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Medicine

WHO Raises Swine Flu Threat Level 557

Solarch writes "Late in the afternoon on Wednesday, the WHO raised the pandemic threat level for H1N1 "swine flu" to 5. Global media outlets(such as CNN, Fox News, and the BBC) preempted normal broadcast coverage and immediately published stories on their websites. To clarify, the WHO's elevation is mainly a sign to governments that the virus is spreading quickly and that steps should be taken on a governmental level to stage supplies and medicines to combat a possible pandemic. Unfortunately, broadcast coverage focused on phrases like 'pandemic imminent' (CNN marquee). In other news, patient zero, the medical term for the initial human vector of a disease, has been tentatively identified in Mexico."
Image

New Food-Growth Product a Bit Hairy 243

MeatBag PussRocket writes "An article from Marketplace.org reports, 'A Florida company has developed an all-natural product that it says could revolutionize how food is grown in the US. It's called Smart Grow, but it might be a tough sell. It's inexpensive. It eliminates the need for pesticides, so it's environmentally friendly, but it's human hair. Plant pathologists at the University of Florida have found the mats eliminate weeds better than leading herbicides and can also make plants grow up to 30 percent larger.'"
United States

Obama Says 3% of GDP Should Fund Science Research And Development 753

tritonman writes "Obama wants to set a goal that the US spend 3% of its GDP on scientific research and development. 'I believe it is not in our character, American character, to follow — but to lead. And it is time for us to lead once again. I am here today to set this goal: we will devote more than 3 percent of our GDP to research and development,' Obama said in a speech at the annual meeting of the National Academy of Sciences."
Music

Music Copyright In EU Extended To 70 Years 395

rastos1 writes "The European Parliament extended the copyright in the EU for the performers of musical works from 50 to 70 years. The legislation will be reviewed in 3 years. The European Commission will consider extending the scope to audiovisual works too." So performers will collect for 20 more years from the date of performance; composers' rights already extend to 70 years beyond their deaths. Update: 4/26 at 12:15 GMT by SS: Reader rimberg points out that while the copyright extension was passed in the European Parliament, it is now being held up in the Council of Ministers awaiting further debate on the issue.
Books

Blackwell Launches Print-On-Demand Trial In the UK 116

krou writes "In Dec. 2006, we discussed the Espresso Book Machine. Well, on April 27 the bookseller Blackwell will launch a three-month trial of the machine in its Charing Cross Road branch in London as a 'print on demand' service for shoppers in an effort 'to consign to history the idea that you can walk into a bookshop and not find the book you want.' When the trial begins, it will be able to print any of some 400,000 titles; Blackwell's overall goal is to extend this to a million titles by the summer, and to spread out more machines to the rest of its sixty stores once it works out pricing. Currently, they charge shelf price for in-print books, and 10 pence per page for those out of print (about $55 for a 300-page book), but are analyzing customer behavior to get a better pricing model. Says Blackwell chief executive Andrew Hutchings: 'This could change bookselling fundamentally. It's giving the chance for smaller locations, independent booksellers, to have the opportunity to truly compete with big stock-holding shops and Amazon ... I like to think of it as the revitalization of the local bookshop industry.' Their website notes that in addition to getting books printed in-store, in future you will be able to order titles via their site. (They also mention that one of the titles you can print is the 1915 Oxford Poetry Book, which includes one of Tolkien's first poems, 'Goblin's Feet.')" You'll also be able to bring in your own book to print — two PDF files, one for the book block and one for the cover.
Medicine

New Flu Strain Appears In the US and Mexico 315

Combat Wombat writes with this excerpt from Reuters: "A strain of flu never seen before has killed up to 60 people in Mexico and also appeared in the United States, where eight people were infected but recovered, health officials said on Friday. Mexico's government said at least 20 people have died of the flu and it may also be responsible for 40 other deaths. [The government] shut down schools and canceled major public events in Mexico City to try to prevent more deaths in the sprawling, overcrowded capital. ... Close analysis showed the disease is a mixture of swine, human and avian viruses, according to the CDC. Humans can occasionally catch swine flu from pigs but rarely have they been known to pass it on to other people. Mexico reported 1,004 suspected cases of the new virus, including four possible cases in Mexicali on the border with California.
Spam

Opting Out Increases Spam? 481

J. L. Tympanum writes "I used to ignore spam but recently I have been using the opt-out feature. Now I get more spam than ever, especially of the Nigerian scam (and related) types. The latter has gone from almost none to several a day. Was I a fool for opting out? Is my email address being harvested when I opt out? Has anybody had similar experience?"
Books

Copyright Lobby Targets "Pirate Bay For Books" 356

An anonymous reader writes "TTVK, a Finnish national copyright lobby, is threatening a book rental service called Bookabooka for allegedly running the 'Pirate Bay for Books.' Bookabooka however does not offer a torrent tracker service, nor does it enable a user in any way to download eBooks; it simply provides a place for book owners to rent textbooks to each other via the traditional mail service. It is mandatory that all textbooks must be originals. The service is used by a lot of School and University students, and it does not handle the shipping or returns of the textbooks. Nevertheless, the Finnish book publishers' association (Suomen Kustannusyhdistys) is convinced the service is breaching the copyright laws and threatening their business. TTVK has given Bookabooka until Friday to cease operations or face a lawsuit. Bookabooka's founders have vowed to keep the service online and ignore the threat."
Image

Robotic Penguins 118

Corporate Troll writes "Robotic penguins were unveiled by German engineering firm Festo this week. Using their flippers, the mechanical penguins (video) can paddle through water just like real ones, while larger helium-filled designs can "swim" through the air. The penguins are on show at the Hannover Messe Trade Exhibition in Germany. Each penguin carries 3D sonar which is used to monitor its surroundings and avoid collisions with walls or other penguins."
Security

New Mega-Botnet Discovered 257

yahoi writes "According to the DarkReading article, 'Researchers have discovered a major botnet operating out of the Ukraine that has infected 1.9 million machines, including large corporate and government PCs mainly in the US. The botnet, which appears to be larger than the infamous Storm botnet was in its heyday, has infected machines from some 77 government-owned domains — 51 of which are in the US government. Researchers from Finjan who found the botnet say it's controlled by six individuals, and includes machines in major banks.'"
Linux Business

"Good Enough" Computers Are the Future 515

An anonymous reader writes "Over on the PC World blog, Keir Thomas engages in some speculative thinking. Pretending to be writing from the year 2025, he describes a world of 'Good Enough computing,' wherein ultra-cheap PCs and notebooks (created to help end-users weather the 'Great Recession' of the early 21st century) are coupled to open source operating systems. This is possible because even the cheapest chips have all the power most people need nowadays. In what is effectively the present situation with netbooks writ large, he sees a future where Microsoft is priced out of the entire desktop operating system market and can't compete. It's a fun read that raises some interesting points."
Security

Intel Cache Poisoning Is Dangerously Easy On Linux 393

Julie188 writes "A researcher recently released proof-of-concept code for an exploit that allows a hacker to overrun an Intel CPU cache and plant a rootkit. A second, independent researcher has examined the exploit and noted that it is so simple and so stealthy that it is likely out in the wild now, unbeknownst to its victims. The attack works best on a Linux system with an Intel DQ35 motherboard with 2GB of memory. It turns out that Linux allows the root user to access MTR registers incredibly easily. With Windows this exploit can be used, but requires much more work and skill and so while the Linux exploit code is readily available now, no Windows exploit code has, so far, been released or seen. This attack is hardware specific, but unfortunately, it is specific to Intel's popular DQ35 motherboards."
Space

Scientists Discover Exoplanet Less Than Twice the Mass of Earth 201

Snowblindeye writes with this excerpt from the European Southern Observatory: "Well-known exoplanet researcher Michel Mayor today announced the discovery of the lightest exoplanet found so far. The planet, 'e,' in the famous system Gliese 581, is only about twice the mass of Earth. The team also refined the orbit of the planet Gliese 581 d, first discovered in 2007, placing it well within the habitable zone, where liquid water oceans could exist. Planet Gliese 581 e orbits its host star — located only 20.5 light-years away in the constellation Libra ('the Scales') — in just 3.15 days. 'With only 1.9 Earth-masses, it is the least massive exoplanet ever detected and is, very likely, a rocky planet,' says co-author Xavier Bonfils from Grenoble Observatory. Being so close to its host star, the planet is not in the habitable zone. But another planet in this system appears to be. ... The planet furthest out, Gliese 581 d, orbits its host star in 66.8 days. 'Gliese 581 d is probably too massive to be made only of rocky material, but we can speculate that it is an icy planet that has migrated closer to the star,' says team member Stephane Udry. The new observations have revealed that this planet is in the habitable zone, where liquid water could exist. '"d" could even be covered by a large and deep ocean — it is the first serious "water world" candidate,' continued Udry."
Microsoft

The History of Microsoft's Anti-Competitive Behavior 361

jabjoe writes "Groklaw is highlighting a new document from the European Committee for Interoperable Systems (PDF) about the history of Microsoft's anti-competitive behavior. Quoting: 'ECIS has written it in support of the EU Commission's recent preliminary findings, on January 15, 2009, that Microsoft violated antitrust law by tying IE to Windows. It is, to the best of my knowledge, the first time that the issue of Microsoft's patent threats against Linux have been framed in a context of anti-competitive conduct.' The report itself contains interesting quotes, like this one from Microsoft's Thomas Reardon: '[W]e should just quietly grow j++ share and assume that people will take more advantage of our classes without ever realizing they are building win32-only java apps.' It also has the Gates 1998 Deposition."
Power

Developing Battery Replacement Infrastructure For Electric Cars 369

FathomIT sends in a NY Times profile of Shai Agassi, owner of a company named Better Place, who is working to build the infrastructure to support large numbers of small-scale charging spots for electric cars, as well as fast, automated battery swap stations. "The robot — a squat platform that moves on four dinner-plate-size white wheels — scuttled back and forth along a 20-foot-long set of metal rails. At one end of the rails, a huge blue battery, the size of a large suitcase, sat suspended in a frame. As we watched, the robot zipped up to the battery, made a nearly inaudible click, and pulled the battery downward. It ferried the battery over to the other end of the rails, dropped it off, picked up a new battery, hissed back over to the frame and, in one deft movement, snapped the new battery in the place of the old one. The total time: 45 seconds."

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