Monday, December 9, 2019

The world’s smartest students

China’s schoolchildren are now the smartest in the world, outperforming their American and Canadian peers in an international assessment on reading, math and science. The U.S. ranked eighth in reading, 30th in math and 11th in science, while Canadian students out-scored Americans in every subject — coming in fourth at reading, 10th in math and sixth in science. The results of the triennial study underscore the struggle of advanced economies to close gaps in education. (Bloomberg News)

State probe faults PG&E

PG&E failed to correctly inspect and replace the Caribou-Palermo transmission line, which sparked the Camp Fire of 2018 that killed over 80 people, according to a California state probe. The wildfire, which nearly wiped out the entire town of Paradise in Northern California, is to date the state’s most lethal fire. PG&E’s recent attempt to reduce its liability in relation to the wildfires failed. The state’s largest utility, which filed for Chapter 11 protection in January, was unable to convince a bankruptcy court to limit the amount it owes for destroyed homes and businesses and faces damage claims of more than $30 billion. (Reuters)

35 Federally Indicted For Drug Conspiracies After FBI Investigation

Thirty-five members of the Southside Locos Gang have been indicted after a year-long investigation, according to officials. Court documents stated law enforcement gathered information from judicially authorized wiretaps of contraband cellphones behind prison walls in Oklahoma. During several executed series of arrests, officials seized a total of more than 111 pounds of methamphetamine, approximately eight pounds of heroin, 216 grams of cocaine, 34 firearms and approximately $200,000 in U.S. currency. (News On 6)

Transgender activist who sued beauty salons for refusing to wax her male genitals now says a gynecologist refused to see her

A Canadian transgender woman whose legal complaints against several beauticians who refused to wax her male genitalia were dismissed, has said now a gynecologist won’t see her. The 32-year-old claimed numerous Vancouver estheticians discriminated against based on her ‘gender identity and gender expression’ when she requested a Brazilian bikini wax. But last month a court found the claims were found to be ‘unjustified’ and ‘improperly motivated’ by financial gain. She claims was ‘shocked.. and confused… and hurt’ after a gynecologist office allegedly told her ‘we don’t serve transgender patients’. ‘Are they allowed to do that, legally? Isn’t that against the college practices,’ she tweeted at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia. The organization protects the public by establishing and enforcing high standards in the practice of medicine. (Daily Mail)

Birth control pills may be making part of your brain smaller

Birth control pills revolutionized the way people had sex and was even linked to women’s sexual liberation in the 1960s because of the freedom it gave people to have sex without the fear of pregnancy. But the long-term effects of oral contraceptive pills are poorly understood, and recent scientific findings show the pills might actually be making one area of the brain, the hypothalamus, smaller. The study, presented recently at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, included 50 healthy women, 21 of whom were taking oral contraceptive pills, or OCPs. After comparing brain scans of all the women side-by-side, they found those who took birth control pills had a significantly smaller hypothalamus than those who did not. The hypothalamus controls important functions of the body like hormone production, mood, appetite, sex drive, heart rate, and sleep cycles. The Lead researcher is a professor of radiology at the Gruss Magnetic Resonance Research Center at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and claims the findings are only preliminary. The initial study should prompt further research, not changes in individual’s contraceptive regimens. (Insider)

New treatment for brain tumors uses electrospun fiber

Researchers from the University of Cincinnati and Johns Hopkins have developed an electrospun fiber that can be implanted in a patient’s brain and release a cocktail of cancer treatments directly at the source. The targeted placement helps patients avoid some of the most painful side effects of whole-body treatments like chemotherapy. Also, the fiber can be composed of several different kinds of materials, which allows a single implant to release several different treatments over time, for as many as 150 days. (

We’re spending more on scientific research, graduating more PhDs and publishing evermore academic articles

Yet productivity growth in the U.S. has dipped to levels below what they were over a century ago, write researchers from Duke and England’s University of East Anglia. No, we haven’t run out of good ideas. Instead, the ties that bound the research and business worlds have frayed, the researchers suggest. This has made it more challenging to bring new ideas to market. Federal funding for research might help, as will programs that encourage and support science entrepreneurs. (IMF)

Someone found a way to bypass Windows 7 Extended Security Updates checks

Support for Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating system ends after the January 2020 Patch. Small businesses and Enterprises may extend support by up to three years for a price. Small businesses pay Microsoft up to $200 per device and year for extended support, Enterprises up to $200 per user and year. Microsoft won’t offer the Extended Security Updates program to Home users even though some would pay Microsoft to extend support for Windows 7. Home users may get some security patches created by third-party company ”0Patch”, but support will be limited and not as extensive as what Microsoft pushes out via the Extended Security Updates program. Users on the My Digital Life forum discovered a way to bypass the Extended Security Updates check. The bypass works with Microsoft’s test update but it is unclear if it will also work with “real” updates that the company releases after the January 2020 Patch Day. All that needs to be done currently is to download a small archive from the My Digital Life forum and extract it. The package includes two batch files that enable or disable the bypass on the system, executable files, and the source. Basically, what happens behind the scene is that verification checks return true all the time through manipulation of these checks. One interesting aspect of the hack is that it enables support for all Windows 7 editions, even those that Microsoft does not want to support after January 14, 2020. In other words: Windows 7 Home, Starter or Ultimate editions would be able to receive updates provided by the Extended Security Updates program when the bypass is installed. The developers plan already to extend support to Windows Vista and to support the POSReady 7 SKU which will receive security updates until 2024. (Ghacks)

Monday Brings With It:

  • Cremation Day
  • Green Monday (2nd Monday)
  • International Anti-corruption Day
  • International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of The Victims of The Crime of Genocide and The Prevention of This Crime
  • Weary Willie Day
  • World Techno Day

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