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Submission + - Chemists develop promising cheap, sustainable battery for grid energy storage (sciencedaily.com)

mdsolar writes: Chemists at the University of Waterloo have developed a long-lasting zinc-ion battery that costs half the price of current lithium-ion batteries and could help enable communities to shift away from traditional power plants and into renewable solar and wind energy production.

Professor Linda Nazar and her colleagues from the Faculty of Science at Waterloo made the important discovery, which appears in the journal, Nature Energy.

The battery uses safe, non-flammable, non-toxic materials and a pH-neutral, water-based salt. It consists of a water-based electrolyte, a pillared vanadium oxide positive electrode and an inexpensive metallic zinc negative electrode. The battery generates electricity through a reversible process called intercalation, where positively-charged zinc ions are oxidized from the zinc metal negative electrode, travel through the electrolyte and insert between the layers of vanadium oxide nanosheets in the positive electrode. This drives the flow of electrons in the external circuit, creating an electrical current. The reverse process occurs on charge.

The cell represents the first demonstration of zinc ion intercalation in a solid state material that satisfies four vital criteria: high reversibility, rate and capacity and no zinc dendrite formation. It provides more than 1,000 cycles with 80 per cent capacity retention and an estimated energy density of 450 watt-hours per litre. Lithium-ion batteries also operate by intercalation--of lithium ions--but they typically use expensive, flammable, organic electrolytes.

Submission + - British Companies Are Selling Advanced Spy Tech To Authoritarian Regimes (vice.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Since early 2015, over a dozen UK companies have been granted licenses to export powerful telecommunications interception technology to countries around the world, Motherboard has learned. Many of these exports include IMSI-catchers, devices which can monitor large numbers of mobile phones over broad areas. Some of the UK companies were given permission to export their products to authoritarian states such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, and Egypt; countries with poor human rights records that have been well-documented to abuse surveillance technology. In 2015, the UK's Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) started publishing basic data about the exportation of telecommunications interception devices. Through the Freedom of Information Act, Motherboard obtained the names of companies that have applied for exportation licenses, as well as details on the technologies being shipped, including, in some cases, individual product names. The companies include a subsidiary of defense giant BAE Systems, as well as Pro-Solve International, ComsTrac, CellXion, Cobham, and Domo Tactical Communications (DTC). Many of these companies sell IMSI-catchers. IMSI-catchers, sometimes known as “Stingrays” after a particularly popular brand, are fake cell phone towers which force devices in their proximity to connect. In the data obtained by Motherboard, 33 licenses are explicitly marked as being for IMSI-catchers, including for export to Turkey and Indonesia. Other listings heavily suggest the export of IMSI-catchers too: one granted application to export to Iraq is for a “Wideband Passive GSM Monitoring System,” which is a more technical description of what many IMSI-catchers do. In all, Motherboard received entries for 148 export license applications, from February 2015 to April 2016. A small number of the named companies do not provide interception capabilities, but defensive measures, for example to monitor the radio spectrum.

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Is anyone concerned that Men Die 5 Years earlier than Women? (cnn.com) 1

BuckB writes: So many stories lately about Women's Equality Day, Breast Cancer, and even the best places to live (for women — answer, Hawaii). However, there really are no headlines, stories, or even articles about men's mortality rates. Do people not know, not care, or just accept it as a fact that men, for example, die seven years before women in the idolized Hawaii or ridiculed DC?

Submission + - FBI Files Say China Firm Pushed U.S. Experts for Nuclear Secrets (bloomberg.com)

mdsolar writes: A state-owned Chinese power company under indictment in the U.S. pressed American nuclear consultants for years to hand over secret technologies and documents they weren’t supposed to disclose — and in some cases it got them, several of the consultants have told the FBI.
Summaries of the consultants’ interviews with agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation were filed this month in a federal court where the company, China General Nuclear Power Corp., has been charged with conspiring to steal nuclear technology.
The FBI documents surfaced shortly after the same company became a focus of concerns across the Atlantic: The U.K. last month delayed approval of the country’s biggest nuclear power station in a generation as questions swirled about whether China General Nuclear’s investment in the plant poses a security risk.

The filings provide a window into the tactics of CGN, China’s biggest nuclear power operator. One of the consultants said CGN employees asked for off-limits operational manuals to nuclear equipment and software, according to the interview summaries. Another said he was asked to provide proprietary temperature settings for material used to contain nuclear fuel. After he refused, he wasn’t offered more consulting jobs, he told the FBI.
Employees of CGN “frequently asked for documents which were proprietary or limited to restricted access,” according to a summary of one interview. In several instances, the company got what it wanted, according to the FBI documents.

Submission + - Google Fiber reportedly told to cut half its staff to offset subscriber shortfal (zdnet.com)

walterbyrd writes: Alphabet CEO Larry Page is not happy with the speed of Google Fiber's rollout and last month told the unit's chief Craig Barratt to halve the unit's headcount to 500 and cut costs, sources told The Information.
Yet for all the costs sunk into Google Fiber, the service only had around 200,000 subscribers by the end of 2014, according to The Information, a figure that is well short of the five million hoped for within five years.

Submission + - Microsoft Bing uses Wikipedia (globally editable) data

RockDoctor writes: Though they're trying to minimise it, the recent relocation of Melbourne Australia to the ocean east of Japan in Microsoft's flagship mapping application is blamed on someone having flipped a sign in the latitude given for the city's Wikipedia page. Which may or may not be true. But the simple stupidity of using a globally-editable data source for feeding a mapping and navigation system is ... "awesome" is (for once) an appropriate word.

Well, it''s Bing, so at least no-one was actually using it.

Submission + - Proposed 'social media ID, please' law met with anger (computerworld.com)

dcblogs writes: A plan by the U.S. government to require some foreign travelers to provide their social media IDs on key travel documents is being called by critics “ludicrous,” an “all-around bad idea,” “blatant overreach,” “desperate, paranoid heavy-handedness,” “preposterous,” “appalling,” and “un-American." That's just a sampling of the outrage. Some 800 responded to the U.S. request for comments about a proposed rule affecting people traveling from “visa waiver” countries to the U.S., where a visa is not required. This includes most of Europe, Singapore, Chile, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. Travelers will be asked to provide their Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, and whatever other social ID you can imagine to U.S. authorities. It’s technically an “optional” request, but since it’s the government asking, critics believe travelers will fear consequences if they ignore it. People who are traveling from a country where a visa is required, such as India or China, get a security vetting when they apply for a visa at a U.S. consulate, so this proposal doesn’t apply to them. In a little twist of irony, some critics said U.S. President Obama’s proposal for foreign travelers is so bad, it must have been hatched by Donald Trump.

Submission + - Nearest Star Has Earth-sized Planet in its Habitable Zone (discovermagazine.com)

Flash Modin writes: In a shocking find, astronomers Wednesday announced their discovery of an Earth-sized planet orbiting the nearest star, Proxima Centauri, just 4.2 light-years away. This warm world, cataloged as Proxima b, sits smack in the middle of its habitable zone — the sweetest of sweet spots — where liquid surface water could exist. But Proxima Centauri is not like our sun. It’s a cool, low-mass star known as a red dwarf. So the planet only qualifies as potentially habitable because it circles its sun in an orbit tighter than Mercury’s.

Submission + - Initial results of CO pot legalization "tax for schools" pre-legislation hype

ofprimes writes: I live in Aurora, a suburb of Denver where we have a highly-rated school district (http://cherrycreekschools.org/Pages/default.aspx), and where recreational pot has been legalized. We live on the "outskirts" of Aurora and nearly next to farmland. Not long ago we had a murder at a pot shop less than a mile away from us (http://denver.cbslocal.com/2016/06/20/dispensary-owner-says-guards-murder-was-caught-on-video/), and that opened our eyes to unwanted effects of legalized marijuana, but now we received this email from the *Superintendant* the school district yesterday as we have two kids attending Cherry Creek schools. To add to the frustration of our rural-life completely changing (crime has increased in the Denver area — http://www.americanthinker.com...), but my wife works — as a volunteer — nearly full-time on the PTO doing fundraiser after fundraiser bringing in whatever cash they can to keep the schools current and bring in essential technology needed in these times of hi-tech. The schools are always strapped and if they want "modern" technology, they have to raise funds for it through various means.

Receiving this letter was infuriating because the only positive side (other than convenience) for legalizing marijuana was that this legalization would be a godsend for the schools and PTO teams who commit so much of their time for free, for the kids. I guess not.

---------------------------------------------------------------
August 23, 2016

From the Desk of the Superintendent
There’s no easy fix for the shortcomings in Colorado’s school financing system.

Since 2009, the state Legislature has taken liberties with the school funding formula mandated by the voter-approved Amendment 23, using the so-called “negative factor” to cut funding every year. The Legislature has relied on circuitous reasoning and intricate formulas to withhold crucial money from school districts across the state.

We’ve felt the impact of those cuts in the Cherry Creek School District. We’ve been underfunded by about $50 million annually. Since 2012, $380 million has been withheld from Cherry Creek. We’re facing a shortfall of more than $20 million for the 2017-2018 school year. These cuts have the potential to impact every facet of district operations, from recruiting new teachers to maintaining a reasonable class size.

It’s a crisis that’s tied to our fundamental priorities as Coloradans, one that won’t find an easy remedy from the state’s nascent marijuana industry. People keep asking me, ‘Where’s the pot money?’ The short answer is that the Cherry Creek School District hasn’t received any. The longer answer is about how the money actually is allocated.

The lead-up to the legalization of marijuana in 2012 brought plenty of rhetoric regarding the positive impact on public schools in Colorado. Voters were told that taxes on legal marijuana would prove to be a windfall for cash-strapped school districts; millions of dollars’ worth of education cuts from the state would be offset by new income from a new vice tax.

That’s not what happened. In the fiscal year 2014-15, for example, taxes from the sale of recreational marijuana in Colorado totaled $77.9 million, $66.1 million of which came from special sales and excise taxes.

For context, the state’s general fund is about $9.7 billion, and the total state budget is $26 billion. By state law, the first $40 million of the excise taxes from marijuana sales went toward capital improvements for poor and rural school districts, and the remainder went toward marijuana education, treatment and regulation and enforcement programs across the state.

The Cherry Creek School District saw none of that money, nor did most of the other large school districts in the Denver metro area.

Similarly, the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) grants allotted for the 2016-17 year by the State Board of Education will have no impact on Cherry Creek Schools. Funding for projects in Aurora Public Schools, Adams 14 and Westminster all carry the contingent of matching funds from the school districts, and the vast majority of the 31 awarded grants will go to rural districts far outside of the metro area.

But to be eligible for the grants, those school districts must pass a local bond issue first, or already have matching capital funds available.

So far, the only thing that the legalization of marijuana has brought to our schools has been marijuana.

This isn’t a new story. Taxes on alcohol and tobacco haven’t fixed the state’s quandary when it comes to funding public education, nor have revenues from lotteries or casinos.

The reality is that any fix will have to come from a much more complex and overarching effort. To offer our students the resources they need to learn, we need a much more profound change at the state level, one that comes down to real and lasting change. It comes down to spelling out our collective priorities as Coloradans, to urging our elected representatives to do the hard work and make sure that students in Colorado receive the funding spelled out by a voter-approved constitutional amendment.

That effort is much more complex than any easy fixes offered by legal marijuana.

Harry C. Bull, Jr.
Office of the Superintendent

Cherry Creek School District #5
4700 S. Yosemite Street, Greenwood Village, CO 80111
303-773-1184 | cherrycreekschools.org

Submission + - ReactOS 0.4.2 Officially Released (with introduced dot.NET 2.0/4.0 support) (reactos.org)

jeditobe writes: Version 0.4.2 of ReactOS, the open-source binary-compatible Windows re-implementation, is now officially available.

What’s more appealing in ReactOS 0.4.2 is it includes the ability to read and write various file systems for Linux/Unix namely ext family and Btrfs and ability to read such file systems as ReiserFS and UFS.

ReactOS 0.4.2 also features Cygwin support, .NET 2.0 (https://jira.reactos.org/browse/CORE-6382) and 4.0 (https://jira.reactos.org/browse/CORE-11266) application support, among other updated packages and revised external dependencies such as Wine and UniATA. The team also worked to improve overall user experience.

ReactOS support has improved to the point that games like Elder Scrolls: Skyrim (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJTL8srScQI) and Doom 3 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rluGgjcXtEY) should even be playable on this "open-source Windows" OS along with applications like Thunderbird and 7-Zip.

ReactOS is free. You can boot your desktop or laptop from it. It looks like Windows (a 10-year-old version, anyway), so you already know how to use it. And it'll run some Windows and DOS applications, maybe including DOS games that regular 64-bit Windows can no longer touch.

Submission + - Why Past Was Better Than The Present For Half The Americans? (primepost.in)

An anonymous reader writes: Trump thinks present America is far worse a place than it was in the past. So, his slogan for the election, “Make America great again.” He lashes his opponent’s policies as a continuation of the present. Hence his tweet: A vote for Hillary is a vote for another generation of poverty, high crime, and lost opportunities.

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