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Last updated 13 Dec, 01:10 PM

BBC News - Home

Election results 2019: Boris Johnson hails 'new dawn' after historic victory - The PM meets the Queen to ask to form a new government, following the Conservatives' election victory.

Jeremy Corbyn: 'I will not lead Labour at next election' - The Labour leader's decision comes as the party faces its worst election performance for years.

Election results 2019: Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson to step down - She began the campaign saying she could become the next PM, but has lost her seat to the SNP.

Election results 2019: Nicola Sturgeon says PM has 'no right' to block Indyref2 - Scotland's first minister says the SNP election victory strengthens the mandate for another referendum.

Every major A&E misses wait target for first time - Hospitals in England endure their worst-ever performance against waiting times.

The Register

GlaxoSmithKline ditches IR35 contractors: Go PAYE or go home - Flexible workforce look to pre-election promises Contractor organisations are insisting the Tory government sticks to promises to revisit IR35 reforms as it emerges that GlaxoSmithKline is ordering contractors to switch to pay as you earn tax arrangements or leave the company.…

Hit one up on Insta, would you? Her Maj is after a social media manager - Like Trump’s Twitter feed, except not Her Majesty the Queen is after a head of digital engagement to run a small team of specialists based at Buckingham Palace.…

Ever wonder how hackers could possibly pwn power plants? Here are 54 Siemens bugs that could explain things - Arbitrary code execution in a controller, what could go wrong? Siemens industrial control systems designed specifically for energy plant gear are riddled with dozens of security vulnerabilities that are, luckily enough, tricky to exploit from the outside.…

Attention! Very important science: Tapping a can of fizzy beer does... absolutely nothing - But Danish boffins tapped cans on the side, not the top – we demand a retrial Should you be faced with the horrors of a shaken can of beer and an urgent need to open it, science has solved the question of whether or not tapping the can helps reduce the fizz when it is opened.…

Mmmm... fresh, delicious tenders: Forget G-Cloud, this £6.5bn Technology Products and Associated Services framework is where it's at - Will no one think of the SMEs? Oh, actually some have made the grade The UK's central government is dangling up to £6.5bn under the noses of resellers to supply commodity hardware, software and services across the British public sector for the next four years.…

New Scientist - News

Hubble Space Telescope snaps best view of interstellar comet Borisov - The interstellar comet Borisov is making its closest approach to the sun and Earth, giving astronomers their best look yet

Quantum computer sets new record for finding prime number factors - A relatively small quantum computer has broken a number-factoring record, which may one day threaten data encryption methods that rely on factoring large numbers

Time travel without paradoxes is possible with many parallel timelines - Time travel brings up paradoxes that break the laws of physics, but multiple similar timelines running parallel to one another could get around this

‘Grazing fireball’ skimmed Earth's atmosphere then went back to space - A space rock seen in July 2017 passed through Earth's atmosphere and back out the other side in a rare event known as a grazing fireball

'Rediscovered' toad was known to Colombian locals for decades - The starry night toad has been documented by biologists for the first time since 1991 in Colombia. But unlike other such stories of rediscovered species, we never really lost it

Hacker News

Show HN: Happy Hues – Curated colors in context - Comments

Mathematician Proves Result on ‘Dangerous’ Problem - Comments

Many Strategies Fail Because They’re Not Strategies (2017) - Comments

Reimagining the PhD - Comments

GM’s Former President Calls for the End of Car Ownership - Comments


Cigna Uses AI To Check If Patients Are Taking Their Medications - An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Wall Street Journal: Cigna plans to expand a system that uses artificial intelligence to identify gaps in treatment of chronic diseases, such as patients skipping their medications, and deliver personalized recommendations for specific patients. The product, called Health Connect 360, integrates data from a combination of sources and analytical tools, some developed at Cigna and others brought in as part of its $54 billion acquisition of pharmacy-benefit manager Express Scripts Holding Co., completed late last year. Express Scripts, which began developing the service two years ago, rolled out portions of it to some customers this year. Health Connect 360 was developed for treatment of chronic diseases, including diabetes and heart disease, as well as for pain management. The system aggregates medical, pharmacy, lab and biometric data -- such as information from glucometers, which measure blood-sugar levels -- into a dashboard that is accessible through an online interface. The dashboard will be visible to the service's customers and to Express Scripts case managers and nurses with access rights. The system can also feed information to electronic-medical record systems for physicians. Cigna is already using AI to predict whether patients might abuse or overdose on prescription opioids. Another Cigna tool, One Guide, provides personalized help to health-insurance holders on their benefit plans, appointments and health coaching. The new Health Connect 360 system combines algorithms that analyze data such as clinical and pharmacy information with predictive models to generate recommendations and ways to best engage a patient, whether through an app or in person. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

New Zealand Orders 1,300 Square Feet of Skin From US To Help Burned Volcano Victims - schwit1 shares a report from People: Doctors in New Zealand are currently awaiting nearly 1,300 square feet of skin from the United States in order to treat the dozens of victims who suffered severe burns when a volcano erupted on White Island Monday afternoon. Dr. Peter Watson, chief medical officer of Counties Manukau Health, said at a press conference Wednesday that there are 29 patients being treated in intensive care and burn units at four different hospitals throughout New Zealand. Twenty-four of the burn patients remain in critical condition. "We currently have supplies but are urgently sourcing additional supplies to meet the demand for dressing and temporary skin grafts," Watson said. "We anticipate we will require an additional 1.2 million square centimeters [1,292 square feet] of skin for the ongoing needs of the patients. These supplies are coming from the United States and the order has been placed." Watson said the nature of the victims' injuries had been made "complicated" by the gases and chemicals in the eruption, thus making "more rapid" surgical treatment necessary, as opposed to if they'd suffered thermal-only burns. CNN reports that the skin grafts are coming from people who are registered to donate skin after their deaths, and typically are taken from the donors' backs or the backs of their legs. There were a total of 47 travelers on the island when the volcano erupted Monday just after 2 p.m. Six people were killed. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Crows Could Be the Smartest Animal Other Than Primates - In a piece for the BBC, Chris Baraniuk writes about how the intelligence of New Caledonian crows may be far more advanced than we ever thought possible. An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from the report: Intelligence is rooted in the brain. Clever primates -- including humans -- have a particular structure in their brains called the neocortex. It is thought that this helps to make advanced cognition possible. Corvids, notably, do not have this structure. [New Caledonian crows belong to the corvid family of birds -- as do jackdaws, rooks, jays, magpies and ravens.] They have instead evolved densely packed clusters of neurons that afford them similar mental prowess. The specific kind of brain they have doesn't really matter -- corvids and primates share some of the same basic capabilities in terms of problem-solving and plasticity, or being able to adapt and change in the face of new information and experiences. This is an example of convergent evolution, where completely different evolutionary histories have led to the same feature or behavior. It's easy for humans to see why the things corvids can do are useful. From identifying people who have previously posed a threat to them or others in their group to using gestures for communication -- we too rely on abilities like these. [Christian Rutz at the University of St Andrews] is unequivocal. Some birds, like the New Caledonian crows he studies -- can do remarkable things. In a paper published earlier this year, he and his co-authors described how New Caledonians seek out a specific type of plant stem from which to make their hooked tools. Experiments showed that crows found the stems they desired even when they had been disguised with leaves from a different plant species. This suggested that the birds were selecting a kind of material for their tools that they knew was just right for the job. You wouldn't use a spanner to hammer in a nail, would you? Ranking the intelligence of animals seems an increasingly pointless exercise when one considers the really important thing: how well that animal is adapted to its niche. In the wild, New Caledonians use their tools to scoop insects out of holes, for example in tree trunks. Footage of this behavior has been caught on camera. You might think that some animals are smarter than others -- with humans at the top of the proverbial tree. Certainly, humans do rely excessively on intelligence to get by. But that doesn't mean we're the best at every mental task. Chimps, notes Dakota McCoy at Harvard University, have been shown to possess better short-term memories than humans. This might help them to memorize where food is located in the forest canopy, for example. Ranking the intelligence of animals seems an increasingly pointless exercise when one considers the really important thing: how well that animal is adapted to its niche. Intelligence is, first and foremost, a means towards specialization. "New Caledonian crows, like us and other clever animals, have moods and memories. Strategies and expectations. They seem remarkably able to engage with complexity," writes Baraniuk in closing. "Evolution made this possible. But cognition, like life itself, serves more than just a need. Animal intelligence allows all sorts of fascinating phenomena to arise. [...] Nature provided the notes, but animal brains make the music. The mind, as they say, is the only limit." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Microsoft's Next Xbox Is Xbox Series X, Coming Holiday 2020 - At the 2019 Game Awards today, Microsoft revealed the name and console design of its next-generation gaming console: Xbox Series X. The Verge reports: The console itself looks far more like a PC than we've seen from previous Xbox consoles, and Microsoft's trailer provides a brief glimpse at the new design. The console itself is designed to be used in both vertical and horizontal orientations, and Microsoft's Xbox chief, Phil Spencer, promises that it will "deliver four times the processing power of Xbox One X in the most quiet and efficient way." The Xbox Series X will include a custom-designed CPU based on AMD's Zen 2 and Radeon RDNA architecture. Microsoft is also using an SSD on Xbox Series X, which promises to boost load times. Xbox Series X will also support 8K gaming, frame rates of up to 120 fps in games, ray tracing, and variable refresh rate support. Microsoft also revealed a new Xbox Wireless Controller today. "Its size and shape have been refined to accommodate an even wider range of people, and it also features a new Share button to make capturing screenshots and game clips simple," explains Spencer. This updated controller will work with existing Xbox One consoles and Windows 10 PCs, and will ship with every Xbox Series X. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Lawsuit Forces CenturyLink To Stop Charging 'Internet Cost Recovery Fee' - CenturyLink has agreed to pay a $6.1 million penalty after Washington state regulators found that the company failed to disclose fees that raised actual prices well above the advertised rates. CenturyLink must also stop charging a so-called "Internet Cost Recovery Fee" in the state, although customers may end up paying the fee until their contracts expire unless they take action to switch plans. Ars Technica reports: "CenturyLink deceived consumers by telling them they would pay one price and then charging them more," Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in an announcement yesterday. "Companies must clearly disclose all added fees and charges to Washingtonians." Ferguson encouraged Washington residents "who believe they have received bills that include undisclosed fees to file a complaint" with the state. Ferguson's office said it began investigating CenturyLink in 2016 "after receiving complaints from consumers that their actual bills were more than the advertised price, or the price that they were promised by sales representatives." Here's what Ferguson's office found: "There were three main fees CenturyLink did not disclose: a broadcast fee of $2.49 per month, a sports fee of $2.49 per month, and CenturyLink's 'Internet Cost Recovery Fee,' ranging from $0.99 to $1.99 per month. CenturyLink charged its Internet Cost Recovery Fee to 650,000 Washingtonians. Of those, another 60,000 were also charged the broadcast and sports fees. These fees alone added up to $7 per month to a television subscriber's bill -- $84 per year. The investigation found that CenturyLink did not adequately disclose additional taxes and fees for its cable, Internet and telephone services." CenturyLink admitted no wrongdoing but agreed to a financial settlement and changes in business practices as part of a consent decree filed in King County Superior Court on Monday. The attorney general's office detailed its allegations in a lawsuit filed the same day. Read more of this story at Slashdot.