Thursday, 11 January 2018 12:39

US man charged over 15-year spying campaign

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An American man has been charged with allegedly spying on thousands of people via their computers for more than a decade. The US Justice department accused Philip Durachinsky of creating malware to infiltrate victims' computers. During the campaign, Mr Durachinsky is alleged to have stolen data and secretly recorded images and audio. He has been charged with breaking US laws on fraud, computer abuse and identity theft. In addition, because some of the victims were minors, he has also been charged with producing child pornography. In total, Mr Durachinsky faces 16 separate charges.

'Schools hacked'

"Durachinsky is alleged to have utilised his sophisticated cyber-skills with ill intent, compromising numerous systems and individual computers," said FBI special agent Stephen Anthony, who led the investigation. Mr Anthony said many of the organisations that Mr Durachinsky is claimed to have compromised, shared key information with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies helping them uncover who was behind the hack attacks.

As well as individuals, Mr Durachinsky is said to have hacked into schools, companies, a police department and a subsidiary of the US Department of Energy. The malware used to penetrate machines, which were predominantly Apple Mac laptops and desktops, is called Fruitfly. It was first identified in early 2017 and left security researchers baffled because it was not clear how the software managed to infect machines. Analysis of the malware and machines it was found on suggest it was first used in 2003. Apple produced a patch to fix the vulnerabilities it exploited in late January last year. Mr Durachinsky was arrested soon after information about Fruitfly was made public.

News Source: BBCNEWS

Published in Technology
Thursday, 11 January 2018 11:52

South Korea plans to ban Bitcoin trading

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South Korea is planning a law to ban cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin being traded through its exchanges. The justice minister said virtual currencies were causing the government "great concern". Meanwhile, several Seoul cryptocurrency exchanges have been raided this week in a probe into alleged tax evasion. Bitcoin fell about 7% to just under $13,800 on Thursday, although that decline may not be directly related to the South Korean decision.

Given the low levels of trading and relatively small number of people holding virtual currencies, wild price swings have become the norm, leading to an argument that paying too much attention to price rises and falls is futile.

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Scrutiny

Digital currencies such as Bitcoin have surged in value over the past year - driving a huge demand. That has led to concerns about gambling addiction as inexperienced investors try to ride the wave. "There are great concerns regarding virtual currencies and the justice ministry is basically preparing a bill to ban cryptocurrency trading through exchanges," said South Korean justice minister Park Sang-ki. It is understood the department is preparing legislation that would allow the exchanges to be shut down. The crackdown in South Korea by authorities included a raid on the country's second-largest virtual currency operator, Bithumb. "We were asked by the tax officials to disclose paperwork and things yesterday," an unnamed official told Reuters. The government had already said in December that it would apply more scrutiny to the exchanges, including moves to curb anonymous trading.

News Source: BBCNEWS

Published in Business

shutterstock-pregnantDon’t eat meat, say no to sex after conception, avoid bad company, have spiritual thoughts and hang some good and beautiful pictures in your room to have a healthy baby.

This is the ministry of Ayush’s prescription for pregnant women in India, where 26 million babies are born each year.

Put together by the government-funded Central Council for Research in Yoga and Naturopathy (PDF,159 KB), whose website describes yoga and naturopathy as “the good old Indian traditional systems of health care having the history of centuries”, the recommendations are part of a booklet called Mother and Child Care. The booklet was released by minister of state for Ayush Shripad Naik in the run up to International Day for Yoga on June 21.

Naik could not be reached for comments. Both his mobile phones were switched off.At least this advice comes free. Last month, the Jamnagar based Garbhvigyan Anusandhan Kendra made news for charging couples to conceive the “best progeny” through purification (shuddhikaran), having sex on auspicious days and abstinence after conception.

“The advice is unscientific. Protein deficiency malnutrition and anaemia are health concerns for pregnant women and meats are a great source of both protein and iron, which is better absorbed from animal sources than plant sources,” says senior gynecologist and obstetrician Dr. Malavika Sabharwal with Jeewan Mala Hospital and Nova Specialty Hospitals of the Apollo Healthcare Group.

As for sex, if the pregnancy is normal, there is no need for abstinence as the baby in the womb is protected by the amniotic fluid and the uterus muscles.

“Caution is advised during the first trimester when the placenta is low lying and for complicated pregnancies, where there is a miscarriage risk,” says Dr. Suneeta Mittal, director of the obstetrics and gynecology at Fortis Gurgaon.

Some studies show that the mother’s stress, anxiety, and depression may affect the baby’s development.

“Pregnant women need to be happy and instead of being prescriptive about what they should think and do to be happy, we must urge them to do things they enjoy and strongly advise the family be too supportive,” says Sabharwal.

New source: hindustantimes

Published in Health

bse-kxlEconomic growth in India has been hobbled by what has been termed the twin balance sheet problem excessive corporate debt, mirrored in the mounting bad loans of banks. Companies are reluctant to take on more debt as a result, while banks are wary of lending. Do the corporate financial results for the March quarter show any improvement in corporate balance sheets, any signs of breaking away from this logjam?

One important yardstick to find out whether the corporate debt problem is getting better is to look at the interest cover. Interest cover measures the extent to which a firm’s earnings are sufficient to pay interest charges. It is the earnings before interest and tax divided by interest charges. The higher the cover, the more comfortable can the firm pay its interest expenses. The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) database shows a distinct improvement in the interest cover of the manufacturing sector, excluding petroleum products. Interest cover moved up from 2.6 times for the December 2016 quarter to 3.2 for the March 2017 quarter. It’s easy to figure out why banks lowered their interest rates substantially during the last quarter and this has been reflected in the financial results of BSE companies. One big reason for banks’ lowering interest rates, of course, is the huge influx of deposits as a result of demonetization, which led them to lower deposit rates as well as loan rates.

New source: livemintnews

Published in Health

iStockThere's open-source software, open-source pharma research, and open-source beer. Now, there are open-source seeds, too. Breeders from Göttingen University in Germany and Dottenfelderhof agricultural school in Bad Vilbel, Germany, have released tomato and wheat varieties under an open-source license. Their move follows similar schemes for sharing plant material in India and the United States but is the first that provides legal protection for the open-source status of future descendants of plant varieties.

The idea behind the open-source license is that scientists and breeders can experiment with seeds and improve them unimpeded by legal restrictions. The license “says that you can use the seed in multiple ways but you are not allowed to put a plant variety protection or patent on this seed and all the successive developments of this seed,” says agricultural scientist Johannes Kotschi, who helped write the license last year. Kotschi manages OpenSourceSeeds for the nonprofit Agricole in Marburg, Germany, which announced the tomato and wheat licensing in Berlin in late April.

Since then, university, nonprofit, and organic breeders have expressed interest in issuing open-source licenses for their hop, potato, and tomato varieties, Kotschi says. Many have also requested the open-source tomato seeds, he adds. People have been breeding plants in search of desirable features, such as drought and pest resistance, for millennia. But until 1930, when the United States began applying patent law to plants, there was little a breeder could do to assert ownership over a new variety.

New source: science news

Published in Science
Tuesday, 13 June 2017 10:12

Eat vegetables, nuts to shed weight

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New York, June 13 (IANS) Want to shed those extra kilos? Go vegetarian. According to new research, eating vegetables, grains, legumes, fruits, and nuts may be almost twice as effective in reducing body weight as conventional low-calorie diets.  

The vegetarian diet led to reduction in muscle fat which helped improve glucose and lipid metabolism as well as an average loss of 6.2 kg compared to 3.2 kg for the conventional diet, researchers said.

"The finding is important for people  who are trying to lose weight, including those suffering from metabolic syndrome and/or Type 2 diabetes. It is also relevant to anyone who takes their weight management seriously and wants to stay lean and healthy," said lead author Hana Kahleova from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington DC.

For the small yet significant study, published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, the team randomly assigned 74 people to follow either a vegetarian or a conventional diet.  

Both diets were restricted by 500 kilocalories per day compared to an isocaloric intake for each individual. Both vegetarian and conventional diets caused a similar reduction in subcutaneous fat - fat under the skin.

Subfascial fat on the surface of muscles was only reduced in response to the vegetarian diet. Intramuscular fat - fat inside muscles was more greatly reduced by the vegetarian diet.   

"This is important as increased subfascial fat in patients with Type 2 diabetes has been associated with insulin resistance while reducing intramuscular fat could help improve muscular strength and mobility, particularly in older people with diabetes," the researchers noted.  

"Vegetarian diets proved to be the most effective for weight loss. However, we also showed that a vegetarian diet is much more effective at reducing muscle fat, thus improving metabolism," Kahleova said. 

Published in Health

wildfireWashington , June 13 (IANS) Smoke from wildfire worldwide could impact the atmosphere and climate much more than previously thought, new research using data collected during NASA  airborne science  campaigns has found. 

Brown  carbon particles released into the air from burning trees and other organic matter are much more likely than previously thought to travel  to the upper levels of the atmosphere, where they can interfere with rays from the Sun sometimes cooling the air and at other times warming it, the findings showed.

"Most of the brown carbon released into the air stays in the lower atmosphere, but we found that a fraction of it does get up into the upper atmosphere, where it has a disproportionately large effect on the planetary radiation balance much stronger than if it was all at the surface," said Rodney Weber , Professor at Georgia Institute of Technology  in the US.  

The research used air samples collected during two airborne science missions supported by researchers from NASA's Langley-Research-Center  in Hampton, Virginia. The two missions together made observations in the central, southeast and western US.  

The researchers found surprising levels of brown carbon in the samples taken from the upper troposphere about seven miles above the Earth 's surface but much less black carbon, according to the study published online in the journal Nature-Geoscience.

While black carbon can be seen in the dark smoke plumes rising above burning fossil or biomass fuels at high temperature, brown carbon is produced from the incomplete combustion that occurs when grasses, wood or other biological matter smolders, as is typical for wildfires.

As particulate matter in the atmosphere, both can interfere with solar radiation by absorbing and scattering the Sun's rays.

The researchers found brown carbon to be much more likely than black carbon to travel through the air to the higher levels of the atmosphere where it can have a greater impact on climate.

New source: economictimes news

Published in Science

mental-healthFor the last two months, Shikha Singh (name changed) had not been sleeping properly at night. She would feel dazed throughout the day and pick up fights with her parents. Not ready to let it go by taking it to be the plain-old generation gap, Singh's worried and alert parents decided to take her to a psychiatrist.

"She used to get upset on every little thing. It was getting difficult even to talk to her. After a lot of contemplation, we decided to take her to a doctor," her mother said. They took her to the All India Institute for Medical Sciences (AIIMS) for diagnosis.

When the doctors queried her, Singh started complaining about her parents, how they had a problem if she wanted to go out with her friends, and much more.

Turns out that Singh is not alone. According to medical experts, more and more youngsters these days are being brought in by their parents after the relationship between them starts deteriorating quite rapidly. In fact, in the last two-three years, hospitals have witnessed a 10-15 per cent rise in the number of such cases.

"Over the years, the children's defiance has grown. Youngsters have become self-centric and no longer understand how their actions will affect other people. When you start valuing objects more than people, the situation becomes alarming," Dr Sameer Malhotra, Head of the Department of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Max Healthcare, said.

"The trend is quite disturbing. These kind of illnesses cannot be categorized. Such cases are increasing in number every year. It is extremely important to spread awareness about such 'unnamed' illnesses so that the kids' energy can be diverted to a positive direction," said Dr. Nand Kumar, Department of Psychiatry, AIIMS.

New source: dnaindia health news

Published in Health
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