Tag Archives: Josef Shomperlen Shorewood

California may limit liability of self-driving carmakers

California regulators are embracing a General Motors recommendation that would help makers of self-driving cars avoid paying for accidents and other trouble, raising concerns that the proposal will put an unfair burden on vehicle owners.

If adopted, the regulations drafted by the California Department of Motor Vehicles would protect these carmakers from lawsuits in cases where vehicles haven’t been maintained according to manufacturer specifications.

That could open a loophole for automakers to skirt responsibility for accidents, injuries and deaths caused by defective autonomous vehicles, said Armand Feliciano, vice president for the Association of California Insurance Companies. For instance, manufacturers might avoid liability if the tires on self-driving cars are slightly underinflated or even if the oil hasn’t been changed as regularly as manufacturers suggest, he said.

“When is the last time you followed everything that is listed in your car manual?” Feliciano said.

The California DMV declined to comment on its proposed regulations because they’re still being finalized.

PAVING THE WAY FOR AUTONOMOUS CARS

Determining liability for self-driving cars is just one of the many hurdles that still must be addressed as dozens of automakers and technology companies expand their tests of robotic vehicles cruising public roads scattered across the U.S. Some of these companies are hoping to deploy their self-driving vehicles in ride-hailing services and eventually sell them to consumers within the next few years.

As biggest testing ground for self-driving cars, California is being viewed as a bellwether for how other states might sculpt their regulations down the road.

The section addressing the limits of automakers’ liability adopts much of the wording proposed in an April 24 letter to the DMV from Paul Hemmersbaugh, formerly chief counsel for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and now chief counsel for the General Motors division overseeing self-driving cars.

Consumer Watchdog, an activist group frequently critical of business interests, believes Hemmersbaugh plied the connections he made at the California DMV while working at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to insert the clause that could make it easier for self-driving carmakers to avoid liability.

“It is the result of the ongoing and troubling federal revolving door between the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the auto industry,” Consumer Watchdog officials wrote in a letter sent Tuesday to the DMV and the head of the transportation overseeing the agency.

“MORAL HAZARD”

Under current law, automakers can still be held liable for faulty equipment or other flaws in vehicles that require a human driver, even if the owners haven’t followed all the maintenance instructions.

That would change if the DMV’s proposed regulations go on the books as is, warned the Consumer Attorneys of California, a professional association of trial lawyers.

“This language creates a dangerous ‘moral hazard’ where manufacturers are encouraged to create unreasonable or impossible maintenance specifications to shift the burden onto (self-driving car) consumers or the public at large for technological failures,” the trade group wrote in its Oct. 25 comments to the DMV.

GM spokeswoman Laura Toole lauded the “transparency” of the DMV’s process. Dozens of parties also submitted comments and recommendations, leaving it to the DMV’s staff to decide which to include in the agency’s proposed rules, she said.

RULES FOR ROBOTS

In his April 24 letter, Hemmersbaugh linked his recommendations to concerns that self-driving carmakers might be held responsible for all vehicle problems “without taking into account the acts of intervening parties and other factors that contributed to an incident.”

Self-driving cars are being touted as safer alternative to vehicles operated by humans who get drunk or distracted. But accidents are still bound to happen, and some are likely to be caused by equipment defects, said Jacqueline Serna, legislative attorney for the Consumer Attorneys of California. And when that happens, she said, it should be left to the courts to draw the lines of liability.

“The courts have dealt with new technology in the past and they are equipped to do it again,” Serna said.

The issue could end up in court if the DMV doesn’t revise the current wording of its regulations. Consumer Watchdog says it will sue if the current regulations are approved and insurance trade groups say they may take legal action, too.

Article source: http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/california-limit-liability-driving-carmakers-51179797

Scientists discover Earth-size planet that could sustain life

A newly discovered Earth-size planet that could sustain life is poised to become Earth’s closest stellar neighbor in a cosmic “blink of the eye,” scientists at the European Southern Observatory announced in a press release today.

Ross 128 b is an exoplanet 11 light-years from our solar system, but it is moving closer and is predicted to become Earth’s closest stellar neighbor in 79,000 years, scientists said. It is currently the second-closest temperate planet to Earth, after Proxima b.

Every 9.9 days, Ross 128 b orbits a red dwarf star known as Ross 128. Ross 128 is relatively quiet and cool and has just over half the surface temperature of the sun, scientists said, which could make Ross 128 b conducive to life. The star Ross 128 is part of the constellation of Virgo.

PHOTO: This image shows the sky around the red dwarf star Ross 128 in the constellation of Virgo.Digitized Sky Survey/ESO
This image shows the sky around the red dwarf star Ross 128 in the constellation of Virgo.

“Many red dwarf stars, including Proxima Centauri, are subject to flares that occasionally bathe their orbiting planets in deadly ultraviolet and X-ray radiation. However, it seems that Ross 128 is a much quieter star, and so its planets may be the closest known comfortable abode for possible life,” ESO scientists said in the press release.

A research team at the La Silla Observatory in Chile used the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) to locate Ross 128 and Ross 128 b. Their full findings were published in the scientific journal Astronomy and Astrophysics on Nov. 8.

More research is needed to determine if Ross 128 b has all of the conditions to sustain life, scientists said, and they plan to use ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope to explore the planet’s atmosphere.

“While the scientists involved in this discovery consider Ross 128b to be a temperate planet, uncertainty remains as to whether the planet lies inside, outside, or on the cusp of the habitable zone, where liquid water may exist on a planet’s surface,” scientists added.

ESO also released a video about the new planet’s significance Wednesday.

Article source: http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/scientists-discover-earth-sized-planet-potentially-sustain-life/story?id=51176517

Sheriff: Wildfires point to usefulness of old technology

Wildfires that killed nine people in a remote Northern California county last month also crippled land lines, cell phones and internet service, the local sheriff said Thursday, saying the disaster shows old-fashioned sirens and ham radios have a place in emergencies.

Failures of modern technology can cost “all connectivity to the world,” Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman said at a news conference. When lives are at stake, “we need to notify people immediately that this is a real disaster, we need to get out of here.”

Nine of the 43 people who died in the devastating Northern California wildfires that began Oct. 8 were in Mendocino County, in an area called Redwood Valley, although other valleys and areas also burned in the county at the same time.

The Los Angeles Times, citing interviews and a review of dispatch calls, reported Monday that the county appears to have waited more than an hour after fire was first reported in Redwood Valley to order evacuations there. The report said numerous residents called 911 to report that they were trapped.

Allman did not specifically address the report Thursday or whether the communications failures slowed evacuation efforts.

However, he described the hectic first hours of the wildfires, when dispatchers fielded countless emergency calls and law enforcement officers struggled to grasp the scale of fires surging around the area, as dry gusts drove embers and flames for miles.

“They’ve never taken this many calls before,” Allman said of local dispatchers. It was “the largest fire situation … in California history,” he said referring to the fires that encompassed several counties.

At the request of authorities, the area’s utility, Pacific Gas Electric, cut power in the first hours of the fires, out of concern that sparks would ignite still more blazes, Allman said.

Cell phones and internet service failed for many and CalFire lost “a good portion of its phone lines” in Mendocino County, the sheriff said.

Instead, emergency workers drove through neighborhoods ordering residents out over bullhorns, and knocking on doors.

Ham radio operators, meanwhile, volunteered for work in the disaster, helping to coordinate the transportation of victims to hospitals, he said.

Allman pledged to streamline the chain of command for ordering automated cell-phone alerts, or reverse-911 calls, to make it easier for individual law officers to order them.

The sheriff also urged authorities to reconsider civil-defense sirens, staples of the World War II-era that have fallen into disuse in recent decades. Many areas have taken down the sirens because of complaints from residents about the noise associated with testing the devices.

At a minimum, “I hope Mendocino County can take a step back and reposition air raid sirens,” Allman said.

Article source: http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/sheriff-wildfires-point-usefulness-technology-51047769

Don’t like your iPhone X display notch? There’s an app for that

For iPhone X users who want a perfectly rectangular display, they can now splurge on Notch Remover, a new 99 cent app designed to camouflage the top bar that interrupts the complete edge-to-edge display.

After Apple CEO Tim Cook unveiled the 10th-anniversary edition of the iPhone – pronounced iPhone 10 – in September, the design has generated controversy after its edge-to-edge display included a “notch” at the top, which houses all the technology behind the advanced front-screen camera and Face ID.

The notch causes the now most expensive smartphone on the market not to have a completely rectangular display, as most phones do.

App developer Axiem Systems, the makers of photo editor applications for both iOS and Android, is the brainpower behind Notch Remover.

PHOTO: Axiem Systems develops an app that removes the notch at the top of an iPhone X screen called Notch Remover. Apple
Axiem Systems develops an app that removes the notch at the top of an iPhone X screen called “Notch Remover.”

The app doesn’t actually remove the notch but instead masks it by modifying the wallpaper on the phone to adjust for the notch, Notch Remover’s App Store description reads.

Since Notch Remover is available through Apple’s App Store, it would have been approved by Apple, according to its developer guidelines that say the company reviews all apps submitted to the App Store.

But this innovation may also go against Apple’s developer guidelines that instruct companies not to attempt to hide such features as the notch.

“Don’t attempt to hide device’s rounded corners, sensor housing, or indicator for accessing the Home screen by placing black bars at the top and bottom of the screen,” Apple’s guideline for app developers reads. “Don’t use visual adornments like brackets, bezels, shapes, or instructional text to call special attention to these areas, either.”

PHOTO: Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks about the new iPhone X during a media event at Apples new headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., Sept. 12, 2017.Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images
Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks about the new iPhone X during a media event at Apple’s new headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., Sept. 12, 2017.

Apple and Axiem Systems did not immediately responded to ABC News’ requests for comment.

Article source: http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/iphone-display-notch-app/story?id=51113107

Scientists testing sweat analysis for cellphone authentication

Imagine unlocking your cellphone with a drop of sweat?

Dr. Jan Halámek, a biochemist and assistant professor at the University of Albany, and his team are studying that very concept. Halámek believes there is a better way to secure electronic devices, and facial recognition is not one of them.

PHOTO: Assistant Professor Jan Halamek, Ph.D, working with Erica Brunelle, 4th year Chemistry PhD candidate; Mindy Hair, 2nd year Chemistry PhD candidate; and Adrianna Mathis 18 Chemistry, Nov. 2, 2017. Carlo de Jesus
Assistant Professor Jan Halamek, Ph.D, working with Erica Brunelle, 4th year Chemistry PhD candidate; Mindy Hair, 2nd year Chemistry PhD candidate; and Adrianna Mathis ’18 Chemistry, Nov. 2, 2017.

Halámek’s approach relies on amino acids found in skin secretions. A phone, for example, will be able to identify what compounds are in its owner’s unique sweat, Halámek told ABC News.

The amino acids and their compounds will ideally be able to unlock a device through “obvious connection of metabolized and fluctuating levels,” he explained.

PHOTO: University at Albany chemistry research group, led by Assistant Professor Jan Halamek, identifies fingerprints for amino acids.Paul Miller
University at Albany chemistry research group, led by Assistant Professor Jan Halamek, identifies fingerprints for amino acids.

“The device will sense them, and say ‘that’s my owner,’” said Halámek. He said his lab has tested the method successfully.

Those metabolizing levels change depending on factors like eating and exercising, he said. “We are unique and we metabolize. It’s a dynamic process, but metabolized levels change.”

PHOTO: University at Albany chemistry research group, led by Assistant Professor Jan Halamek, is approaching biometric authentication by identifying amino acids in individuals sweat, in this undated photo. Paul Miller
University at Albany chemistry research group, led by Assistant Professor Jan Halamek, is approaching biometric authentication by identifying amino acids in individuals’ sweat, in this undated photo.

To build a profile, the device would first have a “monitoring period” in which it would continuously measure its owner’s sweat levels at various times of the day, according to a press release on the science.

Halámek’s lab is still working on how often the phone would need to recalibrate to stay up to date.

“I’m asked a lot, ‘what if people steal my sweat,’” Halámek said. “The answer is that it would work, but not for long. The sweat will begin to decompose and will not stay stable.”

PHOTO: Graduate student, Juliana Agudelo, recreates a step in a blood sampling forensic method, June 2016.Carlo de Jesus
Graduate student, Juliana Agudelo, recreates a step in a blood sampling forensic method, June 2016.

That’s one of the reasons why Halámek believes a biochemical approach to cybersecurity would be the most effective.

“Metabolization is not constant. It is not a Social Security number,” he said.

PHOTO: Assistant Professor Jan Halamek, Ph.D, working with Erica Brunelle, 4th year Chemistry PhD candidate; Mindy Hair, 2nd year Chemistry PhD candidate; and Adrianna Mathis 18 Chemistry, Nov. 2, 2017.Carlo de Jesus
Assistant Professor Jan Halamek, Ph.D, working with Erica Brunelle, 4th year Chemistry PhD candidate; Mindy Hair, 2nd year Chemistry PhD candidate; and Adrianna Mathis ’18 Chemistry, Nov. 2, 2017.

To break into a phone, one would have to know exactly what the metabolizing levels are at that point in time.

His team is submitting proposals for funding to get this research in the hands of smartphone makers.

Article source: http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/scientists-testing-sweat-analysis-cybersecurity-authentication/story?id=51139541

AP Exclusive: US scientists try 1st gene editing in the body

Scientists for the first time have tried editing a gene inside the body in a bold attempt to permanently change a person’s DNA to try to cure a disease.

The experiment was done Monday in California on 44-year-old Brian Madeux. Through an IV, he received billions of copies of a corrective gene and a genetic tool to cut his DNA in a precise spot.

“It’s kind of humbling” to be the first to test this, said Madeux, who has a metabolic disease called Hunter syndrome. “I’m willing to take that risk. Hopefully it will help me and other people.”

Signs of whether it’s working may come in a month; tests will show for sure in three months.

If it’s successful, it could give a major boost to the fledgling field of gene therapy . Scientists have edited people’s genes before, altering cells in the lab that are then returned to patients. There also are gene therapies that don’t involve editing DNA.

But these methods can only be used for a few types of diseases. Some give results that may not last. Some others supply a new gene like a spare part, but can’t control where it inserts in the DNA, possibly causing a new problem like cancer.

This time, the gene tinkering is happening in a precise way inside the body. It’s like sending a mini surgeon along to place the new gene in exactly the right location.

“We cut your DNA, open it up, insert a gene, stitch it back up. Invisible mending,” said Dr. Sandy Macrae, president of Sangamo Therapeutics, the California company testing this for two metabolic diseases and hemophilia. “It becomes part of your DNA and is there for the rest of your life.”

That also means there’s no going back, no way to erase any mistakes the editing might cause.

“You’re really toying with Mother Nature” and the risks can’t be fully known, but the studies should move forward because these are incurable diseases, said one independent expert, Dr. Eric Topol of the Scripps Translational Science Institute in San Diego.

Protections are in place to help ensure safety, and animal tests were very encouraging, said Dr. Howard Kaufman, a Boston scientist on the National Institutes of Health panel that approved the studies.

He said gene editing’s promise is too great to ignore. “So far there’s been no evidence that this is going to be dangerous,” he said. “Now is not the time to get scared.”

WOE FROM HEAD TO TOE

Fewer than 10,000 people worldwide have these metabolic diseases, partly because many die very young. Those with Madeux’s condition, Hunter syndrome , lack a gene that makes an enzyme that breaks down certain carbohydrates. These build up in cells and cause havoc throughout the body.

Patients may have frequent colds and ear infections, distorted facial features, hearing loss, heart problems, breathing trouble, skin and eye problems, bone and joint flaws, bowel issues and brain and thinking problems.

“Many are in wheelchairs … dependent on their parents until they die,” said Dr. Chester Whitley, a University of Minnesota genetics expert who plans to enroll patients in the studies.

Weekly IV doses of the missing enzyme can ease some symptoms, but cost $100,000 to $400,000 a year and don’t prevent brain damage.

Madeux, who now lives near Phoenix, is engaged to a nurse, Marcie Humphrey, who he met 15 years ago in a study that tested this enzyme therapy at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, where the gene editing experiment took place.

He has had 26 operations for hernias, bunions, bones pinching his spinal column, and ear, eye and gall bladder problems.

“It seems like I had a surgery every other year of my life” and many procedures in between, he said. Last year he nearly died from a bronchitis and pneumonia attack. The disease had warped his airway, and “I was drowning in my secretions, I couldn’t cough it out.”

Madeux has a chef’s degree and was part owner of two restaurants in Utah, cooking for US ski teams and celebrities, but now can’t work in a kitchen or ride horses as he used to.

Gene editing won’t fix damage he’s already suffered, but he hopes it will stop the need for weekly enzyme treatments.

Initial studies will involve up to 30 adults to test safety, but the ultimate goal is to treat children very young, before much damage occurs.

HOW IT WORKS

A gene-editing tool called CRISPR has gotten a lot of recent attention, but this study used a different one called zinc finger nucleases. They’re like molecular scissors that seek and cut a specific piece of DNA.

The therapy has three parts: The new gene and two zinc finger proteins. DNA instructions for each part are placed in a virus that’s been altered to not cause infection but to ferry them into cells. Billions of copies of these are given through a vein.

They travel to the liver, where cells use the instructions to make the zinc fingers and prepare the corrective gene. The fingers cut the DNA, allowing the new gene to slip in. The new gene then directs the cell to make the enzyme the patient lacked.

Only 1 percent of liver cells would have to be corrected to successfully treat the disease, said Madeux’s physician and study leader, Dr. Paul Harmatz at the Oakland hospital.

“How bulletproof is the technology? We’re just learning,” but safety tests have been very good, said Dr. Carl June, a University of Pennsylvania scientist who has done other gene therapy work but was not involved in this study.

WHAT COULD GO WRONG

Safety issues plagued some earlier gene therapies. One worry is that the virus might provoke an immune system attack. In 1999, 18-year-old Jesse Gelsinger died in a gene therapy study from that problem, but the new studies use a different virus that’s proved much safer in other experiments.

Another worry is that inserting a new gene might have unforeseen effects on other genes. That happened years ago, when researchers used gene therapy to cure some cases of the immune system disorder called “bubble boy” disease. Several patients later developed leukemia because the new gene inserted into a place in the native DNA where it unintentionally activated a cancer gene.

“When you stick a chunk of DNA in randomly, sometimes it works well, sometimes it does nothing and sometimes it causes harm,” said Hank Greely, a Stanford University bioethicist. “The advantage with gene editing is you can put the gene in where you want it.”

Finally, some fear that the virus could get into other places like the heart, or eggs and sperm where it could affect future generations. Doctors say built-in genetic safeguards prevent the therapy from working anywhere but the liver, like a seed that only germinates in certain conditions.

This experiment is not connected to other, more controversial work being debated to try to edit genes in human embryos to prevent diseases before birth — changes that would be passed down from generation to generation.

MAKING HISTORY

Madeux’s treatment was to have happened a week earlier, but a small glitch prevented it.

He and his fiancee returned to Arizona, but nearly didn’t make it back to Oakland in time for the second attempt because their Sunday flight was canceled and no others were available until Monday, after the treatment was to take place.

Scrambling, they finally got a flight to Monterey, California, and a car service took them just over 100 miles north to Oakland.

On Monday he had the three-hour infusion, surrounded by half a dozen doctors, nurses and others wearing head-to-toe protective garb to lower the risk of giving him any germs. His doctor, Harmatz, spent the night at the hospital to help ensure his patient stayed well.

“I’m nervous and excited,” Madeux said as he prepared to leave the hospital. “I’ve been waiting for this my whole life, something that can potentially cure me.”

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Marilynn Marchione can be followed on Twitter: @MMarchioneAP

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This Associated Press series was produced in partnership with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Article source: http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/ap-exclusive-us-scientists-1st-gene-editing-body-51158270

Space Delivery: Astronauts get ice cream, make-own pizzas

Astronauts got a mouth-watering haul with Tuesday’s Earth-to-space delivery — pizza and ice cream.

A commercial supply ship arrived at the International Space Station two days after launching from Virginia. Besides NASA equipment and experiments, the Orbital ATK capsule holds chocolate and vanilla ice cream for the six station astronauts, as well as make-your-own flatbread pizzas.

Astronauts always crave pizza in orbit, but it’s been particularly tough for Italy’s Paolo Nespoli. He’s been up there since July and has another month to go.

Nespoli used the space station’s robot arm to grab the cargo ship, as they zoomed 260 miles above the Indian Ocean.

Besides flatbread, the capsule contains all the makings of a good Earth pizza: sauce, cheese, pepperoni, anchovy paste, tomatoes, pesto, olive oil and more.

Astronauts also get a hankering for cold treats, thus the big frozen shipment of ice cream cups, ice cream sandwiches, ice cream bars and frozen fruit bars.

In all, the capsule contains nearly 4 tons of cargo. It’s named the S.S. Gene Cernan in honor of the last man to walk on the moon, who died in January.

The experiments include mealworms and micro clover, sent up by high school students.

The supply ship will remain at the space station until the beginning of December, when it’s cut loose with a load of trash. It will hover close to the orbiting lab as part of an experiment, then several mini satellites will be released and it will burn up in the atmosphere on re-entry.

SpaceX, NASA’s other prime shipper, will make a delivery next month.

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Online:

Orbital ATK: https://www.orbitalatk.com/

Article source: http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/space-delivery-astronauts-ice-cream-make-pizzas-51134231

Rise in teen suicide, social media coincide; is there link?

An increase in suicide rates among U.S. teens occurred at the same time social media use surged and a new analysis suggests there may be a link.

Suicide rates for teens rose between 2010 and 2015 after they had declined for nearly two decades, according to data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Why the rates went up isn’t known.

The study doesn’t answer the question, but it suggests that one factor could be rising social media use. Recent teen suicides have been blamed on cyberbullying, and social media posts depicting “perfect” lives may be taking a toll on teens’ mental health, researchers say.

“After hours of scrolling through Instagram feeds, I just feel worse about myself because I feel left out,” said Caitlin Hearty, a 17-year-old Littleton, Colorado, high school senior who helped organize an offline campaign last month after several local teen suicides.

“No one posts the bad things they’re going through,” said Chloe Schilling, also 17, who helped with the campaign, in which hundreds of teens agreed not to use the internet or social media for one month.

The study’s authors looked at CDC suicide reports from 2009-15 and results of two surveys given to U.S. high school students to measure attitudes, behaviors and interests. About half a million teens ages 13 to 18 were involved. They were asked about use of electronic devices, social media, print media, television and time spent with friends. Questions about mood included frequency of feeling hopeless and considering or attempting suicide.

The researchers didn’t examine circumstances surrounding individual suicides. Dr. Christine Moutier, chief medical officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, said the study provides weak evidence for a popular theory and that many factors influence teen suicide.

The study was published Tuesday in the journal Clinical Psychological Science.

Data highlighted in the study include:

—Teens’ use of electronic devices including smartphones for at least five hours daily more than doubled, from 8 percent in 2009 to 19 percent in 2015. These teens were 70 percent more likely to have suicidal thoughts or actions than those who reported one hour of daily use.

—In 2015, 36 percent of all teens reported feeling desperately sad or hopeless, or thinking about, planning or attempting suicide, up from 32 percent in 2009. For girls, the rates were higher — 45 percent in 2015 versus 40 percent in 2009.

—In 2009, 58% of 12th grade girls used social media every day or nearly every day; by 2015, 87% used social media every day or nearly every day. They were 14% more likely to be depressed than those who used social media less frequently.

“We need to stop thinking of smartphones as harmless,” said study author Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University who studies generational trends. “There’s a tendency to say, ‘Oh, teens are just communicating with their friends.’ Monitoring kids’ use of smartphones and social media is important, and so is setting reasonable limits, she said.

Dr. Victor Strasburger, a teen medicine specialist at the University of New Mexico, said the study only implies a connection between teen suicides, depression and social media. It shows the need for more research on new technology, Strasburger said.

He noted that skeptics who think social media is being unfairly criticized compare it with so-called vices of past generations: “When dime-store books came out, when comic books came out, when television came out, when rock and roll first started, people were saying ‘This is the end of the world.’”

With its immediacy, anonymity, and potential for bullying, social media has a unique potential for causing real harm, he said.

“Parents don’t really get that,” Strasburger said.

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AP reporter P. Solomon Banda contributed to this story from Littleton, Colorado.

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Follow AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner on Twitter at @LindseyTanner .

Article source: http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/rise-teen-suicide-social-media-coincide-link-51130560

Spain warns EU about cybermeddling suspicions in Catalonia

Spain on Monday warned its European Union partners about a disinformation campaign aimed at destabilizing its volatile northeastern region of Catalonia, which Madrid claims appears to be coming from Russia.

Spanish Defense Minister Maria Dolores de Cospedal told reporters that “many of the actions come from Russian territory,” but that it’s not yet possible to determine what their exact source is or if the Russian government is involved.

She said some of them are “repeated from Venezuelan territory.”

The Spanish government took control of Catalonia’s powers and called a snap regional election for Dec. 21, after the Catalan government held a banned independence referendum on Oct. 1.

Several regional government ministers have been jailed, and the region’s ousted leader, Carles Puigdemont, is in Brussels with four associates fighting extradition to Spain for trial. They could face up to 30 years in prison on charges of rebellion, sedition and extortion.

De Cospedal declined to guess what impact the disinformation might be having on the election campaign or how big the fake news campaign might be.

She said the number “is changing every day. The figure cannot be specified.”

Earlier, referring to a recent London meeting between WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and a prominent Catalan pro-independence figure, Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis said there were signs that Assange and others “are trying to interfere and manipulate” amid the Catalonia crisis.

Spain said last week that the signs don’t necessarily mean the Russian government is involved, and it hasn’t made public any evidence to back the interference claim.

The EU’s strategic communications unit — the East StratCom Task Force — has recently reported several instances of disinformation coming from Russian news outlets linked to the Kremlin.

An analysis last month on the Russian talk show Vesti Nedeli said that the view from some Russian television stations is that Europe is “falling apart” and that Spain is being compared to Ukraine, whose Crimean Peninsula was annexed by Russian troops in 2014.

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Ciaran Giles in Madrid contributed to this report.

Article source: http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/spain-eu-alleged-cyber-meddling-catalonia-51109194

1st alligator snapping turtle in decades spotted in Illinois

A scientist searching for a young male alligator snapping turtle that was put in a Southern Illinois creek at least a year ago instead grabbed a 22-pound adult female, raising hopes for those trying to protect a creature that hadn’t been spotted in the area for three decades.

Illinois Natural History Survey herpetologist Chris Phillips called his finding of the turtle, at least 18 years old, a “move in the right direction” in the effort to save the state-endangered species.

The discovery was chronicled in an article in this month’s Southeastern Naturalist co-authored by Ethan Kessler, a graduate student of natural resources and environmental sciences at the University of Illinois.

“It gives us hope that reproduction is happening,” Kessler said.

Still, both Kessler and Phillips aren’t quite sure what exactly the find says about these secretive creatures that have been around for millions of years. This particular turtle that was living in Union County’s Clear Creek, where scientists have been releasing turtles in Union County’s Clear Creek because no wild alligator turtles had been found in Illinois since 1984.

“Maybe there is a hidden population we don’t know about,” Kessler said, adding that it’s more likely that this turtle was just the last survivor of what was once a bigger population of turtles or a hearty traveling turtle that somehow made its way up the Mississippi River.

However it got there, before it was found by Phillips it found at least one other turtle. The scientists know that because on the day Phillips reached down and grabbed the female turtle he thought he was reaching down for a smaller male turtle that has been wearing a radio transmitter ever since scientists released it into the same creek at least a year ago.

It was because the water is so murky, Phillips had no way of knowing that he was grabbing the bigger turtle and not the smaller one that was so close that it was ultimately pulled out of the water in the same spot.

That leaves both Kessler and Phillips wondering if Phillips was interrupting the kind of activity that a species needs to increase its numbers.

“He (the smaller turtle) had sidled up to her so maybe they were making plans,” said Phillips.

Sadly — at least for the scientists — just what plans the turtles were making may never be known thanks to a failure in technology.

“We put a transmitter (on the larger turtle) but the battery died three months later,” Phillips said. “She’s in there but there is no way we’re going to find her.”

Article source: http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/1st-alligator-snapping-turtle-decades-spotted-illinois-51120866