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Archive for May, 2011|Monthly archive page

Gaddafi to be told to stand down or face Apache attack

In World News on May 31, 2011 at 5:55 am

By Chris Stephen

Nato has only one question as it prepares to unleash Apache helicopters against the forces of Muammar Gaddafi this week, and Captain Ali Mohammed, one of the defenders of the besieged rebel city of Misrata, can supply the answer.

If, as most pundits predict, tomorrow’s peace mission to Tripoli by South African president Jacob Zuma fails, Nato will hit the Libyan leader harder than it has ever hit him before.

British Apaches, together with French Tiger attack helicopters, will launch surgical strikes on Gaddafi’s forces besieging Misrata. They have the ability to destroy individual gun positions in the town of Zlitan, west of Misrata, with less risk to the civilian population kept there as human shields.

But there is a problem. This kind of war takes time, and time…

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Draconian Anti-Piracy censorship bill passes senate committee

In Americas on May 31, 2011 at 5:48 am

By Torrent Freak

The controversial PROTECT IP Act unanimously passed the Senate Judiciary Committee today. When the PROTECT IP Act becomes law U.S. authorities and copyright holders will have the power to seize domains, block websites and censor search engines to prevent copyright infringements. Introduced just two weeks ago, the bill now heads over to the Senate for further consideration and another vote.

The U.S. Government continues to back legislation that opens the door to unprecedented Internet censorship.

Two weeks ago a group of U.S. senators proposed legislation to make it easier to crack down on so-called rogue websites, and today…

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RAF to get ‘bunker busters’ for Libya mission

In World News on May 31, 2011 at 5:35 am

By BBC

The Royal Air Force is to get 2,000lb “bunker busting” bombs to boost its mission in Libya.

The Ministry of Defence said the Enhanced Paveway III bombs were capable of penetrating the roofs of reinforced buildings.

The MoD said this would enable the RAF to attack command centres and communications nodes in Libya.

Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox said: “We are not trying to physically target individuals in Gaddafi’s inner circle.”

The MoD said the bombs had been prepared and could be used in Libya in a matter of hours and would help to…

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Lingodroid robots invent their own spoken language

In Tech on May 28, 2011 at 7:20 pm

By Evan Ackerman

When robots talk to each other, they’re not generally using language as we think of it, with words to communicate both concrete and abstract concepts. Now Australian researchers are teaching a pair of robots to communicate linguistically like humans by inventing new spoken words, a lexicon that the roboticists can teach to other robots to generate an entirely new language.

Ruth Schulz and her colleagues at the University of Queensland and Queensland University of Technology call their robots the Lingodroids. The robots consist of a mobile platform equipped with a camera, laser range finder, and sonar for mapping and obstacle avoidance. The robots also carry a microphone and speakers for audible communication between them.

To understand the concept behind the project, consider a simplified case of how language might have developed. Let’s say that all of a sudden you wake up somewhere with your memory completely wiped, not knowing English, Klingon, or any other language. And then you meet some other person who’s in the exact same situation as you. What do you do?.

What might very well end up happening is that you invent some random word to describe where you are right now, and then point at the ground and tell the word to the other person, establishing a connection…

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Aussie student finds universe’s ‘missing mass’

In Tech, World News on May 28, 2011 at 7:13 pm

By AFP

A 22-year-old Australian university student has solved a problem which has puzzled astrophysicists for decades, discovering part of the so-called “missing mass” of the universe during her summer break.

Undergraduate Amelia Fraser-McKelvie made the breakthrough during a holiday internship with a team at Monash University’s School of Physics, locating the mystery material within vast structures called “filaments of galaxies”.

Monash astrophysicist Dr Kevin Pimbblet explained that scientists had previously detected matter that was present in the early history of the universe but that could not now be located.

“There is missing mass, ordinary mass not dark mass … It’s missing to the present day,” Pimbblet told AFP.

“We don’t know where it went. Now we do know where it went because that’s what Amelia found.”

Fraser-McKelvie, an aerospace engineering and science student, was able to confirm after a targeted X-ray search for the mystery mass that it had moved to the “filaments of galaxies”, which stretch across…

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Google accused of stealing PayPal’s mobile payment secrets

In Tech on May 28, 2011 at 6:26 pm

By Cade Metz

PayPal has sued Google and two Google executives who defected from PayPal to help the search giant’s push into mobile payments. The suit was filed in California on Thursday, the same day Google unveiled its mobile payments system in New York.

The suit (PDF) alleges that Google and Osama Bedier – the PayPal mobile payments exec who departed the company for Google in late January – misappropriated PayPal trade secrets by sharing them within Google and with “major” retailers. It then claims that Stephanie Tilenius, the Google vice president of electronic commerce who also came from PayPal, violated her contractual obligations by bringing Bedier to Google.

According to the suit, Bedier spent three years – from 2008 to his departure from PayPal in January 2011 – negotiating with Google to install PayPal as an option for mobile payments on Android phones. “PayPal provided Google with an extensive education in mobile payments,” the suit reads. Bedier was the senior PayPal executive accountable for…

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Angry parents in Japan confront government over radiation levels

In World News on May 27, 2011 at 7:20 am

By Hiroko Tabuchi

The accusations flew on Wednesday at the local school board meeting, packed with parents worried and angry about radiation levels in this city at the heart of Japan’s nuclear crisis.

“Do you really care about our children’s health?” one parent shouted. “Why have you acted so late?” said another. Among other concerns: isn’t radiation still raining down on Fukushima? Shouldn’t the entire school building be decontaminated? The entire city? Can we trust you?

“We are doing all we can,” pleaded Tomio Watanabe, a senior official of Fukushima’s education board.

A huge outcry is erupting in Fukushima over what parents say is a blatant government failure to protect their children from dangerous levels of radiation. The issue has prompted unusually direct confrontations in this conflict-averse society, and has quickly become a focal point for…

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Google announces mobile payment system: Google Wallet

In Big Brother, Tech on May 27, 2011 at 7:19 am

By Edward C. Baid

Are you ready to pay for everything via your smartphone? Google is the latest tech company banking on it. At a packed press event in New York, the search giant launched Google Wallet, a method to pay for goods via your smartphone. Google also unveiled a separate initiative, Google Offers, for mobile coupons, working with partners such as Citi, MasterCard, First Data and Sprint, as well as merchants that include Subway, Macy’s, Walgreens and American Eagle. Google says it is building an open solution to other financial companies and retailers.

“Your phone will be your wallet — just tap, pay and save,” says Stephanie Tilenius, vice president of commerce at Google. Adds Osama Bedier, vice president of payments at Google, “This is just the beginning. We plan to push the limit and innovate in that space.”

Google isn’t the only one at it, of course. The Google announcement follows word that Square, a company headed by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, will also pursue mobile contact-less payments.

For mobile payments to take off, consumer behavior will have to change. But Google points out that while a decade ago 70% of consumers were reluctant to pay for stuff online, today 70% access their credit card information over the Internet. At the start, a Google Wallet will give…

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Marine life soaking up radiation along Fukushima coast

In World News on May 27, 2011 at 7:19 am

By Greg McNevin

Two week’s ago we released preliminary results from our marine radiation monitoring work off the coast of Japan, near the melted-down and leakingFukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. These results showed worrying levels of radioactive contamination in seaweed – a staple of the Japanese diet.

After having difficulties finding a lab in Japan to do detailed analysis, we sent samples of seaweed, fish, and shellfish collected by our radiation monitoring teams both onshore and on the Rainbow to professional labs in France and Belgium. The results of the details analysis are back – and we can say that the situation in the ocean along the Fukushima coast is worse than we originally thought.

The new data shows that some seaweed contamination levels are not only 50 times higher than safety limits – far higher than our initial measurements showed – but also that the contamination is spreading over a wide area, and accumulating in sea life, rather than simply dispersing like the Japanese authorities originally claimed would happen.

Other samples showed lower than expected concentrations of caesium, but much higher levels of iodine than expected, which raises serious concerns that contaminated water is continually leaking from…

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70,000 more should evacuate after Fukushima: Watchdog

In World News on May 25, 2011 at 2:29 pm

By The Times of India

Seventy thousand people living beyond the 20-kilometre no-go zone around Fukushima should be evacuated because of radioactivity deposited by the crippled nuclear plant, a watchdog said.

Updating its assessment of the March 11 disaster, France’s Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) highlighted an area northwest of the plant that lies beyond the 20-km (12 mile) zone whose inhabitants have already been evacuated.

Radioactivity levels in this area range from several hundred becquerels per square metre to thousands or even several million bequerels per square metre, the IRSN report, issued late Monday, said.

Around 70,000 people, including 9,500 children aged up to 14, live in the area, “the most contaminated territory outside the evacuation zone,” the agency said.

“These are people who are still to be evacuated, in addition to those who were evacuated during the emergency phase in March,” Didier Champion, its environmnent director, told AFP.

Staying in this area means the inhabitants would be exposed to radiation of more than 10 millisieverts (mSv)in the year following…

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