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posted by martyb on Sunday October 22, @02:21PM   Printer-friendly
from the totally-unexpected dept.

A California judge has thrown out a $417 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson. The plaintiff claimed that she developed ovarian cancer after using J&J's talc-based products:

The ruling by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Maren Nelson marked the latest setback facing women and family members who accuse J&J of not adequately warning consumers about the cancer risks of its talc-based products. The decision followed a jury's decision in August to hit J&J with the largest verdict to date in the litigation, awarding California resident Eva Echeverria $70 million in compensatory damages and $347 million in punitive damages.

Nelson on Friday reversed the jury verdict and granted J&J's request for a new trial. Nelson said the August trial was underpinned by errors and insufficient evidence on both sides, culminating in excessive damages.

Mark Robinson, who represented the woman in her lawsuit, in a statement said he would file an appeal immediately. "We will continue to fight on behalf of all women who have been impacted by this dangerous product," he said.

Previously: The Baby Powder Trials: How Courts Deal with Inconclusive Science
Johnson & Johnson Ordered to Pay $417m in Latest Talc Cancer Case

Original Submission

posted by takyon on Sunday October 22, @12:00PM   Printer-friendly
from the linked-infielder dept.

LinkedIn CEO: Company Open To Original Shows, Streaming NFL

LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner says they are not pivoting to video as several social media and news media outlets have recently done, but the company is open to buying and developing original shows.

[...] He noted that shows similar to ABC's "Shark Tank" could potentially do very well with its business and networking minded users.

[...] Weiner also expressed interest in pursuing deals with professional sports leagues such as the NFL or NBA.

Also at GeekWire and MSPoweruser.

Previously: Microsoft to Buy LinkedIn for $26.2 Billion in Cash
LinkedIn Apologizes for Attempted Privacy Breach
LinkedIn Cannot Prevent Access to Public Profiles

Original Submission

posted by takyon on Sunday October 22, @09:22AM   Printer-friendly
from the FIRE-sector-doing-bad-math-again dept.

The Intercept reports:

Bank of America Merrill Lynch downgraded Chipotle and warned investors that the stock will "underperform", complaining that the restaurant chain is paying its workers too much, and that cutting labor costs further will be difficult for the chain.

[...] Chipotle spokesperson Chris Arnold called Bank of America's analysis "flawed and inaccurate", adding that the restaurant chain hasn't cut employee hours but recently increased hours in conjunction with the addition of queso to the menu.

"That analysis is making estimates and conclusions about our management practices over a 12-year time frame from 2006 to 2017", Arnold told The Intercept. "Obviously, the scale of our business and labor wages have changed dramatically over that time frame. Drawing conclusions from 2006 and applying them as a directional change to our business over the past 12 months is simply flawed."

[...] "We continue to pay wages and offer benefits that are competitive and that reflect the priorities of our employees", Arnold said. "And with a commitment to developing and promoting people from within, we are providing significant opportunities for advancement."

The downgrade is a symptom of Wall Street's maniacal obsession with labor costs.

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Sunday October 22, @06:56AM   Printer-friendly
from the for-real-or-VR? dept.

Alphabet's Project Loon deploys LTE balloons in Puerto Rico

Alphabet's Project Loon has officially deployed its LTE balloons to Puerto Rico, the team announced this afternoon. In a blog penned by Project Loon head Alastair Westgarth, the company says it's working with the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Aviation Authority, FEMA, and other cellular spectrum and aviation authorities to bring connectivity to parts of the island still suffering in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Loon's official LTE partner for the initiative is AT&T, which is helping Loon use its fleet of stratospheric helium balloons to bring functions like text messaging and minor web browsing access to Puerto Rico residents who have LTE-equipped smartphones.

Also at TechCrunch.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Sunday October 22, @04:35AM   Printer-friendly
from the maybe-that-explains-Pinocchio dept.

Great tits in the UK may be evolving longer beaks to better access bird feeders, compared to their counterparts in the Netherlands:

Setting up a bird feeder is one of the easiest ways to interact with wildlife. But could this seemingly innocent pastime be changing the very shape of our backyard birds? It's still too early to say for sure, says Lewis Spurgin, an evolutionary biologist at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom. But he and his colleagues have discovered some truly fascinating clues that a bird called the great tit may be evolving longer beaks to access bird feeders.

"We know that evolution by natural selection produces peacocks' tails and giraffes' necks and that sort of thing," says Spurgin, whose findings were published today in Science. "But it also works in much more subtle ways that are much more difficult to observe."

Also at Newsweek and Science Daily (reprint).

Recent natural selection causes adaptive evolution of an avian polygenic trait (DOI: 10.1126/science.aal3298) (DX)

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Sunday October 22, @02:14AM   Printer-friendly
from the gratis-and-libre-only dept.

Martin Brinkmann reports via gHacks

F-Droid is an alternative application store for Android [...] that provides users with a catalog of free and open source software. [It is] useful for Android users who don't want to link their device and data to the Google ecosystem, and [...] for installing applications that are not offered on Google Play.

Note: The last [pre-1.0] version is offered [...] on the main F-Droid homepage at the time of writing. You need to visit this page on the website to download version 1.0 of the application. Also, note that you need to enable the installation of apps from unknown sources in the settings to install the application.

[...] F-Droid 1.0 comes with a redesigned interface. The application opens a What's New page on start that highlights new releases.

Note that you cannot switch the program language [any more], at least not right now. This means that you are stuck with the Android device's language.

[...] new features are [...]

  • Improved tracking protection (HTTP Etag, TLS).
  • Background updates with privileged extension. workflow for updating applications overhauled completely.
  • Faster index updates.
  • A "What's New" section that highlights changes in the current release.
  • Screenshots and feature graphics support, if available.
  • Fully translatable app summaries and descriptions.
  • Support installing media, OTA, Zip and other files.
  • Donations to app developers highlighted.

The general feel of the application has not changed, however.

In the comments there, Coriy notes that installed apps are now beneath a tab ("annoying, but livable"); auto-updates to your local repository are now clunkier; and that FOSS app updates have always been slow in reaching F-Droid relative to the stuff at Google Play.

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Saturday October 21, @11:50PM   Printer-friendly
from the def-protect($target): dept.

Submitted via IRC for TheMightyBuzzard

Canada's Communications Security Establishment (CSE) agency announced this week that the source code for one of its malware detection and analysis tools has been made public.

The Python-based tool released as open source by the spy agency is named Assemblyline and it was created within the CSE's Cyber Defence program. The organization says this is one of the tools it uses to protect the country's computer systems against advanced cyber threats.

Assemblyline allows defenders to automate the analysis of malicious files. The analysis process, which has been compared to a conveyor belt, involves assigning a unique identifier to files as they travel through the system, looking for signs of malicious functionality and extracting features for further analysis, generating alerts for malicious files and assigning them a score, and sending data to other protection systems so that identified threats can be neutralized.

[...] The CSE is not the only spy agency to release open source tools. Last year, the UK's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) made available CyberChef, a tool that allows both technical and non-technical people to analyze encryption, compression and decompression, and data formats.

Assemblyline source code

Source: Canada's CSE Spy Agency Releases Malware Analysis Tool

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Saturday October 21, @09:23PM   Printer-friendly
from the or-in-your-own-basement dept.

When NASA scientists want to follow the path of the Curiosity rover on Mars, they can don a mixed-reality headset and virtually explore the Martian landscape.

Starting today, everyone can get a taste of what that feels like. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, collaborated with Google to produce Access Mars, a free immersive experience. It's available for use on all desktop and mobile devices and virtual reality/augmented reality (VR/AR) headsets. That includes mobile-based virtual reality devices on Apple and Android.

The experience was adapted from JPL's OnSight software, which assists scientists in planning rover drives and even holding meetings on Mars. Imagery from NASA's Curiosity rover provided the terrain, allowing users to wander the actual dunes and valleys explored by the spacecraft. Since being rolled out to JPL's scientists in 2015, OnSight has made studying Martian geology as intuitive as turning your head and walking around.

Access Mars lets anyone with an internet connection take a guided tour of what those scientists experience. A simple walkthrough explains what the Curiosity rover does and details its dramatic landing in 2012. Users also can visit four sites that have been critical to NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission: Curiosity's landing site; Murray Buttes; Marias Pass and Pahrump Hills. Additionally, the rover's latest location on lower Mt. Sharp will be periodically updated to reflect the mission's ongoing progress.

This I would try VR for.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Saturday October 21, @07:02PM   Printer-friendly
from the I'm-gonna-stay-in-my-basement dept.

A Lancet Commission report has found that pollution is now the leading cause of disease and death worldwide:

Exposure to polluted air, water and soil caused nine million premature deaths in 2015, according to a report published Thursday in The Lancet.

The causes of death vary — cancer, lung disease, heart disease. The report links them to pollution, drawing upon previous studies that show how pollution is tied to a wider range of diseases than previously thought.

Those studies observed populations exposed to pollutants and compared them to people not exposed. The studies have shown that pollution can be an important cause of diseases — many of them potentially fatal — including asthma, cancer, neurodevelopmental disorders, birth defects in children, heart disease, stroke and lung disease.

The nine million figure adds up to 16 percent of all deaths worldwide, killing three times more people than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. Pollution is responsible for 15 times more deaths than wars and all other forms of violence. "No country is unaffected," the report notes. But 92 percent of those deaths occurred in low- and middle-income countries.

Air pollution deaths in Southeast Asia are expected to double by 2050.

The Lancet Commission on pollution and health (DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(17)32345-0) (DX)

Also at The Guardian and Human Rights Watch.

Related: Pollution responsible for quarter of deaths of young children, says WHO

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Saturday October 21, @04:41PM   Printer-friendly
from the alliterative-animals dept.

Effective immediately, the new release of Ubuntu, 17.10, aka 'Artful Aardvark' has been released!

This release will be supported for 9 months (until 2018) for Long Term Support, stick with release 16.04, instead.

Official flavors (e.g. Kubuntu) are also released.

See the above release notes for a full list of changes and where you can get a copy.

[Full disclosure: the majority of SoylentNews' servers run Ubuntu 16.04 LTS though we have taken steps towards moving to Gentoo.]


The customized version of GNOME that Ubuntu 17.10 uses is very much in the mould of the (now defunct) Unity desktop, so it won't be to everyone's tastes.


Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Saturday October 21, @02:21PM   Printer-friendly
from the Nice-Kitty!! dept.

Many different creatures have roamed the Earth over the years, and scientists now have a better idea of when saber-tooth cats were around... quite possibly at the same time as humans:

Researchers who've analyzed the complete mitochondrial genomes from ancient samples representing two species of saber-toothed cats have a new take on the animals' history over the last 50,000 years. The data suggest that the saber-toothed cats shared a common ancestor with all living cat-like species about 20 million years ago. The two saber-toothed cat species under study diverged from each other about 18 million years ago.

"It's quite crazy that, in terms of their mitochondrial DNA, these two saber-toothed cats are more distant from each other than tigers are from house cats," says Johanna Paijmans at the University of Potsdam in Germany.

Paijmans and colleagues reconstructed the mitochondrial genomes from ancient-DNA samples representing three Homotherium from Europe and North America and one Smilodon specimen from South America. One of the Homotherium specimens under investigation is a unique fossil: a 28,000-year-old mandible recovered from the North Sea.

"When the first anatomically modern humans migrated to Europe, there may have been a saber-toothed cat waiting for them," Paijmans says.

Wikipedia entries on Homotherium and Smilodon.

Why do I have a sudden urge to sing the theme song to The Flintstones?

Journal Reference: Johanna L.A. Paijmans, et al. Evolutionary History of Saber-Toothed Cats Based on Ancient Mitogenomics. Current Biology, 2017; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.09.033

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Saturday October 21, @11:50AM   Printer-friendly
from the getting-to-know-you dept.

Privacy of medical results obtained in a clinical setting are protected in the US by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). But what about non-clinical medical data gathered by phone apps and wearables such as a FitBit? Not so much. According to a new report, Rice expert: Be concerned about how apps collect, share health data your personal health data may be at risk:

As of 2016 there were more than 165,000 health and wellness apps available though the Apple App Store alone. According to Rice University medical media expert Kirsten Ostherr, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates only a fraction of those. Americans should be concerned about how these apps collect, save and share their personal health data, she said.

On Oct. 26 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will host a gathering of national experts to discuss "Data Privacy in the Digital Age." Ostherr, who is a professor of English and director of Rice's Medical Futures Lab, has been doing research on health and medical media for over 20 years, from "old" media like celluloid films used for medical education to "new" media like smartphone apps. She will present "Trust and Privacy in the Ecosystems of User-Generated Health and Medical Data" during a panel discussion.

[...] She said apps that make medical or therapeutic claims are considered a medical device and must go through the FDA procedures for approval and regulation. For some companies, that process is worth the time and effort, because their product could become covered by insurance.

But the vast majority of apps provide "helpful hints" in response to user-entered data, such as ideas for alleviating symptoms of a migraine.

[...] "If your app carefully sidesteps claiming any kind of medical intervention, then it's a health and wellness app and not a medical device — and it is not regulated," Ostherr said.

Regardless of whether an app is regulated, Ostherr said, they are all "capturing tons of personal data, some of which would be classified as personal health information if it were subject to oversight by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act."

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Saturday October 21, @09:30AM   Printer-friendly
from the and-the-fauna? dept.

The last two of eight prototypes for President Donald Trump's proposed border wall took shape Thursday at a construction site in San Diego.

The prototypes, including one built by Israeli defense firm Elta, form a tightly packed row of imposing concrete and metal panels, including one with sharp metal edges on top.

[...] The models, which cost the government up to $500,000 each, were spaced 30 feet (9.1 meters) apart. Slopes, thickness and curves vary. One has two shades of blue with white trim. The others are gray, tan or brown — in sync with the desert.

Bidding guidelines call for the prototypes to stand between 18 and 30 feet (5.5 and 9.1 meters) high and be able to withstand at least an hour of punishment from a sledgehammer, pickaxe, torch, chisel or battery-operated tools.

Features also should prevent the use of climbing aids such as grappling hooks, and the segments must be "aesthetically pleasing" when viewed from the US side.

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Saturday October 21, @07:10AM   Printer-friendly
from the I-dont-know dept.

What will we do when we can't send our junk to China?

The dominant position that China holds in global manufacturing means that for many years China has also been the largest global importer of many types of recyclable materials. Last year, Chinese manufacturers imported 7.3m metric tonnes of waste plastics from developed countries including the UK, the EU, the US and Japan.

However, in July 2017, China announced big changes in the quality control placed on imported materials, notifying the World Trade Organisation that it will ban imports of 24 categories of recyclables and solid waste by the end of the year. This campaign against yang laji or "foreign garbage" applies to plastic, textiles and mixed paper and will result in China taking a lot less material as it replaces imported materials with recycled material collected in its own domestic market, from its growing middle-class and Western-influenced consumers.

The impact of this will be far-reaching. China is the dominant market for recycled plastic. There are concerns that much of the waste that China currently imports, especially the lower grade materials, will have nowhere else to go.

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Saturday October 21, @04:51AM   Printer-friendly
from the /*-trueplay()-*/ dept.

Are you game?

Developers that want to stop cheaters in their Windows games are getting a little additional system-level help from Microsoft via TruePlay, a new API being rolled out through Windows 10's Fall Creators Update.

The feature, which is now documented on the Windows Dev Center, lets developers easily prioritize a game as a protected process, cutting off some of the most common cheating methods by essentially preventing outside programs from looking at or altering the game's memory. TruePlay also "monitor[s] gaming sessions for behaviors and manipulations that are common in cheating scenarios," looking at usage patterns on a system level to find likely cheaters.

[...] Windows users will have to explicitly opt in to TruePlay monitoring through a system setting, which first showed up in preview builds as "Game Monitor" back in June. Users that don't opt in won't be able to play games with TruePlay implemented, though; as the settings page notes, "turning this off may limit the games you can play."

Original Submission