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Biotech

Sex-Switched Mosquitoes May Help In Fight Against Diseases 103

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-girls-allowed dept.
cstacy writes: Only the female mosquitoes bite and transmit viral diseases such as Dengue Fever. Scientists have finally discovered the elusive genetic switch called Nix, that determines the sex of these blood sucking insects, and hope to selectively eliminate females to control the spread of diseases. "Nix provides us with exciting opportunities to harness mosquito sex in the fight against infectious diseases because maleness is the ultimate disease-refractory trait," explained Zhijian Jake Tu, an affiliate of the Fralin Life Science Institute and a biochemistry professor from Virginia Tech's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
EU

EU Drops Plans For Safer Pesticides After Pressure From US 146

Posted by Soulskill
from the say-it-don't-spray-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The European Union recently published plans to ban 31 pesticides containing chemicals linked to testicular cancer and male infertility. Those potential regulations have now been dropped after a U.S. business delegation said they would adversely affect trade negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. "Just weeks before the regulations were dropped there had been a barrage of lobbying from big European firms such as Dupont, Bayer and BASF over EDCs. The chemical industry association Cefic warned that the endocrines issue 'could become an issue that impairs the forthcoming EU-US trade negotiations.'"
Privacy

San Bernardino Sheriff Has Used Stingray Over 300 Times With No Warrant 92

Posted by samzenpus
from the was-that-wrong? dept.
An anonymous reader writes: After a records request by Ars, the sheriff in San Bernardino County (SBSD) sent an example of a template for a "pen register and trap and trace order" application. The county attorneys claim what they sent was a warrant application template, even though it is not. The application cites no legal authority on which to base the request. "This is astonishing because it suggests the absence of legal authorization (because if there were clear legal authorization you can bet the government would be citing it)," Fred Cate, a law professor at Indiana University, told Ars. "Alternatively, it might suggest that the government just doesn't care about legal authorization. Either interpretation is profoundly troubling," he added. Further documents reveal that the agency has used a Stingray 303 times between January 1, 2014 and May 7, 2015.
Earth

California Votes To Ban Microbeads 246

Posted by timothy
from the stock-up-now-on-crest dept.
New submitter Kristine Lofgren writes: The California Assembly just passed a vote to ban toxic microbeads, the tiny flecks found in toothpastes and exfoliants. Microbeads cause a range of problems, from clogging waterways to getting stuck in gums. The ban would be the strictest of its kind in the nation. As the article notes, the California Senate would need to pass a bill as well, for this ban to take effect, and if that happens, the resulting prohibition will come into place in 2020. From the article: Last year, Illinois became the first state in the U.S. to pass a ban on the usage of microbeads in cosmetics, approving a law that will go into effect in 2018, and earlier this year two congressmen introduced a bipartisan bill to outlaw the use of microbeads nationwide. And for exceptionally good reason; the beads, which serve as exfoliants and colorants are a massive source of water pollution, with scientists estimating that 471 million plastic microbeads are released into San Francisco Bay alone every single day.

+ - Part of Antarctica Suddenly Started Melting at a Rate of 14 Trillion Gal. a Year

Submitted by merbs
merbs writes: Sometime in 2009, a long-stable, glacier-filled region in Antarctica suddenly began to melt. Fast. A team of scientists with the University of Bristol made the alarming observation by looking at data from the CryoSat-2 satellite: The glaciers around the Southern Antarctic Peninsula, which had showed no signs of change through 2008, had begun losing 55 trillion liters (14.5 trillion gallons) of ice a year. And they evidenced no signs of slowing down.

+ - The Brainteaser Elon Musk Asks New SpaceX Engineers-> 9

Submitted by Nerval's Lobster
Nerval's Lobster writes: The latest biography of Elon Musk, by technology journalist Ashlee Vance, provides an in-depth look into how the entrepreneur and tech titan built Tesla Motors and SpaceX from the ground up. For developers and engineers, getting a job at SpaceX is difficult, with a long interviewing/testing process... and for some candidates, there's a rather unique final step: an interview with Musk himself. During that interview, Musk reportedly likes to ask candidates a particular brainteaser: 'You’re standing on the surface of the Earth. You walk one mile south, one mile west, and one mile north. You end up exactly where you started. Where are you?' If you can answer that riddle successfully, and pass all of SpaceX’s other stringent tests, you may have a shot at launching rockets into orbit.
Link to Original Source

+ - Australia criminalise teaching encryption?->

Submitted by petherfile
petherfile writes: According to Daniel Mathews new laws that have been passed but not yet come into effect could criminalize teaching encryption. He details how a ridiculously broad law could effectively make anything regarding encryption of over 512 bits criminal if your client is not Australian. It could apparently even conceivably include division as a controlled thing of military interest.
Link to Original Source

+ - Two thirds of public sector workers keep quiet on major security breaches->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: A cybersecurity survey conducted by British IT and telecom firm Daisy Group has revealed that almost two thirds of public sector employees would not report a serious data breach that they thought would cause problems in the workplace. The research, which was based on a study involving 2,000 public sector staff, also discovered that many workers held a negligent attitude toward sufficient password protection. It found that respondents were willing to sidestep corporate security policies to ease their work life. The survey showed that 64% of employees in the public sector would keep quiet about major security breaches, and that 5% had disabled password protection features on a laptop, mobile or other mobile devices. 20% confirmed that they do not regularly update their passwords, while a further 8% answered that they used ‘simple’ passwords that could be easily guessed. Daisy Group’s product director of cloud services Graham Harris explained that the survey served to highlight the importance of staff awareness and involvement in effective IT security management.
Link to Original Source

+ - Princeton Study: Congress Statistically Does Not Care About You

Submitted by chavez988
chavez988 writes: A study conducted by Princeton researchers recently found there is almost no statistical correlation between the opinions of 90% of the the population and how congress votes, but a an almost 1-to-1 correlation between the top 10%. So one question is whether or not we can still call congressmen "representatives"? This video explains the study well.

+ - "Eco-friendly" Buffett Seeks to "Squash" Nevada Rooftop Solar->

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 writes: Warren Buffett highlights how his Berkshire Hathaway Inc. utilities make massive investments in renewable energy. Meanwhile, in Nevada, the company is fighting a plan that would encourage more residents to use green power.

Berkshire's NV Energy, the state's dominant utility, opposes the proposal to increase a cap on the amount of energy that can be generated with solar panels by residents who sell power back to the grid in a practice known as net metering.

While the billionaire's famed holding company has reaped tax credits from investing in wind farms and solar arrays, net metering is often seen by utilities as a threat. Buffett wants his managers to protect competitive advantages, said Jeff Matthews, an investor and author of books about Berkshireâ¦

In an April presentation to investors, NV Energy laid out its strategy for addressing the growth of home solar. The utility said it would "lobby to hold the subsidized net-metering cap at current 3 percent of peak demand"...

Sellers of rooftop-solar panels are pushing Nevada legislators to raise the cap, and one plan called for the ceiling to be lifted to 10 percent. Nevada State Senator Patricia Farleysaid she is proposing that Nevada's utility regulator study the issue before lawmakers act.

"Across the country the utility industry is pressuring regulators and elected officials to limit solar energy's growth, and the same thing is happening in Nevada," said Gabe Elsner, executive director of the Energy & Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based clean energy think tank. "NV Energy is trying to protect their monopoly by squashing competitors."

The bottom line: it's all about the bottom line for Buffett.

Link to Original Source

+ - Feds order Amtrak to turn on system that would've prevented crash that killed 8->

Submitted by McGruber
McGruber writes: Last Tuesday evening, northbound Amtrak Northeast Regional train No. 188 derailed on a curve in Philadelphia, killing eight passengers. The train was traveling in excess of 100 mph, while the curve had a passenger-train speed limit of 50 mph.

In response, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is issuing formal emergency orders that will require Amtrak to make sure automatic train control systems work *NORTHBOUND* through Philadelphia at and near the site of the derailment. The FRA is also requiring that Amtrak assess the risk of all curves along the NEC and increase the amount and frequency of speed limit signs along the railroad.
(http://trn.trains.com/news/news-wire/2015/05/fra-to-issue-emergency-orders-for-amtrak-operations-in-northeast-corridor)

FRA's emergency order is newsworthy because Amtrak's existing signal system could have been configured to prevent a train from exceeding speed limits, according to the Wall Street Journal (http://www.wsj.com/articles/amtrak-crash-might-have-been-avoided-by-tweak-to-signal-system-1431622980). The newspaper reports that people familiar with Amtrak’s signal system said speed-control measures used elsewhere by the railroad could have prevented Tuesday’s crash. Amtrak officials said they were concerned enough about the curve to install the added protection on the two *SOUTHBOUND* tracks. But it wasn’t installed on the *NORTHBOUND* side because officials didn’t believe the tracks leading to the curve would allow trains to build up enough speed to topple over.

“It would have prevented the accident if it was operational,” National Transportation Safety Board member Robert Sumwalt said Thursday in an interview.

Interestingly, Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph H. Boardman was head of the FRA before taking the reins at Amtrak. (http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?c=Page&pagename=am%2FLayout&cid=1251623383973)

Link to Original Source

+ - Kim Dotcom calls Hillary Clinton an 'adversary' of Internet freedom->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: CNET reports, "Kim Dotcom ... says he views Hillary Clinton as an enemy of online freedom. ..... The subject of Clinton's candidacy came up when Dotcom was asked about a tweet he sent last year in which he said he called himself "Hillary's worse nightmare in 2016." He revisited that statement ... saying that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange would probably be a bigger headache for Clinton. "I'm aware of some of the things that are going to be roadblocks for her," he said, declining to be more specific. He said he hoped to provide some transparency and hoped to expand the influence of the Internet Party, the political party he is hoping to bring to the US." Breitbart adds, "As for why Kim and Assange might feel antipathy toward Hillary, Kim explained, “Hillary hates Julian she’s just an adversary of, I think, internet freedom.” A conflict between Assange and Clinton may have plenty of personal motivations, but it also seems inevitable in some sense. Hillary is obsessive about maintaining control of information. She created a personal server located in her home to handle all of her emails as Secretary of State, something no other Secretary has ever done. She then deleted all the contents of that server after self-selecting the emails she believed were work-related. More recently, she has refused to speak to the press for more than three weeks, even as she runs for President. By contrast, Assange has made a career out of parceling out what was once secret information. "
Link to Original Source

+ - Schools That Ban Mobile Phones See Better Academic Results

Submitted by HughPickens.com
HughPickens.com writes: Jamie Doward reports at The Guardian that according to a recent study in the UK, the effect of banning mobile phones from school premises adds up to the equivalent of an extra week’s schooling over a pupil’s academic year with the test scores of students aged 16 improved by 6.4% after schools banned mobile phones, “We found that not only did student achievement improve, but also that low-achieving and low-income students gained the most. We found the impact of banning phones for these students was equivalent to an additional hour a week in school, or to increasing the school year by five days." In the UK, more than 90% of teenagers own a mobile phone; in the US, just under three quarters have one. In a survey conducted in 2001, no school banned mobiles. By 2007, this had risen to 50%, and by 2012 some 98% of schools either did not allow phones on school premises or required them to be handed in at the beginning of the day. But some schools are starting to allow limited use of the devices. New York mayor Bill de Blasio has lifted a 10-year ban on phones on school premises, with the city’s chancellor of schools stating that it would reduce inequality.

The research was carried out at Birmingham, London, Leicester and Manchester schools before and after bans were introduced (PDF). It factored in characteristics such as gender, eligibility for free school meals, special educational needs status and prior educational attainment. “Technological advancements are commonly viewed as increasing productivity,” write Louis-Philippe Beland and Richard Murphy. “Modern technology is used in the classroom to engage students and improve performance. There are, however, potential drawbacks as well, as they could lead to distractions.”

+ - Is Agile Development a Failing Concept?-> 1

Submitted by Nerval's Lobster
Nerval's Lobster writes: Many development teams have embraced Agile as the ideal method for software development, relying on cross-functional teams and adaptive planning to see their product through to the finish line. Agile has its roots in the Agile Manifesto, the product of 17 software developers coming together in 2001 to talk over development methods. And now one of those developers, Andy Hunt, has taken to his blog to argue that Agile has some serious issues. Specifically, Hunt thinks a lot of developers out there simply aren’t adaptable and curious enough to enact Agile in its ideal form. 'Agile methods ask practitioners to think, and frankly, that’s a hard sell,' Hunt wrote. 'It is far more comfortable to simply follow what rules are given and claim you’re ‘doing it by the book.’' The blog posting offers a way to power out of the rut, however, and it centers on a method that Hunt refers to as GROWS, or Growing Real-World Oriented Working Systems. In broad strokes, GROWS sounds a lot like Agile in its most fundamental form; presumably Hunt’s future postings, which promise to go into more detail, will show how it differs. If Hunt wants the new model to catch on, he may face something of an uphill battle, given Agile’s popularity.
Link to Original Source

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