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Erdogan’s Next Target as He Restricts Turkey’s Democracy: The Internet

Posted: 05 Mar 2018 09:59 AM PST

Turkey, positioned geopgraphically on the edge of Europe and politically inside of NATO, has been heading in a troubling direction for some time in regards to speech. Crackdowns on dissent and even open speech are increasing and Internet communications are the specific focus of some of the recent actions. Coming up is legislation intended to curb the Internet (WWW) in ways similar to how television and radio have already been limited:

Having already brought Turkey's mainstream media to heel, and made considerable headway in rolling back Turkish democracy, the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has set its sights on a seemingly innocuous target: a satellite television preacher named Adnan Oktar.

[...] "It is just about control," said Kerem Altiparmak, a human rights and media lawyer. "Considering what has been happening in Turkey, I have no doubt this is a hegemonic power, controlling newspapers, TV and the judiciary, that is now out to control the [I]nternet sector."

All the restrictions are made that much easier through increased use of and dependence on centralized services like Facebook by the remaining opposition.

Source : Erdogan's Next Target as He Restricts Turkey's Democracy: The Internet

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Antibiotics May Impact Cancer Treatment Efficacy

Posted: 05 Mar 2018 08:26 AM PST

Antibiotic use is known to have a near-immediate impact on our gut microbiota and long-term use may leave us drug resistant and vulnerable to infection.

Now there is mounting laboratory evidence that in the increasingly complex, targeted treatment of cancer, judicious use of antibiotics also is needed to ensure these infection fighters don't have the unintended consequence of also hampering cancer treatment, scientists report.

Any negative impact of antibiotics on cancer treatment appears to go back to the gut and to whether the microbiota is needed to help activate the T cells driving treatment response, says Dr. Gang Zhou, immunologist at the Georgia Cancer Center and the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University.

"It likely depends on what types of therapy physicians are giving to patients and how often they also are giving them antibiotics," says Zhou, corresponding author of the study in the journal Oncotarget.

They have some of the first evidence that in some of the newest therapies, the effect of antibiotics is definitely mixed. Infections are typically the biggest complication of chemotherapy, and antibiotics are commonly prescribed to prevent and treat them.

"We give a lot of medications to prevent infections," says Dr. Locke Bryan, hematologist/oncologist at the Georgia Cancer Center and MCG.

"White blood cell counts can go so low that you have no defense against bacteria, and that overwhelming infection can be lethal," says Bryan, a study co-author.

In this high-stakes arena, where chemotherapy is increasingly packaged with newer immunotherapies, Bryan, Zhou and their colleagues have more evidence that antibiotics' impact on the microbiota can mean that T cells, key players of the immune response, are less effective and some therapies might be too.

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1981 Assassination Attempt on Queen Elizabeth II May Have Been Covered Up

Posted: 05 Mar 2018 06:54 AM PST

A Teen Tried To Shoot Queen Elizabeth In 1981, Intelligence Report Says

New Zealand police say they are re-examining an apparent assassination attempt against Queen Elizabeth II. Declassified documents from New Zealand's intelligence service, newly released to an investigative journalist at the news website Stuff, indicate that there may have been a cover-up after teenager Christopher Lewis fired at the queen's motorcade in Dunedin. At the time, officials suggested to journalists that the bang of Lewis' gun was a sign falling over or firecrackers going off.

"Lewis did indeed originally intend to assassinate the queen, however did not have a suitable vantage point from which to fire, nor a sufficiently high-powered rifle for the range from the target," one declassified memo states.

[...] The 17-year-old was never charged with attempted murder or with treason, according to the news investigation.

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Project Gutenberg Blocks Germany in Copyright Case

Posted: 05 Mar 2018 05:22 AM PST

Project Gutenberg is a well-known repository for e-books that are out of copyright.

Recently, a German subsidiary of an international publisher started a copyright case against the project concerning 18 books, for which it claimed copyright. Read Project Gutenberg's summary of the whole mess here. The trick here is that the books in question were officially out of copyright in the USA, but still within copyright in Germany. In Germany, copyrights are "life + 70 years", meaning the copyrights to these books will expire in 2020, 2025 and 2027.

There's some interesting details (claims of copyright transfers during the trial), see Gutenberg's statement.

The long and short of it: the judge rules in favour of the plaintiffs, and ordered Project Gutenberg to cease distribution of the books. The project will file an appeal, but while that is pending, they chose to comply with the ruling (even though they feel that the project should fall wholly under US law or WIPO arbitration). To comply with the order, and likely to prevent further claims, the project decided to block Germany entirely.

[Ed note: I find it troublesome that a court in Germany can make a decision concerning an American company. I am not unaware of the irony in that statement compared to the US courts being asked to require Microsoft to turn over e-mails stored on a server in Ireland. Here is a selection from the Project Gutenberg link; following that is FakeBeldin's take on the situation.]

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U.S. States Introducing Animal Abuse Registry Legislation

Posted: 05 Mar 2018 03:01 AM PST

Eleven U.S. states have pending animal abuse registry legislation:

Son of Sam, Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer and the Columbine High School shooters are among the infamous criminals who had a history of hurting animals before they went on to target humans, a tendency that's part of what's behind a movement to create public online registries of known animal abusers.

New York is among 11 states with animal abuse registry bills pending in their legislatures, following Tennessee, which started its in 2016 along with a growing number of municipalities in recent years, including New York City, and the counties that include Chicago and Tampa, Florida.

"Animal abuse is a bridge crime," said the sponsor of New York's bill, Republican state Sen. Jim Tedisco, who noted that Nikolas Cruz, accused of killing 17 people in the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting on Feb. 14, reportedly also had a history of shooting small animals.

While the main goal of collecting names of convicted animal abusers is to prevent them from being able to adopt or purchase other animals, registry backers say such lists could also be a way to raise red flags about people who may commit other violent crimes ranging from domestic violence to mass shootings. But some animal welfare advocates, mostly notably the ASPCA, question how effective they can really be.

[Ed's Comment - Original link unreliable, so I have added additional links]
Additional Sources:

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How Flashing Lights And Pink Noise Might Banish Alzheimer’s And Improve Memory

Posted: 05 Mar 2018 01:29 AM PST

In March 2015, Li-Huei Tsai set up a tiny disco for some of the mice in her laboratory. For an hour each day, she placed them in a box lit only by a flickering strobe. The mice — which had been engineered to produce plaques of the peptide amyloid-β in the brain, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease — crawled about curiously. When Tsai later dissected them, those that had been to the mini dance parties had significantly lower levels of plaque than mice that had spent the same time in the dark.

Tsai, a neuroscientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, says she checked the result; then checked it again. “For the longest time, I didn’t believe it,” she says. Her team had managed to clear amyloid from part of the brain with a flickering light. The strobe was tuned to 40 hertz and was designed to manipulate the rodents’ brainwaves, triggering a host of biological effects that eliminated the plaque-forming proteins. Although promising findings in mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease have been notoriously difficult to replicate in humans, the experiment offered some tantalizing possibilities. “The result was so mind-boggling and so robust, it took a while for the idea to sink in, but we knew we needed to work out a way of trying out the same thing in humans,” Tsai says.

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Amazon Plans to Remove Google's Nest Products After Acquisition of Ring

Posted: 04 Mar 2018 11:57 PM PST

Amazon will stop selling Nest products once its current stock of them runs out:

The impending disappearance of Nest from Amazon marks just the latest development in the acrimonious, anti-consumer feud between Amazon and Google. Nest was absorbed back into Google last month after spending three years as a standalone Alphabet subsidiary. (Google tipped off Nest that Amazon had decided against selling its latest hardware while the companies were still separate.) Amazon has steadfastly refused to sell some Google-branded products like the Google Home voice assistant speaker and the company's Pixel smartphones. In December, the online retailer said it would restart sales of the Chromecast streaming device, but it's been three months and you still can't buy it. Last summer, Amazon launched a Prime Video app for Android, but has yet to add support for streaming its content with a Chromecast.

For its part in this ugly falling out, Google has removed YouTube from Amazon's Fire TV streaming products and the Echo Show / Spot, claiming that Amazon has violated its terms of service with those implementations of the YouTube app. There were once signs that the companies were mending the scorched bridge between them, but that doesn't seem to be the case any longer.

Amazon Declares War on YouTube by Launching Amazon Video Direct
Google Pulls YouTube off of the Amazon Echo Show
Google's "Manhattan" to Compete With Amazon's Echo Show
Amazon Wants to Deliver Purchases into Your Home
Google Pulls YouTube Off of More Amazon Devices
Google Absorbs Nest, Nest Co-Founder Quits
Amazon Acquires Ring, Maker of Internet-Connected Doorbells and Cameras, for Over $1 Billion

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Sole Classical Music Station Serving Baja California and San Diego Ends Broadcasts

Posted: 04 Mar 2018 10:25 PM PST

The World Socialist Web Site reports

The binational and bilingual classical radio station XLNC1, which broadcast on 104.9 FM, had its last day on the air yesterday. The station, whose broadcast area covered the regions of southern San Diego County, Tijuana, and northern Baja California, announced on February 9 that it would no longer broadcast due a lack of funding.

The station was unique in that it was one the few in the world that was both binational and bilingual. Its tower was located in Baja California, and the station was known for announcing composers and titles in both Spanish and English, often using one language to introduce a piece and the other language when the piece ended. The station will maintain streaming via their online services, but radio listeners in the region will no longer be able to tune into 104.9 FM.

XLNC1 was founded in 1998 by Victor Diaz initially as an Internet radio station. In 2000, it began broadcasting at 90.7 FM. In 2004, the station nearly shut down due to signal and financial problems, and eventually moved to 104.9 FM in 2008.

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DNA Nanobot 'Starves' Tumors

Posted: 04 Mar 2018 08:04 PM PST

A DNA nanorobot programmed to transport blood-coagulating proteins specifically into tumours so that their blood supply is blocked could make for a promising new cancer therapeutic. The new system, which literally "starves" the tumour, only destroys cancer cells and not surrounding tissue. It has been shown to work on breast, lung, melanoma and ovarian tumours in mice and Bama miniature pigs.

"Our system is 'intelligent' and works using a 'seek-and-destroy' strategy," explains team member Baoquan Ding of the National Center for Nanoscience and Technology in China." "We demonstrate that the nanorobot can deliver biochemical moieties that do not work as therapeutics in the conventional sense but do so indirectly – in this case by blocking the blood supply of the tumour and so killing it."

Ding and colleagues made their nanobot, which is hollow and tube-shaped, using the DNA origami technique, which is now widely used to fabricate various 3D nanostructure whose size and shape can be controlled. It only takes a few hours to make the bots through DNA-based molecular recognition and self-assembly, say the researchers. The devices are 90 nm long with a diameter of around 19 nm.

[...] "We believe that our technique is a unique strategy for cancer therapy," says team member Guangjun Nie. "What is more, the DNA nanobot we have developed could be further modified to load different cargoes and targeting groups to indeed treat other diseases since it is a customized and customizable system."

The team, reporting its work in Nature Biotechnology doi:10.1038/nbt.4071, says that it would now like to test out its technique in larger animals and primates and hopes to finish these preclinical studies in one or two years.

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Officials Admit Japan's 'Helicopter Destroyers' Were Also Designed For Jets

Posted: 04 Mar 2018 05:43 PM PST

Japanese Ministry of Defense executives have outright admitted that despite the Japanese government's past denials that the Izumo class "helicopter destroyers" were not designed to accommodate fixed-wing short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) tactical jets, they actually were designed with exactly that in mind.

The Asahi Shimbun quoted Maritime Self Defense Force sources stating the following:

"It is only reasonable to design (the Izumo) with the prospect of possible changes of the circumstances in the decades ahead... We viewed that whether the Izumo should be actually refitted could be decided by the government."

When the Izumo first entered service, the vessels' ominous profile and massive proportions led many, including the author, to allege that these vessels were intended to one day carry fixed-wing tactical jets. It also wasn't really clear why the country would need larger vessels than the Hyuga class helicopter destroyers already in production if they weren't going to gain more offensive capabilities. Although they have amphibious capabilities, Japan's helicopter carriers are traditionally more focused on anti-submarine warfare.

Asahi Shimbun's sources went on to say that a consensus was privately reached among the service's leadership that the Izumo class would be designed for conversion into a fixed-wing capable aircraft carrier in the future but the Japanese government would deny this due to the issues surrounding violating Article Nine of the Japanese constitution.

[...] The justification of Japan's military posture, and the weaponry that supports it, all comes down to how one interprets "self defense" as per the Japanese constitution, but really, things have been rapidly changing for Japan when it comes to morphing its military into a far-reaching force with substantial offensive punch.

[...] Considering that Japan is looking to arm itself with long-range cruise missiles and more capable fighters in the near term, a fixed-wing capable Izumo and her sister ship Kaga won't be far behind, ushering in a new era of power projection for Japan the likes of which the world has not seen since the end of World War II.

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Last Male Northern White Rhino 'Sudan' Falls Ill as Species Edges Closer to Extinction

Posted: 04 Mar 2018 03:22 PM PST

There are three northern white rhinoceroses left. The last male of this subspecies lives in Kenya and is already quite old for his kind of animal. He is ailing now.

But recently, a secondary and much deeper infection was discovered beneath the initial one and Sudan was taking longer to recover, "despite the best efforts of his team of vets who are giving him 24-hour care", the organisation said.

There are two other white rhinos left in the world – a female named Najin and daughter Fatu, both also living at the conservancy in Kenya. Health problems or their ages – around 28 and 17, respectively – have left them unable to reproduce.

Wildlife experts and conservationists expressed deep regret over the prospect of the northern white rhino completely dying out. Technically, the species is already classified as extinct because it no longer exists in the wild, conservationists said.

The last few there and elsewhere have been protected 24/7 by heavily armed guard to try to slow down poaching. However, poaching and the other underlying reasons for the impending extinction are unlikely to be solved within the next few decades.

Last male northern white rhino Sudan falls ill as species edges closer to extinction. South China Morning Post
The world's last male northern white rhino is on death watch. CNN

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AI-Powered App Helps Physicians Spend More Time with Patients

Posted: 04 Mar 2018 01:02 PM PST

Physicians spend less time than ever with patients — just 27 percent of the workday, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2016.

The main culprit:  electronic health records. Doctors find themselves increasingly glued to computers, acting as glorified data entry administrators.

Even when they're in the same room as patients, doctors interacted with them only 52 percent of the time. However, the study also found a contra-indicator: doctors who used some kind of document support — a medical scribe or dictation service — spent more time interacting directly with patients.

That's a dynamic LexiconAI hopes to capitalize on using GPU-infused AI.

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It's Begun: 'First' IPV6 Denial-Of-Service Attack

Posted: 04 Mar 2018 10:39 AM PST

Network guru Wesley George noticed the strange traffic earlier this week as part of a larger attack on a DNS server in an effort to overwhelm it. He was taking packet captures of the malicious traffic as part of his job at Neustar's SiteProtect DDoS protection service when he realized there were "packets coming from IPv6 addresses to an IPv6 host."

The attack wasn't huge – unlike this week's record-breaking 1.35Tbps attack on GitHub – and it wasn't using a method that is exclusive to IPv6, but it was sufficiently unusual and worrying to flag to the rest of his team.

Computers behind 1,900 IPv6 addresses were attacking the DNS server as part of a larger army of commandeered systems, mostly using IPv4 addresses on the public internet. Anyone running an IPv6 network needs to, therefore, ensure they have the same level of network security and mitigation tools in place as their IPv4 networks – and fast.

"The risk is that if you don't have IPv6 as part of your threat model, you could get blindsided," Neustar's head of research and development Barrett Lyon told us.

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