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Preview: Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Sci-Tech Science & Technology News


UK leader to press tech companies to block extremists

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 08:28:59 UT

LONDON (AP) — Prime Minister Theresa May is urging internet companies to block the spread of extremist material, calling on social media giants like Facebook, Twitter and Google to develop technologies that will prevent content from being posted in the first place. Britain's leader will focus on the fight against extremist content during a meeting with internet companies Wednesday at the U.N. General Assembly in New York. May says that while social media platforms have made progress in fighting extremist propaganda, they need to ensure content is removed in less than two hours.

California condor takes flight in wild after near extinction

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 07:51:20 UT

BIG SUR, Calif. (AP) — In a remote, rugged valley overlooking the Pacific Ocean, researchers closely monitor an endangered icon: the California condor. The giant vultures flap their wings and circle the sky before perching on branches and observing their observers. Wildlife biologist Amy List uses a handheld antenna to track the birds, which wear radio transmitters and numbered tags. "If we don't know what they're doing, we don't know what's going wrong," said List, who works for the Ventana Wildlife Society, which manages the condor sanctuary in Big Sur.

Foundation to create special reserve for albino orangutan

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 07:39:54 UT

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — A conservation group in Indonesia says it wants to create a 5-hectare (12-acre) "forest island" for the world's only known albino orangutan after rescuing it from villagers earlier this year. Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation said Wednesday that the 5-year-old orangutan, which it named Alba, can't be safely returned to the wild because of health issues related to her albinism including poor sight and hearing and the likelihood of skin cancer later in life. Spokesman Nico Hermanu said the foundation is starting a public appeal to raise $80,000 needed to buy land for the special reserve near its orangutan rehabilitation center in central Kalimantan on the giant island of Borneo.

The big question: Will cancer immune therapy work for me?

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 05:13:11 UT

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Dennis Lyon was a genetic train wreck. Cancer was ravaging his liver, lungs, bones and brain, and tests showed so many tumor mutations that drugs targeting one or two wouldn't do much good. It seemed like very bad news, yet his doctors were encouraged. The reason: People with the most messed-up genes often are the ones who do best on treatments that enlist the immune system. "These are the patients we used to be very depressed about," thinking they couldn't be helped, said Dr. Razelle Kurzrock at the University of California, San Diego. "Now when we see those types of patients, we're really excited," because there are so many ways for the immune system to recognize the cancer cells as abnormal.

Nominee for EPA chemical safety post has deep industry ties

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 01:35:48 UT

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump's nominee to oversee chemical safety at the Environmental Protection Agency has for years accepted payments for criticizing studies that raised concerns about the safety of his clients' products, according to a review of financial records and his published work by The Associated Press. Michael L. Dourson's nomination as head of EPA's Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention was to be considered by a Senate committee Wednesday, but was postponed when the Senate adjourned early for the week. If confirmed, ethics experts said, Dourson's past writings and the money paid to him and a nonprofit he founded could represent potential conflicts of interest.

Key California farm district rejects governor's tunnels plan

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 01:14:25 UT

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — A group of powerful California farmers pulled their support Tuesday from a pair of massive, $16 billion tunnels that would have re-engineered the state's water system in a decisive move that dealt a major blow to the project pushed by Gov. Jerry Brown. The board of Westlands Water District, the nation's largest supplier of irrigation water to farms, voted to withdraw its participation from the project after more than an hour of tense discussions and comments from farmers who overwhelmingly concluded it was too expensive. After the vote, John Laird, secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency, said the aging water infrastructure must be modernized.

Internal watchdog says EPA mismanaging toxic site cleanups

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 00:09:18 UT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Cleanups at some U.S. hazardous waste sites have stopped or slowed down because the Environmental Protection Agency does not manage its Superfund staff effectively to match its workload, an internal government watchdog said Tuesday. Such work is at a standstill or moving slowly on at least four Superfund sites where "human exposure is not under control," according to a report from the EPA's inspector general. That means contamination at the sites is unsafe for humans and there is a reasonable expectation that people may be exposed to it, the report said. The report comes as EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has said the cleanup up of more than 1,300 listed Superfund sites is a priority.

Live Instagram video leads police to suspect in killing

Tue, 19 Sep 2017 22:04:45 UT

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A teenager suspected of a killing who was named one of Texas' 10 Most Wanted fugitives was caught in Los Angeles on Tuesday after posting a live video on social media, police said. Christopher Ricardo Gonzalez, 18, was wanted by Dallas police on suspicion of murder, aggravated robbery and engaging in organized crime. He was arrested by Los Angeles officers after Dallas detectives found him when he "posted his location on Instagram Live," police in Texas said in a news release. They declined to provide any additional information about the video. Investigators say Gonzalez is affiliated with the Bloods street gang and he had been named to Texas' Most Wanted list in August.

Cloudy, cool August restrains melt of Arctic sea ice

Tue, 19 Sep 2017 21:58:23 UT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Arctic sea ice this summer dropped to its eighth lowest level on record, new federal data show. That's far below average, but considerably above the record low set five years ago. The National Snow and Ice Data Center said Tuesday that on Sept. 13 sea ice in Arctic shrank to its smallest area of the season: 1.79 million square miles (4.64 million square kilometers). Data center scientist Ted Scambos said the Arctic sea ice set a record for the smallest winter amount earlier this year and was close to 2012's record low levels through July. Then a cloudy and cooler than normal August kept melt to a minimum. "Weather patterns in August saved the day," Scambos said.

Science teaching guidelines trigger criticism in New Mexico

Tue, 19 Sep 2017 21:09:19 UT

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Environmentalists and educators raised new objections Tuesday to proposed changes to teaching standards for science in New Mexico that substitute references to rising global temperatures and climate change with statements about climate "fluctuations." The New Mexico Public Education Department has suggested several custom additions and deletions as it moves forward with adopting a set of science standards developed by a consortium of states and the National Academy of Sciences. Additions that highlight the study of New Mexico's unique natural history are being overshadowed by several deletions of references to evolution, the 4.6 billion-year age of the earth and climate change.

Equifax says it had a security breach earlier in the year

Tue, 19 Sep 2017 20:17:48 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — Equifax, under pressure from a massive data breach, says it had a separate incident earlier this year. That may mean even more scrutiny as the company deals with the aftermath of a security failure that exposed the information of 143 million Americans. Meanwhile, the Massachusetts Attorney General has filed suit against Equifax. And Equifax says about 100,000 Canadian consumers may have had their personal information compromised. Here's the latest on the breach: AN EARLIER BREACH Equifax says it had a security breach earlier this year that involved a different part of the company than the one accessed in the larger hack. The breach involved TALX, which is Equifax's human resources and payroll service.

Giant antennas in New Mexico search for cosmic discoveries

Tue, 19 Sep 2017 20:00:21 UT

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Employing an array of giant telescopes positioned in the New Mexico desert, astronomers have started a massive surveying project aimed at producing the most detailed view ever made of such a large portion of space using radio waves emitted from throughout the Milky Way and beyond. The National Radio Astronomy Observatory announced the project this week, saying the Very Large Array will make three scans of the sky that's visible from the scrubland of the San Augustin Plains. It is one of the best spots on the planet to scan space, with 80 percent of the Earth's sky visible from the location. The array works like a camera.

4 things to know about Apple's iOS 11 software update

Tue, 19 Sep 2017 19:34:04 UT

SUNNYVALE, Calif. (AP) — Holding off on upgrading your trusty old iPhone? You won't need a spiffy iPhone 8 in order to get new maps, photos and other features with a free software update Apple began rolling out Tuesday. The iOS 11 update brings a variety of enhancements, including a new voice and functionality for the Siri virtual assistant and a new photo format to reduce file sizes. Consider waiting a few days in case unexpected problems emerge. The update will work with iPhones and iPads going back a few years, but older models won't get all the new features. Once you get iOS 11, here are four things to look for.

The Latest: Suspect in killing tracked by live online video

Tue, 19 Sep 2017 19:11:07 UT

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Latest on the arrest of a man on Texas' 10 Most Wanted fugitive list (all times local): 12:10 p.m. Authorities say a man who had been named one of Texas' 10 Most Wanted fugitives is suspected of fatally shooting a man and has been caught in California after posting a live video on Instagram. Dallas police say Los Angeles officers arrested 18-year-old Christopher Gonzales early Tuesday. They say detectives were able to track him down after he posted the live video. Gonzalez had been one of Texas' Most Wanted after police said he was part of a group of suspects sought in several home invasions. Dallas police say Gonzalez also is suspected of fatally shooting 54-year-old Horace Davis last year.

Self-driving Uber fleet returns to service following crash

Tue, 19 Sep 2017 17:56:28 UT

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Uber has resumed self-driving vehicle service in Pittsburgh following a crash. The company briefly suspended their self-driving fleet Monday morning. Police say a car collided with a self-driving Uber SUV. Two Uber employees who were in the SUV at the time of the crash and the driver of the car were not injured. According to police spokeswoman Sonya Toler, the Uber driver was in control of the vehicle at the time of the crash. Uber says their self-driving vehicles returned to service late Tuesday morning following an investigation. The San Francisco-based company had previously suspended its nationwide self-driving fleet for two days in March after a crash in Arizona.