Eircom, has agreed to Irish Recorded Music Association demands to prevent its subscribers from accessing certain sites.
IRMA is to begin compiling lists of web sites that it claims are damaging its business, with the notorious Pirate Bay likely to be at the top of the list.
Eircom is expected to weakly comply with this list, ushering a new era for net censorship, according to a vnunet report:
Eircom will then not contest any court order, meaning that the requests are automatically granted. “We have said we would not oppose an action to the courts,” said a spokesman for Eircom.
In a second part of the agreement, a third-party policing download activity on behalf of the record companies will supply Eircom with the IP addresses of people who they detect illegally uploading or downloading copyright works from peer-to-peer file-sharing web sites.
Is Eircom’s decision the first drip in what’s set to become a torrent [ahem] of net censorship and control?
What right does the private sector have to start censoring our access to the Internet?
And what sort of checks and balances will be put in place?
All in all a p(r)oxy day for Irish Internet users.
New research into the mating behavior of seed beetles (also known as bean weevils) has found that the injuries caused to females by the males’ spectacular, barbed sex organs (see pic below) is an unfortunate accident of nature, rather than an evolutionary necessity.
In a paper appearing in the current issue of the scientific journal Current Biology, researchers from the Department of Ecology and Evolution at Uppsala University describe how the male beetles’ mating organ causes severe wounds in females during mating.
But since it is not a good idea for the male of a species merely to injure a female, the researchers have assumed that these structures serve another purpose and that the injury is an unfortunate side effect.
The male seed beetle has sex organs rather similar to a medieval spiked club, says researcher Göran Arnqvist, which has led scientists to theorize that the injuries caused to females are accidental rather than intended.
“Females’ injuries as such do not benefit the male she mated with. It has been suggested rather that the injuries are a side effect of other benefits the males reap from the barbs. Now, for the first time, we are able to show that this is the case,” says Göran Arnqvist.
Despite these costs, however females mate with multiple males.
“We also show that males with long barbs cause more severe injuries to females, but also that these males have a greater rate of fertilization success,” says Arnqvist.
The barbs are extremely important to males in their competition to be able to fertilize an egg. When females mate with two males, it is more often the male with the longer barbs that fertilizes her eggs.
In both males and females in the animal world it is common – much more common that one might like to think – for one sex to evince characteristics and properties that are injurious to individuals of the other sex, according to Arnqvist.
“One especially tricky case involves species where the males have mating organs that are supplied with hooks, barbs, and flukes that cause internal injuries in females during mating. This is extremely common among insects, but it also occurs in many other animal groups,” says Arnqvist.
A team of Spanish, American and Mexican researchers investigating cannibalism amongst female rattlesnakes (Crotalus polystictus) have found that these animals ingest on average 11% of their postpartum mass (in particular eggs and dead offspring) in order to recover energy for subsequent reproduction.
The researchers measured “cannibalistic behaviour” among 190 females, which had 239 clutches of eggs, and determined that this phenomenon is justified by “enabling the mother to recover and regain strength”.
“A cannibal rattlesnake female can recover lost energy for reproduction without having to hunt for food, a dangerous activity that requires time and expends a great deal of energy,” write Estrella Mociño and Kirk Setser, lead authors of the study and researchers at the University of Granada, along with Juan Manuel Pleguezuelos.
The study, published in the latest issue of the journal Animal Behaviour, shows that cannibalism in this species is an evolutionary result of its feeding behaviour, since its prey is dead for some time before being eaten by the snake.
“Viperids in general are prepared to eat carrion, and for this reason it is not so strange that they consume the non-viable sections of their clutches after going through the great energy expenditure caused by reproduction,” says Mociño.
The research team say this behaviour can be explained by four biological factors – the day of the birth (females that give birth at the end of July are more likely to be cannibals, since they have less time to feed and prepare themselves to reproduce again), the proportion of dead babies per clutch, the level of maternal investment (the larger the brood, the greater the chance that it will contain non-viable elements, which she will eat), and stress caused by being in captivity (the researchers maintained the females in captivity for an average of 21 days).
Of all the females, 68% consumed part or all of their dead offspring, and 83% of these ate them all, and waited little time to do so (around 16 hours), although some ate them “immediately after giving birth”, adds Mociño. The rest (40%) of the females “did not display cannibalistic behaviour”.
According to the scientists, cannibalism is “not an aberrant behaviour, and is not an attack on the progeny”, since it is not the same as parricide or infanticide as it does not involve live elements. It simply recovers some of what the snake invested in the reproduction process, and prepares it to reproduce once again.
The scientists found that was little risk of the snakes eating healthy offspring, which look very similar to dead ones for the first two hours after emerging from their membranes. During the study, only one female ate live babies.
“In comparison with mammals or birds, snakes are not as maternal, but the study shows that they also display behaviour that has evolved, and that helps the female and her offspring to reproduce and grow successfully,” say Mociño and Setser.
To date, the scientists have marked more than 2,000 individuals of this species, which range in length on average from 50cm to 90 cm, and which display different survival strategies from many other rattlesnakes in the north of Mexico and the United States.
This reptile has a very rapid reproduction rate, suggesting that it is experiencing a high death rate caused by external factors. As well as contributing to scientific knowledge about animal cannibalism from an evolutionary perspective, the scientists hope that publicising these results will “lead to human beings being less aggressive towards these snakes”.
Dublin-based biotechnology company, Opsona Therapeutics, has raised €18million in venture capital to fund the expansion of its clinical and operational activities, it was announced today.
Opsona, which focuses on novel therapeutic approaches to treat autoimmune and inflammatory diseases is based at the Trinity Centre for Health Sciences at the Institute of Molecular Medicine in St. James’s Hospital.
Co-founder of Opsona, Luke O’Neill, Professor of Molecular Immunology at Trinity College Dublin, stressed the tremendous assistance provided by Science Foundation Ireland, particularly at a time when Opsona was barely at a conceptual stage.
“The success of Opsona is largely attributable to the critical financial support received from Science Foundation Ireland since 2002. Opsona’s establishment in 2004 came about as a direct result of the discoveries arising from our SFI-funded research up to that point. Without sustained support from Science Foundation Ireland six or seven years ago, it is highly unlikely that we would ever have envisaged the creation of Opsona into what it has become today. SFI is, in essence, the genesis of Opsona,” says O’Neill.
Input from SFI into key research activities had, in turn, helped to facilitate large-scale collaborations with Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and others, says O’Neill.
“We have worked extremely hard to secure the €18million venture capital from investors such as Novartis Venture Fund, Fountain Healthcare Partners, Inventages Venture Capital and Seroba Kernel Life Sciences. Opsona Therapeutics greatly appreciates the contribution made by SFI at a crucial juncture, and also Enterprise Ireland, for helping to generate awareness, interest and confidence around what we are striving to achieve,” says O’Neill.
“Hello. President O’Bama here.”
“Ah God bless you Barack, yer a great man.”
“Thank you so much. Who is speaking?”
“The Irish people. We’ve voted you the person we’d most like to speak to on the telephone.”
“I’m flattered, but shouldn’t you be talking to the Pope?”
“Not at all. We’ve no time for that eejit anymore.”
“Now, can you tell us what yer missus will be wearing next week? I want to get the wife something nice for summer.”
BT’s nationwide survey of Irish telephone users’ habits, released today, reveals that the person Irish people would most like to speak to is that son of Eireann, U.S. President Barack O’Bama.
The survey also found that 80 percent of us still use our landline on a daily basis, (with 41 percent claiming to use it up to five times per day). News about friends and family makes up 51 percent of our daily conversations throughout the country while 14 percent of us gossip everyday on the phone.
On average, seven percent of the Irish population claim to talk about “nothing much,” with that figure rising to 16 and 11 percent respectively in the enigmatic counties of Waterford and Cork. While 87 percent of the population are clear about how much they spend on their phone bills every month, 13 percent claim not to have any idea how much they spend.
And, in news that will surely cause sociologists and gender studies professors to fall off the floor, it was also found that Irish women use the phone more than Irish men, with 68 percent of telephone calls being made by females living in the house.
The full press release and results after the turn.