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Submission + - Solar Impulse off on the last leg (bbc.com)

AppleHoshi writes: The BBC is reporting that Solar Impulse, the all electric aeroplane making a circumnavigation of the globe, has left Cairo on the 17th and final leg of the epic journey. The Solar Impulse team estimates a 48-hour flight to the destination (and the staring point for the flight, last year), Abu Dhabi. All is not plain sailing, though. Despite the flight being mostly over desert where there's generally plenty of sunshine, the pilot, Bertrand Piccard, may have problems with the desert heat and the strong thermal updraughts which it creates.

Submission + - Do Gut Bacteria Rule Our Minds? (ucsf.edu)

giorgioarmani writes: It sounds like science fiction, but it seems that bacteria within us – which greatly outnumber our own cells – may very well be affecting both our cravings and moods to get us to eat what they want, and often are driving us toward obesity.In an article published this week in the journal BioEssays, researchers from UC San Francisco, Arizona State University and University of New Mexico concluded from a review of the recent scientific literature that microbes influence human eating behavior and dietary choices to favor consumption of the particular nutrients they grow best on, rather than simply passively living off whatever nutrients we choose to send their way.

Submission + - Can our local supercluster defeat the accelerating Universe's expansion?

StartsWithABang writes: When dark energy was discovered, and the expansion of the Universe was shown to be accelerating, there was concurrently another puzzle that received much less attention: the problem of the Great Attractor. Galaxies appear to move due to both the Hubble expansion and the local gravitational field, but the gravity from the galaxies we saw didn’t account for all the motion. There must have been an additional set of masses, revealed only in the 2010s with the identification of the supercluster Laniakea. All the galaxies in our local neighborhood are headed towards it, but are we moving fast enough to overcome the expansive pull of dark energy? The answer looks to be no.

Submission + - Newt Gingrich Calls for US Muslims to Take Sharia Test, Face Deportation 2

flopsquad writes: Following the July 14th terror attack in Nice, France, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has called for US Muslims to be tested for their belief in Sharia law, and if so, deported:

Western civilisation is in a war. We should frankly test every person here who is of a Muslim background and if they believe in Sharia they should be deported.

While the cleverest few might try to defeat such a test by answering "No," Mr. Gingrich laid out additional steps to shore up the plan:

The first step is you have to ask them the questions. The second step is you have to monitor what they're doing on the Internet. The third step is, let me be very clear, you have to monitor the mosques. I mean, if you're not prepared to monitor the mosques, this whole thing is a joke.

Gingrich also opined that:

Anybody who goes on a website favoring Isis, or al-Qaeda, or other terrorist groups, that should be a felony, and they should go to jail.

No word on the 1st and 4th Amendment implications of his proposals, nor on where Gingrich plans to deport US citizens who fail his Sharia test.

Submission + - PM Theresa May drops political bombshell on Whitehall -- tech firms beware! (arstechnica.co.uk)

An anonymous reader writes: British Prime Minister Theresa May has given a stern warning to big business, telling the public to "think not of the powerful, but you." Specifically, she singled out Google and Amazon for dodging taxes and creating a lot of parliamentary scrutiny. Ars Technica reports: "May has been quick to stamp her brand of conservatism on her party by letting go of key members of Cameron's cabinet. She has so far sacked big hitters such as chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne, justice secretary Michael Gove, and culture secretary John Whittingdale. Philip Hammond now has the keys to Number 11, but we're still waiting to hear who will replace Whittingdale, whose remit included the rollout of super fast broadband in the UK. He's also the man behind the White Paper on the future of the BBC, which sought radical changes at the public service broadcaster. So far, 10 cabinet positions have been announced by May. They include Justine Greening as secretary of state for education, and Liz Truss becomes justice secretary, while former London mayor and key Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson — to the surprise of many — now heads up the foreign office. May has handed her home secretary job to Amber Rudd — who will now be responsible for the government's push for greater online surveillance laws. Rudd was previously the minister for energy and climate change."

Submission + - Generic Ransomware Detection System Built for Windows (threatpost.com)

msm1267 writes: A team of researchers from the University of Florida and the Villanova University have a built a generic ransomware detection utility for Windows machines, one that focuses on how ransomware transforms data rather than the execution of malicious code.

Their utility is called CryptoDrop, and in a test against nearly 500 real-world ransomware samples from 14 distinct families, it detected 100 percent of attacks with relatively little file loss (a median loss of 10 files).

The tool is described in a paper called “CryptoLock (and Drop it): Stopping Ransomware Attacks on User Data,” written by Nolen Scaife, Patrick Traynor, Kevin R. B. Butler of the University of Florida, and Henry Carter of Villanova University.

“Our system (built only for Windows) is the first ransomware detection system that monitors user data for changes that may indicate transformation rather than attempting to identify ransomware by inspecting its execution (e.g., API call monitoring) or contents,” the researchers wrote. “This allows CryptoDrop to detect suspicious activity regardless of the delivery mechanism or previous benign activity."

Submission + - DNA, Crypto & Shakespeare: Sandia Labs Creates Mind-Blowing Storage Technolo (darkreading.com)

ancientribe writes: Researchers from Sandia National Labs are experimenting with a new more secure form of data storage that--get this--is based on DNA. The project is for a long-term archival technology that could securely store records for the National Archives, government personnel records, research findings at the national labs, or other sensitive classified information. (Paging the US State Department). How does The Bard fit in? The researchers got the idea from the European Bioinformatics Institute's experiment that recorded all of Shakespeare’s sonnets into 2.5 million base pairs of DNA. Welcome to the future.

Submission + - 6 million drivers admit bumping or ramming another vehicle on purpose (scienceblog.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Nearly 80 percent of drivers expressed significant anger, aggression or road rage behind the wheel at least once in the past year, according to a new study released today by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The most alarming findings suggest that approximately eight million U.S. drivers engaged in extreme examples of road rage, including purposefully ramming another vehicle or getting out of the car to confront another driver.

Submission + - British town makes "mysoginy" a crime (itv.com) 1

mi writes: Nottinghamshire Police has officially recognized "misogyny" as a hate crime. Examples of the prohibited actions are:
  • unwanted or uninvited sexual advances
  • physical or verbal assault
  • unwanted or uninvited physical or verbal contact or engagement
  • use of mobile phones to send unwanted or uninvited messages
  • taking photographs without consent.

Submission + - Bronze Age inferno preserved an extraordinary view of life in the United Kingdom (sciencemag.org)

sciencehabit writes: Reconstructing daily life in the Bronze Age has been difficult in northern Europe. Most houses were poorly preserved, traced out by postholes or barren remains of hearths, and offer up only meager fragments of pottery. A major excavation near Peterborough, U.K., promises to fill in the picture. Archaeologists have dug up 3000-year-old roundhouses that were perched on stilts above a river, perhaps for defense or facilitating trade. The building materials and much of the contents are well-preserved because the five houses were quickly abandoned during a fire and then collapsed into a river. The rich array of artifacts includes textiles, wooden objects, metal tools, and complete sets of pottery. The arrangement of artifacts could indicate how various sections of the houses were used and perhaps new details about diet. The fact that all the buildings burned down, apparently at the same time, and the belongings were left behind, suggests the fires may have been part of an attack.

Submission + - Least Transparent Ever (washingtonpost.com)

An anonymous reader writes: After early promises to be the most transparent administration in history, this has been one of the most secretive. And in certain ways, one of the most elusive. It’s also been one of the most punitive toward whistleblowers and leakers who want to bring light to wrongdoing they have observed from inside powerful institutions

On Monday, during a visit to Vietnam, the president spent some quality time with the media — in the form of Anthony Bourdain, the celebrity chef. A couple of years ago, he did a heavily publicized interview with the comedian Zach Galifianakis on the faux talk show “Between Two Ferns,” and last year he made a visit to podcaster Marc Maron’s garage for a chat about fatherhood and overcoming fear.

But his on-the-record interviews with hard-news, government reporters have been relatively rare — and, rather than being wide-ranging, often limited to a single subject, such as the economy.

Remarkably, Post news reporters haven’t been able to interview the president since late 2009. Think about that. The Post is, after all, perhaps the leading news outlet on national government and politics, with no in-depth, on-the-record access to the president of the United States for almost all of his two terms.

I couldn’t get anyone in the White House press office to address this, despite repeated attempts by phone and email — which possibly proves my point.

But a thorough study from Martha Joynt Kumar, a retired Towson University professor, describes the administration’s strategy. The president does plenty of interviews, she writes — far more than any other president in recent history. But these interviews are tightly controlled and targeted toward specific topics, and, it seems to me, often granted to soft questioners. (All of this is a major shift from a time when news conferences and short question-and-answer sessions allowed reporters to pursue news topics aggressively and in real time.)

Submission + - Chrome 51 Arrives With New APIs And More Efficient Page Rendering

An anonymous reader writes: Google today launched Chrome 51 for Windows and Mac, promising that the Linux version will “ship shortly.” This release includes the usual slew of developer features, but users should benefit from some of the improvements right away. You can update to the latest version now using the browser’s built-in silent updater, or download it directly from google.com/chrome.

Submission + - American Schools Teaching Kids to Code All Wrong 1

theodp writes: Over at Quartz, Globaloria CEO Idit Harel argues that American schools are teaching our kids how to code all wrong. She writes, "The light and fluffy version of computer science — which is proliferating as a superficial response to the increased need for coders in the workplace — is a phenomenon I refer to as 'pop computing.' While calling all policy makers and education leaders to consider 'computer science education for all' is a good thing, the coding culture promoted by Code.org and its library of movie-branded coding apps provide quick experiences of drag-and-drop code entertainment. This accessible attraction can be catchy, it may not lead to harder projects that deepen understanding." You mean the "first President to write a line of computer code" may not progressed much beyond moving Disney Princess Elsa forward?

Submission + - US government is spending billions on old tech that barely works (zdnet.com)

An anonymous reader writes: A report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) shed light on how big the problem is. In a report published Wednesday, the federal government spent $80 billion on IT systems in 2015, but $61 billion was spent on operations and maintenance. The rest was on development and enhancement, such as purchasing new systems or expanding existing ones.

Submission + - U.S. lawmaker orders NASA to plan for trip to Alpha Centauri (sciencemag.org)

sciencehabit writes: This week, a senior U.S. lawmaker who helps write NASA’s budget called on the agency to begin developing its own interstellar probes, with the aim of launching a mission to Alpha Centauri, our nearest star system, in 2069—the centenary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Representative John Culberson (R–TX), a self-professed space fan who chairs the House of Representatives appropriations subpanel that oversees NASA, included the call for the ambitious voyage in a committee report released today.

In the report, Culberson’s panel “encourages NASA to study and develop propulsion concepts that could enable an interstellar scientific probe with the capability of achieving a cruise velocity of 0.1c [10% of the speed of light].” The report language doesn’t mandate any additional funding, but calls on NASA to draw up a technology assessment report and conceptual road map within 1 year.

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