kc123 sends this report from The Guardian: "Microsoft's search engine Bing appears to be censoring information for Chinese language users in the U.S. in the same way it filters results in mainland China. Searches first conducted by anti-censorship campaigners at FreeWeibo, a tool that allows uncensored search of Chinese blogs, found that Bing returns radically different results in the U.S. for English and Chinese language searches on a series of controversial terms. These include Dalai Lama, June 4 incident (how the Chinese refer to the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989), Falun Gong and FreeGate, a popular internet workaround for government censorship."
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mpicpp points out an article detailing the case of French blogger Olivier Laurelli, who had the misfortune to click links from search results. Laurelli stumbled upon a public link leading to documents from the French National Agency for Food Safety, Environment, and Labor. He downloaded them — over 7 Gb worth — and looked through them, eventually publishing a few slides to his website. When one of France's intelligence agencies found out, they took Laurelli into custody and indicted him, referring to him as a 'hacker.' In their own investigation, they said, "we then found that it was sufficient to have the full URL to access to the resource on the extranet in order to bypass the authentication rules on this server." The first court acquitted Laurelli of the charges against him. An appeals court affirmed part of the decision, but convicted him of "theft of documents and fraudulent retention of information." He was fined €3,000 (about $4,000).
Zothecula writes "A team of astronomers at The Australian National University working on a five-year project to produce the first comprehensive digital survey of the southern sky has discovered the oldest known star in the Universe. The star dates back 13.7 billion years, only shortly after the Big Bang itself. It's also nearby (at least, from a cosmological perspective) — about 6,000 light-years away. The star is notable for the very small amount of iron it contains (abstract). The lead researcher, Stefan Keller, said, 'To make a star like our Sun, you take the basic ingredients of hydrogen and helium from the Big Bang and add an enormous amount of iron – the equivalent of about 1,000 times the Earth's mass. To make this ancient star, you need no more than an Australia-sized asteroid of iron and lots of carbon. It's a very different recipe that tells us a lot about the nature of the first stars and how they died.'"
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Discovery News reports that the death cap mushroom is now an invasive species on every continent except Antarctica. It is spreading along the East and West Coasts of the U.S. and appears to be moving south into Mexico. 'When someone eats Amanita phalloides, she typically won't experience symptoms for at least six and sometimes as many as 24 hours,' says Cat Adams. 'Eventually she'll suffer from abdominal cramps, vomiting, and severely dehydrating diarrhea. This delay means her symptoms might not be associated with mushrooms, and she may be diagnosed with a more benign illness like stomach flu. To make matters worse, if the patient is somewhat hydrated, her symptoms may lessen and she will enter the so-called honeymoon phase.' Without proper, prompt treatment, the victim can experience rapid organ failure, coma, and death. But good news is on the way. S. Todd Mitchell of Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz, California has treated more than 60 patients with a drug derived from milk thistle. The patients who have started the drug on time (within 96 hours of ingesting the mushroom) and who have still had kidney function intact have all survived. 'When administered intravenously, the compound sits on and blocks the receptors that bring amatoxin into the liver, thus corralling the amatoxins into the blood stream so the kidneys can expel them faster,' says Adams. Still, Mitchell cautions against the 'regular look"'of deadly mushrooms. 'They smell very good and when they're cooked, many patients have described them as the most delicious mushrooms they've ever eaten.'"
Bizzeh writes "Today my boss came to me with what he thought to be a valid point and analogy. A builder builds a wall. A week later, bricks begin to fall out of the bottom, but he continues to build the wall higher. In most cases, he would have to replace those lower bricks at his own expense and on his own time. Comparatively: A software developer writes a piece of software. When bugs are discovered, the developer is paid to fix them by the employer and on the employer's time. I didn't know how to refute the analogy at the time, but it did make me think: why are bugs in software treated differently in this way?"
cold fjord tips a BBC report about the successful installation of microscopic motors into living, human cells. The motors were propelled inside the cell by pulses of ultrasound and steered with magnetism. "At low ultrasonic power, the nanomotors had little effect on these cells. But when the power was increased, the nanomotors surged into action, zooming around and bumping into organelles — structures within the cell that perform specific functions. The nanomotors could be used as 'egg beaters' to essentially homogenise the cell's contents, or act as battering rams to puncture the cell membrane." Once finer control is gained over the motors, they could be used to for extremely small scale surgery, or to deliver drugs to very precise locations. Professor Tom Mallouk of Penn State said multiple motors can move independently of one another, which is important if we try to use them as a cancer treatment. "You don't want a whole mass of them going in one direction."
ZeroHour USB "tactical grade" battery backup flashlight; MadeSolid, a 3-D printing material company; TangoPC, "the world’s most powerful Pocketable, Officeable, Entertainmentable, Gameable, Windowsable, Linuxable PC; Google Glass competitor GlassUp; and DoorBot, "the doorbell for smartphones," which was featured on the ABC TV show Shark Tank in November, 2013. DoorBot got no investment from the "sharks," but managed to raise $1 million from "traditional technology investors." DoorBot's fundraising success aside, today's video is about companies that are unlikely to get much coverage from "mainstream" news channels that cover CES. If you don't see the video (probably because you're enjoying the thrill of Slashdot Beta), you can view it here.
An anonymous reader tips news that the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has approved a bill that would ban voice calls from mobile devices on airplanes. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA), now goes to the full House of Representatives for a vote. Similar efforts are underway in the Senate. There was no opposition to Shuster's bill in the House committee, and the FCC received a flood of support for such a measure when they asked for public comment. In an op-ed published Monday, Shuster wrote, "In today’s world, enriched as it is by technology, we are bombarded by data, opinions, and potential distractions. Few limits to this flow of information are necessary, partly because people can typically turn it off, disconnect from it, or go elsewhere if they choose. But in the close confines of an airplane cabin – where passengers will still be able to use their mobile devices for texting, emailing, working, and more – there is no chance to opt out. So for those few hours of flight spent with 150 strangers, we can all wait to make that phone call. It’s just common sense and common courtesy."
jfbilodeau sends word of a massive new trove of fossils located in Canada, which scientists say will rival the acclaimed Burgess Shale fossil bed. The rock formation inside which both fossil sites were found is roughly 505 million years old (abstract). The fossils provide insight into the Cambrian explosion, a time that brought the rapid appearance and diversification of many animal forms. "In just two weeks, the research team collected more than 3,000 fossils representing 55 species. Fifteen of these species are new to science." Paleontologist Jean-Bernard Caron said, "The rate at which we are finding animals — many of which are new — is astonishing, and there is a high possibility that we'll eventually find more species here than at the original Yoho National Park site, and potentially more than from anywhere else in the world." The fossils at the new site are about 100,000 years younger and are better preserved than those at the renowned Burgess shale site.
Toe, The writes "The South Carolina Education Oversight Committee approved new science standards for students except for one clause: the one that involves the use of the phrase 'natural selection.' Sen. Mike Fair, R-Greenville, argued against teaching natural selection as fact, when he believes there are other theories students deserve to learn. Fair argued South Carolina's students are learning the philosophy of natural selection but teachers are not calling it such. He said the best way for students to learn is for the schools to teach the controversy. Hopefully they're going to teach the controversy of gravity and valence bonds too. After all, they're just theories."
coondoggie writes "Here's a good idea: The FBI has launched a targeted, 60-day program that will offer up to a $10,000 for information leading to the arrest of anyone who intentionally aims a laser at an aircraft. The FBI said the laser-pointing scourge continues to grow at an alarming rate. Since the FBI and the Federal Aviation Administration began tracking laser strikes in 2005, there has been ridiculous 1,000% increase in the number of laser pointing/aircraft incidents. Last year, 3,960 laser strikes against aircraft were reported — an average of almost 11 incidents per day."
colinneagle writes "Bryan Lunduke recently pulled together a collection of the weirdest places he's found Linux, from installations in North Korea and the International Space Station to a super-computer made out of Legos and computer engineer Barbie. Seen any weird places for Linux not mentioned in this list?"
itwbennett writes "It all started with a parade through Pyongyang on April 15, 2012, held to commemorate the birthday of the country's founder, Kim Il Sung. At this parade, one thing had analysts buzzing: six mobile launchers carrying KN-08 intercontinental ballistic missiles. Bloggers in China quickly noted the similarities between the trucks and those used by the Chinese military, right down to the shape of the windows and the grille pattern. It's the stuff of spy thrillers. A few seconds of video, literature, a couple of memoirs and Google Earth helped locate a secret North Korean military plant — and using none of the classified tools of the intelligence trade."
Nw submitter CMULL writes "Stop typing Git over and over again. Ruby on Rails development and consulting firm thoughtbot created an interactive shell dedicated to Git commands, gitsh. One of the primary developers says there is a need for this shell because many early Unix utilities don't take sub-commands like Git."
sfcrazy writes "The Free Software Foundation has approved TAZ 3 as privacy-respecting, and awarded it 'Respects Your Freedom' certification. TAZ 3 is the fifth model in the LulzBot line of 3D printers by Aleph Objects, Inc. FSF has certified other models of LulzBot 3D printer for respecting privacy as well."
An anonymous reader writes "Corporate employees editing Wikipedia articles about themselves or their employers sometimes commit major violations of Wikipedia's "bright line" against paid editing, devised by Jimbo Wales himself, to prevent 'COI' editing. (Consider the recent flap over the firm Wiki-PR's activities, for example.) Yet the Wikipediocracy website, run by critics of Wikipedia management, has just published an article about IBM employees editing Wikipedia articles. Not only is such editing apparently commonplace, it's being badly done as well. And most bizarrely, one of the IBM employees is a Wikipedia administrator, who is married to another Wikipedia administrator. She works on the Watson project, which uses online databases to build its AI system....including the full text of Wikipedia." Reading about edit wars is also far more informative (if less entertaining) than reading the edit wars themselves.
rjmarvin writes "Karanbir Singh and a handful of other CentOS developers are now full-time Red Hat employees, working in-house on the CentOS distribution with more transparent processes and methods. None of the CentOS developers will be working on Red Hat Enterprise Linux. The CentOS project would become another distribution and community cared for by Red Hat, like Fedora, and Red Hat CTO Brian Stevens says the company is planning its future around OpenStack, not just Linux."
Nerval's Lobster writes "President Obama's 2012 re-election campaign relied on a sophisticated data-analytics platform that allowed organizers and volunteers to precisely target potential donors and voters. The centerpiece of that effort was Project Narwhal, which brought voter information—steadily accumulated since Obama's 2008 campaign—onto a single platform accessible to a growing number of campaign-related apps. The GOP has only a few short years to prepare for the next Presidential election cycle, and the party is scrambling to build an analytics system capable of competing against whatever the Democrats deploy onto the field of battle. To that end, the Republican National Committee (RNC) has launched Para Bellum Labs, modeled after a startup, to produce digital platforms for election analytics and voter engagement. Is this a genuine attempt to infuse the GOP's infrastructure with data science, or merely an attempt to show that the organization hasn't fallen behind the Democratic Party when it comes to analytics? Certainly the "Welcome to Para Bellum Labs" video posted by the RNC gives the impression of a huge office staffed with data scientists and programmers. However, the creation of a muscular digital ecosystem hinges on far more than building a couple of apps. Whatever the GOP rolls out, it'll face a tough opponent in the Democratic opposition, which will almost certainly emulate the robust IT infrastructure that the Obama campaign instituted in 2012 (not to mention Obama's massive voter and donor datasets). From that perspective, Para Bellum Labs might face the toughest job in politics."
schwit1 writes "U.S. banks and merchants are shifting to a more secure way of authorizing credit card transactions in which customers will enter a personal identification number (PIN) at checkout instead of signing a receipt. The US is the last major market in the world using the signature system, which is part of the reason why a disproportionate amount of credit card fraud happens here. The change is especially relevant given the massive fraud perpetrated against customers of Target in the fall. During a Congressional hearing last week, Target CFO John Mulligan said the company is accelerating the $100 million effort to switch to the so-called "chip and pin" system. The change won't happen all at once. Banks must issue cards with microprocessors and merchants need the right equipment to process the chip and PIN transactions, which is likely to happen gradually. But Visa, American Express, and MasterCard have announced that banks and merchants that have not adopted the technology for face-to-face transactions by October 2015 will be liable for fraudulent purchases. That's a strong incentive to get up to date. The new system will also prepare merchants and banks to transition to contactless payments in the near future."
This site's "Your Rights Online" section, sadly, has never suffered for material. The revelations we've seen over the last year-and-change, though, of widespread spying on U.S. citizens, government spying in the E.U. on international conferences, the UK's use of malware against citizens, and the use of modern technology to oppress government protesters in the middle east and elsewhere shows how persistent it is. It's been a banner year on that front, and the banner says "You are being spied on, online and off." A broad coalition of organizations is calling today "The Day We Fight Back" against the growing culture of heads-they-win, tails-you-lose surveillance, but all involved know this is not a one-day struggle. (Read more, below.)
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Mica Rosenberg reports at Reuters that major oil companies including Chevron, Exxon, ConocoPhillips, Phillips 66, and Sunoco were paid twice for dealing with leaks from underground fuel storage tanks — once from government funds and again, secretly, from insurance companies. Court documents show many of the cases and settlement agreements follow a similar pattern, accusing the oil companies of 'double-dipping' by collecting both special state funds and insurance money for the same tank cleanups. Some states say any insurance payouts should have gone to them since they covered the cost of the work. 'It appears this was a really common practice and it's very disconcerting,' says Colorado Attorney General John Suthers. 'Basically the companies were defrauding the state.' Approximately 40 states and the District of Columbia have special funds to cover the costs of removing and replacing the old tanks, excavating tainted dirt and pumping out dirty groundwater. Since 1988, there have been more than half a million leaky tanks reported across the country. Nearly 80,000 spills still are waiting to be cleaned up. The lawsuits against the oil companies allege fraud or other civil, not criminal, claims, which have a lower burden of proof and do not lead to jail time. Companies are largely cooperating to forge settlement deals and were interested in partnering with the states to clean up the legacy of petroleum leaks. For example Phillips 66 paid Utah $2 million to resolve allegations that the oil company defrauded a state fund to the tune of $25 million for cleanups associated with leaking underground tanks. Phillips sued myriad insurers over coverage for contamination arising from leaking tanks around the country and Phillips 66 wound up collecting $286 million from its insurers to resolve these disputes, but it never divulged any of this to Utah officials, the suit alleged. 'When I first saw these cases, I thought this is kind of incredible,' says New Mexico assistant attorney general Seth Cohen, who handled the lawsuit for the state. 'The oil companies have, in effect, profited off polluting.'"
quax writes "Mainstream media always follows the same kind of 'He said, she said' template, which is why even climate change deniers get their say, although they are a tiny minority. The leading scientific journals, on the other hand, are expensive and behind pay-walls. But it turns out there are places on the web where you can follow science up close and personal: The many personal blogs written by scientists — and the conversation there is changing the very nature of scientific debate. From the article: 'It's interesting to contemplate how corrosive the arguments between Bohr and Einstein may have turned out, if they would have been conducted via blogs rather than in person. But it's not all bad. In the olden days, science could easily be mistaken for a bloodless intellectual game, but nobody could read through the hundreds of comments on Scott's blog that day and come away with that impression.'"
KentuckyFC writes "Arbitrage is a way of making profit by exploiting price differences for the same asset. In capital markets, traders aggressively seek out and exploit these market 'inefficiencies.' Now one data scientist says it's possible to do the same with metro fares and has studied the fare-arbitrage potential of San Francisco's subway system, BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit). The idea is to swap tickets with another commuter during your journey to reduce the amount you both pay. BART has 44 stations which allows 946 different journeys and 446,985 unique pairs of trips. Of these, over 60,000 have arbitrage potential and commuters can save at least $1 on 4,666 of them. But there are good reasons why cities might want to maintain price differences for certain journeys — to encourage people to live in certain areas, for example. What's more, it's possible to imagine a pair of commuters who each travel from one side of a city to the other at considerable cost. But by swapping tickets in the city center, they could both pay for a short commute in each others' suburbs. But is that fair to other commuters?"
mask.of.sanity writes "CloudFlare has been hit by what appears to be the world's largest denial of service attack, in an assault that exploits an emerging and frightening threat vector. The Network Time Protocol Reflection attack exploits a timing mechanism that underpins a way the Internet works to greatly amplify the power of what would otherwise be a small and ineffective assault. CloudFlare said the attack tipped 400Gbps, 100Gbps higher than the previous record DDoS attack which used DNS reflective amplification."