Snowden: iPhone Includes Surveillance App

January 24th, 2015

Shocker.

Via: Sputnik News:

Former US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden never uses an iPhone as this device has software able to collect personal information regarding its owner, the whistleblower’s lawyer said Monday.

“Edward never uses an IPhone, he’s got a simple phone… The iPhone has special software that can activate itself without the owner, having to press a button and gather information about him, that’s why on security grounds he refused to have this phone,” Anatoly Kucherena told RIA Novosti.

Related: Apple Took Half of U.S. Phone Activations in Q4 2014 as Demand Stays Strong


Recovery: More Homeless Camps Are Appearing Beyond Downtown L.A.’s Skid Row

January 24th, 2015

Via: Los Angeles Times:

Over the last two years, street encampments have jumped their historic boundaries in downtown Los Angeles, lining freeways and filling underpasses from Echo Park to South Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, a city-county agency, received 767 calls about street encampments in 2014, up 60% from the 479 in 2013.

Some residents believe the city is exporting its downtown homeless problem to their neighborhoods. But social service agencies and volunteers say it isn’t that simple. They say that although downtown development and skid row cleanups are squeezing out some homeless people, many camps are filled with locals.

Soaring rents, closed shelters and funding cutbacks are pushing residents from neighborhoods such as Highland Park and Boyle Heights into the streets, where they cling to familiar turf.


Scientists Attempt to Create Kill Switch for Genetically Modified Bacteria

January 24th, 2015

Pay close attention to the use of unlikely and undetectably small escape rate in the piece below.

Wow.

Of all the places to encounter weaseleze…

I think seeing it in the one about the GMO kill switch has to take the cake.

Via: Discovery:

As genetically-modified microbes take on ever more tasks – from creating new pharmaceuticals to turning out clean fuel sources – researchers have searched for a way to biologically isolate them from their wild counterparts, so that if they were ever accidentally released, they wouldn’t be able to survive.

Now, scientists releasing two separate papers in the journal Nature think they have a solution. They unveiled two different approaches to modifying a strain of E. coli to make it dependent on artificial nutrients. In a controlled environment, such as a research lab or factory, scientists would provide that sustenance. But if the bacteria break free, they wouldn’t be able to make the compounds themselves, and would die.

No Escape

Scientists have previously used similar approaches, making GMO bacteria reliant on synthetic nutrients. But in the past, the GMO bacteria have evolved the ability to live without the synthetic nutrients. Bacteria have ejected the part of their DNA that made them reliant on the nutrients, or they figured out how to cobble together an equivalent of those nutrients from the natural world.

In separate projects, teams led by Yale molecular biologist Farren Isaacs and Harvard molecular geneticist George Church have genetically modified E. coli so that it is totally dependent on synthetic amino acids. And in both cases that need is built in to multiple parts of the bacteria’s genome – 49 times in the Harvard study – so that the likelihood that the bacteria would evolve to overcome the restriction is unlikely. And both strains showed an undetectably small escape rate – the number of E. coli able to survive without being fed the synthetic amino acid.


Doomsday Clock: It Is Three Minutes to Midnight

January 23rd, 2015

Via: Bulletin of Atomic Scientists:

Unchecked climate change, global nuclear weapons modernizations, and outsized nuclear weapons arsenals pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity, and world leaders have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe. These failures of political leadership endanger every person on Earth.” Despite some modestly positive developments in the climate change arena, current efforts are entirely insufficient to prevent a catastrophic warming of Earth. Meanwhile, the United States and Russia have embarked on massive programs to modernize their nuclear triads—thereby undermining existing nuclear weapons treaties. “The clock ticks now at just three minutes to midnight because international leaders are failing to perform their most important duty—ensuring and preserving the health and vitality of human civilization.”

More: Atomic Scientists Declare Humanity to Be Closest to Destruction Since 1984


Saudi King Abdullah Dies, New Ruler Is Salman

January 22nd, 2015

Via: Reuters:

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah died early on Friday and his brother Salman became king, the royal court in the world’s top oil exporter and birthplace of Islam said in a statement carried by state television.

King Salman has named his half-brother Muqrin as his crown prince and heir.


Europe Announces €60 Billion Monthly Bond-Buying Plan

January 22nd, 2015

Via: Yahoo:

Taking a page from the Ben Bernanke playbook, Mario Draghi and the European Central Bank announced a bond buying program this morning to the tune of €60 billion a month through September of 2016 for a total of about €1.2 trillion. The program is an attempt to turn around Europe’s lagging economy, boosting inflation that came in at 0.2% in December.


Flashback 2009: Drug Money Saved Banks in Global Crisis

January 22nd, 2015

Via: Guardian:

Drugs money worth billions of dollars kept the financial system afloat at the height of the global crisis, the United Nations’ drugs and crime tsar has told the Observer.

Antonio Maria Costa, head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, said he has seen evidence that the proceeds of organised crime were “the only liquid investment capital” available to some banks on the brink of collapse last year. He said that a majority of the $352bn (£216bn) of drugs profits was absorbed into the economic system as a result.


California Is Going Through the Worst Drought in 500 Years

January 21st, 2015

Via: Vice:

In the first episode of our new show, California Soul, we investigate the state’s worst drought in nearly 500 years. From the driest towns in California to the empty reservoirs, we see just how screwed our world really is and what people are doing to carry on.


Google and Fidelity Invest $1 Billion in SpaceX

January 20th, 2015

Via: cnet:

Google is cementing its interest in outer space.

The company, along with investment firm Fidelity, is pumping $1 billion into SpaceX, the rocket company co-founded by billionaire Elon Musk.

The deal, confirmed on Tuesday by SpaceX, is just the latest bet Google has made on space technologies. The company has recently made investments in satellites, and was rumored to be considering a stake in the space tourism venture Virgin Galactic. The investment, which was reported earlier by The Information, would apparently value SpaceX at $10 billion and give Google and Fidelity close to a 10 percent stake in the company.

It’s still unclear what could come of the investment, but some have speculated the deal could bolster Google’s and SpaceX’s plans for providing low-cost Internet access to under-served regions of the globe.


Yemen: Coup Underway

January 20th, 2015

Via: Globe and Mail:

A Yemeni army commander says Shiite Houthi rebels have seized the presidential palace in the capital, Sanaa, a move he described as a “coup.”

Col. Saleh al-Jamalani, the commander of the Presidential Protection Force that guards embattled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, says the rebels swept into the presidential palace on Tuesday afternoon.

He told The Associated Press that the rebels were aided by insiders and are looting arm depots on the palace grounds.


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