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United Kingdom

Big Brother Is Coming To UK Universities (theguardian.com) 75

An anonymous reader writes: An upcoming report by the Higher Education Commission, a UK group of MPs, business and academic professionals, will paint a picture of a higher education system that, thanks to the increasing use of data, may undergo radical change, sometimes with painful ethical considerations. Among their visions: an Amazon-style recommendation service on courses and work experience based on individuals' backgrounds, and similar profiles. Or a system in which students at risk of failure can be identified from their first day so that they receive instant feedback and performance measuring. It is envisioned that the system will include knowing whether they are in lectures, at the gym or in the bar, and in an effort to boost their results, students may also want to share data on their fitness, sleeping patterns, and their academic and semi-academic interactions online.
Facebook

Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo Balk At UK's Investigatory Powers (betanews.com) 55

Mark Wilson writes: The Investigatory Powers Bill may only be in draft form at the moment, but the UK government has already received criticism for its plans. Today, scores of pieces of written evidence, both for and against the proposals, have been published, including input from the Reform Government Surveillance (RGS) coalition. Five key members of the coalition are Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo. In their written evidence, the quintet of tech companies express their concerns about the draft bill, seek clarification from the UK government, and issue warnings about the implications of such a bill. The evidence (document IPB0116) says that any surveillance undertaken by the government need to be 'targeted, lawful, proportionate, necessary, jurisdictionally bounded, and transparent'. The coalition notes that many other countries are watching to see what the UK does.
United Kingdom

Massive Marine Reserve Created In Atlantic (bbc.com) 81

An anonymous reader writes: The British government has announced that it will create a marine reserve slightly smaller than the UK in the waters off Ascension Island. The South Atlantic reserve totals 234,291 sq km and is being funded with the help of a £300,000 grant from the charitable Bacon Foundation. Charles Clover, Blue Marine Foundation chairman, said: "Ascension has been at the frontiers of science since Charles Darwin went there in the 19th Century, so it is entirely appropriate that it is now at the centre of a great scientific effort to design the Atlantic's largest marine reserve."
Power

Last Operating Magnox Nuclear Reactor Closes 98

nojayuk writes: The world's last operating Magnox nuclear reactor, Wylfa 1 in Anglesey, Wales was closed yesterday after providing carbon-free power for over 40 years. Wylfa1 was originally scheduled to shut in 2012 along with the adjacent Wylfa 2 reactor but it was kept operating for another three years with the innovative use of partially-burnt fuel from Wylfa 2 and remaining stocks of fresh Magnox fuel. The reactor will be defuelled and move into its decommissioning phase over the next year. The Magnox design used gas-cooling and a carbon moderator with the capability to produce weapons-grade plutonium depending on how it was fuelled and operated. Its design fed into the next-generation AGRs which provide about 6GW of Britain's electricity supply today.
United Kingdom

PRESTON: The UK's "Big Brother" Comprehensive National Database System (theregister.co.uk) 57

gb7djk writes: The investigative journalist Duncan Campbell has written an article at The Register claiming that the UK Government has been secretly creating a database of all telephone calls, financial and travel records for the last 15 years. From the article: "Located inside the riverside headquarters of the Security Service, MI5, in Thames House, PRESTON works alongside and links to massive databases holding telephone call records, internet use records, travel, financial, and other personal records held by the National Technical Assistance Centre (NTAC), a little known intelligence support agency set up by Tony Blair's government in a 1999 plan to combat encryption and provide a national centre for internet surveillance and domestic codebreaking."
United Kingdom

British Court Rejects Donald Trump's Attempt To Block Wind Farm (nytimes.com) 421

HughPickens.com writes: Sewell Chan reports at the NYT that Britain's highest court has unanimously rejected an attempt by Donald J. Trump to block the construction of a wind farm near his luxury golf resort in northeast Scotland. Trump has vowed to stop further development on the project if the offshore wind farm — 11 turbines, which would be visible from the golf resort 2.2 miles away — goes forward. Trump spokesman George A. Sorial denounced the ruling as "extremely unfortunate for the residents of Aberdeen and anyone who cares about Scotland's economic future" adding that the wind farm will "completely destroy the bucolic Aberdeen Bay and cast a terrible shadow upon the future of tourism for the area. History will judge those involved unfavorably, and the outcome demonstrates the foolish, small-minded and parochial mentality which dominates the current Scottish government's dangerous experiment with wind energy."

Nicola Sturgeon, first minister of Scotland, withdrew Trump's status as a business ambassador to Scotland last week after Trump called for Muslims to be barred from entering the United States. Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen has stripped Mr. Trump of an honorary degree it awarded him in 2010. Trump's mother was born in Scotland and moved to the United States in the 1930s. " I think I do feel Scottish," said Trump at one time.

United Kingdom

Researchers Are Developing Cure for Human Pain (neurosciencenews.com) 151

transporter_ii writes: Scientists from University College London seem to have come up with a two-pronged treatment regimen they believe would help patients suffering from chronic pain. And in a strange irony, they did it by making it possible for mice – and one human – to feel pain when they previously couldn't. From the story: "To examine if opioids were important for painlessness, the researchers gave naloxone, an opioid blocker, to mice lacking Nav1.7 and found that they became able to feel pain. They then gave naloxone to a 39-year-old woman with the rare mutation and she felt pain for the first time in her life. 'After a decade of rather disappointing drug trials, we now have confirmation that Nav1.7 really is a key element in human pain,' says senior author Professor John Wood (UCL Medicine). 'The secret ingredient turned out to be good old-fashioned opioid peptides, and we have now filed a patent for combining low dose opioids with Nav1.7 blockers. This should replicate the painlessness experienced by people with rare mutations, and we have already successfully tested this approach in unmodified mice.'"
United Kingdom

Keep Two Bank Accounts To Beat Cyber Attacks, Says Bank of England Adviser (thestack.com) 172

An anonymous reader writes: Everyone should keep two bank accounts so they can still access their money if one bank is hit by a cyber attack, a former Bank of England adviser has warned. "I'd certainly rather have two [accounts] in case my bank was attacked. I would want to know I could still get money out of the other one," banking expert Peter Hahn said in an interview with BBC's Today, ahead of the Bank of England's latest Financial Stability Report. According to the report, cyber risk is one of the five greatest dangers facing the UK banking industry.
United Kingdom

UK Prisons To Crack Down On Inmate Internet and Mobile Phone Use (thestack.com) 70

An anonymous reader writes: UK prisons will roll out enhanced internet and mobile phone blocking technologies, according to new measures announced yesterday by Chancellor George Osborne in the Autumn Statement. The step, which seeks to stop inmate access to the internet and calls made from mobile devices, will involve part of a £1.3bn investment from the Ministry of Justice to improve the country's Prison Service. Through this strategy, the government hopes to drive "safety improvements" by denying calls and data used on illicit mobile devices. The latest development in blocking technologies promises to be better (paywalled) than earlier systems, which inmates have been able to get around.
Transportation

London's Deputy Mayor On Ditching Diesel 188

dkatana writes: During an interview in Barcelona last week, at the Smart Cities Congress, London's Deputy Mayor Matthew Pencharz said that he doesn't believe diesel cars belong in cities. He said, "I don't believe that for the urban setting, for light vehicles, diesel is the right thing," He added, "I don't think it is the right thing if you are an urban driver, stopping-starting in traffic all day, not going very far, not zipping along at 50 mph on the motorway. [I think] diesel is not the right technology." He also blamed the European Commission for being too lenient with emission standards and conformity factors. "The conformity factors the Commission [has recently approved] are not as good as we would like, clearly, because we are going to have the same problem again," he said. "The VW scandal has focused attention on a problem we hardly knew about, and it has raised to the top the public policy of failure of dieselization across the European Union, and the UK too, combined with the spectacular failure of the Euro engine standards," he said. "[The scandal] has focused our minds on the fact that we need to accelerate the way out of diesel."
Censorship

BBC World Service To Provide Radio For North Korea and Eritrea (bbc.com) 64

Ewan Palmer writes: The BBC World service has announced it will expand to serve the worst countries for press freedom as part of a plan to reach a global audience of 500 million. The British government announced its "single biggest increase in the World Service budget ever committed" and promised to invest more than $128 million by 2017/18 to the service. Along with improvements in countries such as Thailand, Russia and Somalia, they will launch radio services in North Korea and Eritrea who, according to Reporters Without Borders' 2015 World Press Freedom index, are the two worst performing countries in the world when ranked on a number of criteria including media independence, respect for the safety and freedom of journalists, and infrastructural environment in which the media operate.
United Kingdom

UK's Gigaclear Launches 5 Gbps Fiber Broadband Service (networkworld.com) 91

An anonymous reader writes: Broadband service provider Gigaclear announced it will offer 5 Gbps internet service beginning next year. Most homes would be hard-pressed to consume data at this rate today, but these speeds will become necessary when over-the-top television services like Netflix and HBO GO become commonplace, television pixel densities grow to 8K (7680p X 4320p) at 60 to 120 fps, and the IoT connects every other home device to the internet. “We’re offering customers the chance to access absolutely phenomenal broadband speeds,” Gigaclear CEO Matthew Hare said in an official announcement. “To be clear, this is a premium service that gives the fastest Internet speeds in the country to those of our customers who want the best connection that they can get.”
United Kingdom

UK PM Wants To Speed Up Controversial Internet Bill After Paris Attacks (thestack.com) 167

An anonymous reader writes: Less than three days after the attacks in Paris, UK prime minister David Cameron has suggested that the process of review for the controversial Draft Investigatory Powers Bill should be accelerated. The controversial proposal, which would require British ISPs to retain a subset of a user's internet history for a year and in effect outlaw zero-knowledge encryption in the UK, was intended for parliamentary review and ratification by the end of 2016, but at the weekend ex-terrorist watchdog Lord Carlile was in the vanguard of demands to speed the bill into law by the end of this year, implicitly criticizing ex-NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden for having 'shown terrorists ways to hide their electronic footprints'.
United Kingdom

Bank of England's Andy Haldane Warns Smart Machines Could Take 15M UK Jobs (robotenomics.com) 291

New submitter Colin Robotenomics writes In an important new paper based on a speech at the trade union congress in London, Andy Haldane Chief Economist at the Bank of England and Executive Director of Monetary Analysis and Statistics has examined the history of technological unemployment and has given a thorough review of the literature and implications for public policy. The media will likely focus on the number of jobs that can be displaced and not necessarily Haldane's points on new jobs being created – both of which are highly important as is 'skilling-up'. His report reads in part: "...Taking the probabilities of automation, and multiplying them by the numbers employed, gives a broad brush estimate of the number of jobs potentially automatable. For the UK, that would suggest up to 15 million jobs could be at risk of automation. In the US, the corresponding figure would be 80 million jobs."
United Kingdom

Broadband Bills Will Have To Increase To Pay For Snooper's Charter, MPs Warned (theguardian.com) 77

An anonymous reader writes that the UK's Science and Technology Select Committee has been told that ISPs will have huge problems implementing the so-called snooper's charter, and may be forced to raise their prices. The Guardian reports: "Consumers' broadband bills will have to go up if the investigatory powers bill is passed due to the "massive cost" of implementation, MPs have been warned. Internet service providers (ISP) told a Commons select committee that the legislation, commonly known as the snooper's charter, does not properly acknowledge the "sheer quantity" of data generated by a typical internet user, nor the basic difficulty of distinguishing between content and metadata. As a result, the cost of implementing plans to make ISPs store communications data for up to 12 months are likely to be far in excess of the £175m the government has budgeted for the task, said Matthew Hare, the chief executive of ISP Gigaclear."

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