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United States

Navy Guilty of Illegally Broad Online Searches: Child Porn Conviction Overturned 140

Posted by samzenpus
from the looking-too-far dept.
An anonymous reader writes In a 2-1 decision, the 9th Circuit Court ruled that Navy investigators regularly run illegally broad online surveillance operations that cross the line of military enforcement and civilian law. The findings overturned the conviction of Michael Dreyer for distributing child pornography. The illegal material was found by NCIS agent Steve Logan searching for "any computers located in Washington state sharing known child pornography on the Gnutella file-sharing network." The ruling reads in part: "Agent Logan's search did not meet the required limitation. He surveyed the entire state of Washington for computers sharing child pornography. His initial search was not limited to United States military or government computers, and, as the government acknowledged, Agent Logan had no idea whether the computers searched belonged to someone with any "affiliation with the military at all." Instead, it was his "standard practice to monitor all computers in a geographic area," here, every computer in the state of Washington. The record here demonstrates that Agent Logan and other NCIS agents routinely carry out broad surveillance activities that violate the restrictions on military enforcement of civilian law. Agent Logan testified that it was his standard practice to "monitor any computer IP address within a specific geographic location," not just those "specific to US military only, or US government computers." He did not try to isolate military service members within a geographic area. He appeared to believe that these overly broad investigations were permissible, because he was a "U.S. federal agent" and so could investigate violations of either the Uniform Code of Military Justice or federal law."
The Military

DARPA Funds Harvard's Soft Exoskeletal Suit 28

Posted by Soulskill
from the what-matters-is-on-the-outside dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The military and private contractors have been toying with exoskeletal combat suits for a while, but Harvard's Wyss Institute has a new take on the concept. Rather than using a hard metal frame and the massively overpowered mechanical servos necessary to move it, the Soft Exosuit is a lightweight mesh of webbing combined with a series of strain sensors and basic microprocessors. "The suit mimics the action of leg muscles and tendons when a person walks, and provides small but carefully timed assistance at the leg joints without restricting the wearer's movement." The suit continually monitors its wearer's body position, movement, and muscular strain, providing small amounts of targeted support. The team has now received $2.9 million in funding from DARPA to refine the suit's design. They say they'll be working on medical applications for the suit as well as military ones.
Books

Publishers Gave Away 123 Million Books During World War Two 119

Posted by samzenpus
from the publish-or-perish dept.
An anonymous reader writes Information wants to be free? During the Second World War, it actually was. Publishers took advantage of new printing technologies to sell crates of cheap, paperback books to the military for just six cents a copy, at a time when almost all the other books they printed cost more than two dollars. The army and the navy shipped them to soldiers and sailors around the world, giving away nearly 123 million books for free. Many publishers feared the program would destroy their industry, by flooding the market with free books and destroying the willingness of consumers to pay for content. Instead, it fueled a postwar publishing boom, as millions of GIs got hooked on good books, and proved willing to pay for more. It's a freemium model, more than 70 years ago.
Education

Ask Slashdot: Robotics or Electronic Kits For Wounded Veterans? 115

Posted by timothy
from the least-we-could-do dept.
An anonymous reader writes I am currently a combat veteran in the care of the VA Hospital. A lot of veterans here suffer from PTSD and other injuries related to combat and trauma. As part of the healing process, the VA finds it good that we take up hobbies such as art or music, and they supply us kits and stuff to put together and paint. This is great, but many of us younger veterans have an interest in robotics and electronics. Do you know of some good and basic robotic and electronic kits that can be ordered or donated to Veterans out there? Any information would be appreciated.
United States

L.A. Times National Security Reporter Cleared Stories With CIA Before Publishing 188

Posted by timothy
from the bet-the-changes-were-mostly-in-one-direction dept.
New submitter Prune (557140) writes with a link to a story at The Intercept which might influence the way you look at media coverage of the kind of government activity that deserves rigorous press scrutiny. According to the story, "Email exchanges between CIA public affairs officers and Ken Dilanian, now an Associated Press intelligence reporter who previously covered the CIA for the Times, show that Dilanian enjoyed a closely collaborative relationship with the agency, explicitly promising positive news coverage and sometimes sending the press office entire story drafts for review prior to publication. In at least one instance, the CIA’s reaction appears to have led to significant changes in the story that was eventually published in the Times." Another telling excerpt: On Friday April 27, 2012, he emailed the press office a draft story that he and a colleague, David Cloud, were preparing. The subject line was “this is where we are headed,” and he asked if “you guys want to push back on any of this.” It appears the agency did push back. On May 2, 2012, he emailed the CIA a new opening to the story with a subject line that asked, “does this look better?” The piece ran on May 16, and while it bore similarities to the earlier versions, it had been significantly softened.
The Military

3 Decades Later, Finnair Pilots Report Dramatic Close Encounter With a Missile 138

Posted by timothy
from the don't-tell-them-you're-out-of-coffee-though dept.
jones_supa (887896) writes It has come to light that a Finnair-owned McDonnell Douglas DC-10 passenger jet narrowly avoided being shot down by a missile while en route to Helsinki 27 years ago, claimed the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat on Sunday. The two co-pilots, Esko Kaukiainen and Markku Soininen, describe how the event happened during a routine flight back to Helsinki from Japan in December 1987. When the plane was crossing the Arctic Ocean, a missile appeared in the distance. The crew thought it was a Russian weather rocket on its way into space, but the missile began heading straight towards the aircraft. Just 20 seconds away from a collision, the missile exploded. The captain, who was resting at the time of the incident, never officially reported the event. The question of who fired the missile has never been definitively answered. But the pilots believe it was launched from either the Soviet Union's Kola Peninsula or a submarine in the Barents Sea. They speculate that the missile could have been a misfire or that the plane was used as training target.
Government

New US Airstrikes In Iraq Intended to Protect Important Dam 215

Posted by timothy
from the limited-disengagement dept.
U.S. military involvement in Iraq is heating up again; the sudden rise of the organization known as the Islamic State has put a kink in the gradual, ongoing winding down of U.S. military presence in that country, and today that kink has gotten a little sharper. From The New York Times: The United States launched a fresh series of airstrikes against Sunni fighters in Iraq late Saturday in what Defense Department officials described as a mission to stop militants from seizing an important dam on the Euphrates River and prevent the possibility of floodwaters being unleashed toward the capital, Baghdad. The attacks were aimed at militant fighters of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria as they were moving toward the Haditha Dam, officials said. The operation represented another expansion of the limited goals that President Obama set out when he announced last month that he had authorized airstrikes in Iraq.
The Military

Could Tech Have Stopped ISIS From Using Our Own Heavy Weapons Against Us? 448

Posted by Soulskill
from the smart-phones-are-way-smarter-than-smart-bombs dept.
JonZittrain writes: This summer, ISIS insurgents captured Mosul — with with it, three divisions' worth of advanced American military hardware. After ISIS used it to capture the Mosul Dam, the U.S. started bombing its own pirated equipment. Could sophisticated military tanks and anti-aircraft missiles given or sold to countries like Iraq be equipped with a way to disable them if they're compromised, without opening them up to hacking by an enemy?

We already require extra authentication at a distance to arm nuclear weapons, and last season's 24 notwithstanding, we routinely operate military drones at a distance. Reportedly in the Falkland Islands war, Margaret Thatcher was able to extract codes to disable Argentina's Exocet missiles from the French. The simplest implementation might be like the proposal for land mines that expire after a certain time. Perhaps tanks — currently usable without even an ignition key — could require a renewal code digitally signed by the owning country to be entered manually or received by satellite every six months or so.

I'm a skeptic of kill switches, especially in consumer devices, but still found myself writing up the case for a way to disable military hardware in the field. There are lots of reasons it might not work — or work too well — but is there a way to improve on what we face now?
Space

DARPA Bolsters Blueprint To Build Robotic Services For Satellites 10

Posted by samzenpus
from the space-garage dept.
coondoggie writes In five years the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) wants to launch a robotic servicing mission to inspect, fix, refuel, or move satellites in geostationary Earth orbit. In order to move that plan along, the research agency today issued a Request for Information calling on commercial and private space groups to provide details on what it would take to accomplish that lofty goal. To expedite the mission, DARPA said it is considering the possibility of integrating DARPA-developed space robotics technologies onto commercial spacecraft to create a jointly developed GEO robotic service craft.
The Military

The Argument For a Hypersonic Missile Testing Ban 322

Posted by samzenpus
from the greased-lightning dept.
Lasrick writes Mark Gubrud has a fascinating piece arguing for the U.S. to lead the way in calling for a ban on the testing of hypersonic missiles, a technology that the U.S. has been developing for decades. China has also started testing these weapons, which proponents optimistically claim would not be used to deliver nuclear weapons. Russia, India, and a few other countries are also joining in the fray, so a ban on testing would stop an arms race in its tracks. The article discusses the two types of hypersonic technology, and whether that technology has civilian applications.
Robotics

Robot Dramas: Autonomous Machines In the Limelight On Stage and In Society 31

Posted by Soulskill
from the if-only-asimov-was-around-to-see-it dept.
aarondubrow writes: We're entering an era where we'll increasingly coexist with robots and other intelligent machines — some of which may look like us. Not only is there a growing number of industrial robots (about 1.5 million today), there are 10 million Roombas in our homes, porter-bots in our hospitals and hotels, social robots in our nursing homes and even robot spectators at baseball games in Japan, tele-operated by remote fans.

Theater is not an arena that we typically associate with robots, however, artists, musicians and producers are often early adopters and innovative users of emerging technologies. In fact, robots got their name from the 1920 play, R.U.R., by the Czech playwright, Karel Capek. An article in the Huffington Post describes a panel discussion at the National Academy of Science in June that featured the producers of three recent plays that starred robots. The plays highlight our robot anxieties, while offering new visions for human-robot interactions in the future.
Cellphones

Mysterious, Phony Cell Towers Found Throughout US 237

Posted by Soulskill
from the can-you-hear-me-now dept.
Trachman writes: Popular Science magazine recently published an article about a network of cell towers owned not by telecommunication companies but by unknown third parties. Many of them are built around U.S. military bases. "Interceptors vary widely in expense and sophistication – but in a nutshell, they are radio-equipped computers with software that can use arcane cellular network protocols and defeat the onboard encryption. ... Some interceptors are limited, only able to passively listen to either outgoing or incoming calls. But full-featured devices like the VME Dominator, available only to government agencies, can not only capture calls and texts, but even actively control the phone, sending out spoof texts, for example."
The Military

Invasion of Ukraine Continues As Russia Begins Nuclear Weapons Sabre Rattling 787

Posted by Soulskill
from the in-case-you-were-feeling-optimistic-today dept.
cold fjord writes Russian President has issued a stark indication of Russia's military capabilities: "I want to remind you that Russia is one of the most powerful nuclear nations. This is a reality, not just words." According to News.com.au, "It's the first time in more than 25 years that Moscow has raised the spectre of nuclear war. The difference this time is that its tanks are already pouring over its western borders." To put numbers behind that, "Russia has moved 4,000 to 5,000 military personnel — a figure far higher than one U.S. official's earlier claim of 1,000 troops. The soldiers are aligned in 'formed units' and fighting around Luhansk and Donetsk.... And they may soon have company: Some 20,000 troops are on border and 'more may be on the way.'" On top of that, the Ukraine Defence Minister claims Russia has made threats that they're prepared to use tactical nuclear weapons to stop further resistance.
The Military

NATO Set To Ratify Joint Defense For Cyberattacks 34

Posted by Soulskill
from the state-sponsored-script-kiddies dept.
An anonymous reader writes: At the upcoming NATO meeting, according to the NY Times, the 28 member states are expected to ratify "a far-reaching change in the organization's mission of collective defense: For the first time, a cyberattack on any of the 28 NATO nations could be declared an attack on all of them, much like a ground invasion or an airborne bombing." A former NATO ambassador describes NATO's technological capability as "pretty basic" and suggests any counter-cyberattacks would likely be lodged by member states (meaning the U.S. and maybe Britain). He opines, "It's a measure of how far we've come on this issue that there's now a consensus that a cyberattack could be as devastating as any other kind of attack, maybe even more so." Helpfully, the agreement avoids defining what sort of "cyberattack" would warrant an armed response. The Times describes the agreement as "deliberately unclear."
Biotech

Islamic State "Laptop of Doom" Hints At Plots Including Bubonic Plague 369

Posted by timothy
from the theocrat's-cookbook dept.
Foreign Policy has an in-depth look at the contents of a laptop reportedly seized this year in Syria from a stronghold of the organization now known as the Islamic State, and described as belonging to a Tunisian national ("Muhammed S."). The "hidden documents" folder of the machine, says the report, contained a vast number of documents, including ones describing and justifying biological weapons: The laptop's contents turn out to be a treasure trove of documents that provide ideological justifications for jihadi organizations -- and practical training on how to carry out the Islamic State's deadly campaigns. They include videos of Osama bin Laden, manuals on how to make bombs, instructions for stealing cars, and lessons on how to use disguises in order to avoid getting arrested while traveling from one jihadi hot spot to another. ... The information on the laptop makes clear that its owner is a Tunisian national named Muhammed S. who joined ISIS in Syria and who studied chemistry and physics at two universities in Tunisia's northeast. Even more disturbing is how he planned to use that education: The ISIS laptop contains a 19-page document in Arabic on how to develop biological weapons and how to weaponize the bubonic plague from infected animals. ... "The advantage of biological weapons is that they do not cost a lot of money, while the human casualties can be huge," the document states.
Science

Particle Physics To Aid Nuclear Cleanup 35

Posted by Soulskill
from the baby-steps-to-a-tricorder dept.
mdsolar sends this report from Symmetry Magazine: Cosmic rays can help scientists do something no one else can: safely image the interior of the nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. ... [M]uon tomography is similar to taking an X-ray, only it uses naturally produced muons. These particles don't damage the imaged materials and, because they already stream through everything on Earth, they can be used to image even the most sensitive objects. Better yet, a huge amount of shielding is needed to stop muons from passing through an object, making it nearly impossible to hide from muon tomography. ... By determining how muons scatter as they interact with electrons and nuclei within the item, the team's software creates a three-dimensional picture of what's inside. ... To prove the technology, the Los Alamos team shipped a demo detector system to a small, working nuclear reactor in a Toshiba facility in Kawasaki, Japan. There, they placed one detector on either side of the reactor core. "When we analyzed our data we discovered that in addition to the fuel in the reactor core, they had put a few fuel bundles off to the side that we didn't know about," says Morris. "They were really impressed that not only could we image the core, but that we also found those bundles."
The Military

No, a Stolen iPod Didn't Brick Ben Eberle's Prosthetic Hand 122

Posted by timothy
from the too-bad-to-be-true dept.
New submitter willoremus writes A wounded Army vet had his $75k prosthetic hand bricked when someone stole his iPod Touch? Yeah, not so much. I'm a tech reporter for Slate.com, and a Slashdot post earlier this week prompted me to look into this story and ultimately debunk some of the key info. Sorry for self-posting, but I thought folks here might be interested in the truth since the false story was one of the top posts earlier this week.
The Military

Russian Military Forces Have Now Invaded Ukraine 848

Posted by timothy
from the or-maybe-it's-a-1000-person-picnic dept.
SpzToid (869795) writes Those plucky "Ukrainian separatist's" ambition to join Russia have now been given Russian military support, as the Russian Army with long columns of armor have invaded Ukraine and have opened up a second warring front, in a big way. The Reuters report, interestingly, quotes a member of Putin's own advisory council on human rights describing the move as an invasion: "When masses of people, under commanders' orders, on tanks, APCs and with the use of heavy weapons, (are) on the territory of another country, cross the border, I consider this an invasion."
Bug

$75K Prosthetic Arm Is Bricked When Paired iPod Is Stolen 194

Posted by timothy
from the what-about-backups dept.
kdataman writes U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ben Eberle, who lost an arm and both legs in Afghanistan, had his Ipod Touch stolen on Friday. This particular Ipod Touch has an app on it that controls his $75,000 prosthetic arm. The robbery bricked his prosthesis: "That is because Eberle's prosthetic hand is programmed to only work with the stolen iPod, and vice versa. Now that the iPod is gone, he said he has to get a new hand and get it reprogrammed with his prosthesis." I see three possibilities: 1) The article is wrong, possibly to guilt the thief into returning the Ipod. 2) This is an incredibly bad design by Touch Bionics. Why would you make a $70,000 piece of equipment permanently dependent on a specific Ipod Touch? Ipods do fail or go missing. 3) This is an intentionally bad design to generate revenue. Maybe GM should do this with car keys? "Oops, lost the keys to the corvette. Better buy a new one."
Censorship

Put A Red Cross PSA In Front Of the ISIS Beheading Video 300

Posted by samzenpus
from the for-the-greater-good dept.
Bennett Haselton writes After footage of James Foley's beheading by ISIS terrorists was posted online on Tuesday, Twitter and Youtube elected to remove any footage or links to the footage posted by users. Obviously this reduces the incentive for terrorist groups to post such content, by shrinking their audience, but it also reduces the public's access to information. Would it be ethical to make the content available, if it was preceded by an advertisement for a cause that runs counter to everything ISIS stands for? Read below to see what Bennett has to say.

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