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Supercomputing

Flu Models Predict Pandemic, But Flu Chips Ready 216

An anonymous reader writes "Supercomputer software models predict that swine flu will likely go pandemic sometime next week, but flu chips capable of detecting the virus within four hours are already rolling off the assembly line. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which has designated swine flu as the '2009 H1N1 flu virus,' is modeling the spread of the virus using modeling software designed by the Department of Defense back when avian flu was a perceived threat. Now those programs are being run on cluster supercomputers and predict that officials are not implementing enough social distancing--such as closing all schools--to prevent a pandemic. Companies that designed flu-detecting chips for avian flu, are quickly retrofitting them to detect swine flu, with the first flu chips being delivered to labs today." Relatedly, at least one bio-surveillance firm is claiming they detected and warned the CDC and the WHO about the swine flu problem in Mexico over two weeks before the alert was issued.
Earth

Submission + - 'No Sun link' to climate change (bbc.co.uk)

Foamy writes: The BBC reports that: "Scientists have produced further compelling evidence showing that modern-day climate change is not caused by changes in the Sun's activity." and "Over the course of one of the Sun's natural 11-year cycles, there was a weak correlation between cosmic ray intensity and cloud cover — but cosmic ray variability could at the very most explain only a quarter of the changes in cloudiness."
The Courts

Submission + - A new human right for digital privacy is born (karlsruhe.de)

psyced writes: "A landmark ruling by the Federal Constitutional Court about the constitutionality of secret online searches of computers is putting some pressure on Germany's lawmakers:

The decision constitutes a new "basic right to the confidentiality and integrity of information-technological systems" as derived from the German Constitution.
While German legislators tried their best to support the so-called War on Terror, the German justice system has proven its political independence by restricting most of the recently introduced surveillance laws.

The law gave security officials the authority to spy remotely on suspected criminals by sending a computer virus that would read data from a suspect's hard drive. The law permitted not just access to the hard disk but also ongoing surveillance of data, such as e-mail, as well as remote tracking of keyboard entries or online phone calls. This activity, the court said, violated a person's right to privacy. But the decision allowed for exceptions: in cases of "paramount importance" — that is, in cases of life or death, or a threat to the state — authorities would be permitted to use such software, with a court's permission.
Additionally, the Constitutional Court has partly suspended the blanket collection of traffic and location data of the entire population (the so-called "data retention") by putting tight restrictions on how retained data may be used.

"We remain confident that in cooperation with over 30.000 other applicants, we will be able to stop the surveillance of telecommunications in the absence of reasonable suspicion", declares Werner Hülsmann, member of the Working Group [on Data Retention]. In the meantime, the Working Group gives recommendations on its homepage on how to circumvent data retention. "The decision of the Federal Constitutional Court is a success that was also achieved by thousands of people who resisted their wanton surveillance on the streets, in letters to politicians and with their constitutional complaints."
Welcome to your new human right for digital privacy!"

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