Scientists Engineer One Protein To Fight Cancer and Regenerate Neurons

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: Our lungs, bones, blood vessels and other major organs are made up of cells, and one way our bodies keep us healthy is by using protein messengers known as ligands that bind to receptors on the surfaces of cells to regulate our biological processes. When those messages get garbled, it can make us ill with a host of different diseases. Now a team led by Stanford bioengineer and department chair Jennifer Cochran has tweaked one ligand in slightly different ways to produce two startlingly different results. One set of alterations caused neuronal cells to regenerate, while different tweaks to the same protein inhibited lung tumor growth. The experiments her team described in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences were performed on rat and human cells or in mice that model actual diseases and are still far from being tested in humans. But the results show how scientists are becoming increasingly adept at tinkering with the body’s protein-based control mechanisms to help vital organs heal themselves.

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Honda halts production at some plants after being hit by a cyberattack

Honda halts production at some plants after being hit by a cyberattack

Enlarge (credit: Yonkers Honda / Flickr)

Honda halted manufacturing at some of its plants around the world on Tuesday after being hit by a cyberattack that’s widely reported to be ransomware.

“Honda has experienced a cyberattack that has affected production operations at some US plants,” the automaker told Ars. “However, there is no current evidence of loss of personally identifiable information. We have resumed production in most plants and are currently working toward the return to production of our auto and engine plants in Ohio.”

Bloomberg News reported on Tuesday evening that production was suspended at car factories in Ohio and Turkey as well as at motorcycle plants in India and South America. The company, according to Bloomberg, was working to fix systems. The news outlet also said that Japanese operations weren’t affected and that other Honda plants in the United States have already resumed manufacturing.

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Commonwealth Nations To Protect Coral Reefs With Satellite Technology

Commonwealth countries are to gain free access to satellite technology that will help them monitor and protect their endangered coral reefs from threats such as climate breakdown, overfishing and pollution. The Guardian reports: Commonwealth countries hold nearly half of the world’s remaining tropical coral reefs, with 47 out of the 54 member countries having a coastline. Nearly half of them are islands or groups of islands, which face particular threats from the climate crisis, and for whom coral reefs are often vital protections against storms as well as fish nurseries and tourist attractions. Nearly all the reefs are at risk of extinction in the coming decades as the climate crisis takes hold, and nearly half of the world’s reefs have already been destroyed or badly damaged in the last 30 years owing to changes in the climate, overfishing, pollution and other exploitation. About 250 million people are directly dependent on coral reefs for their livelihoods.

The technology will use high-resolution satellite images and data analyses to allow marine scientists, government officials and policymakers to monitor the health of coral reefs and take the action needed to protect them. Software will be provided to countries free through the Commonwealth’s partnership with Vulcan Inc, a US-based group founded by Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Paul Allen, and a new interactive coral reef map will be hosted online at the Commonwealth Innovation Hub.

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Google Meet Rolls Out Impressive New Background Noise Cancellation Feature

Google is rolling out AI-powered noise cancellation in Google Meet. It’s coming to the web first, with iOS and Android following later. The Verge reports: A video produced by VentureBeat shows the software in action, with G Suite’s director of product management Serge Lachapelle demonstrating how it can pretty seamlessly remove the sound of crackling crisp packets, clicking pens, or glass clinking. Google’s announcement said the tech will also work on dogs barking or the clicking of a keyboard. VentureBeat reports that Google has been working on the feature for around a year and a half, using thousands of its own meetings to train its AI model. YouTube clips of lots of people talking were also used by the team. However, Lachapelle was keen to emphasize that although the feature will improve over time, the company will not directly use external meetings to train it. Instead, it will use customer support channels to try to identify where the software might be going wrong. Google says the processing happens via the cloud and that the data is encrypted during transport. It’s also enabled by default, but can be turned off from the audio menu in the settings.

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Apple Granted Patent That Would Allow For Socially Distant Group Selfies

With people around the world self-isolating at home in order to curb the spread of Covid-19, Apple has received a patent for software that would allow people to take group selfies while socially distancing from one another. CNN reports: The US Patent and Trademark Office recently granted Apple a patent for the software that would allow for “synthetic group selfies,” or socially distant group selfies. The software would allow a user to invite others to participate in a group selfie that would arrange multiple people into a single image. It would remove the background image from other users’ selfies and place them into the user’s photo.

While it appears as if Apple filed for the patent as a response to the pandemic, the tech giant originally filed for the patent in 2018 and it received it June 2. Whether Apple decides to move forward with the patented software remains to be seen, but it would be the perfect way for people to create memories with one another while still socially distancing.

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Audio Engineers Built a Shield To Deflect Police Sound Cannons

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Over the past two weeks, cops have been deploying every tool at their disposal to suppress worldwide protests and riots over the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and other Black citizens killed by police. Since the protests began, demonstrators in multiple cities have reported spotting LRADs, or Long-Range Acoustic Devices, sonic weapons that blast sound waves at crowds over large distances and can cause permanent hearing loss. In response, two audio engineers from New York City have designed and built a shield which they say can block and even partially reflect these harmful sonic blasts back at the police. The shield’s designers, Dave Rife and Gabe Liberti, were inspired to build the device after marching in the protests in New York City and hearing about LRAD sightings at demonstrations across the U.S.

“It’s definitely been on our mind a lot how we’ve been seeing police instigating violence, and we’ve heard rumblings here and there about LRADs being spotted in NYC,” said Rife, the shield’s co-designer, who has previously worked in the architecture industry as an expert in acoustics. “We met on Sunday with the aim of building something that resembles a protest sign but can block a fair amount of sound energy. The idea is there could be a few of these in a car, driven to the location where someone has seen an LRAD, and then carried by hand from there.” Rife and Liberti designed their shield to reflect audible sound waves that are condensed and carried via ultrasonic frequencies, and have tested it against a smaller and less powerful version of the LRAD that they built in their studio. It’s made from a pine batten structure filled with recycled denim insulation, and covered by a half inch of clear acrylic on both sides, enabling the user to see ahead through a small window. According to a detailed teardown of the LRAD 300X posted by another audio technician, the LRADs produced by Genasys, the company that pioneered the devices, do not use an ultrasonic beam to project sound. However, Rife and Liberti say their design would still be effective against these hyper-directional blasts.

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California To Allow Movie Theaters To Reopen In Most Counties

California counties, including Los Angeles County, could decide to reopen movie theaters as early as Friday. The Los Angeles Times reports: Each local health officer has the authority to decide whether to move forward with relaxing restrictions on reopening theaters. While the state provides guidance on how businesses can reopen, counties decide when they occur. The new rules would limit the number of guests in a movie theater to 25% of theater capacity or a maximum of 100 attendees, whichever is lower. Also, theaters would need to implement a reservation system to limit the number of attendees entering the theater at a time when possible. “Designate arrival times as part of reservations, if possible so that customers arrive at and enter the theater in staggered groups,” the state’s rules say.

To keep guests six feet away from others, theaters are to close or otherwise remove seats from use, which may require seating every other row or blocking off seats in a checkerboard style, in which no one is sitting directly behind other patrons. The rules would ask patrons to wear face coverings when not eating or drinking. Staff would need to be available to help usher people before the show begins and at its conclusion to reduce crowding when entering or exiting. The guidelines also suggest using disposable or washable seat covers in theaters, “particularly on porous surfaces that are difficult to properly clean. Discard and replace seat covers between each use,” the guidelines say.

Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura are among 51 California counties that will be given the option by the state to allow movie theaters to reopen. All but seven of California’s 58 counties have filed attestation paperwork to reopen their economies at an accelerated pace. Six of the counties that have not done so are in the San Francisco Bay Area — Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara — and the seventh is Imperial County east of San Diego, which is facing a bad outbreak. Deadline notes that while some independently owned cinemas could open their doors again, “many notable chains won’t.”

Not only do movie theaters need more time to prep, but many have paused their leases with landlords. “Also, while a 30%-50% capacity auditorium level is doable financially for most theater owners, a 25% cap is stretching it for some,” the report adds. “Chains in California we hear aren’t reopening Friday include AMC, Regal, Cinemark (which has outlined a three-phase approach beginning June 19 in Dallas), Alamo Drafthouse, Arclight Cinemas, Laemmle, Cinepolis and Landmark.”

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KDE Plasma 5.19 Released

jrepin writes: The KDE community has released Plasma 5.19, the popular free and open-source desktop environment. “In this release, we have prioritized making Plasma more consistent, correcting and unifying designs of widgets and desktop elements; worked on giving you more control over your desktop by adding configuration options to the System Settings; and improved usability, making Plasma and its components easier to use and an overall more pleasurable experience,” reads the announcement. For a complete list of what’s new, you can visit the Plasma 5.19 changelog.

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Obscure Indian Cyber Firm Spied On Politicians, Investors Worldwide

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: A little-known Indian IT firm offered its hacking services to help clients spy on more than 10,000 email accounts over a period of seven years. New Delhi-based BellTroX InfoTech Services targeted government officials in Europe, gambling tycoons in the Bahamas, and well-known investors in the United States including private equity giant KKR and short seller Muddy Waters, according to three former employees, outside researchers, and a trail of online evidence. A cache of data reviewed by Reuters provides insight into the operation, detailing tens of thousands of malicious messages designed to trick victims into giving up their passwords that were sent by BellTroX between 2013 and 2020. The data was supplied on condition of anonymity by online service providers used by the hackers after Reuters alerted the firms to unusual patterns of activity on their platforms. On the list: judges in South Africa, politicians in Mexico, lawyers in France and environmental groups in the United States. These dozens of people, among the thousands targeted by BellTroX, did not respond to messages or declined comment.

Researchers at internet watchdog group Citizen Lab, who spent more than two years mapping out the infrastructure used by the hackers, released a report here on Tuesday saying they had “high confidence” that BellTroX employees were behind the espionage campaign. “This is one of the largest spy-for-hire operations ever exposed,” said Citizen Lab researcher John Scott-Railton. Reuters was not able to establish how many of the hacking attempts were successful.

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New CrossTalk Attack Impacts Intel’s Mobile, Desktop, and Server CPUs

Academics from a university in the Netherlands have published details today about a new vulnerability in Intel processors. From a report: The security bug, which they named CrossTalk, enables attacker-controlled code executing on one CPU core to leak sensitive data from other software running on a different core. The Vrije University’s Systems and Network Security Group (VUSec) says the CrossTalk vulnerability is another type of MDS (microarchitectural data sampling) attack. MDS attacks target user data while in a “transient” state, as it’s being processed inside the CPU and its many data-caching systems. More specifically, CrossTalk attacks data while it’s being processed by the CPU’s Line Fill Buffer (LBF), one of these aforementioned CPU cache systems. According to the VUSec team, the LBF cache actually works with a previously undocumented memory “staging buffer” that is shared by all CPU cores.

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