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Submission + - Caterpillars Munch Plastic Bags. An Insect Solution to the Problem of Landills. (sciencemag.org)

Yergle143 writes: We live in an age of plastic. Finding uses at every level of human enterprise and industry, our plastic polymer refuse will be the unmistakable signature of our civilization. The chemically inert nature of plastics is the feature that makes recycling difficult. Someday enriched deposits of Prell bottles and Saran Wrap may decorate a geologic layer that defines us as clearly as the calcium carbonate exoskeleton of extinct bivalves. As reported in the Journal Current Biology a serendipitous discovery may form the basis for a biological remedy to our plastic waste problem. While purging empty bee hives of an infestation by the larvae of the greater wax moth (Galleria mellonell) who dine on beeswax, researchers at the Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology of Cantabria in Spain, found that caterpillars that had been placed in a an ordinary plastic grocery bag were able to rapidly eat their way out. They report that these voracious wax worms, due to the action of their own suite of enzymes or that of their microflora, can breakdown polyethylene to polyethylene glycol, a substance found in antifreeze and one that is easily metabolized. While other reports on the bioremediation of polyethylene plastics have appeared, the wax worm seems to exhibit a special processivity for this intractable polymeric material. Is our age of plastic at wax?

Submission + - Leaked NSA hacking tools will be weaponized for years to come (cyberscoop.com)

Patrick O'Neill writes: Over 200,000 machines have been infected with NSA tools leaked by the ShadowBrokers. Security researchers, seeing as many as 25,000 new infections per day, say the “reliable and easy to use” tools will be workable in the wild for the next decade. There's precedent to back this up: The most exploited vulnerability in both 2015 and 2016 was the software flaw, first discovered in 2010, that allowed the famous Stuxnet virus to spread.

Submission + - Quick Tutorial: Deleting Your Data Using Google's "My Activity" (vortex.com)

Lauren Weinstein writes: Since posting "The Google Page That Google Haters Don’t Want You to Know About" last week, I’ve received a bunch of messages from readers asking for help using Google’s “My Activity” page to control, inspect, and/or delete their data on Google. The My Activity portal is quite comprehensive and can be used in many different ways, but to get you started I’ll briefly outline how to use My Activity to delete activity data.

Submission + - Why should medical cannabis be legalized? (medium.com)

tomhoffman01 writes: It is said to give relief in many health conditions, specially to those who are suffering from cancer. From AIDS, glaucoma, epilepsy, to multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries, the components in marijuana are said to give the much-needed relief by treating chronic pain that is associated with these illnesses.

Submission + - WhatsApp upgrade inadvertently shows who have added you in their address books!

tariqmustafa writes: WhatsApp recent upgrade (2.17.73) that comes with Snapchat like video and image status is apparently showing uses whom else have put their phone numbers in their respective address books. Users of the latest updates, from the status tab of the latest android WhatsApp app, are seeing status from people who have put their numbers in their phone address books. This can cause problems for people who might not want to be identified as keeping a given phone number persistently in their address books. In certain cases however, this feature is resulting in communicating phone number of lost friends when at least one of them have the other's phone number saved in their address books and the other party is just discovering this from this recent WhatsApp bug/oversight.

Submission + - Documentary —Hollywood's greatest trick: slave wages for special effects a (fresnobee.com)

sandbagger writes: The average hourly wage for an American visual effects artist is $30.76, according to May 2015 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But job stability is rare, and most visual effects artists are nomadic, moving around, working under contract for the length of a job, and living paycheque to paycheque, several former artists say. Once one job ends, the pressure to find another job begins. A 24-minute documentary looks at the issues.

Submission + - SPAM: DHS Quietly Testing Mandatory Facial Recognition of Passengers *Exiting* U.S.

schwit1 writes: As part of the testing, travelers will present their boarding pass while their digital photo is taken. The process will take less than three seconds before travelers proceed to the passenger loading bridge to board their flight. Travelers over the age of 14 and under 79 will be required to participate in the test. The test will evaluate CBP’s ability to successfully compare the image of a traveler taken during departure against an image the traveler previously provided, in an automated fashion and without impacting airport operations.
Link to Original Source

Submission + - Leaked documents reveal airport's catalog of security lapses (zdnet.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Sensitive documents leaked after a data exposure at an upstate New York airport have revealed several major security lapses in recent years.

In one such instance, documents seen by ZDNet show how airport staff was for an unknown period in 2010 unable to screen names against the US government's watchlist of suspected terrorists who were forbidden from flying in its airspace.

A response letter by the airport manager confirmed that the airport "did not have access to the list," and therefore badge-holding staff at the airport were not being screened properly.

The airport had to enlist the help of neighboring Westchester County airport to carry out the checks, the letter added.

It's not clear what led to the screening mishap, but emails found in the cache of exposed file show one security-cleared employee of AVPorts, a third-party operations provider that manages the airport, regularly downloaded the no-fly list from a secure Homeland Security portal.

Submission + - Lessons from Canada's scientific resistance (thebulletin.org)

Lasrick writes: Andrew Nikiforuk, a contributing editor of The Tyee and author of Slick Water, has a smart piece outlining what the United States science community can do to combat expected attacks from the Trump administration on federal funding for research projects that examine the environmental impacts of industries such as mining and oil drilling. Nikiforuk seeks lessons from the years when the Canadian government, led by then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper, systematically reduced the capacity of publicly funded federal science to monitor the impacts of air, water, and carbon pollution from the country’s aggressive resource industries—by cutting budgets and firing staff. Great read.

Submission + - When ISP copyright infringement notifications go wrong

Andy Smith writes: Yesterday I received an email from my ISP telling me that I had illegally downloaded an animated film called Cubo and the Two Strings. I'd never heard of the film and hadn't downloaded it. The accusation came from a government-approved group called Get It Right From a Genuine Site. I contacted that group and was directed to their FAQ. Worryingly, there's no way to correct a false report. The entire FAQ is written from the position that either you, or someone on your network, definitely downloaded what you're accused of downloading. Their advice to avoid any problems with your ISP is simply to not download anything illegally again. But if they can get it wrong once, then surely they can get it wrong again. How widespread is this problem? What safeguards are in place to ensure that people aren't falsely accused? Why has the government allowed this scheme to operate without the accused having some right to defend themselves?

Submission + - Congressional IT Staffers Took $100K from Iraqi Politician

RoccamOccam writes: Three brothers, working as IT staffers for several Democrat congressional representatives took $100,000 from an Iraqi politician while they had administrator-level access to the House of Representatives’ computer network, according to this report based on court documents.

The trio worked for dozens of representatives, including members of the intelligence, foreign affairs and homeland security committees. Those positions likely gave them access to congressional emails and other sensitive documents.

Submission + - Who wins the three-way cloud battle? Google vs. Azure vs. AWS

damianwolf writes: Right now, there are three main players in the market: Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure. The fierce competition has enabled cheap cloud computing prices and excellent competing feature-set. This helps small business to grow easily and big business to capitalize on the growth that they have been doing for so many years.

Cloud computing has single-handedly changed how technology works. Now anyone can host their website on the cloud, manage their files, and do stuff not possible before. Big business also takes full advantage of cloud computing.

Submission + - College Senior Upgrades His Honda Civic to Drive Itself Using Free Software (technologyreview.com)

holy_calamity writes: University of Nebraska student Brevan Jorgenson swapped the rear view mirror in his 2016 Honda Civic for a home-built device called a Neo, which can steer the vehicle and follow traffic on the highway. Jorgenson used hardware designs and open source software released by Comma, a self-driving car startup that decided to give away its technology for free last year after receiving a letter from regulator the NHTSA. Jorgenson is just one person in a new hacker community trying to upgrade their cars using Comma's technology.

Submission + - Latin America Is The Deadliest Place For Environmental Activists (economist.com)

dryriver writes: The Economist reports: "ISIDRO BALDENEGRO LÓPEZ, a farmer and a leader of the indigenous Tarahumara people, had spent much of his life campaigning against illegal logging in the Sierra Madre region of northern Mexico. On January 15th he was shot dead. His father died in the same way, for defending the same cause, 30 years before. Defending nature is a dangerous occupation, especially in Latin America. According to a recent report by Global Witness, an NGO, 185 environmental activists were murdered worldwide in 2015, an increase of 59% from the year before. More than half the killings were in Latin America. In Brazil 50 green campaigners died in 2015. Honduras is especially perilous: 123 activists have died there since 2010, the highest number of any country relative to its population. Berta Cáceres, an indigenous leader who was a prominent campaigner against dams and plantations, was murdered there last March. Why is Latin America so deadly? One reason is its abundant natural resources, which attract enterprises of all sorts, from multinationals to mafias. When prices are low, as they are now, the most rapacious do not go away; to maintain their profits they become more aggressive, says David Kaimowitz of the Ford Foundation."

Submission + - Valve's Gabe Newell says Only 30 SteamVR Apps Have Made $250,000+ (roadtovr.com)

rentarno writes: According to Valve president, Gabe Newell, only 30 VR apps on Steam (of some 1,000) have made more than $250,000. But that isn't stopping the company from throwing the bulk of their weight behind virtual reality; Valve recently confirmed that it's working on 3 full VR games. Valve still believes in a huge future for VR, even while things are slow to start. It'll take work to find and make the content that's great for VR, Newell says. "We got Half-Life 2 and Team Fortress running in VR. It was kind of a novelty, purely a development milestone. There was absolutely nothing compelling about them. Nobody’s going to buy a VR system so they can watch movies. You have to aspire and be optimistic that the unique characteristics of VR will cause you to discover a bunch of stuff that isn’t possible on any of the existing platforms."

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