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posted by martyb on Tuesday March 13, @10:57PM   Printer-friendly
from the or-else? dept.

The UK says that a Soviet-developed Novichok nerve agent was used against Sergei Skripal, his daughter, and bystanders, and has given Russia "until midnight tonight" to explain how it came to be used:

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Tuesday that Russia has "until midnight tonight" to explain how a lethal Novichok nerve agent that was developed in Russia came to be used on U.K. soil. Johnson said Britain is preparing to take "commensurate but robust" action.

Reiterating British Prime Minister Theresa May's statement that it was "highly likely" Russia was to blame for the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, Johnson said, "the use of this nerve agent would represent the first use of nerve agents on the continent of Europe since the Second World War."

Meanwhile, police are probing the death of a Russian exile living in London:

Nikolai Glushkov, a Russian exile who was a close friend of a noted critic of President Vladimir Putin, has died from an "unexplained" cause in London, police say. The Metropolitan Police says that its counter-terrorism unit is handling the case "because of associations that the man is believed to have had."

Glushkov, 68, was a close friend of former Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky, a prominent critic of the Kremlin who was found dead in 2013. At the time, an inquiry found he had hanged himself — but Glushkov publicly disputed the idea that his friend and former business ally would have killed himself.

As British media began reporting Glushkov's death, the police issued a statement saying, "An investigation is underway following the death of a man in his 60s in Kingston borough."

Previously: Former Russian Spy Exposed to "Unknown Substance" in Salisbury, England
Use of Nerve Agent Confirmed in Skripal Assassination Attempt

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Tuesday March 13, @10:35PM   Printer-friendly
from the where-are-they-now dept.

Journalist Matthew Keys has been released from the Satellite Prison Camp Atwater, in Atwater, California, a few months early.

As Ars reported previously, Keys was accused and convicted of handing over a username and password for his former employer KTXL Fox 40's content management system (CMS) to members of Anonymous and instructing people there to "fuck some shit up." Ultimately, that December 2010 incident resulted in someone else using those credentials to alter a headline and sub-headline on a Los Angeles Times article. (Both Fox 40 and the Times are owned by the Tribune Media Company.) The changes lasted for 40 minutes before editors reversed them.

[...] While he had initially wanted to challenge the oft-maligned federal law under which he was convicted, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, Keys said his case was ultimately not the right one to bring such a challenge.

Keys and his legal team ultimately decided not to pursue an appeal to the Supreme Court after losing at the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeal in June 2017. Within the next few months he will begin supervised release and will be able to resume work.

From Ars Technica : Matthew Keys, now freed from prison, is ready to get back to journalism

and previously : Former Reuters Journalist Matthew Keys Found Guilty of Three Counts of Hacking [sic].

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Tuesday March 13, @08:57PM   Printer-friendly
from the iTricorder dept.

Apple Watch wristband sensor claims to detect potassium in your blood — without needles

The AliveCor KardiaBand, a sensor compatible with the Apple Watch, can detect dangerous levels of potassium in blood with 94 percent accuracy. Though the US Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved KardiaBand for this purpose, it's an interesting step forward considering that, right now, the condition is usually caught using invasive blood tests that use needles.

The KardiaBand by AliveCor is a sensor that snaps into a slot on the watchband. The user touches the sensor, which then takes a reading of the electrical activity of the heart, called an electrocardiogram (EKG). This reading can reveal abnormal heart rhythm and atrial fibrillation (AFib), and the sensor sends the information to an app. Yesterday, at the American College of Cardiology conference in Florida, AliveCor CEO Vic Gundotra presented research done with the Mayo Clinic showing that the same technology can detect too-high levels of potassium in the blood, called hyperkalemia. Hyperkalemia can be caused by, among other things, diabetes, dehydration, and chronic kidney disease. It can lead to kidney and heart failure and in general doesn't cause obvious symptoms — meaning you could have the condition and not know it.

[...] Some previous research [DOI: 10.1016/S0196-0644(05)81476-3] [DX] has suggested that EKGs may not be a good way to diagnose hyperkalemia, but, to be fair, that research was very limited and tested two human physicians. Another study suggested that EKG readings may not be sensitive enough [open, DOI: 10.2215/​CJN.04611007] [DX] to catch everyone with hyperkalemia and that the condition doesn't always cause a different EKG reading.


Also at 9to5Mac.

Related: Apple's Watch Can Detect an Abnormal Heart Rhythm With 97% Accuracy, UCSF Study Says
Apple Watch Could be Used to Detect Hypertension and Sleep Apnea
FDA Approves First Medical Device Accessory for the Apple Watch

Original Submission

posted by CoolHand on Tuesday March 13, @07:25PM   Printer-friendly
from the strike-up-a-conversation-about-censorship dept.

TEDxBrussels has had its license revoked after an organizer dragged the controversial performance artist, Deborah De Robertis, off the stage by force during her presentation there. The parent organization recently has issued a statement on this incident at TEDxBrussels

Today at TEDxBrussels, an independently organized TEDx event, speaker and performance artist Deborah De Robertis was forcibly removed from the stage by one of the event's organizers, who objected to the talk's content.

From Mashable:

According to the TEDxBrussels website, the presenter, artist Deborah De Robertis, was in the middle of a piece addressing past censorship of her artwork. The forcible removal of her from stage was so absurd, reports the Netherlands newspaper NRC Handelsblad, that audience members initially applauded thinking it was a statement about censorship.

From Flanders News:

The organisers of Monday's TEDxBrussels event are refusing to comment on what happened.

TED is a prestigious series of talks in which speakers get a maximum of 18 minutes to spread innovative ideas and tell how they can contribute to a better world. It started off as a 4-day conference in the US state of California.

From Flanders Today:

According to Focus Knack, TEDxBrussels – run by a group of volunteers – was told by De Robertis that she would not show images from her performances as part of her talk. When she did, they decided to shut it down. The New York-based Sapling Foundation, which owns TEDx, did not agree with the move.

TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Conferences started 1984 in California and cover most topics nowadays. The talks are intended to be thought provoking and are short, being 18 minutes or less in duration. Some may consider the talks too fluffy and lacking distinct solutions. The parent organization is a nonprofit, nonpartisan foundation with the agenda to make great ideas accessible and spark conversation. TEDx events are independently run and occur around the world. Until just now they used to also occur in Brussels.

From Flanders Today : TEDx Brussels loses license due to censorship
From Flanders News : TEDxBrussels loses licence after incident with controversial artist
From Mashable : TEDxBrussels organizer drags presenter off stage during anti-censorship talk

Original Submission

posted by CoolHand on Tuesday March 13, @05:37PM   Printer-friendly
from the thanks-for-all-the-fish dept.

Forty years to the day of its first broadcast, there's a new BBC radio series.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy deserves a special place in the geek pantheon. It's the story of hapless BBC radio editor Arthur Dent, his best friend Ford Prefect, and the adventures that result when Prefect saves Dent when the Earth is unexpectedly destroyed to make way for a galactic bypass. Written by the late, great Douglas Adams, HHGTTG first appeared as a radio series in the UK back in 1978. On Thursday—exactly 40 years to the day from that first broadcast—it made its return home with the start of Hexagonal Phase, a radio dramatization of the sixth and final book of an increasingly misnamed trilogy.

Source: ArsTechnica

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Tuesday March 13, @04:00PM   Printer-friendly
from the exercise-is-good-at-any-age dept.

Why babies need to move in the womb

Scientists have just discovered why babies need to move in the womb to develop strong bones and joints. It turns out there are some key molecular interactions that are stimulated by movement and which guide the cells and tissues of the embryo to build a functionally robust yet malleable skeleton. If an embryo doesn't move, a vital signal may be lost or an inappropriate one delivered in error, which can lead to the development of brittle bones or abnormal joints.

[...] "Our new findings show that in the absence of embryonic movement the cells that should form articular cartilage receive incorrect molecular signals, where one type of signal is lost while another inappropriate signal is activated in its place. In short, the cells receive the signal that says 'make bone' when they should receive the signal that says 'make cartilage'."

Prior to this discovery, using chick and mouse embryos where movement could be altered, the scientists had previously shown that when movement is reduced the articular cells at the joint do not form properly, and that in extreme cases the bones can fuse at the joint, but they didn't know why. Now, they have isolated the mechanism underlying healthy development, which has provided new insights into what type of embryo movement is important and the specific signals that are needed to make a healthy joint.

This could have implications for physiotherapy as well as artificial wombs.

Precise spatial restriction of BMP signaling in developing joints is perturbed upon loss of embryo movement (DOI: 10.1242/dev.153460) (DX)

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Tuesday March 13, @02:39PM   Printer-friendly
from the fertil-ground-for-mistakes dept.

A second fertility clinic has reported a liquid nitrogen cooling system failure:

A San Francisco fertility clinic says that a problem with the liquid nitrogen in one of its storage tanks may have damaged thousands of frozen eggs and embryos, triggering calls and letters to more than 400 concerned patients of the Pacific Fertility Center.

The nitrogen level in one tank fell very low, according to Dr. Carl Herbert, the fertility clinic's president. Herbert told ABC News that an "emergency filling" immediately took place, and that the tank's contents were then transferred to a fully functioning tank.

The problem struck on March 4 — the same day that a similar cryogenic tank failure was reported in Cleveland, where the University Hospital Fertility Clinic is investigating "an unexpected temperature fluctuation" that jeopardized its tissue storage bank, where liquid nitrogen preserves eggs and embryos. That incident reportedly affected some 700 patients.

One failure: accident. Two failures...?

Previously: Freezer Malfunction May Have Damaged Up to 2,000 Frozen Eggs and Embryos

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Tuesday March 13, @01:08PM   Printer-friendly
from the alien-subject dept.

NASA's acting administrator, Robert M. Lightfoot Jr., has announced that he will retire on April 30. The U.S. Senate has not yet voted on confirming Jim Bridenstine as a permanent replacement:

[...] In September, President Trump nominated Jim Bridenstine, a Republican congressman from Oklahoma, to be the next administrator. But the Senate has yet to vote to confirm Mr. Bridenstine.

All 49 Democrats in the Senate appear unified in opposition, in part because Mr. Bridenstine gave a speech disparaging climate change several years ago. Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, has also expressed doubts about Mr. Bridenstine.

The space agency's No. 2 position, deputy administrator, is vacant. The Trump administration has yet to nominate anyone. Steve Jurczyk, formerly the associate administrator for space technology, was named in late February as a temporary fill-in for Mr. Lightfoot's previous job, associate administrator. NASA is also lacking a chief of staff.

[...] Mr. Lightfoot's 406 days as acting administrator is by far the longest NASA has operated without a permanent leader, eclipsing the 176 days that passed at the start of the Obama administration before Mr. Bolden was confirmed.

Previously: President Trump Nominates Congressman Jim Bridenstine to Lead NASA

Related: President Trump Signs Space Policy Directive 1

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Tuesday March 13, @11:26AM   Printer-friendly
from the spliffs-but-no-tweets dept.

The Australian Broadcast Corporation reports:

Australian parents are more worried about their children using social media and technology than drugs, alcohol or smoking, according to new research.

The youth mental health support service ReachOut surveyed parents of 12 to 18-year-olds about their concerns and found that 45 per cent were worried about their children's use of social media.

Technology closely followed at 42 per cent.

In comparison, 25 per cent were worried about their children using drugs, alcohol or smoking. [...] ReachOut surveyed 890 parents in December 2017, a month before the suicide of 14-year-old Amy "Dolly" Everett put cyberbullying on the national agenda.

Mr Nicholas said parents were concerned about the anonymity of social media. "They're really concerned about the nature of bullying that may happen on social media sites and how easy it is given that this is a product that young people are likely to use every day," he said. "That the harm and particularly the psychological harm can be really significant."

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Tuesday March 13, @09:56AM   Printer-friendly
from the good-news,-everyone! dept.

TechRights reports

Unified Patents, Inc. Puts $2,000 Bounties on Prior Art, Seeking to Defang Texan Patent Trolls That Are Active In Spite of TC Heartland

There's now money in invalidation of patents (not just for defendants' lawyers in courts or petitioners at PTAB [USA's Patent Trial and Appeal Board]) rather than endless pursuits of more and more patents; Unified Patents offers the money, targeting patent trolls for the most part.

There are two things that are dying out/ebbing away in the US: software patents and patent trolls. There's a strong correlation between those two things, but for the most part they're now being tackled by Alice and TC Heartland, respectively. Both are landmark decisions by the US Supreme Court and they impact the USPTO [US Patent and Trademark Office]/PTAB and courts, respectively (the latter is also impacted by Alice).

There's an upcoming conference that covers PTAB and includes Unified Patents. We are very supportive of Unified Patents, behind which there are reasonable people who care about patent quality; they're -not- patent maximalists and some are in fact scholars/academics.

Based on this update from yesterday, there's now a $2,000 bounty on patent prior art which can stop a patent troll that's based in Texas. To quote:

On March 9, 2018, Unified issued a new contest in Patroll (a prior art crowdsourcing platform) with a $2,000 prize for winning prior art submissions that invalidate US Patent 7,526,477. The '477 patent, directed to a method and apparatus for enhancing electronic reading by identifying relationships between sections of electronic text, has been asserted in multiple litigations by Red River Innovations, LLC, a Texas-based NPE [non-practicing entity].

Another similar (same cash award) bounty was announced yesterday:

On March 9, 2018, Unified issued a new Patroll (prior art crowdsourcing platform) contest with a $2,000 prize for a winning prior art submission that invalidates US Patent 7,177,838. The '838 patent, directed to a method and apparatus for conducting electronic commerce transactions using electronic tokens, has been asserted in multiple litigations by GTX Corp., an NPE.

As a reminder of its accomplishments, Unified Patents also published this reminder yesterday--the latest reminder of how it successfully uses PTAB to thwart bad patents/software patents:

On March 9, 2018, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board issued a final written decision in Unified Patents Inc. v. Digital Stream IP, LLC, IPR2016-01749 invalidating claims 1, 4, 6-13, 20, and 22 of U.S. Patent 6,757,913, owned and asserted by Digital Stream IP, LLC. The '913 Patent, which describes a wireless music and data transceiver system, has been asserted in multiple litigations against such companies as Best Buy, GM, Mercedes, Nissan, Honda, and Sirius XM. Only Sirius XM remains in active litigation as the majority of these cases settled after Unified filed its IPR.

Good riddance. A lot of these are exploiting a ridiculous court in Texas. They know that time is running out because after TC Heartland it's a lot harder to keep court cases there. [...] the Eastern Texas District Court/Eastern District of Texas (TXED/EDTX) is losing its status yet again. Patent trolls and bullies are unable to wage legal war in there.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Tuesday March 13, @08:21AM   Printer-friendly
from the buying-influence dept.

The King of Saudi Arabia has offered to build the world's largest football stadium in Baghdad, Iraq, for free:

[According] to, that is precisely what has happened to the Iraq football association, who this week, following their recent 4-1 friendly win over Saudi Arabia, have been afforded the opportunity to house a 135,000-seater stadium within Baghdad after King Salman offered to foot the bill.

"I have received a phone call from the King of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdul Aziz", Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said.

"He hailed Iraqi's victory (in the friendly match between the two sides last week) and expressed his preparedness and commitment to expanding positive relations between Iraq and Saudi Arabia at different levels - economical, commercial, communal, cultural - at all levels that are of interest for the two countries.

"He also offered Saudi Arabia's contribution to build a main stadium in Iraq that accommodates 100,000 people. We have welcomed the initiative and it was proposed today to the Cabinet."

Also at Reuters.

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Tuesday March 13, @06:53AM   Printer-friendly
from the mutants-have-no-tattoos dept.

Macrophage immune cells in the skin can capture pigments from tattoos and hold them in place, causing tattoos to persist even after new macrophages move in to deal with the contaminants:

[...] That's what French scientists observed from studying tatted mice. In their model of tattoo persistence [open, DOI: 10.1084/jem.20171608] [DX], published Tuesday in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, macrophages — immune cells that ingest foreign or unhealthy debris in the body — play a starring role. Targeting these cells, the authors suggested, might help improve tattoo removal procedures for people.

As a tattoo is given, macrophages descend to capture invading ink. Probably because the ink granules are too bulky for the microscopic Pac-Mans to break down, they hold onto the pigment, your body art shining through their bellies.

With time, these original macrophages die and release their pigments, which get vacuumed up by new macrophages, starting the cycle over, said Sandrine Henri, a researcher at the Immunology Center of Marseille-Luminy who led the study with her colleague Bernard Malissen.

[...] Jared Jagdeo, a dermatologist at the University of California, Davis, has also wondered whether macrophages impede tattoo removal by reabsorbing lasered ink particles. Since 2014, he has performed a laser removal procedure that uses anti-inflammatory ointment to suppress macrophages. "It makes a difference," he said, noting that he often removes tattoos in 10 or fewer treatments [instead of 20].

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Tuesday March 13, @05:22AM   Printer-friendly
from the x-men-beware dept.

The World Health Organization Wants You To Worry About "Disease X"

Every year, the World Health Organization commissions an expert committee identify the most threatening infectious diseases of the upcoming year. The idea is to prioritize research and development on diseases and pathogens that pose a major risk to global health, but lack effective treatments or vaccines.

The committee met early in February this year, and the prioritized list of diseases has been released. The list is made up of familiar threats, including Ebola, Zika, Lassa Fever and a respiratory illness in the Middle East known as MERS. And then there's "Disease X." It is the last on the list, and most mysterious.

What is Disease X? Disease X is quite literally a mystery disease. It's a recognition that we can't see everything coming. In 2018, it's entirely possible that we'll see a brand-new pathogen. Or, as with Zika, an old disease will suddenly demonstrate a new way to harm us.

Disease X is a placeholder for disaster we can't imagine yet.

From the WHO list of Blueprint priority diseases:

Disease X represents the knowledge that a serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease, and so the R&D Blueprint explicitly seeks to enable cross-cutting R&D preparedness that is also relevant for an unknown "Disease X" as far as possible.

Also at The Telegraph.

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Tuesday March 13, @03:51AM   Printer-friendly
from the at-least-we-don't-use-kanjis dept.

Submitted via IRC for Bytram

The language doesn't take a vacation, and neither does the dictionary. The words we use are constantly changing in big ways and small, and we're here to record those changes. Each word has taken its own path in its own time to become part of our language—to be used frequently enough by some in order to be placed in a reference for all. If you're likely to encounter a word in the wild, whether in the news, a restaurant menu, a tech update, or a Twitter meme, that word belongs in the dictionary.

[...] In recent years, the richest source of these newly adopted foreign-language words has been the world of food-or, perhaps we should say: the food of the world.

[...] The sometimes perplexing domain of digital financial exchanges opens a window into a subject that requires explanation for many of us, hence the detailed definition of cryptocurrency

[...] Health care, both physical and psychological, gives us many new words as well. Neoadjuvant refers to treatment for a disease or condition that is administered before the primary treatment in order to improve the likelihood of a successful outcome

Source: The Dictionary Just Got a Whole Lot Bigger (archive, because "adblocker" is not their favorite word)

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Tuesday March 13, @02:21AM   Printer-friendly
from the dentists-of-dentists-are-scared dept.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have identified a cluster of dentists that all contracted idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and were treated at a particular Virginia care center:

A cluster of cases of a progressive lung disease occurred among dentists and other dental workers treated at one Virginia care center, according to Thursday's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report [open, DOI: 10.15585/mmwr.mm6709a2] [DX] from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Of nine patients, referred to as a cluster, seven died during the reported 16-year period. The disease, called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, is a chronic, progressive lung disease with a poor prognosis. The cause is unknown.

[...] In this case, among 894 patients treated for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis at the Virginia hospital, nine patients -- or 1% -- were identified as dentists or dental technicians. This number "was about 23 times higher than expected," Nett said.

The clustering may be explained by occupational exposure to an unknown hazard.

Also at Newsweek.

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Tuesday March 13, @12:45AM   Printer-friendly
from the I-like-you dept.

Genes have a role in empathy, study says

It helps us to make close connections with people, and influences how we behave in a range of situations, from the workplace to a party. Now scientists say empathy is not just something we develop through our upbringing and life experiences - it is also partly inherited.

A study of 46,000 people found evidence for the first time that genes have a role in how empathetic we are. And it also found that women are generally more empathetic than men.

[...] Participants in the study had their "empathy quotient" (EQ) measured with a questionnaire, and gave saliva samples for DNA testing. Scientists then looked for differences in their genes that could explain why some of us are more empathetic than others. They found that at least 10% of the differences in how empathetic people are is down to genetics.

Varun Warrier, from the University of Cambridge who led the study, said: "This is an important step towards understanding the role that genetics plays in empathy. But since only a tenth of the variation in the degree of empathy between individuals is down to genetics, it is equally important to understand the non-genetic factors."

The genomic data came from 46,861 23andMe users.

Genome-wide analyses of self-reported empathy: correlations with autism, schizophrenia, and anorexia nervosa (open, DOI: 10.1038/s41398-017-0082-6) (DX)

Original Submission