Massive wildfires burned out of control in the wine country of California’s Napa and Sonoma counties early Monday, destroying hundreds of homes and businesses, forcing the evacuation of thousands of people and shutting down major roadways as firefighters sought to halt the advance of infernos that were driven by powerful winds. There was no immediate estimate of the damage or the extent of injuries, but vast swaths of land were burning in both counties. Read more HERE and HERE.
How Russia used Kaspersky: U.S. companies got a disturbing preview of just how Russia might be able to steal their secrets, with news that Kaspersky Lab anti-virus software was used to hack an unsuspecting NSA contractor. Russian state-sponsored hackers reportedly stole critical details on how the U.S. conducts cyber espionage and defends against cyber operations directed at its classified networks, when they hacked the computer of the contractor who had uploaded highly classified documents onto a home computer, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.The incident shows the layers of vulnerability the government faces, via its federal employees and contractors who sometimes violate rules on handling classified information by taking work home. Kaspersky has some 400 million users worldwide. READ MORE
Not so sweet: When researchers collected honey samples from around the world, they found that three-quarters of them had a common type of pesticide suspected of playing a role in the decline of bees. Even honey from the island paradise of Tahiti had the chemical. That demonstrates how pervasive a problem the much-debated pesticide is for honeybees, said authors of a study published Thursday in the journal Science. They said it is not a health problem for people because levels were far below governments’ thresholds on what’s safe to eat. READ MORE
Playboy founder battled drug-resistant E. coli: A week before the Sept. 27 death of Hugh M. Hefner from cardiac arrest and respiratory failure, the 91-year old Playboy founder was battling the blood infection septicemia and a drug-resistant strain of E. coli. The new information about the publisher’s final days comes from his California death certificate, which, unlike many states, also lists contributing causes of a person’s demise. E. coli is frequently spread is commonly spread via food. READ MORE
These eggs contain life-saving drugs: Japanese researchers have genetically engineered hens whose eggs contain drugs that can fight serious diseases including cancer, in a bid to dramatically reduce the cost of treatment, a report said Monday. If the scientists are able to safely produce “interferon beta,” a type of protein used to treat illnesses including multiple sclerosis and hepatitis, by rearing the hens, the price of the drug—currently up to $888 for a few micrograms—could fall significantly, said the English edition of the Yomiuri Shimbun. READ MORE
Debate continues over genetically modified mosquitoes: A long-running debate in the Florida Keys over genetically-modified mosquitoes, which goes to the question of how much humans should meddle with the natural world, will soon get a broader airing. In March, officials in Harris County, Texas, began negotiations for their own mosquito-control trial. Similar sterile-insect technologies are being in considered by several cities, and other genetically engineered insects have been tested in New York and Arizona. In the Keys, a referendum fight last year took on all the trappings of a modern-day political campaign, with radio ads, zealous canvassers, slogans and even the seemingly requisite misleading attacks. READ MORE
Homeless populations being vaccinated for hepatitis: Experts say San Diego took all the right steps in addressing what is now one of the largest hepatitis A outbreaks the country has had in decades, but variables unique to the city’s situation contributed to the outbreak. At least 481 people have been infected and 17 have died of the infection since November in San Diego. Eight-eight other cases have been identified in Santa Cruz and Los Angeles counties, where hepatitis A outbreaks have been declared. Officials throughout the state are now rushing to vaccinate homeless populations, which are considered the most at risk. Doctors say people who have already been infected could travel and unknowingly spread it elsewhere. READ MORE