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Medicine

NY Judge Rules Research Chimps Are Not 'Legal Persons' 168 168

sciencehabit writes: A state judge in New York has dealt the latest blow to an animal rights group's attempt to have chimpanzees declared 'legal persons.' In a decision handed down this morning, New York Supreme Court Justice Barbara Jaffe ruled that two research chimps at Stony Brook University are not covered by a writ of habeas corpus, which typically allows human prisoners to challenge their detention. The Nonhuman Rights Project, which brought the lawsuit in an attempt to free the primates, has vowed to appeal. We posted news last year about an earlier case (mentioned in the article) brought by the same group, which also ended in defeat.
Transportation

Hacker's Device Can Intercept OnStar's Mobile App and Unlock, Start GM Cars 54 54

Lucas123 writes: Security researcher Samy Kamkar posted a video today demonstrating a device he created that he calls OwnStar that can intercept communications between GM's RemoteLink mobile app and the OnStar cloud service in order to unlock and start an OnStar equipped car. Kamkar said that after a user opens the OnStar Remote Link app on his or her mobile phone "near the OwnStar device," OwnStar intercepts the communication and sends "data packets to the mobile device to acquire additional credentials. The OwnStar device then notifies the attacker about the new vehicle that the hacker has access to for an indefinite period of time, including its location, make and model. And at that point, the hacker can use the Remote Link app to control the vehicle. Kamkar said GM is aware of the security hole and is working on a fix.
Android

950 Million Android Phones Can Be Hijacked By Malicious Text Messages 120 120

techtech writes: According to security firm Zimperium a flaw called "Stagefright" in Google's Android operating system can allow hackers take over a phone with a message even if the user doesn't open it. The vulnerability affects about 950 million Android devices. In a blog post Zimperium researchers wrote: "A fully weaponized successful attack could even delete the message before you see it. You will only see the notification. These vulnerabilities are extremely dangerous because they do not require that the victim take any action to be exploited. Unlike spear-phishing, where the victim needs to open a PDF file or a link sent by the attacker, this vulnerability can be triggered while you sleep. Before you wake up, the attacker will remove any signs of the device being compromised and you will continue your day as usual—with a trojaned phone."
Science

Four-legged Snake Fossil Stuns Scientists, Ignites Controversy 153 153

sciencehabit writes: Scientists have described what they say is the first known fossil of a four-legged snake. The limbs of the 120-or-so-million-year-old, 20-centimeter-long creature are remarkably well preserved and end with five slender digits that appear to have been functional (abstract). Thought to have come from Brazil, the fossil would be one of the earliest snakes found, suggesting that the group evolved from terrestrial precursors in Gondwana, the southern remnant of the supercontinent Pangaea. But although the creature's overall body plan—and indeed, many of its individual anatomical features—is snakelike, some researchers aren't so sure that it is a part of the snake family tree.
Technology

Bringing Back the Magic In Metamaterials 83 83

Charliemopps writes: Though it's 30 years late, transparent aluminum, as predicted in the 1986 film Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, may finally be here. There have been many attempts to create transparent metals in the past few years, and some have been somewhat successful, if only for a few femtoseconds. But now, by modifying metals like silver and aluminum at the subwavelength scale, researchers are developing "Meta-Materials" that cause light to interact with these metals in new and interesting ways. One of their more promising goals is to create a "perfect lens" which would allow an everyday person to view things as small as a virus with the naked eye.
ISS

Asteroid Mining Company's First Satellite Launches From Space Station 35 35

An anonymous reader writes: Planetary Resources, the company trying to jumpstart an asteroid-mining industry, has launched its first spacecraft. Its 90-day mission is to boldly... test avionics, control systems, and software. The Arkyd 3 Reflight craft was launched from the International Space Station after being delivered there in April. (They had intended to test earlier, but their first craft was lost in the Antares rocket explosion last October.) "The spacecraft is small, but mighty: At just 12 by 4 by 4 inches (30 by 10 by 10 centimeters), it will test key systems and control schemes that will allow later craft to land on asteroids to extract water and minerals. Eric Anderson, co-founder and co-chairman of Planetary Resources, said in the statement that the mining technologies could also help monitor and manage Earth's valuable resources. Later this year, once the satellite completes its 90-day mission, Planetary Resources will send up another satellite: the Arkyd-6, which will be twice as large and will test even more systems needed for the asteroid-mining process, representatives said."
United States

US House Committee Approves Anti-GMO Labeling Law 446 446

An anonymous reader writes: The House Agriculture Committee approved a measure banning mandatory GMO labeling as well as local efforts to regulate genetically engineered crops. The decision is a major victory for U.S. food companies and other opponents of labeling genetically modified foods. "This... legislation will ensure that Americans have accurate, consistent information about their food rather than a 50 state patchwork of labeling laws that will only prove costly and confusing for consumers, farmers and food manufacturers," said Pamela Bailey, CEO of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), said in a statement.
The Courts

Judge Calls Malibu Media "Troll", Denies Subpoena 91 91

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes: In what could be the beginning of the end of the Malibu Media litigation wave involving alleged BitTorrent downloads of porn films, Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein in Manhattan federal court has denied Malibu Media's request for a subpoena to get the subscriber's name and address from his or her internet service provider. In his 11-page decision (PDF), Judge Hellerstein discussed "copyright trolls" and noted that (a) it is not clear that Malibu Media's porn products are entitled to copyright protection, (b) discussed some of its questionable litigation practices, (c) Malibu's "investigation" leads at best to an IP address rather than to an individual infringer, (d) there is a major risk of misidentification, (e) Malibu has no evidence that the individual John Doe committed any act of infringement, and (f) Malibu's claim that there is no other practical way for it to target infringement was not supported by adequate evidence.
The Almighty Buck

The Vicious Circle That Is Sending Rents Spiraling Higher 940 940

jones_supa writes: Skyrocketing rents and multiple roommates — these are the kinds of war stories you expect to hear in space-constrained cities such as New York and San Francisco. But the rental crunch has been steadily creeping inland from coastal cities and up the economic ladder. Bloomberg takes a look at the vicious cycle that keeps rents spiraling higher. People paying high rents have a harder time saving for a down payment, preventing tenants from exiting the rental market. Low vacancy rates let landlords raise rents still higher. Developers who know they can command high rents (and sales prices) are spurred to spend more to acquire developable land. Finally, higher land costs can force builders to target the higher end of the market. The interesting question is how long can this last before we reach a level that is not affordable to the majority of the demographic that is being serviced.
Medicine

Triggering a Mouse's Happy Memories With Lasers Gives It the Will To Struggle On 66 66

the_newsbeagle writes: With optogenetics, scientists can tag neurons with light-responsive proteins, and then trigger those neurons to "turn on" with the pulse of a light. In the latest application, MIT researchers used light to turn on certain neurons in male mice's hippocampi that were associated with a happy memory (coming into contact with female mice!), and then tested whether that artificially activated memory changed the mice's reactions to a stressful situation (being hung by their tails). Mice who got jolted with the happy memory struggled to get free for longer than the control mice. This tail-suspension test was developed to screen potential antidepressant drugs: If a rodent struggles longer before giving up, it's considered less depressed.
Network

June 30th Leap Second Could Trigger Unexpected Issues 233 233

dkatana writes: On January 31, 2013, approximately 400 milliseconds before the official release of the EIA Natural Gas Report, trading activity exploded in Natural Gas Futures. It is believed that was the result of some fast computer trading systems being programmed to act, and have a one-second advance access to the report. On June 30th a leap second will be added to the Network Time Protocol (NTP) to keep it synchronized with the slowly lengthening solar day. In this article, Charles Babcock gives a detailed account of the issues, and some disturbing possibilities: The last time a second needed to be added to the day was on June 30, 2012. For Qantas Airlines in Australia, it was a memorable event. Its systems, including flight reservations, went down for two hours as internal system clocks fell out of synch with external clocks.

The original author of the NTP protocol, Prof. David Mills at the University of Delaware, set a direct and simple way to add the second: Count the last second of June 30 twice, using a special notation on the second count for the record. Google will use a different approach: Over a 20-hour period on June 30, Google will add a couple of milliseconds to each of its NTP servers' updates. By the end of the day, a full second has been added. As the NTP protocol and Google timekeepers enter the first second of July, their methods may differ, but they both agree on the time.

But that could also be problematic. In adding a second to its NTP servers in 2005, Google ran into timekeeping problems on some of its widely distributed systems. The Mills sleight-of-hand was confusing to some of its clusters, as they fell out of synch with NTP time. Does Google's smear approach make more sense to you, or does Mills's idea of counting the last second twice work better? Do you have a better idea of how to handle this?
United States

Religious Affiliation Shrinking In the US 866 866

gollum123 notes new U.S. demographic data from the Pew Research Center which show that the percentage of Americans declaring affiliation with a particular religion has declined sharply since 2007. Americans identifying as Christian dropped from 78.4% in 2007 to 70.6% in 2014. Those describing themselves as atheist, agnostic, or simple having no affiliation took up most of the slack, rising from 16.1% to 22.8%. Members of non-Christian faiths collectively rose from 4.7% to 5.9%. Despite the overall decline, the demographics within the Christian group are getting much more racially and ethnically diverse. The willingness of respondents to marry outside their religious affiliation is also on the rise. The median age of unaffiliated adults is dropping, while the median ages of mainline Protestants and Catholics are rising. The study estimates that 85% of adults age 70 and over are Christian, while only 56% of adults ages 18-24 are Christian. They also say that each individual generation has shown a slight decrease in religious affiliation compared to their statistics in 2007.

Comment Re:Management, not Millenials (Score 1) 405 405

It's not the Millenials. They're a bit more demanding, yes, but not significantly so compared to all the other groups of clueless users I've dealt with over the last 3 decades...

I think the point is that it's the Millenials who have gotten jobs in IT; they're actually supposed to know stuff.

Comment Re:Um... (Score 1) 405 405

I'd say by "expert" they are familiar with the basic interfaces used on many operating systems. Do they know how to create a word document without hand holding? More than likely. Can they create a basic spreadsheet? Probably. Do they understand how to use office (MS or open or whatever version you pick) to its fullest? No. My experience is that many millennials seem to think "expert" knowledge of such software suites comes easy and they actually have it but get frustrated quickly when asked to do something complicated (like db links, mutli-sheet vlookup or *gasp* vb macros ).

Many (most?) of these so-called "expert" Millenials don't know shit. All they know is how to click on FB. Fortunately there are a few who have actually grokked IT, and those are the ones to employ. Unfortunately, most PHBs don't know this...

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