ihtoit writes: Comet ISON flew through the sun's atmosphere on Nov. 28th and the encounter did not go well for the icy comet. Just before perihelion (closest approach to the sun) the comet rapidly faded and appeared to disintegrate. This prompted reports of ISON's demise. However, a fraction of the comet has survived. Spaceweather.com has an animation captured from satellites showing the emergence of what remains of our visitor. Link to Original Source
theodp writes: "I hope my father dies soon," Dilbert creator Scott Adams wrote Saturday in a frustrated, angry, and poignant blog post. "My father, age 86, is on the final approach to the long dirt nap (to use his own phrase). His mind is 98% gone, and all he has left is hours or possibly months of hideous unpleasantness in a hospital bed. I'll spare you the details, but it's as close to a living Hell as you can get. If my dad were a cat, we would have put him to sleep long ago. And not once would we have looked back and thought too soon. Because it's not too soon. It's far too late. His smallish estate pays about $8,000 per month to keep him in this state of perpetual suffering. Rarely has money been so poorly spent. I'd like to proactively end his suffering and let him go out with some dignity. But my government says I can't make that decision. Neither can his doctors. So, for all practical purposes, the government is torturing my father until he dies." Adams also had harsh words for those who would oppose assisted suicide, "I don't want anyone to misconstrue this post as satire or exaggeration. So I'll reiterate. If you have acted, or plan to act, in a way that keeps doctor-assisted suicide illegal, I see you as an accomplice in torturing my father, and perhaps me as well someday. I want you to die a painful death, and soon. And I'd be happy to tell you the same thing to your face." His father passed a few hours after Adams wrote his screed. Challenged later by the SF Chronicle's Debra J. Saunders, an opponent of assisted suicide, Adams stood firm on his earlier words. So, can Adams succeed in convincing the U.S. where Dr. Jack failed?
An anonymous reader writes: Time reports, "A massive collection of Nazi-looted paintings discovered last year in a Munich apartment includes works that art historians previously thought were destroyed and some other works that scholars didn’t know existed.... in the spring of 2011, authorities discovered more than 1,400 paintings in the home of Cornelius Gurlitt, whom they were investigating for tax evasion... During the 1930s and early 1940s, Gurlitt’s father Hildebrandt helped the Nazis sell artworks seized from Jewish families, and the discovery of his son’s art trove has led to questions about whether these works were also plundered during that time. Early reports said that the collection contained works by masters such as Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and Marc Chagall.... “It is a very emotional thing to see that all these works of art still exist and were not destroyed,” Hoffman told the BBC. “You could conceivably set up a museum with this lot,” BBC arts editor Will Gompertz wrote. “Art historians all over the world will be preparing to rewrite biographies of several modern artists.”... experts have discovered previously unregistered works by Chagall, Matisse and Otto Dix. Add in works by artists such as Picasso and Gustave Courbet, and the collection is believed to be worth roughly 1 billion Euros ($1.35 billion).... the artwork was stacked behind piles of old food tins and other junk in Gurlitt’s apartment." Link to Original Source
An anonymous reader writes: Scientific analysis has now confirmed that former Fatah leader and PLO/PNA head Yasser Arafat's clothing was contaminated with Polonium. The radioactivity was measured in megabecquerels, suggesting a gigabecquerel dose prior to death. No autopsy was performed on Arafat's body prior to burial at the request of his widow, and this seems to be the next logical step in the investigation into what is perhaps now confirmed to be an assassination.
Polonium, an extremely rare radioactive element, was implicated in the poisoning death of former FSB agent and Russian dissident/exile Alexander Litvinenko(wikipedia.org) who was killed in the UK after alleged cooperation with MI6 intelligence. Link to Original Source
schwit1 writes: The Obama administration’s credibility on intelligence suffered another blow Wednesday as the chief of the National Security Agency admitted that officials put out numbers that vastly overstated the counterterrorism successes of the government’s warrantless bulk collection of all Americans’ phone records.
Pressed by Pat Leahy, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee at an oversight hearing, Gen. Keith B. Alexander admitted that the number of terrorist plots foiled by the NSA’s huge database of every phone call made in or to America was only one or perhaps two — far smaller than the 54 originally claimed by the administration.
Mr. Leahy and Rep. Sensenbrenner, author of the USA Patriot Act, which the government says allows bulk data collection, are working on a bill to roll back that authority.
Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper denied that the number of plots foiled should be the sole metric by which the success of the program is measured. “I think there’s another metric here that’s very important. I would call it the ‘peace of mind’ metric.”
I would have more peace-of-mind knowing that perjuring sociopaths like Clapper could not have real-time access to my electronic communications. Link to Original Source
trbdavies writes: Associated Press reports: "President Dilma Rousseff ordered a series of measures aimed at greater Brazilian online independence and security following revelations that the U.S. National Security Agency intercepted her communications, hacked into the state-owned Petrobras oil company’s network and spied on Brazilians who entrusted their personal data to U.S. tech companies such as Facebook and Google. The leader is so angered by the espionage that on Tuesday she postponed next month’s scheduled trip to Washington, where she was to be honored with a state dinner." Among Brazil's plans are a domestic encrypted email service, laying its own fiber optic cable to Europe, requiring services like Facebook and Google to store data generated by Brazilians on servers located in Brazil, and pushing for "international rules on privacy and security in hardware and software during the U.N. General Assembly meeting later this month." Link to Original Source
An anonymous reader writes: A U.S. secret surveillance court has ruled the mass collection of telephone call data by the U.S. government as lawful, despite fears that the practice may fall in breach of Fourth Amendment rights against unwarranted searches. Link to Original Source
Daniel_Stuckey writes: The Barents Observer reports the 19,000-ton Yong Sheng, a container ship operated by China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO)—though not the exact one pictured at the top of this article—left port in China in the first week of August and is now in the Russian Arctic. For a few years now the Northern Sea Route has become passable in summer, at least by vessels designed for icy Arctic waters. Last summer an icebreaker became the first Chinese vessel to make the passage. In 2010, a Norwegian vessel carrying iron ore to China became the first non-Russian vessel to complete the journey. Link to Original Source
ananyo writes: Two men with HIV may have been cured after they received stem-cell transplants to treat the blood cancer lymphoma, their doctors announced today at the International AIDS Society Conference in Kuala Lumpur. One of the men received stem-cell transplants to replace his blood-cell-producing bone marrow about three years ago, and the other five years ago. Their regimens were similar to one used on Timothy Ray Brown, the 'Berlin patient' who has been living HIV-free for six years and is the only adult to have been declared cured of HIV. Last July, doctors announced that the two men — the ‘Boston patients’ — appeared to be living without detectable levels of HIV in their blood, but they were still taking antiretroviral medications at that time. Link to Original Source
Freshly Exhumed writes: Over at ubi.com today is this creepy revelation from the video game publisher and developer: 'We recently found that one of our Web sites was exploited to gain unauthorized access to some of our online systems. We instantly took steps to close off this access, to begin a thorough investigation with relevant authorities, internal and external security experts, and to start restoring the integrity of any compromised systems.
During this process, we learned that data were illegally accessed from our account database, including user names, email addresses and encrypted passwords. No personal payment information is stored with Ubisoft, meaning your debit/credit card information was safe from this intrusion.
As a result, we are recommending you to change your password by clicking this link.'