Science

Studies Link Pesticides To Bee Colony Collapse Disorder 128 128

T Murphy writes "Neonicotinoid pesticides, designed to attack insects such as beetles and aphids, have been shown to harm bees' ability to navigate back to the hive. While initially assumed safe in low enough, non-fatal doses for bees, two papers have shown that may not be the case. Although the studies don't directly study the Colony Collapse Disorder, the scientists believe these pesticides are likely a contributing factor."
Biotech

Generating Alcohol Fuels From Electrical Current and CO2 82 82

New submitter AcMNPV writes "A news release from UCLA describes a new process for producing biofuels using microorganisms, electrical current and carbon dioxide (abstract). Quoting: 'Liao and his team genetically engineered a lithoautotrophic microorganism known as Ralstonia eutropha H16 to produce isobutanol and 3-methyl-1-butanol in an electro-bioreactor using carbon dioxide as the sole carbon source and electricity as the sole energy input. Photosynthesis is the process of converting light energy to chemical energy and storing it in the bonds of sugar. There are two parts to photosynthesis — a light reaction and a dark reaction. The light reaction converts light energy to chemical energy and must take place in the light. The dark reaction, which converts CO2 to sugar, doesn't directly need light to occur. "We've been able to separate the light reaction from the dark reaction and instead of using biological photosynthesis, we are using solar panels to convert the sunlight to electrical energy, then to a chemical intermediate, and using that to power carbon dioxide fixation to produce the fuel," Liao said.'"
Crime

VISA, MasterCard Warn of 'Massive' Breach At Credit Card Processor 164 164

concealment writes with news that VISA and MasterCard have been warning banks of an incident at a U.S. card processor that may have compromised as many as 10 million credit card numbers. From the article: "Neither VISA nor MasterCard have said which U.S.-based processor was the source of the breach. But affected banks are now starting to analyze transaction data on the compromised cards, in hopes of finding a common point of purchase. Sources at two different major financial institutions said the transactions that most of the cards they analyzed seem to have in common are that they were used in parking garages in and around the New York City area." According to the Wall Street Journal, the breached company is Global Payments Inc.
The Military

Army Reviews Controversial Drug After Afghan Massacre 195 195

Hugh Pickens writes "Time Magazine reports that after the massacre in which Staff Sgt. Robert Bales allegedly killed 17 civilians in Afghanistan, the Pentagon has ordered an urgent review of the use of the anti-malarial drug mefloquine, also known as Lariam, known to have severe psychiatric side effects including psychotic behavior, paranoia and hallucinations. 'One obvious question to consider is whether he was on mefloquine (Lariam), an anti-malarial medication,' writes Elspeth Cameron Ritchie in Time. 'This medication has been increasingly associated with neuropsychiatric side effects, including depression, psychosis, and suicidal ideation.' The drug has been implicated in numerous suicides and homicides, including deaths in the U.S. military. For years the military used the weekly pill to help prevent malaria among deployed troops, however in 2009 the U.S. Army nearly dropped use of mefloquine entirely because of the dangers, using it only in limited circumstances, including sometimes in Afghanistan. Army and Pentagon officials would not say whether Bales took the drug, citing privacy rules. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Jonathan Woodson has ordered a new, urgent review to make sure that troops were not getting the drug inappropriately. 'Some deployed service members may be prescribed mefloquine (PDF) for malaria prophylaxis without appropriate documentation in their medical records and without proper screening for contraindications,' the order says. It notes that this review must include troops at 'deployed locations.'"
Australia

Australian Federal Court Awards Damages To Artist For False Copyright Claim 77 77

New submitter BarryHaworth writes "In a decision handed down earlier this month, the Australian Federal Court awarded damages to Aboriginal artist Richard Bell over a false claim of copyright infringement. The claim related to a take-down notice claiming copyright infringement from film footage used in a trailer for a film being made by the artist. The court declared Mr. Bell the owner of the copyright and awarded him $147,000 in damages for lost sales of paintings and catalogues. At time of writing, YouTube does not appear to have caught up with the decision."
The Internet

Video Michigan State Professor Helps Bring Broadband Internet To Rural Africa (Video) 86 86

Roblimo writes "Assistant Professor Kurt DeMaagd, of Michigan State's Department of Telecommunication, Information Studies, and Media, runs a program that brings broadband Internet to villages in Tanzania that have never known connectivity better than what they get with non-smart cell phones. Lots of students are involved, and Kurt (who was one of Slashdot's co-founders many years ago) believes the students get as much out of the project as the people in Tanzania who are its primary beneficiaries. Setting up not only computer networks but also satellite communications and solar arrays in areas where you can't zip on down to the local computer or hardware store for parts you forgot teaches how to work under adverse conditions, and how to plan in advance instead of winging everything at the last minute. But we'll let Kurt DeMaagd, who is an engaging speaker, tell the story himself in this long (8:12) video."
Earth

Climate Change To Drive Weather Disasters, Say UN Experts 572 572

mdsolar writes "Climate change is amplifying risks from drought, floods, storms and rising seas, threatening all countries, but small island states, poor nations and arid regions in particular, UN experts warned on Tuesday. In its first-ever report on the question, the Nobel-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said man-made global-warming gases are already affecting some types of extreme weather. And, despite gaps in knowledge, weather events once deemed a freak are likely to become more frequent or more vicious, inflicting a potentially high toll in deaths, economic damage and misery, it said."
NASA

Why Hubble Broke and How It Was Fixed 73 73

angry tapir writes "I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Charles (Charlie) Pellerin, who was NASA's director of astrophysics when the Hubble Space Telescope launched with its seemingly fatally flawed optical system. Pellerin went on to head up the servicing mission that finally fixed the telescope and for that was awarded NASA's highest honor, a Distinguished Service Medal. Since Hubble he has done a lot of thinking about the problems that led up to the error and how organizations can best avoid making similar mistakes."
Businesses

RIM Firing (Nearly) Everybody 440 440

itwbennett writes "Research in Motion (RIM) reported grim Q4 results Thursday and announced sweeping personnel changes. Leading the parade of departing execs is Jim Balsillie, former co-CEO of the company, who has given up his board seat. David Yach, who has been CTO of software for the company for 13 years, is retiring. And Jim Rowan, chief operating officer of global operations, who has been with the company for four years, is leaving to pursue other interests."
Australia

Australian National Broadband Network Releases 3-Year Plan 121 121

New submitter pcritter writes "The Australian Government has just announced the 3-year roll-out plan for its ambitious National Broadband Network. The plan details 3.5 million premises (30%) across the country to be connected to the NBN by mid-2015. A map is available showing coverage areas. The plan represents a major milestone in the NBN project, which aims to connect all of Australia with high speed broadband by 2021, with the 93% of the population on fiber to the premises (FTTP) of speeds up to 1000Mbits, and the rest on fixed wireless or satellite."
Robotics

RoboBonobo: A Project To Outfit Apes With Tablets and Telepresence Bots 68 68

MrSeb writes "Ken Schweller, a computer scientist and psychologist, and also the chairman of the Great Ape Trust in Des Moines, Iowa, has a vision: He wants to put wireless Android tablets in the hands of bonobo apes. The Great Ape Trust Sanctuary is home to seven bonobos, including the world-famous Kanzi, and two orangutans. So far the Sanctuary has focused almost exclusively on language, with the bonobos and their keepers communicating through lexigrams on a touch-screen TV. Now Schweller wants to go one step further and outfit the bonobos with wireless tablets running custom Bonobo Chat software, allowing the apes to communicate with their keepers (and other bonobos!) from anywhere in the Sanctuary, and to remotely control devices such as vending machines, doors, and the RoboBonobo. If all this wasn't weird (cool?) enough, the RoboBonobo is even outfitted with a water cannon (so the telepresent apes can play "chase games" with humans) and Schweller is trying to fund the whole thing with Kickstarter. If you're a big fan of apes (or Darwinism), be sure to donate."
Businesses

Swedish Teleco Firms Looking Into Block VoIP Claiming Losses In Earnings 151 151

An anonymous reader writes "Telia, a Swedish telecommunications company, is now looking into possible solutions to block free VoIP services like Skype and Vibr, claiming the losses are beginning to take its toll on the total earnings. Critics are saying the companies have wrongly implemented outdated pricing models, and the act could threaten net transparency and Independence. A new report from regulators of the European phone market shows that more and more telecommunications companies will block their subscribers from using free services. The European Commission is investigating whether it is possible to prohibit the blocking of legal services online."
Censorship

YouTube Partially Unblocked In China 47 47

hackingbear writes "After China unblocked certain sensitive keywords in search engine baidu.com last week, YouTube is now partially, quietly unblocked. Users inside China can, without bypassing the Great Firewall, visit the site, search for sensitive keywords, and see uncensored results and comments. The videos themselves, including those not related to politics, remain blocked, however. Given that the Chinese government likes to make major changes in gradual, experimental steps, it is unclear what this round of Internet loosening will lead to eventually. At the meantime, many netizens in the country express their welcome of the moves as a good start through microblogging."
Privacy

Judge Allows Bradley Manning Supporter To Sue Government Over Border Search 129 129

Fluffeh writes "David Maurice House, an MIT researcher and Bradley Manning supporter, was granted the right to pursue a case against the government on Wednesday after a federal judge denied the government's motion to dismiss. 'This ruling affirms that the Constitution is still alive at the US border,' ACLU Staff Attorney Catherine Crump said in a statement. 'Despite the government's broad assertions that it can take and search any laptop, diary or smartphone without any reasonable suspicion, the court said the government cannot use that power to target political speech.' The agents confiscated a laptop computer, a thumb drive, and a digital camera from House and reportedly demanded, but did not receive, his encryption keys. DHS held onto House's equipment for 49 days and returned it only after the ACLU sent a strongly worded letter."
China

Independent Audit Finds Foxconn Violates Chinese Work Rules 315 315

doston writes "The first independent audit of Apple's supply chain found excessive working hours and health and safety issues at its largest manufacturer, piling more pressure on the technology giant. This investigation targeted Hon Hai Precision Industry which is known as Foxconn. The company says they will try to stop their overtime criminality by July, 2013. Will the public ever sour on Apple devices in light of the constant media attention on supplier working conditions?"