N e w s - F e e d s

[ Reuters | Slashdot | BBC News ]
[ Image Archive ]

Slashdot

    - Scientists Dodge FDA To Offer a $1 Million Anti-Aging Treatment in Colombia
    Would you pay $1 million and fly to South America for a chance to live longer? From a report: Libella Gene Therapeutics, a Kansas-based company that says it is developing a gene therapy that can reverse aging by up to 20 years, is hoping your answer is yes. In an interview with OneZero, the company says it is ready to give an experimental anti-aging therapy to older people at a clinic north of Bogota, Colombia. But that's not all -- it's also charging people $1 million to participate. Scientists and ethicists say the company's experiment is not only dubious but it also raises concerns about how anti-aging treatments should be tested in people. The aim of Libella's therapy is to lengthen a person's telomeres, which sit at the tips of chromosomes like caps on the end of shoelaces. First discovered in the 1970s, telomeres have been linked to aging because they seem to shorten as a person gets older. By delivering a gene called TERT to cells, which in turn makes a telomere-rebuilding enzyme called telomerase, Libella thinks it can prevent, delay, or even reverse aging. "I know what we're trying to do sounds like science fiction, but I believe it's a science reality," Jeff Mathis, CEO of Libella Gene Therapeutics, tells OneZero. Libella's therapy is based on studies published by American geneticist Ronald DePinho in 2010 and Spanish scientist Maria Blasco in 2012, which found that telomerase gene therapy could reverse signs of aging in mice. While intriguing, many have dismissed the idea of using gene therapy to reverse aging in humans because it would involve a permanent change to a person's DNA, a risk that's hard to justify in someone who's healthy. Behind Libella's technology is Bill Andrews, a molecular biologist who, 20 years ago, led a research group at the Bay Area biotech firm Geron to identify the human telomerase enzyme. He tells OneZero that he developed a telomerase gene therapy and licensed the technology to Libella. "I can't say it's the only cause of aging, but it plays a role in humans," he says about telomere shortening.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.



    - The Price of Recycling Old Laptops: Toxic Fumes in Thailand's Lungs
    The e-waste industry is booming in Southeast Asia, frightening residents worried for their health. Despite a ban on imports, Thailand is a center of the business. From a report: Crouched on the ground in a dimly lit factory, the women picked through the discarded innards of the modern world: batteries, circuit boards and bundles of wires. They broke down the scrap -- known as e-waste -- with hammers and raw hands. Men, some with faces wrapped in rags to repel the fumes, shoveled the refuse into a clanking machine that salvages usable metal. As they toiled, smoke spewed over nearby villages and farms. Residents have no idea what is in the smoke: plastic, metal, who knows? All they know is that it stinks and they feel sick. The factory, New Sky Metal, is part of a thriving e-waste industry across Southeast Asia, born of China's decision to stop accepting the world's electronic refuse, which was poisoning its land and people. Thailand in particular has become a center of the industry even as activists push back and its government wrestles to balance competing interests of public safety with the profits to be made from the lucrative trade. Last year, Thailand banned the import of foreign e-waste. Yet new factories are opening across the country, and tons of e-waste are being processed, environmental monitors and industry experts say. "E-waste has to go somewhere," said Jim Puckett, the executive director of the Basel Action Network, which campaigns against trash dumping in poor countries, "and the Chinese are simply moving their entire operations to Southeast Asia."

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.



    - When a DNA Test Says You're a Younger Man, Who Lives 5,000 Miles Away
    After a bone marrow transplant, a man with leukemia found that his donor's DNA traveled to unexpected parts of his body. A crime lab is now studying the case. From a report: Three months after his bone marrow transplant, Chris Long of Reno, Nev., learned that the DNA in his blood had changed. It had all been replaced by the DNA of his donor, a German man he had exchanged just a handful of messages with. He'd been encouraged to test his blood by a colleague at the Sheriff's Office, where he worked. She had an inkling this might happen. It's the goal of the procedure, after all: Weak blood is replaced by healthy blood, and with it, the DNA it contains. But four years after his lifesaving procedure, it was not only Mr. Long's blood that was affected. Swabs of his lips and cheeks contained his DNA -- but also that of his donor. Even more surprising to Mr. Long and other colleagues at the crime lab, all of the DNA in his semen belonged to his donor. "I thought that it was pretty incredible that I can disappear and someone else can appear," he said. Mr. Long had become a chimera, the technical term for the rare person with two sets of DNA. The word takes its name from a fire-breathing creature in Greek mythology composed of lion, goat and serpent parts. Doctors and forensic scientists have long known that certain medical procedures turn people into chimeras, but where exactly a donor's DNA shows up -- beyond blood -- has rarely been studied with criminal applications in mind.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.



    - Microsoft Will Shut Down To-do App Wunderlist on May 6
    Over two and a half years after Microsoft said it'd one day kill to-do service Wunderlist in favor of its own To Do app, it has revealed when it'll drop the ax: May 6th. From a report: After that time, Wunderlist's to-do lists won't sync anymore and you'll have a limited time to export lists from there into To Do. As of today, Microsoft won't accept any more sign-ups for Wunderlist. Microsoft bought Wunderlist creator 6Wunderkinder in 2015 and announced To Do (or To-Do, as it was known then) in April 2017. It launched a redesigned version of To Do in September, which brought the service closer in line with Wunderlist's feature set while deepening its integration with several Microsoft services, including Outlook, Microsoft Planner and Cortana. Further reading: Wunderlist Founder Wants To Buy His App Back.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.



    - African Countries Are Struggling To Build Robust Identity Systems
    The first thing that visitors to the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg see is a wall of identity cards-- the pieces of paper that determined where people could live and work and whom they could love. From the outset, the apartheid regime's ability to discriminate against "nie-blankes" (non-whites) depended on having a robust system of identifying people. The opposite problem confronts most other countries in Africa today. Governments have little idea who their citizens are [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled]. From a report: African countries struggle for several reasons. One is racial discrimination. Uganda, Liberia and Sierra Leone explicitly withhold nationality from children of certain races and ethnicities. Other countries do so informally by refusing to issue papers. Another reason is a failure by governments to explain to their citizens how they might benefit. Consider birth registration, the most basic form of official identity. South Asia more than doubled its rate of birth registration to 71% between 2000 and 2014. In sub-Saharan Africa the rate dropped by one point, to 41%, over the same period. For poor villagers, going to a government office to register a birth is time-consuming and expensive, especially when officials demand bribes. Some countries charge a fee, which is a disincentive. Others penalize late registrations. One way to encourage people is to link birth registration to benefits such as child-support grants -- something South Africa did with great success. But that approach may also have the perverse consequence of denying payments to the very poorest. Money is another reason many African countries have fallen behind their peers. Extending the state's reach to remote areas can be expensive. So, too, is paying for skilled labour of the sort required to fill in forms accurately and to operate biometric machines. The technology itself is costly, especially for small countries that do not have much buying power.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.



    - Eat For 10 Hours. Fast For 14. This Daily Habit Prompts Weight Loss, Study Finds
    There's a lot of enthusiasm for intermittent fasting -- a term that can encompass everything from skipping a meal each day to fasting a few days a week. Or, how about this approach: Simply limit your daily eating window to 10 hours. This means that if you take your first bite of food at 8 a.m., you'd need to consume your last calorie of the day by 6 p.m. A new study published in Cell Metabolism offers some evidence that the approach can be beneficial. From a report: Researchers tracked a group of overweight participants who followed this approach for about three months. "Typically, people would go for an 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. eating window," explains Dr. Pam Taub, a cardiologist at the University of California, San Diego's School of Medicine, and an author of the study. During the fasting period, participants were encouraged to stay hydrated with water. Each day, they logged the timing of their meals and their sleep in an app. "We saw a 3% reduction in their weight and a 4% reduction in abdominal visceral fat," says Taub. "We didn't ask them to change what they eat," she explains, though participants consumed about 8.6% fewer calories -- likely as a result of the limited eating window. In addition to the weight loss, "we saw that cholesterol levels improved and blood pressure [levels] also improved," Taub explains. There was also some reported improvement in sleep quality, and many of the participants reported more energy.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.



    - World Chess Champion On the Verge of Topping Fantasy Football Table
    Magnus Carlsen, the world's best chess player for the last decade, is on the brink of reaching the top in another game -- fantasy football. From a report: The grandmaster is enjoying his best season ever in the Fantasy Premier League (FPL) game and after Sunday's results he climbed to the sixth position in a table of more than 7 million players worldwide. Carlsen, who is currently competing at the London Chess Classic at Olympia, puts his fantasy football success down to luck. But his FPL team, Kjell Ankedal, has consistently scored high in the overall rankings for the past four years, finishing among the top 3,000 players in the 2017-2018 league. This season, it took Carlsen just six weeks to make it into the top 1,000 and he has been climbing up the table ever since. It will not comfort anyone languishing in the FPL's lower millions to learn that Carlsen is also an occasional model. Like many Norwegians, Carlsen is obsessed with both the Premier League and its fantasy league spin-off. In 2017, eight players from Norway were in the top 50 FPL players in the world. Norway has an advantage for FPL obsessives because of the relatively free availability of live matches on the country's TV channels, compared to broadcast restrictions in other countries.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.



    - Intel CEO Blames Company's Obsessive Focus on Capturing 90% CPU Market Share For Missing Out on Other Opportunities
    Intel chief executive Bob Swan says he's willing to let go the company's traditional dominance of the market for CPUs in order to meet the rising demand for newer, more specialized silicon chips for applications such as AI and autonomous cars. From a report: Intel's Bob Swan blames being focused on 90% CPU market share as a reason for missing opportunities and transitions, envisions Intel as having 30% of all-silicon TAM instead of majority CPU TAM. Just a few years ago, Intel owned more than 90% of the market share in the x86 CPU market. Many financial models used Intel's revenue as a proxy for the Total Available Market of the CPU sector. With a full-year revenue of $59.4 billion in 2017, you can estimate the total TAM of the CPU side of things at roughly $66 billion (2017 est). Bob Swan believes that this mindset of protecting a majority share in the CPU side has led to Intel becoming complacent and missing out on major opportunities. Bob even went as far as to say that he is trying to "destroy" this thinking of having a 90% market share in the CPU side and instead wants people to come into office thinking Intel has 30% market share in "all Silicon." Swan on how Intel got to the place where it is now: How we got here is really kind of threefold, one we got a lot faster than we expected and the demand for CPUs and servers grew much faster than we expected in 2018. You'll remember we came into 2018 projecting a 10% growth and we grew by 21% growth so the good news problem is that demand for our products in our transformation to a data-centric company was much higher than we expected. Secondly, we took on a 100% market share for smartphone modem and we decided that we would build it in our fabs, so we took on even more demand. And third, to exacerbate that, we slipped on bringing our 10nm to life and when that happens you build more and more performance into your last generation for us -- 14nm -- which means there is a higher core count and larger die size. So those three -- growing much faster than we thought, bringing modems inside and delaying 10nm resulted in a position where we didn't have flexible capacity.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.



    - Verizon Kills Email Accounts of Archivists Trying To Save Yahoo Groups History
    An anonymous reader shares a report: Verizon, which bought Yahoo in 2017, has suspended email addresses of archivists who are trying to preserve 20 years of content that will be deleted permanently in a few weeks. As Verizon announced in October, the company intends to wipe all content from Yahoo Groups. As of December 14, all previously posted content on the site will be permanently removed. The mass deletion includes files, polls, links, photos, folders, database, calendar, attachments, conversations, email updates, message digests, and message histories that was uploaded to Yahoo servers since pre-Google 1990s. Verizon planned to allow users to download their own data from the site's privacy dashboard, but apparently it has a problem with the work of The Archive Team who wants to save content to upload it to the non-profit Internet Archive, which runs the popular Wayback Machine site. "Yahoo banned all the email addresses that the Archive Team volunteers had been using to join Yahoo Groups in order to download data," reported the Yahoo Groups Archive Team. "Verizon has also made it impossible for the Archive Team to continue using semi-automated scripts to join Yahoo Groups -- which means each group must be rejoined one by one, an impossible task (redo the work of the past four weeks over the next 10 days)."

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.



    - China Tells Government Offices To Remove All Foreign Computer Equipment
    China has ordered that all foreign computer equipment and software be removed from government offices and public institutions within three years, the Financial Times reports. hackingbear writes: The government directive is likely to be a blow to US multinational companies like HP, Dell and Microsoft and mirrors attempts by Washington to limit the use of Chinese technology, as the trade war between the countries turns into a tech cold war. The Trump administration banned US companies from doing business with Chinese Chinese telecommunications company Huawei earlier this year and in May, Google, Intel and Qualcomm announced they would freeze cooperation with Huawei. By excluding China from western know-how, the Trump administration has made it clear that the real battle is about which of the two economic superpowers has the technological edge for the next two decades. This is the first known public directive from Beijing setting specific targets limiting China's use of foreign technology, though it is part a wider move within China to increase its reliance on domestic technology.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.



    - Oceans Losing Oxygen at Unprecedented Rate, Experts Warn
    Oxygen in the oceans is being lost at an unprecedented rate, with "dead zones" proliferating and hundreds more areas showing oxygen dangerously depleted, as a result of the climate emergency and intensive farming, experts have warned. From a report: Sharks, tuna, marlin and other large fish species were at particular risk, scientists said, with many vital ecosystems in danger of collapse. Dead zones -- where oxygen is effectively absent -- have quadrupled in extent in the last half-century, and there are also at least 700 areas where oxygen is at dangerously low levels, up from 45 when research was undertaken in the 1960s. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature presented the findings on Saturday at the UN climate conference in Madrid, where governments are halfway through tense negotiations aimed at tackling the climate crisis. Grethel Aguilar, the acting director general of the IUCN, said the health of the oceans should be a key consideration for the talks. "As the warming ocean loses oxygen, the delicate balance of marine life is thrown into disarray," she said. "The potentially dire effects on fisheries and vulnerable coastal communities mean that the decisions made at the conference are even more crucial." All fish need dissolved oxygen, but the biggest species are particularly vulnerable to depleted oxygen levels because they need much more to survive. Evidence shows that depleted levels are forcing them to move towards the surface and to shallow areas of sea, where they are more vulnerable to fishing.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.



    - How Pranksters Tricked Twitter-Scraping Sites Into Copyright Infringement
    An anonymous reader shares a remarkable story from Fortune's Data Sheet newsletter: The story begins on Dec. 3, when an artist going by @Hannahdouken on Twitter posted an image of hand-drawn text reading, "This site sells STOLEN Artwork, do NOT buy from them!" And asked followers to reply that they wanted the image on a shirt. They were testing a theory. For years, artists posting their work online have found the art turned into t-shirts and other merch without permission or compensation. The theory was that this was being done by automated bots that combed Twitter for images with such enthusiastic replies, and then automatically created merch on sites such as Gearbubble, copthistee, and Teeshirtpublic... Sure enough, automated bots picked up @Hannahdouken's image and placed it on t-shirts... They report that other Twitter users then took the stunt even further, including one who "had a theory: See if he could bait the bots into copyright infringement, and just maybe, a pricey lawsuit." So they produced a drawing of a particularly sassy Mickey Mouse with the caption "This is NOT a parody. We committed copyright infringement and want to be sued by Disney." His version of the stunt succeeded spectacularly. First, the bots came out of the woodwork, drawn by hundreds of tweets from people saying they wanted the image on a t-shirt. Then other artists repeated the trick with infringing images including Pikachu, Mario, and the Coca-Cola logo....

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.



    - Free Software Foundation Offers Benefits and Merchandise In Its Annual Fundraiser
    An anonymous reader writes: The Free Software Foundation is holding its annual fundraiser, with a goal of attracting 600 new members by the end of December. (New members so far: 112.) "We are still fighting the oppressive nature of proprietary software," explains the campaign's web page. "We have made solid inroads, and the community is as passionate as ever." As a 501(c)(3) charity the group's membership dues are all tax deductible, and associate memberships are just $10 a month ($5 for students). They come with special benefits including up to five email aliases in the member.fsf.org domain, eligibility to join the nonprofit Digital Credit Union, free admission to the annual LibrePlanet conference in Boston, and 20% discounts on FSF merchandise and GNU gear (including this delightful stuffed baby gnu). And for its special year-end fundraiser, different levels are also eligible for patches, backpacks, a thermos, and a public thank you at gnu.org. "With your things neatly organized in a backpack covered with patches, and coffee forever to go, you will be ready to fight for freedom!" And finally, they've also created images to share on social media, writing thta "It is not always easy to explain to your neighbor or friend what free software is, or why it is so important. But taking the time to explain it, and motivating the people in your community to think critically about how much control they actually have over their software is the only way to keep our community growing and counter the billions of dollars that proprietary software companies use to strip our user rights."

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.



    - Former Oracle Product Manager Claims He Was Forced Out For Refusing to Sell Vaporware
    A former Oracle employee filed a lawsuit against the database giant on Tuesday claiming that he was forced out for refusing to lie about the functionality of the company's software. The civil complaint, filed on behalf of plaintiff Tayo Daramola in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, contends that Oracle violated whistleblower protections under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the Dodd-Frank Act, the RICO Act, and the California Labor Code. According to the court filing, Daramola, a resident of Montreal, Canada, worked for Oracle's NetSuite division from November 30, 2016 through October 13, 2017. He served as a project manager for an Oracle cloud service known as the Cloud Campus BookStore initiative and dealt with US customers. Campus bookstores, along with ad agencies, and apparel companies are among the market segments targeted by Oracle and NetSuite. Daramola's clients are said to have included the University of Washington, the University of Oregon, the University of Texas at Austin, Brigham Young University and the University of Southern California. The problem, according to the complaint, is that Oracle was asking Daramola to sell vaporware -- a charge the company denies. "Daramola gradually became aware that a large percentage of the major projects to which he was assigned were in 'escalation' status with customers because Oracle had sold his customers software products it could not deliver, and that were not functional," the complaint says. Daramola realized that his job "was to ratify and promote Oracle's repeated misrepresentations to customers" about the capabilities of its software, "under the premise of managing the customer's expectations." The ostensible purpose of stringing customers along in this manner was to buy time so Oracle could actually implement the capabilities it was selling, the court filing states. As Daramola saw it, his job as project manager thus required him to participate "in a process of affirmative misrepresentation, material omission, and likely fraud." "We don't agree with the allegations," Oracle told The Register "and intend to vigorously defend the matter." The article also notes that in 2016 Oracle faced another whistleblower lawsuit, this one brought by a former senior finance manager at Oracle who'd said her bosses directed her to inflate the company's cloud sales. Oracle settled that lawsuit "while denying any wrongdoing."

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.



    - Disney Warns 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' Effects Could Cause Seizures
    "The Walt Disney Co. is asking exhibitors worldwide to warn moviegoers that Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker may pose a seizure risk to audience members with photosensitive epilepsy," reports Deadline: In an unusual move, Disney has sent a letter to theater owners and operators worldwide with a recommendation that special steps should be taken to alert moviegoers about the visual effects and flashing lights in the J.J. Abrams-directed interstellar adventure. "Out of an abundance of caution," the letter opens, "we recommend that you provide at your venue box office and online, and at other appropriate places where your customers will see it, a notice containing the following information: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker contains several sequences with imagery and sustained flashing lights that may affect those who are susceptible to photosensitive epilepsy or have other photosensitivities." The Burbank-based Disney is also working with the Epilepsy Foundation, which issued an advisory of its own and commended the studio for taking the initiative on the audience safety issue. About 3.4 million Americans have epilepsy and about three percent have photosensitivity issues that puts them at risk of seizures triggered by flashing lights or other visual patterns.

    Read more of this story at Slashdot.





Old Board