American author Jeffery Deaver has writtenthe latest installment in the phenomenallysuccessful James Bond franchise.(Image: Jeffery Deaver) MEDIA CONTACTS • Claire Richards PR, Jonathan Ball Publishers +27 21 469 8900 RELATED ARTICLES • Jock to grace SA screens again • SA short film makes festival finals • Cape Town: Africa’s Hollywood • SA-set sc-fi satire huge hit in USLyndon JafthaJames Bond – the name is synonymous with beautiful women, action-packed missions, cars, gadgets and explosions.To date, there have been 36 James Bond novels, of which 24 have made it onto film. Now, the big screen version of Carte Blanche, the 37th and latest Bond novel, will be partially filmed in the city of Cape Town, these days a popular destination for film, television and advertising shoots.Author Ian Fleming wrote the first Bond novel, Casino Royale, in 1953, introducing the world to one of its most enduring heroes.The British author published 14 Bond books between 1953 and 1964, using his own naval intelligence experience as background material. There have been suggestions that Fleming based some of his characters on real people – himself included.However, the new 007 is written by American crime author Jeffery Deaver, and was launched in Cape Town earlier in 2011. There have been over 100-million James Bond books sold since Casino Royale first hit the bookshelves, and Deaver promised that his new book will live up to the standard of the franchise.Speaking via Skype at the Cape Town launch, Deaver said: “True to James Bond novels, Cape Town is exotic and beautiful.”Carte Blanche is set in mid 2011. Former naval officer Bond has just joined the Overseas Development Group (ODG), an independent unit of British security. His assignment is to “identify and eliminate threats to the country by extraordinary means.”After preventing the derailment of a Serbian train carrying a toxic material, the suave spy focuses on Green Way International, a waste disposal group led by one Severan Hydt. The ODG allows Bond to investigate Hydt, after it learns that he was involved in the Serbian train plot. Bond tracks him to Dubai, then to South Africa.In South Africa, Bond poses as a Durban-based mercenary and fools Hydt into welcoming him into his inner circle. But then he finds out that he and the ODG were misled.Showcasing the cityAccording to a report on FilmContact.com, production will start in the southern hemisphere spring, with a release date scheduled for October 2012.The South African part of the film will be set in Cape Town’s townships, vineyards, along the Atlantic seafront, and on top of the famous landmark Table Mountain – capturing all aspects of the city.The actor most recently cast in the role of the super-spy, Daniel Craig, is likely to return as Bond. But, said Deaver, “If he is not available to play the part, I will be available. I would be happy to be in Cape Town again.”Actors who played the role of Bond over the years include Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and Craig.Popular with the international film communityIn recent years Cape Town has become increasingly popular as a film destination, with a number of international films being shot, either partially or in full, in the city. Blockbusters such as Ask the Dusk (Colin Farrell, Salma Hayek, Donald Sutherland), Blood Diamond (Leonardo DiCaprio, Arnold Vosloo, Djimon Hounsou) and Lord of War (Nicholas Cage, Jared Leto) have been filmed in Cape Town.Earlier productions include Broken Arrow (John Travolta, Christian Slater), Red Dust (Hilary Swank) and the television series The Adventures of Sinbad.Numerous Bollywood productions have taken advantage of Cape Town’s unique offerings, such as Cash (2006), directed by Sohail Maklai, No Problem (2009) starring Anil Kapoor, Tum Mile (2009) directed by Kunal Deshmukh, and Blood Money (2011), directed by Vishal Mahadkar.Humble beginningsThe first ever newsreel was shot in South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War, which ended in 1902. The weekly newsreel ran for more than 60 years.Film production began in 1916 when IW Schlesinger set up Killarney Studios in Johannesburg, and the studio cranked out 42 movies between 1916 and 1922.When access to international markets became limited in the 1920s, the so-called 30-year lull began, and it was only in the 1950s that the market picked up again, when Afrikaans filmmakers developed an interest in the industry.In the 1980s, South Africa gave foreign companies the opportunity to film cheap straight-to-video movies in the country by giving them tax breaks. After 1994, the local film industry lagged behind international films. However there were several that were well received overseas, such as Cry, the Beloved Country, filmed in 1995, which won a number of awards, including one from the Screen Actors Guild.The local film industry has matured since then and has now earned international recognition. The 2005 film Tsotsi won an Oscar in 2006 under the category Best Foreign Language Film. In 2009, the sci-fi hit District Nine was nominated for an Oscar for Best Film.
Out of form off-spinner Harbhajan Singh was today dropped while Rohit Sharma was recalled in India’s Test squad for next month’s tour of Australia.Pace spearhead Zaheer Khan, who missed most part of the England tour and ongoing series against the West Indies because of an ankle injury, has been provisionally included in the squad subject to passing the fitness test.Bengal wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha was also named in the 17-member squad ahead of Parthiv Patel but there were no other major surprises in the team announced by the BCCI Secretary Sanjay Jagdale after a meeting of the selection committee here.The team, to be captained by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, will have Virender Sehwag as his deputy. Sehwag was yesterday named captain of the team for the upcoming ODI against the West Indies after Dhoni was given rest.The selectors more or less retained the core of the team that has been doing duty in the ongoing series against the West Indies which meant that Harbhajan continued to be in the wilderness.Yuvraj Singh, who was not considered for selection for the ODI series against the West Indies after he declared himself unfit, was also not included in the team which has five pacers, including Zaheer, and two specialist spinners in Pragyan Ojha and R Ashwin.Mumbai batsman Ajinkya Rahane, who has made quite an impression in the few opportunities he has got, has been retained in the team while fit-again Rohit was recalled.The Test series against Australia will begin with the Boxing Day (December 26) Test in Melbourne, followed by three other matches in Sydney (Jan 3-7), in Perth (Jan 13-17) and in Adelaide (Jan 24-28).The squad M.S. Dhoni – CaptainVirender Sehwag – Vice-captainGautam GambhirRahul DravidSachin TendulkarVVS LaxmanVirat KohliR. AshwinIshant SharmaUmesh YadavVarun AaronRohit SharmaPragyan OjhaPraveen KumarAjinkya RahaneWriddhiman Saha The scheduleTour GamesDec 15 – Dec 16 Cricket Australia Chairman’s XI v Indians (Manuka Oval, Canberra)Dec 19 – Dec 21 Cricket Australia Chairman’s XI v Indians (Manuka Oval, Canberra)Test MatchesDec 26 – Dec 30 1st Test – Australia v India (Melbourne Cricket Ground) Jan 3 – Jan 7 2nd Test – Australia v India (Sydney Cricket Ground) Jan 13 – Jan 17 3rd Test – Australia v India (WACA, Perth) Jan 24 – Jan 28 4th Test – Australia v India (Adelaide Oval)advertisement
Yesterday was of course Mother’s Day, and Penn State linebacker Nyeem Wartman elected to give his mother a very special gift this year. On Sunday, Wartman announced via Facebook that he was officially changing his name to Nyeem Wartman-White to honor his mother, Veronica White, and stepfather. A pretty amazing gesture from Wartman-White, who recorded 75 tackles last season, second-best on the Nittany Lions. It’ll be hard to top that Mother’s Day gift going forward, but seeing his new surname on the back of his jersey will be an awesome treat for his mom and stepfather come September.
zoom KNOT Offshore Partners LP has completed its acquisition of the ownership interests in the company that owns and operates the shuttle tanker Lena Knutsen – KNOT Shuttle Tankers 26. The 156,559 dwt Lena Knutsen was built by Hyundai Heavy Industries in Korea and delivered in June 2017. The 284.3-meter-long vessel is operating in the Brazil under a five-year time charter with a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell, which will expire in the third quarter of 2022.The company has been acquired for an aggregate purchase price of USD 142 million less USD 133.8 million of outstanding indebtedness plus approximately USD 24.1 million for a receivable owed by Knutsen NYK to KNOT 26 and USD 1 million for certain capitalized fees related to the financing of the Lena Knutsen.On the closing of the acquisition, KNOT 26 repaid approximately USD 41.9 million of the indebtedness, leaving USD 91.9 million of debt outstanding under the secured credit facility related to the vessel.KNOT Offshore Partners LP owns, operates and acquires shuttle tankers under long-term charters in the deep-water offshore oil production regions of the North Sea and Brazil. Including the Lena Knutsen, the partnership now has a fleet of fourteen vessels with an average age of 4.5 years and a fixed average employment of 4.4 years.
Boxer Systems, a UK solution provider for the video, film and TV markets, has agreed a new partnership with compression services firm V-Nova.Boxer will represent V-Nova’s line of Perseus-powered P.Link products for the contribution and remote production markets and will provide infrastructure support for the V-Nova P.Link customer base.“With a focus on solutions for media production and playout as well as content capture and processing, Boxer will provide a strong local presence and market expertise for our Perseus-powered P.Link compression solutions,” said Guido Meardi, CEO and co-founder of V-Nova.Boxer has worked for more than 25 years in the broadcast and post-production arenas, supplying equipment and integrated systems to clients including Arqiva, the BBC, Sky, Channel 4, ITV, and Technicolor.
Advertisement The Canon PowerShot N isn’t your typical point-and-shoot camera. Besides the compact form factor that includes a folding LCD and posts on the sides for attaching to a neck lanyard, there’s a button on the side that sports the Facebook logo. One press, and you’re ready to share the photos or videos you’ve just shot.Of course, that assumes the camera is connected via Wi-Fi, since there’s no 3G/4G option for the camera. But as long as you’re in a hotspot (or can tether to your phone), you’re in business. Pressing the Facebook button will immediately connect to the service, and you can upload, share and comment on pics and videos right from the camera.Otherwise, the extremely social PowerShot N is the same camera we first saw back in January at CES: a 12.1-megapixel compact camera with an 8x zoom, a 28mm wide-angle lens, a 2.8-inch touchscreen LCD and a “creative” mode meant to find the best possible picture by mixing up the composition, color and lighting of your shots. The original PowerShot N included a button to wirelessly send pics to a mobile device, but Canon found that most people used it as a bridge to Facebook, so why not make it a direct connection? – Advertisement – Canon’s Facebook PowerShot is far from the first device with a dedicated Facebook button — HTC has been doing that for some time on certain phones (although the recent “Facebook Home” phone, the HTC First, hasn’t been a success for the company).The regular version is still available, but the PowerShot N Facebook will be exclusive to the Canon Direct online store. It’ll cost $299.99 and will be available in September.In addition the Facebook PowerShot, Canon is debuting three new PowerShots with “advanced” Wi-Fi capabilities. The PowerShot G16, S120 and SX510 can quickly relay images to an iOS or Android device via the Canon CameraWindows app. The G16 and S120 also have an upgraded image processor, the DIGIC 6, said to reduce noise when at high ISO values as well as a new shooting mode called Star that’s configured to capture the night sky in brilliant detail.The new PowerShots start will be available this fall starting at $249.99 for the SX510, $449.99 for the S120 and $549.99 for the G16.Credit: Mashable
Reviewed by Kate Anderton, B.Sc. (Editor)Feb 5 2019Advances in stem cell research offer hope for treatments that could help patients regrow heart muscle tissue after heart attacks, a key to achieving more complete recovery.Scientists today report success in creating functional blood vessels in vitro for hearts of rats that had sustained a heart attack. The journal Nature Communications published the paper, whose lead authors are Ying Zheng and Charles Murry of the UW Medicine Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine in Seattle.”To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration that building organized blood vessels with perfusion outside the body leads to improved integration with host blood vessels and better tissue blood flow,” said Zheng, a University of Washington associate professor of bioengineering.Related StoriesHealthy blood vessels could help stave off cognitive declineIntermittent fasting shown to improve blood glucose levelsDon’t Miss the Blood-Brain Barrier Drug Delivery (B3DD) Summit this AugustThe scientists set out to show that by growing stem cell-derived heart tissue in a petri dish, with attention to blood vessels’ construction, they could improve the tissue’s incorporation with existing heart vessels.”I come from a mechanical background,” Zheng continued. “I love thinking about the dynamics of blood flow. Our whole bodies are vascularized. This network of vessels is dynamic and interconnected, like a transportation system that remodels itself all the time.”Disruption to blood flow during a heart attack leads to significant loss of heart muscle and heart function. Heart muscle grown from stem cells must not only survive and integrate with the host tissue, but it must also restore adequate blood flow, explained Murry. He is a UW professor of pathology, bioengineering, and medicine/cardiology.The research team used human stem cells to create a vascularized construct, or patch, with a functioning network of blood vessels that mimics the vasculature of a human heart.”Being able to organize the vessels in the tissue outside the body was very important,” Zheng said. “When we implanted the patch, we saw that the stem cell-derived tissue integrated effectively with the host’s coronary circulation. This improved blood flow to the engineered tissue and gave it the nutrients it needed to survive.”Optical microangiography imaging techniques developed by Ricky Wang, a UW professor of bioengineering, revealed that blood flow within the grafts was twentyfold higher than has been reported for any other such graft. This suggested that nurturing the tissue in the lab had a meaningful benefit for the heart cells before they were implanted into the rats’ hearts, the researchers said. Source:https://newsroom.uw.edu/news/vitro-grafts-increase-blood-flow-infarcted-rat-hearts
Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)May 13 2019University of Sydney research provides new evidence that nanoparticles, which are present in many food items, may have a substantial and harmful influence on human health.The study investigated the health impacts of food additive E171 (titanium dioxide nanoparticles) which is commonly used in high quantities in foods and some medicines as a whitening agent. Found in more than 900 food products such as chewing gum and mayonnaise, E171 is consumed in high proportion everyday by the general population.Published in Frontiers in Nutrition, the mice study found that consumption of food containing E171 has an impact on the gut microbiota (defined by the trillions of bacteria that inhabit the gut) which could trigger diseases such as inflammatory bowel diseases and colorectal cancer.Co-lead author Associate Professor Wojciech Chrzanowski said the study added substantially to a body of work on nanoparticle toxicity and safety and their impact on health and environment.”The aim of this research is to stimulate discussions on new standards and regulations to ensure safe use of nanoparticles in Australia and globally,” he said.While nanoparticles have been commonly used in medicines, foods, clothing, and other applications, the possible impacts of nanoparticles, especially their long term effects, are still poorly understood.Titanium dioxide consumption has considerably increased in the last decade and has already been linked to several medical conditions, and although it is approved in food, there is insufficient evidence about its safety.Increasing rates of dementia, auto-immune diseases, cancer metastasis, eczema, asthma, and autism are among a growing list of diseases that have been linked to soaring exposure to nanoparticles.Related StoriesDiet and nutrition influence microbiome in colonic mucosaNew protein target for deadly ovarian cancerLiving with advanced breast cancer”It is well established that dietary composition has an impact on physiology and health, yet the role of food additives is poorly understood,” said Associate Professor Chrzanowski, a nanotoxicology expert from the University of Sydney’s School of Pharmacy and Sydney Nano Institute.”There is increasing evidence that continuous exposure to nanoparticles has an impact on gut microbiota composition, and since gut microbiota is a gate keeper of our health, any changes to its function have an influence on overall health.””This study presents pivotal evidence that consumption of food containing food additive E171 (titanium dioxide) affects gut microbiota as well as inflammation in the gut, which could lead to diseases such as inflammatory bowel diseases and colorectal cancer,” he said.Co-lead author Associate Professor Laurence Macia from the University of Sydney said: “Our research showed that titanium dioxide interacts with bacteria in the gut and impairs some of their functions which may result in the development of diseases. We are saying that its consumption should be better regulated by food authorities.””This study investigated effects of titanium dioxide on gut health in mice and found that titanium dioxide did not change the composition of gut microbiota, but instead it affected bacteria activity and promoted their growth in a form of undesired biofilm. Biofilms are bacteria that stick together and the formation of biofilm has been reported in diseases such as colorectal cancer,” said Associate Professor Macia, who is an immunologist expert on the impacts of the gut and gut microbiota on health from the Faculty of Medicine and Health and the Charles Perkins Centre.Source: http://www.usyd.edu.au/
By Dr. Ananya Mandal, MDJun 11 2019Research has shown that women have a different immune system from men and may respond differently to different immune disease processes. For example, studies have shown that women are eight times more likely to get autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis compared to men but have a lower risk of certain cancers such as colon, kidney, melanomas and lung cancers. Further women seem to respond better to immunotherapies for certain cancers than men.A team of researchers from Arizona State University looked at the reason why the immune system in women is different from that of men. Their research was published this week in the journal Trends on Genetics. The team explains that this study could pave the way for deeper understanding of certain cancers and autoimmune disorders. The study is titled, “The pregnancy pickle: Evolved immune compensation due to pregnancy underlies sex differences in human diseases.” The Pregnancy Compensation Hypothesis suggests that evolution shaped men’s and women’s immune systems differently. It also suggests that in modern, industrialized populations, the reduced amount of time women spend pregnant and lactating, and other environmental effects on hormone levels, explains sexual differences in the risk for autoimmune diseases and certain cancers. Image Credit: Jacob Sahertian/ASU VisLab Melissa Wilson, assistant professor with ASU’s School of Life Sciences and senior author of the paper, in a statement said, “Until now, the differences between women and men in regards to human diseases have not been explained by existing theories. We are proposing a new theory called The Pregnancy Compensation Hypothesis.” Calling it the “pregnancy pickle”, she explained that the placenta and the pregnancy are “immunologically invasive” and the women bear them. This makes her immune system different from men. She said, “Basically, women’s immune systems evolved to facilitate their survival during the presence of an immunologically invasive placenta and pregnancy, and compensate so they could also survive the assault of parasites and pathogens. But now, in modern, industrialized societies, women are not pregnant all the time so they don’t have a placenta pushing back against the immune system. The changes in their reproductive ecology exacerbate the increased risk of autoimmune disease because immune surveillance is heightened. At the same time, we see a reduction in some diseases, like cancer.”Related StoriesMaking Bacterial Infections a Thing of the Past for Chronic Respiratory ConditionsComplement system shown to remove dead cells in retinitis pigmentosa, contradicting previous researchNanotechnology-based compound used to deliver hepatitis B vaccineLead author of the study Heini Natri is a postdoctoral scholar with the ASU Center for Evolution and Medicine. She said that this study reveals how immunotherapy could be tailor made for men and women. She said, “We think the Pregnancy Compensation Hypothesis can explain why there’s a big sex difference in these diseases. Going forward, understanding the evolutionary origin of the sex bias in these diseases can help us better understand the mechanisms and particular pieces of the immune system we can target.” She added, “Our goal is to actually make treatments better for everyone. We are realizing that cancer is different in men and women. In the study of most cancers and other diseases, and so far in the development of cancer treatments, that has not really been taken into account.”The researchers noted that urban modern lifestyle is a factor that can affect the immune systems as well. For example people living in urbanized and industrialized regions are more likely to suffer from autoimmune disorders. They explain that the immune system thrives when it is exposed to parasites and microbes. This keeps the system active. With urbanization, there is a reduction in this exposure to parasites. The immune system thus turns on itself. This is the basis for autoimmune diseases. Angela Garcia, one of the authors and a postdoctoral research fellow with the center explained, “There is a mismatch between the ancestral environment humans were adapted to, and the industrialized environment many people currently live in. In terms of an evolutionary timescale, our environment has changed incredibly fast.” She added, “We have also shifted from an active lifestyle to a sedentary one. We now have an overabundance of calories available, which potentially allows us to maintain excessive levels of hormones, including the female hormone estradiol. Maintaining such high levels of hormones may increase the chance of triggering autoimmune diseases.”Future research is being planned on the Pregnancy Compensation Hypothesis where both environment and genes would be taken into account said the authors. Kenneth H Buetow, a professor with the school and co-author of the study said, “We think this is more than a hypothesis. By using modern molecular biologic techniques in genetics and genomics, we can look at the differences between male and female immune systems, and between modern immune profiles and those in pre-industrial populations. By doing so, we may find new ways to prevent cancer and autoimmune diseases.” Wison agrees saying that there is a play between genes and the environment that leads to these autoimmune diseases. She said, “Going forward, we need to systematically collect environmental variables like pathogenic exposure, levels of stress and reproductive hormones, and parity. We have to understand these areas better.”The researchers concluded, “The PCH (Pregnancy Compensation Hypothesis) generates a series of expectations that can be tested empirically and that may help to identify the mechanisms underlying sex differences in modern human diseases.” Source:”The Pregnancy Pickle: Evolved Immune Compensation Due to Pregnancy Underlies Sex Differences in Human Diseases”, Trends in Genetics, Heini Natri, Angela R. Garcia, Kenneth H. Buetow, Benjamin C. Trumble, Melissa A. Wilson, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tig.2019.04.008, https://www.cell.com/trends/genetics/fulltext/S0168-9525(19)30079-4
© 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Krebs, the top official in the department’s National Protection and Programs Directorate, noted in the letter that DHS lacks the equipment and funding to detect Stingrays even though their use by foreign governments “may threaten U.S. national and economic security.” The department did report its findings to “federal partners” Krebs did not name. That presumably includes the FBI.The CEO of ESD America, Les Goldsmith, said his company has a relationship with DHS but would not comment further.Legislators have been raising alarms about the use of Stingrays in the capital since at least 2014, when Goldsmith and other security-company researchers conducted public sweeps that located suspected unauthorized devices near the White House, the Supreme Court, the Commerce Department and the Pentagon, among other locations.The executive branch, however, has shied away from even discussing the subject.Aaron Turner, president of the mobile security consultancy Integricell, was among the experts who conducted the 2014 sweeps, in part to try to drum up business. Little has changed since, he said.Like other major world capitals, he said, Washington is awash in unauthorized interception devices. Foreign embassies have free rein because they are on sovereign soil.Every embassy “worth their salt” has a cell tower simulator installed, Turner said. They use them “to track interesting people that come toward their embassies.” The Russians’ equipment is so powerful it can track targets a mile away, he said. Shutting down rogue Stingrays is an expensive proposition that would require wireless network upgrades the industry has been loath to pay for, security experts say. It could also lead to conflict with U.S. intelligence and law enforcement.In addition to federal agencies, police departments use them in at least 25 states and the District of Columbia, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.Wyden said in a statement Tuesday that “leaving security to the phone companies has proven to be disastrous.” He added that the FCC has refused to hold the industry accountable “despite repeated warnings and clear evidence that our phone networks are being exploited by foreign governments and hackers.”After the 2014 news reports about Stingrays in Washington, Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla, wrote the FCC in alarm. In a reply, then-FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said the agency had created a task force to combat illicit and unauthorized use of the devices. In that letter, the FCC did not say it had identified such use itself, but cited media reports of the security sweeps.That task force appears to have accomplished little. A former adviser to Wheeler, Gigi Sohn, said there was no political will to tackle the issue against opposition from the intelligence community and local police forces that were using the devices “willy-nilly.””To the extent that there is a major problem here, it’s largely due to the FCC not doing its job,” said Laura Moy of the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown University. The agency, she said, should be requiring wireless carriers to protect their networks from such security threats and “ensuring that anyone transmitting over licensed spectrum actually has a license to do it.”FCC spokesman Neil Grace, however, said the agency’s only role is “certifying” such devices to ensure they don’t interfere with other wireless communications, much the way it does with phones and Wi-Fi routers. This undated file photo provided by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office shows the StingRay II, a cellular site simulator used for surveillance purposes manufactured by Harris Corporation, of Melbourne, Fla. The Department of Homeland Security says it has identified suspected rogue cell tower simulators in Washington. The suspected simulators, known popularly as Stingrays, were detected by a DHS contractor in early 2017 during a 90-day pilot. (U.S. Patent and Trademark Office via AP, File) More information: DHS letter to Sen. Ron Wyden: apne.ws/eJ7JipMDHS enclosure in letter to Sen. Ron Wyden: apne.ws/dBMPqWw This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. In this Nov. 28, 2017, file photo, Sen. Ron Wyden speaks during a committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. TFor the first time, the U.S. government is publicly acknowledging the existence in Washington of what appear to be rogue devices that foreign spies and criminals could be using to track individual cellphones and intercept calls and messages. In a March 26 letter to Wyden obtained by the Associated Press, the Department of Homeland Security acknowledged that it identified suspected unauthorized cell-site simulators in Washington last year. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File) The reply from DHS official Christopher Krebs noted that DHS had observed “anomalous activity” consistent with Stingrays in the Washington area. A DHS official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the letter has not been publicly released added that the devices were detected in a 90-day trial that began in January 2017 with equipment from a Las Vegas-based DHS contractor, ESD America . The use of what are known as cellphone-site simulators by foreign powers has long been a concern, but American intelligence and law enforcement agencies—which use such eavesdropping equipment themselves—have been silent on the issue until now.In a March 26 letter to Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, the Department of Homeland Security acknowledged that last year it identified suspected unauthorized cell-site simulators in the nation’s capital. The agency said it had not determined the type of devices in use or who might have been operating them. Nor did it say how many it detected or where.The agency’s response, obtained by The Associated Press from Wyden’s office, suggests little has been done about such equipment, known popularly as Stingrays after a brand common among U.S. police departments. The Federal Communications Commission, which regulates the nation’s airwaves, formed a task force on the subject four years ago, but it never produced a report and no longer meets regularly.The devices work by tricking mobile devices into locking onto them instead of legitimate cell towers, revealing the exact location of a particular cellphone. More sophisticated versions can eavesdrop on calls by forcing phones to step down to older, unencrypted 2G wireless technology. Some attempt to plant malware.They can cost anywhere from $1,000 to about $200,000. They are commonly the size of a briefcase; some are as small as a cellphone. They can be placed in a car next to a government building. The most powerful can be deployed in low-flying aircraft.Thousands of members of the military, the NSA, the CIA, the FBI and the rest of the national-security apparatus live and work in the Washington area. The surveillance-savvy among them encrypt their phone and data communications and employ electronic countermeasures. But unsuspecting citizens could fall prey.Wyden, a Democrat, wrote DHS in November requesting information about unauthorized use of the cell-site simulators. What are cell site simulators? And how do they work? Citation: APNewsBreak: US suspects cellphone spying devices in DC (2018, April 3) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-04-apnewsbreak-cellphone-spying-devices-dc.html In this April 30, 2015, file photo, a Capitol Hill staffer looks down at papers while on a cell phone while walking inside the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Department of Homeland Security acknowledges detecting suspected cell tower simulators in Washington, D.C. These devices can track specific cell phones and even intercept or divert calls and text messages. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File) Explore further For the first time, the U.S. government has publicly acknowledged the existence in Washington of what appear to be rogue devices that foreign spies and criminals could be using to track individual cellphones and intercept calls and messages.