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Submission + - How a Guy From a Montana Trailer Park Overturned 150 Years of Biology (theatlantic.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Biology textbooks tell us that lichens are alliances between two organisms—a fungus and an alga. They are wrong.

“The findings overthrow the two-organism paradigm,” says Sarah Watkinson from the University of Oxford. “Textbook definitions of lichens may have to be revised.”

“It makes lichens all the more remarkable,” adds Nick Talbot from the University of Exeter. “We now see that they require two different kinds of fungi and an algal species. If the right combination meet together on a rock or twig, then a lichen will form, and this will result in the large and complex plant-like organisms that we see on trees and rocks very commonly. The mechanism by which this symbiotic association occurs is completely unknown and remains a real mystery.”

Why did it take 150 years? Consensus ruled. Lichen biology was settled science.

Submission + - $12.9B aircraft carrier 'struggles with jets taking off and landing' (dailymail.co.uk)

schwit1 writes: The USS Gerald R. Ford, is not ready for combat, DOD says. The 'supercarrier' is the most expensive Navy warship ever built and is due to be commissioned this year. The ship delivery is scheduled for November, more than two years late of its original date of September 2014. A government memo says 'poor or unknown reliability issues' are behind the latest roll out problems with the ship.

There are two other ships in the Ford class: the USS John F. Kennedy and a new USS Enterprise — expected to be commissioned in 2020 and 2025 respectively. The total cost for the three vessels is estimated to be more than $43 billion.

Submission + - "The Hillary Leaks" - Wikileaks Releases 19,252 Previously Unseen DNC Emails (zerohedge.com)

schwit1 writes: The state department's release of Hillary emails may be over, but that of Wikileaks is just starting.

Moments ago, Julian Assange's whistleblower organization released over 19,000 emails and more than 8,000 attachments from the Democratic National Committee. This is part one of their new Hillary Leaks series, Wikileaks said in press release. To wit:

Today, Friday 22 July 2016 at 10:30am EDT, WikiLeaks releases 19,252 emails and 8,034 attachments from the top of the US Democratic National Committee — part one of our new Hillary Leaks series. The leaks come from the accounts of seven key figures in the DNC: Communications Director Luis Miranda (10770 emails), National Finance Director Jordon Kaplan (3797 emails), Finance Chief of Staff Scott Comer (3095 emails), Finanace Director of Data & Strategic Initiatives Daniel Parrish (1472 emails), Finance Director Allen Zachary (1611 emails), Senior Advisor Andrew Wright (938 emails) and Northern California Finance Director Robert (Erik) Stowe (751 emails). The emails cover the period from January last year until 25 May this year.

The emails released Friday cover a period from January 2015 to May 2016. They purportedly come from the accounts of seven key DNC staffers, listed above: Andrew Wright, Jordon Kaplan, Scott Comer, Luis Miranda, Robert Stowe, Daniel Parrish and Allen Zachary.

A quick scan of the emails focus on Bernie Sanders and dealing with the fallout of many Democrats opposing Hillary Clinton and calling the system “rigged.” Many of the emails exchanged between top DNC officials are simply the text of news articles concerning how establishment democrats can “deal” with the insurgent left-winger.

Submission + - Almost Half of All TSA Employees Have Been Cited for Misconduct

schwit1 writes: Almost half of all TSA employees have been cited for misconduct, and the citations have increased by almost 30 percent since 2013.

Of the total allegations filed, 90.8 percent were against TSA officers, while 4.8 percent were filed against managers or administrators. Of the areas of misconduct, “Attendance & Leave” sees the highest number of offenders, while “Failure to Follow Instructions,” “Screening & Security,” “Neglect of Duty,” and “Disruptive Behavior” round out the top five.

It also appears that the TSA has been reducing the sanctions it has been giving out for this bad behavior.

Submission + - WikiLeaks under 'sustained attack' after announcing release of Turkey docs (cnet.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Wikileaks claimed Monday it was under attack after it announced it would release hundreds of thousands of documents related to Turkey and the failed military coup attempted Friday, CNET reported.

The organization, which has released information on everything from war crimes to Hillary Clinton’s email scandal, announced Sunday it would be releasing 100,000 documents related to Turkey’s “political power structure,” some of which detail the “leadup” to the coup.

ANNOUNCE: Get ready for a fight as we release 100k+ docs on #Turkey's political power structure. #TurkeyCoup #Soon pic.twitter.com/dhJuWza4Es

— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) July 18, 2016

Wikileaks anticipated the release would be censored in Turkey, cautioning in a three-part tweet posted Monday:

Turks will likely be censored to prevent them reading our pending release of 100k+ docs on politics leading up to the coup. We ask that Turks are ready with censorship bypassing systems such as TorBrowser and uTorrent and that everyone else is ready to help them bypass censorship and push our links through the censorship to come.

Turks will likely be censored to prevent them reading our pending release of 100k+ docs on politics leading up to the coup. (1/3)

— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) July 18, 2016

We ask that Turks are ready with censorship bypassing systems such as TorBrowser and uTorrent (2/3)

— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) July 18, 2016

And that everyone else is ready to help them bypass censorship and push our links through the censorship to come. (3/3)

— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) July 18, 2016

The Turkish government, headed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has increasingly ramped up censorship efforts against journalists, lending credibility to Wikileaks suspicions their release may not fully reach Turkish citizens—especially considering the latest leak concerns his ruling party, AKP.

As CNET noted:

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube were reportedly blocked in Turkey during the attempted coup Friday, but many residents appear to have gotten around the blocks, posting messages and videos, likely using VPNs or other anonymizing services.”

Throughout Monday, Wikileaks continued to promote the release.

Turks ask whether WikiLeaks is pro or anti-AKP. Neither. Our only position is that truth is the way forward. 100k+ docs serves all sides.

— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) July 18, 2016

They then tweeted that instead of 100,000 documents, they would actually be releasing far more. “ Our pending release of 100k docs on Turkish political power? Just kidding. The first batch is 300k emails, 500k docs ,” they announced.

But just hours later, they alerted followers their website was being attacked. “Our infrastructure is under sustained attack,” they tweeted, alongside the hashtag, #TurkeyPurge.

Our infrastructure is under sustained attack. #TurkeyPurge #Turkey

— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) July 18, 2016

We are unsure of the true origin of the attack. The timing suggests a Turkish state power faction or its allies. We will prevail & publish,” Wikileaks tweeted shortly after.

We are unsure of the true origin of the attack. The timing suggests a Turkish state power faction or its allies. We will prevail & publish.

— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) July 18, 2016

An hour later, the organization remained resolute in its determination to publish the hundreds of thousands of documents. “Coming Tuesday: The # ErdoganEmails : 300 thousand internal emails from Erdo?an’s AKP – through to July 7, 2016,” they tweeted.

Coming Tuesday: The #ErdoganEmails: 300 thousand internal emails from Erdo?an's AKP — through to July 7, 2016. pic.twitter.com/QGHEc7eCPB

— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) July 18, 2016

After tweeting further about the ongoing cyber attacks, Wikileaks eventually announced Tuesday they had released the first installment of emails, which can be viewed here. The emails are from the server of the AKP.

The failed military coup in Turkey over the weekend heightened tensions within the country, where President Erdo?an has grown increasingly autocratic. The Turkish government has also been implicated in the rise of ISIS and has been accused of allowing fighters to cross through their borders and providing them with medical assistance.

The coup, which continues to be mired in uncertainties, accusations, and conflicting reports, left Turkish citizens between a rock and a hard place—a military coup or an increasingly oppressive democratically-elected leader who has now overseen 50,000 suspensions or detainments of government employees regarding the military’s failed attempt to seize power.

It seems Wikileak’s release of information on Turkish power structures could not come at a more vital time—that is, so long as it reaches the Turkish people.

Submission + - Tax Breaks Cost More Than Discretionary Spending In 2015 (dailycaller.com)

schwit1 writes: Congress spent more on tax breaks than on discretionary spending in 2015, according to a blog post by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

Tax expenditures — incentives meant to prompt or discourage particular actions by individuals, families, foundations or businesses — cost $1.2 trillion in 2015, compared with $1.1 trillion for discretionary spending.

The incentives can include credits against taxes owed, deductions, shelters, exclusions, exemptions, deferrals and preferential rates.

Submission + - EPA's gasoline efficiency tests are garbage

schwit1 writes: The tests the EPA uses to establish the fuel efficiency of cars are unreliable, and likely provide no valid information at all about the fuel efficiency of the cars tested.

The law requiring cars to meet these fuel efficiency tests was written in the 1970s, and specifically sets standards based on the technology then. Worse,

[T]he EPA doesn’t know exactly how its CAFE testing correlates with actual results, because it has never done a comprehensive study of real-world fuel economy. Nor does anyone else. The best available data comes from consumers who report it to the DOT—hardly a scientific sampling.

Other than that, everything is fine. Companies are forced to spend billions on this regulation, the costs of which they immediately pass on to consumers, all based on fantasy and a badly-written law. Gee, I’m sure glad we never tried this with healthcare!

Submission + - 100 Kepler exoplanet candidates confirmed

schwit1 writes: Astronomers have confirmed another 100 of Kepler’s more than 3,000 candidate exoplanets.

One of the most interesting set of planets discovered in this study is a system of four potentially rocky planets, between 20 and 50 percent larger than Earth, orbiting a star less than half the size and with less light output than the Sun. Their orbital periods range from five-and-a-half to 24 days, and two of them may experience radiation levels from their star comparable to those on Earth.

Despite their tight orbits—closer than Mercury’s orbit around the sun—the possibility that life could arise on a planet around such a star cannot be ruled out, according to Crossfield.

Because the host star of this as well as many of these other confirmed exoplanets are red dwarf stars, the possibility of life is reduced because the star and its system is likely to have a less rich mix of elements compared to our yellow G-type Sun.

Submission + - India's Al Gore: HAARP Caused Global Warming (dailycaller.com)

schwit1 writes: “The US has developed a type of weapon called High Frequency Active Auroral Research Programme (HAARP). It strikes the upper atmosphere with a focussed and steerable electromagnetic beam,” Anil Madhav Dave, India’s Environmental Minister, told Business Standard Monday. “HAARP is an advanced model of a super powerful ionospheric heater which may cause the globe to warm and have global warming effect.”

India is the world’s fastest growing, and third largest, emitter of carbon dioxide (CO2). In 2014, India got 59 percent of its electricity from coal, and Indian leaders are ramping up the country’s coal production by opening a new mine every month. The country appears set to literally double down on coal by doubling production and building 87,122 megawatts of new coal power capacity. Even with that level of coal use, it is estimated that 400 million Indians, 31 percent of the population, lack access to electricity.

Submission + - First image released from MeerKAT radio telescope (yahoo.com)

schwit1 writes: Even operating at a quarter of its eventual capacity, South Africa's MeerKAT radio telescope showed off its phenomenal power Saturday, revealing 1,300 galaxies in a tiny corner of the universe where only 70 were known before.

The image released Saturday was the first from MeerKAT, where 16 dishes were formally commissioned the same day.

MeerKAT's full contingent of 64 receptors will be integrated next year into a multi-nation Square Kilometer Array (SKA) which is is set to become the world's most powerful radio telescope.

Submission + - China hacked the FDIC - and US officials covered it up, report says (cnn.com)

schwit1 writes: China's spies hacked into computers at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation from 2010 until 2013 — and American government officials tried to cover it up, according to a Congressional report.

It presents the FDIC's bank regulators as technologically inept — and deceitful.

According to congressional investigators, the Chinese government hacked into 12 computers and 10 backroom servers at the FDIC, including the incredibly sensitive personal computers of the agency's top officials: the FDIC chairman, his chief of staff, and the general counsel.

When congressional investigators tried to review the FDIC's cybersecurity policy, the agency hid the hack, according to the report.

Investigators cited several insiders who knew about how the agency responded. For example, one of the FDIC's top lawyers told employees not to discuss the hacks via email — so the emails wouldn't become official government records.

"Intentionally avoiding audits sounds unethical if not illegal,"

Submission + - Court: US government can't make Microsoft reveal cloud data (ap.org)

schwit1 writes: A federal appeals court delivered a victory to U.S. companies housing customer data overseas, ruling Thursday that prosecutors cannot force Microsoft to reveal content from a customer's email account stored in Ireland.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan overturned a lower court order finding the company in civil contempt for not handing over the data.

Microsoft offers storage through its "public cloud," which places data from over 1 billion customers and over 20 million businesses on servers in over 40 countries, the court noted.

The appeals court said Congress passed the Stored Communications Act in 1986 to protect user privacy when new technology causes service providers to store electronic communications for customers. It said Congress expressed concern then that technology developments could erode the privacy interest Americans traditionally enjoyed in records and communications.

"Neither explicitly nor implicitly does the statute envision the application of its warrant provisions overseas," the appeals court said in a decision written by Judge Susan L. Carney. "We see no reason to believe that Congress intended to jettison the centuries of law requiring the issuance and performance of warrants in specified, domestic locations, or to replace the traditional warrant with a novel instrument of international application."

Submission + - Alzheimer's gene already shrinking brain by age of three (telegraph.co.uk)

schwit1 writes: The Alzheimer’s gene, which dramatically raises the risk of developing dementia, is already affecting carriers by the age of three, shrinking their brains and lowering cognition, a new study suggests.

Children who carry the APOEe4 gene mutation , which raises the chance of dementia by 15 fold, were found to do less well in memory, attention and function tests.

Areas of the brain affected by Alzheimer’s disease, such as the hippocampus and parietal gyri, were also found to be up to 22 per cent smaller in volume.

Submission + - Are fat people less intelligent than thin? (dailymail.co.uk)

schwit1 writes: Fat people are less intelligent than people with a normal weight, a provocative study claims.

Overweight men and women have less grey and white matter in key areas of the brain.

They also have greater impulsivity and ‘altered reward processing’, the study said.

The researchers said that their findings could explain why overweight people make poor diet choices — they do not have the mental capacity to control themselves.

Nor are they able to stop themselves from making poor choices when the do eat something.

The theory is likely to prove controversial as weight loss campaigners have emphasised that each individual has different reasons for their struggle with their body.

Submission + - New House coalition fights rise in government surveillance (usatoday.com)

schwit1 writes: An unusual coalition of 13 Republicans and 12 Democrats on Wednesday announced the creation of the House Fourth Amendment Caucus to protect Americans' privacy rights against calls for increased government surveillance in the wake of terrorist attacks.

The group named itself after the Fourth Amendment because the lawmakers fear that the government is increasingly seeking the power to search Americans' electronic data without a warrant. They see that as a threat to the Constitutional amendment's protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

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