United States

Drone Killed Hostages From U.S. and Italy, Drawing Obama Apology 331

Posted by timothy
from the tragic-events dept.
HughPickens.com writes: The NYT reports that President Obama has offered an emotional apology for the accidental killing of two hostages held by Al Qaeda, one of them American, in a United States government counterterrorism operation in January, saying he takes "full responsibility" for their deaths. "As president and as commander in chief, I take full responsibility for all our counterterrorism operations," including the one that inadvertently took the lives of the two captives, a grim-faced Obama said in a statement to reporters in the White House briefing room. The White House earlier released an extraordinary statement revealing that intelligence officials had confirmed that Warren Weinstein, an American held by Al Qaeda since 2011, and Giovanni Lo Porto, an Italian held since 2012, died during the operation. Gunmen abducted Warren Weinstein in 2011 from his home in Lahore, Pakistan. They posed as neighbors, offered food and then pistol-whipped the American aid worker and tied up his guards, according to his daughter Alisa Weinstein.

The White House did not explain why it has taken three months to disclose the episode. Obama said that the operation was conducted after hundreds of hours of surveillance had convinced American officials that they were targeting an Al Qaeda compound where no civilians were present, and that "capturing these terrorists was not possible." The White House said the operation that killed the two hostages "was lawful and conducted consistent with our counterterrorism policies" but nonetheless the government is conducting a "thorough independent review" to determine what happened and how such casualties could be avoided in the future.
Earth

Africa E-Waste Dump Continues Hyperbole War 78

Posted by timothy
from the let's-go-take-a-visit dept.
retroworks writes: Two stories appear today which feature close up photos of young African men surrounded by scrap metal in the city of Accra. The headlines state that this is where our computers go to die (Wired). The Daily Mail puts it in even starker terms, alleging "millions of tons" are dumped in Agbogbloshie.

The stories appear the same day as a press release by investigators who returned this week from 3 weeks at the site. The release claims that Agbogbloshie's depiction as the worlds "largest ewaste dump site" to be a hoax. It is a scrap automobile yard which accounts for nothing more than local scrap from Accra. Three Dagbani language speaking electronics technicians, three reporters, Ghana customs officials and yours truly visited the site, interviewed workers about the origins of the material, and assessed volumes. About 27 young men burn wire, mostly from automobile scrap harnesses. The electronics — 20 to 50 items per day — are collected from Accra businesses and households. The majority of Accra (population 5M) have had televisions since the 1990s, according to World Bank metadata (over 80% by 2003).

The investigation did confirm that most of the scrap was originally imported used, and that work conditions were poor. However, the equipment being recycled had been repaired and maintained, typically for a decade (longer than the original OECD owner). It is a fact that used goods will, one day, eventually become e-waste. Does that support a ban on the trade in used goods to Africa? Or, as the World Bank reports, is the affordable used product essential to establish a critical mass of users so that investment in highways, phone towers, and internet cable can find necessary consumers?
GUI

Qt Creator 3.4.0 Released 20

Posted by timothy
from the well-that's-cute dept.
jones_supa writes: Qt Creator 3.4.0 has been released with many new features. Qt Creator is a C/C++ IDE with specialized tools for developing Qt applications, and it works great for general-purpose projects as well. The new version comes with a C++ refactoring option to move function definitions out of a class declaration, auto-completion for signals and slots in Qt5-style connects, experimental Qt Test and Qt Quick Tests support in the Professional and Enterprise edition, support for 64-bit Android toolchains, and various other improvements. More details on the new version can be found in the official announcement and the changelog.
Earth

USGS: Oil and Gas Operations Could Trigger Large Earthquakes 170

Posted by timothy
from the now-there's-some-economic-stimulus dept.
sciencehabit writes: The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has taken its first stab at quantifying the hazard from earthquakes associated with oil and gas development. The assessment, released in a preliminary report today, identifies 17 areas in eight states with elevated seismic hazard. And geologists now say that such induced earthquakes could potentially be large, up to magnitude 7, which is big enough to cause buildings to collapse and widespread damage. Update: 04/23 15:56 GMT by T : New submitter truavatar adds: At the same time, the Oklahoma Geological Survey released a statement explicitly calling out deep wastewater injection wells to Oklahoma earthquakes, stating "The OGS considers it very likely that the majority of recent earthquakes, particularly those in central and north-central Oklahoma, are triggered by the injection of produced water in disposal wells."
Communications

New Privacy Concerns About US Program That Can Track Snail Mail 64

Posted by timothy
from the ask-not-what-your-country-can-do-to-you dept.
Lashdots writes: A lawyers' group has called for greater oversight of a government program that gives state and federal law enforcement officials access to metadata from private communications for criminal investigations and national security purposes. But it's not digital: this warrantless surveillance is conducted on regular mail. "The mail cover has been in use, in some form, since the 1800s," Chief Postal Inspector Guy J. Cottrell told Congress in November. The program targets a range of criminal activity including fraud, pornography, and terrorism, but, he said, "today, the most common use of this tool is related to investigations to rid the mail of illegal drugs and illegal drug proceeds." Recent revelations that the U.S. Postal Service photographs the front and back of all mail sent through the U.S., ostensibly for sorting purposes, has, Fast Company reports, brought new scrutiny—and new legal responses—to this obscure program.
United States

Except For Millennials, Most Americans Dislike Snowden 676

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-sir-I-don't-like-him dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Newsmax reports that according to KRC Research, about 64 percent of Americans familiar with Snowden hold a negative opinion of him. However 56 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 have a positive opinion of Snowden which contrasts sharply with older age cohorts. Among those aged 35-44, some 34 percent have positive attitudes toward him. For the 45-54 age cohort, the figure is 28 percent, and it drops to 26 percent among Americans over age 55, U.S. News reported. Americans overall say by plurality that Snowden has done "more to hurt" U.S. national security (43 percent) than help it (20 percent). A similar breakdown was seen with views on whether Snowden helped or hurt efforts to combat terrorism, though the numbers flip on whether his actions will lead to greater privacy protections. "The broad support for Edward Snowden among Millennials around the world should be a message to democratic countries that change is coming," says Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union. "They are a generation of digital natives who don't want government agencies tracking them online or collecting data about their phone calls." Opinions of millennials are particularly significant in light of January 2015 findings by the U.S. Census Bureau that they are projected to surpass the baby-boom generation as the United States' largest living generation this year.
Government

Security Companies Accused of Exaggerating Iran's Cyberthreats Against the US 36

Posted by samzenpus
from the slightly-exaggerated dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A widely-read report accusing Iran of hundreds of thousands of cyberattacks against the U.S. is being criticized as hugely inaccurate as well as motivated by marketing and politics, according to a new whitepaper and critics around the security industry. The original report, solicited by a conservative think tank and published by Norse in the lead up to the RSA Security Conference, hit the front page of the New York Times by calling handshakes and network scans "sophisticated cyberattacks."
United States

House Bill Slashes Research Critical To Cybersecurity 195

Posted by samzenpus
from the do-more-with-less dept.
dcblogs writes: A U.S. House bill that will set the nation's basic research agenda for the next two years increases funding for computer science, but at the expense of other research areas. The funding bill, sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the chair of the Science, Space and Technology Committee, hikes funding for computer science, but cuts — almost by half — social sciences funding, which includes the study of human behavior. Cybersecurity uses human behavior research because humans are often the weakest security link. Research funding social, behavioral and economic sciences will fall from $272 million to $150 million, a 45% decrease. The bill also takes a big cut out of geosciences research, which includes climate change study, from $1.3 billion to $1.2 billion, an 8% decrease. The insight into human behaviors that comes from the social science research, "is critical to understanding how best to design and implement hardware and software systems that are more secure and easier to use," wrote J. Strother Moore, the Computing Research Association chair and a professor of computer science at the University of Texas.
Yahoo!

Yahoo Called Its Layoffs a "Remix." Don't Do That. 194

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-to-do-and-what-not-to-do dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes: Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, in a conference call with reporters and analysts, referred to the net layoffs of 1,100 employees in the first quarter of 2015 as part of a 'remixing' of the company. A 'remix' is a term most often applied to songs, although it's also appropriate to use in the context of photographs, films, and artwork. CEOs rarely use it to describe something as momentous as a major enterprise's transition, especially if said transition involves layoffs of longtime employees, because it could potentially appear flippant to observers. If you run your own shop (no matter how large), it always pays to choose words as carefully as possible when referring to anything that affects your employees' lives and careers. Despite a renewed focus on mobile and an influx of skilled developers and engineers, Yahoo still struggles to define its place on the modern tech scene; that struggle is no more evident than in the company's most recent quarterly results, which included rising costs, reduced net income, and layoffs.
GNU is Not Unix

GCC 5.1 Released 77

Posted by samzenpus
from the brand-new dept.
kthreadd writes: Version 5.1 of GCC, the primary free software compiler for GNU and other operating systems, has been released. Version 5 includes many changes from the 4.x series. Starting with this release the default compiler mode for C is gnu11 instead of the older gnu89. New features include new compiler warnings, support for Cilk Plus. There is a new attribute no_reorder which prevents reordering of selected symbols against other such symbols or inline assembler, enabling link-time optimization of the Linux kernel without having to use -fno-toplevel-reorder. Two new preprocessor directives have also been added, __has_include and __has_include_next, to test the availability of headers. Also, there's a new C++ ABI due to changes to libstdc++. The old ABI is however still supported and can be enabled using a macro. Other changes include full support for C++14. Also the Fortran frontend has received some improvements and users will now be able to have colorized diagnostics, and the Go frontend has been updated to the Go 1.4.2 release.
United States

McConnell Introduces Bill To Extend NSA Surveillance 201

Posted by samzenpus
from the lets-see-what-you're-doing dept.
jriding sends word that the majority leader of the U.S. Senate has introduced a bill that would extend the surveillance provisions of the Patriot Act until 2020: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced a bill Tuesday night to extend through 2020 a controversial surveillance authority under the Patriot Act. The move comes as a bipartisan group of lawmakers in both chambers is preparing legislation to scale back the government's spying powers under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. It puts McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the bill’s co-sponsor, squarely on the side of advocates of the National Security Agency’s continued ability to collect millions of Americans’ phone records each day in the hunt for clues of terrorist activity.
Education

Virtual Reality Games Can Improve Memory Retention of Safety Instructions 36

Posted by samzenpus
from the don't-forget dept.
vrml writes: Using a virtual reality (VR) headset to experience risky situations as immersive 3D games improves memory retention of passenger safety instructions, according to research published in the IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, and illustrated by a YouTube video. Researchers recruited occasional flyers: half of them played a VR gaming experience of an airliner water landing and evacuation, while the other half studied a real airline safety card. After one week, passengers who had studied the safety card suffered a significant loss of knowledge, while passengers who had played the VR game fully retained the safety knowledge gained. The research group has now made available its emergency water landing experience also for the Oculus Rift.
Intel

Intel 'Compute Stick' PC-Over-HDMI Dongle Launched, Tested 172

Posted by Soulskill
from the minimally-elegant-product-names dept.
MojoKid writes: Intel has officially announced the availability of their Compute Stick HDMI dongle, and has lifted the embargo on early tests with the device. The Compute Stick is essentially a fully-functional, low-power, Atom-based system with memory, storage, and an OS, crammed into a dongle about 10cm long. There will initially be two compute sticks made available: one running Windows (model STCK1A32WFC) and another running Ubuntu (model STCK1A8LFC). The Windows 8.1 version of the Compute Stick is packing an Intel Atom Z3735F processor, with a single-channel of 2GB of DDR3L-1333 RAM and 32GB of internal storage, though out of the box only 19.2GB is usable. The Ubuntu version of the Compute Stick has as a similar CPU, but is packing only 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage. All sticks have USB and MicroSD expansion capability. It doesn't burn through any benchmarks, but for multi-media playback, basic computing tasks, web browsing, HD video, or remote access, the Compute Stick has enough muscle to get the job done, and it's cheap, too: $99 — $149.
Earth

Cheap Gas Fuels Switch From Electric Cars To SUVs 616

Posted by Soulskill
from the greenbacks-more-important-than-being-green dept.
schwit1 points out news that's sure to clash with Earth Day narratives: drivers who bought hybrid and electric cars are switching back to SUVs at a higher rate than ever. Quoting: According to Edmunds.com, about 22 percent of people who have traded in their hybrids and EVs in 2015 bought a new SUV. The number represents a sharp increase from 18.8 percent last year, and it is nearly double the rate of 11.9 percent just three years ago. Overall, only 45 percent of this year's hybrid and EV trade-ins have gone toward the purchase of another alternative fuel vehicle, down from just over 60 percent in 2012. Never before have loyalty rates for alt-fuel vehicles fallen below 50 percent. ... Edmunds calculates that at the peak average national gas price of $4.67/gallon in October 2012, it would take five years to break even on the $3,770 price difference between a Toyota Camry LE Hybrid ($28,230) and a Toyota Camry LE ($24,460). At today's national average gas price of $2.27/gallon, it would take twice as much time (10.5 years) to close the same gap.
Canada

The Great Canadian Copyright Giveaway: Copyright Extension For Sound Recordings 298

Posted by Soulskill
from the naturally-snuck-through-during-the-hockey-playoffs dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Despite no study, no public demands, and the potential cost to the public of millions of dollars, the Canadian government announced yesterday that it will extend the term of copyright for sound recordings and performances from 50 to 70 years. The music industry did not raise term extension as a key concern during either the 2012 copyright reform bill or the 2014 Canadian Heritage committee study on the industry. For Canadians, the extension could cost millions of dollars as works that were scheduled to come into the public domain will now remain locked down for decades.