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May 16, 2016

Australian scientists reveal photographs from world\’s first scanning helium microscope

Australian scientists reveal photographs from world’s first scanning helium microscope

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Monday, May 16, 2016

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Scientists from the University of Newcastle Australia, in collaboration with researchers from the University of Cambridge (UK) have released the first microscopic photographs from the Scanning Helium Microscope prototype (SHeM) that was revealed on Sunday. The photographs, which depict intricate details of chitin (a structural molecule in invertebrates) on a butterfly’s wing and a close up look at a spider’s fang, are the first of their kind from the SHeM prototype, that is more than 20 years in the making. The SHeM prototype is able to take detailed images of organic and polymer electronics, where a traditional electron microscope would likely damage the samples. The prototype shines helium in a similar way to that of a pinhole camera, and has the potential to reveal the chemical content of surfaces that are being photographed.

According to ABC News, Associate Professor Paul Dastoor from the University of Newcastle said “The Scanning Helium Microscope means the samples will be analysed in their true state for the first time ever,”

The Helium atoms used in the SHeM prototype are the second most abundant element in the universe, and the most stable, which ensures that no chemical reactions will take place with other surfaces. The beam from a helium atom is less than 0.1 electron volts, which makes it low energy compared to the 100,000 volt beam used in an electron microscope. The SHeM at its present form can only image with a resolution of up to a micron, but future plans have been developed for the prototype to be redesign to make it a smaller size better suited to a laboratory bench top, and advance the resolution so it reaches the nanometer range.

The microscope is said to have the potential to be used in a variety of research applications such as modern surface science, which can aid in the development of stealth defence technology and new explosives, the ability to view human samples in an un-altered state for medicinal purposes, and could potentially benefit sustainability research and new technology.



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August 10, 2010

British scholar Tony Judt dies aged 62

British scholar Tony Judt dies aged 62 – Wikinews, the free news source

British scholar Tony Judt dies aged 62

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

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British historian Tony Judt died Friday of complications from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) at the age of 62. Judt was known for his contributions to European history and his controversial position regarding the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.

Judt’s death was announced in a statement from New York University (NYU), where he was a professor. He died in his home in Manhattan, said the school. Judt is survived by his third wife, dance critic Jennifer Homans, and their two children, Nicholas and Daniel. Judt’s first two marriages both ended in a divorce.

Tony Robert Judt, a secular Jew, was born on January 2, 1948 in London, but spent much of his adult life in the United States. The descendant of Marxist Lithuanian rabbis, he was sent to a camp in Israel as a teenager, and became a Zionist. Later, he spoke at a Zionist convention in Paris and worked as a translator for the Israel Defense Forces in 1967, starting with the Six-Day War.

An alumnus of King’s College, he began teaching at NYU as Professor of European studies in 1987. Judt had previously taught at Cambridge, the University of California, and Oxford University.

Judt, also an author, became a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his 2005 book Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945. The almost 900-page book covers the history of the development of Europe after World War II. He also wrote about topics such as the fall of Marxism and Communism.

In September 2008, Judt was diagnosed with ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. One form of motor neurone disease, ALS targets nerve cells and causes a loss of speech and movement abilities. Left paralyzed and unable to breathe without assistance, Judt continued to lecture. Earlier this year, Judt was able to write a group of personal essays for The New York Review of Books, in which he discussed the disease. “In contrast to almost every other serious or deadly disease, one is thus left free to contemplate at leisure and in minimal discomfort the catastrophic progress of one’s own deterioration,” he wrote. In 2009, Judt was the recipient of a special Orwell Prize, given to him for “intelligence, insight and conspicuous courage.”

Judt’s later views on Israel differed from those he had held as a teenager. In 1983, he called Israel a “belligerently intolerant, faith-driven ethno state,” opposing a two-state solution. Earlier this year, he wrote, “most Israelis were not transplanted latter-day agrarian socialists but young, prejudiced urban Jews who differed from their European or American counterparts chiefly in their macho, swaggering self-confidence, and access to armed weapons.” His stance on the topic was the subject of much controversy, even leading to his removal from the editorial committee for The New Republic.



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February 14, 2010

Chip and PIN \’not fit for purpose\’, says Cambridge researcher

Filed under: United Kingdom,University of Cambridge — admin @ 5:00 am

Chip and PIN ‘not fit for purpose’, says Cambridge researcher

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

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An EMV terminal, similar to those found to be vulnerable.
Image: Michael Shanks.

security expert Professor Ross Anderson has blasted the EMV system used worldwide for credit and debit card transactions, and known in the UK as Chip and PIN, after his research team discovered a serious vulnerability. The group were able to carry out purchases using a card, even without knowing the associated personal identification number (PIN), by using a “man-in-the-middle” attack.

Retail terminals at the point of sale require the cardholder to insert their card and enter their secret PIN before a transaction can be authorised. They then communicate with the microchip built in to the card itself, which holds the PIN. If the correct number has been given, this chip returns a standard verification code (0x9000) to the terminal.

In the researchers’ attack they inserted a genuine card into a second reader, connected to a laptop. The laptop is linked by thin wires to a fake card, which is inserted into the retailer’s terminal. The laptop relays the communications between the terminal and the stolen, but genuine, card, up until the stage where the PIN is to be checked. At this point it intercepts and responds with the verification code, no matter what number was entered. The retailer’s terminal then believes that the correct PIN has been entered, and the card can be told that a signature was used to verify the cardholder instead.

Their technique has been tested successfully on cards from six different issuers: Bank of Scotland, Barclaycard, Co-operative Bank, Halifax, HSBC and John Lewis.

Cquote1.svg All the banks are lying. They are maliciously and wilfully deceiving the customer […] The system is not fit for purpose. Cquote2.svg

—Professor Ross Anderson, University of Cambridge

The group say that not much technical skill is required for the attack, and suggested the equipment needed could be kept in a backpack, with the wires to the fake card running down a user’s sleeve. They believe the equipment could be miniaturised to the size of a remote control.

“In practice how this attack would work is that one reasonably technically skilled person would build a device that carries out the attack and then sell this equipment on the internet just like criminals already do,” said Dr Steven Murdoch who worked on the project.

Professor Anderson claimed that the attack could already be in use by criminals. “We have many examples of people who have had their cards stolen and then purchases made using the chip and pin,” he said. “They are adamant they didn’t use it but if the banks say chip and pin has been used you have to pay. I think many of these people would have been victim of the kind of technique we have developed.”

He was scathing about bank claims that the system was secure. “The banks are wrong. All the banks are lying. They are maliciously and wilfully deceiving the customer. If there was any justice then the police would be looking into this. The system is not fit for purpose.”

Consumer group Which? have also called for an investigation, stating that in a recent survey one in seven people said that money had been taken from their accounts without authorisation. Around half of these did not have the money refunded by the bank.

“We want the banks to look into these potential flaws,” said Cathy Neal from Which? Money, “because we have had many examples where the banks have said a pin was used and the customer said it hasn’t.”

Over 90 percent of UK card transactions at point-of-sale use chip and PIN, according to the UK Payments Administration. The attack does not affect ATM transactions, which use different standards. Mark Bowerman, a spokesman for the group which represents card companies, said that there was no evidence the attack was in use and emphasised that card fraud had fallen with the introduction of chip and PIN.

HAVE YOUR SAY
Wikinews commentary.svg
Do you trust bank security systems? Have you ever experienced card fraud?
Add or view comments
Cquote1.svg We strongly refute the allegation that chip and PIN is broken Cquote2.svg

—Mark Bowerman, UK Payments Administration

“We are taking this paper very seriously, as maintaining excellent levels of card security is paramount,” he said. “However, we strongly refute the allegation that chip and PIN is broken.”

The research paper has been made available as a working draft, and is due to be published at the IEEE Security and Privacy Symposium in May 2010. Members of the banking industry were informed of the vulnerability in early December last year.

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February 13, 2010

Chip and PIN ‘not fit for purpose’, says Cambridge researcher

Filed under: Science and technology,University of Cambridge — admin @ 5:00 am

Saturday, February 13, 2010

An EMV terminal, similar to those found to be vulnerable.
Image: Michael Shanks.

security expert Professor Ross Anderson has blasted the EMV system used worldwide for credit and debit card transactions, and known in the UK as Chip and PIN, after his research team discovered a serious vulnerability. The group were able to carry out purchases using a card, even without knowing the associated personal identification number (PIN), by using a “man-in-the middle” attack.

Retail terminals at the point of sale require the cardholder to insert their card and enter their secret PIN before a transaction can be authorised. They then communicate with the microchip built in to the card itself, which holds the PIN. If the correct number has been given, this chip returns a standard verification code (0x9000) to the terminal.

In the researchers’ attack they inserted a genuine card into a second reader, connected to a laptop. The laptop is linked by thin wires to a fake card, which is inserted into the retailer’s terminal. The laptop relays the communications between the terminal and the stolen, but genuine, card, up until the stage where the PIN is to be checked. At this point it intercepts and responds with the verification code, no matter what number was entered. The retailer’s terminal then believes that the correct PIN has been entered, and the card can be told that a signature was used to verify the cardholder instead.

Their technique has been tested successfully on cards from six different issuers: Bank of Scotland, Barclaycard, Co-operative Bank, Halifax, HSBC and John Lewis.

Cquote1.svg All the banks are lying. They are maliciously and wilfully deceiving the customer… The system is not fit for purpose. Cquote2.svg

—Professor Ross Anderson, University of Cambridge

The group say that not much technical skill is required for the attack, and suggested the equipment needed could be kept in a backpack, with the wires to the fake card running down a user’s sleeve. They believe the equipment could be miniaturised to the size of a remote control.

“In practice how this attack would work is that one reasonably technically skilled person would build a device that carries out the attack and then sell this equipment on the internet just like criminals already do,” said Dr Steven Murdoch who worked on the project.

Professor Anderson claimed that the attack could already be in use by criminals. “We have many examples of people who have had their cards stolen and then purchases made using the chip and pin,” he said. “They are adamant they didn’t use it but if the banks say chip and pin has been used you have to pay. I think many of these people would have been victim of the kind of technique we have developed.”

He was scathing about bank claims that the system was secure. “The banks are wrong. All the banks are lying. They are maliciously and wilfully deceiving the customer. If there was any justice then the police would be looking into this. The system is not fit for purpose.”

Consumer group Which? have also called for an investigation, stating that in a recent survey one in seven people said that money had been taken from their accounts without authorisation. Around half of these did not have the money refunded by the bank.

“We want the banks to look into these potential flaws,” said Cathy Neal from Which? Money, “because we have had many examples where the banks have said a pin was used and the customer said it hasn’t.”

Over 90 percent of UK card transactions at point-of-sale use chip and PIN, according to the UK Payments Administration. The attack does not affect ATM transactions, which use different standards. Mark Bowerman, a spokesman for the group which represents card companies, said that there was no evidence the attack was in use and emphasised that card fraud had fallen with the introduction of chip and PIN.

HAVE YOUR SAY
Wikinews commentary.svg
Do you trust bank security systems? Have you ever experienced card fraud?
Cquote1.png We strongly refute the allegation that chip and PIN is broken Cquote2.png

—Mark Bowerman, UK Payments Administration

“We are taking this paper very seriously, as maintaining excellent levels of card security is paramount,” he said. “However, we strongly refute the allegation that chip and PIN is broken.”

The research paper has been made available as a working draft, and is due to be published at the IEEE Security and Privacy Symposium in May 2010. Members of the banking industry were informed of the vulnerability in early December last year.

Sources

  • Richard Alleyne “Chip and pin should be overhauled to protect millions of bank customers” – telegraph.co.uk, February 12, 2010
  • Tom Espiner “Chip and PIN is broken, say researchers” – ZDNet UK, February 11, 2010
  • Susan Watts “New flaws in chip and pin system revealed” – BBC Newsnight, February 11, 2010
  • Steven J. Murdoch, Saar Drimer, Ross Anderson and Mike Bond “EMV PIN verification “wedge” vulnerability” – University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory, February 12, 2010

External link

  • Chip and PIN is Broken – Draft research paper
This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

April 20, 2009

Scientist Stephen Hawking rushed to hospital in ambulance

Scientist Stephen Hawking rushed to hospital in ambulance

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Stephen Hawking.
Image: StarChild Learning Center.

Scientist Stephen Hawking, 67, has been taken to a hospital in an ambulance after falling very ill, reports Sky News.

According to a physicist at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom, “Professor Hawking is very ill” and had been rushed to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge to undergo tests.

His condition is not yet known, but according to the University, Hawking has been ill with a chest infection for a few weeks. On April 6, he cancelled an appearance at Arizona State University due to his illness. Hawking also suffers from severe motor neurone disease.

“He [Hawking] is undergoing tests. He has been unwell for a couple of weeks,” said the university in a statement. In a later statement, the University stated that Hawking was resting comfortably “but will be kept in hospital overnight” for observation.

Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics head Peter Haynes offered his sympathy saying, “Professor Hawking is a remarkable colleague. We all hope he will be amongst us again soon.” Hawking has worked in the same department as Haynes for over 30 years.



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February 3, 2009

Shoe thrown at Chinese PM during speech at Cambridge University in the UK

Shoe thrown at Chinese PM during speech at Cambridge University in the UK

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Chinese prime minister, Wen Jiabao.
Image: World Economic Forum.

An unnamed 27-year-old man has been arrested and charged with “public order offenses” after he threw a shoe at the Chinese prime minister, Wen Jiabao while he was giving a speech at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom on Monday February 2. The speech was related to China’s and the world economy titled See China in the Light of Her Development. Wen was on a seven day tour of Europe, his final stop being the University.

The man yelled “dictator” and asked the crowd, “how can this university prostitute itself with this dictator here, how can you listen…to him unchallenged,” as he threw the shoe at the prime minister. Wen called the incident “despicable”. The shoe did not hit Wen, but landed a few feet from where he was standing.

“His [the man’s] behavior met strong opposition of the entire audience. He was booed and taken away. The whole audience gave long and warm applause to Premier Wen for his excellent speech. The facts demonstrate that the despicable conduct of this troublemaker will win no sympathy, and will not hold back the tide of friendly cooperation between China and Britain,” said the Chinese government in a statement posted on their website.

The University has also apologized for the incident saying, “[we] are very sorry that the incident happened and the person will be dealt with according to law. The university is a place for discussion, debate and considered argument, not for shoe throwing”. According to authorities, there was never any real threat to the prime minister. The man will appear before a judge on February 10.

On Sunday December 14, 2008, an Iraqi journalist for an Egyptian Newspaper named Muntazer al-Zaidi was tackled by authorities after he threw his shoes at former United States president George W. Bush during a press conference in Baghdad. Bush had made a surprise last visit to Iraq to sign a new security pact brokered by Iraq and the U.S. Bush ducked as the flying shoes zipped past him, barely missing the now former U.S. president.

In Arabic culture, hitting or throwing shoes at someone so the soles hit them is considered a great insult. In 2003, when Iraqi citizens tore down the statue of Saddam Hussein in downtown Baghdad, they began to smack it with the soles of their shoes.



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January 31, 2009

Brain chemical Serotonin behind locusts’ swarming instinct

Brain chemical Serotonin behind locusts’ swarming instinct

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Saturday, January 31, 2009

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Desert Locust, (Schistocerca gregaria) Cyrtacanthacridinae, Acrididae
Image: NASA.

The usually inhibited desert locust Schistocerca gregaria, which wiles away the months as a solitary, insignificant grasshopper can shift into horrifying swarms due to a chemical commonly found in people’s brain, a research showed.

The solitary and gregarious phases of locusts are so different that they were considered distinct species until 1921. Scientists have known for several years that touching a solitary desert locust on the hind legs, or allowing it to see or smell other locusts, is enough to transform it into the gregarious phase. This week, Science magazine published strong scientific evidence that the behavioural and physical makeover is effected by serotonin, a carrier of nerve signals in virtually all animals.

Researchers from the University of Sydney, University of Oxford, and University of Cambridge have pinpointed a single neurochemical – serotonin – as the cause of an instinctive behavioural change from the locusts’ solitarious phase to become gregarious and form disastrous swarms of millions.

Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, or 5-HT) is a monoamine neurotransmitter synthesized in serotonergic neurons in the central nervous system (CNS) and enterochromaffin cells in the gastrointestinal tract of animals including humans. Serotonin is also found in many mushrooms and plants, including fruits and vegetables.

In the central nervous system, serotonin plays an important role as a neurotransmitter in the modulation of anger, aggression, body temperature, mood, sleep, human sexuality, appetite, metabolism, as well as stimulating vomiting. Keeping serotonin levels high is the aim of many anti-depressant drugs. “Serotonin profoundly influences how we humans behave and interact,” said co-author Dr Swidbert Ott, from Cambridge University. “So to find that the same chemical is what causes a normally shy, antisocial insect to gang up in huge groups is amazing,” he explained.

Prior to swarming, the locusts undergo a series of physical changes – their body colour darkens and their muscles grow stronger. The ‘Phase change’ is at the heart of the locust pest problem, for locusts are one of the world’s most destructive insect pests, affecting the livelihoods of 1 in 10 people on the planet. “To effectively control locust swarms, we must first understand exactly how it is that a single shy locust becomes a highly social animal that swarms,” said University of Sydney Professor Steve Simpson who led the research for almost 20 years.

The ‘phase change’ was caused by stimulation of sensory hairs on the hind leg of locusts. Professor Simpson’s team began to investigate the neurological and neurochemical basis of this effect. Dr Michael L. Anstey, of the University of Oxford, supervised by Professor Simpson, and Dr Stephen M. Rogers, part of Professor Malcolm Burrows’ team at Cambridge, led the research investigating this novel field. “Here we have a solitary and lonely creature, the desert locust. But just give them a little serotonin, and they go and join a gang,” said Malcolm Burrows.

Locust from the 1915 Locust Plague
Image: G. Eric and Edith Matson Photograph Collection, Library of Congress.

Of 13 neurochemicals in locusts that were gregarious (swarming form) and solitarious (non-swarming), the only neurochemical that showed a relationship with social behaviour was serotonin. “It was clear that as locusts switched from solitarious to gregarious, the amount of serotonin in their central nervous systems also increased,” explained Professor Simpson. “The next step was to determine if this relationship actually meant that serotonin was the cause of gregarious, and thus swarming, behaviour in locusts,” he added.

To do this, the researchers either added serotonin or prevented the production of serotonin in locusts. The results show unequivocally that serotonin is responsible for the behavioural transformation of locusts from solitarious to gregarious. Serotonin was also found to be involved in social behaviour of species across the animal kingdom, including crustaceans, rats, and humans.

The team has found that swarm-mode locusts had approximately three times more serotonin in their thoracic ganglia, part of the central nervous system, than their calm, solitary peers. “The question of how locusts transform their behaviour in this way has puzzled scientists for almost 90 years,” said co-author Dr Michael L. Anstey, from Oxford University. “We knew the [physical] stimuli that cause locusts’ amazing Jekyll and Hyde-style transformation. But nobody had been able to identify the changes in the nervous system that turn antisocial locusts into monstrous swarms. Now we finally have the evidence to provide an answer,” he added.

“The fact that serotonin causes the transition from a shy, antisocial animal into a party animal means that pharmacologically, gregarious locusts are on Ecstasy or Prozac,” said Professor Simpson, who also explained that “(whilst a very good idea, in reality) it would be difficult to create a locust control agent that interferes with serotonin.”

Professor Simpson’s team has significantly discovered that “locusts offer an exemplar of the how to span molecules to ecosystems – one of the greatest challenges in modern science.” He also offered an explanation on the problem of using a locust control agent: “Because social behaviour in so many animals depends on serotonin, if we used unspecific serotonin antagonists in the environment, we run the risk of affecting other processes in locusts, as well as severely impacting animals other than locusts. We would need to be sure that locusts have a unique serotonin receptor that causes phase change, which we haven’t identified yet. Any locust control agent would have to be specific for this serotonin receptor in locusts.”

Cquote1.svg We knew the [physical] stimuli that cause locusts’ amazing Jekyll and Hyde-style transformation. But nobody had been able to identify the changes in the nervous system that turn antisocial locusts into monstrous swarms. Now we finally have the evidence to provide an answer. Cquote2.svg

—–Dr Michael L. Anstey, Oxford University

This study, which was sponsored by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council of England, England’s Royal Society, the Australian Research Council Federation, and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. The scientists that the conclusions of the study will provide a hint as to how to solve the problem of locust infestations, which affect China, Africa, and Australia. Dr. Rogers said the landmark discovery has opened a new area of study into ways of blocking specific serotonin receptors, “something that would allow us to break apart these swarms before they develop.”

Charles Valentine Riley, Norman Criddle, and Sir Boris Petrovich Uvarov were also involved in the understanding and destructive control of the locust. Research at Oxford University has earlier identified that swarming behaviour is a response to overcrowding. Increased tactile stimulation of the hind legs causes an increase in levels of serotonin.

This causes the locust to change color, eat much more, and breed much more easily. Green locusts turn bright yellow and gain large muscles. The transformation of the locust to the swarming variety is induced by several contacts per minute over a four-hour period. It is estimated that the largest swarms have covered hundreds of square miles and consisted of many billions of locusts.

Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT), a neurotransmitter that moderates mood
Image: Ben Mills.

“Locust” is the swarming phase of short-horned grasshoppers of the family Acrididae. The origin and apparent extinction of certain species of locust—some of which reached 6 inches (15 cm) in length—are unclear. These are species that can breed rapidly under suitable conditions and subsequently become gregarious and migratory. They form bands as nymphs and swarms as adults — both of which can travel great distances, rapidly stripping fields and greatly damaging crops. Though there are about 8,000 currently known species of grasshoppers, only 12 form locust swarms.

In the history of the insect Desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria) is probably the most important because of its wide distribution (North Africa, Middle East, and Indian subcontinent) and its ability to migrate widely. Adult Desert Locusts grow to between 2-2.5 inches in length, can weigh 0.05-0.07 oz, and are excellent fliers. In religious mythology, the eighth Plague of Egypt in the Bible and Torah, a swarm of locusts ate all the crops of Egypt. “The gregarious phase is a strategy born of desperation and driven by hunger, and swarming is a response to find pastures new,” Steve Rogers from Cambridge University emphasises.

The extinction of the Rocky Mountain locust (Melanoplus spretus) in the late 19th century has been a source of puzzlement. Recent research suggests that the breeding grounds of this insect in the valleys of the Rocky Mountains came under sustained agricultural development during the large influx of gold miners, destroying the underground eggs of the locust. That species of locust had some of the largest recorded swarms.

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In the 1915 locust plague, which lasted from March to October 1915, locusts stripped areas in and around Palestine of almost all vegetation. This invasion of awesome proportions seriously compromised the already-depleted food supply of the region and sharpened the misery of all Jerusalemites. The plague resulted in several increases to the price of food. On April 25, 1915, the New York Times described the price increases: “Flour costs $15 a sack. Potatoes are six times the ordinary price. Sugar and petroleum are unprocurable and money has ceased to circulate.”

In the 2004 locust outbreak, the largest infestation of Desert Locust happened in Western and Northern Africa, affected a number of countries in the fertile northern regions of Africa. These infestations covered hundreds of square miles and involve billions of vegetation-munching insects, which repeatedly devastated agriculture, and cost huge amounts of money to control.

In November, a locusts swarm 3.7 miles (6km) long devastated parts of Australia. Along the process of their active phases, these insects can eat their own bodyweight daily, and can fly swiftly, in swarms of billions covering 60 miles in five to eight hours in search of food. Researchers are now considering the development of sprays that convert swarming locusts back into solitary insects.

“We hope that this greater understanding of the mechanisms causing such a big change in behaviour will help in the control of this pest, and more broadly help in understanding the widespread changes in behavioural traits of animals.” Malcolm Burrows said. However, according to Paul Anthony Stevenson of Germany’s University of Leipzig, the discovery will not likely to a short-term pest control solution.

“To be effective, antiserotonin-like chemicals would need to be applied when the animals are solitary locusts and scarce targets in vast expanses of desert — about three locusts per 100 square meters (1,076 sq ft),” Stevenson explained. “Current serotonergic drugs are not designed for passing through the insect cuticle and sheath encasing the nervous system, nor are they insect-selective, hence their use is ecologically unjustifiable,” he added.

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October 5, 2008

Law firm tries to ban new book by Cambridge Press

Law firm tries to ban new book by Cambridge Press

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Sunday, October 5, 2008

Crime and law
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The Schillings law firm in the United Kingdom, has attempted to remove certain content from an upcoming book by former Ambassador to the Central Asian Republic of Uzbekistan, Craig Murray. Schillings, a company which, according to Wikileaks, contains “well known UK censorship lawyers,” sent a letter to Cambridge University Press threatening libel action if the content is not removed from Murray’s book, The Catholic Orangemen of Togo, before publication.

According to Schilling, they sent the letter on behalf of ” Lieutenant-Colonel Tim Spicer […], C.E.O. of Aegis Defence Services Limited.”

Craig Murray in 2006.
Image: Vodex.

“We have reason to believe that the Book may contain serious, untrue and damaging defamatory allegations about our client,” stated the letter. “Any widespread publication of the Book containing defamatory allegations concerning our client would be deeply damaging to our client’s personal and professional reputations and would cause him profound distress and anxiety. We remind you that you would be responsible for that damage and any subsequent republication of the allegations. We also put you on notice that you will be liable for any special damage or loss suffered by our client as a result of the Book and we reserve all our client’s rights in this regard.”

Speaking to Wikileaks, Murray responded to these claims by saying that there is “yet more depressing correspondence with my publisher today — it really is getting me down.”

“The publisher has an understandable fear of facing malicious and extremely expensive litigation under British libel laws, which exist to protect the reputations of the wealthy and the powerful,” continued the former ambassador, explaining the issue. “As my entire purpose is to expose unsavory truths about the wealthy and the powerful, I really do not see how we are going to solve this.”

Wikinews also spoke exclusively to Craig Murray on this issue. He made the following comments:

Cquote1.svg Libel law in the UK is notoriously used as a tool for the wealthy to suppress the truth. There is no access to justice because ordinary people cannot, and publishers will not, afford the huge legal bills involved in defending a libel case.

I have received no libel threats at all. Rather Schillings, acting on behalf of mercenary commander Tim Spicer, have threatened my publisher directly. In consequence my publisher has insisted not only that I remove vital facts from the book, but is attempting to insist that I include views and opinions which are not my own, and facts which are untrue, in the interest of “balance”.

The extraordinary thing is that the book is a memoir, and the large majority of things the publisher wishes me to exclude under legal pressure are things I was an eye witness to or even did myself. There is no protection at all for freedom of speech in the UK — the concept does not de facto exist in law here.

Cquote2.svg

—Craig Murray, speaking to Wikinews



Sources

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August 8, 2007

League table of world universities published: top three from USA

League table of world universities published: top three from USA

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Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Academic Ranking of World Universities was published for 2007 by Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China. This year the top four universities are Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, and Cambridge, compared to last year Cambridge has slipped from second to fourth place with the order of the top three U.S. universities unchanged.

The league tables began in 2003 as an effort to measure the gap between Chinese and “World class” universities. In 2007 the highest ranking Chinese University is Tsinghua University at equal 151–202nd place, an improvement from 201–250th place in 2003.

The ranking takes account of factors such as the number of Nobel laureates, highly cited authors and publications in the journals of Nature and Science. Its authors admit that the methodology is skewed towards science over arts and humanities and favours English speaking countries. In the top 19 all are from the U.S. except Oxford and Cambridge from the UK, with Tokyo at 20th the first university from a non-English speaking country.

Sources

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July 19, 2007

Skull study supports theory of human origin in Africa

Skull study supports theory of human origin in Africa

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Homo steinheimensis, 250,000 years old.
Image: NobbiP.

Scientists from the United Kingdom have concluded, in a genetic study performed on 6,000 skulls from ancient male humans from around the world, that the origin of mankind as we know it began in southeastern Africa, which scientists refer to as “The Cradle of Man”.

Skulls vary in size and shape as humans began to spread out from the African continent, and the scientists compared those characteristics to those of later humans along with their DNA. The oldest skull believed to have been tested was at least 40,000 years old.

“We have combined our genetic data with new measurements of a large sample of skulls to show definitively that modern humans originated from a single area in Sub-Saharan Africa,” said Andrea Manica, one of the researchers at the Department of Zoology of the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, England.

However, some scientists disagree with the study, calling it “mistaken”.

“You can’t find the origin of people by measuring the variability of their skulls. The main problem with the paper is that it takes some assumptions from genetics papers of 10 to 15 years ago that we now know are wrong. Africa is ecologically diverse, and cranial variation is a function of environments. The most important feature that is related to climate is skull size. So by correcting for climate, they are subtracting a major component of variability,” said John Hawks, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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