An anonymous reader writes "USA Today reports, "Ukraine may have to arm itself with nuclear weapons if the United States and other world powers refuse to enforce a security pact that obligates them to reverse the Moscow-backed takeover of Crimea, a member of the Ukraine parliament told USA TODAY. The United States, Great Britain and Russia agreed in a pact 'to assure Ukraine's territorial integrity' in return for Ukraine giving up a nuclear arsenal it inherited from the Soviet Union after declaring independence in 1991, said Pavlo Rizanenko, a member of the Ukrainian parliament. ... Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the commitments in the agreement are not relevant to Crimea because a 'coup' in Kiev has created 'a new state with which we have signed no binding agreements.' The U.S. and U.K. have said that the agreement remains binding and that they expect it to be treated 'with utmost seriousness, and expect Russia to, as well.'"
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malachiorion writes with this report from Popular Science"Seventy-four years ago, Russia accomplished what no country had before, or has since: it sent armed ground robots into battle. These remote-controlled Teletanks took the field during one of WWII's earliest and most obscure clashes, as Soviet forces pushed into Eastern Finland for roughly three and a half months, from 1939 to 1940. The workings of those Teletanks were cool, though they were useless against Germany, and Russia proceeded to fall behind the developed world in military robotics."
DoctorBit writes "According to today's Newsweek article, Satoshi Nakamoto is ... Satoshi Nakamoto — a 64-year-old Japanese-American former defense contractor living with his mother in a modest Temple City, California suburban home. According to the article, 'He is someone with a penchant for collecting model trains and a career shrouded in secrecy, having done classified work for major corporations and the U.S. military.' and 'Nakamoto's family describe him as extremely intelligent, moody and obsessively private, a man of few words who screens his phone calls, anonymizes his emails and, for most of his life, has been preoccupied with the two things for which Bitcoin has now become known: money and secrecy.' The article quotes him as responding when asked about bitcoin, 'I am no longer involved in that and I cannot discuss it, ... It's been turned over to other people. They are in charge of it now. I no longer have any connection.' I imagine that he will now have to move and hire round-the-clock security for his own protection."
Sockatume writes "Researchers in Italy have demonstrated a powered exoskeleton that can lift 50kg with each hand, as demonstrated in a video with the BBC. The 'body extender' from the Perceptual Robotics Laboratory of the Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna in Pisa has been developed for applications like disaster relief, and is just one of many strength-augmenting systems being developed for use in rescue, military, and medical applications. Neither the researchers nor the BBC make the comparison to the Powerloader in the movie Aliens — but come on, look at it."
Doofus writes "The Atlantic has an interesting story about opening up what we routinely consider 'advanced' areas of mathematics to younger learners. The goals here are to use complex but easy tasks as introductions to more advanced topics in math, rather than the standard, sequential process of counting, arithmetic, sets, geometry, then eventually algebra and finally calculus. Quoting: 'Examples of activities that fall into the "simple but hard" quadrant: Building a trench with a spoon (a military punishment that involves many small, repetitive tasks, akin to doing 100 two-digit addition problems on a typical worksheet, as Droujkova points out), or memorizing multiplication tables as individual facts rather than patterns. Far better, she says, to start by creating rich and social mathematical experiences that are complex (allowing them to be taken in many different directions) yet easy (making them conducive to immediate play). Activities that fall into this quadrant: building a house with LEGO blocks, doing origami or snowflake cut-outs, or using a pretend "function box" that transforms objects (and can also be used in combination with a second machine to compose functions, or backwards to invert a function, and so on).' I plan to get my children learning the 'advanced' topics as soon as possible. How about you?"
concertina226 writes "If you think the crisis in the Ukraine is limited just to being just on the ground, think again. A cyberwar is flaring up between Ukraine and Russia and it looks like just the beginning. On Friday, communication centers were hijacked by unknown men to install wireless equipment for monitoring the mobile phones of Ukraine parliament members. Since then, Ukrainian hackers have been defacing Russian news websites, while Russia's Roskomnadzor is blocking any IP addresses or groups on social media from showing pro-Ukraine 'extremist' content." Adds reader Daniel_Stuckey: "On the other side of the border, RT — the news channel formerly known as Russia Today and funded by the state — had its website hacked on Sunday morning, with the word 'Nazi' not-so-stealthily slipped into headlines. Highlights included 'Russian senators vote to use stabilizing Nazi forces on Ukrainian territory,' and 'Putin: Nazi citizens, troops threatened in Ukraine, need armed forces' protection.' RT was quick to notice the hack, and the wordplay only lasted about 20 minutes." Finally, as noted by judgecorp, "The Ukrainian security service has claimed that Russian forces in Crimea are attacking Ukraine's mobile networks and politicians' phones in particular. Meanwhile, pro-Russian hackers have defaced Ukrainian news sites, posting a list of forty web destinations where content has been replaced. The pro-Russians have demonstrated Godwin's Rule — their animated GIF equates the rest of Ukraine to Nazis."
schwit1 writes "Police in Florida have offered a startling excuse for having used a controversial 'stingray' cell phone tracking gadget 200 times without ever telling a judge: the device's manufacturer made them sign a non-disclosure agreement that they say prevented them from telling the courts. The shocking revelation, uncovered by the American Civil Liberties Union, came during an appeal over a 2008 sexual battery case in Tallahassee in which the suspect also stole the victim's cell phone. Using the stingray — which simulates a cell phone tower in order to trick nearby mobile devices into connecting to it and revealing their location — police were able to track him to an apartment."
concertina226 writes "A team of engineers is working together to recreate the Bugatti Veyron (or Bugatti 100P), an art deco-era fighter plane designed for World War II that would have broken the air speed record in 1940 — only the plane was never flown. Featuring forward pitched wings, a zero-drag cooling system and automated flight control assistance, plane was capable of reaching an air speed of 500mph, which would have made it the fastest and most advanced plane of its time."
First time accepted submitter Recaply writes "Here's a look back at the 1960's Bell Aerosystems Rocket Belt. 'Born out of sci-fi cinema, pulp literature and a general lust for launching ourselves into the wild blue yonder, the real-world Rocket Belt began to truly unfold once the military industrial complex opened up its wallet. In the late 1950s, the US Army's Transportation Research Command (TRECOM) was looking at ways to augment the mobility of foot soldiers and enable them to bypass minefields and other obstacles on the battleground by making long-range jumps. It put out a call to various aerospace companies looking for prototypes of a Small Rocket Lift Device (SRLD). Bell Aerospace, which had built the sound-barrier-breaking X-1 aircraft for the Army Air Forces, managed to get the contract and Wendell Moore, a propulsion engineer at Bell became the technical lead.'"
Now that Russia has sent troops to seize the Crimean Peninsula, international politics are tense and frantic. An anonymous reader notes an article from Joshua Keating at Slate, which points out that some of the diplomatic cables on WikiLeaks illustrate how this situation is not at all unexpected. Quoting a cable from October, 2009: "... pro-Russian forces in Crimea, acting with funding and direction from Moscow, have systematically attempted to increase communal tensions in Crimea in the two years since the Orange Revolution. They have done so by cynically fanning ethnic Russian chauvinism towards Crimean Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians, through manipulation of issues like the status of the Russian language, NATO, and an alleged Tatar threat to 'Slavs,' in a deliberate effort to destabilize Crimea, weaken Ukraine, and prevent Ukraine's movement west into institutions like NATO and the EU." The article points out another cable from a few days later, which was titled, "Ukraine-Russia: Is Military Conflict No Longer Unthinkable?"
KentuckyFC writes "Aerial flocking has been a long-standing goal for roboticists, but the technical demands for autonomous outdoor flocking have always been too great. Now a European team has successfully demonstrated autonomous outdoor flocking for the first time, with up to 10 flyers in the air simultaneously for up to 20 minutes. The flyer of choice is the MK Basicset L4-ME made by the German company MikroKopter. They modified this by attaching an extension board carrying a variety of navigational devices such as a gyroscope, accelerometer, and GPS receiver, as well as a wireless communications unit and a minicomputer to calculate trajectories. To simplify these calculations, all the quadcopters fly at the same altitude to make the flocking problem two-dimensional. The team say the quadcopters can fly autonomously in lines and circles, and even demonstrate self-organizing behavior when confined to specific volumes of space. Crucially, the flock does not rely on any centralized control for its behavior. The researchers imagine using them for large-scale, redundant observations over wide areas, perhaps for farming, traffic monitoring and, of course, military purposes. They might even put on aerial displays for entertainment purposes."
the_newsbeagle writes "The former editor of Wired is betting that the 21st century skies will be filled with drones, and not the military sort. His company, 3D Robotics, is building open-source UAVs for the civilian market, and expects its drones to catch on first in agriculture. As noted in an article about the company's grand ambitions: 'Farms are far from the city's madding crowds and so offer safe flying areas; also, the trend toward precision agriculture demands aerial monitoring of crops. Like traffic watching, it's a job tailor-made for a robot: dull, dirty, and dangerous.' Also, farmers apparently wouldn't need FAA approval for privately owned drones flying over their own property."
jfruh writes "A vulnerability in Internet Explorer 9 and 10 that allows attackers to target banking login info, first reported on February 13, is being exploited in the wild, and attacks are spreading rapidly. Sites compromised by the malware run the gamut from U.S. Veterans of Foreign Wars site, to a site frequented by French military contractors, to a Japanese dating site. Microsoft has released a 'fix-it tool' but not a regular patch."
Lasrick writes "The Center for Investigative Reporting spent a year investigating whether San Francisco's Treasure Island is contaminated with radioactive material left over from the decades the island was a naval base. Treasure Island is being transferred into civilian hands, and the city of San Francisco has plans to turn it into a 'second downtown.' Despite the fact that radioactive debris has been found around the island, the Navy refuses to conduct testing that might show whether radiation cleanup should be started before development begins, Independent testing by CIR and others has found high levels of cesium 137 and other radioactive substances at several spots on the island, and by examining unclassified military documents, CIR has found that the history of the nuclear work done at Treasure Island and the lack of safety protocols at the time mean the contamination is most likely wide-spread. Complaints by current residents has only resulted in bureaucratic infighting among state health departments and the Navy."
mrspoonsi writes "BBC Reports: 'Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has unveiled plans to shrink the U.S. Army to its smallest size since before World War Two. Outlining his budget plan, the Pentagon chief proposed trimming the active-duty Army to between 440,000 and 450,000 personnel — from 520,000 currently. The U.S. currently spends more on defense than the combined total of the next 12 countries, as ranked by defense spending.'"
__roo writes "Herbicides used in Vietnam in the 1970s still pose a threat to servicemen, according to a study published Friday. The U.S. Air Force and Department of Veteran Affairs denied benefits to sick veterans, taking the position that any dioxin or other components of Agent Orange contaminating its fleet of C-123 cargo planes would have been 'dried residues' and unlikely to pose meaningful exposure risks. According to the lead researcher, 'The VA, whether out of ignorance or malice, has denied the entire existence of this entire branch of science. They have this preposterous idea that somehow there is this other kind of state of matter — a dried residue that is completely inert.' To show that such exposures happened, her research team had to be 'very clever.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Yonhap News Agency reports that South Korea has announced it is developing offensive cyber-capabilities to target North Korea's nuclear facilities. Yonhap speculates the tools will be similar to the Stuxnet computer virus the U.S. used against Iran's uranium enrichment program. A report in The Diplomat questions this assertion, noting that a Stuxnet-like virus would only temporarily disrupt Pyongyang's ability to build more nuclear weapons, while doing nothing to address its existing ones. Instead, The Diplomat suggests Seoul is interested in developing cyber-capabilities that temporarily disable North Korea's ability to launch nuclear missiles, which would be complement Seoul's efforts to develop precision-guided missiles to preemptively destroy Pyongyang's nuclear and missile facilities."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Rachel Feltman reports that drones are being used to film ski and snowboarding events at the Winter Olympics in Sochi and unlike military drones, which often look like a remote-controlled airplane, the creature floating around Sochi resembles a huge flying spider. The legs of the flying spider hold the rotors that spin around to keep it airborne. The drone then has a flight deck that holds the flight control system with GPS for navigation, sensors and receivers. The camera can be mounted in the middle or suspended below the flight deck. A drone with mounted camera can cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars to $37,000 for a top-of-the-line Ikarus from Britain's Heliguy, which is advising broadcast clients in Sochi on using drones. That compares with the cost of a few thousand dollars an hour to rent a helicopter with pilot, not including the camera crew and equipment. Cameraman Remo Masina says he can fly a drone at up to 40 mph while transmitting a high-definition, live image and says the chances of drone crashes are close to zero when a drone is handled by an experienced pilot, because the drones are programmed to return to base at the slightest problem — such as a low battery, rough winds or a malfunction. 'There have been mishaps, however. In one case last year, a drone filming an imitation version of Spain's running of the bulls in Virginia crashed and injured a few spectators.'"
Hallie Siegel writes "PackBots will be deployed in Brazil during the 2014 World Cup Soccer season to bring a high-tech approach to security. The nation's government has secured a $7.2 million deal with PackBot's creators for 30 of the military bots. The robots will be stationed throughout Brazil's 12 host cities, during the soccer matches to boost security and help examine any suspicious objects."
cold fjord sends news that Iran's breach of a computer network belonging to the U.S. Navy was more serious than originally thought. According to a Wall Street Journal report (paywalled, but summarized at The Verge), it took the Navy four months to secure its network after the breach, and the repair cost was approximately $10 million. From the article: "The hackers targeted the Navy Marine Corps Intranet, the unclassified network used by the Department of the Navy to host websites, store nonsensitive information and handle voice, video and data communications. The network has 800,000 users at 2,500 locations, according to the Navy. ... The intrusion into the Navy's system was the most recent in a series of Iranian cyberoffensives that have taken U.S. military and intelligence officials by surprise. In early 2012, top intelligence officials held the view that Iran wanted to execute a cyberattack but had little capability. Not long after, Iranian hackers began a series of major "denial-of-service" attacks on a growing number of U.S. bank websites, and they launched a virus on a Saudi oil company that immobilized 30,000 computers. ... Defense officials were surprised at the skills of the Iranian hackers. Previously, their tactics had been far cruder, usually involving so-called denial of service attacks that disrupt network operations but usually don't involve a penetration of network security."