Mining hurts Amazon: study
Skyrocketing gold prices have fueled an illegal mining rush that has tripled the rate of deforestation in the Amazon since 2008, researchers said on Monday. The findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences were made with a combination of satellite data, laser technology to map vegetation and on-the-ground surveys. “The rate of forest destruction is huge,” said Greg Asner, a tropical ecologist with the Carnegie Institution for Science. Illegal mining increased by 400 percent between 1999 and last year, particularly after the global financial collapse led to a boom in the price of gold, seen as a more durable asset. More than half of all mining operations in the Peruvian Amazon are done by clandestine operations.
Gunmen steal US$54 million
Gunmen attacked a central bank van on Monday, stealing US$54 million. LANA news agency said “10 heavily armed men” had made off with the funds, which were destined for the central bank branch in Sirte, and had been flown there from Tripoli. Citing a source from the local branch of the central bank, LANA said that the gunmen stole “53 million Libyan dinars” (US$42 million) and another US$12 million in US dollars and euros. The gunmen attacked the van on the road between Sirte airport and the town itself, 500km east of Tripoli, LANA said, without saying if there had been any casualties. Only one security vehicle had been assigned to protect the van, and the agency said the guards “were unable to resist the 10 attackers.”
Lang Lang in UN peace role
Pianist Lang Lang (郎朗) became a UN Messenger of Peace on Monday, a role he called more important than his music because it can help improve the lives of children around the world through education. Being a Messenger of Peace is the highest honor bestowed by a UN chief on accomplished individuals in any field. Lang Lang, 31, said he was “really awed” by his new role and the responsibility that comes with it.
Alleged hacker arrested
A British man has been charged in the US with hacking into thousands of computer systems, including those of the US Army and NASA, in an alleged attempt to steal confidential data. Lauri Love, 28, is accused of causing millions of dollars of damage to the US government with a year-long hacking campaign waged from his home in Stradishall, Suffolk. Love was arrested on Friday by the National Crime Agency, dubbed “Britain’s FBI,” after an international investigation led by the US Army’s Criminal Investigation Command. His arrest was announced on Monday.
Kid tracker apps launched
Parents worried about letting their children go trick-or-treating at Halloween can download new apps that track kids and send alerts when they venture outside designated safe areas. With the free iPhone app Track ’n Treat, children send a time-limited link of their location via a phone number or e-mail. This then allows parents to track their whereabouts via a Web browser for the next four hours. Another free app, Family GPS Tracker for iPhone and Android, not only lets parents see where their children are in real-time, but also sends alerts when a child strays outside of an set area. Life360, another free app for iPhone and Android, lets family members view each others’ location on a map and keep in touch via group messaging.