Several readers sent word of a shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. According to most reports, 27 people are dead, including 18 children. The alleged shooter is dead, a man in his 20s. He was armed with multiple weapons and may have worn a bulletproof vest. According to CBS, "It is unclear if there was more than one gunman at the school. Miller reports authorities have an individual in custody who investigators said may be a possible second shooter." (Investigators now say the person being questioned is not a suspect.) One student was quoted as saying, "I was in the gym and I heard a loud, like seven loud booms, and the gym teachers told us to go in the corner, so we all huddled. And I kept hearing these booming noises. And we all started crying." Another, 8 years old, said, "I saw some of the bullets going down the hall and then a teacher pulled me into her classroom."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
clickclickdrone sends this news from the BBC: "Computer hacker Gary McKinnon, who is wanted in the U.S., will not face charges in the U.K., the Crown Prosecution Service has said. Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer QC said the chances of a successful conviction were 'not high.' He announced the decision some three months after Home Secretary Theresa May stopped the extradition. Mr. McKinnon, 46, admits accessing U.S. government computers but says he was looking for evidence of UFOs. The U.S. authorities tried to extradite him to face charges of causing $800,000 (£487,000) to military computer systems and he would have faced up to 60 years in prison if convicted."
Hugh Pickens writes "David Crane and Robert F.Kennedy Jr. write in the NY Times that with residents of New Jersey and New York living through three major storms in the past 16 months and suffering sustained blackouts, we need to ask whether it is really sensible to power the 21st century by using an antiquated and vulnerable system of copper wires and wooden poles. Some have taken matters into their own hands, purchasing portable gas-powered generators to give themselves varying degrees of grid independence. But these dirty, noisy and expensive devices have no value outside of a power failure and there is a better way to secure grid independence for our homes and businesses: electricity-producing photovoltaic panels installed on houses, warehouses and over parking lots, wired so that they deliver power when the grid fails. 'Solar panels have dropped in price by 80 percent in the past five years and can provide electricity at a cost that is at or below the current retail cost of grid power in 20 states, including many of the Northeast states,' write Crane and Kennedy. 'So why isn't there more of a push for this clean, affordable, safe and inexhaustible source of electricity?' First, the investor-owned utilities that depend on the existing system for their profits have little economic interest in promoting a technology that empowers customers to generate their own power. Second, state regulatory agencies and local governments impose burdensome permitting and siting requirements that unnecessarily raise installation costs. While it can take as little as eight days to license and install a solar system on a house in Germany, in the United States, depending on your state, the average ranges from 120 to 180 days."
illtud writes "It appears that the Metropolitan Police in London have been recording the frequency of the mains supply for the past 7 years. With this, they claim to be able to pick up the hum from any digital recording and tell when the recording was made. From the article: 'Comparing the unique pattern of the frequencies on an audio recording with a database that has been logging these changes for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year provides a digital watermark: a date and time stamp on the recording.'"
alphadogg writes "Japanese police are looking for an individual who can code in C#, uses a 'Syberian Post Office' to make anonymous posts online, and knows how to surf the web without leaving any digital tracks — and they're willing to pay. It is the first time that Japan's National Police Agency has offered a monetary reward for a wanted hacker, or put so much technical detail into one of its wanted postings. The NPA will pay up to $36,000, the maximum allowed under its reward system. The case is an embarrassing one for the police, in which earlier this year 4 individuals were wrongly arrested after their PCs were hacked and used to post messages on public bulletin boards. The messages included warnings of plans for mass killings at an elementary school posted to a city website."
An anonymous reader writes "The FreeBSD Foundation has posted blog article article talking about the remarkable surge in donations they've received in the last three days following a recent Slashdot article reporting on weak fundraising this year. Deb Goodkin reports that the FreeBSD Foundation, as with many non-profits, receives more than 50% of its annual funds at the end of the US tax year, but that the Foundation has never seen this rate of donations before, and will hit a new record for unique donors this year. She comments that it was Slashdot readers that made the difference! She does, however, appeal for further donations noting that they have a long way to go on their full goal."
New submitter stonetony writes with this excerpt from the BBC: "A team of 12 scientists and engineers has begun work at remote Lake Ellsworth. They are using a high-pressure hose and sterilised water at near boiling point to blast a passage through more than two miles of ice. The aim is to analyse ice waters isolated for up to 500,000 years. The team of 12 scientists and engineers is using sterilised water at near boiling point to blast a passage through the ice to waters isolated for up to half a million years. The process of opening a bore-hole is expected to last five days and will be followed by a rapid sampling operation before the ice refreezes."
ananyo writes "A controversial paper published in Nature argues that enigmatic fossils regarded as ancient sea creatures were actually land-dwelling lichen. If true, that would suggest life on land began 65 million years earlier than researchers now estimate. The nature of fossils from the Ediacaran period, some 635 million–542 million years ago, has been fiercely debated by palaeontologists. But where others envisage Ediacaran sea beds crawling with archaic animals, Gregory Retallack, a geologist at the University of Oregon in Eugene, sees these sites in southern Australia as dry, terrestrial landscapes dotted with lichens. He proposes that rock in the Ediacara Member in South Australia — where palaeontologist Reginald Sprigg first discovered Ediacaran fossils in 1947 — represents ancient soils, and presents new geological data. Among other lines of evidence, Retallack argues that the rock's red colour and weathering pattern indicate that the deposits were formed in terrestrial — not marine — environments (abstract). Others strongly disagree."
tsamsoniw writes "PNC, Bank of America, SunTrust, and other major financial institutions have experienced a wave of DDoS attacks and site outages over the past couple of days, and Islamic extremist hacker group Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters is claiming responsibility. The group, which launched similar attacks earlier this year, reiterated its demands: that a controversial YouTube video mocking the prophet Mohammed "be eliminated from the Internet.""
An anonymous reader writes "Shocking Kickstarter news this morning, not only did I actually I receive my Brydge this morning, but a Kickstarter software project shipped on time! Connectify Dispatch, the load balancing software for Windows, was released today as well. Perhaps the Kickstarter model of funding technology is not nearly as doomed as some naysayers here would have it. Why are so many here hostile to crowdsourcing? Shouldn't we be glad to have Venture Capitalists cut out of the loop so that companies actually listen to us?"
An anonymous reader writes "Researchers have found conclusive evidence for the first time that humans have been making cheese since the 6th millennium BC."
First time accepted submitter Idontpostmuch writes "The idea that technology cannot cause unemployment has long been taken as a simple fact of economics. Lately, some economists have been changing their tune. MIT research scientist Andrew Mcaffee writes, 'As computers and robots get more and more powerful while simultaneously getting cheaper and more widespread this phenomenon spreads, to the point where economically rational employers prefer buying more technology over hiring more workers. In other words, they prefer capital over labor. This preference affects both wages and job volumes. And the situation will only accelerate as robots and computers learn to do more and more, and to take over jobs that we currently think of not as "routine," but as requiring a lot of skill and/or education.'" Note: Certainly not all economists agree "that technology cannot cause unemployment," especially in the short term. From a certain perspective, displacing labor is a, if not the, central advantage of technology in general.
interval1066 writes "In a breathtaking new move by (another) little-known national security agency, the personal information of all U.S. citizens will be available for casual perusal. The 'National Counterterrorism Center' (I've never heard of this org) may now 'examine the government files of U.S. citizens for possible criminal behavior, even if there is no reason to suspect them.' This is different from past bureaucratic practice (never mind due process) in that a government agency not in the list of agencies approved to to certain things without due process may completely bypass due process and store (for up to 5 years) these records, the organization doesn't need a warrant, or have any kind of oversight of any kind. They will be sifting through these records looking for 'counter-insurgency activity,' supposedly with an eye to prevention. If this doesn't wake you up and chill you to your very bone, not too sure there is anything that will anyway."
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "Jammie Thomas-Rasset, the Native American Minnesotan found by a jury to have downloaded 24 mp3 files of RIAA singles, has filed a petition for certioriari to the United States Supreme Court, arguing that the award of $220,000 in statutory damages is excessive, in violation of the Due Process Clause. Her petition (PDF) argued that the RIAA's litigation campaign was 'extortion, not law,' and pointed out that '[a]rbitrary statutory damages made the RIAA's litigation campaign possible; in turn,that campaign has inspired copycats like the so-called Copyright Enforcement Group; the U.S. Copyright Group, which has already sued more than 20,000 individual movie downloaders; and Righthaven, which sued bloggers. This Court should grant certiorari to review this use of the federal courts as a scourge.'"
Census numbers show that 176,632 people in England and Wales ask themselves, "What would Yoda do?" Although the number of people who list their religion as "Jedi" has dropped by more than 50% in the past 10 years, It remains the most popular "alternative" faith in England. From the article: "The new figures reveal that the lightsabre-wielding disciples are only behind Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism and Buddhism in the popularity stakes, excluding non-religious people and people who did not answer."