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Earth

Indonesian Erruption Forces Evacuation of 1300 36

ABC News reports that "A volcano in western Indonesia erupted again Sunday, unleashing volcanic ash high into the sky and forcing the evacuation of villagers living around its slope. Officials raised Mount Sinabung's alert status to the second-highest level after the 2,600-meter (8,530-foot) -high mountain erupted early Sunday, said National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho. Authorities were working to evacuate residents from four North Sumatra province villages located within the mountain's three-kilometer (two-mile) danger zone, Nugroho said. About 1,300 villagers have been relocated to safer areas so far. It was the volcano's second big eruption since late last month, with its Oct. 24 explosion prompting the evacuation of more than 3,300 people." This video of Sinabung's 2010 eruption gives some clue about what to expect.
Businesses

Companies Petition Congress To Reform 'Business Method' Patent Process 78

ectoman writes "This week, a coalition of more than 40 companies sent a letter to Congress asking for legislation that expands the Covered Business Method (CBM) program, a move some feel would stem patent abuse in the United States. Expanding the scope of CBM—a program that grants the Patent and Trademark Office the power to challenge the validity of certain business methods patents—would expedite the patent review process and significantly cut litigation costs, they say. "The vague and sweeping scope of many business method claims covering straight forward, common sense steps has led to an explosion of patent claims against processes used every day in common technologies by thousands of businesses and millions of Americans," says the letter, signed by companies like Amazon, Netflix, Red Hat, Macy's, and Kroger)."
The Almighty Buck

Connecticut Groups Cancels Plan to Destroy Violent Games 350

An anonymous reader writes with an update to an earlier story about a group wanting to destroy your violent video games. "Southington, a town in Connecticut, has canceled its plans to collect and destroy violent games, stating that it has already succeeded in raising attention." Perhaps the real reason: "Backed by the Southington Chamber of Commerce, SouthingtonSOS originally planned to offer citizens $25 gift certificates in exchange for their violent games, films, and CDs, which the group would collect for 'permanent disposal.'"
Government

The Netherlands Rejects ACTA, and Does One Better 112

New submitter Peetke writes "The Dutch House of Representatives unanimously accepted a motion to urge the Cabinet to reject ACTA [Dutch original] (if they ever get the change to do so; it may already end in the European Parliament). Additionally, an even stronger motion was accepted to reject any future treaty that may harm a free and open Internet. This is a good day for the Internet."
Books

The Looming Library Lending Battle 390

smitty777 writes "The NY Times is running a piece on the tug of war between publishers and libraries for e-book lending. In one corner are the publishers, who claim that unlimited lending of e-books 'without friction is not a sustainable business model for us.' For example, Harper Collins claims in this corporate statement that unlimited lending would lead to a decrease in royalties for both the publisher and the writers. The NYT author further states that 'To keep their overall revenue from taking a hit from lost sales to individuals, publishers need to reintroduce more inconvenience for the borrower or raise the price for the library purchaser.' Their current solution is to limit the number of readings to 26 before a book license must be renewed. In the other corner are the libraries, who are happy that e-books are luring people back to libraries, bringing with them desperately needed additional funding. With e-book sales going extremely well this year and the introduction of more capable e-readers, this debate is likely to get worse before it gets better. The Guardian also has an interesting related piece on the pricing practices of the Big Six publishers."
Idle

2012 Mayan Calendar 'Doomsday' Date Might Be Wrong 144

astroengine writes "A UC Santa Barbara associate professor is disputing the accuracy of the mesoamerican 'Long Count' calendar after highlighting several astronomical flaws in a correlation factor used to synchronize the ancient Mayan calendar with our modern Gregorian calendar. If proven to be correct, Gerardo Aldana may have nudged the infamous December 21, 2012 'End of the World' date out by at least 60 days. Unfortunately, even if the apocalypse is rescheduled, doomsday theorists will unlikely take note."
Image

Deodorant Sought to Save New Zealand's Native Birds Screenshot-sm 102

New Zealand researchers have received a NZ$600,000 grant to develop a deodorant for native birds whose strong odors make them easy targets for introduced predators. Since the birds evolved without any mammal predators they emit a very strong odor compared to birds in other parts of the world. Canterbury University researcher Jim Briskie says kiwis smell like mushrooms or ammonia, while kakapo parrots have a hint of "musty violin case."

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