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+ - Feds Say It's Time To Cut Back On Fluoride In Drinking Water->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: Federal health officials Monday changed the recommended amount of fluoride in drinking water for the first time since 1962, cutting by almost half the maximum amount of fluoride that should be added to drinking supplies.

The Department of Health and Human Services recommended 0.7 milligrams of fluoride per liter of water instead of the long-standing range of 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams.

"The change is recommended because now Americans have access to more sources of fluoride, such as toothpaste and mouth rinses, than they did when fluoridation was first introduced in the United States," Dr. Boris Lushniak, the deputy surgeon general, told reporters during a conference call.

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+ - How to Attract Female Engineers 1

Submitted by HughPickens.com
HughPickens.com writes: Lina Nilsson writes in an op-ed piece in the NYT that she looks with despair at estimates that only about 14 percent of engineers in the work force are women but that there may be a solution to the disparity that is much simpler than targeted recruitment efforts. "An experience here at the University of California, Berkeley, where I teach, suggests that if the content of the work itself is made more societally meaningful, women will enroll in droves," writes Nilsson. "That applies not only to computer engineering but also to more traditional, equally male-dominated fields like mechanical and chemical engineering." Nilsson says that Blum Center for Developing Economies recently began a new program that, without any targeted outreach, achieved 50 percent female enrollment in just one academic year. In the fall of 2014, UC Berkeley began offering a new Ph.D. minor in development engineering for students doing thesis work on solutions for low-income communities. They are designing affordable solutions for clean drinking water, inventing medical diagnostic equipment for neglected tropical diseases and enabling local manufacturing in poor and remote regions.

According to Nilsson, women seem to be drawn to engineering projects that attempt to achieve societal good and cites MIT, University of Minnesota, Penn State, Santa Clara University, Arizona State, and the University of Michigan that have programs aimed at reducing global poverty and inequality that have achieved similar results. For example, at Princeton, the student chapter of Engineers Without Borders has an executive board that is nearly 70 percent female, reflecting the overall club composition. "It shows that the key to increasing the number of female engineers may not just be mentorship programs or child care centers, although those are important" concludes Nilsson. "It may be about reframing the goals of engineering research and curriculums to be more relevant to societal needs. It is not just about gender equity — it is about doing better engineering for us all."

+ - SPAM: Google partners with European papers in Digital News Initiative

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: Google is expected to admit to making ‘mistakes’ in its treatment of the media, as it launches a new Digital News Initiative (DNI) for leading newspapers including the UK’s Guardian, The Financial Times and other respected titles across Europe. The new fund, set up to support and “promote innovation in digital journalism”, arrives as the EU investigates Google for exploiting its search dominance and monopoly in the online sphere. Google said that the DNI would help to tackle “legitimate questions about how high-quality journalism can be sustained in the digital age.” Eight publishers will join Google as the founding members of the initiative, including Spanish El Pais, and Germany’s Die Zeit. The network will encourage collaboration between the groups, and Google has pledged approximately $160mn to help fund digital projects over the next three years.
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+ - A Cheap, Ubiquitous Earthquake Warning System->

Submitted by Tekla Perry
Tekla Perry writes: Earthquake alert systems that give a 10 or 20 second warning of an impending temblor, enabling automatic systems to shut down and people to take cover, are hugely expensive to build and operate. (One estimate is $38.3 milllion for equipment to span California, and another $16.1 million annually to operate.) But a Palo Alto entrepreneur thinks he's got a way to sense earthquakes and provide alerts far more cheaply and with much greater resolution. And he's got money from the National Science Foundation to begin the first test of his system--covering the Bay Area from Santa Cruz to Napa and the cities of Hollister, Coalinga, and Parkfield. He starts that test next month.
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+ - The creation of Fact-Free-Zone in the modern world->

Submitted by Taco Cowboy
Taco Cowboy writes: This report outlines how the Islamic State is able to create a Fact Free Zone with very little objective reporting coming from areas under the group’s control or areas it is contesting and the way Islamic States has purported the social media services, from Facebook, to Youtube, to Tweeter, to further its course

In this age of ubiquitous information-sharing technology the Islamic State’s media effort is an integral and essential part of its operations, on a par with its military and administrative effort. In this respect it is greatly helped by the decentralized nature of social media (particularly Twitter), which has allowed each of its supporters effectively to create and operate his or her own ministry of information, echoing a standard party line as well as creating and spreading IS’s messaging. In effect, IS is crowdsourcing its own propaganda

However, Islamic States' deliberate targeting, kidnapping, and brutal killing of journalists has resulted in a vacuum in which the job for 'news reporting' falls to the laps of avid supporters of the Islamic State

There is no precedent for this, given the novelty of social media platforms and file-sharing sites, and so, in a counterintuitive move, the group has indeed maximized control of its message by giving up control of its delivery

The importance of social media to the group is evident in the way that pictures of leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declaring the Caliphate on July 4, 2014 appeared on Twitter before the video of his full speech was uploaded on YouTube, helping to ensure that it would be carried on most major international news networks

For example, links to the violent hour-long video “Flames of War,” issued by The Islamic State on September 16, 2014 through its official outlet, al Hayat Media, were posted in several places on the widely-used file-sharing site justpaste.it. These links were then tweeted out to tens of thousands of online supporters, who then re-tweeted the links, and, importantly, created new pages and links on justpaste.it. The video was also uploaded to YouTube on many accounts in order to overcome the inevitable suppression of the video for violating YouTube standards of use. Just one randomly selected page promoting the video among dozens of others, recorded 18,034 views in just seven hours on September 18, 2014, showing the ease, breadth, and speed with which the group is able to spread its message directly to the intended audience. The problems with censoring such a decentralized distribution system were well-illustrated by the two days it took mainstream social media to take notice of what was happening

The crowdsourcing of messages negates the need for a single point of contact. This might leave the group vulnerable to unofficial messages polluting its media stream but it is a small annoyance compared to the gains it reaps


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+ - Why Our Antiquated Power Grid Needs Battery Storage ->

Submitted by Lucas123
Lucas123 writes: Last year, renewable energy sources accounted for half of new installed electric-generation capacity (natural gas units made up most of the remainder). As more photovoltaic panels are installed on rooftops around the nation, an antiquated power grid is being overburdened by a bidirectional load its was never engineered to handle. The Hawaiian Electric Company, for example, said it's struggling with electricity "backflow" that could destabilize its system. Batteries for distributed renewable power has the potential to mitigate the load on the national grid by allowing a redistribution of power during peak hours. As such Tesla, which is expected to announce batteries for homes and utilities on Thursday, and others are targeting a market estimated to be $1.2B market by 2019. Along with taking up some of the load during peak house, battery capacity can be used when power isn't being generated by renewable systems, such as at night and during inclement weather. That also reduces grid demand.
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+ - New Zero Day Disclosed in WordPress Core Engine

Submitted by Trailrunner7
Trailrunner7 writes: WordPress security issues have for the most part involved a vulnerable plug-in, but a Finnish researcher has disclosed some details on a zero-day vulnerability he discovered in the WordPress 4.2 and earlier core engine that could lead to remote code execution on the webserver.

Juoko Pynnonen of Klikki Oy reported a new and unpatched stored cross-site scripting vulnerability in the platform; a similar bug was patched this week by WordPress developers, but only 14 months after it was reported.

The vulnerability allows an attacker to inject JavaScript in the WordPress comment field; the comment has to be at least 66,000 characters long and it will be triggered when the comment is viewed, Pynnonen said.

“An unauthenticated attacker can store JavaScript on WordPress pages and blog posts. If triggered by an administrator, this leads to server-side code execution under default settings,” Pynnonen said. “A usable comment form is required. It looks like the script is not executed in the admin Dashboard, but only when viewing the post/page where the comment was entered. If comment moderation is enabled (the default setting) then the comment won’t appear on the page until it has been approved by an admin/moderator. Under default settings, after one ‘harmless’ comment is approved, the attacker is free from subsequent moderation and can inject the exploit to several pages and blog posts.”

+ - Woman behind Pakistan's first hackathon, Sabeen Mahmud, shot dead by unknown gun

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: The progressive activist and organizer who ran Pakistan's first-ever hackathon and led a human rights and a peace-focused nonprofit known as The Second Floor (T2F) was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Karachi. Sabeen Mahmud was leaving the T2F offices with her mother some time after 9pm on Friday evening, reports the Pakistani newspaper Dawn. She was on her way home when she was shot, the paper reports. Her mother also sustained bullet wounds and is currently being treated at a hospital; she is said to be in critical condition.

+ - Bees prefer nectar laced with Neonicotinoids->

Submitted by Taco Cowboy
Taco Cowboy writes: Neonicotinoids are a class of neuro-active insecticides chemically similar to nicotine

Neonicotinoids kill insect by overwhelming and short-circuting the insects' central nervous system (See http://lee.ifas.ufl.edu/Hort/V... )

Shell and Bayer started the development of Neonicotinoids back in the 1980's and 1990's

Since this new group of pesticide came to the market the bee population have been seriously devastated in regions where the pesticide are been widely used

In 2008 neonicotinoids came under increasing scrutiny over their environmental impacts starting in Germany

In 2012, studies have shown that neonicotinoid uses are linked to crash of bee population (See http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_new... )

New studies, however, have discovered that bees prefer nectars that are laced with neonicotinoids, over nectars that are free of any trace of neonicotinoids (See http://www.rsc.org/chemistrywo... )

According to researchers at Newcastle University the bees may "get a buzz" from the nicotine-like chemicals in the same way smokers crave cigarettes

BBC also covers this case (See http://www.bbc.com/news/scienc... )

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+ - Ubuntu 15.04 Released, First Version to Feature SystemD->

Submitted by jones_supa
jones_supa writes: The final release of Ubuntu 15.04 is now available. Only modest set of improvements are rolling out with this spring's Ubuntu. While this means the OS can't rival the heavy changelogs of releases past, the adage "don’t fix what isn't broke" is clearly one that 15.04 plays to. The headline change is SystemD being featured first time in a stable Ubuntu release, which replaces the inhouse UpStart init system. The Unity desktop version 7.3 receives a handful of small refinements, most of which aim to either fix bugs or correct earlier missteps (for example, application menus can now be set to be always visible). The Linux version is 3.19.3 further patched by Canonical. As usual, the distro comes with fresh versions of various familiar applications.
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+ - Comcast Officially Gives Up on TWC Merger->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: Confirming speculation from yesterday, Comcast announced this morning that its attempt to merge with Time Warner Cable has been terminated. The announcement was very brief, but indicated that regulatory pressure was the reason they killed the deal. CEO Brian Roberts said, "Today, we move on. Of course, we would have liked to bring our great products to new cities, but we structured this deal so that if the government didn't agree, we could walk away."
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+ - MIT Developing AI to Better Diagnose Cancer->

Submitted by stowie
stowie writes: Working with Massachusetts General Hospital, MIT has developed a computational model that aims to automatically suggest cancer diagnoses by learning from thousands of data points from past pathology reports. The core idea is a technique called Subgraph Augmented Non-negative Tensor Factorization (SANTF). In SANTF, data from 800-plus medical cases are organized as a 3D table where the dimensions correspond to the set of patients, the set of frequent subgraphs, and the collection of words appearing in and near each data element mentioned in the reports. This scheme clusters each of these dimensions simultaneously, using the relationships in each dimension to constrain those in the others. Researchers can then link test results to lymphoma subtypes.
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