The Year in News: What Happened Next (Stories From July-August 2014)


Continuing our look back at the stories we covered in 2014 and subsequent developments, we turn to July. The Department of Homeland Security brought in new rules saying all electronic devices, including cellphones, had to be powered up for security checks for flights into the US; those with dead batteries and no charger would not be allowed on board. At the time media reports linked to to a specific bomb threat. In September, after the US launched airstrikes against a suspected terrorist group in Syria, the Attorney General confirmed that the rules had been brought in “based on concerns we had about what the Khorasan Group was planning to do.”

A firm revealed plans for an implantable chip that would release tiny doses of a drug on a time delay, with the possibility of daily doses for 16 years, but with the user having the ability to switch off the drug release with a remote control. The initial model is planned as a female contraceptive. The company, Microchips, has since completed work on the chip and carried out clinical demonstrations. If it gains Food and Drug Agency approval next year, it hopes to launch in 2016, adding models to treat diabetes and osteoporosis.

A British fire service started work on a smartphone app that would let people reporting a fire or other incident automatically provide location data and live video footage streamed to fire crews while they are on route to the scene. The first version of the 999eye software was completed in Septemberand a pilot trial will run in January.

Wall Street Journal writer Christopher Mims published his Twitter password in the newspaper as a stunt to prove the security benefits of two-factor authentication. While nobody gained access to his account (though they could have done so had they mugged him for his phone), he struggled to cope with the flurry of verification requests. The stunt also inadvertently revealed that anyone trying to get access to his account could see his phone number; the subsequent barrage of calls eventually led to his number going out of service. Having declared the password dead in the original article, Mims later claimed that “the web is dying” in a similarly controversial article.

Former Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega sued Activision for using his likeness in the game Call of Duty: Black Ops II without permission, claiming his inclusion made the game more realistic and thus unfairly boosted profits. The judge dismissed the case in October, ruling that the game was a “transformative work” meaning that the value of the game came from Activision’s “creativity, skill and reputation”.

An IP address used for House of Representatives staff computers received a 10-day ban for disruptive editing after being used to make a string of bizarre changes to articles. The address later received a one-month ban after it was used to make offensive edits about transgender people. A Twitter account that automatically publishes details of any edits made via a Congressional IP address remains active.

In August, a Russian satellite containing six geckos used for a study of mating habits in space went out of contact a week after launch. Contact was regained three days later, but when the satellite returned to earth, all six had died, apparently from freezing. Officials were unable to reveal whether whatever caused the loss of communications may have in turn led to the deaths.

Wikipedia refused to take down a self-portrait by a Macaque Nigra monkey that had grabbed the camera during a wildlife shoot in Indonesia. While photographer David Slater claimed the copyright to the picture, Wikipedia argued that as the monkey took the shot, it was not the work of a human and thus not copyrightable. The US Copyright Office later issued new guidelines to confirm that it would “not register works produced by nature, animals or plants.” It added that it would also refuse copyright on pictures “purportedly created by divine or supernatural beings.”

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