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Security

Researcher Who Reported E-voting Vulnerability Targeted By Police Raid in Argentina 95 95

TrixX writes: Police have raided the home of an Argentinian security professional who discovered and reported several vulnerabilities in the electronic ballot system (Google translation of Spanish original) to be used next week for elections in the city of Buenos Aires. The vulnerabilities (exposed SSL keys and ways to forge ballots with multiple votes) had been reported to the manufacturer of the voting machines, the media, and the public about a week ago. There has been no arrest, but his computers and electronics devices have been impounded (Spanish original). Meanwhile, the information security community in Argentina is trying to get the media to report this notorious attempt to "kill the messenger." Another source (Spanish original).
Encryption

Cameron Asserts UK Gov't Will Leave No "Safe Space" For Private Communications 256 256

An anonymous reader writes with the story from Ars Technica that UK prime minister David Cameron "has re-iterated that the UK government does not intend to 'leave a safe space — a new means of communication — for terrorists to communicate with each other.'" That statement came Monday, as a response to Conservative MP David Bellingham, "who asked [Cameron, on the floor of the House of Commons] whether he agreed that the 'time has come for companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter to accept and understand that their current privacy policies are completely unsustainable?' To which Cameron replied: 'we must look at all the new media being produced and ensure that, in every case, we are able, in extremis and on the signature of a warrant, to get to the bottom of what is going on.'" This sounds like the UK government is declaring a blustery war on encryption, and it might not need too much war: some companies can be persuaded (or would be eager) to cooperate with the government in handing over all kinds of information. However, the bluster part may leave even the fiercest surveillance mostly show: as Ars writer Glyn Moody asks, what about circumstances "where companies can't hand over keys, or where there is no company involved, as with GnuPG, the open source implementation of the OpenPGP encryption system?" Or Tor?
Education

Pew Survey Documents Gaps Between Public and Scientists 270 270

PvtVoid writes: A new Pew Research Study documents an alarming gap between public perception of scientific issues and the opinions of the scientists themselves, as measured by a poll of AAAS scientists. Even worse, the gap is partisan, with clear differences between Republicans and Democrats, and between conservatives and liberals. For example, while 98% of AAAS members agree with the statement that "Human beings and other living things have evolved over time", only 21% of conservatives agree, compared with 54% of liberals. Global warming, similarly, shows an ideological gap: 98% of AAAS scientists agreed with the statement that "the Earth is getting warmer mostly due to human activity", compared with 21% of conservatives and 54% of liberals. Encouragingly, almost everybody thinks childhood vaccines should be required (86% of AAAS members, 65% of conservatives, and 74% of liberals.) Go here for an interactive view of the data.
The Almighty Buck

Scientist Union's Talks Stall Over Pay 80 80

HughPickens.com writes: The Sacramento Bee reports that the labor contract between California's state government and the 2,800 employees represented by the California Association of Professional Scientists expired this week, spotlighting yet again the long-running feud over whether the tiny union's members should earn as much as their peers in federal and local governments and private industry. "It's a challenge to keep people motivated," says Rita Hypnarowski. "We talk about retaining the best and the brightest, but I can see that's not going to happen." A recent survey by the Brown administration found that the total compensation for half of state-employed chemists is less than $8,985 per month ($5,715 in salary, plus $3,270 in benefit costs). That's 33 percent less than the median total compensation for federal chemists, nearly 13 percent less than the midpoint for local-government chemists and almost 6 percent below the private sector.

Members of the union perform a wide variety of tasks, everything from fighting food-borne illnesses to mopping up the Refugio State Beach oil spill. For example, Cassandra McQuaid left a job last year at the Department of Public Health's state-of-the-art Richmond laboratories where she tracked foodborne illnesses. It's the kind of vital, behind-the-scenes work that goes unnoticed until an E. coli outbreak makes headlines and local health officials need a crack team of scientists to unravel how it happened. "It really came down to money," says McQuaid. "I just couldn't live in the Bay Area on a state salary."
Canada

Quebec Government May Force ISPs To Block Gambling Websites 60 60

New submitter ottawan- writes: In order to drive more customers to their own online gambling website, the Quebec government and Loto-Quebec (the provincial organization in charge of gaming and lotteries) are thinking about forcing the province's ISPs to block all other online gambling websites. The list of websites to be blocked will be maintained by Loto-Quebec, and the government believes that the blocking will increase government revenue by up to $27 million (CAD) per year.
Government

How Uber Takes Over a City 227 227

schwit1 suggests Bloomberg's story on one aspect of Uber's corporate behavior that may leave a sour taste in the mouth of anyone who'd like to believe the Uber-vs.-the-Cartels narrative. The company hired David Plouffe, known for managing Barack Obama's rise to fame, and many others as well, to help them navigate inevitable and ongoing moves for regulation. The scale is impressive; according to the article: Over the past year, Uber built one of the largest and most successful lobbying forces in the country, with a presence in almost every statehouse. It has 250 lobbyists and 29 lobbying firms registered in capitols around the nation, at least a third more than Wal-Mart Stores. That doesn't count municipal lobbyists. In Portland, the 28th-largest city in the U.S., 10 people would ultimately register to lobby on Uber's behalf. And while the article focuses mostly on the example of Portland, the effort is ongoing and nationwide.
Government

Supreme Court Ruling Supports Same-Sex Marriage 1082 1082

The U.S. Supreme Court issued Friday a landmark decision, ruling that marriage is a Constitutionally protected right to homosexual as well as heterosexual couples. The New York Times notes that last year, by refusing to hear appeals to decisions favoring same-sex marriage in five states, the court "delivered a tacit victory for gay rights, immediately expanding the number of states with same-sex marriage to 24, along with the District of Columbia, up from 19." (In the time since, several more states have expanded marriage to include gay couples.) Reuters expains a bit of the legal and political history of the movement which led to today's decision, and points out some of the countries around the world which have made similar moves already.
United States

France Could Offer Asylum To Assange, Snowden 213 213

HughPickens.com writes: The Intercept reports that in the aftermath of the NSA's sweeping surveillance of three French presidents, French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira thinks National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange might be allowed to settle in France. Taubira was asked about the NSA's surveillance of three French presidents, disclosed by WikiLeaks this week, and called it an "unspeakable practice." Taubira's comments echoed those in an editorial in France's leftist newspaper Libération that France should respond to the U.S.'s "contempt" for its allies by giving Edward Snowden asylum. France would send "a clear and useful message to Washington, by granting this bold whistleblower the asylum to which he is entitled," wrote editor Laurent Joffrin in an angry editorial titled "Un seul geste" — or "A single gesture." (google translate) If Paris offers Snowden asylum, it will be joining several other nations who have done so in the past, including Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela. However, Snowden is still waiting in Moscow to hear from almost two dozen other countries where he has requested asylum.
Earth

Judge Orders Dutch Government To Finally Take Action On Climate Promises 242 242

New submitter Errol backfiring writes: Although the Dutch government has promised to make sure carbon emissions are lowered considerably, they have consistently failed to take action. Dutch climate group Urgenda and Dutch citizens have gone to court to force the government to take action, and the verdict (linked page is in Dutch) is that the government must reduce emissions by at least 25% compared to 1990 leves.

This 25% cut is seen as the minimum effort needed to keep the people safe from climate change dangers. 25% to 40% is the norm in international climate policy. The verdict is also important for similar climate groups in other countries.
United States

WikiLeaks: NSA Eavesdropped On the Last Three French Presidents 136 136

Earthquake Retrofit writes: The NY Times is reporting that WikiLeaks has released "material which appeared to capture officials in Paris talking candidly about Greece's economy, relations with Germany — and, ironically, American espionage." The information was leaked "a day before the French Parliament is expected to definitively pass a controversial security bill legalizing broad surveillance, particularly of terrorism suspects."
Power

The Presidential Candidate With a Plan To Run the US On 100% Clean Energy 308 308

merbs writes: Thus far, no other candidate has said they're going to make climate change their top priority. Martin O'Malley has not only done that, but he has outlined a plan that would enact emissions reductions in line with what scientists say is necessary to slow global climate change—worldwide emissions reductions of 40-70 percent by 2050. He's the only candidate to do that, too. His plan would phase out fossil-fueled power plants altogether, by midcentury.
Privacy

Louisiana Governor Vetoes License Plate Reader Bill, Citing Privacy Concerns 131 131

An anonymous reader writes: Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has vetoed a plan to acquire license plate reading cameras in the state. Law enforcement agencies nationwide use such cameras to scan cars and compare them to a "hot list" of stolen or wanted vehicles. That data is kept for weeks, or even years In some cases. Jindal wrote in a signing statement: "Senate Bill No. 250 would authorize the use of automatic license plate reader camera surveillance programs in various parishes throughout the state. The personal information captured by these cameras, which includes a person’s vehicle location, would be retained in a central database and accessible to not only participating law enforcement agencies but other specified private entities for a period of time regardless of whether or not the system detects that a person is in violation of vehicle insurance requirements. Camera programs such as these that make private information readily available beyond the scope of law enforcement, pose a fundamental risk to personal privacy and create large pools of information belonging to law abiding citizens that unfortunately can be extremely vulnerable to theft or misuse. For these reasons, I have vetoed Senate Bill No. 250 and hereby return it to the Senate."
Government

Mayday PAC's Benjamin Singer Explains How You can Help Reform American Politics (Video) 233 233

Larry Lessig's Mayday PAC is a SuperPac that is working to eliminate the inherent corruption of having a government run almost entirely by people who manage to raise -- or have their "non-connected" SuperPACs raise -- most of the money they need to run their campaigns. The Mayday PAC isn't about right or left wing or partisan politics at all. It's about finding and supporting candidates who are in favor of something like last year's Government by the People Act. As we noted in our Mayday Pac interview with Larry Lessig last June, a whole panoply of tech luminaries, up to and including Steve Wozniak, are in favor of Mayday PAC.

This interview is being posted, appropriately, just before the 4th of July, but it's also just one day before the Mayday PAC Day of Action to Reform Congress. They're big on calling members of Congress rather than emailing, because our representatives get email by the (digital) bushel, while they get comparatively few issue-oriented phone calls from citizens. So Mayday PAC makes it easy for you to call your Congressional representatives and even, if you're too shy to talk to a legislative aide in person, to record a message Mayday PAC will leave for them after hours.

The five specific pieces of legislation Mayday PAC currently supports are listed at the RepsWith.US/reforms page. Two are sponsored by Republicans, two by Democrats, and one by an Independent. That's about as non-partisan as you can get, so no matter what kind of political beliefs you hold, you can support Mayday PAC with a clear conscience. (Note: the transcript has more information than the video, which is less than six minutes long.)
Cellphones

Political Polls Become Less Reliable As We Head Into 2016 Presidential Election 292 292

HughPickens.com writes: Cliff Zukin writes in the NY Times that those paying close attention to the 2016 election should exercise caution as they read the polls — election polling is in near crisis as statisticians say polls are becoming less reliable. According to Zukin, two trends are driving the increasing unreliability of election and other polling in the United States: the growth of cellphones and the decline in people willing to answer surveys. Coupled, they have made high-quality research much more expensive to do, so there is less of it. This has opened the door for less scientifically-based, less well-tested techniques.

To top it off, a perennial election polling problem, how to identify "likely voters," has become even thornier. Today, a majority of people are difficult or impossible to reach on landline phones. One problem is that the 1991 Telephone Consumer Protection Act has been interpreted by the Federal Communications Commission to prohibit the calling of cellphones through automatic dialers, in which calls are passed to live interviewers only after a person picks up the phone. To complete a 1,000-person survey, it's not unusual to have to dial more than 20,000 random numbers, most of which do not go to actual working telephone numbers.

The second unsettling trend is rapidly declining response rates, reaching levels once considered unimaginable. In the late 1970s, pollsters considered an 80 percent response rate acceptable, but by 2014 the response rate has fallen to 8 percent. "Our old paradigm has broken down, and we haven't figured out how to replace it," concludes Zukin. "In short, polls and pollsters are going to be less reliable. We may not even know when we're off base. What this means for 2016 is anybody's guess."
Space

Mauna Kea Telescope Construction Slated To Resume 65 65

After an earlier halt to the work of constructing the "world's most advanced and powerful telescope" (and subsequent loss of support from an organization acting on behalf of native Hawaiians,) the Thirty Meter Telescope is again in "on again" mode. From the Associated Press article as carried by U.S. News & World Report: The Mauna Kea site provides a clear view of the sky for 300 days a year, with little air and light pollution. The telescope project was developed as a collaboration between U.S. and Canada universities and the national institutes of Japan, China and India. Gov. David Ige in April said the Thirty Meter Telescope board is legally entitled to "use its discretion to proceed with construction." He said he respected the rights of protesters to appeal in court.
The Almighty Buck

Shuttleworth Loses $20m Battle With S. African Reserve Bank Over Expatriated Funds 117 117

An anonymous reader writes: Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth has lost his long running battle with the South African Reserve Bank over a R250m exit charge ($20.5m) levied on his personal fortune when he tried to ex-patriate to his new home on the Isle of Man in 2009. The exit charge was part of a capital control system since abandoned by the South African government, which Shuttleworth had successfully argued at the Supreme Court of Appeal last year amounted to an unconstitutional tax. The Supreme Court ordered the Reserve Bank to pay Shuttleworth back.

While Shuttleworth had promised to leave the R250m in South Africa as a fund for helping others to press constitutional issues to the highest court in the land, the Reserve Bank appealed to the Constitutional Court for a final appeal — which it won this morning. The upshot being that the bank gets to hold onto the money after all. One judge did offer a dissenting opinion, however, in which he said he would have dismissed the final appeal with costs.
The article notes that "The irony is that the exit charge at the heart of the matter is no longer levied on transfers going out of the country."
IT

After Uproar, Disney Cancels Tech Worker Layoffs 229 229

An anonymous reader writes: The NY Times previously reported that Disney made laid-off workers train their foreign replacements. The Times now reports that Disney has reversed its decision to lay off the workers and canceled training of the replacements. This follows public uproar, two investigations by the Department of Labor into outsourcing firms, complaints to the Justice Department, and calls for an investigation into the H-1B Visa program by Senator Bill Nelson. One of the workers said, "We were told our jobs were continuing and we should consider it as if nothing had happened until further notice." A former Disney employee who was forced to take an early retirement shared his personal thoughts on the matter in a Google+ post.
Social Networks

US Teen Pleads Guilty To Teaching ISIS About Bitcoin Via Twitter 312 312

jfruh writes: Ali Shukri Amin, a 17-year-old from Virginia, has pleaded guilty to charges that he aided ISIS by giving the group advice about using bitcoin. An odd and potentially troubling aspect of the charges is that this all took place in public — he Tweeted out links to an article on his blog about how bitcoin and Darknet could help jihadi groups, making it difficult to say whether he was publishing information protected under free speech or was directly advising the terrorist organization. Free speech qua speech isn't the only relevant charge, though: Amin "also admitted facilitating the travel of another teenager, 18-year-old Reza Niknejad, to Syria to join IS. Amin faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison if convicted."
China

Report: Russia and China Crack Encrypted Snowden Files 546 546

New submitter garyisabusyguy writes with word that, according to London's Sunday Times, "Russia and China have cracked the top-secret cache of files stolen by the fugitive US whistleblower Edward Snowden, forcing MI6 to pull agents out of live operations in hostile countries, according to senior officials in Downing Street, the Home Office and the security services," and suggests this non-paywalled Reuters version, too. "MI6 has decided that it is too dangerous to operate in Russia or China," writes the submitter. "This removes intelligence capabilities that have existed throughout the Cold War, and which may have helped to prevent a 'hot' nuclear war. Have the actions of Snowden, and, apparently, the use of weak encryption, made the world less safe?"
Space

75% of Russia's Satellite Electronics Come From US 127 127

schwit1 writes: One Russian aerospace industry expert noted today that three-quarters of all their satellite electronics comes from the United States: "According to [Nikolay Testoyedov], up to 75 percent of the electronic components for Russian satellites come from the US. Consequently, if it retaliates should Moscow refuse to sell RD-180 rocket motors to Washington — which Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin has threatened — Russia's satellite program would be frozen for at least two years. "The imported electronic components in our satellites represent 25 to 75 percent of the total in communications; in military ones, somewhat less; in commercial ones, more," Testoyedov says. Of these imported components, approximately 83-87 percent come from the United States thus giving Washington the whip hand." If we stop providing these electronics he estimates that after their present stock runs out in about a year it would take at least two years before Russia could replace these American-made parts. As the above linked article at The Interpreter mentions, this is relevant in part because of recent talks about U.S. sanctions which could affect this kind of commerce.