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Governor cites rarely used law as he halts execution

CNN - 5 hours 7 min ago
Hours before Marcellus Williams was set to die Tuesday night, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens issued a stay of execution and said he would appoint a board to review the evidence in the 1998 stabbing death of former reporter Felicia Gayle.

California Today: California Today: A Candidate for Governor Looks to the Central Valley

NY Times - 5 hours 10 min ago
Wednesday: Checking in with Antonio R. Villaraigosa, Apple’s retreat on driverless cars, and restoring Lake Tahoe.

Trump reminisces on campaign trips to Arizona

Washington Post - 5 hours 10 min ago
President Trump said he was “thrilled to be back in Phoenix” during a rally in Phoenix on Aug. 22.

President Trump seems to really love photo ops with big vehicles

Washington Post - 5 hours 10 min ago
He just can't resist a photo op in an American-built vehicle.

Navy dismisses commander after collisions

CNN - 5 hours 18 min ago
The US Navy intends to remove Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin as the commander of the US 7th Fleet, based in Yokosuka, Japan, according to a US official. This follows an incident Monday in which the USS John S. McCain collided with a merchant vessel.

App keeps ‘shoulder surfers’ from spying your password

Futurity.org - 5 hours 20 min ago

Researchers have created a smartphone application to combat “shoulder-surfing”—when someone else looks over your shoulder as you enter your phone’s password or other private digits, potentially even gleaning vital financial or personal information.

Every ATM or smartphone user can attest to the discomfort of having a stranger standing close enough to observe a financial transaction—and potentially note a PIN or account number.

Nasir Memon, a professor of computer science and engineering at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering, explains that the technology, called “IllusionPIN,” deploys a hybrid-image keyboard that appears one way to the close-up user and differently to an observer at a distance of three feet or greater.

IllusionPIN foils identify theft by deploying a hybrid-image keyboard to confuse would-be hackers. (Credit: NYU)

The underlying technology blends one image of a keyboard configuration with high spatial frequency and a second, completely different, keyboard configuration with low spatial frequency. The visibility of each image is dependent on the distance from which it is viewed.

“The traditional configuration of numbers on a keypad is so familiar that it’s possible for an observer to discern a PIN or access code after several viewings of surveillance video,” says Memon.

“Our goal was to increase the resilience of PIN authentication without straining the device or compromising user experience.”

“On a device running IllusionPIN, the user—who is closest to the device—sees one configuration of numbers, but someone looking from a distance sees a completely different keypad.” IllusionPIN reconfigures the keypad for each authentication or login attempt.

The research team simulated a series of shoulder-surfing attacks on smartphone devices to test the effectiveness of IllusionPIN at various distances.

In total, they performed 84 attempted shoulder-surfing attacks on 21 participants, none of which was successful. For contrast, they also mounted 21 shoulder-surfing attacks on unprotected phones using the same distance parameters; all 21 attacks were successful.

Your phone’s fingerprint lock has a weakness

The team also determined that IllusionPIN makes it nearly impossible to steal PIN or other authentication information using surveillance footage.

Awareness of the threat potential posed by shoulder surfing has increased significantly over the past decade, since the advent of the first smartphones.

While there are no reliable statistics on the prevalence of shoulder surfing attacks, a 2016 study conducted by Memon and Nguyen found that 73 percent of mobile device users surveyed reported that they had observed someone else’s PIN (although not necessarily with malicious intent). A 2017 study of shoulder surfing awareness presented at the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems reported that 97 percent of those surveyed claimed awareness of a shoulder surfing incident in everyday life, and that in the majority of cases, victims were unaware that they were being observed.

“PIN authentication is popular for good reasons, namely that it is easy to use and to remember,” says Memon. “Our goal was to increase the resilience of PIN authentication without straining the device or compromising user experience.”

‘Open ports’ leave a hole in smartphone security

The research team plans to further refine IllusionPIN, with the goal of commercializing the technology.

A paper covering the technology appears in the journal IEEE Transactions on Information Forensics & Security.

Source: Hallie Kapner for New York University

The post App keeps ‘shoulder surfers’ from spying your password appeared first on Futurity.

At Rally, Trump Blames Media for Country’s Deepening Divisions

NY Times - 5 hours 30 min ago
In freewheeling remarks, President Trump abandoned a theme of national unity to focus on the news media that he said “are trying to take away our history and our heritage.”

Commander of Naval Fleet Relieved of Duty After Collisions

NY Times - 5 hours 34 min ago
Divers found the remains of missing sailors in a search of the Navy destroyer John S. McCain that collided with an oil tanker on Monday near Singapore.

DNA ‘signposts’ direct gene shutoff in plants

Futurity.org - 5 hours 36 min ago

Biologists have identified small sequences in plant DNA that act as “signposts” for shutting off gene activity, directing the placement of proteins that silence gene expression.

Manipulating these short DNA fragments offers the potential to grow plants with enhanced activation of certain traits, such as fruiting or seed production. The finding may also have implications for understanding gene regulation in both plants and animals.

Left image of plants: Compared to normal Arabidopsis plants, plants with mutations in the Polycomb complex (two plants on right) have leaves that curl upward and flower early. The same is true for mutants in the 2 transcription factor families (TFs) that recruit Polycomb. Right image: Two transcription factors, BPC and ZnF, bind to the genetic motifs shown to recruit the Polycomb protein complex, which silences genes. (Credit: Penn) Turning genes on or off

A plant has one genome, a specific sequence of millions of basepairs of nucleotides. Yet how this genome is expressed can vary from cell to cell, and it can change as a plant goes through various life stages, from germination to vegetative growth to flowering to dormancy. Some genes must be turned on and others shut off to ensure each plant cell is doing what it needs to do when it needs to do it.

“Part of identity is what you aren’t,” says Doris Wagner, senior author on the study and a professor in the University of Pennsylvania’s biology department.

“Especially for plants because they are so changeable and susceptible to environmental conditions, the part of the genome that is not needed, or that might be providing exactly the wrong information, needs to be shut off reliably in each condition. This information is then passed on to daughter cells,” Wagner explains.

“With these short sequences,” she says, “we could try to manipulate them using gene-editing techniques to alter gene expression without adding any foreign genetic material to the plant and epigenetically alter expression of traits.”

Polycomb repression

The study focused on the form of gene regulation known as Polycomb repression. Polycomb protein complexes were first discovered in fruit flies, shown to tightly compact DNA and represent an epigenetic modification leading to gene silencing.

Polycomb complexes were later discovered in plants and mammals. In all species, they play important roles in determining cell identity, helping plant cells remember, for example, that they are leaf cells or flower cells.

Despite some studies implicating short segments of DNA called Polycomb response elements, or PREs, in the Polycomb targeting process in flies, questions remained about whether such PREs played a broad role in gene silencing in mammals or plants.

Wagner’s team examined the Polycomb complex called PRC2. Using large-scale datasets collected by her lab and others, the researchers identified 170 segments of DNA in the plant species Arabidopsis thaliana that were likely to be PREs. Testing five of these candidate PREs, they confirmed that they acted just as PREs did in fruit flies, recruiting the Polycomb complex to specific parts of the plant genome.

The researchers then identified 55 transcription factors, proteins that bind specific DNA sequences and help regulate how DNA is turned into RNA, that strongly bound to the PREs, and they verified that 30 of them physically interacted with PRC2.

“This is just what a recruiter should do,” Wagner says, “find the appropriate region in the genome and bring in Polycomb.”

Wanting to know more about what elements in the DNA sequence itself marked it for targeting by Polycomb complexes, the researchers went back to the 170 PRE candidates, computationally identifying short DNA sequences called cis motifs, which are what transcription factors recognize when they scan the genome for their target genes.

How plants slow their growth under stress

With additional analysis, Wagner and colleagues found two of the cis motifs matched up with two of the previously identified transcription factors. Putting these cis motifs into a plant cell genome revealed they were sufficient for recruiting Polycomb, making them essentially a synthetic PRE.

“We brought together the cis (within DNA sequence) and trans (acting on a DNA sequence) factors to show how Polycomb targets specific PREs and broadly regulates plant gene expression,” Wagner says.

“This is the first demonstration that this mechanism—recruitment of Polycomb by these signposts in the DNA—acts in species outside of fruit flies. In the future, I could use these motifs to epigenetically enhance desirable traits such as yield or drought tolerance without significantly changing the coding sequence,” she says.

Future plans and implications

In follow-up work, Wagner wants to explore PREs and these motifs and transcription factors in plant species besides Arabidopsis. She’d also like to investigate how rapidly the system can change if, for example, a plant is exposed to water or salt stress.

The findings may also guide the work of researchers outside of the plant field, notes Kenneth Zaret, director of the university’s Institute of Regenerative Medicine, who did not participate in the current study but who studies gene regulation in animals.

Can a dose of probiotics drought-proof plants?

“Finding specific DNA sequences that mediate the action of the Polycomb repressive system has been the Holy Grail for mammalian cell biologists,” Zaret says. “The rigorous approach of the Wagner study beautifully revealed a mechanism of repression of gene activity that will no doubt have implications beyond the plant world.”

The research paper appears in the journal Nature Genetics.

Additional researchers who contributed to the work are from the University of Pennsylvania; the University of Georgia; CSIRO Agriculture and Food; the University of California, San Diego; the Scripps Research Institute; the Hebei Normal University in China; the University of Edinburgh; and Western University. National Science Foundation grants, National Institutes of Health grants, and other sources provided support for the study.

Source: University of Pennsylvania

The post DNA ‘signposts’ direct gene shutoff in plants appeared first on Futurity.

Trump voter: Charlottesville a setup

CNN - 5 hours 38 min ago
A group of Trump voters from Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Alabama and Georgia give their take on who is to blame for the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The most dangerous film ever made?

CNN - 5 hours 40 min ago
When a deadly virus swept through West Africa, Liberia went into lockdown. The people cried out for entertainment. What followed was some of the riskiest filmmaking ever undertaken.

Andy Thorburn: Overhaul | Campaign 2018

Washington Post - 5 hours 40 min ago
First-time Democratic candidate Andy Thorburn released an ad embracing single-payer health care, in his campaign to replace Rep. Edward R. Royce (R-Calif.).

'iPhone 8' Said to Come in 64, 256, and 512GB Storage Capacities, All With 3GB of RAM

MacRumors - 5 hours 47 min ago
Apple's upcoming "iPhone 8" will be available to order in three storage capacities and with the same amount of working memory as the current iPhone 7 Plus, according to a new post on Chinese microblogging site Weibo (via Techtastic.nl).

The minimum storage capacity for Apple's OLED iPhone is said to be 64GB, with a 256GB option offered as the mid-tier capacity and a 512GB option at the highest tier, while 3GB of RAM is claimed to be included across the board.


Weibo poster GeekBar included the above image of an alleged iPhone 8 NAND flash 64GB memory module manufactured by SanDisk, which will also supply some 256GB modules, according to the source. Toshiba is also referenced as a supplier of both capacities, while Samsung and SK Hynix are said to be making the 512GB modules.

This is the first time SanDisk has been referenced as a NAND supplier for Apple's OLED iPhone, while Toshiba, Samsung, and SK Hynix have all been cited previously as suppliers of NAND flash chips. Earlier rumors have suggested the iPhone 8 will include increased storage space, making the device more expensive than previous-generation models, although previous additional reports claimed only that the phone would be available in 64 and 256GB capacities.

Reliable KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has also put the iPhone 8's memory at 3GB of RAM, while the larger iPhone 7s Plus is expected to remain at 3GB RAM and the smaller iPhone 7s will continue to offer 2GB RAM. Kuo claimed the DRAM transfer speed of the three new models will be faster than the iPhone 7 by 10 to 15 percent for better augmented reality performance.

Today's alleged photo leak follows several others in the last couple of weeks. They have included a 3D sensing camera module, an A11 processor, wireless charging pad components, and an OLED display assembly and flex power cables. Apple is expected to debut its "premium" redesigned 5.8-inch iPhone in the first half of September alongside upgraded (but standard) 4.7 and 5.5-inch iPhones.

Related Roundup: iPhone 8
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Prince Harry: They took photos as Diana was dying

CNN - 6 hours 20 min ago
Prince Harry and Prince William talk openly about Princess Diana's death in a new BBC documentary marking the 20th anniversary of her death.

Cuomo, panelist clash over Trump speech

CNN - 6 hours 27 min ago
CNN's Chris Cuomo spars with panelist Paris Dennard over President Trump's comments saying there were "good people" who marched with white supremacists in Charlottesville.

3 dead as typhoon hits Macau, Hong Kong

CNN - 6 hours 38 min ago
A strong typhoon struck the coast of China on Wednesday, bringing massive winds and flooding to the cities of Macau and Hong Kong.

In a swing district, a Democrat runs on (eventual) single-payer health care

Washington Post - 6 hours 40 min ago
Andy Thorburn could debate health care from a position of total awareness. He ran Global Benefits Group, an international insurance company, until finally stepping back to the board this year.

Trump tours border security equipment

Washington Post - 6 hours 40 min ago
President Trump toured a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol hangar in Yuma, Ariz., on Aug. 22. He viewed border protection equipment, including a drone, helicopter and boat, and joked with several border protection agents.

Police: DNA from dismembered body matches missing journalist

CNN - 6 hours 46 min ago
Danish police say DNA from a headless torso matches that of missing journalist Kim Wall, according to Swedish newspaper and CNN affiliate Expressen TV.
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