cartechboy writes "Stephen King has sold more than 300 million books of horror, suspense, science fiction and fantasy. The guy has written so many works, and words, that he actually needs a "continuity adviser" to fact check him when he picks old stories up as a new book. Enter Rocky Wood — who is the world-wide leading expert on Stephen King's work. So much so, that King hired Wood (who has authored a 6000+ page encyclopedia on CD-ROM on every single aspect of King's work — including 26,000 different King characters) to fact check himself when he writes."
Exxon has been charged with illegally dumping over 50,000 gallons of wastewater at a shale-gas drilling site in Pennsylvania. From the article: 'Exxon unit XTO Energy Inc. discharged the water from waste tanks at the Marquandt well site in Lycoming County in 2010, according to a statement on the website of Pennsylvania’s attorney general. The pollution was found during an unannounced visit by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection. The inspectors discovered a plug removed from a tank, allowing the wastewater to run onto the ground, polluting a nearby stream. XTO was ordered to remove 3,000 tons of soil to clean up the area. Wastewater discharged from natural-gas wells can contain chlorides, barium, strontium and aluminum, the attorney general’s statement showed. “Criminal charges are unwarranted and legally baseless,” the XTO unit said yesterday in a statement posted on its website. “There was no intentional, reckless or negligent misconduct by XTO.”'
dp619 writes "Fighting against software patents (New Zealand has banned them) tends to blind FOSS communities to aspects of IP law that actually serve them well. While certainly not perfect, patent, copyright, trademark, and trade secret law each has something to offer FOSS communities. Penn State law professor Clark Asay wrote a guest post for the Outercurve Foundation briefly describing some of the ways in IP law can help open source developers."
An anonymous reader writes "The U.K.'s Guardian newspaper is reporting that the NSA shares the raw intel collected on Americans with Israel. From the article: 'Details of the intelligence-sharing agreement are laid out in a memorandum of understanding between the NSA and its Israeli counterpart that shows the U.S. government handed over intercepted communications likely to contain phone calls and emails of American citizens. The agreement places no legally binding limits on the use of the data by the Israelis. ... The deal was reached in principle in March 2009, according to the undated memorandum, which lays out the ground rules for the intelligence sharing. The five-page memorandum, termed an agreement between the U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies "pertaining to the protection of U.S. persons," repeatedly stresses the constitutional rights of Americans to privacy and the need for Israeli intelligence staff to respect these rights. But this is undermined by the disclosure that Israel is allowed to receive "raw Sigint" – signal intelligence. The memorandum says: "Raw Sigint includes, but is not limited to, unevaluated and unminimized transcripts, gists, facsimiles, telex, voice and Digital Network Intelligence metadata and content."'
lpress writes "Google and MIT have both built open source MOOC platforms and offered innovative MOOCs. They have just announced the establishment of mooc.org, a non-profit organization that will provide a platform to develop, host, and research online courses. The devil is, no doubt, in the details, but this combination of MIT's educational expertise and reputation, Google's vast infrastructure, and the lofty goals of both organizations might turn out to be revolutionary." From Google's research weblog: "Google and edX have a shared mission to broaden access to education, and by working together, we can advance towards our goals much faster. In addition, Google, with its breadth of applicable infrastructure and research capabilities, will continue to make contributions to the online education space, the findings of which will be shared directly to the online education community and the Open edX platform." Course Builder will continue to be maintained for the time being, but eventually Google will "provide an upgrade path to Open edX and MOOC.org from Course Builder."
Esther Schindler writes "You've written some code, you think it would be useful to the world, and you'd like to give back to the open source world. But how do you do it? Andy Lester provides a checksheet for developers for how to release an open source project and get it noticed. For instance: Before you release the project to the wild, write some documentation, create a mailing list, create an issue tracker, and so on. 'Users require releases of your software. It’s a disservice to your users to point at the Git repo and say “Just pull from the master branch and install it.” Users don’t want to have to use version control just to get a release of the code. Create a proper tarball (.tar.gz) that is easily downloadable by anyone. Announce each release. Your announcements should not assume that the reader is familiar with your project.' You think he's missing anything?"
Researchers taking advantage of retreating ice shelves in Antarctica have discovered evidence of life that's been sealed away for nearly 100,000 years. Lake Hodgson on the Antarctic Peninsula, once covered by over 400 meters of ice, is now obscured only by a thin layer three to four meters thick. Scientists carefully drilled through the ice and took samples (abstract) from the layers of mud at the bottom (as much as 93 meters below the lake's surface). "The top few centimetres of the core contained current and recent organisms which inhabit the lake but once the core reached 3.2 m deep the microbes found most likely date back nearly 100,000 years. ... Some of the life discovered was in the form of Fossil DNA showing that many different types of bacteria live there, including a range of extremophiles which are species adapted to the most extreme environments. These use a variety of chemical methods to sustain life both with and without oxygen. One DNA sequence was related to the most ancient organisms known on Earth and parts of the DNA in twenty three percent has not been previously described."
cold fjord notes that the X Prize Foundation has opened up a new mission: to quantify the acidification of the world's oceans, excerpting from a description on Nature's blog of the project's focus: "Scientists who study ocean acidification must confront a fundamental problem: It is hard to measure exactly how much the ocean's pH is changing. Today's sensors don't work well at depth or over long periods of time, and they are too expensive to deploy widely. That is where the US$2 million Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health X Prize comes in. The 22-month competition will award two $1 million prizes, one to the best low-cost sensor and one to the most accurate. The competition's organizers decided to award two prizes because the two goals present different engineering challenges. ... As carbon dioxide levels rise in the atmosphere, ocean water takes up some of the gas and becomes more acidic. This can harm shell-building marine life like coral, whose calcium carbonate skeletons dissolve in the increasingly acidic water. All of this research is bedeviled by the simple lack of technology to monitor ocean pH in real time across the world."
judgecorp writes "Britain's Channel 4 screened Blackout, a drama about a cyber-attack which crashes the national power grid. The show was silly enough, with a strong message about the dangers of lighting candles in such a situation, but the Twitter responses were even better. The show terrified some viewers who apparently didn't realise that their TV screen was powered by the grid."
CNN reports that at least for now we may be able to set aside the question of whether and under what authority the U.S. should intervene militarily in Syria, a question that's dominated the news for the last few weeks. From the report: "Facing the threat of a U.S. military strike, the country's leaders Tuesday reportedly accepted a Russian proposal to turn over its chemical weapons. ... The development, reported by Syrian state television and Russia's Interfax news agency, came a day after the idea bubbled up in the wake of what appeared to be a gaffe by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. It quickly changed the debate in Washington from 'Should the U.S. attack?' to 'Is there a diplomatic way out of this mess?' Syrian Foreign Minister Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said Tuesday his country had agreed to the Russian proposal after what Interfax quoted him as calling 'a very fruitful round of talks' with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday. Details of such a transfer have yet to be worked out, such as where the arms would go, who would safeguard them and how the world could be sure Syria had handed over its entire stockpile of chemical weapons."
onehitwonder writes "Newly released documents reveal how the government uses border crossings to seize and examine travelers' electronic devices instead of obtaining a search warrant to take them, according to The New York Times' Susan Stellin. The documents reveal what had been a mostly secretive process that allows the government to create a travel alert for a person (regardless of whether they're a suspect in an investigation), then detain that individual at a border crossing and confiscate or copy any electronic devices that person is carrying. The documents come courtesy of David House, a fund-raiser for the legal defense of Chelsea Manning, formerly known as Pfc. Bradley Manning." A post at the ACLU blog (besides being free of NYT paywall headaches) gives more details, and provides handy links the documents themselves.
New submitter mwissel writes "The German Federal Police ('Bundespolizei') had sent out an helicopter in late August to fly over the U.S. consulate in Frankfurt and take photos from only 60 meters height — reportedly to search for spy antennae and other espionage related equipment on the building rooftops. A government spokesmen more or less confirmed the purpose of the flight, and it is said that Merkel's chief of staff, Ronald Pofalla, gave the order. This is remarkable, because Pofalla so far stood out with a very U.S.-friendly attitude in the debate around NSA surveillance programs. There was, of course, no word about any findings. It also remains unclear whether this was just plain provocation or a PR-stunt for the upcoming federal elections in Germany on September 22nd."
benrothke writes "It has been about 8 years since my friend Richard Bejtlich's (note, that was a full disclosure 'my friend') last book Extrusion Detection: Security Monitoring for Internal Intrusions came out. That and his other 2 books were heavy on technical analysis and real-word solutions. Some titles only start to cover ground after about 80 pages of introduction. With this highly informative and actionable book, you are already reviewing tcpdump output at page 16. In The Practice of Network Security Monitoring: Understanding Incident Detection and Response, Bejtlich takes the approach that your network will be attacked and breached. He observes that a critical part of your security posture must be that of network security monitoring (NSM), which is the collection and analysis of data to help you detect and respond to intrusions." Read below for the rest of Ben's review.
Bennett Haselton writes: "The ongoing case of New York Times reporter James Risen -- whom the U.S. Department of Justice wants to force to testify against one of his sources for leaking classified CIA information -- brings up a more general question about the Fifth Amendment: Why are criminal defendants allowed to remain silent, but not third-party witnesses like Risen?" You'll find the rest of Bennett's story below.
Lasrick writes "This is an excellent analysis of exactly what the problems are at Fukushima, and what risks are posed to the public. From the article: 'The operator of Fukushima Daiichi, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), has worked hard and has indeed contained most of the significant contamination carried by water used to cool the plant’s damaged reactor cores. Still, a series of events—including significant leakage from tanks built to hold radioactive water—has eroded public confidence. To address the water challenges, an improved water management plan should be created to deal with all levels of contamination, from slightly contaminated groundwater to highly radioactive cooling water flowing out of the damaged cores. This plan needs to build on the many good Tepco efforts of the past two years, but it should also incorporate new technologies that improve water cleanup performance and increase processing capacities. Importantly, this plan needs to include a new level of transparency for and outreach to the Japanese public, so citizens can understand and have confidence in the ultimate solution to the Fukushima water problem, which will almost certainly require the release of water—treated so it conforms to Japanese and international radioactivity standards—into the sea.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Last night's episode of Breaking Bad was one of the most intense in series history, but for those who haven't seen it yet, don't worry, I won't be putting out any spoilers. You see, today's Breaking Bad news has nothing to do with Walter White's slow transformation into Scarface, but rather with a legal suit filed against Apple by a Breaking Bad fan. In a lawsuit that many saw coming, an Ohio man named Noam Lazebnik recently filed a class action suit against Apple upon finding out that the $22.99 he forked over for a 'Season Pass' of Breaking Bad was only good for the first 8 episodes of the show's final season."
Sparrowvsrevolution writes "It should come as no surprise to Bitcoin users that despite the pseudonymity the cryptocurrency offers, its transactions can be tracked. But University of California at San Diego researcher Sarah Meiklejohn proved that privacy problem more clearly than ever by showing a reporter that she could detect a specific point in Bitcoin's blockchain record of transactions where he had spent Bitcoins in exchange for marijuana on the Silk Road, the most popular online Bitcoin-based black market for drugs. To simulate a law enforcement subpoena, the reporter for Forbes began by giving Meiklejohn a Bitcoin address associated with Forbes' account. But with just that information, Meiklejohn was able to draw on a "clustering" analysis she had performed to identify Silk Road addresses and match them with the one used in the .3 BTC drug buy. She admits that a user who took more efforts to obscure his or her Bitcoin address through a laundering service or other unidentified Bitcoin wallets would be harder to track."
bricko writes "There has been a 60 per cent increase in the amount of ocean covered with ice compared to this time last year, the equivalent of almost a million square miles. In a rebound from 2012's record low an unbroken ice sheet more than half the size of Europe already stretches from the Canadian islands to Russia's northern shores, days before the annual re-freeze is even set to begin. The Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific has remained blocked by pack-ice all year, forcing some ships to change their routes. A leaked report to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) seen by the Mail on Sunday, has led some scientists to claim that the world is heading for a period of cooling that will not end until the middle of this century." "Some scientsts" in this case do not include Dana Nuccitelli, who blogs cogently in reaction at The Guardian that the 60 percent increase observed in Arctic ice is "technically true, [but] also largely irrelevant." He has no kind words for the analysis in the Daily Mail (and similar report in The Telegraph), and writes "In short, this year's higher sea ice extent is merely due to the fact that last year's minimum extent was record-shattering, and the weather was not as optimal for sea ice loss this summer. However, the long-term trend is one of rapid Arctic sea ice decline, and research has shown this is mostly due to human-caused global warming." If you want to keep track of the ice yourself, Arctic Sea Ice News & Analysis offers frequent updates.
New submitter santosh.k83 writes with this snippet: "TorrentFreak has learned that VPN provider iPredator is already blocked under the 'adult filter' of some, if not all, mobile providers. TorrentFreak has seen communication between the mobile provider GiffGaff and iPredator which makes it clear that the VPN's website is blocked because it allows kids to bypass the age restrictions. Based on the above it is safe to say that censorship is a slippery slope, especially without any oversight. VPNs are used for numerous purposes and bypassing age restrictions is certainly not the most popular one. If this holds up then proxy services and even Google's cache may soon be banned under the same guise."
dreamstateseven writes "Canadian Bitcoin enthusiasts will be able to exchange Canadian cash for the digital currency through a kiosk that's similar to an ATM. Bitcoiniacs says it has ordered five Bitcoin kiosks from a Las Vegas-based company called RoboCoin and intends to roll them out across Canada in the coming months, with the first machine expected to land in Vancouver in early October. The kiosks allow users to select how much money they would like to spend, insert cash into the machine and then scan a QR code on their phone to transfer the Bitcoins to their wallet."
Ars Technica reviewer Casey Johnston gives a mildly positive review to the Oyster book-rental app (and associated site), which intentionally tries to be for books what Netflix has become for movies: a low-price, subscription-based, data-sifting source of first resort. For $10 a month, users can read any of the books in Oyster's catalog (in the range of 100,000, and growing), and their reading habits are used to suggest new books of interest (with some bum steers, it seems, at present). It's iOS-only for now, with an Android version expected soon. I've only grudgingly moved more and more of my reading to tablets, but now am glad I have; still, I don't like the idea of having my books disappear if I don't pay a continuing subscription.
McGruber writes "The NY Times reports how the alumni of distant also-ran social network Myspace have created an impressive number of spinoff internet companies. These companies have so significantly changed the Los Angeles area's tech scene that the area has been dubbed the 'Silicon Beach.' The article also provides details about the demise of Myspace under the ownership of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. When YouTube launched in February 2005, many at Myspace wanted to introduce a similar feature. Travis Katz, who had joined Myspace as general manager of international business just after the acquisition, said he remembered telling News Corporation representatives that they would need to hire 40 developers immediately and 200 the next year. 'That was much faster than anything they were accustomed to,' Mr. Katz said. 'They said, "We're going to do a hiring freeze for six months and take a deep breath and determine then what we really need." But we couldn't wait six months. In six months, YouTube went from two million to 80 million users.'"
CNET's Steve Guttenberg ("The Audiophiliac") profiles prolific audio engineer and general music industry do-it-all Steve Albini; Albini (who's worked on literally thousands of albums with musicians across a wide range of genres) has interesting things to say about compression, the rise of home-recording ("The majority of recordings will be crappy, low-quality recordings, but there will always be work for engineers who can do a good job, because there will always be people who appreciate good sound."), and why he still prefers to record to analog tape. (Note: Albini is justly famous not just for his production work, but in particular for his essay "The Problem with Music.")
An anonymous reader writes with a report from Spiegel Online that the U.S. government "has the capability of tapping user data from the iPhone, [and] devices using Android as well as BlackBerry, a system previously believed to be highly secure. The United States' National Security Agency intelligence-gathering operation is capable of accessing user data from smart phones from all leading manufacturers. ... The documents state that it is possible for the NSA to tap most sensitive data held on these smart phones, including contact lists, SMS traffic, notes and location information about where a user has been." As a bonus, the same reader points out a Washington Post report according to which "The Obama administration secretly won permission from a surveillance court in 2011 to reverse restrictions on the National Security Agency's use of intercepted phone calls and e-mails, permitting the agency to search deliberately for Americans' communications in its massive databases ... In addition, the court extended the length of time that the NSA is allowed to retain intercepted U.S. communications from five years to six years — and more under special circumstances, according to the documents, which include a recently released 2011 opinion by U.S. District Judge John D. Bates, then chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court."
TechRadar reports today the first major public-facing move that Microsoft has made with its newly acquired Nokia devices business: "The headline-making Nokia Lumia 1020 smartphone-cum-camera is now available for $100 less in the United States, potentially a sign that Microsoft is already ringing the changes at Nokia. The Microsoft Store stateside is now selling the 41-megapixel Windows Phone 8 handset for $199 (around £127, AU$216) on a two-year contract, compared with Nokia's lofty $299 (around £191, AU$325) launch price. The price is being matched by the AT&T network, but Microsoft is going one better (for a limited time) and chucking in the camera grip accessory for everyone who picks up the device. Early indications are that the heavily-hyped Lumia 1020 hasn't been flying off the shelves, so perhaps this price cut can offer Microsoft a boost in the early stages of its Nokia stewardship."
An anonymous reader writes "Just days after Intel added XMir support to their Linux graphics driver so it would work with the in-development the X11 compatibility layer to the Mir display server premiering with Ubuntu 13.10, Intel management has rejected the action and had the XMir patch reverted. There's been controversy surrounding Mir with it competing with Wayland and the state of the display server being rather immature and its performance coming up short while it will still debut in Ubuntu 13.10. Intel management had to say, "We do not condone or support Canonical in the course of action they have chosen, and will not carry XMir patches upstream." As a result, Canonical will need to ship their own packaged version of the Intel (and AMD and Nouveau drivers) with out-of-tree patches."
Yahoo has joined the ranks of large online businesses like Google and Facebook who have made it a practice to disclose the number and kind (if not all the details) of requests they've received from government agencies for user data. Its first report (you can read it here) lists "12,444 requests from U.S. authorities relating to a total of 40,322 user accounts." Those numbers are only part of the story, though: at the bottom of the linked report, note this disclaimer from Yahoo: "The numbers reported above include all types of government data requests such as criminal law enforcement requests and those under U.S. national security authorities, including the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and National Security Letters (NSLs), if any were received. The U.S. Government does not permit us to disclose additional details regarding the number of requests, if any, under national security authorities at this time, or even to separate them in aggregate from other requests. Additionally, the government would not authorize us to separate NSLs from other government data requests or to express the NSLs that we have received, if any, as a range from 0 to 1,000—even though the government allowed other providers to do so in the past."
dryriver writes with this excerpt from a thought-provoking report at the BBC: "China's Education Ministry says that about 400 million people — or 30% of the population — cannot speak the country's national language. Of the 70% of the population who can speak Mandarin, many do not do it well enough, a ministry spokeswoman told Xinhua news agency on Thursday. The admission from officials came as the government launched another push for linguistic unity in China. China is home to thousands of dialects and several minority languages. These include Cantonese and Hokkien, which enjoy strong regional support. Mandarin — formally called Putonghua in China, meaning 'common tongue' — is one of the most widely-spoken languages in the world. The Education Ministry spokeswoman said the push would be focusing on the countryside and areas with ethnic minorities."
A week ago, we posted news that federal prosecutors were seeking jail time for Chad Dixon, an Indiana man who made money teaching others how to pass polygraph examinations. Now, reader Frosty Piss writes that Dixon "was sentenced Friday to eight months in prison. Prosecutors described Chad Dixon as a 'master of deceit.' Prosecutors, who had asked for almost two years in prison, said Dixon crossed the line between free speech protected under the First Amendment and criminal conduct when he told some clients to conceal what he taught them while undergoing government polygraphs. Although Dixon appears to be the first charged publicly, others offering similar instruction say they fear they might be next. 'I've been worried about that, and the more this comes about, the more worried I am,' said Doug Williams, a former police polygraphist in Oklahoma who claims to be able to teach people to beat what he now considers a 'scam' test."
An anonymous reader writes "Using a Lego Mindstorms set, a Mac, and optical character recognition, Austrian professor Peter Purgathofer created a makeshift ebook copier. From the article: 'It's sort of a combination of high tech meets low. The scanning is done by way of the Mac's iSight camera. The Mindstorms set does two things: Hits the page-advance button on the Kindle (it appears to be an older model, like the one in the picture above), then mashes the space bar on the Mac, causing it to take a picture.' Purgathofer calls the creation a 'reflection on the loss of long established rights.' Check out the Vimeo video for a demonstration."
Frosty P writes "Congressman Rush D. Holt, a New Jersey Democrat, has proposed legislation (summary, full text) that would prohibit the agency from installing 'back doors' into encryption, the electronic scrambling that protects e-mail, online transactions and other communications. Representative Holt, a physicist, said Friday that he believed the NSA was overreaching and could hurt American interests, including the reputations of American companies whose products the agency may have altered or influenced. 'We pay them to spy,' Mr. Holt said. 'But if in the process they degrade the security of the encryption we all use, it's a net national disservice.'"
v3rgEz writes "Cambridge Consultants has rigged together about a hundred motion-triggered cameras around Kenyan watering holes to help catch and dissuade elephant poachers. 'The challenge was to create a remote monitoring system that was robust enough to withstand extreme weather conditions and animal attacks and could be easily hidden in any surroundings – all within the available budget,' according to one of the projects leads. And to help make sure all those cameras are being monitored, the team has released an iOS app that lets users review, tag, and flag images, tracking what kinds of animals pass by and keeping an eye open for any human predators on the prowl."
Eloquence writes "Three years ago, Musopen raised nearly $70,000 to create public domain recordings of works by Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart, Schubert, and others. Now they're running a new campaign with a simple but ambitious objective: 'To preserve indefinitely and without question everything Chopin created. To release his music for free, both in 1080p video and 24 bit 192kHz audio. This is roughly 245 pieces.'" Adds project organizer aarondunn: "His music will be made available via an API powered by Musopen so anyone can come up with ways to explore and present Chopin's life."
cold fjord writes "Another NSA story? The Wall Street Journal reports, 'The U.S. has intercepted an order from Iran to militants in Iraq to attack the U.S. Embassy and other American interests in Baghdad in the event of a strike on Syria ... U.S. officials said they are on alert for Iran's fleet of small, fast boats in the Persian Gulf ... U.S. officials also fear Hezbollah could attack the U.S. Embassy in Beirut. While the U.S. has moved military resources in the region for a possible strike, it has other assets in the area that would be ready to respond to any reprisals by Syria, Iran or its allies. ... Israel has so far been the focus of concerns about retaliation from Iran and its Lebanese militant ally Hezbollah. The commander-in-chief of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard Corps said last week that an attack on Syria would lead to the "destruction of Israel." ... The Iranian message, intercepted in recent days, came from Qasem Soleimani, the head of Revolutionary Guards' Qods Force, and went to Iranian-supported Shiite militia groups in Iraq, according to U.S. officials.' What's interesting is this Washington Post story from 2011: Iran's Quds Force was blamed for attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq."
itwbennett writes "The federal judge presiding over the U.S. electronic books case against Apple has barred the company from striking deals that would ensure that it could undercut prices of other retailers in the e-book market and also prohibited Apple from letting any one publisher know what deals the company is striking up with other publishers. For its part, Apple said it plans to appeal the ruling (PDF), denying that it conspired to fix ebook pricing. Meanwhile, Amazon is alerting customers of their potential payout, which could be as much as $3.82 for every eligible Kindle book."
An anonymous reader writes "U.S. military researchers are asking industry for ideas on a futuristic uniform for Special Operations warfighters that involves agile air-conditioned armor with embedded computers, sensors, communications radios and antennas, signal processors, wearable displays, and health-monitoring systems. Among the technologies Special Operations Command officials are interested in most (PDF) are advanced armor to protect warfighters from bullets, shrapnel, and other battlefield threats, while preserving their mobility. The suit also may involve powered or unpowered robotic exoskeletons to improve warfighter performance and endurance, while enabling the warfighter to operate silently and unseen."
sciencehabit writes "2012 was a year of extreme weather: Superstorm Sandy, drought and heat waves in the United States; record rainfall in the United Kingdom; unusually heavy rains in Kenya, Somalia, Japan, and Australia; drought in Spain; floods in China. One of the first questions asked in the wake of such extreme weather is: 'Could this due to climate change?' In a report (huge PDF) published online today, NOAA scientists tackled this question head-on. The overall message of the report: It varies. 'About half of the events reveal compelling evidence that human-caused change was a [contributing] factor,' said NOAA National Climatic Data Center Director Thomas Karl. In addition, climate scientist Peter Stott of the U.K. Met Office noted that these studies show that in many cases, human influence on climate has increased the risks associated with extreme events."
An anonymous reader sends this news from the Wall Street Journal: "A 19-year-old model helicopter enthusiast was killed Thursday when a toy helicopter he was flying struck him in the head, a law-enforcement official said. Victim Roman Pirozek 'was known to be aggressive in his flying and often executed tricks. He was executing a trick when he was struck,' the official said. Mr. Pirozek – depicted in [this YouTube video] he posted in July — was flying a remote-controlled helicopter worth about $2,000 when it struck him, cutting off the top of his head, the official said. The Woodhaven, Queens, resident was pronounced dead at the scene. His father was with him at the time of the accident, the official said."
coolnumbr12 writes "The U.S. government has had enough of the Syrian Electronic Army's hacks of Western media and government outlets. A week after the SEA shut down the New York Times, the FBI Cyber Division unit has officially added the pro-Assad hacker collective to its wanted list. The FBI issued an advisory that included information about the SEA, its capabilities, and some of its more heinous attacks. The advisory also warns networks to be on the lookout for attacks, and that anyone found to be aiding the SEA will be seen as terrorists actively aiding attacks against the U.S. websites."
Trailrunner7 writes "In response to a lawsuit by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Department of Justice is preparing to release a trove of documents related to the government's secret interpretation of Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act. The declassified documents will include previously secret opinions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The decision by the Justice Department to release the documents is the second legal victory in recent weeks for the EFF related to the National Security Agency's intelligence collection programs. In August, the group won the release of a 2011 FISC opinion that revealed that the court ruled that some of the NSA's collection programs were illegal and unconstitutional. The newest decision will result in the release of hundreds of pages of documents related to the way the government has been interpreting Section 215, which is the measure upon which some of the NSA's surveillance programs are based. In a status report released Wednesday regarding the EFF's suit against the Department of Justice, attorneys for the government said that they will release the documents by Sept. 10."
An anonymous reader writes "The New York Times is reporting that the NSA has 'has circumvented or cracked much of the encryption, or digital scrambling, that guards global commerce and banking systems, protects sensitive data like trade secrets and medical records, and automatically secures the e-mails, Web searches, Internet chats and phone calls of Americans and others around the world, the documents show. ... The agency, according to the documents and interviews with industry officials, deployed custom-built, superfast computers to break codes, and began collaborating with technology companies in the United States and abroad to build entry points into their products. The documents do not identify which companies have participated.'" You may prefer Pro Publica's non-paywalled version, instead, or The Guardian's.
cold fjord writes with this excerpt from The Hill: "The National Rifle Association joined the American Civil Liberties Union's lawsuit on Wednesday to end the government's massive phone record collection program. In a brief filed in federal court, the NRA argues that the National Security Agency's database of phone records amounts to a 'national gun registry.' 'It would be absurd to think that the Congress would adopt and maintain a web of statutes intended to protect against the creation of a national gun registry, while simultaneously authorizing the FBI and the NSA to gather records that could effectively create just such a registry,' the group writes. ... In its filing, the gun-rights group claims that the NSA's database would allow the government to identify and track gun owners based on whether they've called gun stores, shooting ranges or the NRA. 'Under the government's reading of Section 215, the government could simply demand the periodic submission of all firearms dealers' transaction records, then centralize them in a database indexed by the buyers' names for later searching,' the NRA writes."
paroneayea writes "MediaGoblin 0.5.0 Goblin Force is released with a slew of new features: authentication plugins including OpenID and Mozilla Persona support, a new notification system, a new "reprocessing framework", and more! The project is also making progress towards its long-awaited federation goals via the Pump API, as used in pump.io. Rockin'!" (If the name doesn't ring a bell, Wikipedia helps: MediaGoblin is "a free, decentralized Web platform (server software) for hosting and sharing digital media.")
An anonymous reader writes "GamePolitics reports that the Postal Regulatory Commission has ordered [PDF] the U.S. Postal Service to equalize the rates paid by mailers who send round trip DVDs, and concluding (sort of) a dispute that has been underway for more than four years. The new postage rates take effect on September 30th. Some mailers, prominantly Netflix, send their round-trip movie DVDs as 'letters,' but GameFly's gaming disks are sent in slightly bigger envelopes as 'flats' to avoid breakage, and so GameFly has paid a much higher postage rate. GameFly argued that this was unfair discriminatory treatment because USPS was providing special hand-sorting treatment for Netflix disks without charging Netflix for the extra handling. But now there's a new twist: the Postal Service wants to reclassify DVD mailing [PDF] as a competitive product, where the prices would not be limited by the rate of inflation, because it says that mailed DVDs compete with the internet, streaming services, and kiosks such as Redbox. The regulatory agency is accepting responses [PDF] from interested persons until September 11th to the Postal Service's latest comments on its request [PDF]."
rysiek writes "Remember MailPile, the privacy-focused, community-funded FOSS webmail project with built-in GPG support? The good news is, the funding campaign is a success, with $135k raised (the goal was $100k). The bad news is: PayPal froze MailPile's account, along with $45k that was on it, and will not un-freeze it until MailPile team provides 'an itemized budget and your development goal dates for your project.' One of the team members also noted: 'Communications with PayPal have implied that they would use any excuse available to them to delay delivering as much of our cash as possible for as long as possible.' PayPal doesn't have a great track record as far as fund freezing is concerned — maybe it's high time to stop using PayPal?"
dcblogs writes "Amazon has more than 100 job openings for people who can get a top secret clearance, which includes a U.S. government administered polygraph examination. It needs software developers, operations managers and cloud support engineers, among others. Amazon's hiring effort includes an invitation-only recruiting event for systems support engineers at its Herndon, Va., facility on Sept. 24 and 25. Amazon is fighting to win a contract to build a private cloud for the CIA. The project is being rebid after IBM filed a protest. In a recent federal lawsuit challenging the rebid, Amazon took a shot at IBM, describing the company as 'a traditional fixed IT infrastructure provider and late entrant to the cloud computing market.' Among the things IBM says in response, is that the government didn't look at Amazon's outage record. An analyst firm, Ptak Noel & Associates, concluded, in a report about the dispute, that CIA officials 'too casually brush off Amazon's outages' in evaluating the proposals."
Anita Hunt (lissnup) writes "Hot on the heels of Dave Cameron's demands to make such content universally 'opt-in,' the Independent reports 'Westminster computers were prevented from accessing sex sites 114,844 times last November alone and on 55,552 in April, while February saw just 15 and in June officials blocked 397 attempts.' No explanation has been offered for the variation, although it would be interesting to know if the fall in the number of recorded/reported attempts coincides with the date the FOI request was filed."
mdsolar sends this quote from Bloomberg: "More than 50 years into the age of nuclear energy, one of the biggest growth opportunities may be junking old reactors. Entergy Corp. (ETR) said Aug. 27 it will close its 41-year-old Vermont Yankee nuclear plant in 2014, making the reactor the fifth unit in the U.S. marked for decommissioning within the past 12 months, a record annual total. Companies that specialize in razing nuclear plants and hauling away radioactive waste are poised to benefit. Disposal work is 'where companies are going to make their fortune,' Margaret Harding, an independent nuclear-industry consultant based in Wilmington, North Carolina, said in an phone interview. Contractors that are usually involved in building reactors ... 'are going to be looking very hard at the decommissioning side of it.' [T]he U.S. nuclear fleet of 104 units is shrinking, even as Southern Co. and Scana Corp. build two units each. ... During a reactor decommissioning, the plant operator transfers radioactive fuel rods to cooling pools and, ultimately, to so-called dry casks for storage. Workers clean contaminated surfaces by sandblasting, chemical sprays and hydrolasing, a process that involves high-pressure water blasts, according to King. 'You do get to a point that you need someone to come in that has the equipment and the technology to actually dismantle the components,' she said. 'That typically is hired out.'"
cervesaebraciator writes "Slashdot has reported before about the copyright nightmare of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s 'I Have a Dream' Speech. Now, questions of intellectual property and the legacy of Dr. King have caused his children to go to court. The estate, run by King's sons, claims the rights to the intellectual property and memorabilia of Dr. King as assets. Accordingly, it has filed suit against the non-profit Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Change, run by King's daughter, for plans to continue using King memorabilia once a royalty-free licensing agreement expires, (which the estate says will be in September). As is the case with increasing frequency, one is left to wonder about the implications intellectual property claims have for free speech when they can be applied to so public a figure as Dr. King."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Joshua Mitnick reports that Israel and the U.S. carried out a missile test over the Mediterranean Sea on Tuesday morning that was detected by Russian surveillance systems. Israel's defense ministry eventually said a Sparrow rocket had been fired to simulate a ballistic missile attack on the Jewish state to test the Arrow interceptor system. The Arrow – which wasn't fired Tuesday – has been developed to defend against long range rockets primarily from Iran, a main patron of the Syrian regime. Arieh Herzog, a former Israeli missile defense director, says that the Sparrow missile is developed to simulate 'the worst threats' in the region so Israel can hone the capabilities of the Arrow III missile interceptor. Herzog speculated that the launch Tuesday was done at a considerably long range. Another Israeli expert said the incident could be seen as muscle flexing by the U.S. and Israel. 'You could say perhaps its show of strength to Syria and its Iranian ally — that Israel has a range of options at its disposal. And to place pressure on Assad and Iran that Israel takes [retaliation threats] seriously,' says Meir Javedanfar, a lecturer on Iranian politics at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center. Pentagon press secretary George Little said the U.S. 'provided technical assistance and support to the Israeli Missile Defense Organization flight test of a Sparrow target missile over the Mediterranean Sea.' 'The United States and Israel cooperate on a number of long-term ballistic missile defense development projects to address common challenges in the region,' added Little. 'This test had nothing to do with United States consideration of military action to respond to Syria's chemical weapons attack.'"