieces were unearthed in the official excavations of the Qumran caves, and were never passed through the antiquities market.
In the 1950s, the fragments were gifted by the Jordanian government to Ronald Reed, leather expert at the University of Leeds, so he could study their physical and chemical composition. It was assumed that the pieces were ideal for scientific tests, as they were blank and relatively worthless. These were studied and published by Reed and his student John Poole, and then stored safely away.
In 1997 the Reed Collection was donated to The University of Manchester through the initiative of Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis, George Brooke. These fragments have been stored in Reed’s own labelled boxes in The John Rylands Library, and have been relatively untouched since then.
When examining the fragments for the new study, Professor Joan Taylor thought it possible that one of them did actually contain a letter, and therefore decided to photograph all of the existing fragments over 1 cm that appear blank to the naked eye, using multispectral imaging.
51 fragments were imaged front and back. Six were identified for further detailed investigation – of these, it was established that four have readable Hebrew/Aramaic text written in carbon-based ink. The study has also revealed ruled lines and small vestiges of letters on other fragments.
The most substantial fragment has the remains of four lines of text with 15-16 letters, most of which are only partially preserved, but the word Shabbat (Sabbath) can be clearly read. This text (Ryl4Q22) may be related to the biblical book of Ezekiel (46:1-3). One piece with text is the edge of a parchment scroll section, with sewn thread, and the first letters of two lines of text may be seen to the left of this binding.
“Looking at one of the fragments with a magnifying glass, I thought I saw a small, faded letter – a lamed, the Hebrew letter ‘L’,” said Professor Taylor. “Frankly, since all these fragments were supposed to be blank and had even been cut into for leather studies, I also thought I might be imagining things. But then it seemed maybe other fragments could have very faded letters too.”
“With new techniques for revealing ancient texts now available, I felt we had to know if these letters could be exposed. There are only a few on each fragment, but they are like missing pieces of a jigsaw puzzle you find under a sofa.”
The Dead Sea Scrolls (also the Qumran Caves Scrolls) are ancient Jewish religious manuscripts that were found in the Qumran Caves in the Judaean Desert, near Ein Feshkha on the northern shore of the Dead Sea in the West Bank. Scholarly consensus dates these scrolls from the last three centuries BCE and the first century CE. The texts have great historical, religious, and linguistic significance because they include the second-oldest known surviving manuscripts of works later included in the Hebrew Bible canon, along with deuterocanonical and extra-biblical manuscripts which preserve evidence of the diversity of religious thought in late Second Temple Judaism. Almost all of the Dead Sea Scrolls are held by the state of Israel in the Shrine of the Book on the grounds of the Israel Museum, but ownership of the scrolls is disputed by Jordan and Palestine.Photo: the Israel Antiquities Authority; photographer not named. June 1993. Library of Congress
Many thousands of written fragments have been discovered in the Dead Sea area. They represent the remnants of larger manuscripts damaged by natural causes or through human interference, with the vast majority holding only small scraps of text. However, a small number of well-preserved, almost intact manuscripts have survived – fewer than a dozen among those from the Qumran Caves. Researchers have assembled a collection of 981 different manuscripts – discovered in 1946/47 and in 1956 – from 11 caves. The 11 Qumran Caves lie in the immediate vicinity of the Hellenistic-period Jewish settlement at Khirbet Qumran in the eastern Judaean Desert, in the West Bank. The caves are located about one mile (1.6 kilometres) west of the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, whence they derive their name. Scholarly consensus dates the Qumran Caves Scrolls from the last three centuries BCE and the first century CE. Bronze coins found at the same sites form a series beginning with John Hyrcanus (in office 135–104 BCE) and continuing until the period of the First Jewish–Roman War (66–73 CE), supporting the radiocarbon and paleographic dating of the scrolls.
In the larger sense, the Dead Sea Scrolls include manuscripts from additional Judaean Desert sites, dated as early as the 8th century BCE and as late as the 11th century CE.
Biblical texts older than the Dead Sea Scrolls have been discovered only in two silver scroll-shaped amulets containing portions of the Priestly Blessing from the Book of Numbers, excavated in Jerusalem at Ketef Hinnom and dated c. 600 BCE; some scholars also include the controversial Shapira Scroll. The third-oldest surviving known piece of the Torah, the En-Gedi Scroll, consists of a portion of Leviticus found in the Ein Gedi synagogue, burnt in the 6th century CE and analyzed in 2015. Research has dated it palaeographically to the 1st or 2nd century CE, and using the C14 method to sometime between the 2nd and 4th centuries CE.
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Authorities around the world have mooted the use of location data in order to monitor COVID-19 patients and social distancing. Now, Google has offered another solution of sorts in COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports.No, it's not about shaming the stop-outs, it's more about how safe it is to go out.