India has banned e-cigarettes as US health inspectors investigate a series of deaths linked to vaping. Reuters reports that an executive order prohibits selling, producing, importing, or advertising e-cigarettes. First offenders could receive up to one year in prison and a 100,000 rupee ($1,400) fine; later violations could cost up to three years and 500,000 rupees. The ban doesn’t apply to actually using e-cigarettes — but it means users can’t legally buy refills for their vapes.
Traditional cigarettes are legal in India, although they’re highly taxed. E-cigarettes, however, have held a less certain position. The government has been weighing a ban for years, despite concerns over the legality of stopping imports, and Reuters reported on a draft of this week’s order back in August. “These novel products come with attractive appearances and multiple flavours and their use has increased exponentially and acquired epidemic proportions in developed countries, especially among youth and children,” said a spokesperson from India’s health ministry…
Slowly, steadily and almost imperceptibly, North America’s bird population is dwindling.
The sparrows and finches that visit backyard feeders number fewer each year. The flutelike song of the western meadowlark — the official bird of six U.S. states — is growing more rare. The continent has lost nearly 3 billion birds representing hundreds of species over the past five decades, in an enormous loss that signals an “overlooked biodiversity crisis,” according to a study from top ornithologists and government agencies.
This is not an extinction crisis — yet. It is a more insidious decline in abundance as humans dramatically alter the landscape: There are 29 percent fewer birds in the United States and Canada today than in 1970, the study concludes. Grassland species have been hardest hit, probably because of agricultural intensification that has engulfed habitats and spread pesticides that kill the insects many birds eat. But the victims include warblers, thrushes, swallows and other familiar birds…
Drone attacks claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels struck two key oil installations inside Saudi Arabia on Saturday, damaging facilities that process the vast majority of the country’s crude output and raising the risk of a disruption in world oil supplies.
The attacks immediately escalated tensions in the Persian Gulf amid a standoff between the United States and Iran, even as key questions remained unanswered — where the drones were launched from, and how the Houthis managed to hit facilities deep in Saudi territory, some 500 miles from Yemeni soil.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Iran of being behind what he called “an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply” and asserted that there was “no evidence the attacks came from Yemen.” He did not, however, specify an alternative launch site, and the Saudis themselves refrained from pointing the finger directly at Iran…
Computer scientist and open software advocate Richard Stallman said he has resigned from his position as a visiting scientist at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) after describing a victim of sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein as “entirely willing” in emails sent to a department list. Stallman has also stepped down from his roles as president and board director at the Free Software Foundation, the nonprofit he founded in 1985.
Last week, the Daily Beast reported that Stallman had also called for the legalization of child pornography and abolishment of age of consent laws on his personal blog in multiple posts published over the course of 15 years.
In his MIT CSAIL resignation, also posted to his personal blog, Stallman wrote: “To the MIT Community, I am resigning effective immediately from my position in CSAIL at MIT. I am doing this due to pressure on MIT and me over a series of misunderstandings.”
MIT has been under scrutiny for its ties to Epstein, whom a New Yorker investigation found had secured $7.5 million in donations for the MIT Media Lab, far more than what was previously disclosed. As a result, its director, Joi Ito, resigned last week and MIT ordered an investigation into the Media Lab’s ties to Epstein, who was found dead in his jail cell last month while awaiting federal trial on sex trafficking charges…
Mozilla has quietly launched a new product for enterprise customers to buy paid premium support for Firefox. The premium enterprise support for Firefox costs $10 per supported installation and offers customers the ability to submit bugs privately, get critical security bug fixes, get access to a private customer portal, get access to the enterprise critical issues distribution list, and have the ability to contribute to Firefox and its roadmap.
According to Mozilla, it will support Firefox installations as long as they are running on machines that meet the system requirements. Windows, Mac, and Linux based operating systems are listed in the systems requirements so all platforms should be covered by the premium support.
The fact that Mozilla has launched this premium tier product is quite interesting, it comes just a couple of days since the company said it was re-launching Test Pilot for Firefox and that the first test program would be Firefox Private Network, a planned paid-for VPN service. It looks as though the company is trying to diversify its revenue streams…
- 高齢者の人口 （人口推計、World Population Prospects）
- 高齢者の就業 （労働力調査、OECD.Stat）
Electronics and hot drinks don’t mix
A Condor flight to Mexico was forced to turn back over the Atlantic after a spilled coffee caused one of its radios to start melting.
CFG116, an 11-hour flight between Frankfurt and Cancún, was cut short after the captain knocked his cuppa over himself and the radio panel on his Airbus A330’s centre console. The spillage caused an “electrical burning smell” followed by smoke.
Despite warnings in the Airbus flight manual telling pilots to put drinks in dedicated cup holders, which are nowhere near the centre console, the captain put his drink on his foldout tray table while filling in paperwork. Predictably, he knocked it over.
After an uneventful takeoff from Germany and cruise through British and Irish airspace towards the Atlantic Ocean, the cabin crew served the pilots hot drinks, something the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) report said was “normal for this operator and route”. When the bad thing happened, “most of the liquid fell onto the commander’s lap”, with a “small amount” spilling onto the radio panel…