An anonymous reader writes "The Telegraph reports, 'Britain's spies are to be given a "licence to speed" for the first time, under changes to motoring laws. While James Bond would no doubt have scorned such niceties, officers in MI5 and MI6 are currently required to obey the rules of the road, even when national security is under threat. Now Robert Goodwill, the transport minister, intends to add the Security Service and the Secret Intelligence Service to the group of agencies with permission to break the speed limit.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Inspired by nature, a London man believes the solution to safer bike helmets is to build them out of paper. '"The animal that stood out was the woodpecker. It pecks at about ten times per second and every time it pecks it sustains the same amount of force as us crashing at 50 miles per hour," says Surabhi. "It's the only bird in the world where the skull and the beak are completely disjointed, and there's a soft corrugated cartilage in the middle that absorbs all the impact and stops it from getting a headache." In order to mimic the woodpecker's crumple zone, Anirudha turned to a cheap and easily accessible source — paper. He engineered it into a double-layer of honeycomb that could then be cut and constructed into a functioning helmet. "What you end up with is with tiny little airbags throughout the helmet," he says.'"
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Lauran Neergaard writes at the Christian Science Monitor that doctors are warning that if Congress cuts food stamps, the federal government could be socked with bigger health bills because over time the poor wind up seeking treatment in doctors' offices or hospitals as a result. 'If you're interested in saving health care costs, the dumbest thing you can do is cut nutrition,' says Dr. Deborah Frank of Boston Medical Center, who founded the Children's HealthWatch pediatric research institute. 'People don't make the hunger-health connection.' Food stamps feed 1 in 7 Americans and cost almost $80 billion a year, twice what it cost five years ago. The doctors' lobbying effort comes as Congress is working on a compromise farm bill that's certain to include food stamp cuts. Republicans want heftier reductions than do Democrats in yet another partisan battle over the government's role in helping poor Americans. Conservatives say the program spiraled out of control as the economy struggled and the costs are not sustainable. However research from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts estimated that a cut of $2 billion a year in food stamps could trigger in an increase of $15 billion in medical costs (PDF) for over the next decade. Other research shows children from food-insecure families are 30 percent more likely to have been hospitalized for a range of illnesses. 'Food is medicine,' says Massachusetts Representative Jim McGovern, who has led the Democrats' defense of the food stamp program. 'Critics focus almost exclusively on how much we spend, and I wish they understood that if we did this better, we could save a lot more money in health care costs.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Orbital Sciences Corp.'s unmanned Cygnus spacecraft delivered 3,000 pounds of equipment, fresh fruit, and Christmas presents from the families of all six ISS spacemen today. 'From the men and women involved in the design, integration and test, to those who launched the Antares (rocket) and operated the Cygnus, our whole team has performed at a very high level for our NASA customer, and I am very proud of their extraordinary efforts,' said David W. Thompson, president and chief executive officer of Orbital, in a written statement from the company."
An anonymous reader writes "Google has confirmed it is shutting down its goal sharing service Schemer. The company says Schemer's last day will be February 7, after which all data will be permanently deleted. The iOS app has already been pulled from Apple's App Store while the Android app on Google Play hasn't been updated since October 2012."
mikejuk writes "A recent xkcd strip has started some deep academic thinking. When AI expert Peter Norvig gets involved you know the algorithms are going to fly. Code Golf is a reasonably well known sport of trying to write an algorithm in the shortest possible code. Regex Golf is similar, but in general the aim is to create a regular expression that accepts the strings in one list and rejects the strings in a second list. This started Peter Norvig, the well-known computer scientist and director of research at Google, thinking about the problem. Is it possible to write a program that would create a regular expression to solve the xkcd problem? The result is an NP hard problem that needs AI-like techniques to get an approximate answer. To find out more, read the complete description, including Python code, on Peter Norvig's blog. It ends with this challenge: 'I hope you found this interesting, and perhaps you can find ways to improve my algorithm, or more interesting lists to apply it to. I found it was fun to play with, and I hope this page gives you an idea of how to address problems like this.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo reached an altitude of 71,000 feet, beating out its previous record of 69,000 feet. From the article: 'This time around, Virgin Galactic and Mojave-based Scaled Composites, the plane's builder, tested a new reflective coating on the rocket plane's tail booms. The flight also marked the first tryout for a thruster system that's designed to keep the plane on course when it's above the atmosphere. Virgin Galactic said all of the test objectives were met.'"
Freshly Exhumed writes "TorrentFreak has broken the news that after more than a year of downtime the Demonoid tracker is back online. The tracker is linked to nearly 400,000 torrent files and more than a million peers, which makes it one of the largest working BitTorrent trackers on the Internet. There is no word yet on when the site will make a full comeback, but the people behind it say they are working to revive one of the most famous file-sharing communities. As the single largest semi-private BitTorrent tracker that ever existed, Demonoid used to offer a home to millions of file-sharers. Note that this is apparently the original Demonoid and not the d2 site that claims to be using the Demonoid database."
memnock writes "Wired and The Washington Post both report that mobile service provider CREDO is the first telecom to release a report detailing requests from the government for customer information. From Wired: 'A small telecom believed to be at the center of a historic court battle over government surveillance published its first transparency report on Thursday, noting that it had received 16 government requests for customer data in 2013. But the report may be most significant for what it doesn't say.'"
mask.of.sanity writes "Researchers have found holes in industrial control systems that they say grant full control of systems running energy, chemical and transportation systems. They also identified more than 150 zero day vulnerabilities of varying degrees of severity affecting the control systems and some 60,000 industrial control system devices exposed to the public internet."
Philip Ross writes "Fresh analysis of an extinct relative of humans suggests our ancient ancestors dined primarily on tiger nuts, which are edible grass bulbs, settling a discrepancy over what made up prehistoric diets. According to a new study published in the journal PLOS One, the strong-jawed ancient hominin known as Paranthropus boisei, nicknamed 'Nutcracker Man,' which roamed East Africa between 2.4 million and 1.4 million years ago, survived on a diet scientists previously thought implausible."
An anonymous reader writes "Diversifying the tech industry is a prominent topic these days, with much analysis being done on colleges and companies that employ software engineers. But exam data shows the gap is created much earlier — it's almost overwhelming even before kids get out of high school. From the article: 'Ericson's analysis of the data shows that in 2013, 18 percent of the students who took the exam were women. Eight percent were Hispanic, and four percent were African-American. In contrast, Latinos make up 22 percent of the school-age population in the U.S.; African-Americans make up 14 percent. (I don't need to tell you that women make up about half.) There are some states where not a single member of one of these groups took the test last year. No women in Mississippi or Montana took it. Seven states had no Hispanic students take the exam: Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, and North Dakota. And 10 states had no Black students take the exam: Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Utah. In some of these states, there simply aren't many students of any race or gender taking the test, which helps explain the dearth of young women and minorities. (Indeed, no women or minorities took the exam in Wyoming—but that's because no students at all took it.) But Idaho had nearly 50 students taking it, and Utah had more than 100.'"
The Walking Dude writes: "According to the CS Monitor, 'Thousands of small satellite dish-based computer systems [VSATs] that transmit often-sensitive data from far flung locations worldwide – oil rigs, ships at sea, banks, and even power grid substations – are at high risk of being hacked, including many in the United States, a new cyber-security report has found.' Dr. Jason Fritz said, 'Vulnerabilities exist at all nodes and links in satellite structure. These can be exploited through Internet-connected computer networks, as hackers are more commonly envisioned to do, or through electronic warfare methodologies that more directly manipulate the radio waves of uplinks and downlinks.'"
Fnord666 writes "Another day, another data breach. Apparently high end retailer Neiman Marcus has also suffered a breach of credit card data. Brian Krebs has the report: 'Responding to inquiries about a possible data breach involving customer credit and debit card information, upscale retailer Neiman Marcus acknowledged today that it is working with the U.S. Secret Service to investigate a hacker break-in that has exposed an unknown number of customer cards. Earlier this week, I began hearing from sources in the financial industry about an increasing number of fraudulent credit and debit card charges that were being traced to cards that had been very recently used at brick-and-mortar stores run by the Dallas, Texas based high-end retail chain. Sources said that while it appears the fraud on those stolen cards was perpetrated at a variety of other stores, the common point of purchase among the compromised cards was Neiman Marcus. Today, I reached out to Neiman Marcus and received confirmation that the company is in fact investigating a breach that was uncovered in mid-December.'" The Chicago Tribune reports that "at least three other well-known U.S. retailers" suffered breaches this holiday season as well.