Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Facebook releases figures on government requests
Social networking giant Facebook says government agents in 74 countries demanded information on about 38,000 users of the service in the first half of this year, with about half the orders coming from authorities in the United States.
Facebook made the statement Tuesday. It is the latest technology company to release figures on how often governments seek information about its customers. Microsoft and Google have done the same.
As was the case with the other companies, it's hard to discern much from Facebook's data, besides the fact that, as users around the globe flocked to the world's largest social network, police and intelligence agencies followed. Facebook and Twitter have become organizing platforms for activists and, as such, have become targets for governments.
Zimmerman seeks refund of his defense expenses
George Zimmerman's attorney said Tuesday that he is going to ask the state of Florida to pay for some of his client's non-lawyer legal bills, including for experts, printing and court reporters, and that the price tag could reach $300,000.
Zimmerman was acquitted last month of all charges in the 2012 fatal shooting of Miami teenager Trayvon Martin. The decision in the nationally televised trial touched off protests across the country.
Since he was found not guilty, Zimmerman is entitled under a Florida law to recoup the defense costs, minus private attorney fees, said his lawyer Mark O'Mara. It also says that any costs already paid can be refunded with the approval of a judge, he said.
"I just think it's patently unfair that the state by overcharging a case they could not prove at trial gets to cost either Mr. Zimmerman or me, or the donors a whole bunch of money that they're not responsible for," said O'Mara, who also said the defense team has totaled the expenses yet.
Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder.
To receive trial expenses, Zimmerman's attorneys must submit them with the Judicial Administrative Commission, which is the state's agency that reviews them decides what expenses are reimbursable.
Scientists in Sweden confirm new chemical element exists
Scientists in Sweden say they have confirmed the existence of a new chemical element, but its name may need some work.
Researchers at Lund University said Tuesday their find backs up claims by teams in Russia and the United States a decade ago that had remained unverified until now.
The Swedish scientists say they conducted experiments which allowed them to detect the 'fingerprint' of the short-lived but super-heavy element that's been dubbed ununpentium.
The name, which refers to the element's 115th place in the periodic table, is only provisional.
The element will likely get a new name if the discovery is formally approved by experts from the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics and Chemistry.
Well-known chemical elements include carbon, silicon and iron.
World's oldest-known wild bear dies of old age
The world's oldest-known wild bear has died of old age in northern Minnesota, quietly coming to her final resting place in a shady spot that a bear would find as a good place for a daytime nap, a leading state researcher said Tuesday.
The decomposed corpse of the female American black bear, known to Minnesota Department of Natural Resources researchers as Bear No. 56, was found last Wednesday by state researcher Karen Noyce in the Chippewa National forest near Marcell. The bear was 39 1/2 years old.
The bear was first captured and radio-collared in July 1981 by DNR scientists during the first summer of a long-term research project on bear population ecology. She was 7 years old at the time. During the next 32 years, she and her many offspring provided an almost uninterrupted record of reproduction, survival, movements and, eventually, aging.