Russia launches cargo spacecraft to space station
A Russian cargo spaceship blasted off on Thursday from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan, the Mission Control Center outside Moscow said. The Progress M-02M spaceship is to deliver some 2.5 tons of supplies for the crew members on board the International Space Station (ISS).
The Soyuz-U carrier rocket with the cargo ship atop lifted off at 10:37 p.m. Moscow time (1837 GMT), said Valery Lyndin, spokesman for the flight control center. The spacecraft separated from the rocket about nine minutes after the launch and began an autonomous flight, Lyndin said. The spaceship will dock with the ISS in five days and send food, water, fuel, clothes and equipment, as well as the third Orlan-MK space suit to the crew. The Progress M-02M is equipped with a modern digital control system, which enables the spacecraft to dock with the ISS more accurately.
Microsoft to buy Canadian game company BigPark
Microsoft Corp. said on Thursday it has agreed to acquire BigPark Inc., an interactive online game company based in Vancouver, Canada. "The acquisition will bring BigPark's talented developers into Microsoft Game Studios, where the team will continue development on an exclusive Xbox 360 game," Microsoft said in a statement. However, the software giant didn't disclose the amount and other details of the deal. The acquisition showed that Microsoft intends to keep investing in internally produced games for its Xbox 360 video game console, which competes with Sony's PlayStation 3 and Nintendo's Wii, some analysts said.
BigPark was founded in 2007 by a group of industry veterans who have produced or overseen some blockbuster games such as "FIFA Soccer" and "NBA Street."
Don Mattrick, a co-founder of BigPark, later became senior vice president of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft.
Czech president appoints new gov't under Jan Fischer
Czech President Vaclav Klaus on Friday appointed a new government of unaffiliated experts, headed by Jan Fischer, to replace Mirek Topolanek's center-right coalition government which was forced to step down after losing a no-confidence vote in March.
Fischer's cabinet consists of ministers nominated by the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), the Social Democratic Party (CSSD) and the Green Party (SZ). Under an agreement between the parties, the cabinet will lead the country until early elections due in mid October.
At a ceremony, Klaus congratulated members of the new government, and reminded them of their responsibility ensuing from their appointment.
Fischer's government has 17 members, one fewer than the previous one, as the posts of justice minister and head of the Government Legislative Council will be both held by one member.
The main tasks of Fischer's cabinet include the completion of the Czech EU presidency, which ends on June 30.
The government will also have to deal with the consequences of the economic crisis and prepare the 2010 budget bill.
Fischer and his finance minister said they will try to keep the draft budget deficit below 150 billion crowns (7.6 billion US dollars).
In 30 days from its appointment, the new government has to ask the Chamber of Deputies for a confidence vote.
Mirek Topolanek, the outgoing prime minister, has handed over the government to his successor Jan Fischer and promised support to Fischer on behalf of his Civic Democrats (ODS) party and the former three-party government coalition. The uncertainty which followed the previous government's fall ends on Friday.
White House wants Federal Reserve to become supercop: report
The White House has wanted the Federal Reserve to become a supercop to regulate the US financial system, the Associated Press reported on Friday. The report quoted officials as saying that the Obama administration made it clear it was not inclined to divide the job among various regulatory agencies, as suggested by industry and some federal regulators.
The officials, who attended a private one-hour meeting on Friday, said that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner believed that one organization needs to be held responsible for monitoring system wide risk.
On Thursday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke also vowed to strengthen oversight of the US financial system. "Increasing the effectiveness of supervision must be a top priority," said the Fed chief. "It is imperative that we apply the lessons of this experience to strengthen our regulatory system, both at the level of its overall architecture and in its daily execution."
He noted that although reform of the current system is necessary, much can be done within the current framework. "The Federal Reserve has engaged in extensive introspection and review of the lessons of the crisis and is working diligently to implement what has been learned," he said.
12-year-old boy registers for Iran presidential election
A 12-year-old Iranian boy, Kourosh Mozouni, has registered for the upcoming presidential election with a campaign promise of his own.
Speaking to reporters at the Interior Ministry's election headquarters in Tehran on Friday, Mozouni said he would ban computer games and raise wages of male parents so that mothers do not have to work.
"Mothers, children and young adults will vote for me," said the 12-year-old whose bid for presidency was rejected by Iran's Interior Ministry.
Mozouni has also promised to pass a law that lets women have jobs only if they have had babies for at least five years.
He said he would also negotiate with US President Barack Obama to buy Hawaii Islands and move Israelis there so that Palestinians can live peacefully in their lands.
When asked if he knew what yellow cake -- a substance used for nuclear fuel -- was, Mozouni said, "A president does not have to know everything."
The question came up as Iran's president would have to deal with a heated international debate regarding Iran's nuclear program.
"You all have refrigerators at home but do you know the different parts of it? All Iranians believe nuclear energy to be their legitimate right, but this does not mean that they should know everything about it," the 12-year-old explained. He also said he would seek to stop the killing of the world's oppressed children, including Gazans, if he elected as president.
According to Iran's Interior Ministry, over one thousand candidates have so far registered for the country's June presidential election.
Following the official registration, the Guardians Council will evaluate the candidates and announce individuals meeting the council's approval on May 20th and 21st.
Skin color clue to nicotine dependence
"We have found that the concentration of melanin is directly related to the number of cigarettes smoked daily, levels of nicotine dependence, and nicotine exposure among African Americans," said Gary King, professor of biobehavioral health, Penn State.
King states that previous research shows that nicotine has a biochemical affinity for melanin. Conceivably, this association could result in an accumulation of the addictive agent in melanin-containing tissues of smokers with greater amounts of skin pigmentation.
"The point of the study is that, if in fact, nicotine does bind to melanin, populations with high levels of melanin could indicate certain types of smoking behavior, dependence, and health outcomes that will be different from those in less pigmented populations," explained King. "And the addiction process may very well be longer and more severe."
The team's findings appear in the June issue of the journal Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior.
To investigate the factors linking tobacco use, nicotine exposure, and skin pigmentation, the researchers recruited 150 adult African American smokers from three sites in inner city Harrisburg during summer 2007. Participants provided researchers with the average number of cigarettes smoked each day and answered a questionnaire that measured nicotine dependence -- the Fagerstrom Test of Nicotine Dependence (FTND).
Researchers also measured the smokers' cotinine levels. Cotinine is a metabolic byproduct of nicotine that can be used as a biomarker for tobacco use. King and colleagues surmise that nicotine's half-life may, along with tobacco toxicants, be extended due to the accumulation in melanin-containing tissues.
Researchers identify the gene responsible for a rare form of congenital anemia
This Genome Canada project, co-directed by Dr. Mark Samuels, an investigator with the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Center and a professor at the Université de Montréal Department of Medicine, is being conducted under the Atlantic Medical Genetics and Genomics Initiative (AMGGI).
The clinical research team identified three families from Canada's Maritime provinces, each with a child suffering from this disease. Even though these families were not related officially, it seemed very likely that it was possible to establish a genealogical link uniting them generations ago and that they exhibited what is called a founder effect.
Thanks to the new technologies developed by the Human Genome Project, the AMGGI's molecular analysis team succeeded in delimiting a genomic region likely to contain the gene responsible for congenital sideroblastic anemia in these families.
The direct resequencing of this gene made it possible to identify a causal mutation in a gene to which no physiological role could have been attributed. Subsequently, in collaboration with researchers in the United States, the team identified 10 additional causal mutations of this gene in other unexplained cases of congenital sideroblastic anemia. In collaboration with the laboratory of Dr. Louis Saint-Amant of the Université de Montréal's Department of Pathology, the research team showed a direct role of the gene in hemoglobin synthesis in zebra fish.
The gene identified is part of a gene family involved in the transport of nutrients to and from the mitochondria, the power plant of the cells. Some mutations of other members of this gene family cause distinct genetic diseases in humans, but this is the first disease of this type associated with the SLC25A38 gene.
The identification of the causal gene can now offer patients and their family members direct molecular confirmation of their condition, allowing them to know whether they are sufferers or asymptomatic carriers of the disease. More generally, this discovery shows that even well-known scientific processes, such as hemoglobin biosynthesis, still have surprises in store.
Hackers breach US air traffic control computers
Among the breaches was an attack on a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) computer in February 2009 in which hackers gained access to personal information on 48,000 current and former FAA employees, the report said.
In 2006, it said, a viral attack on the Internet spread and forced the FAA to shut down some of its air traffic control (ATC) systems in Alaska.
The audit was conducted by an assistant inspector general in the US Transportation Department and released this week. A copy of the report was obtained by Internet news agency CNET and posted online.
"The need to protect ATC systems from cyber attacks requires enhanced attention because the (FAA) has increasingly turned toward the use of commercial software and Internet Protocol-based technologies to modernize ATC systems," the report said.
It said the use of commercial software and Web applications may increase efficiency but "inevitably poses a higher security risk to ATC systems than when they were developed primarily with proprietary software."
Software vulnerabilities were "especially worrisome at a time when the nation is facing increased threats from sophisticated nation-state sponsored cyber attacks," the report said.
"By exploiting these vulnerabilities, the public could gain unauthorized access to information stored on Web application computers," it said.
"In addition, these vulnerabilities could allow attackers to compromise FAA user computers by injecting malicious code onto the computers," it said.
The report said a security test identified 763 "high-risk" vulnerabilities which could provide an attacker with immediate access into a computer system and allow them, for example, to execute remote commands.
The Wall Street Journal said an FAA spokeswoman, Laura Brown, had rejected some of the report's conclusions, including the extent of the 2006 breach that led to the partial ATC shutdown in Alaska.
Hackers breach UC Berkeley computer database
The university said data include Social Security numbers, birth dates, health insurance information and some medical records dating back to 1999. Personal medical records - such as patient diagnoses, treatments and therapies - were not compromised, officials said.
The databases also included personal information of parents, spouses and Mills College students who used or were eligible for Berkeley's health services.
In all, 97,000 Social Security numbers were stolen, said Shelton Waggener, UC Berkeley's associate vice chancellor for information technology and its chief information officer.
Social Security numbers can be used by identity thieves to access a person's current credit history, or bank and credit card accounts, according to the California Office of Privacy Protection. The numbers can also be used to open new bank and credit accounts, or even get a driver's license in the victim's name, privacy-protection officials warn.
The school has identified 160,000 total names in the database and contacted everyone regardless of whether their Social Security number also was compromised.
The server breach occurred on Oct. 6, 2008, and lasted until April 9, when campus staff performing routine maintenance found messages the school said were left by the hackers.
"The indications are that the hackers left messages to the system administrator taunting the system administrator that they had broken in," Waggener said. "It's a common hacker approach for identifying themselves."
The school said it had traced the hackers' computers to a number of overseas locations, including China, and turned that information over to the FBI and campus police. An outside Internet security firm has also been hired to conduct an audit of the school's systems and its information security measures.
Although the breach was discovered April 9, former and current students did not receive e-mail notification of the hacks until Friday morning. The university said it took forensic technology experts until April 21 to figure out which databases were hacked.
"Since then a team of more than 20 people from across the campus have been working seven days a week to determine the exact scope and nature of the breach," the school said.
Graduate student Kate Monroe, 27, said she was taking the school's warning seriously and planned to have a free fraud alert added to her credit report.
"My mom has dealt with identity theft and it's no joke," Monroe said. "Getting her identity cleaned up has been nearly impossible."
The school said Friday it had not received any reports of identity theft from any students who were notified.
In March 2005, a thief walked into a UC Berkeley office and swiped a computer laptop containing personal information on nearly 100,000 alumni, graduate students and past applicants. Officials said that laptop was recovered before any personal information was breached.
Six months earlier, a computer hacker gained access to UC Berkeley research being done for the state Department of Social Services. Those files contained personal information of about 600,000 people.
WHO's tally of A/H1N1 influenza cases rises to 2,500
Twenty-five countries have officially reported 2,500 laboratory-confirmed human A/H1N1 influenza cases as of 16:00 GMT on Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a latest update.
Mexico, the epicenter of the outbreak, has reported 1,204 laboratory-confirmed cases of human infection, including 44 deaths. The United States has reported 896 laboratory-confirmed human cases, including two deaths.
Other governments that have reported laboratory-confirmed cases with no deaths include Austria (1), Brazil (4), Canada (214), Hong Kong, China (1), Colombia (1), Costa Rica (1), Denmark (1), El Salvador (2), France (12), Germany (11), Guatemala (1), Ireland (1), Israel (7), Italy (6), the Netherlands (3), New Zealand (5), Poland (1), Portugal (1), the Republic of Korea (3), Spain (8, Sweden (1), Switzerland (1) and Britain (34).
The WHO reiterated on Friday that it currently had no plan to raise its pandemic alert level from phase 5 to phase 6, as no community-level infections had occurred outside North America.
"We still remain in stage five. We have no evidence of community transmission," Sylvie Briand, acting director of the WHO's global influenza program, told a news conference in Geneva.
She said most human cases outside North America were related to travel to Mexico, which indicated that the new virus has not taken root in those regions.
The WHO raised its pandemic alert level to phase 5 last week, which means a pandemic is "imminent." A further raise to phase 6, the highest level, will mean a pandemic is under way.
thas all for today
and dont get worried i actually work in a news paper
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