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Space

Submission + - Europe sets modest goals for space (nature.com)

ananyo writes: "Europe’s space chiefs are hailing the two-day meeting at which research ministers hammered out Europe’s priorities in space as a success, despite them getting less money than they had hoped. At the 20–21 November meeting in Naples, Italy, the ministers agreed to give the European Space Agency (ESA) €10.1 billion (US$13 billion) over the next several years, somewhat less than the total €12 billion cost of the project proposals considered at the meeting.
With flat funding of about €500 million per year for 2013–17, the scientific programme takes a cut in real terms, although it is not yet clear which missions will be affected as a result.
But ministers did agree on a way forward for the Ariane program. Germany argued that ESA should continue to develop an upgraded version of the rocket known as Ariane 5 Midlife Evolution (5ME), which can carry payloads 20% heavier than its namesake and could put satellites in higher orbits. But France believed it was better to start building a new Ariane 6 rocket that would be cheaper to launch and therefore more competitive. In the end it was agreed that both projects should be developed over the next couple of years — with funding of about €600 million — and then both will be reviewed in 2014, with the goal that Ariane 5ME will launch in 2017 or 2018.
For robotic exploration, meanwhile, there is mixed news. On 19 November, ESA’s ruling council approved the involvement of Russia in the agency’s twin ExoMars missions to measure trace gases in Mars' atmosphere and search for signs of life on the planet's surface, scheduled for launch in 2016 and 2018. The Russian space agency Roscosmos will provide two Proton rockets for the lift-off and so plug some of the funding gap left when NASA pulled out of the mission last year. But just ahead of the Naples meeting, Germany announced that it would abandon plans for a lunar lander because it could not gather enough support from other member states to pay for the €500-million mission."

Science

Submission + - Blind Patient Reads Words Stimulated Directly Onto the Retina

ScienceGeek.Michael writes: "Neuroprosthetic device uses implant to project visual braille

For the very first time researchers have streamed braille patterns directly into a blind patient’s retina, allowing him to read four-letter words accurately and quickly with an ocular neuroprosthetic device. The device, the Argus II, has been implanted in over 50 patients, many of who can now see color, movement and objects. It uses a small camera mounted on a pair of glasses, a portable processor to translate the signal from the camera into electrical stimulation, and a microchip with electrodes implanted directly on the retina. The study was authored by researchers at Second Sight, the company who developed the device, and has been published in Frontiers in Neuroprosthetics on the 21st of November."
Security

Submission + - U.S. Denies Malware Attack Against France (informationweek.com)

CowboyRobot writes: "That allegation was leveled at the U.S. government by unnamed French officials, according to a Tuesday report in the weekly French newspaper L'Express. It reported that computers belonging to top advisers to then French president Nicolas Sarkozy had been hacked using the Flame cyberespionage malware, which was designed to be used in highly targeted attacks... Napolitano was also asked if it wasn't ironic that while the United States has been sounding alarms over the growing amount of malware that's targeting U.S. government system, it also commissioning the Stuxnet and Flame cyber-espionage malware used against Iran. Napolitano, however, pled official ignorance. "These programs were never attributed in any way to the U.S. government.""
Your Rights Online

Submission + - Reserve Bank of India rejects Islamic Banking (firstpost.com) 1

vencs writes: Earning interest on deposits is prohibited under Islamic banking. Instead, the money could be utilised for enterprises and the profit earned from their functioning could be shared by investors. There had been offers of Islamic funding schemes from NRIs and groups in the Middle East and other countries. However, the Governor of Reserve Bank of India said that Islamic banking is not permissible under existing rules.

In its intended form, Islamic banking as advocated by the Prophet would be close to venture capital or even a mutual fund – where the investor earns nothing if his money makes a business loss. He gets a share of profit or dividends if the venture or underlying investment makes a profit.

Education

Submission + - Cyber Corps program trains spies for the digital age (latimes.com)

David Hume writes: "The Los Angeles Times has a story entitled Cyber Corps program trains spies for the digital age, about the two-year University of Tulsa Cyber Corps Program. About "85% of the 260 graduates since 2003 have gone to the NSA, which students call "the fraternity," or the CIA, which they call "the sorority."" "Other graduates have taken positions with the FBI, NASA and the Department of Homeland Security." According to the University of Tulsa website, two programs — the National Science Foundation's Federal Cyber Service: Scholarship for Service and the Department of Defense's (DOD's) Information Assurance Scholarship Program — provide scholarships to Cyber Corps students."
Apple

Submission + - 1976 Polaroids of an Apple-1 resurface (time.com)

harrymcc writes: "In 1976, Paul Terrell, owner of the Byte Shop in Mountain View, California, placed an order for 50 Apple-1 computers, becoming Apple's first dealer. Over at TIME.com, I've published three Polaroid snapshots of the Apple-1 which Terrell shot at the time. They're fascinating history, and it's possible they're the oldest surviving photos of Apple products."
Power

Submission + - HydroICE project developing a solar-powered combustion engine (gizmag.com)

cylonlover writes: OK, first things first – stop picturing a car with solar panels connected to its engine. What Missouri-based inventors Matt Bellue and Ben Cooper are working on is something a little different than that. They want to take an internal combustion engine, and run it on water and solar-heated oil instead of gasoline. That engine could then be hooked up to a generator, to provide clean electricity. While that may sound a little iffy to some, Bellue and Cooper have already built a small-scale prototype.
Open Source

Submission + - Guy builds wifi wardriving motorbike (scmagazine.com.au)

mask.of.sanity writes: "This custom Yamaha TRX 850 has been outfitted with wireless sniffing and attack tools, routers, a laptop, Raspberry Pi and even a heads up display integrated within the bike helmet.

It was built from open source kit and cheap hardware by a security penetration tester who wanted to make his love of wardriving more nimble.

The plans are detailed in a diagram and a video."

Science

Submission + - Water From Water Vapor With Hydrophilic Beetle-Emulating Coatings (astounde.com)

mbstone writes: The Namib Desert Beetle generates water from water vapor via its shell, which has alternating hydrophilic and hydrophobic bumps which channel water droplets into its mouth. Scientists at MIT developed a self-filling water bottle using this technology, and have announced a contest for the best design of a countertop water-from-air generator.
Security

Submission + - HTTP Strict Transport Security becomes Internet standard (computerworld.com.au)

angry tapir writes: "A Web security policy mechanism that promises to make HTTPS-enabled websites more resilient to various types of attacks has been approved and released as an Internet standard — but despite support from some high-profile websites, adoption elsewhere is still low. HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) allows websites to declare themselves accessible only over HTTPS (HTTP Secure) and was designed to prevent hackers from forcing user connections over HTTP or abusing mistakes in HTTPS implementations to compromise content integrity."
Google

Submission + - DuckDuckGo - Is Google Playing Fair? (huffingtonpost.com)

Penurious Penguin writes: Privacy-oriented search-engine and Google-rival, DuckDuckGo, is contending possible anti-competitiveness on the part of Google. MIT graduate and founder of DuckDuckGo, Gabriel Weinberg, cites several examples; his company's disadvantages in the Android mobile OS; and browsers, which in Firefox requires only a single step to set DuckDuckGo as the default search — while doing so in Chrome requires five. Weinberg also questions the domain duck.com, which he offered to purchase before it was acquired by Google. His offer was declined and duck.com now directs to Google's homepage.

Weinberg isn't the first to make similar claims; there was scroogle.org, which earlier this year, permanently shut down after repeated compatibility issues with Google's algorithms. Whatever the legitimacy of these claims, there certainly seems a growing market for people interested in privacy and objective searches — avoiding profiled search-results, aka "filter bubbles".

Earth

Submission + - The World Falls Back in Love with Coal

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "Richard Anderson reports on BBC that despite stringent carbon emissions targets in Europe designed to slow global warming and massive investment in renewable energy in China, coal, the dirtiest and most polluting of all the major fossil fuels, is making a comeback with production up 6% on 2010, twice the rate of increase of gas and more than four times that of oil. “What is going on is a shift from nuclear power to coal and from gas to coal; this is the worst thing you could do, from a climate change perspective,” says Dieter Helm. Why the shift back to coal? Because coal is cheap, and getting cheaper all the time. Due to the economic downturn, there has been a "collapse in industrial demand for energy," leading to an oversupply of coal, pushing the price down. Meanwhile China leads the world in coal production and consumption. It mines over 3 billion tons of coal a year, three times more than the next-biggest producer (America), and last year overtook Japan to become the world's biggest coal importer. Although China is spending massive amounts of money on a renewable energy but even this will not be able to keep up with demand, meaning fossil fuels will continue to make up the majority of the overall energy mix for the foreseeable future and when it comes to fossil fuels, coal is the easy winner — it is generally easier and cheaper to mine, and easier to transport using existing infrastructure such as roads and rail, than oil or gas. While China is currently running half a dozen carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects — which aim to capture CO2 emissions from coal plants and bury it underground — the technology is nowhere near commercial viability. "Renewed urgency in developing CCS globally, alongside greater strides in increasing renewable energy capacity, is desperately needed," writes Anderson, "but Europe's increasing reliance on coal without capturing emissions is undermining its status as a leader in clean energy, and therefore global efforts to reduce CO2 emissions.""
EU

Submission + - EU Passes resolution against ITU asserting control over internet (falkvinge.net)

An anonymous reader writes: Today, the European Parliament passed a resolution that condemns the upcoming attempt from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to assert control over the Internet, and instructed its 27 Member States to act accordingly. This follows an attempt from the ITU to assert itself as the governing body and control the Internet.
Your Rights Online

Submission + - Fox news parent NewsCorp may face corruption investigation (guardian.co.uk)

rtfa-troll writes: The Guardian reports that News Corporation may face FCPA investigations after an "official of the British ministry of defence" was charged "for allegedly receiving £100,000 from Murdoch's tabloid newspapers". News corporation, headed by Rupert Murdock, is loved by most of the readers of Slashdot as the owner of Fox News and as the company which put the overly complicated paywall on the Wall Street Journal. The article states that the charges "would be hard for the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission to ignore and would warrant investigation under the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act which could lead to risks for "27 TV licences within the Fox network" .

Submission + - Saudi Arabia implements electronic tracking system for women (rawstory.com)

dsinc writes: Denied the right to travel without consent from their male guardians and banned from driving, women in Saudi Arabia are now monitored by an electronic system that tracks any cross-border movements.

Since last week, Saudi women’s male guardians began receiving text messages on their phones informing them when women under their custody leave the country, even if they are travelling together.

“The authorities are using technology to monitor women,” said columnist Badriya al-Bishr, who criticised the “state of slavery under which women are held” in the ultra-conservative kingdom.

Women are not allowed to leave the kingdom without permission from their male guardian, who must give his consent by signing what is known as the “yellow sheet” at the airport or border.

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