Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.
Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!
jones_supa writes: Russia's legislature, often accused of metaphorically turning back the clock, has decided to do it literally – abandoning the policy of keeping the country on daylight-saving time all year. The 2011 move to impose permanent "summer time" in 2011 was one of the most memorable and least popular initiatives of Dmitry Medvedev's presidency. It forced tens of millions to travel to their jobs in pitch darkness during the winter. In the depths of December, the sun doesn't clear the horizon in Moscow until 10am. The State Duma, the lower house of parliament, voted 442-1 on Tuesday to return to standard time this autumn and stay there all year. The article also discusses a ban on swearing in books, plays, and films that went into effect today in Russia.
stephendavion writes: While the risk of being attacked by a shark is certainly low, it's one of those terrors that can weigh heavily on the mind of a beach-goer, particularly in higher-risk beaches such as those in Australia and South Africa. A new device is currently being developed to warn swimmers when a shark is detected in the water near a beach, and — no surprise — the Aussies are behind it. The Clever Buoy is being called the "world's first shark detection buoy" by its developers. The project is a collaboration between Australian telecommunications company Optus and marine safety company Shark Attack Mitigation Systems.
sciencehabit writes: "Thanks to a decade of programs geared toward giving people access to the necessary technology, by 2013 some 85% of Americans were surfing the World Wide Web. But how effectively are they using it? A new survey suggests that the digital divide has been replaced by a gap in digital readiness. It found that nearly 30% of Americans either aren't digitally literate or don't trust the Internet. That subgroup tended to be less educated, poorer, and older than the average American."
An anonymous reader writes "Today the FTC filed a complaint (PDF) against T-Mobile USA, alleging the carrier made hundreds of millions of dollars from bogus charges placed on customers' bills for unauthorized SMS services. "The FTC alleges that T-Mobile received anywhere from 35 to 40 percent of the total amount charged to consumers for subscriptions for content such as flirting tips, horoscope information or celebrity gossip that typically cost $9.99 per month. According to the FTC's complaint, T-Mobile in some cases continued to bill its customers for these services offered by scammers years after becoming aware of signs that the charges were fraudulent." FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez said, "It's wrong for a company like T-Mobile to profit from scams against its customers when there were clear warning signs the charges it was imposing were fraudulent. It's wrong for a company like T-Mobile to profit from scams against its customers when there were clear warning signs the charges it was imposing were fraudulent." According to the complaint, T-Mobile also made it hard for customers to figure out they were being billed for these services, and failed to provide refunds when customers complained." Here's T-Mobile's response.
Mcusanelli writes: The Linux Foundation and its partners have released the first version of Automotive Grade Linux, the open source platform for use inside connected cars. "AGL is building the industry’s only fully open automotive platform, allowing automakers to leverage a growing software stack based on Linux while retaining the ability to create their own branded user experience. Standardizing on a single platform means the industry can rapidly innovate where it counts to create a safe and reliable connected car experience. Open collaboration within the AGL community means support for multi-architectures and features to bolster the in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) experience." Further details and source code are available from the official website.
An anonymous reader writes: If you're involved in the free and open-source software movement — especially in the United States — you may want to read through this, as long as it may seem. It appears that the United States' Internal Revenue Service has strongly shifted its views of free and open-source software, and to the detriment of the movement, in my opinion. From the article: "The IRS reasons that since Yorba’s open source software may be used for any purpose, Yorba is not a charity. Consider all the for-profit and non-charitable ways the Apache server is used; I’d still argue Apache is a charitable organization. (What else could it be?) There’s a charitable organization here in San Francisco that plants trees throughout the city for the benefit of all. If one of their tree’s shade falls on a cafe table and cools the cafe’s patrons as they enjoy their espressos, does that mean the tree-planting organization is no longer a charity?"
sfcrazy (1542989) writes "It's a sad day for free software as one of the most ambitious free software projects, Improv, is officially dead. Along with the board also dies the promising Vivaldi tablet [video intro]. The developers have sent out emails to the backers of the project that they are pulling plugs on these. The end of the Improv project also means a disappointing end to the KDE Tablet project, as Aaron Seigo was funding both projects out of his own pocket (almost exactly $200,000 spent)."
mrspoonsi (2955715) writes A court permitted the NSA to collect information about governments in 193 countries and foreign institutions like the World Bank, according to a secret document the Washington Post published Monday. The certification issued by a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in 2010 shows the NSA has the authority to "intercept through U.S. companies not just the communications of its overseas targets, but any communications about its targets as well," according to the Post's report. Only four countries in the world — Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand — were exempt from the agreement, due to existing no-spying agreements that the Post highlights in this document about the group of countries, known as "Five Eyes" with the U.S.
An anonymous reader writes In a legislative first, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that for-profit companies can, in essence, hold religious views. Given the Supreme Court's earlier decisions granting corporations the right to express political support through monetary donations, this ruling is not all that surprising. Its scope does not extend beyond family-owned companies where "there's no real difference between the business and its owners." It also only applies to the contraception mandate of the health care law. The justices indicated that contraceptive coverage can still be obtained through exceptions to the mandate that have already been introduced to accommodate religious nonprofits. Those exceptions, which authorize insurance companies to provide the coverage instead of the employers, are currently being challenged in lower courts. The "closely held" test is pretty meaningless, since the majority of U.S. corporations are closely held.
An anonymous reader writes "A month ago, LeVar Burton and his friends at Reading Rainbow created a Kickstarter campaign designed to bring their app for the iPad and Kindle Fire to the Web at large. They asked for a million dollars, and quickly blew the doors off their goal, receiving over three million dollars in three days. There are 48 hours remaining in the fundraiser, which has garnered over 4.5 million dollars, and with over 92,000 contributors, is the most heavily backed Kickstarter campaign of all time. To sweeten the pot, Family Guy's Seth MacFarlane has offered to match any pledges over the $4 million mark, up to an additional million dollars."
sciencehabit writes Millions of tons. That's how much plastic should be floating in the world's oceans, given our ubiquitous use of the stuff. But a new study (abstract) finds that 99% of this plastic is missing. One disturbing possibility: Fish are eating it. If that's the case, "there is potential for this plastic to enter the global ocean food web," says Carlos Duarte, an oceanographer at the University of Western Australia, Crawley. "And we are part of this food web."
An anonymous reader writes The Obama Administration is set to appoint Phil Johnson, a pharmaceutical industry executive, as the next Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, according to sources. The move is likely to anger patent reform advocates given Johnson's past efforts to block legislation aimed at reining in patent trolls, and in light of his positions that appear to contradict the White House's professed goal of fixing the patent system. The top job at the Patent Office has been vacant for around 18-months since the departure of previous director David Kappos in early 2013. Currently, the office is being managed by former Googler Michelle Lee, who was appointed deputy director in December. Earlier this month, Republican Senators led by Orrin Hatch (R-UT) sent a letter to President Obama that praised Lee but that also described the current USPTO management structure as "unfair, untenable and unacceptable for our country's intellectual property agency."
tsu doh nimh writes In a move that may wind up helping spammers, Microsoft is blaming a new Canadian anti-spam law for the company's recent decision to stop sending regular emails about security updates for its Windows operating system and other Microsoft software. Some anti-spam experts who worked very closely on Canada's Anti-Spam Law (CASL) say they are baffled by Microsoft's response to a law which has been almost a decade in the making. Indeed, an exception in the law says it does not apply to commercial electronic messages that solely provide "warranty information, product recall information or safety or security information about a product, goods or a service that the person to whom the message is sent uses, has used or has purchased." Several people have observed that Microsoft likely is using the law as a convenient excuse for dumping an expensive delivery channel.
An anonymous reader writes University of Cambridge scientists have broken a decade-old superconducting record by packing a 17.6 Tesla magnetic field into a golf ball-sized hunk of crystal — equivalent to about three tons of force. From the Cambridge announcement: "A world record that has stood for more than a decade has been broken by a team led by University of Cambridge engineers, harnessing the equivalent of three tonnes of force inside a golf ball-sized sample of material that is normally as brittle as fine china. The Cambridge researchers managed to 'trap' a magnetic field with a strength of 17.6 Tesla — roughly 100 times stronger than the field generated by a typical fridge magnet — in a high temperature gadolinium barium copper oxide (GdBCO) superconductor, beating the previous record by 0.4 Tesla."
An anonymous reader writes with news about a possible new direction for Julian Assange. Julian Assange is expected to make his London Fashion Week debut this September. The Australian WikiLeaks founder will reportedly model for Vivienne Westwood’s son, Ben Westwood, at a fashion show staged at the Ecuadorean Embassy, where he has been seeking refuge for the past two years. He is avoiding extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over claims of sex offences. “Julian’s been in the embassy for two years and it’s important that he doesn’t slip into obscurity,” said Ben Westwood. “I want to highlight Julian Assange’s plight. What happened to him is totally unfair.”
An anonymous reader writes A NASA satellite being prepared for launch early on Tuesday is expected to reveal details about where carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas tied to climate change, is being released into Earth's atmosphere on a global scale. From the article: "The $468 million mission is designed to study the main driver of climate change emitted from smokestacks and tailpipes. Some of the carbon dioxide is sucked up by trees and oceans, and the rest is lofted into the atmosphere, trapping the sun's heat and warming the planet. But atmospheric CO2 levels fluctuate with the seasons and in different regions of the Earth. The natural and human activities that cause the changes are complicated. The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2, or OCO-2 for short, will be able to take an ultra-detailed look at most of the Earth's surface to identify places responsible for producing or absorbing the greenhouse gas."
jfruh (300774) writes "California governor Jerry Brown has signed a law repealing Section 107 of California's Corporations Code, which prohibited companies or individuals from issuing money other than U.S. dollars. Before the law was repealed, not only bitcoin but everything from Amazon Coin to Starbucks Stars were techinically illegal; the law was generally not enforced."
VentureBeat reports that the unofficial Google ambassador to the world has made another significant visit to a place where Internet access is either forbidden or impractical for most of the citizenry; hopefully it heralds change on that front. Continuing his tour of countries with authoritarian governments and less-than-favorable Internet access, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt made a secret visit to Cuba yesterday. The U.S. government has forbidden its citizens from traveling to Cuba or spending any money within the country since cold war tensions in the 1960s. Even though the cold war is over, the ban remains in effect, which is why Schmidt’s visit is significant. Unofficially (meaning not on behalf of his company), the powerful Googler has also made controversial visits to North Korea and Myanmar to promote Internet freedom, and has previously spoken out against online censorship happening in both China and India. Schmidt, says the article, "was joined by a crew of former Google employees as well as author Jared Cohen."
An anonymous reader writes The U.S. National Archives has revealed to Wikipedia newspaper The Signpost that it will be uploading all of its holdings to the Wikimedia Commons. Dominic McDevitt-Parks told the Signpost that "The records we have uploaded so far contain some of the most high-value holdings ... However, we are not limiting ourselves ... Our approach has always been simply to upload as much as possible ... to make them as widely accessible to the public as possible."
An anonymous reader writes A day after a surprise U.S. Supreme Court decision to outlaw streaming TV service Aereo, U.S. broadcaster Fox has moved to use the ruling to clamp down on another internet TV service. Fox has cited Wednesday's ruling – which found Aereo to be operating illegally – to bolster its claim against a service offered by Dish, America's third largest pay TV service, which streams live TV programming over the internet to its subscribers and allows them to copy programmes onto tablet computers for viewing outside the home.
New submitter redr00k (3719103) writes with a link to the summary of a RAND Corporation study addressing "a general perception that there is a shortage of cybersecurity professionals within the United States, and a particular shortage of these professionals within the federal government, working on national security as well as intelligence. Shortages of this nature complicate securing the nation's networks and may leave the United States ill-prepared to carry out conflict in cyberspace." One of the key findings: waive the Civil Service rules. (The NSA can already bypass those rules; RAND's authors say this should be extended to other agencies.)
mikejuk (1801200) writes Due to its importance in the history of computing, the UK's Computer Conservation Society embarked on a 4-year project to build a replica of EDSAC. The main challenge facing the team of volunteers who are working on the rebuild is the lack of documentation. There are almost no original design documents remaining so the rebuild volunteers have to scrutinize photographs to puzzle out which bits go where. However, three years into the project, a set of 19 detailed circuit diagrams have come to light and been handed to the EDSAC team by John Loker, a former engineer in the University of Cambridge Mathematical Laboratory. "I started work as an engineer in the Maths Lab in 1959 just after EDSAC had been decommissioned. In a corridor there was a lot of stuff piled up ready to be thrown away, but amongst it I spotted a roll of circuit diagrams for EDSAC. I'm a collector, so I couldn't resist the urge to rescue them. " In the main, the documents confirm that the team has been correct in most of its re-engineering assumptions, but the drawings have thrown up a few surprises. The most significant discrepancy between the original and the reconstruction that the papers reveal is in the "initial orders" (boot ROM in modern terminology). In the absence of fuller information, the reconstruction team had considered and rejected one possibility which was in fact the one that was used by the original engineers. That will now be rectified in the reconstruction, which is due for completion in late 2015.
Jason Koebler (3528235) writes "The cybersecurity bill making its way through the Senate right now is so broad that it could allow ISPs to classify Netflix as a "cyber threat," which would allow them to throttle the streaming service's delivery to customers. "A 'threat,' according to the bill, is anything that makes information unavailable or less available. So, high-bandwidth uses of some types of information make other types of information that go along the same pipe less available," Greg Nojeim, a lawyer with the Center for Democracy and Technology, said. "A company could, as a cybersecurity countermeasure, slow down Netflix in order to make other data going across its pipes more available to users.""
cold fjord (826450) writes with this excerpt from ScienceNordic: Researchers the world over almost unanimously agree that our climate is changing ... But many farmers – at least Swedish ones – have experienced mild winters and shifting weather before and are hesitant about trusting the scientists. The researcher who discovered the degree of scepticism among farmers was surprised by her findings. Therese Asplund ... was initially looking into how agricultural magazines covered climate change. Asplund found after studying ten years of issues of the two agricultural sector periodicals ATL and Land Lantbruk that they present climate change as scientifically confirmed, a real problem. But her research took an unexpected direction when she started interviewing farmers in focus groups about climate issues. Asplund had prepared a long list of questions about how the farmers live with the threat of climate change and what they plan to do to cope with the subsequent climate challenges. The conversations took a different course: "They explained that they didn't quite believe in climate changes," she says. "Or at least that these are not triggered by human activities." (Original paper here.)
Nate the greatest (2261802) writes "Here in the US it is legal to resell your MP3s on Redigi, and thanks to the UsedSoft decision you can resell downloaded software in Europe. But if you want to resell your ebooks you had better act fast. Tom Kabinet launched last week in the Netherlands to offer a marketplace for used ebooks, and it is already getting legal threats. The Dutch Trade Publishers Association (GAU) says that the site is committing piracy and if it doesn't shut down the GAU plans to take it to court. Citing a ruling from a German court, secretary general of the GAU Martijn David said that the question of legality had already been settled. Would anyone care to place a bet on whether the site is still in operation in 6 months?"
An anonymous reader writes with this story about a machine-learning project out of the UK's University of Sheffield: Using simple drones the researchers have created automatic-control software that enables the "flying robot" to learn about its surroundings using a camera and an array of sensors. The robot starts with no information about its environment and the objects within it. But by overlaying different frames from the camera and selecting key reference points within the scene, it builds up a 3D map of the world around it. Other sensors pick up barometric and ultrasonic data, which give the robot additional clues about its environment. All this information is fed into autopilot software to allow the robot to navigate safely, but also to learn about the objects nearby and navigate to specific items.
First time accepted submitter Peter Hudson (3717535) writes Cory Doctorow writes on boingboing.net "BitLit works with publishers to get you free or discounted access to digital copies of books you own in print: you use the free app for Android and iOS to take a picture of the book's copyright page with your name printed in ink, and the publisher unlocks a free or discounted ebook version. None of the Big Five publishers participate as yet, but indies like O'Reilly, Berrett-Koehler, Red Wheel Weiser, Other Press, Greystone, Coach House, Triumph, Angry Robot, Chicago Review, Dundurn, and PM Press (publishers of my book The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow) are all in."
An anonymous reader writes I'll be returning to North America for July for the first time in a few years, and I'm curious how the phone carrier market compares with the rest of the world. My last time in the U.S., I had to pick up a disposable phone with all kinds of unnecessary environmental waste (charger, packaging, etc.), and *still* had to register it with another domestic (!) phone number and credit card. I don't think I could get a SIM card there without a contract. Anywhere else I travel, picking up a new SIM card with pre-loaded credit is trivially easy. In my last trip to the UK, I just put GBP 10 into a vending machine at the airport and picked up a loaded SIM card for my phone which aldready has my contacts and settings. No ID, no name, no hassle. What are the best options for me in North America (U.S. *and* Canada)?
An anonymous reader writes It didn't take long for Aereo to deal with the realities of the U.S. Supreme Court decision. As of 11:30am EDT today Aereo is suspending operations while they go back to U.S. District Court. In order to keep good will with customers during this time, they are refunding the last month's payment for service. curtwoodward (2147628) writes to point out that the decision which has shut down Aereo for now doesn't mean doom for other cloud services: Don't listen to the trolls---the Supremes were very clear that their ruling only applied to Aereo's livestream and things that look just like it. iCloud, Dropbox and friends are fine.
fluxgate (2851685) writes "A notice from the FAA announced earlier this week just turned a bunch of kids' toys into drones. In the past, the FAA had made the distinction between model aircraft (allowed) and drones (prohibited without special permission) according to whether they were used for recreation (okay) or commercial purposes (verboten). Now they have further narrowed the definition of model aircraft: If you fly it through video goggles, it no longer qualifies. This move eliminates First Person View (FPV) radio control flying. I'm an editor at IEEE Spectrum with a special interest and blogged about this disturbing development as soon as I heard the news."
theodp (442580) writes In an interview with The Washington Post's Lyndsey Layton that accompanied her report on How Bill Gates Pulled Off the Swift Common Core Revolution (the Gates Foundation doled out $233 million in grants to git-r-done), Gates denied that he has too much influence in K-12 education. Despite Gates' best efforts, however, there's been more and more pushback recently from both teachers and politicians on the standards, GeekWire's Taylor Soper reports, including a protest Friday by the Badass Teacher Association, who say Gates is ruining education. "We want to get corporations out of teaching," explained one protester. If that's the case, the "Badasses" probably won't be too pleased to see how the K-12 CS education revolution is shaping up, fueled by a deep-pocketed alliance of Gates, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and others. Google alone has already committed $90 million to influence CS education. And well-connected Code.org, which has struck partnerships with school districts reaching over 2M U.S. students and is advising NSF-funded research related to the nation's CS 10K Project, will be conducting required professional development sessions for K-12 CS teachers out of Google, Microsoft, and Amazon offices this summer in Chicago, New York City, Boston, and Seattle. So, could K-12 CS Education ("Common Code"?) become the next Common Core?
WIth an interesting followup to the recent news that Germany's power production by at least some measures was briefly dominated by solar production, AmiMoJo (196126) writes Germany is headed for its biggest electricity glut since 2011 as new coal-fired plants start and generation of wind and solar energy increases, weighing on power prices that have already dropped for three years. From December capacity will be at 117% of peak demand. The benchmark German electricity contract has slumped 36% since the end of 2010. "The new plants will run at current prices, but they won't cover their costs" said Ricardo Klimaschka, a power trader at Energieunion GmbH. Lower prices "leave a trail of blood in our balance sheet" according to Bernhard Guenther, CFO at RWE, Germany's biggest power producer. Wind and solar's share of installed German power capacity will rise to 42% by next year from 30% in 2010. The share of hard coal and lignite plant capacity will drop to 28% from 32%.
An anonymous reader writes As the support for the Microsoft (MS) Windows XP service is terminated this year, the government will try to invigorate open source software in order to solve the problem of dependency on certain software. By 2020 when the support of the Windows 7 service is terminated, it is planning to switch to open OS and minimize damages. Industry insiders pointed out that the standard e-document format must be established and shared as an open source before open source software is invigorated. A similar suggestion that Korea might embrace more open source (but couched more cautiously, with more "should" and "may") is reported on the news page of the EU's program on Interoperability Solutions for European Public Administrations, based on a workshop presentation earlier this month by Korea's Ministry of Science, ICT, and Future Planning. (And at a smaller but still huge scale, the capitol city of Seoul appears to be going in for open source software in a big way, too.)
New submitter outofluck70 (1734164) writes Got an email today from Microsoft, text is below. [Note: text here edited for formatting and brevity; see the full text at seclists.org.] They are no longer going to send out emails regarding patches, you have to use RSS or keep visiting their security sites. They blame "governmental policies" as the reason. What could the real reason be? Anybody in the know? From the email: "Notice to IT professionals: As of July 1, 2014, due to changing governmental policies concerning the issuance of automated electronic messaging, Microsoft is suspending the use of email notifications that announce the following: Security bulletin advance notifications; Security bulletin summaries; New security advisories and bulletins; Major and minor revisions to security advisories and bulletins. In lieu of email notifications, you can subscribe to one or more of the RSS feeds described on the Security TechCenter website." WindowsIT Pro blames Canada's new anti-spam law.
jones_supa (887896) writes Google's YouTube announced that it's adding two new features that will especially benefit people who enjoy watching gameplays and those who stream games live. Most excitingly, the site is rolling out 60 frames per second video playback. The company has a handful of videos from Battlefield Hardline and Titanfall (embedded in the article) that show what 60fps playback at high definition on YouTube looks like. As the another new feature, YouTube is also offering direct funding support for content creators — name-checking sites like Kickstarter and Patreon — and is allowing fans to 'contribute money to support your channel at any time, for any reason.' Adding the icing on the cake, the website has also a number of other random little features planned, including viewer-contributed subtitles, a library of sound effects and new interactive info cards.
New submitter trogdoro (3716731) writes with an excerpt from Linux Cookbook author Carla Schroder's enthusiastic introduction to what looks like a tempting tool, combining elements of GUI and text-mode interfaces: Command-line lovers, allow me to introduce you to Xiki, the incredibly interactive, flexible, and revolutionary command shell. I do not use the word "revolutionary" lightly. The command shell has not advanced all that much since the ancient days of Unix. Xiki is a giant leap forward. If you're looking for the Next Big Thing in FOSS, Xiki is it. It's not the first tool meant to combine text and graphic interface, but from the screencast demo, Xiki looks like it gets a lot of things right.
Trailrunner7 writes The United States federal government issued more than 19,000 National Security Letters – perhaps its most powerful tool for domestic intelligence collection – in 2013, and those NSLs contained more than 38,000 individual requests for information. The new data was released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Friday as part of its effort to comply with a directive from President Obama to declassify and release as much information as possible about a variety of tools that the government uses to collect intelligence. The directive came in the immediate aftermath of the first revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden about the agency's capabilities, methods and use of legal authorities.
The use of NSLs is far from new, dating back several decades. But their use was expanded greatly after 9/11 and NSLs are different from other tools in a number of ways, perhaps most importantly in the fact that recipients typically are prohibited from even disclosing the fact that they received an NSL. Successfully fighting an NSL is a rare thing, and privacy advocates have been after the government for years to release data on their use of the letters and the number of NSLs issued. Now, the ODNI is putting some of that information into the public record."
redletterdave writes: According to a blog post from Gregg Pollack, CEO of the Code School, Google is paying for three free months for any women and minorities interested in tech to expand their skills. The offer is part of Google's $50 million "Made With Code" initiative, which aims to help close the gender gap in tech. While Google is also offering the same vouchers to the women in attendance at its annual I/O developers conference this week, the search giant has released an online application that's available to women everywhere. Google says its available vouchers for women number in the "thousands."
dcblogs writes: In a speech Wednesday on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) declared immigration reform dead. He chastised and baited Republicans in Congress for blocking reform, and declared that winning the White House without the support of a growing Hispanic population will become mathematically impossible. "The Republican Presidential nominee, whoever he or she may be, will enter the race with an electoral college deficit they cannot make up," said Gutierrez. If he's right, and comprehensive immigration reform is indeed dead, then so too is the tech industry's effort to raise the cap on H-1B visas. Immigration reform advocates have successfully blocked any effort to take up the immigration issue in piecemeal fashion, lest business support for comprehensive reform peel away. Next year may create an entirely new set of problems for tech. If the Republicans take control of the Senate, the tech industry will face this obstacle: Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee could become its next chairman. He has been a consistent critic of the H-1B program through the years. "The H-1B program is so popular that it's now replacing the U.S. labor force," said Grassley, at one point.
Dega704 sends this news from Wired:
Plenty of nightmare surveillance theories surround the million-square-foot NSA facility opened last year in Bluffdale, Utah. Any locals driving by the massive complex Friday morning saw something that may inspire new ones: A massive blimp hovering over the center, with the letters NSA printed on its side.
Activist groups including the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Greenpeace launched the 135-foot thermal airship early Friday morning to protest the agency's mass surveillance programs and to announce the launch of Stand Against Spying, a website that rates members of Congress on their support or opposition to NSA reform. The full message on the blimp reads 'NSA: Illegal Spying Below' along with an arrow pointing downward and the Stand Against Spying URL."
New submitter thermowax sends a report on how Massachusetts SWAT teams are dodging open records requests by claiming to be corporations. From the article: As it turns out, a number of SWAT teams in the Bay State are operated by what are called law enforcement councils, or LECs. These LECs are funded by several police agencies in a given geographic area and overseen by an executive board, which is usually made up of police chiefs from member police departments. ... Some of these LECs have also apparently incorporated as 501(c)(3) organizations. And it's here that we run into problems. According to the ACLU, the LECs are claiming that the 501(c)(3) status means that they're private corporations, not government agencies. And therefore, they say they're immune from open records requests. Let's be clear. These agencies oversee police activities. They employ cops who carry guns, wear badges, collect paychecks provided by taxpayers and have the power to detain, arrest, injure and kill. They operate SWAT teams, which conduct raids on private residences. And yet they say that because they've incorporated, they're immune to Massachusetts open records laws. The state's residents aren't permitted to know how often the SWAT teams are used, what they're used for, what sort of training they get or who they're primarily used against.
vinces99 writes Car and truck exhaust fumes that foul the air for humans also cause problems for pollinators. In new research on how pollinators find flowers when background odors are strong, University of Washington and University of Arizona researchers found that both natural plant odors and human sources of pollution can conceal the scent of sought-after flowers. When the calories from one feeding of a flower gets you only 15 minutes of flight, as is the case with the tobacco hornworn moth studied, being misled costs a pollinator energy and time. "Local vegetation can mask the scent of flowers because the background scents activate the same moth olfactory channels as floral scents," according to Jeffrey Riffell, UW assistant professor of biology. "Plus the chemicals in these scents are similar to those emitted from exhaust engines and we found that pollutant concentrations equivalent to urban environments can decrease the ability of pollinators to find flowers."
mpicpp writes with good news for every New Yorker who needs 44oz of soft drink to be refreshed. New York's Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that New York City's ban on large sugary drinks, which was previously blocked by lower courts, is illegal. "We hold that the New York City Board of Health, in adopting the 'Sugary Drinks Portion Cap Rule,' exceeded the scope of its regulatory authority," the ruling said. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg had pushed for the ban on sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces as a way to fight obesity and other health problems.
coondoggie (973519) writes "While Video has become ubiquitous thanks mostly to smartphones it doesn't mean you want to actually watch all of it. Carnegie Mellon University computer scientists say they have invented a video highlighting technique called LiveLight that can automatically pick out action in videos shot by smartphones, GoPro cameras, or Google Glass users."
An anonymous reader writes with news that, not long after UK ISPs agreed to send piracy notices (Voluntary Copyright Alerts Program), thoughts have already turned toward adding criminal penalties. From the article: Prime Minister David Cameron's IP advisor believes that the carrot needs to be backed up by a stick. In a report published yesterday largely detailing the "Follow the Money" approach to dealing with pirate sites, Mike Weatherley MP says now is the time to think about VCAP’s potential failure. "The Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (VCAP) is welcomed and will be a good step forward once it is hopefully in operation in 2015, although it is primarily an education tool," Weatherley says. ... "Warnings and fines are obvious first steps, with Internet access blocking and custodial sentencing for persistent and damaging infringers not to be ruled out in my opinion." These suggestions aren't new, but this is the second time in a matter of months that the Prime Minister's closest advisor on IP matters has spoken publicly about the possibility of putting persistent file-sharers in jail.
mpicpp writes in with news about a new dating opportunity for Mensa members. It takes a special person to join Mensa. For one, the elite society only takes individuals with IQ scores in the 98th percentile, meaning just 1 in 50 Americans is eligible. This exclusivity — some might say snobbery — is part of Mensa's lore. Early Mensans in Britain walked around with yellow buttons, organizational publications once referred to non-Mensa members as "Densans," and last year, a top Mensa member and tester called anyone with an IQ of 60 a "carrot." In short, you don't always join Mensa because you think you're smart. You join to be set apart from most people, who are, as one member put it: "mundane." But a new partnership between American Mensa and online dating giant Match.com offers a new, enticing reason to join the society of geniuses: true love. Beginning this week, members of the brainiac group can connect through a separate, exclusive dating service called Mensa Match. In addition, Match.com members can add a special Mensa badge to their profiles, signaling a specific interest in connecting with a single person with a confirmed genius-level IQ score.
Jim_Austin writes A recent study by economist Douglas Webber calculates the lifetime earnings premium of college degrees in various broad areas, accounting for selection bias--that is, for the fact that people who already are likely to do well are also more likely to go to college. These premiums are not small. Science Careers got exclusive access to major-specific data, and published an article that tells how much more you can expect to earn because you got that college degree--for engineering, physics, computer science, chemistry, and biology majors.
Nate the greatest writes It looks like the recent rumors about B&N splitting up were true. Along with could-have-been-worse financial news, Barnes & Noble just announced that it's going to spin off its two-year-old ebook subsidiary into a new publicly traded company. The move won't be finalized until 2015, but when it happens the new company is expected to have both existing parts of Nook Media, including the less than successful ebook division and B&N College, which is still managing to turn a profit.
assertation (1255714) writes with this interesting tidbit from Reuters about the state of solar power in Germany: German solar power plants produced a world record 22 gigawatts of electricity per hour — equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity — through the midday hours on Friday and Saturday, the head of a renewable energy think tank said. The German government decided to abandon nuclear power after the Fukushima nuclear disaster last year, closing eight plants immediately and shutting down the remaining nine by 2022.
New submitter Last_Available_Usern (756093) writes that the Aereo saga is likely over. "The U.S. Supreme Court today dealt a potentially fatal blow to Aereo, an Internet service that allows customers to watch broadcast TV programs on mobile devices by renting a small DVR and antennas (in supported cities) to record and then retransmit local programming on-demand over the internet." Ruling (PDF). Aereo was found to be publicly transmitting, according to SCOTUSBlog "The essence of the Aereo ruling is that Aereo is equivalent to a cable company, not merely an equipment provider."