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Samsung Develops Software Update for Galaxy Malware

Samsung Electronics Co. said it is developing a software update to address a vulnerability in its Galaxy smartphones and tablets that could allow malicious software, or malware, to target the core operations of the chip that runs them.

The issue exists in smartphones and tablets that are run by processors Samsung itself designed and is tied to the way that the camera in the devices interacts with the processor and software.

Since the vulnerability was made public last week, some third-party companies began to offer software that fixes it, though many of them limit camera functions as a result.

Coco Sumner Christy Turlington

Popular Photography’s Camera Of The Year Is…

Canon EOS 5D Mark III

Canon EOS 5D Mark III Satoshi

It’s that time of year again–the time of year to take incredibly detailed macro shots of pointsettias. And what better camera to do it with than the Canon EOS 5D Mark III, the winner of Popular Photography’s hotly contested “Camera of the Year” contest? The follow-up to one of the most important cameras in the history of photography, the Mark III bests its predecessor in every way, topping strong competitors on its way to the prize. Read more here.

Rachel Ward Carrie Fisher

Smartphone-Controlled Japanese Toilet Keeps A Personal Poop Diary


Satis Smartphone Toilet

Satis Smartphone Toilet via Lixil

The day will come, and come soon, when we will control our entire domestic lives with a phone. We will turn the lights on and off, we will change the temperature to the precise level we desire, we will cook our dinners and make our beds and brew our coffee and close our blinds and feed our pets with a tap and a swipe. We can do most of that now, in fact, though it’s kind of expensive and cobbled-together to implement.

A good step forward is the new Satis toilets from Lixil, which connects to an Android smartphone via Bluetooth so you can tell it to do all those amazing things Japanese toilets can do. Tap to extend the oddly phallic bidet hose. Scroll to lift the toilet seat or flush. Select your favorite song to play it through the toilet’s stereo, because the toilet has a stereo.

Perhaps the weirdest feature is that “you can set up a ‘toilet diary’ to monitor your visits to the can and check on your health,” according to JapanTrends, which adds that it includes “cute euphemistic symbols for what you managed to achieve on different days.” Not sure exactly how cute a symbol could be for what I personally “achieve” on the toilet, but I’m glad someone’s trying! The toilet should be released in February of next year.

[via JapanTrends]

Sydney Moon Jerri Manthey

‘God particle’ discovery by Large Hadron Collider tops the chart of the year’s ten biggest scientific breakthroughs

  • Scientists had hunting for evidence of the Higgs boson for over 40 years
  • Physicists using found it using Cern’s £2.6billion atom smasher
  • Journal Science also lists nine runners up

By Damien Gayle

|


The capture of the most wanted sub-atomic particle in physics was today named as Science journal’s Breakthrough of the Year.

Scientists had been chasing the Higgs boson, nicknamed the ‘God particle’ for more than four decades.

In July the team from the European nuclear research facility at Cern in Geneva announced the detection of a particle that fitted the description of the elusive Higgs.

Top breakthrough: A representation of traces of traces of a proton-proton collision measured in the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experience in the search for the Higgs boson

Top breakthrough: A representation of traces of traces of a proton-proton collision measured in the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experience in the search for the Higgs boson

The boson is believed to give matter mass via an associated ‘Higgs field’ that permeates space. Without the property of mass, the universe we live in could not exist.

Scientists used the world’s biggest atom smashing machine, the £2.6billion Large Hadron Collider on the Swiss-French border, to track down the missing particle.

Finding the Higgs topped the list of most important discoveries of 2012 released today by Science, one of the world’s most prestigious scientific journals.

The particle was first proposed by a British physicist Professor Peter Higgs almost 50 years ago when he was a 34-year-old scientist working at the University of Edinburgh.

Emotional moment: Professor Peter Higgs appears to wipe away a tear after scientists at the Large Hadron Collider claim to have possibly discovered a particle believed to be the Higgs boson

Emotional moment: Professor Peter Higgs appears to wipe away a tear after scientists at the Large Hadron Collider claim to have possibly discovered a particle believed to be the Higgs boson

But until this year, no-one had been able to prove that his theory was right.

Science news journalist Adrian Cho, who wrote about the discovery in the journal’s latest issue, said: ‘Mass must somehow emerge from interactions of the otherwise mass-less particles themselves. that’s where the Higgs comes in.

‘Just as an electric field consists of particles called photons, the Higgs field consists of Higgs bosons woven into the vacuum. Physicists have now blasted them out of the vacuum and into brief existence.’

Science also lists nine other pioneering achievements from 2012.

  • The Denisovan Genome: Scientists sequenced the DNA blueprint of the Denisovans, an extinct species of human that lived alongside Neanderthals and the ancestors of people living today.
  • Making Eggs From Stem Cells: Japanese researchers showed that embryonic stem cells from mice could be coaxed into becoming viable egg cells.
  • Curiosity’s Landing System: Mission engineers at the American space agency Nasa safely and precisely placed the Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars. They used a ‘sky crane’ that dropped the 3.3 ton rover to the surface from a hovering platform on three cables.
Curiosity coming into land on Mars: The rover's landing system was another scientific achievement hailed by the journal in its end-of-year round up

Curiosity coming into land on Mars: The rover’s landing system was another scientific achievement hailed by the journal in its end-of-year round up

  • X-ray Laser Provides Protein Structure: Researchers used an X-ray laser, which shines a billion times brighter than traditional synchrotron sources, to determine the structure of an enzyme required by the parasite that causes African sleeping sickness. The advance demonstrated the potential of X-ray lasers to decipher proteins that conventional X-ray sources cannot.
  • Precision Engineering of Genomes: The revision and deletion of DNA in higher organisms has generally been hit-or-miss. In 2012, a tool known as TALENs, which stands for ‘transcription activator-like effector nucleases,’ allowed scientists to alter or inactivate specific genes in animals such as zebra fish and toads, and cells from patients with disease.
  • Majorana Fermions: The existence of Majorana fermions, particles that act as their own antimatter and annihilate themselves, has been debated for more than seven decades. This year, a team of physicists and chemists in the Netherlands provided the first solid evidence that such exotic matter exists, in the form of quasi-particles. These are groups of interacting electrons that behave like single particles.
  • The ENCODE Project: A decade-long study reported this year in more than 30 papers revealed that the human genetic code is more functional than researchers had believed. Although just 2% of the genome codes for actual proteins, the Encyclopaedia of DNA Elements, or ENCODE, project indicated that about 80% of it is active in ways such as helping to switch genes on or off.
Brain-machine interface: Jan Scheuermann, a 52 year-old woman who was diagnosed with a degenerative brain disorder 13 years ago, using a mechanical arm controlled by her brain to feed herself

Brain-machine interface: Jan Scheuermann, a 52 year-old woman who was diagnosed with a degenerative brain disorder 13 years ago, using a mechanical arm controlled by her brain to feed herself

  • Brain-Machine Interfaces: Scientists showed that paralysed human patients could move a mechanical arm with their minds and perform complex movements in three dimensions. The technology is still experimental, and costly, but the team is hopeful that one day it will help patients paralysed by strokes, spinal injuries and other conditions.
  • Neutrino Mixing Angle: Hundreds of researchers working on the Daya Bay Reactor Neutrino Experiment in China found the last part of the jigsaw describing how particles known as neutrinos morph from one strain or ‘flavour’ to another as they travel at near-light speed. Neutrinos may someday help researchers to explain why the universe contains so much matter and so little antimatter.

Denise Van Outen Betty White

Redesigned Technology blog moves to new address

Tech blog

The L.A. Times Technology blog has been redesigned, and with our new duds we’re rolling out a new URL. So if you’ve been a loyal follower of our work, please update your bookmarks.

Our hope is that you’ll find the new look to be cleaner and easier for reading, viewing photos and watching videos. Please let us know what you think about the new look by leaving us a comment on the Technology blog’s Facebook page or by shooting a tweet to @LATimesTech.

Thanks for reading, watching and clicking.

– Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Facebook.com/nateog

Twitter.com/nateog

Image: A screen shot of the Technology blog’s new look. Credit: Los Angeles Times

David Beckham Ann-Maree Biggar

Facebook’s IPO filing, by the numbers

Facebook's Menlo Park HQ

Facebook’s IPO filing on Wednesday offers investors, bankers, analysts, journalists and anyone willing to read the massive S-1 document a deeper look at the business and financial side of the world’s largest social network than we’ve ever had before.

Our team of tech and business reporters has been digging into the filing, reporting on the Menlo Park, Calif., company’s $3.7-billion revenue, rivalries with Twitter and Google+, perspective on China, social mission and hacker ethos, Zynga accounting for 12% of Facebook’s revenue, Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg’s pay cut from $600,000 in 2012 to $1 in 2013 and even what the IPO could mean for the Winklevoss twins.

But that wasn’t all the S-1 had to say. Here are some other highlights from Facebook’s IPO filing before the company actually goes public in May:

Users: Facebook has an average of 845 million monthly active users, 483 million of whom log into the social network daily.

Workforce: At the end of 2011, Facebook had 3,200 full-time employees, up 50% from 2,127 employees 2010. In 2009, the company had 1,218 employees.

Worldwide: Facebook’s plan, unsurprisingly, is to continue to grow by gaining more users in countries around the world. But the company also said in its S-1 that it plans to grow its workforce worldwide as well. “We plan to continue the international expansion of our business operations and the translation of our products,” Facebook said. Currently, Facebook is offered in more than 70 different languages, and the company has data centers in more than 20 different countries.

Popularity: Facebook said that about 60% of the online population in the U.S. and U.K. is registered on the social network. But Facebook is more popular in Chile, Turkey and Venezuela, where the company has “penetration rates of greater than 80% of Internet users.”

There are more than 2 billion Internet users worldwide and Facebook said its goal is to connect all of them through its social network.

“In countries such as Brazil, Germany, and India we estimate that we have penetration rates of approximately 20-30%; in countries such as Japan, Russia, and South Korea we estimate that we have penetration rates of less than 15%; and in China, where Facebook access is restricted, we have near 0% penetration,” the filing said.

Money in the bank: Facebook said that it had $1.5 billion at its disposal in a mix of “cash and cash equivalents” as of Dec. 31, as well as $2.3 billion in “marketable securities.” In 2010, Facebook had $1.7 billion in cash and cash equivalents and no marketable securities. Total assets on hand amounted to $6.6 billion in 2011, while Facebook had a total of $1.4 billion in liabilities.

R&D: Facebook’s research and development efforts have seen massive growth over the last few years. In 2011, the company spent $388 million, or about 10.5% of its revenue, on R&D. In 2010, Facebook spent less than half that amount, with $144 million going toward R&D. In 2009, the company spend $87 million on R&D, up from $47 million in 2008 and $81 million in 2007.

Patents: Faceook said a major factor in whether or not the company will be able to maintain the huge success it’s had thus far will ride on its ability to “protect our core technology and intellectual property.”

To do that, Facebook will “rely on a combination of patents, patent applications, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, including know-how, license agreements, confidentiality procedures, non-disclosure agreements with third parties, employee disclosure and invention assignment agreements, and other contractual rights.” The social media giant ended 2011 with 56 patents and 503 patent applications filed in the U.S., along with 33 corresponding patents and 149 patent applications filed in foreign countries.

RELATED:

Facebook’s S-1 already has a (fake) Twitter account

Facebook IPO: Winklevoss twins could reap big payday

Facebook IPO: Mark Zuckerberg’s salary falling to $1 in 2013

– Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Facebook.com/nateog

Twitter.com/nateog

Photo: Visitors pose in front of a sign at the entrance of Facebook’s new headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., on Wednesday. Credit: Kimihiro Hoshino / AFP/Getty Images

Nicole Richie Tyler Faith

Doomsday 2012: If Mayan prophecy is true, just how will it all end on Friday?

  • Comet or super-volcano named as most likely causes of the end of the world
  • Pet dogs could transmit deadly plague of cancers carried by foxes

By Lewis Smith

|

They say it won’t happen, at least not on Friday, but in the event the Mayan prophecy of the end of the world is right, scientists have foretold a raft of bloody and catastrophic fates for us all.

Dark comets, famine, super-volcanoes, catastrophic climate change, and a plague of cancers are just some of the ends that could fulfill the prophecy.

Astrophysicist Professor Jocelyn Bell Burnell, who discovered pulsars, believes the most likely disaster that could pencil Doomsday into Friday’s diary is a black comet.

Scroll down for video

A dark comet slamming into the earth could be as destructive as the asteroid that killed off the dinosaurs

A dark comet slamming into the earth could be as destructive as the asteroid that killed off the dinosaurs

Such an end would match that of the dinosaurs who after walking the planet for about 165 million years – homo sapiens has been around for a mere 200,000 years – were killed off by a 10km asteroid or comet that slammed into the planet.

Professor Bell Burnell believes if the world as we know it is to end on December 21 it would have to be a dark comet that strikes.

Dark comets have little of the ice and snow that most comets have, and a lot more dust which makes it much more difficult to spot them as they speed through Space.

‘Comets normally are big, dusty snowballs. A dark comet has not much snow and a lot of dust. They are much harder to get a handle on,’ she said.

The collision itself, except for those near the point of impact, would be unlikely to be fatal to the world’s population but it would throw up so much dust into the atmosphere that billions of people could expect a slow death.

Huge quantities of dust would bring on an ‘eternal winter’ in which the sun would be obscured and crops around the world would fail, leading to mass famine.

Dr Dave Rothery, a volcanologist at the Open University, foretells a similar end but he thinks the death-bringing dust would be put into the atmosphere by a supervolcano.

Hundreds of cubic miles of debris will be blasted into the atmosphere if a super-volcano erupts on Friday

Hundreds of cubic miles of debris will be blasted into the atmosphere if a super-volcano erupts on Friday

A dark comet or a super-volcano would put so much dust into the atmosphere that there would be catastrophic crop failure

A dark comet or a super-volcano would put so much dust into the atmosphere that there would be catastrophic crop failure

More than 240 cubic miles of molten rock and debris are blasted into the sky by super-volcanoes.

Much of it would remain in the atmosphere as volcanic dust which would, just as with a massive asteroid or comet, block out the sun and cause famine.

‘It would put so much ash and sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere that photosynthesis may break down,” he warned.

A similar, albeit less devastating, even took place in 1816 when a volcano in Indonesia erupted and put so much dust into the atmosphere that it became known as ‘the year of no summer’.

Other scientists asked by The Times what cataclysms could bring on the end of the world on Friday, in line with what many people believe is foretold by the ancient Mayan prophecy, included Bryan Lovell, a former president of the Geological Society.

His favourite Doomsday scenario was a vast escape of methane caused by an undersea landslide.

Methane is a greenhouse gas but it is about 20 times more powerful in warming the world than is carbon dioxide.

Dr Lovell said a huge release of sub-sea methane deposits would accelerate man-made climate change and lead to ‘catastrophic climate change not too many Fridays from now’.

But it is not just scientists who are putting forward theories as to how the world will end and they range from the unlikely to the fantastical.

Among the favourites is that a rogue planet, Nibiru, which has long been inhabiting the far reaches of the solar system, beyond even Pluto, is now on a collision course with Earth.

Scientists have dismissed the theory as ridiculous not just because no one has ever managed to detect it in the outer reaches of the solar system but because if such a large object was heading this way it would have been spotted by now

Scepticism on the part of experts, however, has done little to diminish the determination of thousands of people to find a safe haven from disaster.

Authorities have closed off the French village of Bugarach and its mountain in France as Doomsday devotees sought sanctuary there from the end of the world.

Authorities have closed off the French village of Bugarach and its mountain in France as Doomsday devotees sought sanctuary there from the end of the world.

In France the authorities have had to bar New Age followers from travelling to Bugarach, a tiny village home to fewer than 200 people, and the ‘mystical mountain’ where it is located.

Doomsday fanatics have identified Bugarach as a place of safety on the grounds that aliens live hidden within the mountain and are waiting for the end of the world when they will rescue humans in the area.

‘I have issued an order barring anyone from climbing the mountain. And those trying to get into the village will be stopped and asked what their business is,’ said Regional prefect Eric Freysselinard.

The village and the mountain will only be re-opened to outsiders two days after the end of the world is scheduled to have taken place.

Forecasts that the world will end on Friday are based on an ancient Mayan calendar which ends on December 12, 2012

Forecasts that the world will end on Friday are based on an ancient Mayan calendar which ends on December 12, 2012

The Doomsday prophecy is based on an ancient calendar from the Mayan civilisation that was based in what is now Guatemala in in Central America.

The calendar lasts for more than 5,000 years but comes to an end on Friday, which has prompted fears it forecasts the end of the world.

Other favourite Doomsday scenarios include a vast solar storm which will flare out from the Sun and engulf the Earth.

An alternative doom-laden theory is that a rogue black hole will swallow up the Earth, or that a quirk of galactic alignments will trigger a disastrous reversal of the Earth’s magnetic field.

Vivienne Parry, a former presenter of Tomorrow’s World, suggested a cancer that starts in foxes but can be transmitted to humans.

Man’s best friend? A plague of cancers passed from foxes to people via dogs is one way the world could end.

Dogs, she suggested, would cease to be man’s best friend and instead become man’s worst enemy because the cancer would be transmitted through them.

Foxes would bite the dogs, transmitting the cancer to them, and they would bite their human owners.

She said that were all dogs to be destroyed as soon as people realised they were passing on an untreatable cancer the end of the world for humans could be postponed.

But she suspects man’s love of his canine companions would seal his fate because putting down every dog would be too much to ask.

 VIDEO  Prof Bell Burnell asseses possibilities of Doomsday happening

For more click here for more from the Institute of Physics

other facts Rebecca Gibney

Steve Jobs turning over in his grave? Look-alike touts rival Android

Fake_steve_jobs

Steve Jobs likeness continues to pop up in the most unlikely places. He’s been immortalized as a bronze statue in an office park in Hungary, his image was painstakingly recreated in what might be the world’s most detailed action figure, and now a Taiwanese commercial making its way around the Internet depicts the recently deceased Apple visionary as a shill for an Android-based tablet called Action Pad.

Oh, the irony!

The man playing Jobs in the commercial is Taiwanese comedian and impersonator Ah-Ken, according to a report in Reuters. The commercial never explicitly uses Jobs name, but Ah-Ken is dressed in Jobs trademark black turtleneck and blue jeans, his hair is a silvery grey, and he’s wearing glasses. He’s standing on a stage meant to mimic those that Jobs paced across during major Apple announcements and speaking excitedly to an applauding audience. One thing he has that Jobs never had: a halo and wings.

At the end of his talk he says, “Thank God I can play another pad.”

Jobs of course hated Android with his whole being. His biographer Walter Isaacson writes that he never saw Jobs as angry as when he was talking about a lawsuit Apple had filed against Android.

After telling Isaacson that he considered Google’s Android to be a wholesale ripoff of the iPhone, he said:

“I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong. I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this. They are scared to death, because they know they are guilty.”

Maybe things change in the afterlife?

Action Electronics, the company that makes the Action Pad along with other electronic gadgets, sees no problem with the advertisement. “Steve Jobs always promoted things that were good for people, Apple products, so his image can also promote other things that are good,” a spokeswoman told Reuters. “It’s just an impersonator, not Jobs,” she said.

The reaction on YouTube has been mixed with commenters vacillating between disgust and amusement, but the video itself is rapidly racking up views.

ALSO:

Steve Jobs statue unveiled in Budapest office park

Demand for iPhones in China could skyrocket, analyst says

Steve Jobs action figure is advertised; will Apple respond?

– Deborah Netburn

Image: Screen grab from a Taiwanese commercial for Action Pad that depicts Steve Jobs as a shill for the Android-based tablet. Credit: YouTube

Holly Hunter Amy Crews

Redesigned Technology blog moves to new address

Tech blog

The L.A. Times Technology blog has been redesigned, and with our new duds we’re rolling out a new URL. So if you’ve been a loyal follower of our work, please update your bookmarks.

Our hope is that you’ll find the new look to be cleaner and easier for reading, viewing photos and watching videos. Please let us know what you think about the new look by leaving us a comment on the Technology blog’s Facebook page or by shooting a tweet to @LATimesTech.

Thanks for reading, watching and clicking.

– Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Facebook.com/nateog

Twitter.com/nateog

Image: A screen shot of the Technology blog’s new look. Credit: Los Angeles Times

Christy Turlington John Goodman

DotNetNuke acquires software firm iFinity to beef up its Web content management platform

DotNetNuke (DNN), the Silicon Valley company behind a popular Web content management platform for Microsoft .NET, this morning announced that it has bought iFinity, a website and software development company headquartered in Queensland, Australia.

The acquisition of iFinity, a supplier of modules and consulting services for the DotNetNuke website platform, will enable DNN to beef its flagship solution up with a complete URL management solution, helping customers improve search engine optimization.

iFinity founder Bruce Chapman will join the DNN development team, effective immediately.

He writes:

The immediate plans for all the Url-related software are to integrate the codebase into DotNetNuke 7.1, a process which has been kicked off immediately. The underlying Url Master technology will become the standard way of powering all Url related functions in DotNetNuke, for all editions, for all versions from 7.1 onwards.

The majority of the Url management features will go straight into the commercial editions of DotNetNuke, but the underlying capability and improved Urls will be in the open-source community platform.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but all of the available iFinity software products IP will be transferred to DotNetNuke.

DotNetNuke says there have been over 7 million downloads of its open-source project, and that its global community is 1 million members strong.

Founded in 2006 and funded by Sierra Ventures, August Capital and Pelion Venture Partners, DotNetNuke is headquartered in San Mateo, California, with offices in Vancouver and Amsterdam.

Image credit: Thinkstock

Josie Bissett Holly Combs

DotNetNuke acquires software firm iFinity to beef up its Web content management platform

DotNetNuke (DNN), the Silicon Valley company behind a popular Web content management platform for Microsoft .NET, this morning announced that it has bought iFinity, a website and software development company headquartered in Queensland, Australia.

The acquisition of iFinity, a supplier of modules and consulting services for the DotNetNuke website platform, will enable DNN to beef its flagship solution up with a complete URL management solution, helping customers improve search engine optimization.

iFinity founder Bruce Chapman will join the DNN development team, effective immediately.

He writes:

The immediate plans for all the Url-related software are to integrate the codebase into DotNetNuke 7.1, a process which has been kicked off immediately. The underlying Url Master technology will become the standard way of powering all Url related functions in DotNetNuke, for all editions, for all versions from 7.1 onwards.

The majority of the Url management features will go straight into the commercial editions of DotNetNuke, but the underlying capability and improved Urls will be in the open-source community platform.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but all of the available iFinity software products IP will be transferred to DotNetNuke.

DotNetNuke says there have been over 7 million downloads of its open-source project, and that its global community is 1 million members strong.

Founded in 2006 and funded by Sierra Ventures, August Capital and Pelion Venture Partners, DotNetNuke is headquartered in San Mateo, California, with offices in Vancouver and Amsterdam.

Image credit: Thinkstock

Sela Ward Argentinian Cheerleaders

DotNetNuke acquires software firm iFinity to beef up its Web content management platform

DotNetNuke (DNN), the Silicon Valley company behind a popular Web content management platform for Microsoft .NET, this morning announced that it has bought iFinity, a website and software development company headquartered in Queensland, Australia.

The acquisition of iFinity, a supplier of modules and consulting services for the DotNetNuke website platform, will enable DNN to beef its flagship solution up with a complete URL management solution, helping customers improve search engine optimization.

iFinity founder Bruce Chapman will join the DNN development team, effective immediately.

He writes:

The immediate plans for all the Url-related software are to integrate the codebase into DotNetNuke 7.1, a process which has been kicked off immediately. The underlying Url Master technology will become the standard way of powering all Url related functions in DotNetNuke, for all editions, for all versions from 7.1 onwards.

The majority of the Url management features will go straight into the commercial editions of DotNetNuke, but the underlying capability and improved Urls will be in the open-source community platform.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but all of the available iFinity software products IP will be transferred to DotNetNuke.

DotNetNuke says there have been over 7 million downloads of its open-source project, and that its global community is 1 million members strong.

Founded in 2006 and funded by Sierra Ventures, August Capital and Pelion Venture Partners, DotNetNuke is headquartered in San Mateo, California, with offices in Vancouver and Amsterdam.

Image credit: Thinkstock

Martina Warren Hugh Grant

Scroll down for the Dead Sea Scrolls: Google and Israel put the ancient religious texts online for anyone to view

  • Digital library has the Book of Deuteronomy and first chapter of Genesis
  • Israel had previously been criticised for restricting access to the scrolls
  • Website allows users to zoom in, read translations and see related maps

By Damien Gayle

|

Google has partnered with the Israeli government to put 5,000 images of the Dead Sea Scrolls online in full colour and high resolution.

More than six decades since the discovery of the scrolls – and thousands of years after they were written – they are now finally available for anyone with an Internet connection to see.

The digital library contains the Book of Deuteronomy, which includes the second listing of the Ten Commandments, and a portion of the first chapter of the Book of Genesis, dated to the first century BC.

Online for the first time: The Dead Sea Scrolls are now available to researchers across the globe thanks to Google which worked in partnership with Israel to upload them to an online database

Online for the first time: The Dead Sea Scrolls are now available to researchers across the globe thanks to Google which worked in partnership with Israel to upload them to an online database

Israeli officials said this is part of an attempt by the custodians of the celebrated manuscripts to make them broadly available.

They have been often criticised for allowing the artefacts to be monopolised by small circles of scholars.

‘Only five conservators worldwide are authorised to handle the Dead Sea Scrolls,’ said Shuka Dorfman, director of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

‘Now, everyone can touch the scroll on screen around the globe.’

Ancient meets the modern: The scrolls are the work of an ascetic Jewish sect who fled Jerusalem into the desert 2,000 years ago and settled at Qumran, near the shore of the Dead Sea

Ancient meets the modern: The scrolls are the work of an ascetic Jewish sect who fled Jerusalem into the desert 2,000 years ago and settled at Qumran, near the shore of the Dead Sea

Considered one of the most significant archaeological finds of the 20th century, the scrolls are thought to be the work of an ascetic Jewish sect that fled Jerusalem 2,000 years ago and settled at Qumran, near the shore of the Dead Sea.

Google says the new digital library took two years to assemble, using technology first developed by Nasa.

The multimedia website allows users to zoom in on various fragments, with translations and Google maps alongside.

Valuable: The scrolls are considered one of the most important archaeological finds of the 20th Century, and Israel had been criticised for allowing them to be monopolised by a small band of scholars

Valuable: The scrolls are considered one of the most important archaeological finds of the 20th Century, and Israel had been criticised for allowing them to be monopolised by a small band of scholars

Google hopes to further expand its project. Two months ago Google launched a ‘Cultural Institute,’ a digital visual archive of historical events in cooperation with 17 museums and institutes around the world.

‘We’re working to bring important cultural and historical materials online and help preserve them for future generations,’ said Yossi Matias, head of Google’s Research and Development Center in Israel.

‘Our partnership with the Israel Antiquities Authority is another step toward enabling users to enjoy cultural material around the world.’

Anyone interested in the scrolls can visit www.deadseascrolls.org.il for a closer look.

THE MOST SIGNIFICANT ARCHAEOLOGICAL FIND OF THE 20TH CENTURY

Discovered between between 1946 and 1956, the Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of 972 ancient manuscripts containing parts of what is now known as the Hebrew Bible, as well as a range of extra-biblical documents.

They were first found by shepherd Muhammed Edh-Dhib, as he searched for a stray among the limestone cliffs at Khirbet Qumran on the shores of the Dead Sea in what was then British Mandate Palestine – now the West Bank.

The story goes that, finding a a cave in the dark crevice of a steep rocky hillside, Muhammed hurled a stone into the dark interior and was startled to hear the sound of breaking pots.

Rich archaeological seam: Qumran cave 4, in which 90 per cent of the scrolls were found

Venturing inside, the young Bedouin found a mysterious collection of large clay jars, in some of which he found old scrolls, some wrapped in linen and blackened with age.

The texts are of great historical and religious significance and include the earliest known surviving copies of biblical and extra-biblical documents, as well as preserving evidence of diversity in late Second Temple Judaism.

Dated to various ranges between 408BC and 318AD, they are written in Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and Nabataean, mostly on parchment, but with some written on papyrus and bronze.

The scrolls are traditionally divided into three groups. ‘Biblical’ manuscripts, which are copies of texts from the Hebrew Bible comprise 40 per cent of the haul.

Other religious manuscripts, including known documents from the Second Temple period like the books of Enoch, Jubilees, Tobit, and Sirach, that were now included in the Bible comprise 30 per cent of the identified scrolls.

The so-called ‘Sectarian’ manuscripts – previously unknown documents that shed light on the beliefs of Jewish groups of the time – like the Community Rule, War Scroll, Pesher on Habakkuk, and the Rule of the Blessing, make up the remaining 30 per cent.

While some of the writings have survived as nearly intact scrolls, most of the archive consists of thousands of parchment and papyrus fragments.

Argentinian Cheerleaders Gail Porter

Redesigned Technology blog moves to new address

Tech blog

The L.A. Times Technology blog has been redesigned, and with our new duds we’re rolling out a new URL. So if you’ve been a loyal follower of our work, please update your bookmarks.

Our hope is that you’ll find the new look to be cleaner and easier for reading, viewing photos and watching videos. Please let us know what you think about the new look by leaving us a comment on the Technology blog’s Facebook page or by shooting a tweet to @LATimesTech.

Thanks for reading, watching and clicking.

– Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Facebook.com/nateog

Twitter.com/nateog

Image: A screen shot of the Technology blog’s new look. Credit: Los Angeles Times

Rebecca Gibney Lillian Muller

How wooden legs could soon become commonplace: Scientists say rattan has similar qualities to bone

By Mark Prigg

|

A wooden leg has long been a staple of pirate films – but researchers believe it could actually become a reality.

Italian researchers believe they have found a material they say could be a perfect match for replacing human bone – rattan.

More normally found is household furniture, the team believe it could soon be used to replace metal and other artificial substitutes.

The researchers found that human bone, left, had a similar structure to rattan, right, when viewed under a microscope. they now believe it could be used as a replacement for bone in some surgeries

The researchers found that human bone, left, had a similar structure to rattan, right, when viewed under a microscope. they now believe it could be used as a replacement for bone in some surgeries

‘The processing of the raw wood to remove chemical components incompatible with implants for humans is long and complex but the benefits of producing a material that is so similar to bone and can be shaped to fit perfectly far outweigh such issues,’ the team from the National Research Council of Italy say, writing in a forthcoming issue of the International Journal of Healthcare Technology and Management.

The process they have developed involves heat treatment of the wood to remove cellulose, lignin and other plant materials but leaving behind a carbon skeleton that can then be infiltrated and reacted with calcium, oxygen and phosphate to make a porous material, chemically and mechanically mimicking bone.

Rattan growing in Sumatra - researchers now believe it could lead to new artificial bone substitutes

Rattan growing in Sumatra – researchers now believe it could lead to new artificial bone substitutes

The research team says that unlike metal alloys, ceramics and even donor bone, their patented material is low cost, has very good biomechanics, is biocompatible and can be integrated into existing bone, thus properly assisting bone regeneration.

They are about to begin the first human trials.

‘At present the innovation  is being tested on animals with optimal results, and tests of the device on humans are foreseen given the very positive assessment of medical personnel involved in tests,’ they claim.

Jacqueline McKenzie Carey Mulligan

Most Facebook users get more from it than they put in, study says

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The Pew Research Internet Project released a report about Facebook on Friday, providing insights into the company that you won’t find in its IPO filing.

Rather than focusing on the company’s financials, the report “Why Most Facebook Users Get More Than They Give” sheds light on how Facebook’s 845 million users engage with Facebook and what they get out of it.

The findings show that social interactions on Facebook closely mirror social interactions in the real world.

For example, over the course of a one-month period, researchers found that women made an average of 11 updates to their Facebook status, while men averaged only six. Also, women were more likely to comment on other people’s status updates than men.

“There was a general trend in our data that women use Facebook more than men,” said Keith Hampton, a professor at Rutgers and lead author of the report. “This is a phenomenon that is not unique to Facebook. Women are traditionally in charge of social relationships offline, and that seems to be true of the online world as well.”

The report says men are more likely to send friend requests and women are more likely to receive them. That’s something else we see in the real world — especially in bars.

The report also says that most people who use Facebook get more out of it than they put into it, which may explain why they keep coming back.

Researchers found that 40% of Facebook users in a sample group made a friend request, while 63% received at least one friend request. They found that 12% of the sample tagged a friend in a photo, but 35% were themselves tagged in a photo. And each user in the sample clicked the “like” button next to a friend’s content an average of 14 times but had his or her own content ‘liked’ an average of 20 times.

Why the imbalance?

“There is this 20% to 30% who are extremely active who are giving more than they are getting, and they are so active they are making up for feeding everyone extra stuff,” Hampton said. “You might go on Facebook and post something and have time to click ‘like’ on one thing you see in your news feed, but then you get a whole bunch of ‘likes’ on your news feed. That’s because of this very active group.”

He also said extremely active users tend to have a niche: Some are really into friending, others are really into tagging photos, and still others click the ‘like’ button a lot. Rarely is any one user extreme in all those ways.

I asked Hampton what he could tell me about these extremely active people, whom he calls Facebook “power users.” Are they unstoppably social? Unemployed? Lonely?

“It could be people who are always active — whatever they are doing in their life, they are very active. Or it could be that just in the one month we observed them they are active and another month a different group of people would rise up,” he said. “It could be that there is something going on in their life that causes them to be very active, or it could be that some people think of it almost as a job to be active on Facebook.”

ALSO:

Facebook’s IPO filing, by the numbers

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Steve Jobs turning over in his grave? Look-alike touts rival Android

– Deborah Netburn

Photo: A worker at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park. Credit: Paul Sakuma/AP Photo

Josie Maran Wendy Schumacher

Redesigned Technology blog moves to new address

Tech blog

The L.A. Times Technology blog has been redesigned, and with our new duds we’re rolling out a new URL. So if you’ve been a loyal follower of our work, please update your bookmarks.

Our hope is that you’ll find the new look to be cleaner and easier for reading, viewing photos and watching videos. Please let us know what you think about the new look by leaving us a comment on the Technology blog’s Facebook page or by shooting a tweet to @LATimesTech.

Thanks for reading, watching and clicking.

– Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Facebook.com/nateog

Twitter.com/nateog

Image: A screen shot of the Technology blog’s new look. Credit: Los Angeles Times

John Goodman Rebecca Demorney

Redesigned Technology blog moves to new address

Tech blog

The L.A. Times Technology blog has been redesigned, and with our new duds we’re rolling out a new URL. So if you’ve been a loyal follower of our work, please update your bookmarks.

Our hope is that you’ll find the new look to be cleaner and easier for reading, viewing photos and watching videos. Please let us know what you think about the new look by leaving us a comment on the Technology blog’s Facebook page or by shooting a tweet to @LATimesTech.

Thanks for reading, watching and clicking.

– Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Facebook.com/nateog

Twitter.com/nateog

Image: A screen shot of the Technology blog’s new look. Credit: Los Angeles Times

this link Glenn Close

Redesigned Technology blog moves to new address

Tech blog

The L.A. Times Technology blog has been redesigned, and with our new duds we’re rolling out a new URL. So if you’ve been a loyal follower of our work, please update your bookmarks.

Our hope is that you’ll find the new look to be cleaner and easier for reading, viewing photos and watching videos. Please let us know what you think about the new look by leaving us a comment on the Technology blog’s Facebook page or by shooting a tweet to @LATimesTech.

Thanks for reading, watching and clicking.

– Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Facebook.com/nateog

Twitter.com/nateog

Image: A screen shot of the Technology blog’s new look. Credit: Los Angeles Times

get more Susan George

After School Shooting In Newtown, Connecticut, A Social Media Tragedy Plays Out On TV, Web

Facebook doesn’t kill people. The media using Facebook kills people’s reputations. And several outlets added insult to the injury of a young man who just lost his brother, his mother, and any semblance of privacy for the foreseeable future.

Any news outlet worth its salt rushed to Google and Facebook and Twitter the minute we heard the supposed name of the gunman in a horrific shooting death of 28 people, including 20 children, as many as seven adults (likely including his own mother), and the shooter himself, in the kindergarten classroom and halls of the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. In the rush to find answers, sometimes someone’s online identity and social web can provide clues.

There were lots of hits online for Ryan Lanza, the name being bandied about as that of the shooter. There was a correctional officer, a few kids. And then there was this 20-something-looking guy dark glasses and what could have been a trench coat. (It should be noted that there are several people named “Adolf Hitler” on social media, too, but it doesn’t mean Nazi No. 1 is alive and tweeting.) There was even some military game-themed stuff on this one Ryan Lanza’s Facebook page. His hometown was listed as Newtown, CT. But he lived in Hoboken, New Jersey.

And then it happened. Pete Williams from NBC News mentioned that Ryan Lanza had a connection to Hoboken.

They were going with the Facebook kid.

Then Fox used his picture (the blurring below is ours).

Then came the denials and claims of wrong ID. The New York Times‘ Jenna Wortham sent around an image of what looked like statuses from the Facebook Ryan Lanza himself, claiming not only to be alive and not dead inside the Newtown school, but asking people to stop accusing him of some horrific crime based solely on his name and some corresponding social data (no one really knew if those images of Ryan Lanza’s Facebook statuses were fake, either, at the time).

At the time of this intitial post, Twitter was alive with people convinced that the Facebook Ryan Lanza was the guy responsible for one of the grizzliest mass murders in recent history. As things have developed into the evening of December 14, it appears Ryan Lanza is the brother of the presumed shooter, Adam Lanza. In other words, several prominent media outlets not only got the wrong guy, they slandered Ryan Lanza, a guy whose brother just did something unimaginable before taking the life of his, and Ryan’s mother, then his own. His family was wiped out, and, thanks to some slapdash use of social media and an itchy trigger finger, so was his reputation.

Just after 3 p.m. NBC reporter Pete Williams started to sound like he might backtrack. But a moment before he issued a correction about fingering the wrong Lanza, a news conference in Newtown started, and NBC broke away. Finally, at around 3:45 p.m., more than an hour after accusing the wrong guy of mass child murder, Williams said to anchor Lester Holt: “This is an unusual situation where information is being corrected and revised, and, Lester, maybe this is one of them.” Not that they had any more solid information with which to correct their slander.

But Holt had already issued a blanket justification right before a teary eyed President Barack Obama offered his condolences to the families from the White House. Holt perfectly summed up the situation for his and other networks’ reckless assumptions:

“We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves,” he said, “But information never seems to come as soon as we want it.”

Black Eyed Peas Sarah Ryan

Redesigned Technology blog moves to new address

Tech blog

The L.A. Times Technology blog has been redesigned, and with our new duds we’re rolling out a new URL. So if you’ve been a loyal follower of our work, please update your bookmarks.

Our hope is that you’ll find the new look to be cleaner and easier for reading, viewing photos and watching videos. Please let us know what you think about the new look by leaving us a comment on the Technology blog’s Facebook page or by shooting a tweet to @LATimesTech.

Thanks for reading, watching and clicking.

– Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Facebook.com/nateog

Twitter.com/nateog

Image: A screen shot of the Technology blog’s new look. Credit: Los Angeles Times

Kim Cooper Nicole Richie

U.S. and UK refuse to sign treaty ‘that could lead to greater government control of cyberspace’

  • U.S. led group of 20 nations which walked away from the treaty
  • Rival countries had sought to break the Western grip on the Internet
  • U.S. and allies claimed new rules would harm free-form nature of the net

By Damien Gayle

|

The UK and the U.S. today refused to sign the first UN telecommunications treaty of the Internet age, claiming it would lead to greater government control of cyberspace.

They were among a group of 20 nations which walked away from negotiations in Dubai after an ideological split over the nature of the Internet and who is responsible for its growth and governance.

Rival countries – including Iran, China and African states – insisted governments should have a greater sway over Internet affairs and sought to break the Western grip on information technology.

Summit: Delegates at the ITUtalks in Dubai listen to Hamadoun Toure, the group's secretary-general. The UK and U.S. today led a bloc of 20 nations which refused to sign the accords

Summit: Delegates at the ITUtalks in Dubai listen to Hamadoun Toure, the group’s secretary-general. The UK and U.S. today led a bloc of 20 nations which refused to sign the accords

They also favoured greater international help to bring reliable online links to the world’s least developed regions.

In a testament to the contentious atmosphere at the negotiations of the UN’s International Telecommunications Union, the pages of reservations and comments by various countries involved were longer than the treaty itself.

In the end, it was supported by 89 countries in the 193-member union. Fifty-five did not sign, including the U.S.-led bloc of more than 20 nations, and others needing home country approval.

The remainder did not have high-ranking envoys in Dubai.

The ITU – which dates to the age of the telegraph in the mid-19th century – has no technical powers to change how the Internet operates or force countries to follow its non-binding accords, which also dealt with issues such as mobile phone roaming rates and international emergency numbers.

But the U.S. and its backers nevertheless worried that the new treaty could alter the tone of debates about the Internet.

Instead of viewing it as a free-form network, they claim, it could increasingly been seen as a commodity that needs clear lines of oversight.

Hamadoun Toure, the group’s secretary-general, said he was ‘very much surprised’ by the U.S.-led snub after days of difficult negotiations that dropped or softened wording that troubled the West.

Yet it fell short of American-led demands that all references to the Internet – even indirect or couched in general language – be omitted.

Breakdown in communications: Mr Toure, left, said said he was very much surprised by the snub after days of difficult negotiations had softened or dropped wording that had troubled U.S. delegate Terry Kramer, right

Even apparently clear-cut issues such as unsolicited email ‘spam’ brought division.

Efforts to try to address blanket electronic message barrages was seen by American envoys and others as something governments could use as possible U.N. cover for increased surveillance on email traffic.

‘Fundamental divides were exposed,’ said Lynn St. Amour, CEO and president of the Internet Society, an industry group.

STATES THAT BLOCK THE NET

Internet restrictions and availability at selected countries and regions around the world:

NORTH KOREA

Internet use is extremely restricted with many of North Korea’s 24million people unable to get online. Some North Koreans can access an internal Intranet that connects to state media. Members of the elite, resident foreigners and visitors in certain hotels are allowed full access. 

IRAN

Most Western social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are blocked in Iran, as well as political opposition and sexually explicit websites. But proxy server sites and other methods are widely used to get around the official restrictions.

CHINA

There are more than 500 million Chinese online but they contend with an extensive Internet filtering and censorship system popularly known as the ‘Great Fire Wall.’ Censors police blogs and domestic social media for content deemed pornographic or politically subversive and delete it.

CUBA

Tight control, slow connections and high costs mean only around 5 percent of Cubans have access to the global Internet, with another 23 percent relying instead on a government intranet with very limited content. Web access is mainly via public facilities where people must first register with identification.

GULF ARAB STATES

Internet censorship is prevalent across former Soviet Central Asian republics, but the strongest restrictions have been recorded in Iran’s authoritarian neighbours to the north, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

ERITREA

The government restricts access to the Internet and closely monitors online communications. The U.S. State Department’s latest human rights report said the government monitored email without obtaining warrants as required by law, and that all Internet users were required to use one of three service providers owned directly by the government or controlled by members of the country’s sole party.

Mr Toure framed it as clash of ‘two societies’; a so-called digital divide with citizens of wealthy countries able to access the Net on one side, and 4.5 billion others in poor nations on the other.

‘We are defending here the right to communicate as a basic human right. That’s something very important in the ITU. We so remind our members constantly of that obligation,’ he told reporters.

He also said there was no specific endorsement of ‘Internet control or Internet governance.’

Still the dissident nations said the general acknowledgement of a government stake in 21st century telecommunications was just as troubling as any specific wording.

‘Internet policy should not be determined by member states, but by citizens, communities and broader society … the private sector and civil society,’ Terry Kramer, head of the U.S. delegation, told the gathering late last night. ‘That has not happened here.’

Mr Toure today said it was impossible and illogical to ignore the Net.

‘If the word Internet was used frequently here in Dubai, it is simply a reflection of the reality of the modern world,’ said Mr Toure, a Russian-trained engineer from Mali.

‘Telecommunication networks are not just used for making voice calls, so our two worlds are linked.’

Overshadowed by the Internet showdowns were other details in the pact. They include agreements that could lower mobile phone roaming charges, pledges to invest more communications infrastructure in poorer countries, efforts for greater communication technology for the disabled and a move to create a common emergency number for mobile phones and other devices.

Either the 911 or 112 number will be picked in later talks.

It’s unclear whether countries that rejected the pact could benefit from possible changes such as lower roaming rates when the accord takes effect in 2015.

‘Some really good stuff’ in the accord, said a Twitter post by .nxt, a website following Internet policy. But it said the disputes over possible Internet controls forced the U.S and others ‘to bail’ out on the deal.

Steffi Graf Chyna (Joanie Laurer)

New species of slow loris found in jungles of Borneo

  • The slow loris is the only venomous primate – and could even kill a human
  • But because of its cute appearance it is targeted by the animal trade

By Charles Walford

|

A new species of slow loris has been discovered in Borneo.

Conservationists hope the finding will add impetus to efforts to protect the double-tongued animals.

Two previously known subspecies have also been accorded full species status.

But experts are warning that dividing the animals into four distinct species means the risk of extinction is greater than previously believed for the animals but could help efforts to protect the unusual primate.

Discovery: A new species of slow loris - the Nycticebus kayan - has been found in Borneo and the Philippines

Discovery: A new species of slow loris – the Nycticebus kayan – has been found in Borneo and the Philippines

The loris is the only venomous primate, producing a flesh-rotting poison that can be fatal to humans.

But they are also very cute – and in fact are known as ‘jungle gremlins’ – which makes them a target for the animal trade.

Captured animals often have their canine and incisor teeth pulled out before being sold on as pets, in a bid to protect their potential owner.

Harming the animals this way, though, can quickly lead to their death, as the toothless primates are unable to feed properly.

‘Four separate species are harder to protect than one, since each species needs to maintain its population numbers and have sufficient forest habitat,’ said lead author Rachel Munds, MU doctoral student in anthropology in the College of Arts and Science.

‘Unfortunately, in addition to habitat loss to deforestation, there is a booming black market demand for the animals. They are sold as pets, used as props for tourist photos or dismembered for use in traditional Asian medicines.’

According to Munds, slow lorises are not domesticated and are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. She contends that keeping the animals as pets is cruel and that domesticating them is not feasible.

Got it licked: The slow loris has a serrated sublingua - under-tongue - of a slow loris sticks out beneath the primary tongue

Got it licked: The slow loris has a serrated sublingua – under-tongue – of a slow loris sticks out beneath the primary tongue

A team of researchers, led by Munds and Professor Anna Nekaris of Oxford Brookes University, observed the animals living in the forests of Borneo and the Philippines and found that the original single species contained animals with significantly different body sizes, fur thickness, habitats and facial markings.

Museum specimens, photographs and live animals helped primatologists parse out four species from the original one.

But the new species of slow loris, named Nycticebus kayan, has gone unrecognised until now, in part due to its nocturnal lifestyle.

Animals that are active at night rely less on visual clues, and can therefore appear more similar to one another.

So the scientists had to look hard to discover the differences between the new species, and focused primarly on facial markings.

And the researchers found there to be four species of slow loris in the Philippines and Borneo, each with their own, subtly different but distinct head markings.

Conservatrion: Rachel Munds (left), doctoral student in anthropology at Missouri University, and Anna Nekaris, primatology professor at Oxford Brookes University, pose with a tarsier, another species of nocturnal primate

Conservatrion: Rachel Munds (left), doctoral student in anthropology at Missouri University, and Anna Nekaris, primatology professor at Oxford Brookes University, pose with a tarsier, another species of nocturnal primate

Previously there was thought to be just one species, called N. menagensis.

Two of these new species, N. bancanus and N. borneanus, were previously considered subspecies of N. menagensis. N. kayan, is new to science.

‘In Borneo in particular, from where three of the new species hail, this will mean that three new lorises will be added as threatened to some degree on the IUCN Red List of threatened species,’ said Prof Nekaris.

She warned of the threats to the animals that comes from their trade, driven by demand for lorises as pets

‘YouTube videos of lorises being tickled, holding umbrellas or eating with forks have become wildly popular,’ said Anna Nekaris, study co-author, primatology professor at Oxford Brookes University and MU graduate. ‘CNN recently promoted loris videos as “feel good” entertainment. In truth, the lorises gripping forks or umbrellas were simply desperate to hold something.

‘The arboreal animals are adapted to spending their lives in trees constantly clutching branches. Pet keepers rarely provide enough climbing structures for them.’

The animals also are used in Asian traditional medicines. The methods used to extract the medicines can be exceedingly violent, according to Nekaris, who also is director of the slow loris advocacy organisation, Little Fireface Project.

Cruel trade: Slow lorises for sale in Möng La, Shan, Myanmar

Cruel trade: Slow lorises for sale in Möng La, Shan, Myanmar

Sick: The teeth of a juvenile slow loris being removed by an animal trafficker

Sick: The teeth of a juvenile slow loris being removed by an animal trafficker

Lisa Snowdon see more

After School Shooting In Newtown, Connecticut, A Social Media Tragedy Plays Out On TV, Web

Facebook doesn’t kill people. The media using Facebook kills people’s reputations. And several outlets added insult to the injury of a young man who just lost his brother, his mother, and any semblance of privacy for the foreseeable future.

Any news outlet worth its salt rushed to Google and Facebook and Twitter the minute we heard the supposed name of the gunman in a horrific shooting death of 28 people, including 20 children, as many as seven adults (likely including his own mother), and the shooter himself, in the kindergarten classroom and halls of the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. In the rush to find answers, sometimes someone’s online identity and social web can provide clues.

There were lots of hits online for Ryan Lanza, the name being bandied about as that of the shooter. There was a correctional officer, a few kids. And then there was this 20-something-looking guy dark glasses and what could have been a trench coat. (It should be noted that there are several people named “Adolf Hitler” on social media, too, but it doesn’t mean Nazi No. 1 is alive and tweeting.) There was even some military game-themed stuff on this one Ryan Lanza’s Facebook page. His hometown was listed as Newtown, CT. But he lived in Hoboken, New Jersey.

And then it happened. Pete Williams from NBC News mentioned that Ryan Lanza had a connection to Hoboken.

They were going with the Facebook kid.

Then Fox used his picture (the blurring below is ours).

Then came the denials and claims of wrong ID. The New York Times‘ Jenna Wortham sent around an image of what looked like statuses from the Facebook Ryan Lanza himself, claiming not only to be alive and not dead inside the Newtown school, but asking people to stop accusing him of some horrific crime based solely on his name and some corresponding social data (no one really knew if those images of Ryan Lanza’s Facebook statuses were fake, either, at the time).

At the time of this intitial post, Twitter was alive with people convinced that the Facebook Ryan Lanza was the guy responsible for one of the grizzliest mass murders in recent history. As things have developed into the evening of December 14, it appears Ryan Lanza is the brother of the presumed shooter, Adam Lanza. In other words, several prominent media outlets not only got the wrong guy, they slandered Ryan Lanza, a guy whose brother just did something unimaginable before taking the life of his, and Ryan’s mother, then his own. His family was wiped out, and, thanks to some slapdash use of social media and an itchy trigger finger, so was his reputation.

Just after 3 p.m. NBC reporter Pete Williams started to sound like he might backtrack. But a moment before he issued a correction about fingering the wrong Lanza, a news conference in Newtown started, and NBC broke away. Finally, at around 3:45 p.m., more than an hour after accusing the wrong guy of mass child murder, Williams said to anchor Lester Holt: “This is an unusual situation where information is being corrected and revised, and, Lester, maybe this is one of them.” Not that they had any more solid information with which to correct their slander.

But Holt had already issued a blanket justification right before a teary eyed President Barack Obama offered his condolences to the families from the White House. Holt perfectly summed up the situation for his and other networks’ reckless assumptions:

“We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves,” he said, “But information never seems to come as soon as we want it.”

Nicole Richie Tyler Faith

U.S. and UK refuse to sign treaty ‘that could lead to greater government control of cyberspace’

  • U.S. led group of 20 nations which walked away from the treaty
  • Rival countries had sought to break the Western grip on the Internet
  • U.S. and allies claimed new rules would harm free-form nature of the net

By Damien Gayle

|

The UK and the U.S. today refused to sign the first UN telecommunications treaty of the Internet age, claiming it would lead to greater government control of cyberspace.

They were among a group of 20 nations which walked away from negotiations in Dubai after an ideological split over the nature of the Internet and who is responsible for its growth and governance.

Rival countries – including Iran, China and African states – insisted governments should have a greater sway over Internet affairs and sought to break the Western grip on information technology.

Summit: Delegates at the ITUtalks in Dubai listen to Hamadoun Toure, the group's secretary-general. The UK and U.S. today led a bloc of 20 nations which refused to sign the accords

Summit: Delegates at the ITUtalks in Dubai listen to Hamadoun Toure, the group’s secretary-general. The UK and U.S. today led a bloc of 20 nations which refused to sign the accords

They also favoured greater international help to bring reliable online links to the world’s least developed regions.

In a testament to the contentious atmosphere at the negotiations of the UN’s International Telecommunications Union, the pages of reservations and comments by various countries involved were longer than the treaty itself.

In the end, it was supported by 89 countries in the 193-member union. Fifty-five did not sign, including the U.S.-led bloc of more than 20 nations, and others needing home country approval.

The remainder did not have high-ranking envoys in Dubai.

The ITU – which dates to the age of the telegraph in the mid-19th century – has no technical powers to change how the Internet operates or force countries to follow its non-binding accords, which also dealt with issues such as mobile phone roaming rates and international emergency numbers.

But the U.S. and its backers nevertheless worried that the new treaty could alter the tone of debates about the Internet.

Instead of viewing it as a free-form network, they claim, it could increasingly been seen as a commodity that needs clear lines of oversight.

Hamadoun Toure, the group’s secretary-general, said he was ‘very much surprised’ by the U.S.-led snub after days of difficult negotiations that dropped or softened wording that troubled the West.

Yet it fell short of American-led demands that all references to the Internet – even indirect or couched in general language – be omitted.

Breakdown in communications: Mr Toure, left, said said he was very much surprised by the snub after days of difficult negotiations had softened or dropped wording that had troubled U.S. delegate Terry Kramer, right

Even apparently clear-cut issues such as unsolicited email ‘spam’ brought division.

Efforts to try to address blanket electronic message barrages was seen by American envoys and others as something governments could use as possible U.N. cover for increased surveillance on email traffic.

‘Fundamental divides were exposed,’ said Lynn St. Amour, CEO and president of the Internet Society, an industry group.

STATES THAT BLOCK THE NET

Internet restrictions and availability at selected countries and regions around the world:

NORTH KOREA

Internet use is extremely restricted with many of North Korea’s 24million people unable to get online. Some North Koreans can access an internal Intranet that connects to state media. Members of the elite, resident foreigners and visitors in certain hotels are allowed full access. 

IRAN

Most Western social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are blocked in Iran, as well as political opposition and sexually explicit websites. But proxy server sites and other methods are widely used to get around the official restrictions.

CHINA

There are more than 500 million Chinese online but they contend with an extensive Internet filtering and censorship system popularly known as the ‘Great Fire Wall.’ Censors police blogs and domestic social media for content deemed pornographic or politically subversive and delete it.

CUBA

Tight control, slow connections and high costs mean only around 5 percent of Cubans have access to the global Internet, with another 23 percent relying instead on a government intranet with very limited content. Web access is mainly via public facilities where people must first register with identification.

GULF ARAB STATES

Internet censorship is prevalent across former Soviet Central Asian republics, but the strongest restrictions have been recorded in Iran’s authoritarian neighbours to the north, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

ERITREA

The government restricts access to the Internet and closely monitors online communications. The U.S. State Department’s latest human rights report said the government monitored email without obtaining warrants as required by law, and that all Internet users were required to use one of three service providers owned directly by the government or controlled by members of the country’s sole party.

Mr Toure framed it as clash of ‘two societies’; a so-called digital divide with citizens of wealthy countries able to access the Net on one side, and 4.5 billion others in poor nations on the other.

‘We are defending here the right to communicate as a basic human right. That’s something very important in the ITU. We so remind our members constantly of that obligation,’ he told reporters.

He also said there was no specific endorsement of ‘Internet control or Internet governance.’

Still the dissident nations said the general acknowledgement of a government stake in 21st century telecommunications was just as troubling as any specific wording.

‘Internet policy should not be determined by member states, but by citizens, communities and broader society … the private sector and civil society,’ Terry Kramer, head of the U.S. delegation, told the gathering late last night. ‘That has not happened here.’

Mr Toure today said it was impossible and illogical to ignore the Net.

‘If the word Internet was used frequently here in Dubai, it is simply a reflection of the reality of the modern world,’ said Mr Toure, a Russian-trained engineer from Mali.

‘Telecommunication networks are not just used for making voice calls, so our two worlds are linked.’

Overshadowed by the Internet showdowns were other details in the pact. They include agreements that could lower mobile phone roaming charges, pledges to invest more communications infrastructure in poorer countries, efforts for greater communication technology for the disabled and a move to create a common emergency number for mobile phones and other devices.

Either the 911 or 112 number will be picked in later talks.

It’s unclear whether countries that rejected the pact could benefit from possible changes such as lower roaming rates when the accord takes effect in 2015.

‘Some really good stuff’ in the accord, said a Twitter post by .nxt, a website following Internet policy. But it said the disputes over possible Internet controls forced the U.S and others ‘to bail’ out on the deal.

Christina Applegate Natalie Portman

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