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Federal appeals court revives ethics lawsuit against Trump

CNN - Fri, 2019-09-13 11:45
A federal appeals court on Friday revived an ethics lawsuit against President Donald Trump that argues his business interests are conflicts of interest and violate the US Constitution.

Football players step in when classmate is bullied for his clothes

CNN - Fri, 2019-09-13 11:45
A freshman in Tennessee said his first few weeks of high school were a nightmare because he was being bullied for wearing the same clothes every day. Two football players noticed and decided to help out.

Rats love to play hide and seek, scientists find

CNN - Fri, 2019-09-13 11:41
Rats can be taught to play hide and seek -- and they squeal with joy when they win, scientists have found.

Let Trump Destroy Trump

NY Times - Fri, 2019-09-13 11:36
The Democratic nominee, whoever it turns out to be, should use the president’s contortions and carrying-on against him.

George W. Bush painted John Boehner’s portrait

Washington Post - Fri, 2019-09-13 11:36
Boehner revealed his likeness in an interview with Barstool Sports.

Analysis: Beto O'Rourke just did Republicans a massive favor

CNN - Fri, 2019-09-13 11:29
Beto O'Rourke's best moment on Thursday's Democratic presidential debate -- which also doubled as his best moment in the 2020 campaign to date -- came when ABC's David Muir asked whether he supported a mandatory buyback of assault weapons.

Castro says attack against Biden during debate wasn't personal

CNN - Fri, 2019-09-13 11:28
2020 presidential candidate Julián Castro said his criticism of Joe Biden and his health care policy during Thursday's Democratic debate was not personal and denied that he was attacking the former vice president's memory.

ThinkPad X1 Carbon 7th-gen mini-review: Minor updates made to a stellar machine

Ars - Fri, 2019-09-13 11:25

Enlarge (credit: Valentina Palladino)

There are some people who would never buy a ThinkPad, and there are others who flock to Lenovo's flagship business family every time the company makes an update. The latest release will be no exception, even if the updates it brings are relatively small. The seventh-generation ThinkPad X1 Carbon will look familiar to ThinkPad fans, and in this case, familiarity is a good thing.

Most of the improvements and updates come in optional add-ons or internal changes that make the laptop even better than it was before. We spent about a week using it to get a feel for the updates and see which (if any) are worth spending at least $1,400 to get this upgrade.

What’s new

Lenovo has typically gone against the grain with the design of the ThinkPad X1 Carbon. The X1 Carbon doesn't look like any other premium Windows notebook, much less any of the flagship laptops that are vying for your attention and dollars with fancy, ultra-slim profiles. The fundamentals of the X1 haven't changed, but Lenovo did make it nearly one millimeter thinner, which is a feat considering the previous model was already a svelte 15.95mm. It's also still a MIL-SPEC tested machine, so it will take up less space in your bag, but it won't crack or bend easily if that bag has an accident.

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Couple files for divorce after fertility clinic sperm mix-up

CNN - Fri, 2019-09-13 11:15
A New Jersey couple, who conceived through in vitro fertilization, are suing their fertility clinic after a DNA test said there's a 0% chance the man is his daughter's biological father.

Why mountains are such biodiversity hotspots

Futurity.org - Fri, 2019-09-13 11:03

Mountain regions—especially those in the tropics—are hotspots of extraordinary and baffling biodiversity, according to new research.

Life on Earth is amazingly diverse, and exhibits striking geographical global patterns in biodiversity. Although mountain regions cover only 25% of Earth’s land area, they are home to more than 85% of the world’s species of amphibians, birds, and mammals, and many of these are found only in mountains.

What determines global patterns of biodiversity has puzzled scientists since the days of von Humboldt, Darwin, and Wallace. Yet, despite two centuries of research, this question remains unanswered.

Two new papers in Science (first, second) shed light on the global pattern of mountain biodiversity, and the extraordinarily high richness in tropical mountains in particular. The papers focus on the fact that the high level of biodiversity found on mountains is far beyond what scientists would expect based on prevailing hypotheses.

“The challenge is that, although it is evident that much of the global variation in biodiversity is so clearly driven by the extraordinary richness of tropical mountain regions, it is this very richness that current biodiversity models, based on contemporary climate, cannot explain: mountains are simply too rich in species, and we are falling short of explaining global hotspots of biodiversity,” says Carsten Rahbek, a professor in the Center for Macroecology, Evolution, and Climate (CMEC) at the GLOBE Institute of the University of Copenhagen and lead author of both papers.

Biodiversity on mountains vs. lowland regions

To confront the question of why mountains are so biologically diverse, researchers worked to synthesize understanding and data from the disparate fields of macroecology, evolutionary biology, Earth sciences, and geology.

Part of the answer, these studies find, lies in understanding that the climate of rugged tropical mountain regions is fundamentally different in complexity and diversity compared to adjacent lowland regions. Uniquely heterogeneous mountain climates likely play a key role in generating and maintaining high diversity.

“People often think of mountain climates as bleak and harsh,” says study co-leader Michael K. Borregaard. “But the most species-rich mountain region in the world, the Northern Andes, captures, for example, roughly half of the world’s climate types in a relatively small region—much more than is captured in nearby Amazon, a region that is more than 12 times larger.”

“Tropical mountains, based in fertile and wet equatorial lowlands and extending into climatic conditions superficially similar to those found in the Arctic, span a gradient of annual mean temperatures over just a few km as large as that found over 10,000 km [about 6,214 miles] from the tropical lowlands at equator to the arctic regions at the poles. It’s pretty amazing if you think about it,” Borregaard says.

Another part of the explanation of the high biodiversity of certain mountains is linked to the geological dynamics of mountain building. These geological processes, interacting with complex climate changes through time, provide ample opportunities for evolutionary processes to act.

“The global pattern of biodiversity shows that mountain biodiversity exhibits a visible signature of past evolutionary processes. Mountains, with their uniquely complex environments and geology, have allowed the continued persistence of ancient species deeply rooted in the tree of life, as well as being cradles where new species have arisen at a much higher rate than in lowland areas, even in areas as amazingly biodiverse as the Amazonian rainforest,” says Rahbek.

Another explanation of mountain richness, says the study, may lie in the interaction between geology and biology. The scientists report a novel and surprising finding: the high diversity is in most tropical mountains tightly linked to bedrock geology—especially mountain regions with obducted, ancient oceanic crust.

To explain this relationship between geology and biodiversity, the scientists propose, as a working hypothesis, that mountains in the tropics with soil originating from oceanic bedrock provide exceptional environmental conditions that drive localized adaptive change in plants. Special adaptations that allow plants to tolerate these unusual soils, in turn, may drive speciation cascades (the speciation of one group leading to speciation in other groups), all the way to animals, and ultimately contribute to the shape of global patterns of biodiversity.

Remembering von Humboldt

The two papers are part of Science‘s celebration of Alexander von Humboldt’s 250th birth anniversary. In 1799, Alexander von Humboldt set sail on a 5-year, 8,000-km [about 4,971 miles] voyage of scientific discovery through Latin America. His journey through the Andes Mountains, captured by his famous vegetation zonation figure featuring Mount Chimborazo, canonized the place of mountains in understanding Earth’s biodiversity.

“Our papers in Science are a testimony to the work of von Humboldt, which truly revolutionized our thinking about the processes that determine the distribution of life. Our work today stands on the shoulders of his work, done centuries ago, and follows his approach of integrating data and knowledge of different scientific disciplines into a more holistic understanding of the natural world. It is our small contribution of respect to the legacy of von Humboldt,” Rahbek says.

Additional researchers from Oxford University, Kew Gardens, and University of Connecticut contributed to the work.

Source: University of Copenhagen

The post Why mountains are such biodiversity hotspots appeared first on Futurity.

How a Summer Festival Is Shaping New York’s Theatrical Winter

NY Times - Fri, 2019-09-13 11:02
Seven of this season’s Broadway and Off Broadway shows come from an eight-week theatrical powerhouse in Williamstown, Mass.

J.J. Abrams Declined Apple's $500 Million Offer Because it Would Have Restricted Bad Robot Productions to Apple TV+

MacRumors - Fri, 2019-09-13 10:53
A new article by The Hollywood Reporter today sheds light on why director/producer J.J. Abrams declined a big deal with Apple, which would have seen his Bad Robot production company become one of the main creators for exclusive content on Apple TV+.


According to sources, Abrams and his wife Katie McGrath wanted to be able to sell Bad Robot's content to other outlets. Of course, Apple wanted the company to exclusively produce shows and movies that would only be made available on Apple TV+ and nowhere else. Ultimately, Abrams decided to stick with WarnerMedia, which offered far less than Apple.
Sources familiar with the deal say it is less about money and more about the larger opportunities that come with an established media giant like WarnerMedia. Abrams is said to have wanted a set number of guaranteed slots on Warner Bros.' feature film release calendar, though it's unclear if that was included in the new agreement. With Warners, Abrams has the ability to create new features that could see his new deal reach the billions if he's able to create a successful franchise. Now that Bad Robot remains under WarnerMedia, the company is able to create shows like "Lisey's Story" and sell it out to other brands, including Apple. Abrams hopes to turn Bad Robot into a "consumer brand" in this way and get its content in front of as many people as possible, which would have been more difficult if it were locked behind the Apple TV+ exclusivity barrier.

Apple's exclusivity deal (valued in the $500 million range), also would have restricted Abrams' ability to work on outside projects under the Bad Robot umbrella for other studios, like his work on Star Trek for Paramount. Additionally, Bad Robot was concerned about Apple's lack of a clear theatrical distribution model, which the company as of yet has not needed to dabble in.

There are a multitude of other reasons that appear to have ultimately convinced Abrams to remain at WarnerMedia. These include Apple's lack of IP for him to adapt, his alleged disappointment in Apple's March media event where it introduced Apple TV+, and a disagreement on the exact valuation of Bad Robot.

J.J. Abrams is still producing many shows on Apple TV+, including "Little Voice," "My Glory Was I Had Such Friends," and the adaptation of the Stephen King novel "Lisey's Story."

Tags: Apple's Hollywood ambitions, Apple TV Plus
This article, "J.J. Abrams Declined Apple's $500 Million Offer Because it Would Have Restricted Bad Robot Productions to Apple TV+" first appeared on MacRumors.com

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Teenager who told staff about his allergy died after eating burger, coroner rules

CNN - Fri, 2019-09-13 10:49
A teenager who died after eating a birthday meal at British burger chain Byron had told staff about his allergy to dairy, but was misled into thinking his order was safe to eat, a coroner has found.

William Y. Chang, Whose Newspaper Spoke to Chinatown in English, Dies at 103

NY Times - Fri, 2019-09-13 10:46
For 17 years, his aim was to help the children of Chinese immigrants acquire an American identity as they adapted to life in the United States.

Check the scope: Pen-testers nabbed, jailed in Iowa courthouse break-in attempt

Ars - Fri, 2019-09-13 10:35

Enlarge / The Dallas County, Iowa courthouse, the site of a penetration test gone spectacularly wrong. (credit: By Iowahwyman - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Two security contractors were arrested in Adel, Iowa on September 11 as they attempted to gain access to the Dallas County Courthouse. The two are employees of Coalfire—a "cybersecurity advisor" firm based in Westminster, Colorado that frequently does security assessments for federal agencies, state and local governments, and corporate clients. They claimed to be conducting a penetration test to determine how vulnerable county court records were and to measure law enforcement's response to a break-in.

Unfortunately, the Iowa state court officials who ordered the test never told county officials about it—and evidently no one anticipated that a physical break-in would be part of the test. For now, the penetration testers remain in jail. In a statement issued yesterday, state officials apologized to Dallas County, citing confusion over just what Coalfire was going to test:

State court administration (SCA) is aware of the arrests made at the Dallas County Courthouse early in the morning on September 11, 2019. The two men arrested work for a company hired by SCA to test the security of the court’s electronic records. The company was asked to attempt unauthorized access to court records through various means to learn of any potential vulnerabilities. SCA did not intend, or anticipate, those efforts to include the forced entry into a building. SCA apologizes to the Dallas County Board of Supervisors and law enforcement and will fully cooperate with the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office and Dallas County Attorney as they pursue this investigation. Protecting the personal information contained in court documents is of paramount importance to SCA and the penetration test is one of many measures used to ensure electronic court documents are secure.

The case is an example of the legal risks faced by security testing firms, particularly when the scope of such tests is vague. Even the most basic electronic security tests, when done outside of the bounds of a contractual agreement, could land the testers in trouble, as Ars reported when Gizmodo reporters attempted to phish Trump administration and campaign figures in 2017.

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Cannabis industry calls for legalization and regulation to snuff out underground vapes

CNN - Fri, 2019-09-13 10:30
The recent rash of vaping-related illnesses and deaths could represent a crisis for the legal cannabis industry, which relies on vaping for an estimated quarter of its business in some states.
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