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KentuckyFC (1144503) writes 'Back in 2012, astronomers constructed an array of 256 radio antennas in the high deserts of New Mexico designed to listen for radio waves produced by gamma ray bursts, one of the most energetic phenomena in universe and thought to be associated with the collapse of a rapidly rotating stars to form neutron stars and black holes. The array generates all sky images of signals produced in the 25 MHz to 75 MHz region of the spectrum. But when researchers switched it on, they began to observe puzzling streaks across the sky that couldn't possibly be generated by gamma ray bursts. One source left a trail covering more than 90 degrees of the sky in less than 10 seconds. This trail then slowly receded to an endpoint which glowed for around 90 seconds. Now the first study of these transient radio signals has discovered that they are almost certainly produced by fireballs as they burn up after entering the Earth's atmosphere. The conclusion comes after the researchers were able to match several of the radio images with visible light images of fireballs gathered by NASA's All Sky Fireball Network. That solves the mystery but not without introducing another to keep astrophysicists busy in future. The question they're scratching their heads over now is how the plasma trails left by meteors can emit radio waves at this frequency.'
theodp writes 'Politico reports that parents have mobilized into an unexpected political force to fight the data mining of their children, catapulting student privacy to prominence in statehouses. Having already torpedoed the $100 million, Bill Gates-funded inBloom database project, which could have made it easier for schools to share confidential student records with private companies, the amateur activists are now rallying against another perceived threat: huge state databases being built to track children for more than two decades, from as early as infancy through the start of their careers. "The Education Department," writes Stephanie Simon, "lists hundreds of questions that it urges states to answer about each child in the public school system: Did she make friends easily as a toddler? Was he disciplined for fighting as a teen? Did he take geometry? Does she suffer from mental illness? Did he go to college? Did he graduate? How much does he earn?" Leonie Haimson, a NY mother who is organizing a national Parent Coalition for Student Privacy says, "Every parent I've talked to has been horrified. We just don't want our kids tracked from cradle to grave." For their part, ed tech entrepreneurs and school reformers are both bewildered by and anxious about the backlash — and struggling to craft a response, having assumed parents would support their vision: to mine vast quantities of data for insights into what's working, and what's not, for individual students and for the education system as a whole. "People took for granted that parents would understand [the benefits], that it was self-evident," said Michael Horn, a co-founder an education think tank."
An anonymous reader writes "A new report from the Modern Language Association focuses on the decline of Ph.D. programs in the humanities over the past several years. "These programs have gotten both more difficult and less rewarding: today, it can take almost a decade to get a doctorate, and, at the end of your program, you're unlikely to find a tenure-track job." According to the report, 40% of new Ph.D.s won't be able to find tenure-track jobs, and many of the rest won't manage to receive tenure at all. "Different people will tell you different stories about where all the jobs went. Some critics think that the humanities have gotten too weird—that undergrads, turned off by an overly theoretical approach, don't want to participate anymore, and that teaching opportunities have disappeared as a result. ... Others point to the corporatization of universities, which are increasingly inclined to hire part-time, 'adjunct' professors, rather than full-time, tenure-track ones, to teach undergrads. Adjuncts are cheaper; perhaps more importantly, they are easier to hire." The MLA doesn't want to reduce enrollments, but they think the grad school programs should be quicker to complete and dissertations should be shorter and less complex."
An anonymous reader sends a report from Vice which alleges that a trade group for internet service providers is building support for its crusade against net neutrality by funding opinion pieces and letters that masquerade as legitimate public sentiment. 'A disclosure obtained by VICE from the National Cable and Telecom Association (NCTA), a trade group for ISPs, shows that the bulk of Broadband for America's recent $3.5 million budget is funded through a $2 million donation from NCTA. Last month, Broadband for America wrote a letter to the FCC bluntly demanding that the agency "categorically reject" any effort toward designating broadband as a public utility. It wasn't signed by any internet consumer advocates, as the Sununu-Ford letter suggests. The signatures on the letter reads like a who's who of ISP industry presidents and CEOs, including AT&T's Randall Stephenson, Cox Communications' Patrick Esser, NCTA president (and former FCC commissioner) Michael Powell, Verizon's Lowell McAdam, and Comcast's Brian Roberts. Notably, Broadband for America's most recent tax filing shows that it retained the DCI Group, an infamous lobbying firm that specializes in creating fake citizen groups on behalf of corporate campaigns.'
theodp (442580) writes '"It is hard to imagine any more heinous way of earning money than by benefiting from racism," writes Rick Cohen, who argues that Donald Sterling and the NBA owners are being unjustly enriched by Sterling's racism, which led to the $2 billion sale of the L.A. Clippers to ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, a record-high sum for an NBA team. "Indeed, the only losers in the Sterling affair are the players," adds the NY Times. "What held promise as a possible D-Day in the N.B.A., a day when N.B.A. owners stood up to be counted and voted Donald Sterling out of the league, instead turned into a great day for the status quo." Forbes contributor Robert Wood speculates that if he plays his cards right, Sterling's windfall could be tax-free.'
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes 'Earlier this week, attempts to cut NASA's budget were defeated, and it looks like the largest space agency in the world will actually be getting nearly a 2% budget increase overall. While common news outlets are touting this as a great budget victory, the reality is that this is shaping up to be just another year of pathetic funding levels, putting our greatest dreams of exploring and understanding the Universe on hold. A sobering read for anyone who hasn't realized what we could be doing.'
Freshly Exhumed (105597) writes 'Canada is poised to buy 65 Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets, sources familiar with the process told Reuters. A detailed, 18-month review of Canada's fighter jet needs has concluded that the government should skip a new competition and proceed with the C$9 billion ($8.22 billion) purchase, three sources said. When the F-35 purchase was first proposed, Canadians were alarmed by the colossal price tag, and also that no fly-off competition had been conducted or was planned. This latest news is sure to rekindle criticism that the RCAF's requirements seem to have been written after the fact to match the F-35's capabilities (or lack thereof)."
Daniel_Stuckey (2647775) writes 'A year after leaked files exposed the National Security Agency's efforts to spy on citizens and companies in Brazil, previously unpublished chat logs obtained by Motherboard reveal that while under the FBI's supervision, Hector Xavier Monsegur, widely known by his online persona, "Sabu," facilitated attacks that affected Brazilian websites.The operation raises questions about how the FBI uses global Internet vulnerabilities during cybercrime investigations, how it works with informants, and how it shares information with other police and intelligence agencies.
After his arrest in mid-2011, Monsegur continued to organize cyber attacks while working for the FBI. According to documents and interviews, Monsegur passed targets and exploits to hackers to disrupt government and corporate servers in Brazil and several other countries. Details about his work as a federal informant have been kept mostly secret, aired only in closed-door hearings and in redacted documents that include chat logs between Monsegur and other hackers. The chat logs remain under seal due to a protective order upheld in court, but in April, they and other court documents were obtained by journalists at Motherboard and the Daily Dot.'
chicksdaddy (814965) writes 'As the U.S. Senate considers draft legislation governing the commercial use of location data, The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is asking Congress to make it — not the Department of Justice — the chief rule maker and enforcer of policies for the collection and sharing of geolocation information, the Security Ledger reports.
Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection, told the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee for Privacy, Technology that the Commission would like to see changes to the wording of the Location Privacy Protection Act of 2014 (LPPA) . The LPPA is draft legislation introduced by Sen. Al Franken that carves out new consumer protections for location data sent and received by mobile phones, tablets and other portable computing devices. Rich said that the FTC, as the U.S. Government's leading privacy enforcement agency, should be given rule making and enforcement authority for the civil provisions of the LPPA. The current draft of the law instead gives that authority to the Department of Justice.
The LPPA updates the Electronic Communications Privacy Act to take into account the widespread and availability and commercial use of geolocation information provided. LPPA requires that companies get individuals' permission before collecting location data off of smartphones, tablets, or in-car navigation devices, and before sharing it with others.
It would prevent what Franken refers to as "GPS stalking," preventing companies from collecting location data in secret. LPPA also requires companies to reveal the kinds of data they collect and how they share and use it, bans the development, operation, and sale of GPS stalking apps and requires the federal government to collect data on GPS stalking and facilitate reporting of GPS stalking by the public.'
hype7 (239530) writes 'The Harvard Business Review is running a fascinating article on how finance is increasingly abstracting itself — and the gains it makes — away from the creation of value in the real world, and how High Frequency Trading is the most extreme version of this phenomenon yet. From the article: "High frequency trading is a different phenomenon from the increasing focus on short term returns by human investors. But they're borne from a similar mindset: one in which financial returns are the priority, independent of whether they're associated with something innovative or useful in the real world. What Lewis's book demonstrated to me isn't just how "bad" HFTs are per se, but rather, what happens when finance keeps walking down the path it seems to be set on — a path that involves abstracting itself from the creation of real-world value. The final destination? It will enter a world entirely of its own — a world in which it is fighting to capture value that is completely independent of whether any is created in the first place."'
reifman (786887) writes 'Last week, AT&T shut down my data service after I turned roaming on in Canada for one minute to check Google maps. I wasn't able to connect successfully but they reported my phone burned through 50 MB and that I owed more than $750. Google maps generally require 1.3 MB per cell. They adamantly refused to reactivate my U.S. data service unless I 'agreed' to purchase an international data roaming package to cover the usage. They eventually reversed the charges but it seems that the company's billing system had bundled my U.S. data usage prior to the border crossing with the one minute of international data roaming.'
Today, as the EFF notes, marks one year from Edward Snowden's first document leaks, and the group is using that as a good spur to install free software intended to make it harder for anyone (the NSA is certainly not the first, and arguably far from the worst) to spy on your electronic communications. Nowadays, that means nearly everything besides face-to-face communication, or paper shipped through the world's postal systems. Reader gnujoshua (540710) highlights one of the options: 'The FSF has published a (rather beautiful) infographic and guide to encrypting your email using GnuPG. In their blog post announcing the guide they write: "One year ago today, an NSA contractor named Edward Snowden went public with his history-changing revelations about the NSA's massive system of indiscriminate surveillance. Today the FSF is releasing Email Self-Defense, a guide to personal email encryption to help everyone, including beginners, make the NSA's job a little harder.'" Serendipitous timing: a year and a day ago, we mentioned a UN report that made explicit the seemingly obvious truth that undue government surveillance, besides being an affront in itself, chills free speech. (Edward Snowden agrees.)
First time accepted submitter Randy Davis (3683081) writes 'A report from Forbes says that Sprint buying T-mobile for $32 billion is almost done. This will clearly rock the top two telecommunication companies in the U.S., Verizon and AT&T. The news report also said that T-mobile will give up 67% share in exchange of 15% share of the merged company. Officials of both Sprint and T-Mobile are confident that FCC will approve this deal since AT&T's $48.5 billion acquisition of DirecTV got approved.' One reason for that confidence: "The predominant feeling is that combined T-Mobile and Sprint will be able to offer greater competition to Verizon and AT&T , ranked first and second respectively in the U.S. market. It will also give Sprint greater might in the upcoming 600 megahertz spectrum auction, especially since part of it excludes both Verizon and AT&T from bidding."
InforWorld puts the potential price even higher, and points out that the deal could still fall apart.
Maddog Batty (112434) writes 'The fine people at the NASA Space Flight Forum are making good progress on restoring the corrupted landing video reported earlier. It worth looking at the original video to see how bad it was and then at the latest restored video. It is now possible to see the legs being deployed, the sea coming closer and a big flame ball as the rocket plume hits the water. An impressive improvement so far and it is still being actively worked on so further refinements are likely.' Like Maddog Batty, I'd suggest watching the restored version first (note: the video is lower on the page), to see just what a big improvement's been made so far.
Jabrwock (985861) writes 'One of the biggest limitations on lithium battery-powered electric cars has been their range. Last year Israeli-based Phinergy introduced an "aluminum-air" battery. Today, partnering with Alcoa Canada, they announced a demo of the battery, which is charged up at Alcoa's aluminum smelter in Quebec. The plant uses hydro-electric power to charge up the battery, which would then need a tap-water refill every few months, and a swap (ideally at a local dealership) every 3,000km, since it cannot be recharged as simply as Lithium. The battery is meant to boost the range of standard electric cars, which would still use the Lithium batteries for short-range trips. The battery would add about 100 kg to an existing Tesla car's battery weight.'
Bismillah (993337) writes 'The British government wants life in prison for hackers who cause disruption to computer networks, resulting in loss of life or threat to the country's national security. From the article: "The UK government will seek to amend the 1990 Computer Misuse Act "to ensure sentences for attacks on computer systems fully reflect the damage they cause. Currently, the law provides for a maximum sentence of ten years' imprisonment for those who commit the offence of impairing a computer. A new, aggravated offence of unauthorised access to a computer will be introduced into the Computer Misuse Act by the government, carrying far longer sentences."'
hazeii (5702) writes in with news about a secret trial set to take place in England. 'A major terrorism trial is set to be held entirely in secret for the first time in British legal history in an unprecedented departure from the principles of open justice, the court of appeal has heard. The identities of the two defendants charged with serious terror offences are being withheld from the public, and the media are banned from being present in court to report the forthcoming trial against the two men, known only as AB and CD.'
sciencehabit (1205606) writes 'Plastic may be with us a lot longer than we thought. In addition to clogging up landfills and becoming trapped in Arctic ice, some of it is turning into stone. Scientists say a new type of rock cobbled together from plastic, volcanic rock, beach sand, seashells, and corals has begun forming on the shores of Hawaii. The new material--which the researchers are calling a "plastiglomerate"--may be becoming so pervasive that it actually becomes part of the geologic record.'
MarkWhittington (1084047) writes 'The National Research Council issued its report on the future of space exploration. The report stated that the "horizon goal" for any program of space exploration in the near term (i.e. the next two decades) is a Mars surface expedition. It also stated that the current NASA program, which includes a mission that would snag an asteroid, put it in lunar orbit, and visit it with astronauts is inadequate to meet that goal.
The report gave two reasons for its critique of the current NASA program. First the asteroid redirect mission would not create and test technologies necessary to conduct a crewed Mars mission. Second, NASA projects essentially flat budgets for the foreseeable future. Any space exploration program worthy of the name will cost considerably more money, with five percent increases in NASA funding for a number of years.'
An anonymous reader writes "How good are open source graphics drivers in 2014 given all the Linux gaming and desktop attention? Phoronix has tested 65 different GPUs using the latest open source drivers covering Intel HD Graphics, NVIDIA GeForce, AMD Radeon, and AMD FirePro hardware. Of the 65 GPUs tested, only 50 of them had good enough open source driver support for running OpenGL games and benchmarks. Across the NVIDIA and AMD hardware were several pages of caveats with different driver issues encountered on Linux 3.15 and Mesa 10.3 loaded on Ubuntu 14.04. Intel graphics on Linux were reliable but slow while AMD's open-source Linux support was recommended over the NVIDIA support that doesn't currently allow for suitable graphics card re-clocking. Similar tests are now being done with the proprietary Linux drivers."
coondoggie writes: "The FBI today said it was making national a pilot program it tried out in 12 locations earlier this year that offers up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest of anyone who intentionally aims a laser at an aircraft. According to the FBI, the pilot locations have seen a 19% decrease in the number of reported laser-to-aircraft incidents. Those locations included: Albuquerque, Chicago, Cleveland, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, and Philadelphia."
jfruh (300774) writes "Ben Wellington is a New Yorker and city planner with an interest in NYC Open Data, the city's online open government initiative. One thing he noticed in this vast dataset was that just two fire hydrants in the city generated tens of thousands of dollars a year in tickets. The sleuthing by which he figured out why is a great example of how open government data can help citizens in concrete ways."
Glyn Moody (946055) writes "The main claims about likely economic gains from concluding the US-EU trade agreement TAFTA/TTIP, billed as a 'once-in-a-generation prize,' are increasingly under attack. BEUC, representing 41 consumer organizations from 31 European countries, has written a letter to the EU Trade Commissioner responsible for the negotiations, Karel De Gucht, complaining about his 'exaggeration of the effects of the TTIP,' and 'use of unsubstantiated figures regarding the job creation potential.' In a blog post entitled 'Why Is It So Acceptable to Lie to Promote Trade Deals?,' Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, has even harsher words: 'Implying that a deal that raises GDP by 0.4 or 0.5 percent 13 years out means "job-creating opportunities for workers on both continents" is just dishonest. The increment to annual growth is on the order of 0.03 percentage points. Good luck finding that in the data.' If the best-case outcome is just 0.03% extra growth per year, is TAFTA/TTIP worth the massive upheavals it will require to both US and EU regulatory systems to achieve that?"
MrBingoBoingo writes with news that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has settled federal civil charges with Erik Voorhees, a man who sold shares of two businesses in exchange for Bitcoins without registering them. Voorhees must make restitution for the $15,000 in profit he made, plus interest, and a $35,000 fine. Here's the SEC's filing (PDF). "The agreement reflects an expanded effort by U.S. regulators to cast a wider net over the burgeoning bitcoin economy. It comes as investor enthusiasm grows for direct offerings of shares by new bitcoin-focused ventures over bitcoin's global computer network. Maidsafe, a system for sharing computer memory, raised $7 million last month in such a deal."
New submitter Tailhook writes: "Linux Mint 17 'Qiana', a long term support edition of Linux Mint, has been released. Mint 17 is available in both MATE and Cinnamon editions. Mint 17 is derived from Ubuntu 14.04 (Trusty Tahr) and will receive security updates until April, 2019. The Cinnamon edition provides Cinnamon 2.2, with a much improved update manager, driver manager, HiDPI display support and many usability refinements. This release of Mint establishes a baseline on which the next several releases will be based: 'Until 2016 the development team won't start working on a new base and will be fully focused on this one; future versions of Linux Mint will use the same package base as Linux Mint 17, making it trivial for people to upgrade.'"
Lucas123 (935744) writes "Cody Wilson, the 26-year-old former law school student who published plans for printing 3D guns online, disputed claims by universities and government agencies that his thermoplastic gun design is unsafe. Wilson claims the agencies that tested the guns did not build them to spec. In a Q&A with Computerworld, he also addressed why he's continuing to press regulatory agencies to allow him to offer the plans again for upload after being ordered to take them down, saying it's less about the Second Amendment and more about the implications of open source and the digital age. "If you want to talk about rights, what does it mean to respect a civil liberty or civil right? Well, it means you understand there are social costs in having that right; that's why it deserves protection in the first place," he said. Wilson is also planning to release other gun-related project, though not necessarily a CAD design."
darthcamaro (735685) writes "Barely a week after Robyn Bergeron announced her intention to step down, Red Hat today announced that Matthew Miller is now the new Fedora Project Leader. Miller is the guy that came up with the whole Fedora.next proposal which is now reshaping Red Hat's community Linux project. Miller has a clear view of how his leadership will work in the cat-herding world of open source: 'As the FPL, you've got the responsibility, but no actual authority to tell anyone to do things,' Miller said. 'So you have to find people that have an interest and are aligned with the direction you want to go.'"
An anonymous reader writes "The Seattle City Council announced on Monday that it has unanimously approved a $15 per hour minimum wage mandate. The new rate will go into effect starting April 1, 2015 in a tiered, gradual manner that depends on employer size. In the first year of implementation, hourly minimum wage will be raised to either $10 or $11 according to the employer size category. By 2021, hourly minimum wage across the board should be at or above $15. Seattle is the first city to implement a living wage for its lowest earners."
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "For biomedical researchers who aspire to run their own labs, the secret is to publish frequently, as first author, and in top journals. That career advice may seem obvious, but this time it's backed up by a new analysis of data scraped from PubMed, the massive public repository of biological abstracts. The study, reported today in Current Biology, uses the status of last author as a proxy for academic success. Those corresponding authors are likely to be running their own labs, the brass ring that young researchers are trying to grab. See what your chances are using Science's PI Predictor graph."
astroengine (1577233) writes "Meet 'mega-Earth' a souped-up, all-solid planet that, according to theory, should not exist. First spotted by NASA's Kepler space telescope, the planet is about 2.3 times larger than Earth. Computer models show planets that big would be more like Neptune or the other gas planets of the outer solar system since they would have the gravitational heft to collect vast amounts of hydrogen and helium from their primordial cradles. But follow-up observations of the planet, designated as Kepler-10c, show it has 17 times as much mass as Earth, meaning it must be filled with rock and other materials much heavier than hydrogen and helium. 'Kepler-10c is a big problem for the theory,' astronomer Dimitar Sasselov, director of the Harvard Origins of Life Initiative, told Discovery News. 'It's nice that we have a solid piece of evidence and measurements for it because that gives motivations to the theorists to improve the theory,' he said."
tsu doh nimh (609154) writes "The U.S. Justice Department announced today an international law enforcement operation to seize control over the Gameover ZeuS botnet, a sprawling network of hacked Microsoft Windows computers that currently infects an estimated 500,000 to 1 million compromised systems globally. Experts say PCs infected with Gameover are being harvested for sensitive financial and personal data, and that the botnet is responsible for more than $100 million in losses from online banking account takeovers. The government alleges that Gameover also was rented out to an elite cadre of hackers for use in online extortion attacks, spam and other illicit moneymaking schemes. In a complaint unsealed today, the DOJ further alleges that ZeuS and Gameover are the brainchild of a Russian man named Evgeniy Mikhailovich Bogachev, a.k.a. 'Slavik.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Google is planning to spend over $1 billion on a fleet of satellites to extend Internet access to unwired regions around the world. 'The projected price ranges from about $1 billion to more than $3 billion, the people familiar with the project said, depending on the network's final design and a later phase that could double the number of satellites. Based on past satellite ventures, costs could rise. Google's project is the latest effort by a Silicon Valley company to extend Internet coverage from the sky to help its business on the ground. Google and Facebook Inc. are counting on new Internet users in underserved regions to boost revenue, and ultimately, earnings. "Google and Facebook are trying to figure out ways of reaching populations that thus far have been unreachable," said Susan Irwin, president of Irwin Communications Inc., a satellite-communications research firm. "Wired connectivity only goes so far and wireless cellular networks reach small areas. Satellites can gain much broader access."'"
Daniel Ellsberg, no slouch himself in bringing to public awareness documents that reveal uncomfortable facts about government operations, says that "Edward Snowden is the greatest patriot whistleblower of our time." Ellsberg says, in an editorial at The Guardian pointed out by reader ABEND (15913), that Snowden cannot receive a fair trial without reform of the Espionage Act. According to Ellsberg, "Snowden would come back home to a jail cell – and not just an ordinary cell-block but isolation in solitary confinement, not just for months like Chelsea Manning but for the rest of his sentence, and probably the rest of his life. His legal adviser, Ben Wizner, told me that he estimates Snowden's chance of being allowed out on bail as zero. (I was out on bond, speaking against the Vietnam war, the whole 23 months I was under indictment). More importantly, the current state of whistleblowing prosecutions under the Espionage Act makes a truly fair trial wholly unavailable to an American who has exposed classified wrongdoing. Legal scholars have strongly argued that the US supreme court – which has never yet addressed the constitutionality of applying the Espionage Act to leaks to the American public – should find the use of it overbroad and unconstitutional in the absence of a public interest defense. The Espionage Act, as applied to whistleblowers, violates the First Amendment, is what they're saying. As I know from my own case, even Snowden's own testimony on the stand would be gagged by government objections and the (arguably unconstitutional) nature of his charges. That was my own experience in court, as the first American to be prosecuted under the Espionage Act – or any other statute – for giving information to the American people." Ellsberg rejects the distinction made by John Kerry in praising Ellsberg's own whistleblowing as patriotic, but Snowden's as cowardly and traitorous.
New submitter janvlug (3677453) writes "[As of Saturday, May 31], the OpenPandora case and hardware design files have been released for non-commercial use. The OpenPandora is a hand held Linux computer with gaming controls, but essentially it is an all-purpose computer. The OpenPandora offers the greatest possible degree of software freedom to a vibrant community of users and developers."
Advocatus Diaboli (1627651) writes "The National Security Agency is harvesting huge numbers of images of people from communications that it intercepts through its global surveillance operations for use in sophisticated facial recognition programs, according to top-secret documents. The spy agency's reliance on facial recognition technology has grown significantly over the last four years as the agency has turned to new software to exploit the flood of images included in emails, text messages, social media, videoconferences and other communications, the N.S.A. documents reveal. Agency officials believe that technological advances could revolutionize the way that the N.S.A. finds intelligence targets around the world, the documents show. The agency's ambitions for this highly sensitive ability and the scale of its effort have not previously been disclosed."
schwit1 (797399) writes "As many as 227 million Americans may be compelled to disclose intimate details of their families and financial lives — including their Social Security numbers — in a new national database being assembled by two federal agencies. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau posted an April 16 Federal Register notice of an expansion of their joint National Mortgage Database Program to include personally identifiable information that reveals actual users, a reversal of previously stated policy. The FHFA will manage the database and share it with CFPB. A CFPB internal planning document for 2013-17 describes the bureau as monitoring 95 percent of all mortgage transactions. FHFA officials claim the database is essential to conducting a monthly mortgage survey required by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 and to help it prepare an annual report for Congress."
Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "The ongoing efforts to assign responsibility for the disastrous attempts to create the Cover Oregon health exchange, the primary contractor for which was Oracle Corporation, have entered a new round, with Governor John Kitzhaber calling on State Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum to initiate legal action against the firm. Kitzhaber has also sought the help of Washington D.C. in sanctioning Oracle, though Oregon's own management of the project and the terms of their contract with Oracle muddy the waters, considerably. Although the AG's office hasn't committed to filing suit, yet, AG Rosenblum has said, 'I share your determination to recover every dollar to which Oregon is entitled.' Although the outcome of this is uncertain, it is likely heads, both corporate and political, will roll."
Lucas123 (935744) writes "It appears an Idaho-based company that created prototype panels for constructing roads that (among other features) gather solar power, will be going into production after it exceeded its crowdfunding goal of $1M. ... Solar Roadways' Indiegogo project has already exceeded $1.6 million. The hexagonal-shaped solar panels consist of four layers, including photovoltaic cells, LED lights, an electronic support structure (circuit board) and a base layer made of recyclable materials. The panels plug together to form circuits that can then use LED lights to create any number of traffic patterns, as well as issue lighted warnings for drivers. The panels also have the ability to melt snow and ice. Along with the crowdfunding money, Solar Roadways has received federal grant money for development."
First time accepted submitter TC+0 (3672227) writes "Inspired by comments regarding its first incarnation, the Terran Computational Calendar's recent redefinition now includes dynamic support for 'leap duration', 'year bases', and 'datemods'. Here's the new abstract from terrancalendar.com (wikia mirror) captured at 44.5.20,6.26.48 TC+7H:
Synchronized with the northern winter solstice, the terran computational calendar began roughly* 10 days before the UNIX Epoch. Each year is composed of 13 identical 28-day months, followed by a 'minimonth' that houses leap days (one most years and two every 4th but not 128th year) and leap seconds (issued by the IERS during that year). Each date is an unambiguous instant in time that exploits zero-based numbering and a handful of delimiters to represent the number of years and constant length months, days, hours, minutes, and seconds that have elapsed since 0TC (the calendar's starting point). An optional 'year base' may be applied to ignore erratic leap duration. Arithmetic date adjusting 'datemods' can be applied to define things like weeks, quarters, and regional times."
miller60 (554835) writes "Citing strong demand from cryptocurrency miners, data center and colocation providers are beginning to accept Bitcoin as payment for large chunks of data center space. It's a sign that the data center industry sees an emerging opportunity in catering to the hosting needs of crypto miners, who typically seek high-density space with cheap power. While many web hosting companies accept Bitcoin, larger data center players have been slower to embrace cryptocurrency. Utah-based C7 Data Centers says it's accepting Bitcoin because of surging demand. The Utah-based company says it now hosts about 4.5 megawatts of mining gear, just down the road from the NSA data center." On-topic: Dish Networks has recently become the biggest company to accept Bitcoins.
New submitter graveyardjohn writes: "The BBC has a short video about why the U.K.'s National Ballistics Intelligence Service thinks 3D-printed guns are 'of no use to anyone.' They show a 3D-printed gun being fired in a test chamber. The barrel explodes and the bullet flops forward a few feet. They say, 'without additional expertise and the right type of ammunition, anyone attempting to fire one would probably maim or even kill themselves.'"
mpicpp (3454017) writes "YouTube has released a tool that can show you how your video-streaming quality compares to your neighbor's. 'The Google Video Quality Report is available to people in the U.S. and Canada, where it launched in January. It compares your streaming video quality to three standards: HD Verified, when your provider can deliver HD video consistently at a resolution of at least 720p without buffering or interruptions; Standard Definition, for consistent video streaming at 360p; and Lower Definition, for videos that regularly play at less than 360p or often are interrupted."
DroidJason1 (3589319) writes "Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has purchased the LA Clippers for a whopping $2 billion, also setting a new record price for an NBA team. This deal is apparently tentative until Donald Sterling gives his blessing. Twenty-nine other NBA owners need to offer their approval as well, but that shouldn't be a problem as long as Ballmer reaffirms his commitment of keeping the Clippers in Los Angeles. Interestingly, Donald Sterling had purchased the team back in June of 1981 for $12.5 million." We talked about this earlier in the week when rumors of the purchase started circulating.
An anonymous reader writes "LeVar Burton and the rest of the Reading Rainbow crew opened a Kickstarter campaign to bring back Reading Rainbow yesterday, with the ambitious goal of collecting a million dollars for their cause. They are now at almost two million dollars, with over a month left to go. 'This Kickstarter campaign is about reaching every web-connected child. Universal access. Thousands of more books than what we have now. And hundreds of more video field trips,' Burton said."
mspohr (589790) points out NBC News's interview with Edward Snowden, the first time Snowden has talked with an American television reporter. It's a wide-ranging conversation, in which Snowden emphasizes his ongoing belief that he did the right thing to release the many documents that he did, even at the cost of his ability to travel. Snowden told NBC's Brian Williams "he had tried to go through channels before leaking documents to journalists, repeatedly raising objections inside the NSA, in writing, to its widespread use of surveillance. But he said he was told, "more or less, in bureaucratic language, 'You should stop asking questions.'" Two U.S. officials confirmed Wednesday that Snowden sent at least one email to the NSA's office of general counsel raising policy and legal questions." Perhaps paving the way to eventual repatriation, Snowden also indicated that he would be willing to accept a "short period" behind bars. But, he said, the U.S. should "reform the Espionage Act to distinguish between people who sell secrets to foreign governments for their own gain and people who return information to public hands for the purpose of serving the public interest," and to include contractors as well as government employees.
Daniel_Stuckey (2647775) writes "The environmental benefits of streaming a movie (or downloading it) rather than purchasing a DVD are staggering, according to a new U.S. government study by researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. If all DVDs purchased in 2011 were streamed instead, the energy savings would have been enough to meet the electricity demands of roughly 200,000 households. It would have cut roughly 2 billion kilograms of carbon emissions. According to the study, published in Environmental Research Letters, even when you take into account cloud storage, data servers, the streaming device, streaming uses much less energy than purchasing a DVD. If, like me, you're thinking, 'who buys DVDs anymore, anyways?', the answer is 'a lot of people.'" The linked paper is all there, too — not just an abstract and a paywall.
NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) writes "New York City Council Member Ben Kallos (KallosEsq), who also happens to be a Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) developer, just introduced legislation to mandate a government preference for FOSS and creating a Civic Commons website to facilitate collaborative purchasing of software. He argues that NYC could save millions of dollars with the Free and Open Source Software Preferences Act 2014, pointing out that the city currently has a $67 million Microsoft ELA. Kallos said: 'It is time for government to modernize and start appreciating the same cost savings as everyone else.'"
itwbennett (1594911) writes "A suspected Iranian hacker group seeded Facebook and LinkedIn with bogus profiles of attractive women and even created a fake online news organization to get digitally closer to more than 2,000 U.S. military members, defense contractors and lobbyists it wanted to spy on, according to a report by security consultancy iSight Partners. The group is suspected to be in Iran, based on their working patterns and the location of their command-and-control infrastructure, said Patrick McBride, vice president of iSight's marketing and communications. Their activity is consistent with government-sponsored espionage campaigns, but 'we don't have anything specific tying them back to the government,' he added." Adds reader wiredmikey (1824622): "The recently uncovered activity, which iSIGHT Partners calls NEWSCASTER, was a 'brazen, complex multi-year cyber-espionage that used a low-tech approach to avoid traditional security defenses–exploiting social media and people who are often the 'weakest link' in the security chain.' ... Working undetected since 2011, targets included senior U.S. military and diplomatic personnel, congressional personnel, Washington D.C. area journalists, U.S. think tanks, and defense contractors in the U.S. and Israel."
Responding to an editorial endorsing a national vaccine registry in Canada (though the same kind of registry could be and has been proposed in the U.S. with the same logic), an anonymous reader writes "Vaccine Registration makes me think of Mutant and Superhero registration. The reasons are similar. It's based on fear and misinformation. People fear that unvaccinated people will doom us all. Sound familiar? The difference is this is real. (Oh, and they probably won't use sentinels to track down the dangerous unvaccinated folks.) Thoughts?" From the linked editorial: "A national vaccination registry would identify which Canadians have been fully vaccinated, those who have received less than a full dose of shots, and those who have not been vaccinated at all. Having a vaccine registry in place in the event of an outbreak of measles, whooping cough, and diseases like these would enable public health officials to identify the children and adults who need vaccinations. Getting them the shots they need would reduce the risk of anyone on the list getting sick, and would also reduce the threat of an outbreak in the community in which they live or travel to [and] from." In the U.S., immunization records — at least, ones which have been put in electronic form at all — are maintained in a mix of databases, including at the state level, or maintained by cities, or by insurance companies and medical providers. Here, some people (like the reader who submitted this story) also see a potential for unwarranted privacy invasion in a national vaccination registry; however, their case isn't helped by often being tied to opposition to vaccination more generally.
TuringTest (533084) writes "Popular culture website Wikia originally hosted its user-contributed content under a free, sharealike Commercial Commons license (CC-BY-SA). At least as soon as 2003, some specific wikis decided to use the non-commercial CC-BY-NC license instead: hey, this license supposedly protects the authors, and anyone is free to choose how they want to license their work anyway, right? However, in late 2012 Wikia added to its License terms of service a retroactive clause for all its non-commercial content, granting Wikia an exclusive right to use this content in commercial contexts, effectively making all CC-BY-NC content dual-licensed. And today, Wikia is publicizing a partnership with Sony to display Wikia content on Smart TVs, a clear commercial use. A similar event happened at TV Tropes when the site owners single-handedly changed the site's copyright notice from ShareAlike to the incompatible NonCommercial, without notifying nor requesting consent from its contributors. Is this the ultimate fate of all wikis? Do Creative Commons licenses hold any weight for community websites?"