TheGift73 tips an article discussing a new study (PDF) which found Americans are now more worried about cybersecurity threats than they are about terrorism. Here's Techdirt's acerbic take: "Well, it looks like all the fearmongering about hackers shutting down electrical grids and making planes fall from the sky is working. No matter that there's no evidence of any actual risk, or that the only real issue is if anyone is stupid enough to actually connect such critical infrastructure to the internet (the proper response to which is: take it off the internet), fear is spreading. Of course, this is mostly due to the work of a neat combination of ex-politicians/now lobbyists working for defense contractors who stand to make a ton of money from the panic — enabled by politicians who seem to have no shame in telling scary bedtime stories that have no basis in reality."
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Dr Caleb writes "According to the Globe and Mail, 'The Internet surveillance legislation sponsored by Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has disappeared down a dark legislative hole. For all intents and purposes, the bill is dead. If the Harper government still wants to pass a law that would make it easier for police to track people who use the web to commit crimes, it will have to start from scratch.' The bill has been sent to a public safety committee for extensive revision, but it must be debated for five hours on the House floor first, and that won't happen before summer recess. This is a followup to the story we discussed in February titled 'Against Online Surveillance? You Must Be "For" Child Porn.'"
Mozilla has announced the availability of a new beta version of Firefox for Android. The release notes list many of the new features and fixes, which include Flash support, improvements to panning and zooming, plugins loading only on touch, and a new "Awesome Screen." They point out that many Android phones are supported, and that a beta version for tablets will be coming soon. Mozilla is asking for help "testing everything from the faster startup and response times to compatibility for specific websites and graphics performance." Here's the download page.
New submitter HarryatRock writes with news that former News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks and five others have been charged by police for their involvement in intercepting voicemail messages left for a murdered girl. From the article: "She is charged with conspiring with her 49-year-old husband, personal assistant Cheryl Carter, chauffeur Paul Edwards, security man Daryl Jorsling, and News International head of security Mr Hanna to "conceal material" from police between 6 and 19 July. In a second charge Mrs Brooks and Ms Carter are accused of conspiring to remove seven boxes of material from the News International archive between 6 and 9 July. In a third charge, Mr and Mrs Brooks, Mr Hanna, Mr Edwards and Mr Jorsling are accused of conspiring to conceal documents, computers and other electronic equipment from police officers between 15 and 19 July."
scibri writes "Omid Kokabee, a laser physics graduate student from the University of Texas who has been imprisoned in Tehran for the past 15 months, was sentenced to 10 years in jail on Sunday for allegedly conspiring with foreign countries against Iran. Kokabee was arrested in February 2011 while on a trip home, and charged with 'communicating with a hostile government' (i.e. Israel) and 'illegal earnings.' He has consistently denied the charges, and refused to speak at his trial, where no evidence against him was presented. Several international science groups, including the American Physical Society, have spoken up in his defense, and an online petition has been set up in support."
New submitter davegravy writes "Byron Sonne, the Toronto-based security consultant, chemistry hobbyist, and geek who was arrested leading up to the Toronto G-20 for alleged plans to bomb the event, has been found not guilty of all charges. Sonne was held in prison for 11 months without receiving bail, and the ruling comes two years after his arrest. Sonne is considered by many in the Toronto security community as a champion of civil rights and a sharp critic of security theatre."
McGruber writes with news of a ruling in a copyright case brought against Georgia State by several publishers over the university's electronic reserve system: "The Atlanta Journal Constitution is reporting that a federal judge has ruled in favor of Georgia State University on 69 of 74 copyright claims filed by Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, and SAGE Publications. In a 350-page ruling, Senior U.S. District Judge Orinda Evans found that 'fair use protected a Georgia State University professor's decision to allow students to access an excerpt online through the university's Electronic Reserves System.' While the 69 of the 74 claims were rejected, the judge also found that five violations did occur 'when the publisher lost money because a professor had provided free electronic access to selected chapters in textbooks.' SAGE Publications prevailed on four of these five claims, while Oxford University Press won the fifth claim. Cambridge University Press lost all its claims." From Inside Higher Ed: "And the judge also rejected the publishers' ideas about how to regulate e-reserves — ideas that many academic librarians said would be unworkable. At the same time, however, the judge imposed a strict limit of 10 percent on the volume of a book that may be covered by fair use (a proportion that would cover much, but by no means all, of what was in e-reserves at Georgia State, and probably at many other colleges). And the judge ruled that publishers may have more claims against college and university e-reserves if the publishers offer convenient, reasonably priced systems for getting permission (at a price) to use book excerpts online. The lack of such systems today favored Georgia State, but librarians who were anxiously going through the decision were speculating that some publishers might be prompted now to create such systems, and to charge as much as the courts would permit."
Hugh Pickens writes "Tim Heffernan writes that when 'The Fifty,' as it's known in company circles, broke down three years ago, there was talk of retiring it for good. Instead, Alcoa decided to overhaul their 50,000-ton, 6-story high forging press, now scheduled to resume service early this year. 'What sets the Fifty apart is its extraordinary scale,' writes Heffernan. 'Its 14 major structural components, cast in ductile iron, weigh as much as 250 tons each; those yard-thick steel bolts are also 78 feet long; all told, the machine weighs 16 million pounds, and when activated its eight main hydraulic cylinders deliver up to 50,000 tons of compressive force.' The Fifty could bench-press the battleship Iowa, with 860 tons to spare, but it's the Fifty's amazing precision — its tolerances are measured in thousandths of an inch—that gives it such far-reaching utility. Every manned US military aircraft now flying uses parts forged by the Fifty, as does every commercial aircraft made by Airbus and Boeing making the Jet Age possible. 'On a plane, a pound of weight saved is a pound of thrust gained—or a pound of lift, or a pound of cargo,' writes Heffernan. 'Without the ultra-strong, ultra-light components that only forging can produce, they'd all be pushing much smaller envelopes.' The now-forgotten Heavy Press Program (PDF), inaugurated in 1950 and completed in 1957, resulted in four presses (including the Fifty) and six extruders — giant toothpaste tubes squeezing out long, complex metal structures such as wing ribs and missile bodies. 'Today, America lacks the ability to make anything like the Heavy Press Program machines,' concludes Heffernan, adding that 'The Fifty' will be supplying bulkheads through 2034 for the Joint Strike Fighter. 'Big machines are the product of big visions, and they make big visions real. How about a Heavy Fusion Program?'"
judgecorp writes "Britain must build defenses against an EMP bomb, the UK Secretary of Defense Phillip Hammond told a conference today. Electromagnetic Pulse devices mimic the result of a solar flare or a nuclear explosion in the atmosphere, creating a storm of electromagnetic radiation, which can break mobile networks and satellite systems. Any preparation for solar storms must also consider the possibility of deliberate electromagnetic events, warns Hammond."
TheGift73 writes with an update on one of the many LulzSec court cases. From the article: "A former LulzSec member has pleaded not guilty to federal charges that he hacked into the servers of global intelligence company Stratfor and stole credit card data and personal details of 860,000 of its clients. Jeremy Hammond entered the plea on Monday during a brief hearing in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, the Associated Press reported. He's been held in federal custody since an initial court appearance in Chicago in early March, when federal prosecutors named him as a lieutenant of LulzSec ringleader Hector Xavier 'Sabu' Monsegur. There was no request for Hammond to be released on bail during Monday's hearing, according to the AP report."
scibri writes "England is finally getting around to updating its notoriously plaintiff-friendly libel laws, which have been extensively criticized for stifling scientific debate in the past few years, such as in the case of Simon Singh. The government introduced a defamation bill last week that would extend explicit protection to statements in scientific or academic journals — providing the work was properly peer reviewed. The protection would also extend to reports of academic and scientific conferences. The proposed legislation is popular among the UK's researchers and journalists, but a similar law on whistleblower protection has had mixed reviews in the U.S."
Fluffeh writes "Yesterday the Australian Division of GAME saw an email from their Marketing Manager confirming that the 95-store chain has gone into voluntary administration. PriceWaterhouseCoopers partner Kate Warwick said, 'Initially we will continue to trade all stores, operating these on as close to a "business as usual" mode as possible whilst we get a clearer understanding of the current state of the business and actively pursue options to secure its future.' It also seems that GAME is having a bit of a fire sale, with many titles, including quite a few new releases, now in a $5-$74 bargain bin. Ms. Warwick also noted that the company's customers hold various claims against the company under loyalty cards, gift cards and vouchers. She said, 'We are working on schemes aimed at giving customers some return on these claims if they are used to make additional purchases.'" This follows similar news from the UK in March.
McGruber writes "The Rochester (NY) Democrat-Chronicle has the interesting story of the Eastman Kodak Co.'s Californium Neutron Flux Multiplier, which was housed in Building 82 of Kodak Park in Rochester, NY. The multiplier contained 3½ pounds of highly enriched (weapons-grade) uranium. Kodak used it to check chemicals and other materials for impurities, as well as for tests related to neutron radiography, an imaging technique. From the article: 'When Kodak decided six years ago to close down the device, still more scrutiny followed. Federal regulators made them submit detailed plans for removing the substance. When the highly enriched uranium was packaged into protective containers and spirited away in November 2007, armed guards were surely on hand. All of this — construction of a bunker with two-foot-thick concrete walls, decades of research and esoteric quality control work with a neutron beam, the safeguarding and ultimate removal of one of the more feared substances on earth — was done pretty much without anyone in the Rochester community having a clue.'"
fallen1 writes "Wireless broadband company LightSquared has filed for bankruptcy. In filings with U.S. Bankruptcy court, it was revealed that LightSquared had assets and debts of over $1 billion each. The decision followed a year-long fight between LightSqaured and GPS users — including some heavyweights like FedEx and UPS. Apparently Boeing and Alcatel-Lucent are heavily invested, but it would be interesting to see what the old Bell Labs could do with the technology."
Mark.JUK writes "The Open Rights Group (ORG), which works to raise awareness of digital rights and civil liberties issues, has published a new report that examines the impact of internet censorship on UK mobile networks and lists an example of 10 legitimate websites that often get unfairly blocked (PDF) by adult content filters (over-blocking). The study is important because similar measures could soon be forced upon fixed-line broadband ISP subscribers by the UK government. Some of the allegedly unfair blocks include censorship of the 'Tor' system, a privacy tool used by activists and campaigners across the globe, and the website of French 'digital rights' advocacy group 'La Quadrature du Net.'"