Bill Pringle - Bill@BillPringle

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Interesting Articles

This page contains links to interesting articles about computers and other stuff. Please let me know if you find any broken links. I may or may not agree with the opinions expressed in any of these articles.

If you are interested in Facebook, you might want to see my Facebook page, which contains suggestions on how to keep your information safe while enjoying Facebook.

I found many of these on SlashDot, and used their descriptions. The nice thing about the Slashdot articles is that you can learn more information from the discussions.

Article Description/Comments
FCC Grants OneWeb Approval To Launch Over 700 Satellites For 'Space Internet'
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OneWeb plans to launch a constellation of 720 low-Earth orbit satellites using non-geostationary satellite orbit (NGSO) technology in order to provide global, high-speed broadband. The company's goal has far-reaching implications, and would provide internet to rural and hard-to-reach areas that currently have little access to internet connectivity.
'Chiropractors Are Bullshit'
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Chiropractic beliefs are dangerously far removed from mainstream medicine, and the vocation's practices have been linked to strokes, herniated discs, and even death.
The US Government Wants To Permanently Legalize the Right To Repair
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In one of the biggest wins for the right to repair movement yet, the U.S. Copyright Office suggested Thursday that the U.S. government should take actions to make it legal to repair anything you own, forever -- even if it requires hacking into the product's software. Manufacturers -- including John Deere, Ford, various printer companies, and a host of consumer electronics companies -- have argued that it should be illegal to bypass the software locks that they put into their products, claiming that such circumvention violated copyright law.
Lawsuit Accuses Comcast of Cutting Competitor's Wires To Put It Out of Business
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A tiny Internet service provider has sued Comcast, alleging that the cable giant and its hired contractors cut the smaller company's wires in order to take over its customer base. Telecom Cable LLC had "229 satisfied customers" in Weston Lakes and Corrigan, Texas when Comcast and its contractors sabotaged its network, the lawsuit filed last week in Harris County District Court said.
Curiosity Rover Decides, By Itself, What To Investigate On Mars
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NASA's Curiosity rover landed on Mars in 2012, in part to analyze rocks to see whether the Red Planet was ever habitable (or inhabited). But now the robot has gone off script, picking out its own targets for analysis -- precisely as planned. Last year, NASA scientists uploaded a piece of software called Autonomous Exploration for Gathering Increased Science (AEGIS) adapted from the older Opportunity rover. Curiosity can now scan each new location and use artificial intelligence to find promising targets for its ChemCam. Compared with the estimated 24% success rate of random aiming at picking out outcrops -- a prime target for investigation -- the current version of AEGIS lets the rover find them 94% of the time, researchers report.
California May Restore Broadband Privacy Rules Killed By Congress and Trump
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A proposed law in California would require Internet service providers to obtain customers' permission before they use, share, or sell the customers' Web browsing history. The California Broadband Internet Privacy Act, a bill introduced by Assembly member Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park) on Monday, is very similar to an Obama-era privacy rule that was scheduled to take effect across the US until President Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress eliminated it.
Study Finds Yoga Works As Well As Physical Therapy For Back Pain
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Another study is touting the benefits of yoga -- this time, for people with back problems. The new research put yoga head-to-head against physical therapy and found the two were equally good at restoring function and reducing the need for pain medication over time. In the new study, published in Annals of Internal Medicine, a group of 320 people did 12 weeks of yoga or physical therapy, or they simply received a book and newsletters about coping with back pain.
South Korean Web Hosting Provider Pays $1 Million In Ransomware Demand
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Nayana, a web hosting provider based in South Korea, announced it is in the process of paying a three-tier ransom demand of nearly $1 million worth of Bitcoin, following a ransomware infection that encrypted data on customer' servers. The ransomware infection appears has taken place on June 10, but Nayana admitted to the incident two days later, in a statement on its website.
A Third Of the Planet's Population Is Exposed To Deadly Heatwaves
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Nearly a third of the world's population is now exposed to climatic conditions that produce deadly heatwaves, as the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere makes it "almost inevitable" that vast areas of the planet will face rising fatalities from high temperatures, new research has found. Climate change has escalated the heatwave risk across the globe, the study states, with nearly half of the world's population set to suffer periods of deadly heat by the end of the century even if greenhouse gases are radically cut.
The Internet Cable Lobby Tries To Stop State Investigations Into Slow Broadband
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Broadband industry lobby groups want to stop individual states from investigating the speed claims made by Internet service providers, and they are citing the Federal Communications Commission's net neutrality rules in their effort to hinder the state-level actions. The industry attempt to undercut state investigations comes a few months after New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a lawsuit against Charter and its Time Warner Cable (TWC) subsidiary that claims the ISP defrauded and misled New Yorkers by promising Internet speeds the company knew it could not deliver.
'Star Trek: Discovery' Gets September Premiere Date On CBS & CBS All Access, Season 1 Split In Two
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Star Trek: Discovery will debut Sunday, September 24, with a special broadcast premiere on the CBS TV network airing 8:30-9:30 PM. The first as well as the second episode of the sci-fi series will be available on-demand on CBS All Access immediately following the broadcast premiere, with subsequent new episodes released on All Access each Sunday.
198 Million Americans Hit By 'Largest Ever' Voter Records Leak
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It's believed to be the largest ever known exposure of voter information to date. The various databases containing 198 million records on American voters from all political parties were found stored on an open Amazon S3 storage server owned by a Republican data analytics firm, Deep Root Analytics. UpGuard cyber risk analyst Chris Vickery, who found the exposed server, verified the data. Through his responsible disclosure, the server was secured late last week, and prior to publication. This leak shines a spotlight on the Republicans' multi-million dollar effort to better target potential voters by utilizing big data. The move largely a response to the successes of the Barack Obama campaign in 2008, thought to have been the first data-driven campaign.
Auto Makers Threatened By Both Tech Company Autos And Ridesharing
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For automakers, the first bit of bad news is that people seem quite receptive to buying a vehicle from a tech brand such as Apple or Google, according to Capgemini's 17th Cars Online report, which surveyed some 8000 consumers in eight countries... Consumer interest in buying cars from tech brands has grown from 49 percent in its 2015 study to 57 percent in the latest report... There is also the growing popularity of ride-sharing services offered by the likes of Uber and Lyft. Fewer people will feel the need to have their own car if it's easy and inexpensive to order up a cab on their smartphones. Capgemini's survey found that 34 percent of car buyers see ride sharing and related services as a genuine alternative to owning a vehicle.
European Parliament Committee Endorses End-To-End Encryption
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The draft recommends a regulation that will enforce end-to-end encryption on all communications to protect European Union citizens' fundamental privacy rights. The committee also recommended a ban on backdoors. Article 7 of the E.U.'s Charter of Fundamental Rights says that E.U. citizens have a right to personal privacy, as well as privacy in their family life and at home. According to the EP committee, the privacy of communications between individuals is also an important dimension of this right...
The Right To Repair Movement Is Forcing Apple To Change
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It's increasingly looking like Apple can no longer ignore the repair insurgency that's been brewing: The right to repair movement is winning, and Apple's behavior is changing. In the last few months, Apple has made political, design, and customer service decisions that suggest the right to repair movement is having a real impact on the company's operations...
Pentagon Cyberweapons 'Disappointing' Against ISIS
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It has been more than a year since the Pentagon announced that it was opening a new line of combat against the Islamic State, directing Cyber Command, then six years old, to mount computer-network attacks... "In general, there was some sense of disappointment in the overall ability for cyberoperations to land a major blow against ISIS," or the Islamic State, said Joshua Geltzer, who was the senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council until March. "This is just much harder in practice than people think..."
Watchdog Report Finds Alarming 20 Percent of Baby Food Tested Contains Lead
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According to an analysis released Thursday by the nonprofit advocacy group, the Environmental Defense Fund, twenty percent of 2,164 baby foods sampled between 2003 and 2013 by the Food and Drug Administration tested positive for lead.

Ars Technica reports:
Lead is a neurotoxin. Exposure at a young age can permanently affect a developing brain, causing lifelong behavioral problems and lower IQ. Though the levels in the baby food were generally below what the FDA considers unsafe, the agency's standards are decades old. The latest research suggests that there is no safe level of lead for children. Yet the Environmental Protection Agency this year has estimated that more than five percent of U.S. children (more than a million) get more than the FDA's recommended limit of lead from their diet. The products most often found to contain lead were fruit juices, root vegetable-based foods, and certain cookies, such as teething biscuits, the EDF reports. Oddly, the presence of lead was more common in baby foods than in the same foods marketed for adults. For instance, only 25 percent of regular apple juice tested positive for lead, while 55 percent of apple juices marketed for babies contained lead. Overall, only 14 percent of adult foods tested contained lead. The findings come from data collected in the FDA's annual survey of foods, called the Total Diet Survey, which the agency has run since the 1970s. Each year, the agency samples 280 types of foods from three different cities across the country, tracking nutrients, metals, pesticides, and other contaminants.
Coal Market Set To Collapse Worldwide By 2040 As Solar, Wind Dominate
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Solar power, once so costly it only made economic sense in spaceships, is becoming cheap enough that it will push coal and even natural-gas plants out of business faster than previously forecast. That's the conclusion of a Bloomberg New Energy Finance outlook for how fuel and electricity markets will evolve by 2040. The research group estimated solar already rivals the cost of new coal power plants in Germany and the U.S. and by 2021 will do so in quick-growing markets such as China and India. The scenario suggests green energy is taking root more quickly than most experts anticipate. It would mean that global carbon dioxide pollution from fossil fuels may decline after 2026, a contrast with the International Energy Agency's central forecast, which sees emissions rising steadily for decades to come.
US Intelligence Agencies Tried To Bribe Our Developers To Weaken Encryption, Says Telegram Founder
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In a series of tweets, Pavel Durov, the Russian founder of the popular secure messaging app Telegram has revealed that U.S. intelligence agencies tried twice to bribe his company's developers to weaken encryption in the app. The incident, Durov said, happened last year during the team's visit to the United States. "During our team's 1-week visit to the US last year we had two attempts to bribe our devs by US agencies + pressure on me from the FBI," he said. "And that was just 1 week. It would be naive to think you can run an independent/secure cryptoapp based in the US."
Apple CEO Tim Cook Shares His Experience Of Working With President Donald Trump
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I feel a great responsibility as an American, as a CEO, to try to influence things in areas where we have a level of expertise. I've pushed hard on immigration. We clearly have a very different view on things in that area. I've pushed on climate. We have a different view there. There are clearly areas where we're not nearly on the same page. We're dramatically different. I hope there's some areas where we're not. His focus on jobs is good. So we'll see. Pulling out of the Paris climate accord was very disappointing. I felt a responsibility to do every single thing I could for it not to happen. I think it's the wrong decision. If I see another opening on the Paris thing, I'm going to bring it up again.
US Internet Company Refused To Participate In NSA Surveillance, Documents Reveal
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A U.S. company refused to comply with a top-secret order that compelled it to facilitate government surveillance, according to newly declassified documents. According to the document, the unnamed company's refusal to participate in the surveillance program was tied to an apparent expansion of the foreign surveillance law, details of which were redacted by the government prior to its release, as it likely remains classified. It's thought to be only the second instance of an American company refusing to comply with a government surveillance order.
Netflix Has More American Subscribers Than Cable TV
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According to Leichtman Research estimates from the first quarter of 2017, there are more Netflix subscribers in the U.S. (50.85 million) than there are customers for major cable TV networks (48.61 million). While it doesn't mean Netflix is bigger than TV because it doesn't account for the 33.19 million satellite viewers, it represents a huge milestone for a streaming service that had half as many users just 5 years ago.
Facebook Built an AI System That Learned To Lie To Get What It Wants
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Humans are natural negotiators. We arrange dozens of tiny little details throughout our day to produce a desired outcome: What time a meeting should start, when you can take time off work, or how many cookies you can take from the cookie jar. Machines typically don't share that affinity, but new research from Facebook's AI research lab might offer a starting point to change that. The new system learned to negotiate from looking at each side of 5,808 human conversations, setting the groundwork for bots that could schedule meetings or get you the best deal online.
Robots Are Coming For Our Ms. Pac-Man High Scores
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A Microsoft-made AI system has achieved a perfect score of 999,990 points on the Atari 2600 version of the classic 'Ms. Pac-Man.'

From a report:
Researchers at the Microsoft-owned deep learning company Maluuba have used an AI system to break the all-time Ms. Pac-Man record. In a blog post, Microsoft wrote that, "using a divide-and-conquer method that could have broad implications for teaching AI agents to do complex tasks that augment human capabilities," Maluuba's AI was able to record a perfect Ms. Pac-Man score of 999,990 on the Atari 2600 version of the game, breaking the all-time record of 933,580.
Indian Scientists Are Experimenting With Drone Seed-bombing To Plant a Forest
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on June 5, World Environment Day, Reddy, in collaboration with two other scientists at the Department of Aerodynamics, Bangalore, Dr H N Science Centre, and the Department of Forest, collectively held their first ever drone-seeding trial on the banks of river Pinakini in the Gauribidanur area in Karnataka's Kolar district. "For that, the only way is to reach by air. Doing it with big aircraft is expensive, and take-offs and landings are a problem. So the only way to do it is through drones," he says, when we meet a few days later at the IISc Campus in Bangalore.
A 12-Month Campaign of Fake News To Influence Elections Costs $400K, Says Report
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A 77-page report released today by cyber-security firm Trend Micro explores the underground landscape of fake news, where anyone can buy influence and create artificial trends to serve personal interests. An examination of Chinese, Russian, Middle Eastern, and English-based underground fake news marketplaces reveals a wide range of services available on these portals. The report explores several websites where customers can purchase services ranging from "discrediting journalists" to "promoting street protests," and from "stuffing online polls" to "manipulating a decisive course of action," such as an election. According to researchers, the typical clients of such services are interested in warping the way others perceive reality. These services are usually used for character assassination, swaying political trends, or creating fake celebrities.
Multi-Million Dollar Upgrade Planned To Secure 'Failsafe' Arctic Seed Vault
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The Global Seed Vault, built in the Arctic as an impregnable deep freeze for the world's most precious food seeds, is to undergo a multi-million dollar upgrade after water from melting permafrost flooded its access tunnel. No seeds were damaged but the incident undermined the original belief that the vault would be a "failsafe" facility, securing the world's food supply forever. Now the Norwegian government, which owns the vault, has committed $4.4 million to improvements. [T]he vault's planners had not anticipated the extreme warm weather seen recently at the end of the world's hottest ever recorded year.
Google Searches Show That America Is Full of Racist and Selfish People
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https://tech.slashdot.org/story/17/06/14/018235/google-searches-show-that-america-is-full-of-racist-and-selfish-people
Microsoft Warns of 'Destructive Cyberattacks', Issues New Windows XP Patches
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Citing an "elevated risk for destructive cyberattacks," Microsoft today released an assortment of security updates designed to block attacks similar to those responsible for the devastating WannaCry/WannaCrypt ransomware outbreak last month. Today's critical security updates are in addition to the normal Patch Tuesday releases, Microsoft said. They'll be delivered automatically through Windows Update to devices running supported versions, including Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, and post-2008 Windows Server releases. But in an unprecedented move, Microsoft announced that it was also making the patches available simultaneously for manual download and installation on unsupported versions, including Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. The new updates can be found in the Microsoft Download Center or, alternatively, in the Update Catalog.
Russian Cyber Hacks On US Electoral System Far Wider Than Previously Known
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Russia's cyberattack on the U.S. electoral system before Donald Trump's election was far more widespread than has been publicly revealed, including incursions into voter databases and software systems in almost twice as many states as previously reported. In Illinois, investigators found evidence that cyber intruders tried to delete or alter voter data. The hackers accessed software designed to be used by poll workers on Election Day, and in at least one state accessed a campaign finance database. Details of the wave of attacks, in the summer and fall of 2016, were provided by three people with direct knowledge of the U.S. investigation into the matter. In all, the Russian hackers hit systems in a total of 39 states, one of them said. The scope and sophistication so concerned Obama administration officials that they took an unprecedented step -- complaining directly to Moscow over a modern-day "red phone." In October, two of the people said, the White House contacted the Kremlin on the back channel to offer detailed documents of what it said was Russia's role in election meddling and to warn that the attacks risked setting off a broader conflict.
Someone Built a Tool To Get Congress' Browser History
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A software engineer in North Carolina has created a new plugin that lets website administrators monitor when someone accesses their site from an IP address associated with the federal government. It was created in part to protest a measure signed by President Trump in April that allows internet service providers to sell sensitive information about your online habits without needing your consent.
The Internet Of Things Is Becoming More Difficult To Escape
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After a long day, many of us try to set down our technology and unplug from the world around us. But, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center and Elon University's Imagining the Internet Center, over the next few years, that will become much more difficult to do. The Internet of things will continue to spread between now and 2026, until human and machine connectivity becomes ubiquitous and unavoidably present, according to experts who participated in what Pew described as a "nonscientific canvassing." About 1,200 participants were asked: "As automobiles, medical devices, smart TVs, manufacturing equipment and other tools and infrastructure are networked, is it likely that attacks, hacks or ransomware concerns in the next decade will cause significant numbers of people to decide to disconnect, or will the trend toward greater connectivity of objects and people continue unabated?" The answers they gave were telling: 15 percent said significant numbers of people would disconnect while 85 percent said most people would just move more deeply into connected life. Unplugging is futile, and plugging in is unavoidable. It's already difficult to create distance from the technology that surrounds us, but as connectivity increases, it might become impossible to do so.
Artificial Intelligence Can Now Predict Suicide With Remarkable Accuracy
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Colin Walsh, data scientist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and his colleagues have created machine-learning algorithms that predict, with unnerving accuracy, the likelihood that a patient will attempt suicide. In trials, results have been 80-90% accurate when predicting whether someone will attempt suicide within the next two years, and 92% accurate in predicting whether someone will attempt suicide within the next week. The prediction is based on data that's widely available from all hospital admissions, including age, gender, zip codes, medications, and prior diagnoses. Walsh and his team gathered data on 5,167 patients from Vanderbilt University Medical Center that had been admitted with signs of self-harm or suicidal ideation. They read each of these cases to identify the 3,250 instances of suicide attempts. This set of more than 5,000 cases was used to train the machine to identify those at risk of attempted suicide compared to those who committed self-harm but showed no evidence of suicidal intent.
Museum of Failure Opens In Sweden
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A new museum in Helsingborg displays more than 70 failed products and objects, including the Apple Newton, Google Glass, Sony Betamax, Harley-Davidson perfume, and the Donald Trump board game. According to curator Samuel West, "none of the companies that I contacted wanted to cooperate. I approached quite a few innovation directors and asked them for examples of failure that they've learned from. I thought it would be easy to get them to collaborate but none of them -- zero -- choose to cooperate."
How Lego Clicked: The Super Brand That Reinvented Itself
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By 2003 Lego was in big trouble. Sales were down 30% year-on-year and it was $800m in debt. An internal report revealed it hadn't added anything of value to its portfolio for a decade... In 2015, the still privately owned, family controlled Lego Group overtook Ferrari to become the world's most powerful brand. It announced profits of 660m, making it the number one toy company in Europe and Asia, and number three in North America, where sales topped $1bn for the first time. From 2008 to 2010 its profits quadrupled, outstripping Apple's. Indeed, it has been called the Apple of toys: a profit-generating, design-driven miracle built around premium, intuitive, covetable hardware that fans can't get enough of. Last year Lego sold 75bn bricks. Lego people -- "Minifigures" -- the 4cm-tall yellow characters with dotty eyes, permanent grins, hooks for hands and pegs for legs -- outnumber humans. The British Toy Retailers Association voted Lego the toy of the century.
E-cigarettes 'Potentially As Harmful As Tobacco Cigarettes'
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A study by chemists at the University of Connecticut offers new evidence that electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, are potentially as harmful as tobacco cigarettes. Using a new low-cost, 3-D printed testing device, UConn researchers found that e-cigarettes loaded with a nicotine-based liquid are potentially as harmful as unfiltered cigarettes when it comes to causing DNA damage. The researchers also found that vapor from non-nicotine e-cigarettes caused as much DNA damage as filtered cigarettes, possibly due to the many chemical additives present in e-cigarette vapors. Cellular mutations caused by DNA damage can lead to cancer.
US Government Task Force Urges Cash Incentives For Ditching Insecure Medical Devices
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The healthcare sector in the U.S. is in critical condition and in dire need of an overhaul to address widespread and systemic information security weakness that puts patient privacy and even safety at risk, a Congressional Task Force has concluded... On the controversial issue of medical device security, the report suggests that the Federal government and industry might use incentives akin to the "cash for clunkers" car buyback program to encourage healthcare organizations to jettison insecure, legacy medical equipment...
SpaceX Releases Ultra-HD 4K Footage Of Falcon 9 Landing
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On June 3, SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket was placed into low-orbit for the sake of launching its Dragon spacecraft into their eleventh Commercial Resupply Services mission (CRS-11) to the International Space Station... Last week SpaceX shared on their Youtube channel the remarkable 4K UHD footage of the landing, and since many of us are not used to watching this kind of footage except for Sci-Fi movies or video games, the landing seems almost Hollywood-level surreal, especially since it happens so quickly and accurately. You can watch the video at 4k and 60 fps here if you happen to own a 4K TV or UHD PC monitor with the right hardware specs... The footage above isn't SpaceX's first 4K video of one of its launches. The company has also previously released other videos of even more impressive landings directly onto the surfaces of drone ships.
Entrepreneurs Fight Air Pollution With CO2-Reducing 'CityTrees'
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Berlin-based Green City Solutions claims its invention has the environmental benefit of up to 275 actual trees. But the CityTree isn't, in fact, a tree at all -- it's a moss culture. "Moss cultures have a much larger leaf surface area than any other plant. That means we can capture more pollutants," said Zhengliang Wu, co-founder of Green City Solutions.
Nutella Used An Algorithm To Design 7 Million Unique Labels
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Millions of Italians can now say they own a one-of-a-kind Nutella jar. In February, 7 million jars appeared on shelves in Italy, all of them boasting a unique label design... "An algorithm has usurped the traditional role of a designer," writes design magazine Dezeen. There are jars with polka dots. Jars with zigzags. Jars with splotchy shapes. All sorts of other patterns, too... All 7 million jars sold out within a month... Due to the sell-out success of these jars, Nutella is reportedly launching the same campaign soon in other European countries, starting with France.
Delays In Unlocking Cellphones Seized In Inauguration Day Protests?
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Cellphone data may play a key role in prosecuting people arrested at inauguration day protests, according to an article shared by Slashdot reader Mosquito Bites. A U.S. attorney acknowledged that "the government recovered cell phones from more than 100 indicted defendants and other un-indicted arrested" in a filing last March, adding "The government is in the process of extracting data from the Rioter Cell Phones pursuant to lawfully issued search warrants, and expects to be in a position to produce all of the data from the searchers Rioter Cell Phones in the next several weeks."

S But 11 weeks later, it's a different story. Prosecutors "have provided defense lawyers with access to hundreds of hours of video footage from January 20, but have yet to turn over data extracted from more than 100 cell phones seized during the arrests, according to lawyers who spoke with BuzzFeed News." In addition, they report that now more than half the 200-plus defendants "are vowing not to cooperate with prosecutors, even in the face of a new set of felony charges that carry stiff maximum prison sentences."
A Power Outage In Silicon Valley Was Caused By A Drone Crash
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A drone crashed into a high-voltage wire Thursday night, causing tens of thousands of dollars in damage and knocking out power to roughly 1,600 people for about two hours, police said... "The FAA has rules and regulations in place to prevent this exact type of incident from happening," said Mountain View police spokeswoman Katie Nelson. "We simply ask that people comply with the rules and that they operate drones safely and sensibly."
No, Your Phone Didn't Ring. So Why Voice Mail From a Telemarketer?
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New technology allows telemarketers to leave ringless voicemail messages, and it's a method that's gaining traction. While there are laws to regulate businesses when they call consumers, some groups argue that ringless voicemail shouldn't count. The New York Times reports,"ringless voicemail providers and pro-business groups...argue that these messages should not qualify as calls and, therefore, should be exempt from consumer protection laws that ban similar types of telephone marketing"... After receiving a petition from a ringless voicemail provider, the Federal Trade Commission has started to collect public comments on this issue. So what can you do about it? First, you can head here to leave your public comment and if you're getting these voicemails, you can file a complaint with the FCC here.
Researcher Wants To Protect Whistleblowers Against Hidden Printer Dots
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"Gabor Szathmari, a security researcher for CryptoAUSTRALIA, is working on a method of improving the security of leaked documents by removing hidden dots left behind by laser printers, which are usually used to watermark documents and track down leakers," reports Bleeping Computer. "Szathmari's work was inspired by the case of a 25-year-old woman, Reality Leigh Winner, who was recently charged with leaking top-secret NSA documents to a news outlet." According to several researchers, Winner might have been caught after The Intercept had shared some of the leaked documents with the NSA. These documents had the invisible markings left behind by laser printers, which included the printer's serial number and the date and time when the document was printed. This allowed the NSA to track down Winner and arrest her even before she was able to publish the leaked documents. Now, Szatmari has submitted a pull request to the PDF Redact Tools, a project for securely redacting and stripping metadata from documents before publishing. Szathmari's pull request adds a code routine to the PDF Redact Tools project that would allow app operators to convert documents to black and white before publishing. "The black and white conversion will convert colors like the faded yellow dots to white," Szathmari said in an interview. Ironically, the project is managed by First Look Media, the parent company behind The Intercept news outlet.
Home Blood Pressure Monitors Are Wrong 70 Percent of the Time, Says Study
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In a study out this week, about 70 percent of home blood-pressure devices tested were off by 5 mmHg or more. That's enough to throw off clinical decisions, such as stopping or starting medication. Nearly 30 percent were off by 10 mmHg or more, including many devices that had been validated by regulatory agencies. The findings, published in The American Journal of Hypertension, suggest that consumers should be cautious about picking out and using such devices -- and device manufacturers need to step up their game. Lead author Raj Padwal and his colleagues set out to test the accuracy of the devices themselves. Funded by the University of Alberta Hospital Foundation, they compared the home blood-pressure monitors of 85 patients with a gold-standard blood-pressure measurement technique. The patients' monitors varied by type, age, and validation-status. But they all used an automated oscillometric method, which measures oscillations in the brachial artery and uses an algorithm to calculate blood pressure. The gold-standard method was the old-school auscultatory method, which involves the arm-squeezing sphygmomanometer and a clinician listening for thumps with a stethoscope. Of the 85 home devices, 59 were inaccurate by 5 mmHg or more in either their systolic (the top number that's the maximum pressure of a heart beat) or diastolic (the bottom number that's the minimum between-beat pressure). That's 69 percent inaccurate. Of those, 25 (or 29 percent) were off by 10 mmHg or more. And six devices (seven percent) were off by 15 mmHg or more.
Astronomers Prove To Einstein That Stars Can Warp Light
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Astronomers have observed for the first time ever a distant star warp the light of another star, "making it seem as though the object changed its position in the sky," reports The Verge. The discovery is especially noteworthy as Albert Einstein didn't think such an observation would be possible. From the report: These events require stars that are very far apart to line up perfectly. That's why Einstein once wrote that "there is no hope of observing this phenomenon directly." Our telescope technology has become far more sophisticated than in Einstein's day -- which is what allowed us to observe something he thought we'd never see. In 2014, a group of astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope spotted a rare type of microlensing, when a dense white dwarf star passed in front of another star thousands of light-years away. The stars weren't exactly aligned, but they were close enough that the white dwarf made it seem like the background star performed a small loop in the sky. "It looks like the white dwarf pushed it out of the way," Terry Oswalt, an astronomer at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University who was not involved in this discovery but wrote a perspective piece in Science, tells The Verge. "That's not what happened, of course. It just looks like that." The astronomers also used the apparent movement of the background star to measure the mass of the passing white dwarf, a novel technique detailed in a paper published today in Science. And they say this isn't the last time they'll make measurements like this either. Now that they've figured out how to spot these kinds of lensing events, they're hoping to find even more with new ground- and space-based telescopes that are coming online soon.
US Pays Farmers Billions To Save The Soil. But It's Blowing Away
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Soil has been blowing away from the Great Plains ever since farmers first plowed up the prairie. It reached crisis levels during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, when windblown soil turned day into night. In recent years, dust storms have returned, driven mainly by drought. But Shook -- and others -- say farmers are making the problem worse by taking land where grass used to grow and plowing it up, exposing vulnerable soil. This is where federal policy enters the picture. Most of that grassland was there in the first place because of a taxpayer-funded program. The U.S. Department of Agriculture rents land from farmers across the country and pays them to grow grass, trees and wildflowers in order to protect the soil and also provide habitat for wildlife. It's called the Conservation Reserve Program, or CRP. Ten years ago, there was more land in the CRP than in the entire state of New York. In North Dakota, CRP land covered 5,000 square miles. But CRP agreements only last 10 years, and when farming got more profitable about a decade ago, farmers in North Dakota pulled more than half of that land out of the CRP to grow crops like corn and soybeans. Across the country, farmers decided not to re-enroll 15.8 million acres of farmland in the CRP when those contracts expired between 2007 and 2014.
SpaceX Will Launch Secretive X-37B Spaceplane's Next Mission
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SpaceX will launch the Air Force's X-37B experimental spaceplane later this year, in the military's latest vote of confidence in the Elon Musk-led space company. This will be the first time SpaceX has launched the uncrewed robotic vehicle. United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp., has launched the spaceplane's previous four missions atop one of its Atlas V rockets. The Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, which is responsible for the X-37B's experimental operations, said it was "very excited" for the fifth flight, which will test how special electronics and heat pipes will fare during a long-duration space mission. The Air Force has two of the spaceplanes, which look like miniature versions of the space shuttle and are known officially as X-37B Orbital Test Vehicles. The first X-37B was launched in 2010.
It's Been So Windy in Europe That Electricity Prices Have Turned Negative
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An anonymous reader writes: It's been very windy across Europe this week. So much so, in fact, that the high wind load on onshore and offshore wind turbines across much of the continent has helped set new wind power records. For starters, renewables generated more than half of Britain's energy demand on Wednesday -- for the first time ever. In fact, with offshore wind supplying 10 percent of the total demand, energy prices were knocked into the negative for the longest period on record. The UK is home to the world's biggest wind farm, and the largest wind turbines, so it's no surprise that this was an important factor in the country's energy mix. "Negative prices aren't frequently observed," Joel Meggelaars, who works at renewable energy trade body WindEurope, told Motherboard over the phone. "It means a high supply and low demand."
SpaceX Will Launch Secretive X-37B Spaceplane's Next Mission
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SpaceX will launch the Air Force's X-37B experimental spaceplane later this year, in the military's latest vote of confidence in the Elon Musk-led space company. This will be the first time SpaceX has launched the uncrewed robotic vehicle. United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp., has launched the spaceplane's previous four missions atop one of its Atlas V rockets. The Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, which is responsible for the X-37B's experimental operations, said it was "very excited" for the fifth flight, which will test how special electronics and heat pipes will fare during a long-duration space mission. The Air Force has two of the spaceplanes, which look like miniature versions of the space shuttle and are known officially as X-37B Orbital Test Vehicles. The first X-37B was launched in 2010.
US Pays Farmers Billions To Save The Soil. But It's Blowing Away
(Click for story)
Soil has been blowing away from the Great Plains ever since farmers first plowed up the prairie. It reached crisis levels during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, when windblown soil turned day into night. In recent years, dust storms have returned, driven mainly by drought. But Shook -- and others -- say farmers are making the problem worse by taking land where grass used to grow and plowing it up, exposing vulnerable soil. This is where federal policy enters the picture. Most of that grassland was there in the first place because of a taxpayer-funded program. The U.S. Department of Agriculture rents land from farmers across the country and pays them to grow grass, trees and wildflowers in order to protect the soil and also provide habitat for wildlife. It's called the Conservation Reserve Program, or CRP. Ten years ago, there was more land in the CRP than in the entire state of New York. In North Dakota, CRP land covered 5,000 square miles. But CRP agreements only last 10 years, and when farming got more profitable about a decade ago, farmers in North Dakota pulled more than half of that land out of the CRP to grow crops like corn and soybeans. Across the country, farmers decided not to re-enroll 15.8 million acres of farmland in the CRP when those contracts expired between 2007 and 2014.
Facebook Unveils New Tools To Help Elected Officials Reach Constituents
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Facebook this year has launched a number of features that make it easier for people to reach their government representatives on its social network, including "Town Hall," and related integrations with News Feed, as well as ways to share reps' contact info in your own posts. Today, the company is expanding on these initiatives with those designed for elected officials themselves. The new tools will help officials connect with their constituents, as well as better understand which issues their constituents care about most. Specifically, the social network is rolling out three new features: constituent badges, constituent insights, and district targeting. Constituent badges are a new, opt-in feature that allow Facebook users to identify themselves as a person living in the district the elected official represents. A second feature called Constituent Insights is designed to help elected officials learn which local news stories and content is popular in their district, so they can share their thoughts on those matters. The third new feature -- District Targeting -- is arguably the most notable. This effectively gives elected officials the means of gathering feedback from their constituents through Facebook directly, using either posts or polls that are targeted only towards those who actually live in their particular district. That means the official can post to Facebook to ask for feedback from constituents about an issue, and these posts will only be viewable by those who live in their district.
Oldest Fossils of Homo Sapiens Found in Morocco, Altering History of Our Species
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Fossils discovered in Morocco are the oldest known remains of Homo sapiens, scientists reported on Wednesday. Dating back roughly 300,000 years, the bones indicate that mankind evolved earlier than had been known, experts say, and open a new window on our origins. The fossils also show that early Homo sapiens had faces much like our own, although their brains differed in fundamental ways (alternative source). Until now, the oldest fossils of our species, found in Ethiopia, dated back just 195,000 years. The new fossils suggest our species evolved across Africa. "We did not evolve from a single cradle of mankind somewhere in East Africa," said Phillipp Gunz, a paleoanthropologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Liepzig, Germany. Today, the closest living relatives to Homo sapiens are chimpanzees and bonobos, with whom we share a common ancestor that lived over six million years ago. After the lineages split, our ancient relatives evolved into many different species, known as hominins. For millions of years, hominins remained very ape-like. They were short, had small brains, and could fashion only crude stone tools.
Police In Oklahoma Have Cracked Hundreds of People's Cell Phones
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Mobile phone forensic extraction devices have been a law enforcement tool for years now, and the number of agencies using them is only rising. As part of an ongoing investigation, we have finally been able to turn up some usage logs of this equipment, from Tulsa Police Department, and Tucson Police Department. While the logs do not list the cause of the crime or any other notes about why the phone was being searched, it does list the make of the phone, the date, and the type of extraction.
At $75,560, Housing a Prisoner in California Now Costs More Than a Year at Harvard
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The cost of imprisoning each of California's 130,000 inmates is expected to reach a record $75,560 in the next year, the AP reported.
Dozens of Recent Clinical Trials May Contain Wrong or Falsified Data, Claims Study
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John Carlisle, a consultant anesthetist at Torbay Hospital, used statistical tools to conduct a review of thousands of papers published in leading medical journals. While a vast majority of the clinical trials he reviewed were accurate, 90 of the 5,067 published trials had underlying patterns that were unlikely to appear by chance in a credible dataset.
Trump Wants To Modernize Air Travel By Turning Over Control To the Big Airlines
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Today, President Donald Trump endorsed a plan to hand over oversight of the nation's airspace to a non-profit corporation that will likely be largely controlled by the major airlines. Republicans argue that privatizing air traffic control will help save money and fast track important technological upgrades. But Democrats and consumer groups criticize that plan as a corporate giveaway that will inevitably harm passengers. The air traffic reform proposal, which fell short in Congress last year, would transfer oversight from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to a government-sanctioned, independent entity that would be made up of appointees from industry stakeholders.
Videotapes Are Becoming Unwatchable As Archivists Work To Save Them
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Most videotapes were recorded in the 1980s and '90s, when video cameras first became widely available to Americans. Most of those VHS cassettes have become unwatchable, and others are quickly dying, too. Research suggests that tapes like this aren't going to live beyond 15 to 20 years. NPR has a story about a group of archivists and preservationists who are increasingly scrambling through racks of tape decks, oscilloscopes, vector scopes and wave-form monitors to ensure a quality transfer from analog to digital.
Supreme Court Agrees To Decide Major Privacy Case On Cellphone Data
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The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a major case on privacy rights in the digital age that will determine whether police officers need warrants to access past cellphone location information kept by wireless carriers. The justices agreed to hear an appeal brought by a man who was arrested in 2011 as part of an investigation into a string of armed robberies at Radio Shack and T-Mobile stores in the Detroit area over the preceding months. Police helped establish that the man, Timothy Carpenter, was near the scene of the crimes by securing cell site location information from his cellphone carrier. At issue is whether failing to obtain a warrant violates a defendant's right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures under the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment. The information that law enforcement agencies can obtain from wireless carriers shows which local cellphone towers users connect to at the time they make calls. Police can use historical data to determine if a suspect was in the vicinity of a crime scene or real-time data to track a suspect.
A Lake On Mars May Once Have Teemed With Life
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Once upon a time on Mars, there was a crater that had a massive lake that may have hosted life. Now researchers are saying that a whole variety of organisms could have flourished there. Sure, that life was probably just microbial, but this is another exciting step toward understanding just how habitable Mars may have been around 3.5 billion years ago. Petrified mud that was once at the bottom of the lake suggests that, at the time, the lake had different chemical environments that could have hosted different types of microbes.
A NASA Spacecraft Will Head Straight For the Sun -- Farther Than Any Probe Before It
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A US spacecraft will swoop inside the Sun's corona, its superheated outer atmosphere, on a pathfinding mission to learn more about how stars work. Nasa's $1.5bn Parker Solar Probe, which will be protected by a shield that can withstand temperatures of 1,400C, will journey within 6m km of the Sun's surface, seven times closer than any previous spacecraft.
Putin Hints At US Election Meddling By 'Patriotically Minded' Russians
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Shifting from his previous blanket denials, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia said on Thursday that "patriotically minded" private Russian hackers could have been involved in cyberattacks last year to help the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; alternative source). While Mr. Putin continued to deny any state role, his comments to reporters in St. Petersburg were a departure from the Kremlin's previous position: that Russia had played no role whatsoever in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and that, after Mr. Trump's victory, the country had become the victim of anti-Russia hysteria among crestfallen Democrats. Raising the possibility of attacks by what he portrayed as free-spirited Russian patriots, Mr. Putin said that hackers "are like artists" who choose their targets depending how they feel "when they wake up in the morning."
The US Is the Biggest Carbon Polluter in History
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The United States, with its love of big cars, big houses and blasting air-conditioners, has contributed more than any other country to the atmospheric carbon dioxide that is scorching the planet. "In cumulative terms, we certainly own this problem more than anybody else does," said David G. Victor, a longtime scholar of climate politics at the University of California, San Diego. Many argue that this obligates the United States to take ambitious action to slow global warming. Against that backdrop, factions in the Trump administration are engaged in a heated debate over whether to remain a party to the 195-nation agreement on climate change reached in Paris in 2015. President Trump promised on Wednesday to announce his decision at 3 p.m Thursday in the White House Rose Garden. A decision to walk away from the accord would be a momentous setback, in practical and political terms, for the effort to address climate change.
EFF Sues FBI For Records About Paid Best Buy Geek Squad Informants
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The Electronic Frontier Foundation is suing the FBI for records "about the extent to which it directs and trains Best Buy employees to conduct warrantless searches of people's devices." The lawsuit stems around an incident in 2011 where a gynecology doctor took his computer for repairs at Best Buy's Geek Squad. The repair technician was a paid FBI informant that found child pornography on the doctor's computer, ultimately resulting in the doctor being charged with possessing child pornography.
Amazon Is Refunding Up To $70 Million In-App Purchases Made By Kids
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The Federal Trade Commission announced that refunds are now available for parents whose children made in-app purchases without their knowledge. Amazon dropped its appeal of last year's ruling by a federal judge who sided with the Federal Trade Commission in the agency's lawsuit again Amazon.
Elon Musk Joins CEOs Calling For US To Stay in Paris Climate Deal
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Billionaire Elon Musk said on Wednesday he would leave President Trump's Business Advisory Council if the White House withdraws from an international agreement aimed at curbing climate change.
Top Defense Contractor Left Sensitive Pentagon Files on Amazon Server With No Password
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Sensitive files linked to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency -- which works with the nation's intelligence agencies to analyze aerial data -- were apparently left on a public Amazon server by an employee of Booz Allen Hamilton, one of the nation's top defense contractors, reports Gizmodo.
DNA From Ancient Egyptian Mummies Reveals Their Ancestry
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Ancient Egyptians were an archaeologist's dream. They left behind intricate coffins, massive pyramids and gorgeous hieroglyphs, the pictorial writing code cracked in 1799. But there was one persistent hole in ancient Egyptian identity: their chromosomes. A study led by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History and the University of Tubingen in Germany managed to plug some of those genetic gaps. Researchers wrung genetic material from 151 Egyptian mummies, radiocarbon dated between Egypt's New Kingdom (the oldest at 1388 B.C.) to the Roman Period (the youngest at 426 A.D.), as reported Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications. Johannes Krause, a University of Tubingen paleogeneticist and an author of the study, said the major finding was that "for 1,300 years, we see complete genetic continuity." Despite repeated conquests of Egypt, by Alexander the Great, Greeks, Romans, Arabs and Assyrians -- the list goes on -- ancient Egyptians showed little genetic change. "The other big surprise," Krause said, "was we didn't find much sub-Saharan African ancestry."
Startup Uses AI To Create Programs From Simple Screenshots
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A new neural network being built by a Danish startup called UIzard Technologies IVS has created an application that can transform raw designs of graphical user interfaces into actual source code that can be used to build them. Company founder Tony Beltramelli has just published a research paper that reveals how it has achieved that. It uses cutting-edge machine learning technologies to create a neural network that can generate code automatically when it's fed with screenshots of a GUI. The Pix2Code model actually outperforms many human coders because it can create code for three separate platforms, including Android, iOS and "web-based technologies," whereas many programmers are only able to do so for one platform. Pix2Code can create GUIs from screenshots with an accuracy of 77 percent, but that will improve as the algorithm learns more, the founder said.
ESR Announces The Open Sourcing Of The World's First Text Adventure
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Open source guru Eric S. Raymond added something special to his GitHub page: an open source version of the world's first text adventure. "Colossal Cave Adventure" was first written in 1977, and Raymond remembers it as "the origin of many things; the text adventure game, the dungeon-crawling D&D (computer) game, the MOO, the roguelike genre. Computer gaming as we know it would not exist without ADVENT (as it was known in its original PDP-10 incarnation...because PDP-10 filenames were limited to six characters of uppercase)...
Walt Mossberg's Last Column Calls For Privacy and Security Laws
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70-year-old Walt Mossberg wrote his last weekly column Thursday, looking back on how "we've all had a hell of a ride for the last few decades" and revisiting his famous 1991 pronouncement that "Personal computers are just too hard to use, and it isn't your fault."
Leaked 'Standing Rock' Documents Reveal Invasive Counterterrorism Measures
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"A shadowy international mercenary and security firm known as TigerSwan targeted the movement opposed to the Dakota Access Pipeline with military-style counterterrorism measures," reports The Intercept, decrying "the fusion of public and private intelligence operations." Saying the private firm started as a war-on-terror contractor for the U.S. military and State Department, the site details "sweeping and invasive" surveillance of protesters, citing over 100 documents leaked by one of the firm's contractors.
Researchers Found Perfect Contraceptives In Traditional Chinese Medicine
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Researchers at U.C. Berkeley found a birth control that was hormone-free, 100 percent natural, resulted in no side effects, didn't harm either eggs nor sperm, could be used in the long-term or short-term, and -- perhaps the best part of all -- could be used either before or after conception, from ancient Chinese folk medicine... "Because these two plant compounds block fertilization at very, very low concentrations -- about 10 times lower than levels of levonorgestrel in Plan B -- they could be a new generation of emergency contraceptive we nicknamed 'molecular condoms,'" team leader Polina Lishko
Is Amazon's AWS Hiring 'Demolishing The Cult Of Youth'?
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It just announced it is hiring James Gosling, one of the original inventors of Java... Meanwhile James Hamilton continues to completely kick ass in compute, network, and data center design for AWS... He's in his 50s. Tim Bray, one of the inventors of XML, joined Amazon in 2014. He's another Sun alumni. He's 61 now. He still codes. When you sit down with one of the AWS engineering teams you're sitting down with grownups... Adrian Cockcroft joined AWS in October 2016. He graduated in 1982, not 2002. He is VP Cloud Architecture Strategy at AWS, a perfect role for someone that helped drive Netflix's transition from on-prem Java hairball to serious cloud leadership.
Investigation Demanded Over Fake FCC Comments Submitted By Dead People
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Fight for the Future has found another issue with the fake comments submitted to the FCC opposing net neutrality. "The campaign group says that some of the comments were posted using the names and details of dead people," according to the BBC. The exact same comment was also submitted more than 7,000 times using addresses in Colorado, where a reporter discovered that contacting the people at those addresses drew reactions which included "I have never seen this before in my life" and "No, I did not post this comment. In fact, I disagree with this comment." Fight for the Future also knocked on doors in Tampa, Florida, where the few people who answered "were shocked to hear that their name and address were publicly listed alongside a political message they did not necessarily understand or agree with." An alleged commenter in Montana told a reporter she didn't even know what net neutrality was.
A Third of the Nation's Honeybee Colonies Died Last Year
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A third of the honeybees in the United States were lost over the last year, part of a decade-long die-off experts said may threaten our food supply. USA Today reports: The annual survey of roughly 5,000 beekeepers showed the 33% dip from April 2016 to April 2017. The decrease is small compared to the survey's previous 10 years, when the decrease hovered at roughly 40%. From 2012 to 2013, nearly half of the nation's colonies died. The death of a colony doesn't necessarily mean a loss of bees, explains vanEngelsdorp, a project director at the Bee Informed Partnership. A beekeeper can salvage a dead colony, but doing so comes at labor and productivity costs. That causes beekeepers to charge farmers more for pollinating crops and creates a scarcity of bees available for pollination. It's a trend that threatens beekeepers trying to make a living and could lead to a drop-off in fruits and nuts reliant on pollination, vanEngelsdor said. So what's killing the honeybees? Parasites, diseases, poor nutrition, and pesticides among many others. The chief killer is the varroa mite, a "lethal parasite," which researchers said spreads among colonies.
Two Different Studies Find Thousands of Bugs In Pacemakers, Insulin Pumps and Other Medical Devices
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Two studies are warning of thousands of vulnerabilities found in pacemakers, insulin pumps and other medical devices. "One study solely on pacemakers found more than 8,000 known vulnerabilities in code inside the cardiac devices," reports BBC. "The other study of the broader device market found only 17% of manufacturers had taken steps to secure gadgets."
Scientists Develop Technology That Burns Natural Gas With No CO2 Emissions
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Researchers and engineers in Vienna have developed a way to burn natural gas without releasing CO2 into the air through a combustion method called chemical looping combustion (CLC). In this process, CO2 can be isolated during combustion without having to use any additional energy, which means it can then go on to be stored. The method had already been applied successfully in a test environment, and has now been upscaled to allow use in up to a 10 MW facility.
Juno Spacecraft Reveals Spectacular Cyclones At Jupiter's Poles
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NASA's Juno spacecraft has spotted giant cyclones swirling at Jupiter's north and south poles. That's just one of the unexpected and puzzling findings being reported by the Juno science team. Juno arrived at Jupiter last summer. It's the first spacecraft to get a close-up look at the planet's poles. It's in an orbit that takes it skimming close to the cloud tops of the gas giant once every 53 days. After each close pass, the spacecraft sends a trove of data back to Earth. Ultimately, scientists will want to understand how these cyclones change over time and whether they form differently in the north and south poles. Another puzzle that Juno is supposed to help solve is whether Jupiter, a gas giant, has a solid core. Another surprise from Juno is the concentration of ammonia in Jupiter's atmosphere. Scientists thought ammonia was most likely distributed evenly throughout the atmosphere. The data show there's more ammonia near the equator than there is at other latitudes.
US Senator Introduces the First Bill To Give Gig Workers Benefits
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Virginia Senator Mark Warner has introduced a bill that will give basic benefits to gig workers. "Warner has just proposed the first-ever piece of national legislation aimed at helping on-demand and other non-traditional workers without traditional benefits, like paid sick days or a retirement plan, have some sort of a safety net," reports TechCrunch. "The bill asks the federal government to set aside $20 million in funding for organizations to use to look at the types of benefits programs individual workers could take with them from job to job." From the report: "[Portable benefits is] that emergency fund," Warner told BuzzFeed, which first reported news of the bill. "It might be a fund to take care of a disability if you get hurt. It might work with some existing retirement programs. Part of it would be, depending on what happens with Obamacare, an ability to help deal with health care expenses. I think there will be a variety of models." The funding wouldn't be enough to cover everyone, of course, but if it gets the green light a draft of the bill indicates it would earmark $5 million toward grants doled out by Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta for organizations already looking into portable benefits and $15 million for new programs.
8 In 10 People Now See Climate Change As a 'Catastrophic Risk,' Says Survey
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Nearly nine in 10 people say they are ready to make changes to their standard of living if it would prevent future climate catastrophe, a survey on global threats found Wednesday. The survey of more than 8,000 people in eight countries -- the United States, China, India, Britain, Australia, Brazil, South Africa and Germany -- found that 84 percent of people now consider climate change a "global catastrophic risk." That puts worry about climate change only slightly behind fears about large-scale environmental damage and the threat of politically motivated violence escalating into war, according to the Global Challenges Foundation, which commissioned the Global Catastrophic Risks 2017 report. The survey, released in advance of this week's G7 summit of advanced economies in Italy, also found that 85 percent of people think the United Nations needs reforms to be better equipped to address global threats. About 70 percent of those surveyed said they think it may be time to create a new global organization -- with power to enforce its decisions -- specifically designed to deal with a wide range of global risks. Nearly 60 percent said they would be prepared to have their country give up some level of sovereignty to make that happen.
Robot Police Officer Goes On Duty In Dubai
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The first robot officer has joined the Dubai Police force tasked with patrolling the city's malls and tourist attractions. "People will be able to use it to report crimes, pay fines and get information by tapping a touchscreen on its chest," reports BBC. "Data collected by the robot will also be shared with the transport and traffic authorities."

From the report:
The government said the aim was for 25% of the force to be robotic by 2030 but they would not replace humans. "We are not going to replace our police officers with this tool," said Brig Khalid Al Razooqi, director general of smart services at Dubai Police. "But with the number of people in Dubai increasing, we want to relocate police officers so they work in the right areas and can concentrate on providing a safe city. "Most people visit police stations or customer service, but with this tool we can reach the public 24/7. It can protect people from crime because it can broadcast what is happening right away to our command and control center."
The Trump Administration Wants To Be Able To Track and Hack Your Drone
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The Trump administration wants federal agencies to be able to track, hack, or even destroy drones that pose a threat to law enforcement and public safety operations, The New York Times reports. A proposed law, if passed by Congress, would let the government take down unmanned aircraft posing a danger to firefighting and search-and-rescue missions, prison operations, or "authorized protection of a person." The government will be required to respect "privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties" when exercising that power, the draft bill says. But records of anti-drone actions would be exempt from public disclosure under freedom of information laws, and people's right to sue over damaged and seized drones would be limited, according to the text of the proposal published by the Times. The administration, which would not comment on the proposal, scheduled a classified briefing on Wednesday for congressional staff members to discuss the issue.
US International Tourism Market Share Is Falling Under Trump
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The United States' slice of the international tourism pie is declining, according to a new report from Foursquare that looks at data from millions of phones worldwide. The US share of international tourism dropped 16% in March 2017 compared with the previous year. And it declined an average of 11% year over year in months spanning October 2016 to March 2017, according to the report. The drop coincides with the final month of the US election, the Trump transition, and the early months of the Trump administration, which notably imposed a travel ban on people from several majority-Muslim countries in January 2017 that was eventually halted in court but is currently under appeal. Declines in tourism market share from people originating in the Middle East were more pronounced than the rest of the world, down 25% this January, along with a smaller decrease from South America, Foursquare found. The data accounts for the percentage of international tourism coming to the US and not the absolute number of tourists, but Foursquare CEO Jeff Glueck told BuzzFeed News that it's unlikely tourist visits to the US increased while share declined. "I don't think you'd see a 16% decline in international market share and absolute numbers being up. I don't think that's compatible," he said. "The volume of tourism doesn't change that fast."
DEFCON Conference To Target Voting Machines
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Hackers will target American voting machines -- as a public service, to prove how vulnerable they are. When over 25,000 of them descend on Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas at the end of July for DEFCON, the world's largest hacking conference, organizers are planning to have waiting what they call "a village" of different opportunities to test how easily voting machines can be manipulated. Some will let people go after the network software remotely, some will be broken apart to let people dig into the hardware, and some will be set up to see how a prepared hacker could fiddle with individual machines on site in a polling place through a combination of physical and virtual attacks. With all the attention on Russia's apparent attempts to meddle in American elections -- former President Barack Obama and aides have made many accusations toward Moscow, but insisted that there's no evidence of actual vote tampering -- voting machines were an obvious next target, said DEFCON founder Jeff Moss.
Renewable Energy Powers Jobs For Almost 10 Million People
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According to the International Renewable Energy Agency's (IRENA) annual report, the renewable energy industry employed 9.8 million people last year, which is up 1.1 percent from 2015. The strongest growth was seen in the solar photovoltaic category with 3.09 million jobs.

Bloomberg reports:
S Here are some of the highlights from the report: Global renewables employment has climbed every year since 2012, with solar photovoltaic becoming the largest segment by total jobs in 2016. Solar photovoltaic employed 3.09 million people, followed by liquid biofuels at 1.7 million. The wind industry had 1.2 million employees, a 7 percent increase from 2015. Employment in renewables, excluding large hydro power, increased 2.8 percent last year to 8.3 million people, with China, Brazil, the U.S., India, Japan and Germany the leading job markets. Asian countries accounted for 62 percent of total jobs in 2016 compared with 50 percent in 2013. Renewables jobs could total 24 million in 2030, as more countries take steps to combat climate change, IRENA said.
Hackers Unlock Samsung Galaxy S8 With Fake Iris
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Despite Samsung stating that a user's irises are pretty much impossible to copy, a team of hackers has done just that. Using a bare-bones selection of equipment, researchers from the Chaos Computer Club (CCC) show in a video how they managed to bypass the scanner's protections and unlock the device. "We've had iris scanners that could be bypassed using a simple print-out," Linus Neumann, one of the hackers who appears in the video. The process itself was apparently pretty simple. The hackers took a medium range photo of their subject with a digital camera's night mode, and printed the infrared image. Then, presumably to give the image some depth, the hackers placed a contact lens on top of the printed picture.And, that's it. They're in.
Remote Pacific Island Is the Most Plastic-Contaminated Spot Yet Surveyed
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Plastic is durable -- very, very durable -- which is why we like it. Since it started being mass-produced in the 1950s, annual production has increased 300-fold. Because plastic is so durable, when our kids grow up and we purge our toy chests, or even just when we finish a bottle of laundry detergent or shampoo, it doesn't actually go away. While we're recycling increasing amounts of plastic, a lot of it still ends up in the oceans. Floating garbage patches have brought some attention to the issue of our contamination of the seas. But it's not just the waters themselves that have ended up cluttered with plastic. A recent survey shows that a staggering amount of our stuff is coming ashore on the extremely remote Henderson Island. Henderson Island is a UNESCO World Heritage site in the Pitcairn Group of Islands in the South Pacific, roughly half way between New Zealand and Peru. According to UNESCO, Henderson is one of the best examples we have of an elevated coral atoll ecosystem. It was colonized by Polynesians between the 12th and 15th centuries but has been uninhabited by humans since then. It is of interest to evolutionary biologists because it has 10 plant species and four bird species that are only found there. Despite its uninhabited status and its extremely remote location, a recent survey of beach plastic on Henderson Island revealed that the island has the highest density of debris reported anywhere in the world: an estimated minimum of 37.7 million items weighing 17.6 tons. This represents the total amount of plastic that is produced in the world every 1.98 seconds.
Why The US Government Open Sources Its Code
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The Federal Source Code Policy, released in August 2016, was the first U.S. government policy to support open source across the government... All new custom source code developed by or for the federal government must be available to all other federal agencies for sharing and reuse; and at least 20% of new government custom-developed code must be released to the public as open source. It also established Code.gov as a platform for access to government-developed open source code and a way for other developers to participate.
Did China Hack The CIA In A Massive Intelligence Breach From 2010 To 2012?
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Both the CIA and the FBI declined to comment on reports saying the Chinese government killed or imprisoned 18 to 20 CIA sources from 2010 to 2012 and dismantled the agency's spying operations in the country. It is described as one of the worst intelligence breaches in decades, current and former American officials told the New York Times.
Vint Cerf Reflects On The Last 60 Years
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Computerworld celebrated its 50th anniversary by interviewing Vinton Cerf. The 73-year-old "father of the internet" remembers reading the early issues of the magazine, and reflects on how much things have changed since he gained access to computers at UCLA in 1960, "the beginning of my love affair with computing."
FCC Won't Release DDoS Logs, And Will Probably Honor Fake Comments
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In a ZDNet interview, FCC chief information officer David Bray said that the agency would not release the logs, in part because the logs contain private information, such as IP addresses. In unprinted remarks, he said that the logs amounted to about 1 gigabyte per hour during the alleged attack... The log files showed that non-human [and cloud-based] bots submitted a flood of comments using the FCC's API. The bot that submitted these comments sparked the massive uptick in internet traffic on the FCC by using the public API as a vehicle...
Movie Piracy Blackmail Plot Fails In India, Six Arrested
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Someone posing as a "film anti-piracy activist" told the company that a pirated copy of the movie had been obtained and if a ransom wasn't paid, a leak onto the Internet would be inevitable... Following the call Arka Mediaworks immediately involved the police, who advised the company to engage the 'kidnappers' in dialog to obtain proof that they had the movie in question. That was delivered in the form of a high-definition sample of the movie, a move that was to mark the beginning of the end for those attempting to extort Arka Mediaworks. It's unclear whether those who sent the sample were aware, but the movie was forensically or otherwise marked, something which allowed police and investigators to track the copy back to a specific theater... shortly after the owner of the theater was arrested by police. This was followed by the arrest of the person who allegedly called Arka Mediaworks with the ransom demand. From there, police were led to other co-conspirators. In total, six arrests were made, with two of the men already known to police.
Possible Radioactive Leak Investigated At Washington Nuclear Site
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Authorities are investigating radioactive material found on a worker's clothing one week after a tunnel collapse at the waste nuclear waste site in the state of Washington. Around 7 p.m. Thursday, Washington River Protection Solutions, a government contractor contractor in charge of all 177 underground storage tanks at the nuclear site. detected high radiation readings on a robotic device that seven workers were pulling out of a tank. Then, contamination was also discovered on the clothing of one worker -- on one shoe, on his shirt and on his pants in the knee area.
New SMB Worm Uses Seven NSA Hacking Tools. WannaCry Used Just Two
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Researchers have detected a new worm that is spreading via SMB, but unlike the worm component of the WannaCry ransomware, this one is using seven NSA tools instead of two. Named EternalRocks, the worm seems to be in a phase where it is infecting victims and building its botnet, but not delivering any malware payload.

EternalRocks is far more complex than WannaCry's SMB worm. For starters, it uses a delayed installation process that waits 24 hours before completing the install, as a way to evade sandbox environments. Further, the worm also uses the exact same filenames as WannaCry in an attempt to fool researchers of its true origin, a reason why the worm has evaded researchers almost all week, despite the attention WannaCry payloads have received.
EU Passes 'Content Portability' Rules Banning Geofencing
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The European Parliament has passed draft rules mandating 'content portability', i.e. the ability to take your purchased content and services across borders within the EU. Freedom of movement rules, which allow EU citizens to live and work anywhere in the EU, require that the individual is able to take their life with them -- family, property, and services. Under the new rules, someone who pays for Netflix or BBC iPlayer and then moves to another EU country will retain access to those services and the same content they had previously. Separately, rules to prevent geofencing of content within the EU entirely are also moving forward.
Groups War Over Resources For DDoS Attacks
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As more groups get into the denial-of-service attack business they're starting to get in each other's way, according to a report released Thursday... There are only so many devices around that have the kind of vulnerabilities that make them potential targets for a botnet. That translates into a smaller average attack size, said Martin McKeay, senior security advocate at Cambridge, Mass.-based Akamai Technologies Inc. There are only so many devices around that have the kind of vulnerabilities that make them potential targets for a botnet. "And other people can come in and take over the device, and take those resources to feed their own botnet," he said. "I'm seeing that over and over."
Is Russia Conducting A Social Media War On America?
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Time magazine ran a cover story about "a dangerous new route for antidemocratic forces" -- social media. "Using these technologies, it is possible to undermine democratic government, and it's becoming easier every day," says Rand Waltzman of the Rand Corp., who ran a major Pentagon research program to understand the propaganda threats posed by social media technology." The article cites current and former FBI and CIA officials who now believe Russia's phishing emails against politicians were "just the most visible battle in an ongoing information war against global democracy." They cite, for example, a March report by U.S. counterintelligence which found "Russians had sent expertly tailored messages carrying malware to more than 10,000 Twitter users in the Defense Department." Each message contained links tailored to the interests of the recipient, but "When clicked, the links took users to a Russian-controlled server that downloaded a program allowing Moscow's hackers to take control of the victim's phone or computer -- and Twitter account...
Aftermath From The Net Neutrality Vote: A Mass Movement To Protect The Open Internet?
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After Thursday's net neutrality vote, two security guards pinned a reporter against a wall until FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly had left the room, the Los Angeles Times reports. The Writers Guild of America calls the FCC's 2-to-1 vote to initiate a repeal of net neutrality rules a "war on the open internet," according to The Guardian. But the newspaper now predicts that online activists will continue their massive campaign "as the month's long process of reviewing the rules begins." The Hill points out that Mozilla is already hiring a high-profile tech lobbyist to press for both cybersecurity and an open internet, and in a blog post earlier this week the Mozilla Foundation's executive director sees a larger movement emerging from the engagement of millions of internet users.
Arctic Stronghold of World's Seeds Flooded After Permafrost Melts
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It was designed as an impregnable deep-freeze to protect the world's most precious seeds from any global disaster and ensure humanity's food supply forever. But the Global Seed Vault, buried in a mountain deep inside the Arctic circle, has been breached after global warming produced extraordinary temperatures over the winter, sending meltwater gushing into the entrance tunnel. The vault is on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen and contains almost a million packets of seeds, each a variety of an important food crop. When it was opened in 2008, the deep permafrost through which the vault was sunk was expected to provide "failsafe" protection against "the challenge of natural or man-made disasters". But soaring temperatures in the Arctic at the end of the world's hottest ever recorded year led to melting and heavy rain, when light snow should have been falling. "It was not in our plans to think that the permafrost would not be there and that it would experience extreme weather like that," said Hege Njaa Aschim, from the Norwegian government, which owns the vault. "A lot of water went into the start of the tunnel and then it froze to ice, so it was like a glacier when you went in," she told the Guardian. Fortunately, the meltwater did not reach the vault itself, the ice has been hacked out, and the precious seeds remain safe for now at the required storage temperature of -18C. But the breach has questioned the ability of the vault to survive as a lifeline for humanity if catastrophe strikes.
Chemists May Be Zeroing In On Chemical Reactions That Sparked the First Life
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DNA is better known, but many researchers today believe that life on Earth got started with its cousin RNA, since that nucleic acid can act as both a repository of genetic information and a catalyst to speed up biochemical reactions. But those favoring this "RNA world" hypothesis have struggled for decades to explain how the molecule's four building blocks could have arisen from the simpler compounds present during our planet's early days. Now chemists have identified simple reactions that, using the raw materials on early Earth, can synthesize close cousins of all four building blocks. The resemblance isn't perfect, but it suggests scientists may be closing in on a plausible scenario for how life on Earth began.
UK Conservatives Pledge To Create Government-Controlled Internet
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Theresa May, the leader of the UK Conservative Party has pledged to create new internet that would be controlled and regulated by government on re-election. An early lead in the polls appears to be slipping but not slowly enough to change the result. Social Media has rapidly become an intense political battlefield. Known as #Mayhem in some circles, but seemingly able to command significant support from new and old media. Also, applying new social media analytics. < br />
According to the manifesto, the plans will allow Britain to become "the global leader in the regulation of the use of personal data and the internet." It states, "Some people say that it is not for government to regulate when it comes to technology and the internet... We disagree."
Sweden Drops Julian Assange Rape Investigation
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"Sweden is dropping its investigation into WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on rape allegations, according to a prosecution statement released Friday," reports CNN. "Assange, who has always denied wrongdoing, has been holed up at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012, in an effort to avoid a Swedish arrest warrant." Despite Friday's announcement, he's unlikely to walk out of the embassy imminently. There is no apparent change in the risk of being detained in the west, particularly in the U.S., but it's definitely a win for Assange.
CIA Co-Developed 'Athena' Windows Malware With US Cyber Security Company, WikiLeaks Reveals
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Today, WikiLeaks leaked documentation about a tool called Athena. According to leaked documents, which WikiLeaks previously claimed it received from hackers and CIA insiders, Athena is an implant -- a CIA technical term for "malware" -- that can target and infect any Windows system, from Windows XP to Windows 10, Microsoft's latest OS version. Documents leaked today are dated between September 2015 and February 2016, showing that the CIA had the ability to hack Windows 10 months after its launch, despite Microsoft boasting about how hard it would be to hack its new OS. [...] The documents reveal that CIA had received help from a non-government contractor in developing the malware. The company is Siege Technologies, a cyber-security company based in New Hampshire, which was acquired on November 15, 2016, by Nehemiah Security, another US company, based in Tysons, Virginia, on the outskirts of Washington and near CIA's headquarters, in a zone peppered with various military and defense contractors.
'Without Action on Antibiotics, Medicine Will Return To the Dark Ages'
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Four years ago professor Sally Davies, England's chief medical officer, gave the world a sombre warning of the growing threat posed by bacteria evolving resistance to life-saving antibiotics. If this were left unaddressed, she argued, it would lead to the erosion of modern medicine as we know it. Doctors and scientists had long warned of the problem, but few outside medicine were taking real heed. Consumption of antibiotics rose 36% between 2000 and 2010, writes Ed Whiting, director of policy and chief of staff at Wellcome, a biomedical research charity based in London. He notes that much of the progress in the field is yet to be made:

We urgently need new antibiotics. No new classes of antibiotics have been approved since the early 1980s. Between 1940 and 1962 about 20 classes were produced, but industry backing has decreased significantly since that golden age. The pipeline of new treatments is all but dry, the void fast exploited by resistant bacteria. A concerning number are now resistant to drugs reserved as the last line of defence, and the most vulnerable are in greatest danger -- the young, old and critically ill. Blood infections caused by drug-resistant microbes kill more than 200,000 newborn babies each year. The reason for the lack of interest from the pharmaceutical industry is simple: the economics don't add up. Developing new antibiotics is scientifically challenging, time-consuming and costly. The medicines we so badly need cannot be allowed to be sold in volume; they must be conserved for real need, with fair access guaranteed. This limits their retail value. Many early-stage projects will fail, making them a risky bet. Even those that are successful will take at least a decade to produce medicines that are safe for human use.
Rising Seas Set To Double Coastal Flooding By 2050, Says Study
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Major cities along the North American seaboard such as Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles, along with the European Atlantic coast, would be highly exposed, they found. But it would only take half as big a jump in ocean levels to double the number of serious flooding incidents in the tropics, including along highly populated river deltas in Asia and Africa. Even at the low end of this sea rise spectrum, Mumbai, Kochi and Abidjan and many other cities would be significantly affected. To make up for the lack of observational data, Vitousek and his colleagues used computer modeling and a statistical method called extreme value theory. "We asked the question: with waves factored in, how much sea level rise will it take to double the frequency of flooding?" Sea levels are currently rising by three to four millimeters (0.10 to 0.15 inches) a year, but the pace has picked up by about 30 percent over the last decade. It could accelerate even more as continent-sized ice blocs near the poles continue to shed mass, especially in Antarctica, which Vitousek described as the sea level "wild card." If oceans go up 25 centimeters by mid-century, "flood levels that occur every 50 years in the tropics would be happening every year or more," he said.
Apple Is Lobbying Against Your Right To Repair iPhones, New York State Records Confirm
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Lobbying records in New York state show that Apple, Verizon, and the tech industry's largest trade organizations are opposing a bill that would make it easier for consumers and independent companies to repair your electronics. The bill, called the "Fair Repair Act," would require electronics companies to sell replacement parts and tools to the general public, would prohibit "software locks" that restrict repairs, and in many cases would require companies to make repair guides available to the public. Apple and other tech giants have been suspected of opposing the legislation in many of the 11 states where similar bills have been introduced, but New York's robust lobbying disclosure laws have made information about which companies are hiring lobbyists and what bills they're spending money on public record. According to New York State's Joint Commission on Public Ethics, Apple, Verizon, Toyota, the printer company Lexmark, heavy machinery company Caterpillar, phone insurance company Asurion, and medical device company Medtronic have spent money lobbying against the Fair Repair Act this year. The Consumer Technology Association, which represents thousands of electronics manufacturers, is also lobbying against the bill. The records show that companies and organizations lobbying against right to repair legislation spent $366,634 to retain lobbyists in the state between January and April of this year. Thus far, the Digital Right to Repair Coalition -- which is generally made up of independent repair shops with several employees -- is the only organization publicly lobbying for the legislation. It has spent $5,042 on the effort, according to the records.
Tesla Factory Workers Reveal Pain, Injury and Stress: 'Everything Feels Like the Future But Us'
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Ambulances have been called more than 100 times since 2014 for workers experiencing fainting spells, dizziness, seizures, abnormal breathing and chest pains, according to incident reports obtained by the Guardian. Hundreds more were called for injuries and other medical issues. In a phone interview about the conditions at the factory, which employs about 10,000 workers, the Tesla CEO conceded his workers had been "having a hard time, working long hours, and on hard jobs," but said he cared deeply about their health and wellbeing. His company says its factory safety record has significantly improved over the last year. Musk also said that Tesla should not be compared to major US carmakers and that its market capitalization, now more than $50bn, is unwarranted. "I do believe this market cap is higher than we have any right to deserve," he said, pointing out his company produces just 1% of GM's total output. "We're a money-losing company," Musk added. "This is not some situation where, for example, we are just greedy capitalists who decided to skimp on safety in order to have more profits and dividends and that kind of thing. It's just a question of how much money we lose. And how do we survive? How do we not die and have everyone lose their jobs?"
Net Neutrality Goes Down in Flames as FCC Votes To Kill Title II Rules
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As we feared yesterday, the rollback of net neutrality rules officially began today. The FCC voted along party lines today to formally consider Chairman Ajit Pai's plan to scrap the legal foundation for the rules and to ask the public for comments on the future of prohibitions on blocking, throttling and paid prioritization.

ArsTechnica adds:
The Federal Communications Commission voted 2-1 today to start the process of eliminating net neutrality rules and the classification of home and mobile Internet service providers as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) proposes eliminating the Title II classification and seeks comment on what, if anything, should replace the current net neutrality rules. But Chairman Ajit Pai is making no promises about reinstating the two-year-old net neutrality rules that forbid ISPs from blocking or throttling lawful Internet content, or prioritizing content in exchange for payment. Pai's proposal argues that throttling websites and applications might somehow help Internet users.
Special counsel Mueller named to probe Trump-Russia ties
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Besieged from all sides, the Trump administration relented and appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller Wednesday evening as a special counsel to oversee the federal investigation into allegations Russia and Donald Trump's campaign collaborated to influence the 2016 presidential election.
Google Takes Another Shot At Making Android Great On Low-Budget Smartphones
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At its developer conference, Google unveiled Android Go, a project wherein Google will offer a version of Android that runs swiftly on budget, low-specced smartphones. With the new strategy, Google hopes to further improve the low-budget smartphone ecosystem in developing markets. Android Go will be focused around building a version of Android for phones with less memory, with the System UI and kernel able to run with as little as 512MB of memory. Apps will be optimized for low bandwidth and memory, with a version of Play Store designed for those markets that will highlight these apps.
Google's Balloons Connect Flood-hit Peru
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"Tens of thousands" of Peruvians have been getting online using Project Loon, the ambitious connectivity project from Google's parent company, Alphabet. Project Loon uses tennis court-sized balloons carrying a small box of equipment to beam internet access to a wide area below. The team told the BBC they had been testing the system in Peru when serious floods hit in January, and so the technology was opened up to people living in three badly-hit cities. Until now, only small-scale tests of the technology had taken place. Project Loon is in competition with other attempts to provide internet from the skies, including Facebook's Aquila project which is being worked on in the UK. Project Loon recently announced it had figured out how to use artificial intelligence (AI) to "steer" the balloons by raising or lowering them to piggy-back weather streams. It was this discovery that enabled the company to use just a "handful" of balloons to connect people in Lima, Chimbote, and Piura. The balloons were launched from the US territory of Puerto Rico before being guided south.
Software Is Eating the World, But AI Is Going To Eat Software, Nvidia CEO Says
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Nvidia's revenues have started to climb in the recent quarters as it looks at making hardware customized for machine-learning algorithms and use cases such as autonomous cars. At the company's annual developer conference in San Jose, California last week, the company's CEO Jensen Huang spoke about how the machine-learning revolution is just starting. "Very few lines of code in the enterprises and industries all over the world use AI today. It's quite pervasive in Internet service companies, particularly two or three of them," Huang said. "But there's a whole bunch of others in tech and other industries that are trying to catch up. Software is eating the world, but AI is going to eat software."
Scientists 3D-Print Ovaries To Allow Infertile Mice To Mate and Give Birth
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Infertile mice have given birth to healthy pups after having their fertility restored with ovary implants made with a 3D printer. Researchers created the synthetic ovaries by printing porous scaffolds from a gelatin ink and filling them with follicles, the tiny, fluid-holding sacs that contain immature egg cells. In tests on mice that had one ovary surgically removed, scientists found that the implants hooked up to the blood supply within a week and went on to release eggs naturally through the pores built into the gelatin structures. The work marks a step towards making artificial ovaries for young women whose reproductive systems have been damaged by cancer treatments, leaving them infertile or with hormone imbalances that require them to take regular hormone-boosting drugs. Of seven mice that mated after receiving the artificial ovaries, three gave birth to pups that had developed from eggs released by the implants. The mice fed normally on their mother's milk and went on to have healthy litters of their own later in life. Writing in the journal Nature Communications, the scientists describe how they printed layered lattices of gelatin strips to make the ovary implants. The sizes and positions of the holes in the structures were carefully controlled to hold dozens of follicles and allow blood vessels to connect to the implants. Mature eggs were then released from the implants as happens in normal ovulation.
The Tech Sector Is Leaving the Rest of the US Economy In Its Dust
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Yesterday afternoon, the S&P 500 closed at a record high, and is up over $1.5 trillion since the start of 2017. "And the companies doing the most to drive that rally are all tech firms," reports The Verge. "Apple, Alphabet, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft make up a whopping 37 percent of the total gains."
SpaceX Launches Super-Heavy Satellite Atop Falcon 9 Rocket
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SpaceX has successfully launched a heavy commercial communications satellite atop one of its Falcon 9 rockets today. "Weighing in at nearly 13,500 pounds atop the rocket, the fourth Inmarsat-5 satellite was the heaviest load lofted by a Falcon 9 yet," reports USA Today.

From the report:
The 230-foot rocket delivered the spacecraft larger than a double-decker bus to an orbit more than 22,000 miles over the equator. As a result, SpaceX did not attempt to land the rocket's first stage either at Cape Canaveral or at sea, and the Falcon 9 booster was not equipped with landing legs. The Inmarsat-5 Flight 4 satellite, built by Boeing, completes Inmarsat's four-satellite Global Xpress constellation focused on delivering high-speed broadband data to mobile customers, including commercial aircraft and ships and the U.S. military.
Special counsel Mueller named to probe Trump-Russia ties
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Besieged from all sides, the Trump administration relented and appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller Wednesday evening as a special counsel to oversee the federal investigation into allegations Russia and Donald Trump's campaign collaborated to influence the 2016 presidential election.
'U Can't Talk to Ur Professor Like This'
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Millennial college students have become far too casual when they talk with their professors, reads an opinion piece on The New York Times. Addressing professors by their first names and sending misspelled, informal emails with text abbreviations have become common practices among many students than educators would like
HP Issues Fix For Keylogger Found On Several Laptop Models
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HP has since rolled out patches to remove the keylogger, which will also delete the log file containing the keystrokes. A spokesperson for HP said in a brief statement: "HP is committed to the security and privacy of its customers and we are aware of the keylogger issue on select HP PCs. HP has no access to customer data as a result of this issue." HP vice-president Mike Nash said on a call after-hours on Thursday that a fix is available on Windows Update and HP.com for newer 2016 and later affected models, with 2015 models receiving patches Friday. He added that the keylogger-type feature was mistakenly added to the driver's production code and was never meant to be rolled out to end-user devices. Nash didn't how many models or customers were affected, but did confirm that some consumer laptops were affected. He also confirmed that a handful of consumer models that come with Conexant drivers are affected.
Star Trek Bridge Crew Gets IBM Watson-Powered Voice Commands
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Star Trek Bridge Crew -- the VR game that puts you in the slip-on space shoes of a Starfleet officer -- already emphasizes vocal communication when you're playing with real humans, but it will soon allow you to use your voice to issue orders to computer-controlled characters, too. The feature has been made possible using IBM's VR Speech Sandbox. The software combines IBM Watson's Speech to Text and Conversation services with the company's Unity SDK, using the natural language processing capabilities of IBM's Watson software to parse your barked commands, and allow AI-controlled characters to act on them. Players will be able to launch photon torpedoes, jump to warp speed, or lock S-foils in attack formation (maybe not that last one) by requesting that your crew members push the relevant blinking buttons on their own command consoles. The feature will go live in beta form this summer, soon after the game's release on May 30th, and will allow players to complete missions across VR platforms and with a mixture of human and AI teammates.
Trump Signs Executive Order On Cybersecurity
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President Trump on Thursday signed a long-delayed executive order on cybersecurity that "makes clear that agency heads will be held accountable for protecting their networks, and calls on government and industry to reduce the threat from automated attacks on the internet," reports The Washington Post.

From the report:
Picking up on themes advanced by the Obama administration, Trump's order also requires agency heads to use Commerce Department guidelines to manage risk to their systems. It commissions reports to assess the country's ability to withstand an attack on the electric grid and to spell out the strategic options for deterring adversaries in cyberspace. [Thomas Bossert, Trump's homeland security adviser] said the order was not, however, prompted by Russia's targeting of electoral systems last year. In fact, the order is silent on addressing the security of electoral systems or cyber-enabled operations to influence elections, which became a significant area of concern during last year's presidential campaign. The Department of Homeland Security in January declared election systems "critical infrastructure." The executive order also does not address offensive cyber operations, which are generally classified. This is an area in which the Trump administration is expected to be more forward-leaning than its predecessor. Nor does it spell out what type of cyberattack would constitute an "act of war" or what response the attack would invite. "We're not going to draw a red line," Bossert said, adding that the White House does not "want to telegraph our punches." The order places the defense secretary and the head of the intelligence community in charge of protecting "national security" systems that operate classified and military networks. But the secretary of homeland security will continue to be at the center of the national plan for protecting critical infrastructure, such as the electric grid and financial sector.
Apple Watch Can Detect An Abnormal Heart Rhythm With 97 Percent Accuracy, UCSF Study Says
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According to a study conducted through heartbeat measurement app Cardiogram and the University of California, San Francisco, the Apple Watch is 97 percent accurate in detecting the most common abnormal heart rhythm when paired with an AI-based algorithm.

TechCrunch reports:
The study involved 6,158 participants recruited through the Cardiogram app on Apple Watch. Most of the participants in the UCSF Health eHeart study had normal EKG readings. However, 200 of them had been diagnosed with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (an abnormal heartbeat). Engineers then trained a deep neural network to identify these abnormal heart rhythms from Apple Watch heart rate data. Cardiogram began the study with UCSF in 2016 to discover whether the Apple Watch could detect an oncoming stroke. About a quarter of strokes are caused by an abnormal heart rhythm, according to Cardiogram co-founder and data scientist for UCSF's eHeart study Brandon Ballinger. Cardiogram tested the deep neural network it had built against 51 in-hospital cardioversions (a procedure that restores the heart's normal rhythm) and says it achieved a 97 percent accuracy in the neural network's ability to find irregular heart activity.
Director of National Intelligence Warns of IoT Security Threats
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According to Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats, IoT devices may be used to shut down US intelligence operations in the future.

From a report:
> At an open hearing today, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) heard testimony on the worldwide threat assessment of the US intelligence community. Coats' opening statements included a warning of the dangers of poor smart device security as well as the continued inevitability of Russian cyber threats. Coat's testimony lists these concerns first, with Russia topping the list of enemy actors. Coats says that the Kremlin has taken a much more aggressive "cyber posture," which "was evident in Russia's efforts to influence the 2016 US election." Coats' report (PDF) also says that Russian actors have conducted attacks on critical infrastructure networks, even going so far as to pretend to be third parties hiding behind false online personas. "Russia is a full-scope cyber actor that will remain a major threat to US Government, military, diplomatic, commercial, and critical infrastructure," says Coats in the written version of his statement. The document notes that China, Iran and North Korea, as well as terrorists and criminals, are also threats. Coats also spoke at length about "smart" devices, which have increased the number of vectors that hostile actors can attack. The denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks that we already see will only become more prevalent. These botnets use weakly-protected IoT devices to overwhelm websites and other networks. "In the future," Coats says in his report, "state and non-state actors will likely use IoT devices to support intelligence operations or domestic security or to access or attack targeted computer networks."
Keylogger Found in Audio Driver of HP Laptops, Says Report
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The audio driver installed on some HP laptops includes a feature that could best be described as a keylogger, which records all the user's keystrokes and saves the information to a local file, accessible to anyone or any third-party software or malware that knows where to look. Swiss cyber-security firm modzero discovered the keylogger on April 28 and made its findings public today. According to researchers, the keylogger feature was discovered in the Conexant HD Audio Driver Package version 1.0.0.46 and earlier. This is an audio driver that is preinstalled on HP laptops. One of the files of this audio driver is MicTray64.exe (C:\windows\system32\mictray64.exe). This file is registered to start via a Scheduled Task every time the user logs into his computer. According to modzero researchers, the file "monitors all keystrokes made by the user to capture and react to functions such as microphone mute/unmute keys/hotkeys."
Buzz Aldrin To NASA: Retire the International Space Station ASAP To Reach Mars
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If NASA and its partner agencies are serious about putting boots on Mars in the near future, they should pull the plug on the International Space Station (ISS) at the earliest opportunity, Buzz Aldrin said. "We must retire the ISS as soon as possible," the former Apollo 11 moonwalker said Tuesday (May 9) during a presentation at the 2017 Humans to Mars conference in Washington, D.C. "We simply cannot afford $3.5 billion a year of that cost." Instead, Aldrin said, NASA should continue to hand over activities in low Earth orbit (LEO) to private industry partners. Indeed, the space agency has been encouraging that move by awarding contracts to companies such as SpaceX, Orbital ATK and Boeing to ferry cargo and crew to and from the ISS. Bigelow Aerospace, Axiom Space or other companies should build and operate LEO space stations that are independent of the ISS, he added. Ideally, the first of these commercial outposts would share key orbital parameters with the station that China plans to have up and running by the early 2020s, to encourage cooperation with the Chinese, Aldrin said. Establishing private outposts in LEO is just the first step in Aldrin's plan for Mars colonization, which depends heavily on "cyclers" -- spacecraft that move continuously between two cosmic destinations, efficiently delivering people and cargo back and forth.
A Bot Is Flooding the FCC's Website With Fake Anti-net Neutrality Comments
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A bot is thought to be behind the posting of thousands of messages to the FCC's website, in an apparent attempt to influence the results of a public solicitation for feedback on net neutrality. A sizable portion of those comments are fake, and are repeating the same manufactured response again and again, ZDNet reports. So much so that more than 58,000 identical comments have been posted since the feedback doors were opened, now representing over one-in-ten comments on the FCC's feedback docket.

The comment reads as following:
"The unprecedented regulatory power the Obama Administration imposed on the internet is smothering innovation, damaging the American economy and obstructing job creation. I urge the Federal Communications Commission to end the bureaucratic regulatory overreach of the internet known as Title II and restore the bipartisan light-touch regulatory consensus that enabled the internet to flourish for more than 20 years."

ZDNet claims that all other comments follow the same pattern: the bot appears to cycle through names in an alphabetical order, leaving the person's name, and postal address and zip code. And some -- if not all -- of these comments are fake, the publication adds, claiming that it reached out to the people and many of them confirmed that they had not left any comments on the website.
The Vatican Invites World's Leading Scientists To Discuss Cosmology
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In 2014, Pope Francis declared that God is not "a magician with a magic wand" and that evolution and the Big Bang theory are real. Now, the Vatican has sent an invitation to the world's leading scientists and cosmologists to try and understand the Big Bang.

The Independent reports:
Astrophysicists and other experts will attend the Vatican Observatory to discuss black holes, gravitational waves and space-time singularities as it honors the late Jesuit cosmologist considered one of the fathers of the idea that the universe began with a gigantic explosion. The conference honoring Monsignor George Lemaitre is being held at the Vatican Observatory, founded by Pope Leo XIII in 1891 to help correct the notion that the Roman Catholic Church was hostile to science. In 1927, Lemaitre was the first to explain that the receding of distant galaxies was the result of the expansion of the universe, a result he obtained by solving equations of Einstein's theory of general relativity. Lemaitre's theory was known as the "primeval atom," but it is more commonly known today as the big-bang theory. The head of the Vatican Observatory, Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno, says Lemaitre's research proves that you can believe in God and the big-bang theory.
Scientists Have Solved The Mystery Behind Antarctica?s Blood Falls
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Near the bottom of the world sits a gruesome sight. The Blood Falls of Antarctica look more like a horror movie set than a natural wonder. Red liquid pours out of a crack in a massive glacier on the continent. One look at the image and you would swear the world bleeds.

Back in 1911, geologist Griffith Taylor discovered Blood Falls spilling into Lake Bonney in Antarctica. The glacier where the falls flow from were named after Taylor after his discovery.
Tunnel Collapses At Nuclear Facility Once Called 'An Underground Chernobyl Waiting To Happen'
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Managers at the Hanford Site in Washington State told workers to "take cover" Tuesday morning after a tunnel leading to a massive plutonium finishing plant collapsed. The emergency is especially worrisome, since Hanford is commonly known as "the most toxic place in America," with one former governor calling it "an underground Chernobyl waiting to happen." Worrisome might actually be an understatement. An emergency has been declared. The accident occurred near the 200 East Area, the home of several solid waste sites. More specifically, the tunnel that collapsed was one filled with highly radioactive train cars that once carried spent fuel rods containing deeply dangerous plutonium and uranium from a reactor on the Columbia River to the processing facility. Those reactors once produced plutonium for America's nuclear arsenal, though production ended in 1980. The cleanup process that followed has gone on for nearly 30 years. Back to the poor workers, though. They've been instructed to stay indoors, and one manager reportedly sent out a message telling workers to "secure ventilation in your building" and "refrain from eating or drinking." When you can't even have a glass of water, you know the nuclear emergency is bad.

The U.S. Department of Energy sent out a press release around 1pm EST that said "facility personnel have been evacuated," while workers at nearby sites have been instructed to stay indoors. A spokesperson also told the press that "there was no evidence to suggest that radioactive materials had been released and that all of the workers in the area were accounted for."
Repair Shops Are Stoked That the Samsung Galaxy S8 Is the Most Fragile Phone Ever Made
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Smartphone repair companies are expecting to fix a lot of those beautiful, cracked Infinity Screens, the headline feature of the Samsung Galaxy S8.

From a report on Motherboard:
The Samsung Galaxy S8 is expensive, popular, and fragile. Its parts can also be sourced relatively inexpensively, which means that third party repair companies are salivating over the prospect of you fumbling the phone and bringing it to them for a screen repair. "The price point is good, the repairability is there," Justin Carroll, owner of the Richmond, Virginia-based Fruit Fixed smartphone repair shop told me. "Durability-wise, it's definitely going to break, no question about that." Soon after its release, electronics insurance company SquareTrade put Samsung's new flagship phone through its breakability test, a series of drops, dunks, and tumbles. It was deemed the most breakable phone of all time: "S8 is the first phone we've tested that's cracked on the first drop on ALL sides," SquareTrade wrote in a video demonstrating the drops.There's an obvious reason for this, of course. The S8 is made almost entirely of glass, and has barely any top or bottom bezel, which is why the phone is marketed as having an "infinity screen."?
Chinese Startup Infervision Emerges From Stealth With An AI Tool For Diagnosing Lung Cancer
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Jonathan Shieber from TechCrunch writes of a Chinese company called Infervision that aims to help lower the number of people in China who die from lung cancer ever year. The company has created a tool that uses machine learning and computer vision to help diagnose cancers.

From the report:
The company is taking advantage of a digital infrastructure that's been in place in Chinese hospitals since the SARS outbreak in 2003. It is using training data from images stored in digital health records in China and coupling them with data the company's technology is collecting in real time from its deployment in 20 hospitals around China (including Peking Union Medical College Hospital and Shanghai Changzheng Hospital). Infervision is also working with GE Healthcare, Cisco and Nvidia to develop and refine its technology. The company has processed roughly 100,000 CT scans and 100,000 x-rays since its initial installation last year. Infervision installs its software on-premise at hospitals and updates its image recognition and diagnostics tools based on the data coming in from its training hospitals, Chen Kuan, founder and CEO of Infervision, said. Training procedures are divided into two separate components, according to Kuan. The first is the the actual training system, where annotated data is collected from radiologists and incorporated into the company's training data. Then an updated version of the software (including the latest training data) is distributed to the network of hospitals.
After Almost Two Years, The Air Force's Mysterious X-37B Space Plane Lands
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The record-shattering mission of the U.S. Air Force's robotic X-37B space plane is finally over. After circling Earth for an unprecedented 718 days, the X-37B touched down Sunday at the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida -- the first landing at the SLF since the final space shuttle mission came back to Earth in July 2011... The just-ended mission, known as OTV-4 (Orbital Test Vehicle-4), was the fourth for the X-37B program... The 29-foot-long (8.8 meters) X-37B looks like NASA's now-retired space shuttle orbiter, only much smaller; indeed, two X-37Bs could fit inside a space shuttle's cavernous payload bay.
How Psychology Today Sees Richard Stallman
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A recent profile from Psychology Today that describes Richard Stallman's quest "to save us from a web of spyware -- and from ourselves." By using proprietary software, Stallman believes, we are forfeiting control of our computers, and thus of our digital lives. In his denunciation of all nonfree software as inherently abusive and unethical, he has alienated many possible allies and followers. But he is not here to make friends. He is here to save us from a software industry he considers predatory in ways we've yet to recognize... for Stallman, moralism is the whole point. If you write or use free software only for practical reasons, you'll stop when it's inconvenient, and freedom will disappear.
What NASA Found Beyond The Rings Of Saturn
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NASA's Cassini spacecraft explored the inner edge of the rings of Saturn for the first time, and Phys.org reports that it made a surprising discovery: nothing. "Scientists have been surprised to find that not all that much -- not even space dust -- lies between Saturn's iconic rings." After the first pass, the NASA official managing the project described the the region between the rings and Saturn as "the big empty." Cassini also beamed back pictures and other essential data as it maneuvered the 1,500-mile-wide space between the solar system's second largest planet and its icy rings. The images, which take 78 minutes to make the billion-mile trip back to Earth, reveal a blazing, mysterious process of alternating light and darkness in the rings that scientists will be working for years to understand. That seems only fair since it has already taken 20 years for Cassini to be in a position to do what it is doing so far. Between now and September, Cassini will make 22 dives between Saturn's rings and the planet, clocking at an impressive 76,800 mph each time. The end result should be a treasure trove of stunning images of the planet and its diverse and mysterious rings, along with detailed maps of the gas giant's gravity, magnetic fields and atmospheric conditions. On Sept. 15, it will plunge into Saturn's atmosphere, streaming data back to Earth as it makes its descent of no return.
Aspirin May Prevent Cancer From Spreading, New Research Shows
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In recent years scientists have discovered another possible use for aspirin: stopping the spread of cancer cells in the body after an initial tumor has already formed. The research is still developing, but the findings hint that the drug could one day form the basis for a powerful addition to current cancer therapies. Not everyone responds equally well to the drug, however, and for some people it can be downright dangerous. Investigators are thus trying to develop genetic tests to determine who is most likely to benefit from long-term use of aspirin. The latest research into the drug's cancer-inhibiting activity is generating findings that could possibly guide those efforts. More recently, investigators have started to elucidate a third way that aspirin works -- one that interferes with the ability of cancer cells to spread, or metastasize, through the body. Intriguingly, in this case, the drug's anti-inflammatory properties do not appear to play the starring role. Researchers often inject tumor cells into the bloodstream of mice to approximate what happens during metastasis when cancer cells must navigate the bloodstream to find a new home in the body. When Elisabeth Battinelli, a hematologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and her team fed aspirin to certain strains of mice and then injected them with malignant cells, the investigators discovered that the platelets did not shield breakaway cancer cells from the immune system or produce the necessary growth factors that allow cancer cells to grow and divide in a new location. Thus, aspirin appears to fight cancer in two ways: its anti-inflammatory action prevents some tumors from forming, and its antiplatelet properties interfere with some cancer cells' ability to spread.
Dormant Diseases Frozen In the Ice Are Waking Up
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Like a plot from a Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K) movie, evil is waking up as permafrost melts due to weather or natural, man-made, local, and/or global climate change. (Take your pick of any or all -- doesn't matter -- the plot and result is roughly the same.) According the the BBC, a 12-year-old boy died and at least twenty people were hospitalized after being infected by a disease (anthrax) that lay buried in the ice for 75 years. "The theory is that, over 75 years ago, a reindeer infected with anthrax died and its frozen carcass became trapped under a layer of frozen soil, known as permafrost," reports BBC. "There it stayed until a heatwave in the summer of 2016, when the permafrost thawed." In this case, bringing back the disease was accidental, but the story goes on to give examples of scientists (no indication of whether they are mad or not) purposefully seeing what ancient bacteria and virus they can resurrect from the ice. How many more diseases are lurking in the ice? Will The Andromeda Strain be released by meddling scientists or global warming?
Google Was Warned About This Week's Mass Phishing Email Attack Six Years Ago
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For almost six years, Google knew about the exact technique that someone used to trick around one million people into giving away access to their Google accounts to hackers on Wednesday. Even more worrisome: other hackers might have known about this technique as well. On October 4, 2011, a researcher speculated in a mailing list that hackers could trick users into giving them access to their accounts by simply posing as a trustworthy app. This attack, the researcher argued in the message, hinges on creating a malicious application and registering it on the OAuth service under a name like "Google," exploiting the trust that users have in the OAuth authorization process. OAuth is a standard that allows users to grant websites or applications access to their online email and social networking accounts, or parts of their accounts, without giving up their passwords. "Imagine someone registers a client application with an OAuth service, let's call it Foobar, and he names his client app 'Google, Inc.'. The Foobar authorization server will engage the user with 'Google, Inc. is requesting permission to do the following,'" Andre DeMarre wrote in the message sent to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the independent organization responsible for many of the internet's operating standards. "The resource owner might reason, 'I see that I'm legitimately on the https://www.foobar.com/ site, and Foobar is telling me that Google wants permission. I trust Foobar and Google, so I'll click Allow,'" DeMarre concluded. As it turns out, DeMarre claims he warned Google directly about this vulnerability in 2012, and suggested that Google address it by checking to see ensure the name of any given app matched the URL of the company behind it. In a Hacker News post, DeMarre said he reported this attack vector back then, and got a "modest bounty" for it.
Billboards Target Lawmakers Who Voted To Let ISPs Sell User Information
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When Congress voted in March to block FCC privacy rules and let internet service providers sell users' personal data, it was a coup for the telecom industry. Now, the nonprofit, pro-privacy group Fight for the Future is publicizing just how much the industry paid in an attempt to sway those votes. The group unveiled four billboards, targeting Reps. Marsha Blackburn and John Rutherford, as well as Sens. Jeff Flake and Dean Heller. All four billboards, which were paid for through donations, were placed in the lawmakers' districts. "Congress voting to gut Internet privacy was one of the most blatant displays of corruption in recent history," Fight for the Future co-founder Tiffiniy Cheng said in a statement on the project. The billboards accuse the lawmakers of betraying their constituents, and encourage passersby to call their offices.
'Exercise-In-A-Pill' Boosts Athletic Endurance By 70 Percent, Study Finds
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Salk Institute scientists, building on earlier work that identified a gene pathway triggered by running, have discovered how to fully activate that pathway in sedentary mice with a chemical compound, mimicking the beneficial effects of exercise, including increased fat burning and stamina. The study, which appears in Cell Metabolism on May 2, 2017, not only deepens our understanding of aerobic endurance, but also offers people with heart conditions, pulmonary disease, type 2 diabetes or other health limitations the hope of achieving those benefits pharmacologically. Previous work by the Evans lab into a gene called PPAR delta (PPARD) offered intriguing clues: mice genetically engineered to have permanently activated PPARD became long-distance runners who were resistant to weight gain and highly responsive to insulin -- all qualities associated with physical fitness. The team found that a chemical compound called GW1516 (GW) similarly activated PPARD, replicating the weight control and insulin responsiveness in normal mice that had been seen in the engineered ones. However, GW did not affect endurance (how long the mice could run) unless coupled with daily exercise, which defeated the purpose of using it to replace exercise. In the current study, the Salk team gave normal mice a higher dose of GW, for a longer period of time (8 weeks instead of 4). Both the mice that received the compound and mice that did not were typically sedentary, but all were subjected to treadmill tests to see how long they could run until exhausted. Mice in the control group could run about 160 minutes before exhaustion. Mice on the drug, however, could run about 270 minutes -- about 70 percent longer. For both groups, exhaustion set in when blood sugar (glucose) dropped to around 70 mg/dl, suggesting that low glucose levels (hypoglycemia) are responsible for fatigue.
CRISPR Eliminates HIV In Live Animals
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This is the first study to demonstrate that HIV-1 replication can be completely shut down and the virus eliminated from infected cells in animals with a powerful gene-editing technology known as CRISPR/Cas9. The new work builds on a previous proof-of-concept study that the team published in 2016, in which they used transgenic rat and mouse models with HIV-1 DNA incorporated into the genome of every tissue of the animals' bodies. They demonstrated that their strategy could delete the targeted fragments of HIV-1 from the genome in most tissues in the experimental animals. In this new study, the LKSOM team genetically inactivated HIV-1 in transgenic mice, reducing the RNA expression of viral genes by roughly 60% to 95% -- confirming their earlier findings. They then tested their system in mice acutely infected with EcoHIV, the mouse equivalent of human HIV-1. In the third animal model, a latent HIV-1 infection was recapitulated in humanized mice engrafted with human immune cells, including T cells, followed by HIV-1 infection. "These animals carry latent HIV in the genomes of human T cells, where the virus can escape detection," Dr. Hu explained. Amazingly, after a single treatment with CRISPR/Cas9, viral fragments were successfully excised from latently infected human cells embedded in mouse tissues and organs.
Trump Administration Rolls Back Obama-Era Nutrition Standards For School Lunches
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Just a week into his position, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced Monday a rollback of nutrition standards for school meals, previously championed by former First Lady Michelle Obama as part of a larger initiative to improve the health of America's children. Under Perdue's new rollback, schools across the country can now delay a requirement to reduce sodium levels, can serve kids fewer whole grains, and can provide one percent flavored milk in addition to flavored skim, unflavored skim, and unflavored one percent. In a news release that declared the move would "make school meals great again," Perdue said: "This announcement is the result of years of feedback from students, schools, and food service experts about the challenges they are facing in meeting the final regulations for school meals. If kids aren't eating the food, and it's ending up in the trash, they aren't getting any nutrition -- thus undermining the intent of the program." Specifically, under Obama-era nutrition rules, schools were supposed to decrease sodium from meals in three phases. For instance, 2012 school lunches had average sodium levels between roughly 1,400mg to 1,600mg, with elementary school lunches on the lower end. Federal dietary guidelines, which schools must follow, recommend kids get 1,900mg to 2,300mg or less of sodium per day (depending on age). Currently, schools have dropped down to "Target 1," which is a range of about 1,200mg to 1,400mg or less. Schools were supposed to get that down to about 900mg to 1,000mg this year ("Target 2") and then to between 600mg and 700mg by 2022 ("Final Target"). The USDA will now waive the requirement to reach Target 2 until 2020. The USDA will also grant exemptions from the current requirement for schools to serve only whole-grain-rich foods.
18-Year-Old Mexican Student Designs Bra That Can Detect Breast Cancer
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An 18-year-old student from Mexico has won the top prize at the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA) for his invention of a bra that can help in the early detection of breast cancer. "The bra, otherwise known as EVA, was developed with three friends through his company Higia Technologies, and was created primarily for women with genetic predisposition to cancer,"
Taser Will Use Police Body Camera Videos 'To Anticipate Criminal Activity'
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With an estimated one-third of departments using body cameras, police officers have been generating millions of hours of video footage. Taser stores terabytes of such video on Evidence.com, in private servers to which police agencies must continuously subscribe for a monthly fee. Data from these recordings is rarely analyzed for investigative purposes, though, and Taser -- which recently rebranded itself as a technology company and renamed itself "Axon" -- is hoping to change that. Taser has started to get into the business of making sense of its enormous archive of video footage by building an in-house "AI team." In February, the company acquired two computer vision startups, Dextro and Fossil Group Inc. Taser says the companies will allow agencies to automatically redact faces to protect privacy, extract important information, and detect emotions and objects -- all without human intervention. This will free officers from the grunt work of manually writing reports and tagging videos, a Taser spokesperson wrote in an email. "Our prediction for the next few years is that the process of doing paperwork by hand will begin to disappear from the world of law enforcement, along with many other tedious manual tasks." Analytics will also allow departments to observe historical patterns in behavior for officer training, the spokesperson added. "Police departments are now sitting on a vast trove of body-worn footage that gives them insight for the first time into which interactions with the public have been positive versus negative, and how individuals' actions led to it." But looking to the past is just the beginning: Taser is betting that its artificial intelligence tools might be useful not just to determine what happened, but to anticipate what might happen in the future.
Facebook Lets Advertisers Target Insecure Teens, Says Report
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Leaked documents from Facebook's team in Australia allegedly show the social giant's ability to help advertisers target teens who feel "worthless." The documents, first revealed by The Australian, say Facebook can spot when teens "need a confidence boost." The documents reportedly get even more specific, saying Facebook's algorithm can pinpoint when teens feel "useless," "stressed," "failure," "silly," "stupid," "worthless" and "defeated." Using Facebook's tools as well as image recognition, advertisers would be able to find teens in some of their lowest moments -- and then target ads to them. The leaked documents also detailed how advertisers could use Facebook's algorithms to find teens who were interested in "working out and losing weight" and promote health products, according to The Australian. Facebook's team in Australia was reportedly looking to capitalize on 6.4 million teens who use the social network in their region.
'There's No Good Way To Kill a Bad Idea'
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Philosopher Russell Blackford, a lecturer at the University of Newcastle in Australia, tweeted about this phenomenon earlier this month: "The momentum behind bad ideas can be enormous -- they can plunge on, gathering force, long after receiving devastating criticism." If you've ever found yourself unable to halt someone else's idiotic plans once they were already in motion, you're not alone. Whether you're a politician trying to make congress see sense or simply a manager trying to halt an atrocious team-building plan, there's simply no foolproof way to kill a terrible idea. Blackford blames the momentum behind bad ideas on cascade effects. Yes, individuals are prone to making poor decisions for emotional or biased reasons (known as "cognitive heuristics") and this irrationality is part of the problem. But there's also a broader sociological issue, in that others' opinions carry a huge amount of weight in influencing our views. A cultural consensus -- even without proper evidence -- can form pretty quickly. If one person convinces a second, says Blackford, then a third person will be far more likely to agree with the majority view. This effect exponentially increases with each person who agrees with the others. "We soon have a sociological effect whereby everyone knows that, say, a certain movie is very good or very bad, even though everyone might have 'known' the exact opposite if only a few early voices had been different," says Blackford.
Trump Has Grand Plan For Mission To Mars But Nasa Advises: Cool Your Jets
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On Monday, during a call with astronaut Peggy Whitson, who was aboard the International Space Station, Trump pressed her for a timeline on a crewed mission to Mars, one of Nasa's longest standing and most daunting goals. "Tell me, Mars," he asked her from the Oval Office, "what do you see a timing for actually sending humans to Mars? Is there a schedule and when would you see that happening?" Whitson answered by pointing out that Trump, by signing a Nasa funding bill last month, had already approved a timeline for a mission in the 2030s. She added that Nasa was building a new heavy-launch rocket, which would need testing. "Unfortunately space flight takes a lot of time and money," she said. "But it is so worthwhile doing." Trump replied: "Well, we want to try and do it during my first term or, at worst, during my second term, so we'll have to speed that up a little bit, OK?" It was not clear whether the president meant the remark as a quip or something more serious.
SpaceX Successfully Launches Its First Spy Satellite
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SpaceX successfully launched NROL-76, a classified U.S. intelligence mission, from NASA's Kennedy Space Center Monday. Sunday's launch attempt was scrubbed due to a sensor issue. From a report: Not much is known about the National Reconnaissance Office's NROL-76 satellite, a classified payload, which will liftoff into low Earth orbit from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
As Print Surges, Ebook Sales Plunge Nearly 20%
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Sales of consumer ebooks plunged 17% in the U.K. in 2016, according to the Publishers Association. Sales of physical books and journals went up by 7% over the same period, while children's books surged 16%. The same trend is on display in the U.S., where ebook sales declined 18.7% over the first nine months of 2016, according to the Association of American Publishers. Paperback sales were up 7.5% over the same period, and hardback sales increased 4.1%...
Russian-Controlled Telecom Hijacks Traffic For Mastercard, Visa, And 22 Other Services
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On Wednesday, large chunks of network traffic belonging to MasterCard, Visa, and more than two dozen other financial services companies were briefly routed through a Russian government-controlled telecom under unexplained circumstances that renew lingering questions about the trust and reliability of some of the most sensitive Internet communications.
Computer Pioneer Harry Huskey Dies At Age 101
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Engineer Harry Huskey, who helped build many of the first ever computers, has died aged 101. Dr. Huskey was a key member of the team that built the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) which first ran in February 1946. ENIAC is widely considered to be one of the first electronic, general purpose, programmable computers. Dr. Huskey also helped complete work on the Ace -- the Automatic Computing Engine -- designed by Alan Turing.
Surgeon Plans To 'Reawaken' Cryogenically Frozen Brains, Transplant Them Into Someone Else's Skull
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Sergio Canavero, the Italian surgeon who plans to perform the world's first human head transplant within the next year, says he is preparing to reawaken cryogenically frozen brains and transplant them into someone else's skull. "In an interview with a German-language magazine, Canavero says he will attempt to bring the first brains frozen in liquid nitrogen at an Arizona-based cryogenics bank back to life 'not in 100 years,' but three years at the latest," reports National Post.
MIT Creates 3D-Printing Robot That Can Construct a Home Off-Grid In 14 Hours
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Home building hasn't changed much over the years, but leave it to MIT to take things to the next level. A new technology built at MIT can construct a simple dome structure in 14 hours and it's powered by solar panels, so you can take it to remote areas. MIT's 3D-printing robot can construct the entire basic structure of a building and can be customized to fit the local terrain in ways that traditional methods can't do. It even has a built-in scoop so it can prepare the building site and gather its own construction materials.
Washington State Orchard Owners Look To Robots As Labor Shortage Worsens
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Harvesting Washington state's vast fruit orchards each year requires thousands of farmworkers, and many of them work illegally in the United States. That system eventually could change dramatically as at least two companies are rushing to get robotic fruit-picking machines to market. The robotic pickers don't get tired and can work 24 hours a day. FFRobotics and Abundant Robotics, of Hayward, California, are racing to get their mechanical pickers to market within the next couple of years. Members of the $7.5 billion annual Washington agriculture industry have long grappled with labor shortages, and depend on workers coming up from Mexico each year to harvest many crops. While financial details are not available, the builders say the robotic pickers should pay for themselves in two years. That puts the likely cost of the machines in the hundreds of thousands of dollars each. FFRobotics is developing a machine that has three-fingered grips to grab fruit and twist or clip it from a branch. The machine would have between four and 12 robotic arms, and can pick up to 10,000 apples an hour, Gad Kober, a co-founder of Israel-based FFRobotics, said. One machine would be able to harvest a variety of crops, taking 85 to 90 percent of the crop off the trees, Kober said. Humans could pick the rest. Abundant Robotics is working on a picker that uses suction to vacuum apples off trees.
NSA Halts Collection of Americans' Emails About Foreign Targets
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The NSA is stopping one of the most disputed forms of its warrantless surveillance program (alternative source), one in which it collects Americans' emails and texts to and from people overseas and that mention a foreigner under surveillance, NYTimes reports on Friday citing officials familiar with the matter.

From the report:
National security officials have argued that such surveillance is lawful and helpful in identifying people who might have links to terrorism, espionage or otherwise are targeted for intelligence-gathering. The fact that the sender of such a message would know an email address or phone number associated with a surveillance target is grounds for suspicion, these officials argued. [...] The N.S.A. made the change to resolve problems it was having complying with special rules imposed by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in 2011 to protect Americans' privacy. For technical reasons, the agency ended up collecting messages sent and received domestically as a byproduct of such surveillance, the officials said.
We're Getting Closer To Mass Production of Bones, Organs, and Implants
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Medical researchers have been able to create certain kinds of living cells with 3D printers for more than a decade. Now a few companies are getting closer to mass production of higher-order tissues (bone, cartilage, organs) and other individually tailored items, including implants.

From an article:
Organovo has successfully transplanted human liver tissue into mice to cure chronic liver failure. Pending the success of human trials, possible applications include the $3 billion market for inherited conditions such as hemophilia. [...] Aspect prints tissue cells to create structures that resemble parts of the human body, such as an airway or meniscus, to spur easier research on treatments for, say, asthma or muscle tears. By taking muscle cells from a lung, for example, the company built respiratory tissue that responded to common asthma inhalers as a person's body should. [...] Materialise designs custom 3D-printable implants, surgical guides, and other medical devices. It's waiting on approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for implants designed to fuse bones.
Facebook Pledges To Crack Down on Government-led Misinformation Campaigns
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Facebook is pressing its enforcement against what it calls "information operations" -- bad actors who use the platform to spread fake news and false propaganda. From a report: The company, which published a report on the subject today, defines these operations as government-led campaigns -- or those from organized "non-state actors" -- to promote lies, sow confusion and chaos among opposing political groups, and destabilize movements in other countries. The goal of these operations, the report says, is to manipulate public opinion and serve geopolitical ends. The actions go beyond the posting of fake news stories. The 13-page report specifies that fake news can be motivated by a number of incentives, but that it becomes part of a larger information operation when its coupled with other tactics and end goals. Facebook says these include friend requests sent under false names to glean more information about the personal networks of spying targets and hacking targets, the boosting of false or misleading stories through mass "liking" campaigns, and the creation propaganda groups. The company defines these actions as "targeted data collection," "false amplification," and "content creation." Facebook plans to target these accounts by monitoring for suspicious activity, like bursts of automated actions on the site, to enact mass banning of accounts.
US Space Firms Tell Washington: China Will Take Over the Moon if You're Not Careful
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The US space industry is prodding the US government into refreshing its outdated laws on commercial activity beyond earth: scare it with talk of Chinese galactic domination.

A report adds:
At a Senate hearing on the space industry this week, companies that build rockets and space habitats and manufacture electronic goods in space spoke about a standard laundry list of complaints, from regulatory burdens to fears of subsidized competitors. But their message was wrapped in patriotic concerns about China's growing capacity for space action. These companies are eager for the US government to allow and invest in commercial activities in orbit and around the moon. Many think the laws governing action in space, and particularly the UN Space Treaty, need refreshing for an age when private companies are close to matching the space capacity of sovereign nations. The last major change was a law on asteroid mining passed in 2015.
NASA Inspector Says Agency Wasted $80 Million On An Inferior Spacesuit
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When NASA began developing a rocket and spacecraft to return humans to the Moon a decade ago as part of the Constellation Program, the space agency started to think about the kinds of spacesuits astronauts would need in deep space and on the lunar surface. After this consideration, NASA awarded a $148 million contract to Oceaneering International, Inc. in 2009 to develop and produce such a spacesuit. However, President Obama canceled the Constellation program just a year later, in early 2010. Later that year, senior officials at the Johnson Space Center recommended canceling the Constellation spacesuit contract because the agency had its own engineers working on a new spacesuit and, well, NASA no longer had a clear need for deep-space spacesuits. However, the Houston officials were overruled by agency leaders at NASA's headquarters in Washington, DC. A new report released Wednesday by NASA Inspector General Paul Martin sharply criticizes this decision. "The continuation of this contract did not serve the best interests of the agency's spacesuit technology development efforts," the report states. In fact, the report found that NASA essentially squandered $80.6 million on the Oceaneering contract before it was finally ended last year.
Chinese, European Space Agencies In Talks To Build a Moon Base
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ESA's Pal Hvistendahl has confirmed via Bloomberg that Chinese and European space agencies are talking with one another about plans to build a base on the moon. The discussions "involve working together to build a human-occupied 'moon village' from which both agencies can potentially launch Mars missions, conduct research, and possibly explore commercial mining and tourism projects," reports TechCrunch.

From the report:
China's upcoming projects in space include a mission to collect samples from the moon via an uncrewed craft by the end of this year, and to also launch an exploratory mission to the far side of the moon next year, with the similar aim of returning samples for study. The ESA's collaboration with China thus far include participating in the study of those returned samples, and potentially sending a European astronaut to the Chinese space station (which is currently unoccupied) at some future date.
New Study Suggests Humans Lived In North America 130,000 Years Ago
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In 1992, archaeologists working a highway construction site in San Diego County found the partial skeleton of a mastodon, an elephant-like animal now extinct. Mastodon skeletons aren't so unusual, but there was other strange stuff with it. "The remains were in association with a number of sharply broken rocks and broken bones," says Tom Demere, a paleontologist at the San Diego Natural History Museum. He says the rocks showed clear marks of having been used as hammers and an anvil. And some of the mastodon bones as well as a tooth showed fractures characteristic of being whacked, apparently with those stones. It looked like the work of humans. Yet there were no cut marks on the bones showing that the animal was butchered for meat. Demere thinks these people were after something else. "The suggestion is that this site is strictly for breaking bone," Demere says, "to produce blank material, raw material to make bone tools or to extract marrow." Marrow is a rich source of fatty calories. The scientists knew they'd uncovered something rare. But they didn't realize just how rare for years, until they got a reliable date on how old the bones were by using a uranium-thorium dating technology that didn't exist in the 1990s. The bones were 130,000 years old. That's a jaw-dropping date, as other evidence shows that the earliest humans got to the Americas about 15,000 to 20,000 years ago.
Adidas Creates Trainers Made From Plastic Ocean Debris in Bid To End Pollution
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Adidas is building on its previous commitment to turn plastic pollution into high-performance products. Next month, the German sportswear will begin selling three new editions of its popular UltraBoost shoe, all made from plastic debris found in the ocean.

From a report:
Helping to achieve its goal of creating one million pairs of the Ultra Boost style, Parley for the Oceans will produce trainers made from recycled ocean waste. Made up of 11 reused plastic bottles in each pair, the Ultra Boost' laces, lining and sock lining covers will be made of other recycled products, making for an environmentally-friendly high-performance product.
FCC Announces Plan To Reverse Title II Net Neutrality
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The Federal Communications Commission is cracking open the net neutrality debate again with a proposal to undo the 2015 rules that implemented net neutrality with Title II classification. FCC chairman Ajit Pai called the rules "heavy handed" and said their implementation was "all about politics." He argued that they hurt investment and said that small internet providers don't have "the means or the margins" to withstand the regulatory onslaught. "Earlier today I shared with my fellow commissioners a proposal to reverse the mistake of Title II and return to the light touch framework that served us so well during the Clinton administration, Bush administration, and first six years of the Obama administration," Pai said today. His proposal will do three things: first, it'll reclassify internet providers as Title I information services; second, it'll prevent the FCC from adapting any net neutrality rules to practices that internet providers haven't thought up yet; and third, it'll open questions about what to do with several key net neutrality rules -- like no blocking or throttling of apps and websites -- that were implemented in 2015.
An Artificial Womb Successfully Grew Baby Sheep -- and Humans Could Be Next
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Inside what look like oversized ziplock bags strewn with tubes of blood and fluid, eight fetal lambs continued to develop -- much like they would have inside their mothers. Over four weeks, their lungs and brains grew, they sprouted wool, opened their eyes, wriggled around, and learned to swallow, according to a new study that takes the first step toward an artificial womb. One day, this device could help to bring premature human babies to term outside the uterus -- but right now, it has only been tested on sheep. The Biobag may not look much like a womb, but it contains the same key parts: a clear plastic bag that encloses the fetal lamb and protects it from the outside world, like the uterus would; an electrolyte solution that bathes the lamb similarly to the amniotic fluid in the uterus; and a way for the fetus to circulate its blood and exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen. Flake and his colleagues published their results today in the journal Nature Communications.
A Caterpillar May Lead To a 'Plastic Pollution' Solution
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Researchers at Cambridge University have discovered that the larvae of the moth, which eats wax in bee hives, can also degrade plastic. Experiments show the insect can break down the chemical bonds of plastic in a similar way to digesting beeswax. The plastic is used to make shopping bags and food packaging, among other things, but it can take hundreds of years to decompose completely. However, caterpillars of the moth (Galleria mellonella) can make holes in a plastic bag in under an hour. They think microbes in the caterpillar -- as well as the insect itself -- might play a role in breaking down plastic. If the chemical process can be identified, it could lead to a solution to managing plastic waste in the environment.
No Longer a Dream: Silicon Valley Takes On the Flying Car
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Last year, Bloomberg reported that Google co-founder Larry Page had put money in two "flying car" companies. One of those companies, Kitty Hawk, has published the first video of its prototype aircraft.

From a report on The Verge:
The company describes the Kitty Hawk Flyer as an "all-electric aircraft" that is designed to operate over water and doesn't require a pilot's license to fly. Kitty Hawk promises people will be able to learn to fly the Flyer "in minutes." A consumer version will be available by the end of this year, the company says. The video is part commercial and part test footage, starting with a lakeside conversation between friends about using the Flyer to meet up before switching to what The New York Times says are shots of an aerospace engineer operating the craft in Northern California.
Scientists Consider 'Cloud Brightening' To Preserve Australia's Great Barrier Reef
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A group of Australian marine scientists believe that altering clouds might offer one of the best hopes for saving the Great Barrier Reef. For the last six months, researchers at the Sydney Institute of Marine Science and the University of Sydney School of Geosciences have been meeting regularly to explore the possibility of making low-lying clouds off the northeastern coast of Australia more reflective in order to cool the waters surrounding the world's biggest coral reef system...

Last year, as El Nino events cranked up ocean temperatures, at least 20% of the reef died and more than 90% of it was damaged. The Australian researchers took a hard look at a number of potential ways to preserve the reefs. But at this point, making clouds more reflective looks like the most feasible way to protect an ecosystem that stretches across more than 130,000 square miles, says Daniel Harrison, a postdoctoral research associate with the Ocean Technology Group at the University of Sydney. Cloud brightening is the only thing we've identified that's scalable, sensible, and relatively environmentally benign," he says... Next month, he plans to start computer climate modeling to explore whether cloud brightening could make a big enough temperature difference to help.

They're collaborating with Silicon Valley's Marine Cloud Brightening Project, which has spent the last seven years "developing a nozzle that they believe can spray salt particles of just the right size and quantity to alter the clouds. They're attempting to raise several million dollars to build full-scale sprayers." The article describes them as "one of several research groups that have started to explore whether cloud brightening, generally discussed as a potential tool to alter the climate as a whole, could be applied in more targeted ways."
Can Geoengineering Drones Fight Global Warming?
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David Mitchell, a lanky, soft-spoken atmospheric physicist, believes frigid clouds in the upper troposphere may offer one of our best fallback plans for combating climate change... Fleets of large drones would crisscross the upper latitudes of the globe during winter months, sprinkling the skies with tons of extremely fine dust-like materials every year. If Mitchell is right, this would produce larger ice crystals than normal, creating thinner cirrus clouds that dissipate faster. "That would allow more radiation into space, cooling the earth," Mitchell says...

Increasingly grim climate projections have convinced a growing number of scientists it's time to start conducting experiments to find out what might work. In addition, an impressive list of institutions including Harvard University, the Carnegie Council, and the University of California, Los Angeles, have recently established research initiatives... By this time next year, Harvard professors David Keith and Frank Keutsch hope to launch a high-altitude balloon from a site in Tucson, Arizona. This will mark the beginning of a research project to explore the feasibility and risks of an approach known as solar radiation management. The basic idea is that spraying materials into the stratosphere could help reflect more heat back into space, mimicking a natural cooling phenomenon that occurs after volcanoes blast tens of millions of tons of sulfur dioxide into the sky.

"I don't really know what the answer is," says a former associate director at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. "But I do believe we need to keep saying what the truth is, and the truth is, we might need it."
Can Parents Sue If Their Kid Is Born With the 'Wrong' DNA?
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It's a nightmare scenario straight out of a primetime drama: a child-seeking couple visits a fertility clinic to try their luck with in-vitro fertilization, only to wind up accidentally impregnated by the wrong sperm. In a fascinating legal case out of Singapore, the country's Supreme Court ruled that this situation doesn't just constitute medical malpractice. The fertility clinic, the court recently ruled, must pay the parents 30% of upkeep costs for the child for a loss of 'genetic affinity.' In other words, the clinic must pay the parents' child support not only because they made a terrible medical mistake, but because the child didn't wind up with the right genes...

"It's suggesting that the child itself has something wrong with it, genetically, and that it has monetary value attached to it," Todd Kuiken, a senior research scholar with the Genetic Engineering and Society Center at North Carolina State University, told Gizmodo. "They attached damages to the genetic makeup of the child, rather than the mistake. That's the part that makes it uncomfortable. This can take you in all sort of fucked up directions."
107 Cancer Papers Retracted Due To Peer Review Fraud
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The journal Tumor Biology is retracting 107 research papers after discovering that the authors faked the peer review process. This isn't the journal's first rodeo. Late last year, 58 papers were retracted from seven different journals -- 25 came from Tumor Biology for the same reason. It's possible to fake peer review because authors are often asked to suggest potential reviewers for their own papers. This is done because research subjects are often blindingly niche; a researcher working in a sub-sub-field may be more aware than the journal editor of who is best-placed to assess the work. But some journals go further and request, or allow, authors to submit the contact details of these potential reviewers. If the editor isn't aware of the potential for a scam, they then merrily send the requests for review out to fake e-mail addresses, often using the names of actual researchers. And at the other end of the fake e-mail address is someone who's in on the game and happy to send in a friendly review. This most recent avalanche of fake-reviewed papers was discovered because of extra screening at the journal. According to an official statement from Springer, the company that published Tumor Biology until this year, "the decision was made to screen new papers before they are released to production." The extra screening turned up the names of fake reviewers that hadn't previously been detected, and "in order to clean up our scientific records, we will now start retracting these affected articles...Springer will continue to proactively investigate these issues."
Light Sail Propulsion Could Reach Sirius Sooner Than Alpha Centauri
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A recent proposition to launch probes to other star systems driven by lasers which remain in the Solar system has garnered considerable attention. But recently published work suggests that there are unexpected complexities to the system. One would think that the closest star systems would be the easiest to reach. But unless you are content with a fly-by examination of the star system, with much reduced science returns, you will need to decelerate the probe at the far end, without any infrastructure to assist with the braking. By combining both light-pressure braking and gravitational slingshots, a team of German, French and Chilean astronomers discover that the brightness of the destination star can significantly increase deceleration, and thus travel time (because higher flight velocities can be used). Slingshotting around a companion star to lengthen deceleration times can help shed flight velocity to allow capture into a stable orbit. The 4.37 light year distant binary stars Alpha Centauri A and B could be reached in 75 years from Earth. Covering the 0.24 light year distance to Proxima Centauri depends on arriving at the correct relative orientations of Alpha Centauri A and B in their mutual 80 year orbit for the sling shot to work. Without a companion star, Proxima Centauri can only absorb a final leg velocity of about 1280km/s, so that leg of the trip would take an additional 46 years. Using the same performance characteristics for the light sail, the corresponding duration for an approach to the Sirius system, almost twice as far away (8.58 lightyears), is a mere 68.9 years, making it (and it's white dwarf companion) possibly a more attractive target. Of course, none of this addresses the question of how to get any data from there to here. Or, indeed, how to manage a project that will last longer than a working lifetime. There are also issues of aiming -- the motion of the Alpha Centauri system isn't well-enough known at the moment to achieve the precise maneuvering needed without course corrections (and so, data transmission from there to here) en route.
EFF Says Google Chromebooks Are Still Spying On Students
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In the past two years since a formal complaint was made against Google, not much has changed in the way they handle this. Google still hasn't shed its "bad guy" clothes when it comes to the data it collects on underage students. In fact, the Electronic Frontier Foundation says the company continues to massively collect and store information on children without their consent or their parents'. Not even school administrators fully understand the extent of this operation, the EFF says. According to the latest status report from the EFF, Google is still up to no good, trying to eliminate students privacy without their parents notice or consent and "without a real choice to opt out." This, they say, is done via the Chromebooks Google is selling to schools across the United States.
All-Electric 'Flying Car' Takes Its First Test Flight In Germany
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Today, Munich-based Lilium Aviation conducted the first test flight of its all-electric, two-seater, vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) prototype. "In a video provided by the Munich-based startup, the aircraft can be seen taking off vertically like a helicopter, and then accelerating into forward flight using wing-borne lift," reports The Verge.

From the report:
The craft is powered by 36 separate jet engines mounted on its 10-meter long wings via 12 movable flaps. At take-off, the flaps are pointed downwards to provide vertical lift. And once airborne, the flaps gradually tilt into a horizontal position, providing forward thrust. During the tests, the jet was piloted remotely, but its operators say their first manned flight is close-at-hand. And Lilium claims that its electric battery "consumes around 90 percent less energy than drone-style aircraft," enabling the aircraft to achieve a range of 300 kilometers (183 miles) with a maximum cruising speed of 300 kph (183 mph). "It's the same battery that you can find in any Tesla," Nathen told The Verge. "The concept is that we are lifting with our wings as soon as we progress into the air with velocity, which makes our airplane very efficient. Compared to other flights, we have extremely low power consumption." The plan is to eventually build a 5-passenger version of the jet.
Teenage Hackers Motivated By Morality Not Money, Study Finds
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Teenage hackers are motivated by idealism and impressing their mates rather than money, according to a study by the National Crime Agency.

From a report:

The law enforcement organisation interviewed teenagers and children as young as 12 who had been arrested or cautioned for computer-based crimes. It found that those interviewed, who had an average age of 17, were unlikely to be involved in theft, fraud or harassment. Instead they saw hacking as a "moral crusade", said Paul Hoare, senior manager at the NCA's cybercrime unit, who led the research. Others were motivated by a desire to tackle technical problems and prove themselves to friends, the report found. Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Hoare said: "They don't understand the implications on business, government websites and individuals."
Ocean Currents Are Sweeping Billions of Tiny Plastic Bits to the Arctic
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The world's oceans are littered with trillions of pieces of plastic -- bottles, bags, toys, fishing nets and more, mostly in tiny particles -- and now this seaborne junk is making its way into the Arctic.

From a report:
The plastic was discovered by an international team of researchers who circumnavigated the Arctic on a five-month journey aboard the research vessel Tara in 2013. They sampled the ocean water along the way, looking at plastic pollution. And though the plastic concentrations were overall low, they located a specific region located north of the Greenland and the Barents seas with unusually high concentrations. They published their results in the journal Science Advances this week. It seems that the plastic is riding up to the pole with the Thermohaline Circulation, a "conveyor" belt ocean current that transports water from the lower latitudes of the Atlantic Ocean toward the poles. "[A]nd the Greenland and the Barents Seas act as a dead-end for this poleward conveyor belt," Andres Cozar Cabanas, lead author of the study and researcher at the University of Cadiz, Spain, says in a press release.
Louisiana's Governor Declares State Of Emergency Over Disappearing Coastline
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Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has declared a state of emergency over the state's rapidly eroding coastline.

From a report on NPR:
It's an effort to bring nationwide attention to the issue and speed up the federal permitting process for coastal restoration projects. "Decades of saltwater intrusion, subsidence and rising sea levels have made the Louisiana coast the nation's most rapidly deteriorating shoreline," WWNO's Travis Lux tells our Newscast unit. "It loses the equivalent of one football field of land every hour." More than half of the state's population lives on the coast, the declaration states. It adds that the pace of erosion is getting faster: "more than 1,800 square miles of land between 1932 and 2010, including 300 square miles of marshland between 2004 and 2008 alone."
Trump's FCC Votes To Allow Broadband Rate Hikes Will Deprive More Public Schools From Getting Internet Access
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The FCC voted on Thursday to approve a controversial plan to deregulate the $45 billion market for business-to-business broadband, also known as Business Data Services (BDS), by eliminating price caps that make internet access more affordable for thousands of small businesses, schools, libraries and hospitals.

The Outline adds:
The price caps were designed to keep phone and, later, broadband, access cheap for community institutions like schools, hospitals, libraries, and small businesses. Now, there will be no limit. A spokesperson for the trade association Incompas, which advocates for competition among communications providers, told The Outline that the increase is expected to be at least 25 percent across the board. Low-income schools already don't have enough money; according to a report last year in The Atlantic, schools in high-poverty districts, where the property taxes are lower, spend 15.6 percent less per student than schools in low-poverty districts. If internet costs go up by 25 percent, it may make more sense to cut that budget item, or, for schools that still don't have internet, never add it at all. Add it to the list of things that well-funded schools in already-rich neighborhoods get that schools in low-income neighborhoods don't. New textbooks. Gyms. Advanced Placement classes that let students earn college credits. Computers. Internet access.
In The First Months of Trump Era, Facebook And Apple Spent More On Lobbying Than They Ever Have
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According to federal lobbying disclosures filed Thursday, Facebook and Apple set their all-time record high for spending in a single quarter. Facebook spent $3.2 million lobbying the federal government in the first months of the Trump era. During the same period last year, Facebook spent $2.8 million (about 15% less). The company lobbied both chambers of Congress, the White House, and six federal agencies on issues including high-tech worker visas, network neutrality, internet privacy, encryption, and international taxation. Facebook was the 12th-highest spender out of any company and second-highest in tech. [...] Apple spent $1.4 million, which is just $50,000 more than during the final months of the Obama presidency, when it set its previous record, but the most it has ever spent in a single quarter. Apple lobbied on issues including government requests for data, the regulation of mobile health apps, and self-driving cars. Google, once again, outspent every other technology company. It was 10th overall, tallying $3.5 million
Trump's FCC Votes To Allow Broadband Rate Hikes Will Deprive More Public Schools From Getting Internet Access
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The FCC voted on Thursday to approve a controversial plan to deregulate the $45 billion market for business-to-business broadband, also known as Business Data Services (BDS), by eliminating price caps that make internet access more affordable for thousands of small businesses, schools, libraries and hospitals.

The Outline adds:
The price caps were designed to keep phone and, later, broadband, access cheap for community institutions like schools, hospitals, libraries, and small businesses. Now, there will be no limit. A spokesperson for the trade association Incompas, which advocates for competition among communications providers, told The Outline that the increase is expected to be at least 25 percent across the board. Low-income schools already don't have enough money; according to a report last year in The Atlantic, schools in high-poverty districts, where the property taxes are lower, spend 15.6 percent less per student than schools in low-poverty districts. If internet costs go up by 25 percent, it may make more sense to cut that budget item, or, for schools that still don't have internet, never add it at all. Add it to the list of things that well-funded schools in already-rich neighborhoods get that schools in low-income neighborhoods don't. New textbooks. Gyms. Advanced Placement classes that let students earn college credits. Computers. Internet access.
Inside Elon Musk's New Company Neuralink Which Aims To Fight Brain Conditions And Help Humanity Survive in the Age of AI
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Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk has confirmed plans for his newest company, called Neuralink Corp, revealing he will be the chief executive of a startup that aims to merge computers with brains so humans could one day engage in "consensual telepathy." In an interview with explainer website Wait But Why (36,000-word), Musk said Neuralink aims to implant tiny brain electrodes that first would be used to fight brain conditions but later help humanity avoid subjugation at the hands of intelligent machines.

From the report:
"There are a bunch of concepts in your head that then your brain has to try to compress into this incredibly low data rate called speech or typing," Musk said. "That's what language is, your brain has executed a compression algorithm on thought, on concept transfer. If you have two brain interfaces, you could actually do an uncompressed direct conceptual communication with another person."
Neuroscientists Offer a Reality Check On Facebook's 'Typing By Brain' Project
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Facebook announced that it's working on a "typing by brain" project, promising a non-invasive technology that can decode signals from the brain's speech center and translate them directly to text (see the video beginning at 1:18:00). What's more, Facebook exec Regina Dugan said, the technology will achieve a typing rate of 100 words per minute. Here, a few neuroscientists are asked: Is such a thing remotely feasible? One neuroscientist points out that his team set the current speed record for brain-typing earlier this year: They enabled a paralyzed man to type 8 words per minute, and that was using an invasive brain implant that could get high-fidelity signals from neurons. To date, all non-invasive methods that read brain signals through the scalp and skull have performed much worse.

Thomas Naselaris, an assistant professor at the Medical University of South Carolina, says, "Our understanding of the way the words and their phonological and semantic attributes are encoded in brain activity is actually pretty good currently, but much of this understanding has been enabled by fMRI, which is noninvasive but very slow and not at all portable," he said. "So I think that the bottleneck will be the [optical] imaging technology," which is what Facebook's gear will be using.
Canada Rules To Uphold Net Neutrality
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According to a new ruling by Canada's telecommunications regulator, internet service providers should not be able to exempt certain types of content, such as streaming music or video, from counting toward a person's data cap. The ruling upholds net neutrality, which is the principle that all web services should be treated equally by providers.

CBC.ca reports:
"Rather than offering its subscribers selected content at different data usage prices, Internet service providers should be offering more data at lower prices," said Jean-Pierre Blais, chairman of the CRTC in a statement. "That way, subscribers can choose for themselves what content they want to consume." The decision stems from a 2015 complaint against the wireless carrier Videotron, which primarily operates in Quebec. Videotron launched a feature in August of that year, enabling customers to stream music from services such as Spotify and Google Play Music without it counting against a monthly data cap as a way to entice people to subscribe to Videotron's internet service. The decision means that Videotron cannot offer its unlimited music streaming plan to subscribers in its current form -- nor can other internet providers offer similar plans that zero-rate other types of internet content, such as video streaming or social media.
China's First Cargo Spacecraft Launch a 'Crucial Step' To Space Station
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China launched its first unmanned cargo spacecraft on a mission to dock with the country's space station, marking further progress in the ambitious Chinese space program. Chinese state media Xinhua described the event as a "crucial step for China's plan to have an operational space station by 2020."

From a report:
The Tianzhou-1 took off from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in China's southern Hainan province, on track to dock with the orbiting space lab Tiangong-2. The launch was the latest in a series of major announcements by the Chinese space program, which celebrated its longest-ever space mission in November.
South Indian Frog Oozes Molecule That Inexplicably Decimates Flu Viruses
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From the slimy backs of a South Indian frog comes a new way to blast influenza viruses. A compound in the frog's mucus -- long known to have germ-killing properties -- can latch onto flu virus particles and cause them to burst apart, researchers report in Immunity. The peptide is a potent and precise killer, able to demolish a whole class of flu viruses while leaving other viruses and cells unharmed. But scientists don't know exactly how it pulls off the viral eviscerations. No other antiviral peptide of its ilk seems to work the same way. The study authors, led by researchers at Emory University, note that the peptide appears uniquely nontoxic -- something that can't be said of many other frog-based compounds. Thus, the peptide on its own holds promise of being a potential therapy someday. But simply figuring out how it works could move researchers closer to a vaccine or therapy that could take out all flus, ditching the need for yearly vaccinations for each season's flavor of flu.
States Are Moving To Cut College Costs By Introducing Open-Source Textbooks
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In an effort to curb the rising cost of textbooks, which went up by 88% between 2006 and 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Maryland and New York have announced initiatives that adopt open-source, copyright-free textbooks. The initiatives will reward colleges who adapt or scale the use of OER (open educational resources) -- "materials like electronic textbooks that typically use licenses that are far less restrictive than traditional, copyrighted textbooks," reports Quartz.

From the report:
The University System of Maryland recently announced that it would be giving out 21 "mini-grants" to seven community colleges and five public four-year schools. The grants will go to "faculty who are adopting, adapting or scaling the use of OER [open educational resources] in Fall 2017 through high-enrollment courses where quality OER exists," according to the announcement. Although the mini-grants are only $500 to $2,500 each, the effort in Maryland is expected to save 8,000 students up to $1.3 million in the Fall 2017 semester alone. That's a significant amount, but just a drop in the bucket of what students in the state spend on textbooks each year. Another big investment in open educational resources came in the budget passed in New York state last week. The news was somewhat buried by the fact that the budget includes free tuition for New York students whose families make up to $125,000 a year, but the state will also be putting $8 million into open source materials over the next fiscal year.
Researchers Discover New Species of Giant Spider
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Califorctenus cacachilensis, recently named by researchers at the San Diego Natural History Museum, was first located in 2013 in a mountain range in Baja California Sur, Mexico. The eye pattern led researchers to believe it was potentially part of a group of wandering spiders from the Ctenidae family. Knowing Ctenidae are nocturnal, the researchers returned to the cave at night, where they spotted a living specimen. Their research further led them to confirm that it was a previously unidentified species related to the Brazilian wandering spider.
Malaysia Air Is First Airline to Track Fleet With Satellites
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Malaysia Air, which lost a wide-body jet with 239 people aboard three years ago in one of history's most enduring aviation mysteries, has become the first airline to sign an agreement for space-based flight tracking of its aircraft. The subsidiary of Malaysian Airline System Bhd reached a deal with Aireon LLC, SITAONAIR and FlightAware LLC to enable it to monitor the flight paths of its aircraft anywhere in the world including over the polar regions and the most remote oceans, according to an emailed press release from Aireon. Aireon is launching a new satellite network with Iridium Communications Inc. that will allow it to monitor air traffic around the globe. It's projected to be completed in 2018. Most international flights are already transmitting their position with technology known as ADS-B and the signals can be tracked from the ground or space. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has already installed a ground-based tracking system for ADS-B. "Real-time global aircraft tracking has long been a goal of the aviation community," Malaysia Chief Operating Officer Izham Ismail said in the release. "We are proud to be the first airline to adopt this solution."
How the Six-Hour Workday Actually Saves Money
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In February, after almost two years worth of six-hour workdays, nurses at the Svartedalens elderly care facility in Gothenburg, Sweden went back to eight hour shifts -- despite recently published research showing the benefits of the shortened workdays. The City of Gothenburg didn't extend the experiment in part because funding ran out. It cost about 12 million krona ($1.3 million) to hire the 17 extra staff members needed to fill the gaps created by shorter work hours. The city had only budgeted for two years, and legislators said it would be too expensive to implement the project across the entire municipality. So, for now, the project has come to an end. Yet, there are longer term savings the study didn't take into account. Working shorter hours resulted in healthier workers, researcher Bengt Lorentzon found in a new paper. "They were less tired, less sick, had more energy coming home and more time to do activities," said Lorentzon. Specifically, the nurses took fewer sick days than they did when working longer, eight hour days. They also took fewer sick days than nurses in the control group. In fact, they took fewer sick days than nurses across the entire city of Gothenburg.
The Woman Whose Phone 'Misdiagnosed HIV'
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A report on BBC about a woman in Kenya, who downloaded a prank app that noted that she has HIV simply by "analyzing her fingerprint." While many people would have not trusted an app for such kind of diagnosis in the first place, and some would have figured that something is amiss about the app, the story tells the tale of people who are increasingly finding it hard to deal with the technological advances they see.

From the report:
Esther sells water on the side of the road in Kenya for a few dollars a day. She also owns a smartphone and ownership of such a device should, according to most of the received wisdom, empower its owner. But in fact it did quite the opposite for her when she acquired an app. It claimed to diagnose HIV simply by analysing her fingerprint on the touch screen. When researchers met her at her roadside workplace, she was worried. "She did not know if it was true and she was panicking," said researcher Laura de Reynal, who worked on a year-long study into the experiences of first-time smartphone users in Kenya. "And she wasn't the only one, there were others that came to us worried about this app and those were just the ones that were willing to speak out." The app was in fact a prank and anyone reading the comments on Google's Play Store would have seen that. However, many first-time smartphone users in Kenya get hold of apps via a friend's Bluetooth connection, rather than downloading them via the net, in order to save data. But the prank would not have been apparent via a Bluetooth share. "People are not able to understand the limits of the technology," said Ms de Reynal. "They think, because it was on a smartphone, it seems real and credible."
88% Of Medical 'Second Opinions' Give A Different Diagnosis - And So Do Some AI
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First, "A new study finds that nearly 9 in 10 people who go for a second opinion after seeing a doctor are likely to leave with a refined or new diagnosis from what they were first told,"

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic examined 286 patient records of individuals who had decided to consult a second opinion, hoping to determine whether being referred to a second specialist impacted one's likelihood of receiving an accurate diagnosis. The study, conducted using records of patients referred to the Mayo Clinic's General Internal Medicine Division over a two-year period, ultimately found that when consulting a second opinion, the physician only confirmed the original diagnosis 12 percent of the time. Among those with updated diagnoses, 66% received a refined or redefined diagnosis, while 21% were diagnosed with something completely different than what their first physician concluded.

But in a related story, Slashdot reader sciencehabit writes that four machine-learning algorithms all performed better than currently-used algorithm of the American College of Cardiology, according to newly-published research, which concludes that "machine-learning significantly improves accuracy of cardiovascular risk prediction, increasing the number of patients identified who could benefit from preventive treatment, while avoiding unnecessary treatment of others."

"I can't stress enough how important it is," one Stanford vascular surgeon told Science magazine, "and how much I really hope that doctors start to embrace the use of artificial intelligence to assist us in care of patients."
Troll With 'Stupid Patent' Sues EFF. EFF Sues Them Back
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The Electronic Frontier Foundation has sued an Australian company that it previously dubbed as a 'classic patent troll' in a June 2016 blog post entitled: Stupid Patent of the Month: Storage Cabinets on a Computer.

Ars Technica:
Last year, that company, Global Equity Management (SA) Pty. Ltd. (GEMSA), managed to get an Australian court to order EFF to remove its post -- but EFF did not comply. In January 2017, Pasha Mehr, an attorney representing GEMSA, further demanded that the article be removed and that EFF pay $750,000. EFF still did not comply. The new lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Francisco on Wednesday, asks that the American court declare the Australian ruling unenforceable in the U.S.

GEMSA's attorneys reportedly threatened to have the EFF's post de-indexed from search engine listings -- on the basis of the Australian court order -- so now the EFF "seeks a court order declaring the Australian injunction 'repugnant' to the U.S. Constitution and unenforceable in the United States."

The Register reports that GEMSA has already sued 37 companies, "including big-name tech companies Airbnb, Uber, Netflix, Spotify, and eBay. In each case, GEMSA accused the company's website design of somehow trampling on the GUI patent without permission." But things were different after the EFF's article, according to Courthouse News. "GEMSA said the article made it harder to enforce its patents in the United States, citing its legal opponents' 'reduced interest in pursuing pre-trial settlement negotiations.'"
Tiny Changes Can Cause An AI To Fail
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According to the BBC there is growing concern in the machine learning community that as their algorithms are deployed in the real world they can be easily confused by knowledgeable attackers. These algorithms don't process information in the same way humans do, a small sticker placed strategically on a sign could render it invisible to a self driving car.

The article points out that a sticker on a stop sign "is enough for the car to 'see' the stop sign as something completely different from a stop sign," while researchers have created an online collection of images which currently fool AI systems. "In one project, published in October, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University built a pair of glasses that can subtly mislead a facial recognition system -- making the computer confuse actress Reese Witherspoon for Russell Crowe."

One computer academic says that unlike a spam-blocker, "if you're relying on the vision system in a self-driving car to know where to go and not crash into anything, then the stakes are much higher," adding ominously that "The only way to completely avoid this is to have a perfect model that is right all the time." Although on the plus side, "If you're some political dissident inside a repressive regime and you want to be able to conduct activities without being targeted, being able to avoid automated surveillance techniques based on machine learning would be a positive use."
Scientists Win $2.6 Million For Star Trek Tricorder Device
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The Qualcomm Foundation, along with the XPRIZE Foundation, "announced the winning team of its nearly four-year-long global competition to develop a functional, easily usable tricorder," reports Vocativ. The Pennsylvania-based Final Frontier Medical Devices team was the first place winner, receiving the top prize of $2.6 million, while Boston-based Dynamical Biomarkers nabbed $1 million.

From the report:
Led by Dr. Basil Harris, a Philadelphia emergency room physician, the team was mostly made out of family and friends Harris coaxed into volunteering their free time on the weekend. By contrast, Dynamical Biomarkers had 50 scientists and programmers, mostly paid, and was sponsored by the Taiwanese government and Taiwan-based cellphone company HTC. The device kit developed by Final Frontier, called DxtER, uses non-invasive sensors that collect data from the user and combines that with an AI frontloaded with information in the field of clinical emergency medicine to come with a diagnosis. The device currently operates on an iPad tablet, but future versions should work equally fine on a smartphone as well. The device, ideally, would allow patients to then send their readings to their doctors so they could collaborate on their health care. According to an interview Harris held with the Washington Post, DxtER can diagnose up to 34 medical conditions in its present design. The device developed by Dynamical Biomarkers could reach up to 50, team leader and Harvard Medical School professor Chung-Kang Peng, told the Post, given it surpasses the five-pound weight limit imposed by the competition guidelines.
FDA Slams St. Jude Medical For Ignoring Security Flaws In Medical Devices
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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a letter of warning to medical device maker Abbott on Wednesday, slamming the company for what it said was a pattern of overlooking security and reliability problems in its implantable medical devices at its St. Jude Medical division and describing a range of the company's devices as "adulterated," in violation of the U.S. Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, the Security Ledger reports. In a damning warning letter, the FDA said that St. Jude Medical knew about serious security flaws in its implantable medical devices as early as 2014, but failed to address them with software updates or by replacing those devices. The government found that St. Jude, time and again, failed to adhere to internal security and product quality guidelines, a lapse that resulted in at least one patient death. St. Jude Medical, which is now wholly owned by the firm Abbott, learned of serious and exploitable security holes in the company's "high voltage and peripheral devices" in an April, 2014 "third party assessment" commissioned by the company. But St. Jude "failed to accurately incorporate the findings of that assessment" in subsequent risk assessments for the affected products, including Merlin@home, a home-based wireless transmitter that is used to provide remote care for patients with implanted cardiac devices, the FDA revealed. Among the security flaws: a "hardcoded universal unlock code" for the company's implantable, high voltage devices. The report casts doubt on a defamation lawsuit St. Jude filed against the firm MedSec Holdings Ltd over its August, 2016 report that warned of widespread security flaws in St. Jude products, including Merlin@home. The MedSec report on St. Judes technology was released in conjunction with a report by the investment firm Muddy Waters Research, which specializes in taking "short" positions on firms. At the time, MedSec said that the security of the company's medical devices and support software was "grossly inadequate compared with other leading manufacturers," and represents "unnecessary health risks and should receive serious notice among hospitals, regulators, physicians and cardiac patients." St. Judes has called the MedSec allegations false, but it now appears that the company had heard similar warnings raised by its own third-party security auditor more than a year prior.
New Solar-Powered Device Can Pull Water Straight From the Desert Air
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You can't squeeze blood from a stone, but wringing water from the desert sky is now possible, thanks to a new spongelike device that uses sunlight to suck water vapor from air, even in low humidity. The device can produce nearly 3 liters of water per day, and researchers say future versions will be even better. That means homes in the driest parts of the world could soon have a solar-powered appliance capable of delivering all the water they need, offering relief to billions of people. To find an all-purpose solution, researchers led by Omar Yaghi, a chemist at the University of California, Berkeley, turned to a family of crystalline powders called metal organic frameworks, or MOFs. Yaghi developed the first MOFs -- porous crystals that form continuous 3D networks -- more than 20 years ago. The networks assemble in a Tinkertoy-like fashion from metal atoms that act as the hubs and sticklike organic compounds that link the hubs together. By choosing different metals and organics, chemists can dial in the properties of each MOF, controlling what gases bind to them, and how strongly they hold on. The system Wang and her students designed consists of a kilogram of dust-sized MOF crystals pressed into a thin sheet of porous copper metal. That sheet is placed between a solar absorber and a condenser plate and positioned inside a chamber. At night the chamber is opened, allowing ambient air to diffuse through the porous MOF and water molecules to stick to its interior surfaces, gathering in groups of eight to form tiny cubic droplets. In the morning, the chamber is closed, and sunlight entering through a window on top of the device then heats up the MOF, which liberates the water droplets and drives them -- as vapor -- toward the cooler condenser. The temperature difference, as well as the high humidity inside the chamber, causes the vapor to condense as liquid water, which drips into a collector.
Apple Has a Secret Team Working On Non-Invasive Diabetes Sensors
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A report from CNBC: Apple has hired a small team of biomedical engineers to work at a nondescript office in Palo Alto, miles from corporate headquarters. They are part of a super secret initiative, initially envisioned by the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, to develop sensors that can non-invasively and continuously monitor blood sugar levels to better treat diabetes, according to three people familiar with the matter. Such a breakthrough would be a "holy grail" for life sciences. Many life sciences companies have tried and failed, as it's highly challenging to track glucose levels accurately without piercing the skin. The initiative is far enough along that Apple has been conducting feasibility trials at clinical sites across the Bay Area and has hired consultants to help it figure out the regulatory pathways, the people said.

"From a business aspect, the most interesting part of this venture might be how Apple combines its penchant for secrecy with maneuvering through those regulatory pathways. It's one thing to introduce another new bit of consumer electronics kit. It's an entirely other thing to get a medical device past the FDA."
Hubble's Greatest Hits
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Pictures from the space telescope have dazzled us for 25 years. Now, Hubble?s lead imaging scientist picks his favorite celestial views.
Nintendo Discontinues the NES Classic Edition
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A Nintendo representative has confirmed today that the company will be discontinuing the NES Classic Edition, "a plug-and-play console that became popular with collectors as soon as it launched last fall," reports Polygon. The last shipments of the consoles will hit stores this month.

From the report: [Nintendo said in a statement to IGN:]
"Throughout April, NOA territories will receive the last shipments of Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic Edition systems for this year. We encourage anyone interested in obtaining this system to check with retail outlets regarding availability. We understand that it has been difficult for many consumers to find a system, and for that we apologize. We have paid close attention to consumer feedback, and we greatly appreciate the incredible level of consumer interest and support for this product." "NES Classic Edition wasn't intended to be an ongoing, long-term product. However, due to high demand, we did add extra shipments to our original plans," it told IGN.
Nearby Ocean Worlds Could Be Best Bet For Life Beyond Earth, Says NASA
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NASA has new evidence that the most likely places to find life beyond Earth are Jupiter's moon Europa or Saturn's moon Enceladus. In terms of potential habitability, Enceladus particularly has almost all of the key ingredients for life as we know it, researchers said.

From a report:
New observations of these active ocean worlds in our solar system have been captured by two NASA missions and were presented in two separate studies in an announcement at NASA HQ in Washington today. Using a mass spectrometer, the Cassini spacecraft detected an abundance of hydrogen molecules in water plumes rising from the "tiger stripe" fractures in Enceladus' icy surface. Saturn's sixth-largest moon is an ice-encased world with an ocean beneath. The researchers believe that the hydrogen originated from a hydrothermal reaction between the moon's ocean and its rocky core. If that is the case, the crucial chemical methane could be forming in the ocean as well.
Pirate Bay Founder: 'I Have Given Up'
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The future of illegal torrent websites doesn't look good. As torrent websites continue to disappear, the founder of The Pirate Bay believes the trend is the just the beginning.

From an article:
While it might look like torrenters are are still fighting this battle, Sunde claims that the reality is more definitive: "We have already lost." [...] Take the net neutrality law in Europe. It's terrible, but people are happy and go like "it could be worse." That is absolutely not the right attitude. Facebook brings the internet to Africa and poor countries, but they're only giving limited access to their own services and make money off of poor people. [...] Well, I have given up the idea that we can win this fight for the internet. The situation is not going to be any different, because apparently that is something people are not interested in fixing. Or we can't get people to care enough. Maybe it's a mixture, but this is kind of the situation we are in, so its useless to do anything about it. We have become somehow the Black Knight from Monty Python's Holy Grail. We have maybe half of our head left and we are still fighting, we still think we have a chance of winning this battle.
Scientists Capture First Image of Dark Matter Web
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Scientists have long suspected that the universe is woven together by a vast cosmic connector but, until now, they couldn't prove it. Now, for the first time ever, scientists have captured an image of a dark matter bridge, confirming the theory that galaxies are held together by a cosmic web. Using a technique called weak gravitational lensing, researchers were able to identify distortions of distant galaxies as they are influenced by a large, unseen mass -- in this case, a web of dark matter.

In order to create a composite image that shows the dark matter web, scientists had to look at more than 23,000 galaxy pairs located 4.5 billion light-years away. "Results show the dark matter filament bridge is strongest between systems less than 40 million light years apart," reports Phys.Org. The findings have been published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
The First Manned Space Flight Was the Rocket Designer's Victory as Much as Yuri Gagarin's
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On this day in 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first person in space. And given the risks inherent to early spaceflight, he certainly deserves his place in history. But what about the man who designed the rocket that got Gagarin there? His name was Sergei Korolev, and his influence on the Soviet space program stretched much farther than Gagarin's 108 minutes of fame -- the time it took to make a single orbit of Earth. The flight of Vostok 1, Gagarin's craft, "was a defining moment of the 20th century and opened up the prospect of interplanetary travel for our species," writes Robin McKie for The Guardian. For Gagarin, it was the moment that made him a famous figurehead for the Soviet Union. As Gagarin toured the globe, the space program's chief designer remained at home and unknown. That Sergei Korolev ran the Soviet Union's rocket program wasn't revealed until after his death. "Gagarin became the face of Soviet space supremacy," McKie writes, "while Korolev was the brains. The pair made a potent team and their success brought fame to one and immense power to the other. Neither lived long enough to enjoy those rewards, however."
Tennessee Could Give Taxpayers America's Fastest Internet For Free, But It Gave Comcast and AT&T $45 Million Instead
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Chattanooga, Tennessee is home to some of the fastest internet speeds in the United States, offering city dwellers Gbps and 10 Gpbs connections. Instead of voting to expand those connections to the rural areas surrounding the city, which have dial up, satellite, or no internet whatsoever, Tennessee's legislature voted to give Comcast and AT&T a $45 million taxpayer handout.

Motherboard reports:
The situation is slightly convoluted and thoroughly infuriating. EPB -- a power and communications company owned by the Chattanooga government -- offers 100 Mbps, 1 Gbps, and 10 Gpbs internet connections. A Tennessee law that was lobbied for by the telecom industry makes it illegal for EPB to expand out into surrounding areas, which are unserved or underserved by current broadband providers. For the last several years, EPB has been fighting to repeal that state law, and even petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to try to get the law overturned. This year, the Tennessee state legislature was finally considering a bill that would have let EPB expand its coverage (without providing it any special tax breaks or grants; EPB is profitable and doesn't rely on taxpayer money). Rather than pass that bill, Tennessee has just passed the "Broadband Accessibility Act of 2017," which gives private telecom companies -- in this case, probably AT&T and Comcast -- $45 million of taxpayer money over the next three years to build internet infrastructure to rural areas.
Investigation Finds Inmates Built Computers, Hid Them In Prison Ceiling
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The discovery of two working computers hidden in a ceiling at the Marion Correctional Institution prompted an investigation by the state into how inmates got access. In late July, 2015 staff at the prison discovered the computers hidden on a plywood board in the ceiling above a training room closet. The computers were also connected to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction's network. Authorities say they were first tipped off to a possible problem in July, when their computer network support team got an alert that a computer "exceeded a daily internet usage threshold." When they checked the login being used, they discovered an employee's credentials were being used on days he wasn't scheduled to work. That's when they tracked down where the connection was coming from and alerted Marion Correctional Institution of a possible problem. Investigators say there was lax supervision at the prison, which gave inmates the ability to build computers from parts, get them through security checks, and hide them in the ceiling. The inmates were also able to run cabling, connecting the computers to the prison's network.

Furthermore, "investigators found an inmate used the computers to steal the identify of another inmate, and then submit credit card applications, and commit tax fraud," reports WRGB. "They also found inmates used the computers to create security clearance passes that gave them access to restricted areas."
Glowing Bacteria Detect Buried Landmines
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More than 100 million landmines lay hidden in the ground around the world, but glowing bacteria may help us find them, according to a new study. The approach relies on small quantities of vapor released from the common explosive TNT. Previously, researchers engineered E. coli to glow green upon detection of DNT, a byproduct of TNT. In a study published in Nature Biotechnology today, the same team reports on a small field test with mines buried in sand and soil, whose triggering mechanisms were removed. The scientists loaded about 100,000 DNT-detecting bacterial cells into a single bead made of polymers derived from seaweed and sprinkled these beads over the landmine site at night. Twenty-four hours later, they used a laser to remotely detect and quantify fluorescing bacteria from 20 meters away, mapping the location of the landmines.
US Dismantles Forensic Science Commission
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Thought the Trump Administration's war on science was just about climate change? Think again. "Attorney General Jeff Sessions will end a Justice Department partnership with independent scientists to raise forensic science standards and has suspended an expanded review of FBI testimony across several techniques that have come under question, saying a new strategy will be set by an in-house team of law enforcement advisers," reports Washington Post. The National Commission on Forensic Science, "jointly led by Justice and the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has prompted several changes," including "new accrediting and ethical codes for forensic labs and practitioners" and the FBI abandoning "its four-decade-long practice of tracing bullets to a specific manufacturer's batch through chemical analyses after its method were scientifically debunked."
Sir Tim Berners-Lee Lays Out Nightmare Scenario Where AI Runs the Financial World
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The architect of the world wide web Sir Tim Berners-Lee has talked about some of his concerns for the internet over the coming years, including a nightmarish scenario where artificial intelligence (AI) could become the new 'masters of the universe' by creating and running their own companies.

From an article:
Masters of the universe is a reference to Tom Wolfe's 1987 novel The Bonfire of the Vanities, regarding the men (and they were men) who started racking up multi-million dollar salaries and a great deal of influence from their finance roles on Wall Street and in London during the computerised trading boom pre-Black Monday. Berners-Lee said, "So when AI starts to make decisions such as who gets a mortgage, that's a big one. Or which companies to acquire and when AI starts creating its own companies, creating holding companies, generating new versions of itself to run these companies. So you have survival of the fittest going on between these AI companies until you reach the point where you wonder if it becomes possible to understand how to ensure they are being fair, and how do you describe to a computer what that means anyway?"
Large Near-Earth Astroid Will Fly Past Earth On April 19
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A relatively large (650 meters) near-Earth asteroid discovered nearly three years ago will fly safely past Earth on April 19 at a distance of about 1.1 million miles (1.8 million kilometers), or about 4.6 times the distance from Earth to the moon. The asteroid will approach Earth from the direction of the sun and will become visible in the night sky after April 19. It is predicted to brighten to about magnitude 11, when it could be visible in small optical telescopes for one or two nights. For comparison, Chelyabinsk meteor was 20m. Small asteroids pass within this distance of Earth several times each week, but this upcoming close approach is the closest by any known asteroid of this size, or larger, since asteroid Toutatis , a 3.1-mile (five-kilometer) asteroid, which approached within about four lunar distances in September 2004. The April 19 encounter provides an outstanding opportunity to study this asteroid, and astronomers plan to observe it with telescopes around the world to learn as much about it as possible.
Sorry America, Your Taxes Aren't High
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Americans generally feel they're being over-taxed, especially around this time of the year. But is that really true?

An article on Bloomberg investigates:
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development analyzed how 35 countries tax wage-earners, making it possible to compare tax burdens across the world's biggest economies. Each year, the OECD measures what it calls the "tax wedge," the gap between what a worker gets paid and what they actually spend or save. Included are income taxes, payroll taxes, and any tax credits or rebates that supplement worker income. Excluded are the countless other ways that governments levy taxes, such as sales and value-added taxes, property taxes, and taxes on investment income and gains. Guess who came out at the top of the list? No. Not the U.S. At the top are Belgium and France, while workers in Chile and New Zealand are taxed the least. America is in the bottom third.
Scientists Identify Parts of Brain Involved In Dreaming
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Scientists have unpicked the regions of the brain involved in dreaming, in a study with significant implications for our understanding of the purpose of dreams and of consciousness itself. What's more, changes in brain activity have been found to offer clues as to what the dream is about. Writing in the journal Nature Neuroscience, Siclari and colleagues from the U.S., Switzerland and Italy, reveal how they carried out a series of experiments involving 46 participants, each of whom had their brain activity recorded while they slept by electroencephalogram (EEG) -- a noninvasive technique that involved placing up to 256 electrodes on the scalp and face to monitor the number and size of brainwaves of different speeds. While the experiments probed different aspects of the puzzle, all involved participants being woken at various points throughout the night and asked to report whether they had been dreaming. If the participants had been dreaming, they were asked how long they thought it had lasted and whether they could remember anything about their dream, such as whether it involved faces, movement or thinking, or whether it was instead a vivid, sensory experience. Analysis of the EEG recording reveal that dreaming was linked to a drop in low-frequency activity in a region at the back of the brain dubbed by the researchers the "posterior cortical hot zone" -- a region that includes visual areas as well as areas involved in integrating the senses. The result held regardless of whether the dream was remembered or not and whether it occurred during REM or non-REM sleep. The researchers also looked at changes in high-frequency activity in the brain, finding that dreaming was linked to an increase in such activity in the so-called "hot zone" during non-REM sleep. Further, the team identified the region of the brain which appears to be important in remembering what a dream was about, finding that this recall was linked to an increase in high-frequency activity towards the front of the brain. A similar pattern of activity was seen in the hot zone and beyond for dreams during REM sleep. The upshot is that dreaming is rooted in the same changes in brain activity regardless of the type of sleep.
Americans Support Letting Cities Build Their Own Broadband Networks, Pew Finds
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Most Americans want to let local governments build out internet service if the internet providers in their area aren't any good, according to the Pew Research Center. In a phone survey of over 4,000 people last month, Pew found that 70 percent of respondents agreed that local governments should have the power to start their own high-speed networks if current offerings are "too expensive or not good enough." The results show an overwhelming support for municipal broadband -- networks that are at least somewhat run by local governments -- at a time when encouraging broadband buildout is a top federal priority. But despite the support, in much of the US, building out municipal networks just isn't possible. More than 20 states have passed laws banning local governments from starting their own broadband service, largely at the behest of internet providers that want to avoid competition at all cost. Though Pew's survey found some positive results for municipal broadband, it found less support for broadband subsidies for low-income homes. Under half of all Americans, 44 percent, said they supported subsidies, while nearly everyone else surveyed said they felt internet service "is affordable enough" that most households should be able to pay for it. (At the same time, nearly half of all people surveyed said they didn't know what speed of internet they received.)
If Humble People Make the Best Leaders, Why Do We Fall for Charismatic Narcissists?
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Numerous studies and real-life examples show humble, unassuming people as leaders improve the performance of a company in the long run. The humity, exuded by these leaders, can be contagious. Yet, instead of following the lead of these unsung heroes, an article on Harvard Business Review argues, we appear hardwired to search for people who exude charisma.

The article looks into why such is the case:
One study suggests that despite being perceived as arrogant, narcissistic individuals radiate "an image of a prototypically effective leader." Narcissistic leaders know how to draw attention toward themselves. They enjoy the visibility. It takes time for people to see that these early signals of competence are not later realized, and that a leader's narcissism reduces the exchange of information among team members and often negatively affects group performance. It's not that charismatic and narcissistic people can't ever make good leaders. In some circumstances, they can. For example, one study found that narcissistic CEOs "favor bold actions that attract attention, resulting in big wins or big losses." A narcissistic leader thus can represent a high-risk, high-reward proposition.
Major Banks and Parts of Federal Gov't Still Rely On COBOL, Now Scrambling To Find IT 'Cowboys' To Keep Things Afloat
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Bill Hinshaw is not a typical 75-year-old. He divides his time between his family -- he has 32 grandchildren and great-grandchildren -- and helping U.S. companies avert crippling computer meltdowns. Hinshaw, who got into programming in the 1960s when computers took up entire rooms and programmers used punch cards, is a member of a dwindling community of IT veterans who specialize in a vintage programming language called COBOL. The Common Business-Oriented Language was developed nearly 60 years ago and has been gradually replaced by newer, more versatile languages such as Java, C and Python. Although few universities still offer COBOL courses, the language remains crucial to businesses and institutions around the world. In the United States, the financial sector, major corporations and parts of the federal government still largely rely on it because it underpins powerful systems that were built in the 70s or 80s and never fully replaced. And here lies the problem: if something goes wrong, few people know how to fix it. The stakes are especially high for the financial industry, where an estimated $3 trillion in daily commerce flows through COBOL systems. The language underpins deposit accounts, check-clearing services, card networks, ATMs, mortgage servicing, loan ledgers and other services. The industry's aggressive push into digital banking makes it even more important to solve the COBOL dilemma. Mobile apps and other new tools are written in modern languages that need to work seamlessly with old underlying systems. That is where Hinshaw and fellow COBOL specialists come in. A few years ago, the north Texas resident planned to shutter his IT firm and retire after decades of working with financial and public institutions, but calls from former clients just kept coming.
Airlines Make More Money Selling Miles Than Seats
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Does your wallet contain an airline-branded credit card? If so, your daily Starbucks visits, iTunes selections and dining habits serve a critical role in keeping the U.S. airline industry fat and happy. For carriers such as American Airlines, riding Citigroup Inc. plastic, or Delta, on American Express Co., these programs are a cash cow, a golden goose -- or any other fiscal livestock you care to conjure. Each mile fetches an airline anywhere from 1.5 cents to 2.5 cents, and the big banks amass those miles by the billions (alternative source), doling them out to cardholders each month. For the banks, people who pay annual fees for those cards in order to accumulate miles are the closest thing to a sure bet. These consumers typically have higher-than-average incomes and spend more on their cards, generating merchant fees for the banks. They also tend to maintain high credit scores, which means they pay their bills on time and banks experience fewer defaults. The airline-miles business, formally known as loyalty programs, has become a high-margin enterprise that's grown in size and value amid airline consolidation, with carriers keen to expand credit card rolls and see loyalty members spend more.
Tesla Tops GM by Market Value as Investors See Musk as Future
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Tesla became the largest U.S. auto maker by market value on Monday, overtaking General Motors -- a feat that would have seemed highly improbable 13 years ago when the electric-car maker first began tinkering with the idea of making a sports car.

From a report:
Tesla climbed as much as 3.4 percent in early Monday trading, boosting its market capitalization to about $51 billion. The company was valued at about $1.7 billion more than GM as of 9:35 a.m. in New York. The turnabout shows the extent to which investors have bought into Musk's vision that electric vehicles will eventually rule the road. While GM has beat Tesla to market with a plug-in Chevrolet Bolt with a price and range similar to what Musk has promised for his Model 3 sedan coming later this year, the more than century-old company has failed to match the enthusiasm drummed up by its much smaller and rarely profitable U.S. peer. No matter, say investors who like the stock. Tesla is a technology player with the ability to dominate a market for electric cars and energy storage. To those same investors, GM and Ford are headed for a slowdown in car sales that will erode profits. "Is it fair? No, it isn't fair," Maryann Keller, an auto-industry consultant in Stamford, Connecticut, said of GM ceding the market-cap crown. "Even if Tesla turns a profit, they will eventually have to make enough to justify this valuation."
American Farmers Are Still Fighting Tractor Software Locks
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Manufacturers lock consumers into restrictive "user agreements," and inside "there's things like you won't open the case, you won't repair," complains a U.S. advocacy group called The Repair Association. But now the issue is getting some more attention in the American press.

Quoting NPR:
Modern tractors, essentially, have two keys to make the engine work. One key starts the engine. But because today's tractors are high-tech machines that can steer themselves by GPS, you also need a software key -- to fix the programs that make a tractor run properly. And farmers don't get that key.

"You're paying for the metal but the electronic parts technically you don't own it. They do," says Kyle Schwarting, who plants and harvests fields in southeast Nebraska... "Maybe a gasket or something you can fix, but everything else is computer controlled and so if it breaks down I'm really in a bad spot," Schwarting says. He has to call the dealer. Only dealerships have the software to make those parts work, and it costs hundreds of dollars just to get a service call. Schwarting worries about being broken down in a field, waiting for a dealer to show up with a software key.

The article points out that equipment dealers are using those expensive repair calls to offset slumping tractor sales. But it also reports that eight U.S. states, including Nebraska, Illinois and New York, are still considering bills requiring manufacturers to sell repair software, adding that after Massachusetts passed a similar lar, "car makers started selling repair software."
'Unprecedented' Bleaching Damages Two-Thirds Of Australia's Great Barrier Reef
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Unprecedented coral bleaching in consecutive years has damaged two-thirds of Australia's Great Barrier Reef, aerial surveys have shown. The bleaching ? or loss of algae ? affects a 1,500km (900 miles) area of the reef, according to scientists. The latest damage is concentrated in the middle section, whereas last year's bleaching hit mainly the north. Experts fear the proximity of the two events will give damaged coral little chance to recover.
Russian Arrested in Spain 'Over US Election Hacking'
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Spanish police have arrested a Russian programmer for alleged involvement in "hacking" the US election, BBC reported Monday, citing local press reports

S From the report:
Pyotr Levashov, arrested on 7 April in Barcelona, has now been remanded in custody. A "legal source" also told the AFP news agency that Mr Levashov was the subject of an extradition request by the US. The request is due to be examined by Spain's national criminal court, the agency added. El Confidencial, a Spanish news website, has said that Mr Levashov's arrest warrant was issued by US authorities over suspected "hacking" that helped Donald Trump's campaign.
Amazon's Third-Party Sellers Hit By Hackers
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Hackers are targeting the growing population of third-party sellers on Amazon.com using stolen credentials to post fake deals and steal cash.

From a report:
In recent weeks, attackers have changed the bank-deposit information on Amazon accounts of active sellers to steal tens of thousands of dollars from each (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; alternative source), according to several sellers and advisers. Attackers also have hacked into the Amazon accounts of sellers who haven't used them recently to post nonexistent merchandise for sale at steep discounts in an attempt to pocket the cash, those people say. The fraud stems largely from email and password credentials stolen from previously hacked accounts and then sold on what's dubbed the "dark web," a network of anonymous internet servers where hackers communicate and trade illicit information. Such hacks previously have favored sites such as PayPal and eBay, but Amazon recently has become a target of choice, according to cybersecurity experts.
ARCA Plans 2018 Launch For Revolutionary Single-Stage Rocket
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An aerospace company is building a cheap, simple, lightweight rocket that they hope will redefine the microsatellite industry.

Quoting New Atlas:
New Mexico-based ARCA Space Corporation has announced that it is developing the world's first Single Stage to Orbit (SSTO) launch vehicle that can deliver both a small payload and itself into low Earth orbit, at a cost of about US$1 million per launch. Dubbed the Haas 2CA after the 16th century rocket pioneer Conrad Haas, the new booster uses a linear aerospike engine instead of conventional bell-shaped rocket engines to do away with multiple stages.

They're working with six different NASA centers and have scheduled their first launch for 2018. The rocket will be 53 feet tall (16 meters) with a diameter of just 4.95 feet (1.5 meters), and will weigh 1,210 pounds when empty, but 35,887 pounds when fueled, "thanks to ACRA's proprietary composite materials for the propellant tanks and other components."
Belgian Scientists Inhibit Protein Responsible For Allergic Reactions
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Scientists at the University of Gent exposed the TSLP protein's function in triggering allergic reactions such as asthma and eczema. The team then developed a protein-based inhibitor used to capture TSLP and prevent its bioactivity as it associates with its natural receptors. Using this method, allergic reactions can be inhibited before they are triggered.
Wolves May Be 'Re-Domesticating' Into Dogs
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It happened thousands of years ago, and it may be happening again: Wolves in various parts of the world may have started on the path to becoming dogs. That's the conclusion of a new study, which finds that the animals are increasingly dining on livestock and human garbage instead of their wild prey, inching closer and closer to the human world in some places. But given today's industrialized societies, this closeness might also bring humans and wolves into more conflict, with disastrous consequences for both. To find out how gray wolves might be affected by eating more people food, Thomas Newsome, an evolutionary biologist at the Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia, and his colleagues examined studies of what's happened to other large carnivores that live close to people. Newsome's 2014 study of a dingo population in Australia's Tanami Desert showed that the wild dogs' habit of dining almost exclusively on junk food at a waste management facility had made them fat and less aggressive. They were also more likely to mate with local dogs and had become "cheeky," says Newsome, daring to run between his legs as he set out traps for them. Most intriguingly, the dumpster dingoes' population formed a genetic cluster distinct from all other dingoes -- indicating that they were becoming genetically isolated, a key step in forming a new species. Is this happening to gray wolves? The conditions are ripe for it, says Newsome, noting that human foods already make up 32% of gray wolf diets around the world. The animals now mostly range across remote regions of Eurasia and North America, yet some are returning to developed areas.
Over 90% of College Students Today Regularly Use Netflix, But Only 34% Are Actually Paying For Their Own Account
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According to a new survey from LendEDU, more than 90% of today's college students have access to a Netflix account they regularly use, while only 8% who responded to the survey said they don't have a Netflix account. What some may find even more surprising is that of the 90% of students who have access to Netflix, only 34% of them are actually paying for their own Netflix account.

Streaming Observer News reports:
That actually goes right in line with numbers from Piper Jaffray that showed almost 40% of teens watch Netflix every single day. Their closest competitors, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu, each came in at just 3% each for daily use. Of course, that doesn't mean they're all paying for Netflix. 54% of respondents to LendEDU's survey said they use a family member's or friend's account, and 5% more said they used a boyfriend/girlfriend or ex's account. While only 34% of college students are actually paying for their own Netflix account, that's apparently not too big of a concern for Netflix, who has taken a relatively lax attitude towards password sharing in recent years.
Walt Mossberg Is Retiring
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Walt Mossberg, a well-respected and long-time tech journalist, announced via The Verge that he will be retiring in June of this year. In his announcement post, he starts by reflecting on where it all began:

It was a June day when I began my career as a national journalist. I stepped into the Detroit Bureau of The Wall Street Journal and started on what would be a long, varied, rewarding career. I was 23 years old, and the year was 1970. That's not a typo. So it seems fitting to me that I'll be retiring this coming June, almost exactly 47 years later. I'll be hanging it up shortly after the 2017 edition of the Code Conference, a wonderful event I co-founded in 2003 and which I could never have imagined back then in Detroit. I didn't make this decision lightly or hastily or under pressure. It emerged from months of thought and months of talks with my wise wife, my family, and close friends. It wasn't prompted by my employer or by some dire health diagnosis. It just seems like the right time to step away. I'm ready for something new.
WikiLeaks Reveals Grasshopper, the CIA's Windows Hacking Tool
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In case you haven't had your dose of paranoia fuel today, WikiLeaks released new information concerning a CIA malware program called "Grasshopper," that specifically targets Windows. The Grasshopper framework was (is?) allegedly used by the CIA to make custom malware payloads. According to the user guide: "Grasshopper is a software tool used to build custom installers for target computers running Microsoft Windows operating systems." Grasshopper is designed to detect the OS and protection on any Windows computer on which it's deployed, and it can escape detection by anti-malware software. If that was enough for you to put your computer in stasis, brace yourself for a doozy: Grasshopper reinstalls itself every 22 hours, even if you have Windows Update disabled. As if this wasn't alarming enough, the Grasshopper user guide even states upfront that Grasshopper uses bits from a toolkit taken from Russian organized crime.
Employers Added Just 98,000 Jobs in March Below Expectations of 180,000
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Employers slowed their pace of hiring while the unemployment rate fell to the lowest level in almost a decade in March, highlighting steady but sometimes mixed progress across the labor market.

From a report on USA Today:
Payroll growth weakened significantly last month amid harsher winter weather as employers added 98.000 jobs in a sharper pullback than anticipated. The unemployment rate, which is calculated from a different survey, fell to 4.5% from 4.7%, the Labor Department said Friday. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg projected 180,000 employment gains, based on their median estimate. Analysts expected some payback in March after unseasonably mild temperatures pulled forward hiring to early in the year, especially in sectors such as construction, resulting in 200,000-plus job gains in January and February. And a snowstorm that slammed into the Midwest and East Coast in mid-March likely further curtailed job growth, says economist Jim O'Sullivan of High Frequency Economics. [...] But some economists also have said the outsize job gains early this year defied a low unemployment rate that's supplying businesses a shrinking pool of available workers. Many analysts expect that trend ultimately to result in average monthly job gains of about 170,000 this year, down from 187,000 last year and 226,000 in 2015.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Plans Fast-Track Repeal of Net Neutrality
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The chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission is moving quickly to replace the Obama administration's landmark net neutrality rules and wants internet service providers to voluntarily agree to maintain an open internet, three sources briefed on the meeting said Thursday. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, a Republican appointed by President Donald Trump, met on Tuesday with major telecommunications trade groups to discuss his preliminary plan to reverse the rules, the sources said. The rules approved by the FCC under Democratic President Barack Obama in early 2015 prohibited broadband providers from giving or selling access to speedy internet, essentially a "fast lane," to certain internet services over others. As part of that change, the FCC reclassified internet service providers much like utilities. Pai wants to overturn that reclassification, but wants internet providers to voluntarily agree to not obstruct or slow consumer access to web content, two officials said late Tuesday. The officials briefed on the meeting said Pai suggested companies commit in writing to open internet principles and including them in their terms of service, which would make them binding. It is unclear if regulators could legally compel internet providers to adopt open internet principles without existing net neutrality rules. As part of that move, the Federal Trade Commission would assume oversight of ensuring compliance.Three sources said Pai plans to unveil his proposal to overturn the rules as early as late April and it could face an initial vote in May or June.
Public Crowd-sourcing Finds New Exoplanets
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A participant in a TV program "Stargazing Live" on Australia's ABC TV channel has found four planets closely orbiting a star, using an online database. Astrophysicist Dr Chris Lintott, the principal investigator of Zooniverse, reported on Thursday's show that four "Super Earth" planets had been identified in the data. They orbit closer to their star than Mercury does to our Sun. The person responsible for the find, Andrew Grey, is a mechanic by day and amateur astronomer in his spare time, and lives in the city of Darwin, Northern Territory. The data is sourced from NASA's Kepler Space Telescope. "Stargazing Live" host Professor Brian Cox said he could not be more excited about the discovery. "In the seven years I've been making Stargazing Live this is the most significant scientific discovery we've ever made. The results are astonishing"
Alcohol-Related Car Accidents Declined In New York After Introduction of Uber, Analysis Finds
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According to a new paper from Jessica Lynn Peck of the Graduate Center at the City University of New York, ride-hailing services may have helped reduce alcohol-related traffic accidents by 25-30% in New York City. The report specifically focuses on Uber, which was first introduced in the city in May 2011, and looks at how the ride-hailing service has impacted New York City. The Economist notes in its report that Uber is "largely banned outside of New York City."

From the report:
To control for factors unrelated to Uber's launch such as adverse weather conditions, Ms Peck compares accident rates in each of New York's five boroughs to those in the counties where Uber was not present, picking those that had the most similar population density and pre-2011 drunk-driving rate. The four boroughs which were quick to adopt Uber -- Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx-- all saw decreases in alcohol-related car crashes relative to their controls. By contrast, Staten Island, where Uber caught on more slowly, saw no such decrease.
Facebook Messenger Now Analyzes Your Chats To Give You Recommendations
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Facebook's messaging platform, which reports 1 billion monthly active users, announced on Thursday that it is rolling out its experimental virtual assistant "M" to all Messenger users in the United States this week through a new feature called M Suggestions.

A report adds:
M Suggestions does exactly what its name suggests, using artificial intelligence to understand what is being said in any given Messenger chat to make recommendations that pop up during the course of a conversation. Some folks who already feel like Facebook is watching them when they see ads in their News Feed for bridal gowns after getting engaged may be creeped out by the fact their messages are being analyzed. But Stan Chudnovsky, Facebook Messenger's Head of Product, contends their goal with M Suggestions is to offer a better user experience. To wit, M Suggestions does not currently generate any revenues for Messenger. "The history of the internet is all about removing friction," Chudnovsky told Yahoo Finance. "In this case, instead of you having to think about doing something, like sending a sticker, paying a friend for something or sharing your location, and having to press three taps, M does it for you."
NASA's Cassini Spacecraft Begins Its Final Mission Before Plunging Into Saturn
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NASA has announced that their Cassini spacecraft will begin its final mission before slamming into Saturn on April 23rd. The "final mission" consists of a series of dives through a 1,500-mile-wide gap between Saturn and its rings. "No spacecraft has ever gone through the unique region that we'll attempt to boldly cross 22 times," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "What we learn from Cassini's daring final orbits will further our understanding of how giant planets, and planetary systems everywhere, form and evolve. This is truly discovery in action to the very end." The spacecraft will then dive into the gas giant's atmosphere, where it will "break apart, melt, vaporize, and become a part of the very planet it left Earth 20 years ago to explore," Cassini project manager Earl Maize said.

Popular Science explains in its report why Cassini has to die:
Some space probes are allowed to keep orbiting their targets in perpetuity after their mission ends -- like the Dawn spacecraft at the dwarf planet Ceres. But things are a lot more complicated around Saturn. Whereas Ceres is essentially just a really big rock with no moons, Saturn has 62 satellites, at last count. The gravitational push and pull from those moons -- especially the largest, Titan -- wreak havoc on Cassini's trajectory, which it normally corrects by burning fuel. But the spacecraft's fuel is running out, and ultimately its fate is sealed by its own discoveries; scientists don't want to risk the spacecraft crashing into Titan and Enceladus, which may be capable of supporting life. Although Cassini launched 20 years ago, experiments on the Space Station have suggested microbes can survive for years in the extreme temperatures, radiation, and airless vacuum of space. If NASA were to accidentally put water bears on Enceladus, the tiny Earthlings could potentially wipe out any native lifeforms that the moon may harbor, and/or complicate the search for those alien organisms later. This is why Cassini must die now, while NASA can still control its last swan dive.
Amazon Will Refund Millions of Unauthorized In-App Purchases Made By Kids
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Amazon will refund millions of dollars worth of unauthorized in-app purchased made by kids, having dropped its appeal of last year's ruling by a federal judge who sided with the Federal Trade Commission in the agency's lawsuit against Amazon. "The FTC's original complaint said that Amazon should be liable for millions of dollars it charged customers, because of the way its Appstore software was designed -- that is, it allowed kids to spend unlimited amounts of money in games and other apps without requiring parental consent," reports TechCrunch.

From the report:
s The issue had to do with the way the Amazon Appstore's in-app purchasing system worked. The Amazon Appstore is the store that comes preloaded on Amazon mobile devices, like Kindle Fire tablets, for example, though there is a way to load it onto other Android devices, too. In Amazon's Appstore, which launched back in 2011, the company didn't originally require passwords on in-app purchases. This allowed kids to buy coins and other items to their hearts' content. One particularly awful example involved a game called "Ice Age Village" that offered an in-app purchase of $99.99. Amazon introduced password-protected in-app purchases in March 2012, but then only on those where the purchase exceeded $20. In early 2013, it updated the system again to require passwords, but also allowed a 15-minute window afterwards where no password was required. The FTC said Amazon didn't obtain "informed consent" until July 2014. To make matters worse, parents complaining weren't told how to get a refund and Amazon had even suggested at times that refunds weren't possible, the FTC's complaint had said. More than $70 million in in-app charges made between November 2011 and May 2016 may be eligible for refunds, the FTC notes. It's not likely that all affected customers will take the time to make their requests, however.
Electric Car Ferries Enter Service In Norway
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Following two years of trials of the world's first electric car ferry, named Ampere, Norwegian ferry operators are busy making the transition from diesel. It is thought that 84 ferries are ripe for conversion to electric power, and 43 ferries on longer routes would benefit from conversion to hybrids that use diesel engines to charge their batteries. If this were done, nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions would be cut by 8,000 tons per year and CO2 emissions by 300,000 tons per year, equivalent to the annual emissions from 150,000 cars. The Ampere uses an 800kWh battery, equivalent to 8 high end Tesla cars.

According to a report from Siemens and environmental campaign group Bellona, Long-distance ferries are not well suited to electrification, but about 70% of Norway's ferries cover relatively short crossings, so switching to electric power would pay for itself in a few years. The BBC report also mentions some of the challenges associated with converting the diesel ferries to electric ferries. For example, "during initial trials, the fast charging placed excessive strain on the local grid, designed as it was to service a relatively small population," reports BBC. "To lighten the load, high-capacity batteries were put on constant charge on either side of the fjord, ready to transfer the electricity quickly to the ferry's batteries whilst docked."
Google's Custom Machine Learning Chips Are 15-30x Faster Than GPUs and CPUs
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Four years ago, Google was faced with a conundrum: if all its users hit its voice recognition services for three minutes a day, the company would need to double the number of data centers just to handle all of the requests to the machine learning system powering those services, reads a PCWorld article, which talks about how Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), a chip that is designed to accelerate the inference stage of deep neural networks came into being.

The article shares an update:
Google published a paper on Wednesday laying out the performance gains the company saw over comparable CPUs and GPUs, both in terms of raw power and the performance per watt of power consumed. A TPU was on average 15 to 30 times faster at the machine learning inference tasks tested than a comparable server-class Intel Haswell CPU or Nvidia K80 GPU. Importantly, the performance per watt of the TPU was 25 to 80 times better than what Google found with the CPU and GPU.
FCC's Ajit Pai Says Broadband Market Too Competitive For Strict Privacy Rules
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In an op-ed published on the Washington Post, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and his counterpart at the FTC have argued that strict privacy rules for ISPs aren't necessary in part because the broadband market is more competitive than the search engine market.

From a report on ArsTechnica:
Internet users who have only one choice of high-speed home broadband providers would probably scoff at this claim. But an op-ed written by Pai and Acting FTC Chair Maureen Ohlhausen ignored the lack of competition in home Internet service, focusing only on the competitive wireless broadband market. Because of this competition, it isn't fair to impose different rules on ISPs than on websites, they wrote. "Others argue that ISPs should be treated differently because consumers face a unique lack of choice and competition in the broadband marketplace," Pai and Ohlhausen wrote in their op-ed. "But that claim doesn't hold up to scrutiny either. For example, according to one industry analysis, Google dominates desktop search with an estimated 81 percent market share (and 96 percent of the mobile search market), whereas Verizon, the largest mobile broadband provider, holds only an estimated 35 percent of its market." [...] Instead of addressing the lack of competition in home Internet service, Pai and Ohlhausen simply didn't mention it in their op-ed. But they argued that ISPs shouldn't face stricter privacy rules than search engines and other websites because of the level of competition in broadband and the amount of data companies like Google collect about Internet users. "As a result, it shouldn't come as a surprise that Congress decided to disapprove the FCC's unbalanced rules," they wrote. "Indeed, the FTC's criticism of the FCC's rules last year noted specifically that they 'would not generally apply to other services that collect and use significant amounts of consumer data.'"
We're Creating a Perfect Storm of Unprecedented Global Warming
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If we do nothing to reduce our carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, by the end of this century the Earth will be as hot as it was 50 million years ago in the early Eocene, according to a new study out today in the journal Nature Communications. This period -- roughly 15 million years after dinosaurs went extinct and 49.8 million years before modern humans appeared on the scene -- was 16F to 25F warmer than the modern norm. [...] During the Eocene, it took more atmospheric CO2 to influence temperatures than it does today. In fact, if we don't change our behavior, 2100 will be as hot as the Eocene with much less atmospheric CO2 than was present at the time. A hotter sun means we get more bang for our CO2 buck. "Climate change denialists often mention that CO2 was high in the past, that it was warm in the past, so this means there's nothing to worry about," said lead study author Gavin Foster, a researcher in isotope geochemistry and paleoceanography at the United Kingdom's University of Southampton. "It's certainly true, that the CO2 was high in the past and that it was warm in the past. But because the sun was dimmer, the climate wasn't being forced as much [as it will be] in the future if we carry on as we are."
Scientists Invent Smartphone Screen Material That Can Repair Its Own Scratches
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a report from International Business Times:

Researchers say they have developed a new material that could pave the way for self-repairing smartphones, robots and other electronic devices. Scientists from the American Chemical Society claim that the material, which can stretch up to 50 times its usual size, is able to heal itself "like nothing has happened" even when cut in two. The material is flexible, transparent and shares similar properties to human skin. When exposed to electrical signals, a current is generated that creates a chemical bonding reaction between molecules. The most obvious applications for electronics devices seems to be self-healing displays, although lead researcher Dr Chao Wang is also exploring the possibility of a self-healing lithium-ion battery.

While the technology is similar to the hydrogen-infused rear cover found on the LG G Flex, which allows for small scratches to be healed, the material developed by the American Medical Society is a completely new innovation that can "automatically stitch itself back together" within one day of being sliced into pieces. The team will present its research at a Tuesday meeting of the American Chemical Society, according to Business Insider.
Android Overtakes Windows as the Internet's Most Used Operating System
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As expected last month, Android has surpassed Windows to become the world's most used operating system, according to the web analytics firm StatCounter.

From a report:
Usage figures published by StatCounter show that Android accounted for 37.93 percent of the worldwide OS Internet usage share in March. Windows is not far behind at 37.91 percent, but Android taking the lead is being described as a "milestone in technology history." The fact that Android is now topping the charts can be attributed to the fact that mobile devices are now used to connect to the Internet far more frequently than desktop computers and laptop. Coupled with declining PC sales, Windows is starting to lose out overall, although it still accounts for 84 percent of the worldwide desktop operating system market.
Web Inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee Slams UK and US Net Plans
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The web's creator has attacked any UK plans to weaken encryption and promised to battle any moves by the Trump administration to weaken net neutrality.

From a report on BBC:
Sir Tim Berners-Lee was speaking to the BBC following the news that he has been given the Turing Award. It is sometimes known as the Nobel Prize of computing. Sir Tim said moves to undermine encryption would be a "bad idea" and represent a massive security breach. Home Secretary Amber Rudd has said there should be no safe space for terrorists to be able to communicate online. But Sir Tim said giving the authorities a key to unlock coded messages would have serious consequences. "Now I know that if you're trying to catch terrorists it's really tempting to demand to be able to break all that encryption but if you break that encryption then guess what -- so could other people and guess what -- they may end up getting better at it than you are," he said. Sir Tim also criticised moves by legislators on both sides of the Atlantic, which he sees as an assault on the privacy of web users. He attacked the UK's recent Investigatory Powers Act, which he had criticised when it went through Parliament: "The idea that all ISPs should be required to spy on citizens and hold the data for six months is appalling." In the United States he is concerned that the principle of net neutrality, which treats all internet traffic equally, could be watered down by the Trump administration and the Federal Communications Commission. "If the FCC does move to reduce net neutrality I will fight it as hard as I can," he vowed.
Bill Would Stop Warrantless Border Device Searches of US Citizens
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Senators Ron Wyden and Rand Paul as well as Reps. Jared Polis and Blake Farenthold have introduced legislation that would require law enforcement to first obtain a warrant before they can search our electronic devices when we enter the United States.

From a report:
A new bipartisan bill would prevent Americans' electronic devices from being searched at the border without a warrant, a response to an increase in such electronic searches. The bill would require a warrant before agents could search Americans' phones, laptops and other devices at entries to the US, including airports and border crossings. "Americans' constitutional rights shouldn't disappear at the border," Wyden said in a statement. "By requiring a warrant to search Americans' devices and prohibiting unreasonable delay, this bill makes sure that border agents are focused on criminals and terrorists instead of wasting their time thumbing through innocent Americans' personal photos and other data."
Student Loan Debt Has Nearly Tripled
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Recent college graduates who borrow are leaving school with an average of $34,000 in student loans. That's up from $20,000 just 10 years ago, according to a new analysis from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. In that report, out this week, the New York Fed took a careful look at the relationship between debt and homeownership. For people aged 30 to 36, the analysis shows having any student debt significantly hurts your chances of buying a home, compared to college graduates with no debt. The cliche of "good debt" notwithstanding, the consequences of borrowing are real, and they are lasting. The report paints a mixed picture of how student borrowing has evolved over the last decade, since the financial crisis. There are some bright spots: For example, student loan defaults peaked five years ago and have declined ever since. And repayment seems to have slowed down among high-balance borrowers -- those who owe $75,000 or more. Meaning, after 10 years, they have paid down only one-quarter to one-third of what they owe.
Nintendo Switch Consoles Are Reportedly Warping When Docked
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When the Nintendo Switch was launched in early March, some users complained about dead or stuck pixels, which Nintendo later dismissed as being "normal." We're now approaching the one-month mark and some users are reporting that the console can warp when it's been docked for an extended period of gaming.

The Independent reports:
[Reddit] User _NSR has posted a picture of a bent Switch online, alongside a message reading, "The Nintendo Switch is starting to warp while only being in dock mode." _NSR expanded on the issue in further comments, explaining, "It does get very hot, considering how small the system is and it is outputting Breath of the Wild for long periods of time on a big screen, it may be too much for it to handle. I'm wondering if it being docked is the problem though, most of my time has been on the dock, and it has to work harder to output to a larger screen. Luckily it hasn't affected the way that it plays, the lack of disc drive is definitely a good thing here." Fellow Reddit users have offered multiple possible explanations for the warp, with battery issues and thermal expansion being suggested. Another Switch user, Magnaha23, backed up _NSR's claim, commenting, "I actually checked my Switch after seeing this. It's starting to do the exact same thing just not as bad as yours yet. I called Nintendo and got a repair set up in like 10 minutes. "I got a prepaid label for overnight shipping. Once they get it it takes a few days to process and repair. If they can repair the unit, which if the whole thing is warped they probably can't, they will send back. Otherwise, they will transfer my data over to a new unit and send that back. They said 6-8 business days once they get my Switch. We shall see..." Other people on the thread, however, say they haven't noticed any warping despite using it for lengthy gaming sessions while docked.
Graphene-Based Sieve Turns Seawater Into Drinking Water
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A UK-based team of researchers has created a graphene-based sieve capable of removing salt from seawater. The sought-after development could aid the millions of people without ready access to clean drinking water. The promising graphene oxide sieve could be highly efficient at filtering salts, and will now be tested against existing desalination membranes. It has previously been difficult to manufacture graphene-based barriers on an industrial scale. Reporting their results in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, scientists from the University of Manchester, led by Dr Rahul Nair, shows how they solved some of the challenges by using a chemical derivative called graphene oxide. Isolated and characterized by a University of Manchester-led team in 2004, graphene comprises a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice. Its unusual properties, such as extraordinary tensile strength and electrical conductivity, have earmarked it as one of the most promising materials for future applications. But it has been difficult to produce large quantities of single-layer graphene using existing methods, such as chemical vapor deposition (CVD). Current production routes are also quite costly. On the other hand, said Dr Nair, "graphene oxide can be produced by simple oxidation in the lab." Graphene oxide membranes have already proven their worth in sieving out small nanoparticles, organic molecules and even large salts. But until now, they couldn't be used to filter out common salts, which require even smaller sieves. Previous work had shown that graphene oxide membranes became slightly swollen when immersed in water, allowing smaller salts to flow through the pores along with water molecules. Now, Dr Nair and colleagues demonstrated that placing walls made of epoxy resin (a substance used in coatings and glues) on either side of the graphene oxide membrane was sufficient to stop the expansion.
Why Bargain Travel Sites May No Longer Be Bargains
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Most of us rely on metasearch engines, like Priceline, Expedia, or Travelocity, which typically use dozens (sometimes as many as 200) of online travel agents, called OTAs, and aggregators to find the best deals. (A metasearch engine and an aggregator are interchangeable terms -- they both scour other sites and compile data under one roof. An OTA is an actual travel agency that actually does the booking and is the lone site responsible for everything you buy through them.) We rely on these sites because we assume they have the secret sauce -- the most powerful search engines, tweaked by superstar programmers armed with the most sophisticated algorithms -- to guide us to the cheapest options. With a single search, you can feel assured that you are paying a rock bottom price. Over time, however, the convention has flipped. As competition among the sites heated up, the hard-to-believe cheap fares required some filtering. A too-good-to-be-true fare ($99 to Europe from California) usually came with a catch (the $400, indirect, ticket home). And as the business models that on which these aggregators rely are getting tighter, the deals are getting worse. How can you be certain you're getting the lowest quote? The short answer is, you can't.
Will Streaming Media Lead To A Massive Writer's Strike?
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Streaming services like Netflix and Amazon have transformed Hollywood and contributed to an unprecedented number of quality series being produced -- a phenomenon often described as the new Golden Age of TV. But times haven't been golden for many writers for whom more is now less. Shorter seasons are the new norm, with many series consisting of 10 or fewer episodes on cable and streaming -- less than half the length of traditional seasons on network shows. That has put writers in a financial crunch since many have exclusivity clauses that prevent them from working on multiple shows per season...
How To Protect Your Privacy Online
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Though the U.S. Congress voted to roll back privacy rules, broadband customers can still opt-out of targeted advertising from Comcast, Charter, AT&T, and T-Mobile. But an anonymous reader explains why that's not enough: "It's not clear that opting out will prevent ISPs from putting your data to use," reports The Verge, adding "you're opting out of seeing ads, but not out of providing data." Neema Singh Guliani, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, tells NPR that consumers can also "call their providers and opt out of having their information shared." But he also suggests a grass roots effort, calling this "an opportunity to pressure companies to implement good practices and for consumers to say 'I think that you should require opt-in consent and if you're not, why not?'"

To try to stop the creation of that data, Brian Krebs has also posted a guide for choosing a VPN provider, and shared a useful link to a chart comparing VPN providers that was recommended by the EFF. This may help avoid some of the problems reported with VPN services, and Krebs also recommends Tor as a free (albeit possibly slower) option, while sharing an informational link describing Tor's own limitations.
Jetpack Entrepreneur Creates Iron Man-Style Human Flying Suit
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"British aeronautic engineering startup Gravity unveiled a new human flying suit Friday," writes VentureBeat.

It's a six-engine jet-propelled personal flying apparatus that the company says will take regular humans to superhero heights at several hundred miles per hour. At the moment, flights are limited to just a few feet above the ground. The suit includes six miniaturized jet engines, two of which are worn on each of the pilot's arms, and two of which can be mounted on the feet, or, in later incarnations of the suit, low on the pilot's back. Each of the jet engines gets fuel from a backpack...

Gravity says the human body is "the airframe" and that your arms and legs serve to both direct and control thrust... "We've already had a few comparisons to Tony Stark, but this is real-world aeronautical innovation,"Gravity founder Richard Browning said in a statement. "We are serious about building a world-changing technology business. We stand at the very beginning of what human propulsion systems will do." Browning tells TechCrunch "It's no way as dangerous or crazy as it looks."
Verizon, AT&T, Comcast Say They Will Not Sell Customer Browsing Histories
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Comcast, Verizon, AT&T Inc said Friday they would not sell customers' individual internet browsing information, days after the U.S. Congress approved legislation reversing Obama administration era internet privacy rules.

From a report on Reuters:
The bill would repeal regulations adopted in October by the Federal Communications Commission under former President Barack Obama requiring internet service providers to do more to protect customers' privacy than websites like Alphabet's Google or Facebook. The easing of restrictions has sparked growing anger on social media sites. "We do not sell our broadband customers' individual web browsing history. We did not do it before the FCC's rules were adopted, and we have no plans to do so," said Gerard Lewis, Comcast's chief privacy officer. He added Comcast is revising its privacy policy to make more clear that "we do not sell our customers' individual web browsing information to third parties." Verizon does not sell personal web browsing histories and has no plans to do so in the future, said spokesman Richard Young.
Your Save Data Is Not Safe On the Nintendo Switch
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In a post-launch update to our initial Nintendo Switch review, we noted that there is no way to externally back up game save data stored on the system. A recent horror story from a fellow writer who lost dozens of hours of game progress thanks to a broken system highlights just how troublesome this missing feature can be. Over at GamesRadar, Anthony John Agnello recounts his experience with Nintendo support after his Switch turned into a useless brick for no discernible reason last week (full disclosure: I know Agnello personally and have served with him on some convention panels). After sending his (under warranty) system to Nintendo for repair, Agnello received a fixed system and the following distressing message from the company two days later: "We have inspected the Nintendo Switch system that was sent to us for repair and found that the issue has made some of the information on this system unreadable. As a result, the save data, settings, and links with any Nintendo Accounts on your system were unable to be preserved." Agnello says he lost 55 hours of progress on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, as well as more progress on a few other downloadable games. While he was able to redownload the games that were deleted, he'd have to start from scratch on each one (if only all that progress was easily, instantly unlockable in some way...)
Will VPNs Protect Your Privacy? It's Complicated
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From a CNET report: A VPN redirects your internet traffic, disguising where your computer, phone or other device is when it makes contact with websites. It also encrypts information you send across the internet, making it unreadable to anyone who intercepts your traffic. That includes your internet service provider. Ha! Problem solved -- right? Well, sort of. The big catch is, now the VPN has your internet traffic and browsing history, instead of your ISP. What's to stop the VPN from selling your information to the highest bidder? Of course, there are reputable VPN services out there, but it's incumbent on you the user to "do your homework," Ajay Arora, CEO of cybersecurity company Vera said. In addition to making sure the VPN will actually keep your data private, you'll want to make sure there's nothing shady in the terms and conditions. Shady how? Well, in 2015, a group of security-minded coders discovered that free VPN service Hola was selling its users' bandwidth to the paying customers of its Luminati service. That meant some random person could have been using your internet connection to do something illegal. So, shady like that. "I would recommend you do some cursory level research in terms of reputation [and] how long they've been around," Arora said, "And when you sign up, read the fine print."

From a report on Wired:
Christian Haschek, an Austria-based security researcher, wrote a script that analyzed 443 open proxies, which route web traffic through an alternate, often pseudo-anonymous, computer network. The script tested the proxies to see if they modified site content or allowed users to browse sites while using encryption. According to Haschek's research, just 21 percent of the tested proxies weren't "shady." Haschek found that the other 79 percent of surveyed proxy services forbid secure, HTTPS traffic.
UW Professor: The Information War Is Real, and We're Losing It
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It started with the Boston marathon bombing, four years ago. University of Washington professor Kate Starbird was sifting through thousands of tweets sent in the aftermath and noticed something strange. Too strange for a university professor to take seriously. "There was a significant volume of social-media traffic that blamed the Navy SEALs for the bombing," Starbird told me the other day in her office. "It was real tinfoil-hat stuff. So we ignored it." Same thing after the mass shooting that killed nine at Umpqua Community College in Oregon: a burst of social-media activity calling the massacre a fake, a stage play by "crisis actors" for political purposes. "After every mass shooting, dozens of them, there would be these strange clusters of activity," Starbird says. "It was so fringe we kind of laughed at it. "That was a terrible mistake. We should have been studying it." Starbird argues in a new paper, set to be presented at a computational social-science conference in May, that these "strange clusters" of wild conspiracy talk, when mapped, point to an emerging alternative media ecosystem on the web of surprising power and reach. There are dozens of conspiracy-propagating websites such as beforeitsnews.com, nodisinfo.com and veteranstoday.com. Starbird cataloged 81 of them, linked through a huge community of interest connected by shared followers on Twitter, with many of the tweets replicated by automated bots. Starbird is in the UW's Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering -- the study of the ways people and technology interact. Her team analyzed 58 million tweets sent after mass shootings during a 10-month period. They searched for terms such as "false flag" and "crisis actor," web slang meaning a shooting is not what the government or the traditional media is reporting it to be. Then she analyzed the content of each site to try to answer the question: Just what is this alternative media ecosystem saying? Starbird is publishing her paper as a sort of warning. The information networks we've built are almost perfectly designed to exploit psychological vulnerabilities to rumor.

"Your brain tells you 'Hey, I got this from three different sources,'" Starbird says. "But you don't realize it all traces back to the same place, and might have even reached you via bots posing as real people. If we think of this as a virus, I wouldn't know how to vaccinate for it." The report goes on to say that "Starbird says she's concluded, provocatively, that we may be headed toward 'the menace of unreality -- which is that nobody believes anything anymore.'"
The Guardian Interviews Valentina Tereshkova, the First Woman In Space
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The Guardian published an interview today with the first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova, ahead of her forthcoming exhibition at the London Science Museum. An interesting and informal chat with perhaps the most visible and famous living face of the Soviet space program.

Here's an excerpt from the interview:
"Over 50 years ago, in 1963, Tereshkova became the first woman to go into space, and it was her parachuting experience that qualified her for selection. She was only 26 when she made her one and only space flight, but that feat has defined the rest of her life. It propelled her into the upper reaches of the Soviet elite, and gave her security for life. That elevation though came at a life-long cost: a treadmill of obligations that has lasted more than half a century. Public speaking, accepting honors, roving the world as a citizen-diplomat, being a very visible part of Soviet, and now Russian, public life, are roles that she continues to fulfill to this day. Hence her visit to London for the opening of a display of artifacts linked to her cosmonaut's life. It is one of a series of UK-Russia collaborations, following the hugely successful Russian space exhibition at the museum last year."
Activist Starts a Campaign To Buy and Publish Browsing Histories of Politicians Who Passed Anti-Privacy Law
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Congress sent proposed legislation to President Trump that wipes away landmark online privacy protections. In a party-line vote, House Republicans freed Internet service providers such as AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast of protections approved just last year that had sought to limit what companies could do with information such as customer browsing habits, app usage history, location data and Social Security numbers. Now call it a poetic justice, online privacy activist Adam McElhaney has launched an initiative called Search Internet History, with an objective of raising funds to buy browsing history of each politician and official who voted in favor of S.J.Res 34. On the site, he has also put up a poll asking people whose internet history they would like to see first.
NASA Launches Massive Digital Library For Space Video, Photos and Audio
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NASA on Tuesday (March 28) unveiled a new online library that assembles the agency's amazing space photos, videos and audio files into a single searchable library. The NASA Image and Video Library, as the agency calls it, can be found at http://images.nasa.gov/ and consolidates space imagery from 60 different collections into one location. The new database allows users to embed NASA imagery in websites, includes image metadata like date, description and keywords, and offers multiple resolution sizes, NASA officials said. According to the NASA statement, other features include: Automatic scaling to suite the interface for mobile phones and tablets; EXIF/camera data that includes exposure, lens used and other information (when available from the original image); Easy public access to high resolution files; Downloadable caption files for all videos. The new NASA archive is not meant to be a complete archive of all of the space agency imagery. But it does aim to showcase what the space agency has to offer.
World's Largest Dinosaur Footprints Discovered In Western Australia
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The largest known dinosaur footprints have been discovered in Western Australia, including 1.7 meter prints left by gigantic herbivores. Until now, the biggest known dinosaur footprint was a 106cm track discovered in the Mongolian desert and reported last year. At the new site, along the Kimberley shoreline in a remote region of Western Australia, paleontologists discovered a rich collection of dinosaur footprints in the sandstone rock, many of which are only visible at low tide. The prints, belonging to about 21 different types of dinosaur, are also thought to be the most diverse collection of prints in the world. Steve Salisbury, a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Queensland told ABC News: "We've got several tracks up in that area that are about 1.7 meters long. So most people would be able to fit inside tracks that big, and they indicate animals that are probably around 5.3 to 5.5 meters at the hip, which is enormous." "It is extremely significant, forming the primary record of non-avian dinosaurs in the western half the continent and providing the only glimpse of Australia's dinosaur fauna during the first half of the early Cretaceous period," he said. The findings were reported in the Memoir of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology. The largest tracks belonged to sauropods, huge Diplodocus-like herbivores with long necks and tails. The scientists also discovered tracks from about four different types of ornithopod dinosaurs (two-legged herbivores) and six types of armored dinosaurs, including Stegosaurs, which had not previously been seen in Australia. At the time the prints were left, 130m years ago, the area was a large river delta and dinosaurs would have traversed wet sandy areas between surrounding forests.
US Congress Votes To Shred ISP Privacy Rules
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The U.S. House of Representatives has just approved a "congressional disapproval" vote of privacy rules, which gives your ISP the right to sell your internet history to the highest bidder. The measure passed by 232 votes to 184 along party lines, with one Democrat voting in favor and 14 not voting. This follows the same vote in the Senate last week. Just prior to the vote, a White House spokesman said the president supported the bill, meaning that the decision will soon become law. This approval means that whoever you pay to provide you with internet access -- Comcast, AT&T, Time Warner Cable, etc -- will be able to sell everything they know about your use of the internet to third parties without requiring your approval and without even informing you. That information can be used to build a very detailed picture of who you are: what your political and sexual leanings are; whether you have kids; when you are at home; whether you have any medical conditions; and so on -- a thousand different data points that, if they have sufficient value to companies willing to pay for them, will soon be traded without your knowledge. With over 100 million households online in the United States, that means Congress has just given Big Cable an annual payday of between $35 billion and $70 billion.
Sightings' of Extinct Tasmanian Tiger Prompt Search in Queensland
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"Plausible" possible sightings of a Tasmanian tiger in northern Queensland have prompted scientists to undertake a search for the species thought to have died out more than 80 years ago. The last thylacine is thought to have died in Hobart zoo in 1936, and it is widely believed to have become extinct on mainland Australia at least 2,000 years ago. But sightings of large, dog-like animals that are neither dingoes nor foxes have persisted over the decades, despite widespread scepticism. Recent eyewitness accounts of potential thylacines in far north Queensland have spurred scientists from James Cook University to launch a search for the animal long considered extinct. Professor Bill Laurance said he had spoken at length to two people about animals they had seen in Cape York peninsula that could potentially be thylacines, and that they had given plausible and detailed descriptions.
Climate Change Is Altering Global Air Currents
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One of the scientists who demonstrated conclusively that global warming was an unnatural event with the famous "hockey stick" graph is now warning that giant jetstreams which circle the planet are being altered by climate change. Jetstreams are influenced by the difference in temperatures between the Arctic and the equator. But the Arctic has been warming much faster than tropical climates -- the island of Svalbard, for example was 6.5 degrees celsius warmer last year compared to the average between 1961 and 1990. The land has also been warming faster than the sea. Both of those factors were changing the flow of these major air currents to create "extreme meanders" which were helping to cause "extreme weather events", Professor Michael Mann said. In a paper in the journal Scientific Reports, Professor Mann and other researchers wrote that evidence of the effect of climate change on the jetstreams had "only recently emerged from the background noise of natural variability." They said that projections of the effect on the jetstreams in "state-of-the-art" climate models were "mirrored" in "multiple" actual temperature measurements. The jetstream normally flows reasonably consistently around the planet, but can develop loops extending north and south. The researchers, who studied temperature records going back to 1870 as well as satellite data, said these loops could grow "very large" or even "grind to a halt" rather than moving from west to east. The effect has been most pronounced during the past 40 years, they found.
Facebook Launches 'Town Hall' For Contacting Government Reps, Adds Local Election Reminders
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Facebook has officially launched their "Town Hall" feature that allows users to locate, follow and contact their local, state and federal government representatives. The social media company also announced that they will be launching local election reminders in an effort to get more users to vote in state, county, and municipal elections.

TechCrunch reports:
The feature was recently made available in the "More" menu on mobile and on desktop to a subset of users. When you launch it, you would be presented with a list of reps at the local, state and federal level, and you could click to visit their Facebook page or send them a message, call them, or email. Not all reps offer their contact information via Facebook, however. And Facebook doesn't yet pull in the missing phone numbers or emails from off-site sources, like official government websites, for example. The company tell us that's something it wants to address in time, though. Today, Town Hall is available to all U.S. Facebook users and some of its features will now be integrated in the News Feed. If you like or comment on a post made by one of your elected officials, a new feature below the comments will invite you to call, message or email the rep. After doing so, users will then be prompted to share a post saying that they contacted the rep, as a means of encouraging their friends to do the same. Facebook says that this Contact Your Rep post is not shown to everyone, but only to those who are also already engaging with an elected official's post, through a like or comment. Additionally, Facebook says it will now offer Election Reminders for local elections. The new, local election reminders will appear for all state, county, and municipal elections in the U.S. in areas with a population of over 10,000 people, and will include both primaries and general elections.
Facial Recognition Database Used By FBI Is Out of Control, House Committee Hears
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The House oversight committee claims the FBI's facial recognition database is out of control, noting that "no federal law controls this technology" and "no court decision limits it." At last week's House oversight committee hearing, politicians and privacy campaigners presented several "damning facts" about the databases. "About 80% of photos in the FBI's network are non-criminal entries, including pictures from driver's licenses and passports," reports The Guardian. "The algorithms used to identify matches are inaccurate about 15% of the time, and are most likely to misidentify black people than white people."

From the report:
"Facial recognition technology is a powerful tool law enforcement can use to protect people, their property, our borders, and our nation," said the committee chair, Jason Chaffetz, adding that in the private sector it can be used to protect financial transactions and prevent fraud or identity theft. "But it can also be used by bad actors to harass or stalk individuals. It can be used in a way that chills free speech and free association by targeting people attending certain political meetings, protests, churches, or other types of places in the public." Furthermore, the rise of real-time face recognition technology that allows surveillance and body cameras to scan the faces of people walking down the street was, according to Chaffetz, "most concerning." "For those reasons and others, we must conduct proper oversight of this emerging technology," he said.
Laptop Ban on Planes Came After Plot To Put Explosives in iPad
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United States and United Kingdom officials announced new restrictions for airline passengers from eight Middle Eastern countries, forbidding passengers to carry electronics larger than a smartphone into an airplane cabin. Now The Guardian reports, citing a security source, the ban was prompted in part by a plot involving explosives hidden in a fake iPad.

From the report:
The security source said both bans were not the result of a single specific incident but a combination of factors. One of those, according to the source, was the discovery of a plot to bring down a plane with explosives hidden in a fake iPad that appeared as good as the real thing. Other details of the plot, such as the date, the country involved and the group behind it, remain secret. Discovery of the plot confirmed the fears of the intelligence agencies that Islamist groups had found a novel way to smuggle explosives into the cabin area in carry-on luggage after failed attempts with shoe bombs and explosives hidden in underwear. An explosion in a cabin (where a terrorist can position the explosive against a door or window) can have much more impact than one in the hold (where the terrorist has no control over the position of the explosive, which could be in the middle of luggage, away from the skin of the aircraft), given passengers and crew could be sucked out of any subsequent hole.
Sea Ice Extent Sinks To Record Lows At Both Poles
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According to NASA, Arctic sea ice appears to have reached on March 7 a record low wintertime maximum extent. On the opposite side of the planet, Antartica ice hit its lowest extent ever recorded by satellites (since satellites began measuring sea ice in 1979) on March 3 at the end of summer in the Southern Hemisphere.

Science Daily reports:
Total polar sea ice covered 6.26 million square miles (16.21 million square kilometers), which is 790,000 square miles (2 million square kilometers) less than the average global minimum extent for 1981-2010 -- the equivalent of having lost a chunk of sea ice larger than Mexico. The ice floating on top of the Arctic Ocean and surrounding seas shrinks in a seasonal cycle from mid-March until mid-September. As the Arctic temperatures drop in the autumn and winter, the ice cover grows again until it reaches its yearly maximum extent, typically in March. The ring of sea ice around the Antarctic continent behaves in a similar manner, with the calendar flipped: it usually reaches its maximum in September and its minimum in February. This winter, a combination of warmer-than-average temperatures, winds unfavorable to ice expansion, and a series of storms halted sea ice growth in the Arctic. This year's maximum extent, reached on March 7 at 5.57 million square miles (14.42 million square kilometers), is 37,000 square miles (97,00 square kilometers) below the previous record low, which occurred in 2015, and 471,000 square miles (1.22 million square kilometers) smaller than the average maximum extent for 1981-2010.
Molecule Kills Elderly Cells, Reduces Signs of Aging In Mice
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Even if you aren't elderly, your body is home to agents of senility -- frail and damaged cells that age us and promote disease. Now, researchers have developed a molecule that selectively destroys these so-called senescent cells. The compound makes old mice act and appear more youthful, providing hope that it may do the same for us. As we get older, senescent cells build up in our tissues, where researchers think they contribute to illnesses such as heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes. In the past, scientists have genetically modified mice to dispatch their senescent cells, allowing the rodents to live longer and reducing plaque buildup in their arteries. Such genetic alterations aren't practical for people, but researchers have reported at least seven compounds, known as senolytics, that kill senescent cells. A clinical trial is testing two of the drugs in patients with kidney disease, and other trials are in the works. However, current senolytic compounds, many of which are cancer drugs, come with downsides. They can kill healthy cells or trigger side effects such as a drop in the number of platelets, the cellular chunks that help our blood clot. Cell biologist Peter de Keizer of Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and colleagues were investigating how senescent cells stay alive when they uncovered a different strategy for attacking them. Senescent cells carry the type of DNA damage that should spur a protective protein, called p53, to put them down. Instead, the researchers found that a different protein, FOXO4, latches onto p53 and prevents it from doing its duty. To counteract this effect, De Keizer and colleagues designed a molecule, known as a peptide, that carries a shortened version of the segment of FOXO4 that attaches to p53. In a petri dish, this peptide prevented FOXO4 and p53 from hooking up, prompting senescent cells to commit suicide. But it spared healthy cells. The researchers then injected the molecule into mutant mice that age rapidly. These rodents live about half as long as normal mice, and when they are only a few months old, their fur starts to fall out, their kidneys begin to falter, and they become sluggish. However, the peptide boosted the density of their fur, reversed the kidney damage, and increased the amount of time they could scurry in a running wheel, the scientists report online today in Cell. When the researchers tested the molecule in normal, elderly mice, they saw a similar picture: In addition to helping their kidneys and fur, the molecule also increased their willingness to explore their surroundings.
'New' Clouds Earn Atlas Recognition
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Twelve "new" types of cloud -- including the rare, wave-like asperitas cloud -- have been recognized for the first time by the International Cloud Atlas.

From a report:
The atlas, which dates back to the 19th Century, is the global reference book for observing and identifying clouds. Last revised in 1987, its new fully-digital edition includes the asperitas after campaigns by citizen scientists. Other new entries include the roll-like volutus, and contrails, clouds formed from the vapour trail of aeroplanes. Since its first publication in 1896, the International Cloud Atlas has become an important reference tool for people working in meteorological services, aviation and shipping. The first edition contained 28 coloured photographs and set out detailed standards for classifying clouds. The last full edition was published in 1975 with a revision in 1987, which quickly became a collector's item. Now, embracing the digital era, the new atlas will initially be available as a web portal, and accessible to the public for the first time.
Senate Votes To Kill FCC's Broadband Privacy Rules
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The Senate voted 50-48 along party lines Thursday to repeal an Obama-era law that requires internet service providers to obtain permission before tracking what customers look at online and selling that information to other companies.

PCWorld adds:
The Senate's 50-48 vote Thursday on a resolution of disapproval would roll back Federal Communications Commission rules requiring broadband providers to receive opt-in customer permission to share sensitive personal information, including web-browsing history, geolocation, and financial details with third parties. The FCC approved the regulations just five months ago. Thursday's vote was largely along party lines, with Republicans voting to kill the FCC's privacy rules and Democrats voting to keep them. The Senate's resolution, which now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration, would allow broadband providers to collect and sell a "gold mine of data" about customers, said Senator Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat.

Kate Tummarello, writing for EFF:
[This] would be a crushing loss for online privacy. ISPs act as gatekeepers to the Internet, giving them incredible access to records of what you do online. They shouldn't be able to profit off of the information about what you search for, read about, purchase, and more without your consent. We can still kill this in the House: call your lawmakers today and tell them to protect your privacy from your ISP.
WikiLeaks' New Dump Shows How The CIA Allegedly Hacked Macs and iPhones Almost a Decade Ago
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WikiLeaks said on Thursday morning it will release new documents it claims are from the Central Intelligence Agency which show the CIA had the capability to bug iPhones and Macs even if their operating systems have been deleted and replaced.

From a report on Motherboard:
"These documents explain the techniques used by CIA to gain 'persistenc'' on Apple Mac devices, including Macs and iPhones and demonstrate their use of EFI/UEFI and firmware malware," WikiLeaks stated in a press release. EFI and UEFI is the core firmware for Macs, the Mac equivalent to the Bios for PCs. By targeting the UEFI, hackers can compromise Macs and the infection persists even after the operating system is re-installed. The documents are mostly from last decade, except a couple that are dated 2012 and 2013. While the documents are somewhat dated at this point, they show how the CIA was perhaps ahead of the curve in finding new ways to hacking and compromising Macs, according to Pedro Vilaca, a security researcher who's been studying Apple computers for years. Judging from the documents, Vilaca told Motherboard in an online chat, it "looks like CIA were very early adopters of attacks on EFI."
Mars Rover Spots Clouds Shaped By Gravity Waves
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NASA's Curiosity rover has shot more than 500 movies of the clouds above Mars, including the first ground-based view of martian clouds shaped by gravity waves, researchers reported this week at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. The shots are the best record made so far of a mysterious recurring belt of equatorial clouds known to influence the martian climate. Understanding these clouds will help inform estimates of ground ice depth and perhaps recurring slope lineae, potential flows of salty water on the surface, says John Moores, a planetary scientist at York University in Toronto, Canada, who led the study with his graduate student, Jake Kloos. "If we wish to understand the water story of Mars's past," Moores says, "we first need to [separate out] contributions from the present-day water cycle." Using Curiosity's navigation camera, Moores and Kloos recorded eight-frame movies of this wispy cloud belt for two martian years. They've used two angles to capture the clouds: one pointed directly up, to see wind direction and speed, and another that keeps the rover's horizon in the frame, allowing a view into the clouds' depth. Given the limited water vapor, solar energy, and atmosphere, the martian clouds lack the variety of shapes seen on Earth. But during one day of cloud gazing -- Curiosity's 1302th martian day, to be precise -- the team got lucky and saw something unusual. That day, when Curiosity looked to the horizon, it saw a sequence of straight, parallel rows of clouds flowing in the same direction: the first ground-based view of a gravity wave cloud. Similar to the waves that follow a pebble tossed into a pond, gravity waves are created when some unknown feature of the martian landscape causes a ripple in the atmosphere that is then seen in clouds. Such waves are common at the edge of the martian ice caps, but thought to be less frequent over its equator.
'Extreme and Unusual' Climate Trends Continue After Record 2016
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In the atmosphere, the seas and around the poles, climate change is reaching disturbing new levels across the Earth. That's according to a detailed global analysis from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). It says that 2016 was not only the warmest year on record, but it saw atmospheric CO2 rise to a new high, while Arctic sea ice recorded a new winter low. The "extreme and unusual" conditions have continued in 2017, it says. Reports earlier this year from major scientific bodies - including the UK's Met Office, Nasa and NOAA -- indicated that 2016 was the warmest year on record. The WMO's State of the Global Climate 2016 report builds on this research with information from 80 national weather services to provide a deeper and more complete picture of the year's climate data.
Cord-Cutting Isn't Nearly as Significant as Cable Providers Make It Out To Be
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Despite legacy media's anxieties about cord-cutting, data suggest that the phenomenon isn't nearly as significant as cable providers make it out to be. In its 11th annual "Digital Democracy Survey," Deloitte found that the percentage of American households that subscribe to paid television services has remained relatively stable since 2012, even as adoption of streaming services has accelerated. In its survey of 2,131 consumers, Deloitte said two-thirds of respondents reported they have kept their TV subscriptions because they're bundled with their internet plan. Kevin Westcott, vice chairman and U.S. media and entertainment leader at Deloitte, told CNBC that bundling seems to be a huge deterrent for cord cutting.
Patents Are A Big Part Of Why We Can't Own Nice Things
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Today, the Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that could allow companies to keep a dead hand of control over their products, even after you buy them. The case, Impression Products v. Lexmark International, is on appeal from the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, who last year affirmed its own precedent allowing patent holders to restrict how consumers can use the products they buy. That decision, and the precedent it relied on, departs from long established legal rules that safeguard consumers and enable innovation. When you buy something physical -- a toaster, a book, or a printer, for example -- you expect to be free to use it as you see fit: to adapt it to suit your needs, fix it when it breaks, re-use it, lend it, sell it, or give it away when you're done with it. Your freedom to do those things is a necessary aspect of your ownership of those objects. If you can't do them, because the seller or manufacturer has imposed restrictions or limitations on your use of the product, then you don't really own them. Traditionally, the law safeguards these freedoms by discouraging sellers from imposing certain conditions or restrictions on the sale of goods and property, and limiting the circumstances in which those restrictions may be imposed by contract. But some companies are relentless in their quest to circumvent and undermine these protections. They want to control what end users of their products can do with the stuff they ostensibly own, by attaching restrictions and conditions on purchasers, locking down their products, and locking you (along with competitors and researchers) out. If they can do that through patent law, rather than ordinary contract, it would mean they could evade legal limits on contracts, and that any one using a product in violation of those restrictions (whether a consumer or competitor) could face harsh penalties for patent infringement.
Norway Plans to Build the World's First Ship Tunnel
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Norway is planning to build the world's first ship tunnel through the country's Stad peninsula, which is home to harsh weather conditions that often delay shipments and cause dangerous conditions for ship crews. The proposed tunnel would enable ships to travel through the peninsula in safety. New Atlas recently interviewed Stad Ship Tunnel Project Manager Terje Andreassen about the project:

NA: We'd usually expect a canal to be built for this kind of purpose, so why a tunnel? Because in this case we are crossing a hill which is more than 300 meters (984 ft) high. The only alternative is a tunnel. From a maritime point of view this is still a canal, but with a "roof." NA: How would you go about making such a large tunnel -- would you use a boring machine, for example, or explosives? First we will drill horizontally and use explosives to take out the roof part of the tunnel. Then all bolts and anchors to secure the roof rock before applying shotcrete. The rest of the tunnel will be done in the same way as in open mining. Vertical drilling and blasting with explosives down to the level of 12 m (42 ft) below the sea level. NA: How much rock will be removed, and how will you go about removing it? There will be 3 billion cubic meters (over 105 billion cubic ft) of solid rock removed. All transportation from the tunnel area will be done by large barges. NA: What, if any, are the unique challenges to building a ship tunnel when compared with a road tunnel? The challenge is the height of this tunnel. There is 50 m (164 ft) from bottom to the roof, so all secure works and shotcrete must be done in several levels. The tunnel will be made dry down to the bottom. We solve this by leaving some rock unblasted in each end of the tunnel to prevent water flowing in.

Assuming it does indeed go ahead -- and with the Norwegian government having already set aside the money, this seems relatively likely -- the Stad Ship Tunnel will reach a length of 1.7 km (1.05 miles), and measure 37 m (121 ft) tall and 26.5 m (87 ft) wide. It's expected to cost NOK 2.3 billion (over US$272 million) to build and won't actually speed up travel times, but instead focuses on making the journey safer. Top-tier architecture and design firm Snohetta has designed the entrances, and the company's early plans include sculpted tunnel openings and adding LED lighting on the tunnel ceiling.
Boston Public Schools Map Switch Aims To Amend 500 Years of Distortion
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Students attending Boston public schools are now getting a more accurate depiction of the world after the school district rolled out a new standard map of the world that show North America and Europe much smaller than Africa and South America.

From a report on The Guardian:
In an age of "fake news" and "alternative facts", city authorities are confident their new map offers something closer to the geographical truth than that of traditional school maps, and hope it can serve an example to schools across the nation and even the world. For almost 500 years, the Mercator projection has been the norm for maps of the world, ubiquitous in atlases, pinned on peeling school walls. Gerardus Mercator, a renowned Flemish cartographer, devised his map in 1569, principally to aid navigation along colonial trade routes by drawing straight lines across the oceans. An exaggeration of the whole northern hemisphere, his depiction made North America and Europe bigger than South America and Africa. He also placed western Europe in the middle of his map. Mercator's distortions affect continents as well as nations. For example, South America is made to look about the same size as Europe, when in fact it is almost twice as large, and Greenland looks roughly the size of Africa when it is actually about 14 times smaller.
Your Hotel Room Photos Could Help Catch Sex Traffickers
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100,000 people people have already downloaded an app that helps fight human trafficking. dryriver summarizes a report from CNN:

Police find an ad for paid sex online. It's an illegally trafficked underage girl posing provocatively in a hotel room. But police don't know where this hotel room is -- what city, what neighborhood, what hotel or hotel room. This is where the TraffickCam phone app comes in. When you're staying at a hotel, you take pictures of your room... The app logs the GPS data (location of the hotel) and also analyzes what's in the picture -- the furniture, bed sheets, carpet and other visual features. This makes the hotel room identifiable. Now when police come across a sex trafficking picture online, there is a database of images that may reveal which hotel room the picture was taken in.

"Technology drives everything we do nowadays, and this is just one more tool that law enforcement can use to make our job a little safer and a little bit easier," says Sergeant Adam Kavanaugh, supervisor of the St. Louis County Multi-Jurisdictional Human Trafficking Task Force. "Right now we're just beta testing the St. Louis area, and we're getting positive hits," he says (meaning ads that match hotel-room photos in the database). But the app's creators hope to make it available to all U.S. law enforcement within the next few months, and eventually globally, so their app is already collecting photographs from hotel rooms around the world to be stored for future use.
CBS Reports 'Suspicious' Cell Phone Tower Activity In Washington DC
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"An unusually high amount of suspicious cell phone activity in the nation's capital has caught the attention of the Department of Homeland Security, raising concerns that U.S. officials are being monitored by a foreign entity,"

Reports CBS News:
The issue was first reported in the Washington Free Beacon, but a source at telecom security firm ESD America confirmed the spike in suspicious activity to CBS News. ESD America, hired preemptively for a DHS pilot program this January called ESD Overwatch, first noticed suspicious activity around cell phone towers in certain parts of the capital, including near the White House. This kind of activity can indicate that someone is monitoring specific individuals or their devices... According to the ESD America source, the first such spike of activity was in D.C. but there have been others in other parts of the country. Based on the type of technology used, the source continued, it is likely that the suspicious activity was being conducted by a foreign nation.

The news coincides with a letter sent to the DHS by two congressmen "deeply concerned" about vulnerabilities in the SS7 protocol underlying U.S. cellular networks, according to an article shared by Slashdot reader Trailrunner7. Senator Ron Wyden and Representative Ted Lieu are asking if the agency has enough resources to address the threat. "Although there have been a few news stories about this topic, we suspect that most Americans simply have no idea how easy it is for a relatively sophisticated adversary to track their movements, tap their calls, and hack their smartphones."
1.6 Billion-Year-Old Plant Fossil Found In India
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Complex multicellular life began 400 million years earlier than we thought, according to a Phys.org article

Scientists found two kinds of fossils resembling red algae in uniquely well-preserved sedimentary rocks at Chitrakoot in central India. One type is thread-like, the other one consists of fleshy colonies. The scientists were able to see distinct inner cell structures and so-called cell fountains, the bundles of packed and splaying filaments that form the body of the fleshy forms and are characteristic of red algae... The oldest known red algae before the present discovery are 1.2 billion years old. The Indian fossils, 400 million years older and by far the oldest plant-like fossils ever found, suggest that the early branches of the tree of life need to be recalibrated.
Scientists Sent a Rocket To Mars For Less Than It Cost To Make 'The Martian'
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Ipsita Agarwal via Backchannel retells the story of how India's underfunded space organization, ISRO, managed to send a rocket to Mars for less than it cost to make the movie "The Martian," starring Matt Damon as Mark Watney. "While NASA's Mars probe, Maven, cost $651 million, the budget for this mission was $74 million," Agarwal writes. In what appears to be India's version of "Hidden Figures" (a movie that also cost more to make than ISRO's budget for the Mars rocket), the team of scientists behind the rocket launch consisted of Indian women, who not only managed to pull off the mission successfully but did so in only 18 months.

Backchannel reports:
A few months and several million kilometers later, the orbiter prepared to enter Mars' gravity. This was a critical moment. If the orbiter entered Mars' gravity at the wrong angle, off by so much as one degree, it would either crash onto the surface of Mars or fly right past it, lost in the emptiness of space. Back on Earth, its team of scientists and engineers waited for a signal from the orbiter. Mission designer Ritu Karidhal had worked 48 hours straight, fueled by anticipation. As a child, Minal Rohit had watched space missions on TV. Now, Minal waited for news on the orbiter she and her colleague, Moumita Dutta, had helped engineer. When the signal finally arrived, the mission control room broke into cheers. If you work in such a room, deputy operations director, Nandini Harinath, says, "you no longer need to watch a thriller movie to feel the thrill in life. You feel it in your day-to-day work." This was not the only success of the mission. An image of the scientists celebrating in the mission control room went viral. Girls in India and beyond gained new heroes: the kind that wear sarees and tie flowers in their hair, and send rockets into space.
Miniature Lab Begins Science Experiments in Outer Space
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Orbiting the earth at more than 500 kilometers (300 miles), a tiny satellite with a laboratory shrunk to the size of a tissue box is helping scientists carry out experiments that take gravity out of the equation. The technology was launched into space last month by SpacePharma, a Swiss-Israeli company, which on Thursday announced that its first experiments have been completed successfully. In space, with hardly any interference from earth's gravity, cells and molecules behave differently, helping researchers make discoveries in fields from medicine to agriculture. Nestle turned to zero gravity -- or what scientists refer to as microgravity -- to perfect the foam in its chocolate mousse and coffee, while drugmakers like Eli Lilly have used it to improve drug designs.
Physicist Declassifies Rescued Nuclear Test Films
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The U.S. conducted 210 atmospheric nuclear tests between 1945 and 1962, with multiple cameras capturing each event at around 2,400 frames per second. But in the decades since, around 10,000 of these films sat idle, scattered across the country in high-security vaults. Not only were they gathering dust, the film material itself was slowly decomposing, bringing the data they contained to the brink of being lost forever. For the past five years, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) weapon physicist Greg Spriggs and a crack team of film experts, archivists and software developers have been on a mission to hunt down, scan, reanalyze and declassify these decomposing films. The goals are to preserve the films' content before it's lost forever, and provide better data to the post-testing-era scientists who use computer codes to help certify that the aging U.S. nuclear deterrent remains safe, secure and effective. To date, the team has located around 6,500 of the estimated 10,000 films created during atmospheric testing. Around 4,200 films have been scanned, 400 to 500 have been reanalyzed and around 750 have been declassified. An initial set of these declassified films -- tests conducted by LLNL -- were published today in an LLNL YouTube playlist.
Astronomers Find Star Orbiting a Black Hole At 1 Percent the Speed of Light
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Astronomers have spotted a star whizzing around a vast black hole at about 2.5 times the distance between Earth and the Moon, and it takes only half an hour to complete one orbit. To put that into perspective, it takes roughly 28 days for our Moon to do a single lap around our relatively tiny planet at speeds of 3,683 km(2,288 miles) per hour. Using data from an array of deep space telescopes, a team of astronomers have measured the X-rays pouring from a binary star system called 47 Tuc X9, which sits in a cluster of stars about 14,800 light-years away. The pair of stars aren't new to astronomers -- they were identified as a binary system way back in 1989 -- but it's now finally becoming clear what's actually going on here. When a white dwarf pulls material from another star, the system is described as a cataclysmic variable star. But back in 2015, one of the objects was found to be a black hole, throwing that hypothesis into serious doubt. Data from Chandra has confirmed large amounts of oxygen in the pair's neighborhood, which is commonly associated with white dwarf stars. But instead of a white dwarf ripping apart another star, it now seems to be a black hole stripping the gases from a white dwarf. The real exciting news, however, is regular changes in the X-rays' intensity suggest this white dwarf takes just 28 minutes to complete an orbit, making it the current champion of cataclysmic dirty dancers. To put it in perspective, the distance between the two objects in X9 is about 1 million kilometers (about 600,000 miles), or about 2.5 times the distance from here to the Moon. Crunching the numbers, that's a journey of roughly 6.3 million kilometers (about 4 million miles) in half an hour, giving us a speed of 12,600,000 km/hr (8,000,000 miles/hr) - about 1 percent of the speed of light.
Unproven Stem Cell Treatments Blind 3 Women
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Scientists have long hoped that stem cells might have the power to treat diseases. But it's always been clear that they could be dangerous too, especially if they're not used carefully. Now a pair of papers published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine is underscoring both the promise and the peril of using stem cells for therapy. In one report, researchers document the cases of three elderly women who were blinded after getting stem cells derived from fat tissue at a for-profit clinic in Florida. The treatment was marketed as a treatment for macular degeneration, the most common cause of blindness among the elderly. Each woman got cells injected into both eyes. In a second report, a patient suffering from the same condition had a halt in the inexorable loss of vision patients usually experience, which may or may not have been related to the treatment. That patient got a different kind of stem cell derived from skin cells as part of a carefully designed Japanese study. The Japanese case marks the first time anyone has given induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells to a patient to treat any condition. The report about the three women in their 70s and 80s who were blinded in Florida is renewing calls for the Food and Drug Administration to crack down on the hundreds of clinics that are selling unproven stem cell treatments for a wide variety of medical conditions, including arthritis, autism and stroke.
Most People Would Give Lab-Grown Meat a Try, New Survey Reveals
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In a recent survey, published this month in PLOS One, we investigated the views of people in the United States, a country with one of the largest appetites for meat and an equally large appetite for adopting new technologies. A total of 673 people responded to the survey, done online via Amazon Mechanical Turk, in which they were given information about in vitro meat (IVM) and asked questions about their attitudes to it. Although most people (65 percent), and particularly males, were willing to try IVM, only about a third said they would use it regularly or as a replacement for farmed meat. But many people were undecided: 26 percent were unsure if they would use it as a replacement for farmed meat and 31 percent unsure if they would eat it regularly. This suggests there is scope to persuade consumers that they should convert to IVM if a suitable product is available. As an indication of this potential, 53 percent said it was seen as preferable to soy substitutes. The biggest concerns were about IVM's taste and lack of appeal, particularly in the case of meats seen as healthy, such as fish and chicken, where only two-thirds of people that normally ate them said that they would if it was produced by in vitro methods. By contrast, 72 percent of people who normally eat beef and pig products would still do so if they were produced as IVM.
Formed by Megafloods, This Place Fooled Scientists for Decades
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Geologists couldn't account for the strange landforms of eastern Washington State. Then a high school teacher dared to question the scientific dogma of his day.
Hyperloop One Reveals Test Track Progress
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Hyperloop One has released the first photographs of its "proof of concept" test track near Las Vegas, Nevada, and there's now also a couple short videos online.

Quoting Computerworld: The company revealed its progress on Tuesday at the Middle East Rail conference in Dubai, sharing pictures and footage of its Nevada development site dubbed "DevLoop." Taking Elon Musk's Hyperloop concept of a levitating pod in a low-pressure tube, Hyperloop One has developed what is so far the only full-scale, full-system Hyperloop test site...and says it plans to test the entire apparatus this year.

In addition, Investopedia reports that Hyperloop One has now also signed letter of intent agreements to investigate the feasibility of building more hyperloop systems in Finland and the Netherlands
Proof Daylight Saving Time Is Dumb, Dangerous, and Costly
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The case for daylight saving time has been shaky for a while. The biannual time change was originally implemented to save energy. Yet dozens of studies around the world have found that changing the clocks has either minuscule or non-existent effects on energy use. [...] The latest research suggests the time change can be harmful to our health and cost us money. The suffering of the spring time change begins with the loss of an hour of sleep. That might not seem like a big deal, but researchers have found it can be dangerous to mess with sleep schedules. Car accidents, strokes, and heart attacks spike in the days after the March time change. It turns out that judges, sleep deprived by daylight saving, impose harsher sentences. [...] Some of the last defenders of daylight saving time have been a cluster of business groups who assume the change helps stimulate consumer spending. That's not true either, according to recent analysis of 380 million bank and credit-card transactions by the JPMorgan Chase Institute.
How The FBI Used Geek Squad To Increase Secret Public Surveillance
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n 2011 a gynecology doctor took his computer for repairs at Best Buy's Geek Squad. But the repair technician was a paid FBI informant -- one of several working at Geek Squad -- and the doctor was ultimately charged with possessing child pornography, according to OC Weekly.

According to their new report:
Recently unsealed records reveal a much more extensive secret relationship than previously known between the FBI and Best Buy's Geek Squad, including evidence the agency trained company technicians on law-enforcement operational tactics, shared lists of targeted citizens and, to covertly increase surveillance of the public, encouraged searches of computers even when unrelated to a customer's request for repairs. Assistant United States Attorney M. Anthony Brown last year labeled allegations of a hidden partnership as "wild speculation." But more than a dozen summaries of FBI memoranda filed inside Orange County's Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse this month in USA v. Mark Rettenmaier contradict the official line...

Other records show how [Geek Squad supervisor Justin] Meade's job gave him "excellent and frequent" access for "several years" to computers belonging to unwitting Best Buy customers, though agents considered him "underutilized" and wanted him "tasked" to search devices "on a more consistent basis"... evidence demonstrates company employees routinely snooped for the agency, contemplated "writing a software program" specifically to aid the FBI in rifling through its customers' computers without probable cause for any crime that had been committed, and were "under the direction and control of the FBI."

The doctor's lawyer argues Best Buy became an unofficial wing of the FBI by offering $500 for every time they found evidence leading to criminal charges.
NASA Finds Lunar Spacecraft That Vanished 8 Years Ago
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It made history as India's first unmanned lunar spacecraft. Then it vanished. Nearly a decade later, NASA has located two unmanned spacecraft orbiting the moon, including India's Chandrayaan-1, which went quiet in 2009. Scientists used a new ground radar to locate the two spacecraft -- one active and one dormant, NASA said Thursday. "We have been able to detect NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter [LRO] and the Indian Space Research Organization's Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft in lunar orbit with ground-based radar," said Marina Brozovic, a radar scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "Finding LRO was relatively easy, as we were working with the mission's navigators and had precise orbit data where it was located."
Elon Musk: I Can Fix South Australia Power Network in 100 Days Or It's Free
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Elon Musk, the billionaire founder of electric car giant Tesla, has thrown down a challenge to the South Australian and federal governments, saying he can solve the state's energy woes within 100 days -- or he'll deliver the 100MW battery storage system for free. On Thursday, Lyndon Rive, Tesla's vice-president for energy products, told the AFR the company could install the 100-300 megawatt hours of battery storage that would be required to prevent the power shortages that have been causing price spikes and blackouts in the state. Thanks to stepped-up production out of Tesla's new Gigafactory in Nevada, he said it could be achieved within 100 days. Mike Cannon-Brookes, the Australian co-founder of Silicon Valley startup Atlassian, on Friday tweeted Elon Musk, asking if Tesla was serious about being able to install the capacity. Musk replied that the company could do it in 100 days of the contract being signed, or else provide it free, adding: "That serious enough for you?"
Stunning Close-up of Saturn's Moon, Pan, Reveals a Space Empanada
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Astronomers have long known that Pan, one of Saturn's innermost moons, has an odd look. Based on images taken from a distance, researchers have said it looks like a walnut or a flying saucer. But now, NASA's Cassini probe has delivered stunning close-ups of the 35-kilometer-wide icy moon, and it might be better called a pan-fried dumpling or an empanada. Pan orbits Saturn in a gap in the planet's rings and pulls material from them, so the ridge around it likely started accumulating soon after the moon formed, researchers say. If material in the ridge is still loose, rather than somehow fused together, the ridge can maintain its steepness only because the moon's gravity is so low. The latest pictures were obtained as Cassini conducts its final (and riskiest) flybys past Saturn's moons and rings before it blazes into the planet's atmosphere later this year.
Nearly 200,000 Wi-Fi Cameras Are Open To Hacking
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What started as an analysis of a simple security flaw in a random wireless IP camera turned into seven vulnerabilities that affect over 1,250 camera models and expose nearly 200,000 cameras to hacking. The flaws affect a generically named product called Wireless IP Camera (P2P) WIFICAM, manufactured by a (currently unnamed) Chinese company, who sells it as a white-label product to several other camera vendors. Security researcher Pierre Kim says the firmware produced by this Chinese vendor comes with several flaws, which have all made their way down the line into the products of other companies that bought the white-label (unbranded) camera. In total, nearly 1,250 camera models based on the original camera are affected. At the heart of many of these issues is the GoAhead web server, which allows camera owners to manage their device via a web-based dashboard. According to Kim, the cameras are affected by a total of seven security flaws. Yesterday, Kim said that around 185,000 vulnerable cameras could be easily identified via Shodan. Today, the same query yields 198,500 vulnerable cameras. Proof-of-concept exploit code for each of the seven flaws is available on Kim's blog, along with a list of all the 1,250+ vulnerable camera models.
Study Suggests Potatoes Can Grow On Mars
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The International Potato Center (CIP) has launched a series of experiments to discover if potatoes can grow under Mars' atmospheric conditions, as well as under extreme conditions on Earth. The CIP placed a potato inside a "specially constructed CubeSat contained environment" that simulates Mars temperature, air pressure, oxygen and carbon dioxide levels. They then used sensors and live-streaming cameras to record the soil and monitor the status of the potato. Preliminary results are positive as cameras inside the container show sprouts.

Phys.Org reports:
"We have been looking at the very dry soils found in the southern Peruvian desert. These are the most Mars-like soils found on Earth." Chris McKay of NASA ARC. "This [research] could have a direct technological benefit on Earth and a direct biological benefit on Earth," says Chris McKay of NASA ARC. From the initial experiment, CIP scientists concluded that future Mars missions that hope to grow potatoes will have to prepare soil with a loose structure and nutrients to allow the tubers to obtain enough air and water to allow it to tuberize. "It was a pleasant surprise to see that potatoes we've bred to tolerate abiotic stress were able to produce tubers in this soil," Amoros said. He added that one of the best performing varieties was very salt-tolerant from the CIP breeding program for adaptation to subtropical lowlands with tolerance to abiotic stress that was also recently released as a variety in Bangladesh for cultivation in coastal areas with high soil salinity. Amoros noted that whatever their implications for Mars missions, the experiments have already provided good news about potato's potential for helping people survive in extreme environments on Earth.
Tesla's New Solar Energy Station On Kauai Will Power Hawaii At Night
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The Kapaia project is a combination 13MW SolarCity solar farm and 53MWh Tesla Powerpack station on the island of Kauai. In partnership with the KIUC (Kauai Island Utility Cooperative) the project will store the sun's energy during the day and release it at night. The station (along with Kauai's other renewable resource solutions including wind and biomass) won't completely keep the island from using fossil fuels but it will temper the need. In addition to using Tesla's station to battle the island's incredibly high electric bills, it's also part of a long-term Hawaii-state plan to be completely powered by renewable energy sources by 2045. Kauai has its own goal of using 70 percent renewable energy by 2030. With this project the island is getting closer to that goal and can now produce 100 percent of the energy it needs during high usage mid days and low loads via renewables during a brief period of time. The island state doesn't have the benefit of a massive grid like the mainland to pull electricity from sources hundreds of miles away. Instead each island has to take care of its own energy solutions. According to Tesla and the KIUC, the 45 acre Kapaia project will reduce the use of fossil fuels by 1.6 million gallons a year.
GOP Senators' New Bill Would Let ISPs Sell Your Web Browsing Data
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Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and 23 Republican co-sponsors introduced a resolution that would overturn new privacy rules for internet service providers. "If the Federal Communications Commission rules are eliminated, ISPs would not have to get consumers' explicit consent before selling or sharing web browsing data and other privacy information with advertisers and other third parties," reports Ars Technica. "The measure would use lawmakers' power under the Congressional Review Act to ensure that the FCC rulemaking 'shall have no force or effect.' The resolution would also prevent the FCC from issuing similar regulations in the future."

From the report:
Flake's announcement said he's trying to "protect consumers from overreaching Internet regulation." Flake also said that the resolution "empowers consumers to make informed choices on if and how their data can be shared," but he did not explain how it will achieve that. The privacy order had several major components. The requirement to get the opt-in consent of consumers before sharing information covered geo-location data, financial and health information, children's information, Social Security numbers, Web browsing history, app usage history, and the content of communications. This requirement is supposed to take effect on December 4, 2017. The rulemaking had a data security component that required ISPs to take "reasonable" steps to protect customers' information from theft and data breaches. This was supposed to take effect on March 2, but the FCC under newly appointed Chairman Ajit Pai halted the rule's implementation. Another set of requirements related to data breach notifications is scheduled to take effect on June 2. Flake's resolution would prevent all of those requirements from being implemented. He said that this "is the first step toward restoring the [Federal Trade Commission's] light-touch, consumer-friendly approach." Giving the FTC authority over Internet service providers would require further FCC or Congressional action because the FTC is not allowed to regulate common carriers, a designation currently applied to ISPs.
Tech's Ruling Class Casts a Big Shadow
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Veteran technology columnist Walt Mossberg believes that Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook, or Gang of Five -- as he likes to call them, are casting a big shadow over how today's startups foster, a phenomenon he believes will continue to happen over the years to come.

From his column for The Verge:
What we have now in consumer tech, in 2017, is an oligopoly, at least superficially similar to the old industrial-era American corporate groups that once dominated key industries. I think that their enduring and growing power casts a shadow over the Silicon Valley legend that there are lots of great new consumer tech innovations being incubated right now in garages or dorm rooms somewhere that will be taken all the way to becoming great companies, the way each of the Gang of Five was. What I fear is more likely to happen to any such startup is that, if they're good, they get acquired by a member of the Gang, or that their idea is turned into a feature for one of the Gang's products. And, even if that never happens and a startup thrives, too often it can only thrive by being successful on a platform controlled by one or more Gang members, with the big guy maybe taking a cut. For instance, Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, which went public last week, famously spurned a $3 billion takeover offer from Gang member Facebook in 2013. But it depends for its very operation on the cloud services of Google and on the mobile app platforms of Apple and Google. And plenty of other companies which either presented threats or opportunities to the Gang have been snapped up by them. Each of the five companies actively scoops up numerous smaller companies every year, in many cases just for their talent and / or patents. In fact, I'd be amazed if there weren't plenty of startups whose main goal is to be purchased by the Gang.
WikiLeaks CIA Files: The 6 Biggest Spying Secrets Revealed By the Release of 'Vault 7'
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Earlier today, WikiLeaks unleashed a cache of thousands of files it calls "Year Zero," which is part one of the release associated with "Vault 7." Since there are over 8,000 pages in this release, it will take some time for journalists to comb through the release. The Independent has highlighted six of the "biggest secrets and pieces of information yet to emerge from the huge dump"

in their report.

1) The CIA has the ability to break into Android and iPhone handsets, and all kinds of computers. The U.S. intelligence agency has been involved in a concerted effort to write various kinds of malware to spy on just about every piece of electronic equipment that people use. That includes iPhones, Androids and computers running Windows, macOS and Linux.
2) Doing so would make apps like Signal, Telegram and WhatsApp entirely insecure. Encrypted messaging apps are only as secure as the devices they are used on -- if an operating system is compromised, then the messages can be read before they are encrypted and sent to the other user(s).
3) The CIA could use smart TVs to listen in on conversations that happened around them. One of the most eye-catching programs detailed in the documents is "Weeping Angel." That allows intelligence agencies to install special software that allows TVs to be turned into listening devices -- so that even when they appear to be switched off, they're actually on.
4) The agency explored hacking into cars and crashing them, allowing "nearly undetectable assassinations." Many of the documents reference tools that appear to have dangerous and unknown uses. One file, for instance, shows that the CIA was looking into ways of remotely controlling cars and vans by hacking into them.
5) The CIA hid vulnerabilities that could be used by hackers from other countries or governments. Such bugs were found in the biggest consumer electronics in the world, including phones and computers made Apple, Google and Microsoft. But those companies didn't get the chance to fix those exploits because the agency kept them secret in order to keep using them, the documents suggest.
6) More information is coming. The documents have still not been looked through entirely. There are 8,378 pages of files, some of which have already been analyzed but many of which haven't. And that's not to mention the other sets of documents that are coming. The "Year Zero" leaks are just the first in a series of "Vault 7" dumps, Julian Assange said.
New Sponge Can Soak Up and Release Spilled Oil Hundreds of Times
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Seth Darling and his colleagues at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois have created a new material that can absorb up to 90 times its own weight in spilled oil and then be squeezed out like a sponge and reused. This is compared to most commercial products used for soaking up oil, called "sorbents," which act like a paper towel and are only good for a single use. Once the sorbents are used, they get incinerated along with the oil.

New Scientist reports:
The oil sponge consists of a simple foam made of polyurethane or polyimide plastics and coated with "oil-loving" silane molecules with a sweet spot for capturing oil. Too little chemical attraction would render the sponge useless as an absorber, whereas too much would mean the oil could not be released. In laboratory tests, the researchers found that when engineered with just the right amount of silane, their foam could repeatedly soak up and release oil with no significant changes in capacity. But to determine whether this material could help sort out a big spill in marine waters, they needed to perform a special large-scale test. To do this, the team made an array of square pads of the sponge material measuring around 6 square meters. "We made a lot of the foam, and then these pieces of foam were placed inside mesh bags -- basically laundry bags, with sewn channels to house the foam," Darling says. The researchers suspended their sponge-filled bags from a bridge over a large pool specially designed for practicing emergency responses to oil spills. They then dragged the sponges behind a pipe spewing crude oil to test the material's capability to remove oil from the water. They next sent the sponges through a wringer to remove the oil and then repeated the process, carrying out many tests over multiple days. This so-far unpublished test was conducted in early December at the National Oil Spill Response Research and Renewable Energy Test Facility in Leonardo, New Jersey.

Here's a video showing the sponge in action.
NASA Proposes a Magnetic Shield To Protect Mars' Atmosphere
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Apparently it is no longer necessarily science fiction to consider terraforming the red planet in a human lifetime. NASA scientists have proposed putting a magnetic shield at the Mars L1 Lagrange Point, diverting sufficient solar wind in hopes that the Martian atmosphere would thicken and heat the planet to the point of melting the ice caps, causing what remains of Martian water to pool on the surface. While not enough of a change to allow walking around without a space suit, this would make human exploration of the planet a much easier task.
Poachers Are Trying To Hack Animal Tracking Systems
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Animal tracking through electronic tagging has helped researchers gain insight into the lives of many wild animal species, but can also be misused by wildlife poachers, hunters, animal-persecution groups and people interested in seeing and interacting with the animals -- all to the detriment of our animal brethren. A recent paper by a group of researchers from several Canadian and U.S. universities has pointed to several instances of misuse or attempted misuse of the tracking technology. The researchers believe that instances of poachers intercepting signals to track animals down are under-reported, as the researchers and conservationists are worried about losing funding. The researchers have also noted that photographers and people interested in seeing wild animals have been known to acquire and use tracking equipment, and they are worried that "frequent exposure of animals to people can habituate them to human interaction, which at minimum alters the animal's natural behavior, thus negatively influencing research findings." The tagging devices are usually collars with GPS or radio transmitters, and cost between 150 and 4,000 British pounds, The Times reports. But, unfortunately, security measures for protecting their signal are not adequate.
US Wind Capacity Surpasses Hydro, Overall Generation To Follow
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Wind power is now the largest source of renewable energy generating capacity, passing hydroelectric power in 2016. And since the two sources produce electricity at nearly the same rate, we'll soon see wind surpass hydro in terms of electricity produced. Wind power capacity has been growing at an astonishing pace (as shown in the graph above), and 2016 was no exception. As companies rushed to take advantage of tax incentives for renewable power, the U.S. saw 8.7 Gigawatts of new wind capacity installed in 2016. That's the most since 2012, the last time tax incentives were scheduled to expire. This has pushed the U.S.' total wind capacity to over 81 GW, edging it past hydroelectric, which has remained relatively stable at roughly 80 GW. Note that this is only capacity; since generators can't be run non-stop, they only generate a fraction of the electricity that their capacity suggests is possible. That fraction, called a capacity factor, has been in the area of 34 percent for U.S. wind, lower than most traditional sources of electricity. But hydropower's capacity factor isn't that much better, typically sitting at 37-38 percent. As a result, wind won't need to grow much to consistently exceed hydro.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Electricity Data Browser
Consumer Reports To Consider Cyber Security in Product Reviews
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Consumer Reports, an influential U.S. non-profit group that conducts extensive reviews of electronic products, cars, kitchen appliances and other goods, is gearing up to start considering cyber security and privacy safeguards when scoring products.

From a report:
The group, which issues scores that rank products it reviews, said on Monday it had collaborated with several outside organizations to develop methodologies for studying how easily a product can be hacked and how well customer data is secured. Consumer Reports will gradually implement the new methodologies, starting with test projects that evaluate small numbers of products, Maria Rerecich, the organization's director of electronics testing, said in a phone interview. "This is a complicated area. There is going to be a lot of refinement to get this right," Rerecich said. The effort follows a surge in cyber attacks leveraging easy-to-exploit vulnerabilities in webcams, routers, digital video recorders and other connected devices, which are sometimes collectively referred to as the internet of things.
Streaming TV Sites Now Have More Subscribers Than Cable TV
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Nielsen reported this week that millennials "spend about 27% less time watching traditional TV than viewers over the age of 35," possibly threatening the dominance of cable TV.

Quoting Axios:
Streaming service subscribers (free or paid) increased again (68% in 2016 vs. 63% in 2014) and have caught up with the percentage of paid TV service providers (67%) for the first time ever, according to the Consumer Technology Association's new study, The Changing Landscape for Video and Content. The rise of streaming services represents a shift in consumption habits towards cord-cutting, primarily amongst millennials.

Some other trends are impossible to ignore. 2016 also saw a saw dramatic drops in the use of physical disks -- from 41% in 2015 to just 28% -- as well as another big drop in the use of antennas, from 18% to just 10%
Local Police Departments Are Building Their Own DNA Databases
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Dozens of police departments around the U.S. are amassing their own DNA databases to track criminals, a move critics say is a way around regulations governing state and national databases that restrict who can provide genetic samples and how long that information is held. The local agencies create the rules for their databases, in some cases allowing samples to be taken from children or from people never arrested for a crime. Police chiefs say having their own collections helps them solve cases faster because they can avoid the backlogs that plague state and federal repositories...

Frederick Harran, the public safety director in Bensalem Township, Pennsylvania...said he knows of about 60 departments using local databases... "The local databases have very, very little regulations and very few limits, and the law just hasn't caught up to them," said Jason Kreig, a law professor at the University of Arizona who has studied the issue.

One ACLU attorney cites a case where local police officers in California took DNA samples from children without even obtaining a court order first.
New Research Suggests Earth's Mantle Might Be Hotter Than Anyone Expected
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New data suggests that the upper parts of Earth's mantle are around 60C (108F) hotter than previously expected. The mantle is the layer between our planet's super-hot core and outer crust, and it plays an incredibly important role in things like earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tectonic shifts. But despite the impact the mantle has on our planet, scientists have always struggled to pinpoint its temperature, and new research suggests our previous estimates were off the mark. If the new estimates made by scientists at the Carnegie Institution of Science in Washington DC are verified, it would mean the mantle is melting shallower than previously expected, and it could change the way we predict earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The new estimates are based on the fact that the Earth's upper mantle is more affected by the presence of water in its minerals than we've assumed in the past. One of the most common ways to measure the temperature of the upper mantle is to analyze lava emerging from mid-ocean ridges - an underwater mountain range where two plates meet and hot mantle is drawn up and partially melts. So to more accurately measure the temperature at which this would melt, the researchers, led by Emily Sarafian, have used a new technique to add a quantifiable amount of water into mantle samples through tiny particles of the mineral olivine. This allowed them to more accurately measure the melting point of peridotite under mantle-like pressures in the presence of known amounts of water. "Small amounts of water have a big effect on melting temperature, and this is the first time experiments have ever been conducted to determine precisely how the mantle's melting temperature depends on such small amounts of water," said one of the researchers, Erik Hauri. They found that the potential temperature of the mantle beneath the oceanic crust is on average around 60C higher than previous estimates - with some parts much hotter than that. "Our experimental results indicate that mantle potential temperatures along all ocean spreading centers are hotter than existing estimates," the team writes in Science.
Researchers Create New Form of Matter
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MIT physicists have created a new form of matter, a supersolid, which combines the properties of solids with those of superfluids. By using lasers to manipulate a superfluid gas known as a Bose-Einstein condensate, the team was able to coax the condensate into a quantum phase of matter that has a rigid structure -- like a solid -- and can flow without viscosity -- a key characteristic of a superfluid. Studies into this apparently contradictory phase of matter could yield deeper insights into superfluids and superconductors, which are important for improvements in technologies such as superconducting magnets and sensors, as well as efficient energy transport. The researchers report their results this week in the journal Nature. The team used a combination of laser cooling and evaporative cooling methods, originally co-developed by Ketterle, to cool atoms of sodium to nanokelvin temperatures. Atoms of sodium are known as bosons, for their even number of nucleons and electrons. When cooled to near absolute zero, bosons form a superfluid state of dilute gas, called a Bose-Einstein condensate, or BEC. To create the supersolid state, the team manipulated the motion of the atoms of the BEC using laser beams, introducing "spin-orbit coupling." In their ultrahigh-vacuum chamber, the team used an initial set of lasers to convert half of the condensate's atoms to a different quantum state, or spin, essentially creating a mixture of two Bose-Einstein condensates. Additional laser beams then transferred atoms between the two condensates, called a "spin flip."
California Government On the Dangers of Cellphones
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After keeping it hidden for years, California's Department of Public Health has released a draft document outlining health officials' concerns about cellphone radiation exposure. The previously unpublished document was released this week after a judge indicated she would order the documents be disclosed. Health officials' overall recommendation is to "increase the distance between you and your phone" by using a headset, the speaker phone function and text messaging. Health officials recommend not sleeping near your phone and not carry it in your pocket or directly on your body, unless it is off. The fact sheet also states that "EMFs can pass deeper into a child's brain than and adult's" so suggests parents limit their child's cellphone use to texting, important call and emergencies.
3.77-Billion-Year-Old Fossils Found, Could be Earliest Evidence of Life On Earth
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Scientists say they have found the world's oldest fossils, thought to have formed between 3.77bn and 4.28bn years ago. Comprised of tiny tubes and filaments made of an iron oxide known as haematite, the microfossils are believed to be the remains of bacteria that once thrived underwater around hydrothermal vents, relying on chemical reactions involving iron for their energy. If correct, these fossils offer the oldest direct evidence for life on the planet. And that, the study's authors say, offers insights into the origins of life on Earth. "If these rocks do indeed turn out to be 4.28 [bn years old] then we are talking about the origins of life developing very soon after the oceans formed 4.4bn years ago," said Matthew Dodd, the first author of the research from University College, London. With iron-oxidising bacteria present even today, the findings, if correct, also highlight the success of such organisms. "They have been around for 3.8bn years at least," said the lead author Dominic Papineau, also from UCL.
White House Supports Renewal of Spy Law Without Reforms
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The Trump administration does not want to reform an internet surveillance law to address privacy concerns, a White House official told Reuters on Wednesday, saying it is needed to protect national security. The announcement could put President Donald Trump on a collision course with Congress, where some Republicans and Democrats have advocated curtailing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, parts of which are due to expire at the end of the year. The FISA law has been criticized by privacy and civil liberties advocates as allowing broad, intrusive spying. It gained renewed attention following the 2013 disclosures by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden that the agency carried out widespread monitoring of emails and other electronic communications. Portions of the law, including a provision known as Section 702, will expire on Dec. 31 unless Congress reauthorizes them. Section 702 enables two internet surveillance programs called Prism and Upstream, classified details of which were revealed by Snowden. Democratic and Republican lawmakers have said reforms to Section 702 are needed, in part to ensure the privacy protections on Americans are not violated. The U.S. House of Representatives' Judiciary Committee met Wednesday to discuss possible changes to the law.
NSA Risks Talent Exodus Amid Morale Slump, Trump Fears
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The National Security Agency risks a brain-drain of hackers and cyber spies due to a tumultuous reorganization and worries about the acrimonious relationship between the intelligence community and President Donald Trump, according to current and former NSA officials and cybersecurity industry sources. Half-a-dozen cybersecurity executives told Reuters they had witnessed a marked increase in the number of U.S. intelligence officers and government contractors seeking employment in the private sector since Trump took office on Jan. 20. One of the executives, who would speak only on condition of anonymity, said he was stunned by the caliber of the would-be recruits. They are coming from a variety of government intelligence and law enforcement agencies, multiple executives said, and their interest stems in part from concerns about the direction of U.S intelligence agencies under Trump. Retaining and recruiting talented technical personnel has become a top national security priority in recent years as Russia, China, Iran and other nation states and criminal groups have sharpened their cyber offensive abilities. NSA and other intelligence agencies have long struggled to deter some of their best employees from leaving for higher-paying jobs in Silicon Valley and elsewhere.
SpaceX Plans To Send Two People Around the Moon In 2018
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Today, SpaceX founder Elon Musk announced that in 2018, the company will fly two private citizens around the Moon in its Dragon 2 spacecraft, carried by its Falcon Heavy rocket. "While the voyagers' names have not been disclosed, according to SpaceX, a 'significant deposit' has already been made," Gizmodo reports.

From the report:
According to Musk, the mission will last approximately one week. The passengers will travel beyond the moon and loop back to Earth, spanning roughly 300,000 to 400,000 miles. While the passengers will undergo some sort of training beforehand, it's unclear if the two have any experience with piloting, nevermind spaceflight. The mission, although unrelated to NASA's plan to slingshot astronauts around the Moon in several years' time using the SLS rocket and the Orion capsule, was made possible in part by funding SpaceX has received to develop its human spaceflight technology through the commercial crew program.

"This is a really thing that's happened," Elon Musk told reporters at a press conference. "We've been approached to do a crewed mission beyond the Moon ... [and these passengers] are very serious about it. We plan to do that probably Dragon 2 spacecraft with the Falcon Heavy rocket." He went on to say the company is "expected to do more than one mission of this nature."
Indian State Saves $45 Million As Schools Switch To Open Source Software
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The Kerala government has made a saving of Rs 300 crore ($45 million) through introduction and adoption of Free & Open Source Software (FOSS) in the school education sector, said a state government official on Sunday. IT became a compulsory subject in Kerala schools from 2003, but it was only in 2005 that FOSS was introduced in a phased manner and started to replace proprietary software. The decision made by the curriculum committee to implement it in the higher secondary sector has also been completed now. "It's not the cost saving that matters more, but the fact that the Free Software license enables not only teachers and students but also the general public an opportunity to copy, distribute and share the contents and use it as they wish," K. Anwar Sadath, executive director IT@School said.
Questioning The Privacy Policies Of Data-Collecting Cars
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Remember when Vizio's televisions started collecting data about what shows people were watching? One transportation reporter is more worried about all the data being collected by cars.

Quoting Autoblog:
Nowadays, auto manufacturers seem to be tripping over each other pointing out that they offer Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto. And more recent phenomenon are announcements -- from companies including Ford and Hyundai -- that they are offering Amazon Alexa capabilities. You talk. It listens... Here's the thing. While it may seem appealing to have all manner of connectivity in cars, there is the other side of that. Without getting all tinfoil hat about this, when your TV set is ratting you out, isn't it likely that your car will? It drives. And watches. And listens. And collects data...

That data could be shared with everyone from auto insurers and advertisers to law enforcement officials and divorce attorneys. But the real problem may be consumers assuming strong privacy protections that don't actually exist. The article argues that GM's privacy policy "is like most privacy policies, which boils down to: You use it (the device, software, etc.), you potentially give up a portion of your privacy."
How To Get Back To the Moon In 4 Years -- This Time To Stay
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Scientific American describes "a way to get to the Moon and to stay there permanently...to begin this process immediately and to achieve moon landings in less than four years." It starts by abandoning NASA's expensive Space Launch System and Orion capsule, and spending the money saved on private-industry efforts like Elon Musk's SpaceX and Robert Bigelow's Bigelow Aerospace.

Quoting their report:
Musk's rockets -- the Falcon and the soon-to-be-launched Falcon Heavy -- are built to take off and land. So far their landing capabilities have been used to ease them down on earth. But the same technology, with a few tweaks, gives them the ability to land payloads on the surface of the Moon. Including humans. What's more, SpaceX's upcoming seven-passenger Dragon 2 capsule has already demonstrated its ability to gentle itself down to earth's surface. In other words, with a few modifications and equipment additions, Falcon rockets and Dragon capsules could be made Moon-ready...

Major segments of the space community want every future landing to add to a permanent infrastructure in the sky. And that's within our grasp thanks to Robert Bigelow... Since the spring of 2016, Bigelow, a real estate developer and founder of the Budget Suites of America hotel chain, has had an inflatable habitat acting as a spare room at the International Space Station 220 miles above your head and mine. And Bigelow's been developing something far more ambitious -- an inflatable Moon Base, that would use three of his 330-cubic-meter B330 modules.

The article calls Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin rockets "a wild car" which could also land passengers and cargo on the moon and suggests NASA would be better off funding things like lunar-surface refueling stations, lunar construction equipment, and "devices to turn lunar ice into rocket fuel, drinkable water, and breathable oxygen."
How Cable Monopolies Hurt ISP Customers
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"New York subscribers have had to overpay month after month for services that Spectrum deliberately didn't provide," reports Backchannel -- noting these practices are significant because together Comcast and Charter (formerly Time Warner Cable) account for half of America's 92 million high-speed internet connections.

Quoting Backchannel:
Based on the company's own documents and statements, it appears that just about everything it has been saying since 2012 to New York State residents about their internet access and data services is untrue...because of business decisions the company deliberately made in order to keep its capital expenditures as low as possible... Its marketing department kept sending out advertising claims to the public that didn't match the reality of what consumers were experiencing or square with what company engineers were telling Spectrum executives. That gives the AG's office its legal hook: Spectrum's actions in knowingly saying one thing but doing another amount to fraudulent, unfair, and deceptive behavior under New York law...

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