Daily Archives: March 13, 2018

Senate Bill Meant To Punish Equifax Might Actually Reward It

The Equifax data breach affected around 148 million Americans. As the Washington Post reported, the affected people’s compromised information includes even partial driver’s license data.According to Bloomberg, this has made Equifax somewhat of a pariah in Washington. Ironically, however, the Senate bill designed to punish the consumer credit reporting agency might actually reward it. A last-minute change, an amendment to the bill offered by its author Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo, might help Equifax make millions of dollars in revenue.The amendment directs government-sponsored enterprises, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, not to rely on FICO scores provided by Fair Isaac Corp. Instead, these mortgage finance enterprises are directed to use credit assessments offered by rival companies.VantageScore Solutions LLC is Fair Isaac’s main competitor, and Equifax co-owns VantageScore. Apart from that, Mike Crapo’s legislation requires Equifax to provide free credit monitoring to military service members. This, according to Bloomberg, could also make Equifax millions in revenue.

Source: Senate Bill Meant To Punish Equifax Might Actually Reward It

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3D printed tissues could advance cancer research

Researchers from UBC’s Okanagan campus hope to make advances in tissue replacement and cancer research through a new technology that can produce living, 3D printed bio-tissues. For more information see the IDTechEx report on 3D bioprinting.   “One of the ultimate goals in biomedical engineering is to recreate viable, healthy and living tissues,” says engineering professor Keekyoung Kim. “The applications are staggering and could range from helping people suffering from ailments such as severe burns or organ failure to creating artificial tissues for research into diseases like cancer.”   Much like weaving a tapestry, Kim and his team devised a method of using an inexpensive laser diode to solidify a water-based gel into a complex cross-linked pattern. The engineered tissue provides not only strength but also a structure where living cells can live and thrive.
Read more at: https://www.3dprintingprogress.com/articles/13861/3d-printed-tissues-could-advance-cancer-research

Source: 3D printed tissues could advance cancer research | 3D Printing Progress

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Voodoo dolls of bosses improve staff morale, study finds

Allowing disgruntled staff to stab voodoo dolls of their boss could help them feel less resentful and improve the quality of their work, a new study has suggested.According to the Health and Safety Executive, more than 12 million Britons are forced to take time off work each year because of stress and anxiety, often caused by pressure from overbearing or abusive managers.But rather than allowing staff to brood over their mistreatment, which can be detrimental to work, business experts have suggested they should be allowed to take out their anger on voodoo dolls.A study of 229 workers in the US and Canada found that engaging in ‘symbolic retaliation’ lowered feelings of injustice by one third.Although revenge is often viewed negatively, the researchers say the findings highlight ‘the largely overlooked benefit of retaliation from the victim’s perspective.’

Source: Voodoo dolls of bosses improve staff morale, study finds

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Faceless Toad Discovered in Forest in Connecticut

A toad found in a state forest in Connecticut startled researchers in the field because it had no face.The amphibian, an adult American toad, was hopping into the researchers’ feet and other objects repeatedly while they were collecting information about newts. Jill Fleming, a herpetologist and student at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, took notice. She and her colleagues took a closer look at the toad, and they were surprised to see that its eyes, nose, jaw, and tongue were completely missing.She says the reason why the toad is missing its face is a mystery, though there are a few possible explanations.“My initial thought, which I still believe is a likely explanation, was that the extensive injury was inflicted by one of the toad’s many natural predators during hibernation (for example, garter snakes or American mink),” she says. “For whatever reason, the predator did not finish the job and the toad was able to become active again on that early spring day—amphibians are incredibly resilient.”

Source: Faceless Toad Discovered in Forest in Connecticut

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Cake-Eating Fairy in 19C Staffordshire

This little passage is a troubling one for all kinds of reasons. In the mid-late nineteenth century, an itinerant preacher recounted an experience from his time in Staffordshire (a Midlands English county that ranged, in this period, from the beautifully wild to the grimily industrial). He had evidently begged a bed in the kitchen one evening in a Staffordshire farm in the moorlands. The photo at the head of this post should give you some idea of the landscapes we are dealing with.I went into a farmhouse to stay a night, and in the evening there came a knocking in the room as if some one had struck the table. I jumped up. My hostess got up and ‘good-night,’ says she, ‘I’m off’. ‘But what was it?’ says I. ‘Just a poor old fairy,’ says she; ‘old Nancy. She’s a poor old thing; been here ever so long; lost her husband and her children; it’s bad to be left like that, all alone. I leave a bit o’ cake on the table for her, and sometimes she fetches it, and sometimes she don’t’.

Source: Cake-Eating Fairy in 19C Staffordshire – Beachcombing’s Bizarre History Blog

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Big Cheese festival apologises for running out of cheese 

If you’re going to promise a cheese festival, the one thing you really need is cheese.But organisers of an event in Brighton are now offering refunds after running out of the smelly stuff.They’ve been been hit with complaints on social media, with people calling it a “shambles” – with one simply saying “hmmm, was expecting more cheese”.The weather is being blamed for some traders being unable to get to the site.The Big Cheese Festival had promised “a plethora of the finest international cheesemakers and mongers showcasing their amazing cheeses”.But for some of those who paid £22 to get in, there simply weren’t enough of those mongers.

Source: Big Cheese festival apologises for running out of cheese – BBC News

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Google Street View now has an uber-cute ‘Dog View’ in Japan

It’s always nice to have a local guide you around when you’re visiting an unfamiliar place.It’s even better when said local is a dog.According to a report from The Verge, Google Japan has made it possible for would-be travelers to take a dog-led tour through places such as Odate City, of Japan’s Akita prefecture, also importantly known as the birthplace of the adorable Akita Inu dog.But you’re not literally seeing through the dogs’ eyes.Rather, the feature – which is viewed through Google’s Street View and is appropriately referred to as “dog view” – straps cameras attached to dog-friendly harnesses onto the backs of very good boys (and girls).Two working Akitas named Ako and Asuka are now viewers’ loyal canine tour guides around Odate City. (That’s likely a nod to the breed’s ties to the city.)

Source: Google Street View now has an uber-cute ‘Dog View’ in Japan

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Senators Want Dumber Tech For Energy Grid Cybersecurity 

Legislation to dumb-down the nation’s electrical grid in the name of cybersecurity advanced out of a Senate committee on Thursday, bringing a retro approach to securing critical infrastructure one step closer to passage.The Securing Energy Infrastructure Act, cosponsored by Sens. Angus King, I-Maine, and Jim Risch, R-Idaho, advanced out of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on a voice vote. The central provision of the bill is a pilot program led by the director of the Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence at the Energy Department, which is part of the broader intelligence community, to research ways to build redundancies and safety procedures into the power grid that do not rely on digital infrastructure.The pilot—to begin within 180 days of the bill’s passage—would direct the national laboratories to partner with the private sector to identify potential means of digitally attacking the power grid and research ways of preventing such attacks and quickly remediating any effects.

Source: Senators Want Dumber Tech For Energy Grid Cybersecurity – Nextgov

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How secure are news sites? A report from the first year of Secure The News

For over a year now, Secure The News has automatically monitored the HTTPS encryption practices at more than 100 major news sites around the world. Secure The News is a Freedom of the Press Foundation project built to regularly update a scorecard of some 131 news sites. We encourage sites to climb up those rankings because well-configured HTTPS encryption can protect reader privacy, enhance site security, and make important reporting harder to censor or manipulate.We’re pleased to report that since we began monitoring in late 2016, HTTPS encryption has seen a pronounced increase in the quality and reach of its deployment among news sites, and we continue to improve the tools we use to monitor that rise.Let’s start with the stats. We can see the overall rise in HTTPS deployment and quality by monitoring the “grades” we give sites based on their use of HTTPS. Each dot on this graph represents a the grade from a sampled scan, while the line shows the average grade over time. That grade, out of 100, has risen from about 31 points at the end of 2016 to over 53 points now. A major improvement, to be sure, but with plenty of room to get better.

Source: How secure are news sites? A report from the first year of Secure The News

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Scientists warn of mysterious and deadly new epidemic called Disease X that could kill millions around the world – Mirror Online

An unknown and deadly new illness dubbed Disease X has been added to the list of potential global epidemics that could potentially kills millions.Each year scientists with the World Health Organisation (WHO) create a list of the most likely diseases to break out into a worldwide pandemic.This year, among the familiar Ebola, SARS, and Zika viruses is the new name of Disease X.And unlike the other pathogens, it is not known what causes Disease X or how doctors could try to treat it.Researchers said that they added Disease X to the threat list to recognise the fact that the next deadly pandemic could be started by an illness that has not caused any problems before.

Source: Scientists warn of mysterious and deadly new epidemic called Disease X that could kill millions around the world – Mirror Online

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We should be getting paid to use Facebook and Google

Humans generate more data on Facebook in a single day than exists in all the books ever written combined. That’s not even counting Google Search trends, Amazon and Alibaba’s shopping insights, and Microsoft’s gleanings from having Windows installed on a gazillion devices. Data, unlike gold and oil, is a nearly unlimited resource.So why aren’t we getting paid for creating it?In return for this data — which provides the primary source of income for social networks like Facebook — we’ve developed new addictions, watched national elections fall under the influence of foreign entities, and unwittingly participated in the training of autonomous technology that’ll likely disrupt the vast majority of industries humans currently work in. But we haven’t gotten paid.Facebook, on the other hand, has: it’s worth nearly half a trillion dollars.Does this mean we’re all a bunch of cows giving the milk away for free? If our personal information is worth so much how come all we’re getting in return for it is status updates and a never ending stream of advertisements?

Source: We should be getting paid to use Facebook and Google

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Amazon, Google, Others Are Developing Private Air-Traffic Control for Drones 

BALTIMORE—The commercial drone industry wants to create a privately funded and operated air-traffic control network, separate from the current federal system, to enable widespread operations at low altitudes.Plans to accelerate such efforts, spelled out at a conference here this week, have the backing of companies like Amazon.com Inc., AMZN 1.74% General Electric Co. , Boeing Co. and Alphabet Inc.’s GOOGL 2.79% Google. Proponents envision one day using automated cellular and web applications to track and prevent collisions among swarms of small unmanned aircraft flying a few hundred feet above the ground.In conjunction with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, validation tests are slated over the next three months at a handful of sites. The intent is to develop a “totally different, new way of doing things,” Parimal Kopardekar, NASA’s senior air-transport technologist who first suggested the idea of an industry-devised solution, told approximately 1,000 attendees at the conference.

Source: Amazon, Google, Others Are Developing Private Air-Traffic Control for Drones – WSJ

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Oral sex: HPV is causing an oral cancer epidemic in men 

Five years ago, when actor Michael Douglas candidly revealed that his throat cancer was linked to having oral sex, two things happened.He made headlines that mortified his family. And he helped publicize the fact that a pervasive, sexually transmitted virus called HPV was unleashing an epidemic of oral cancer among men.Since then, scientists have made headway in figuring out why HPV, the human papillomavirus, has this glaring gender bias. Men are four times more likely than women to be diagnosed with oral cancer, a hard-to-detect, hard-to-treat disease that has overtaken cervical cancer as the most common HPV-related malignancy in the United States.To be sure, changes in sexual norms over the last few generations have played a role in this alarming trend. But research increasingly shows the real problem is something men have practically no control over: their immune response.Compared with women, men are more likely to get infected with HPV – including “high-risk” cancer-causing strains. They also are less able to wipe out infection on their own, and more likely to get reinfected. The reasons are unclear.“There is good evidence that men acquire oral infections more readily than women, even if they have similar sex practices,” said Ashish A. Deshmukh, a University of Florida HPV researcher. “And more than the acquisition, it’s the persistence of the virus. The clearance rate is not that fast in men.”

Source: Oral sex: HPV is causing an oral cancer epidemic in men | The Sacramento Bee

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Bill to legalize CBD oil in Indiana suddenly transformed into gun bill instead

– Few lawmakers expected the vote to be unanimous. But it was.In late January, the Indiana House of Representatives voted 93-0 to pass HB 1214, a bill that would legalize CBD oil for thousands of Hoosiers who say they desperately need it to treat their pain, seizures, Alzheimer’s Disease and other medical problems.It got plenty of support in the Senate, too, passing by a 3-to-1 margin. All it needs now is for a joint conference committee to work out some differences in the House and Senate versions of the bill, and then it’s off to the governor for his signature.Or so we thought. But this in Indiana, and Indiana politics is full of surprises.I caught up with the bill’s author Thursday afternoon and asked him, “Hey, what’s up with HB 1214?”Rep. Bill Friend (R-Macy) rolled his eyes at me and shook his head. He looked like someone who knew something he didn’t want to know.“It’s a veekel,” he said quietly.“A veekel?” I replied, pretending to understand what I thought the veteran lawmaker had told me in the noisy hallway outside a busy committee room.“Yes,” he said. “It doesn’t have anything to do with CBD oil. Nothing. Not anymore.”At that moment, I realized what Friend had actually said: V-E-H-I-C-L-E. HB 1214 has been tagged by House leadership as a vehicle bill. The legislation that Friend carefully shepherded through multiple committee hearings and floor votes in the House and Senate to make CBD oil legal in the state of Indiana has lost its identity. It has lost its soul.Now only inches from crossing the finish line, the bill is about to undergo a metamorphosis right before our very eyes. Don’t blink or you’ll miss it.

Source: Bill to legalize CBD oil in Indiana suddenly transformed into gun bill instead | 13 WTHR Indianapolis

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Texas judge orders electric shocks for uncooperative defendant 

An appeals court has ordered a new trial for a man whom a judge, impatient with the defendant’s disruptions, ordered to be jolted several times with 50,000 volts from a shock belt. The 8th Texas Court of Appeals in El Paso ordered the new trial for Terry Lee Morris.He was convicted in 2014 of soliciting a sexual performance from an underage girl. The court ruled that state District Judge George Gallagher of Tarrant County violated Morris’ civil rights when he ordered a bailiff, on three occasions, to shock Morris as punishment for not giving proper answers to Gallagher’s questions.

Source: Texas judge orders electric shocks for uncooperative defendant – CBS News

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The Onion’s fake headline about Cleveland’s sewer sewer system is actually true

The Onion, a website known for writing satirical and comical news stories and headlines, recently published a parody article with the headline “Cleveland Finishes Construction On New Elevated Sewer System.”The Onion takes another ‘crappy’ swipe at ClevelandTheir original post to Facebook attracted hundreds of comments bashing the city of Cleveland, but little does The Onion know, Cleveland actually has an elevated sewer system.According to the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, Cleveland’s primary wastewater treatment utility provider, Cleveland has two elevated sewers sitting in plain sight above the Cuyahoga River.The Southwest and Big Creek elevated systems are not “open-air” as described by The Onion, but there is some truth to the fake news article.“Most sewers rely on gravity for the movement of flows,” says NEORSD Manager of Sewer System Maintenance and Operation Mike Zapior. “If these two sewers remained underground and under the river, pumping stations would be needed to move the flows back up the hillside.”

Source: Fake news: The Onion’s fake headline about Cleveland’s sewer sys – Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

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