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United States

Patriot Act Spy Powers To Expire As Rand Paul Blocks USA Freedom Act Vote 492

Posted by timothy
from the on-paper-at-least dept.
Saturday, we mentioned that three major spying powers that the U.S. government has exercised under the Patriot Act might be nixed, as the sections of the Act granting authority to use them expires. The Daily Dot reports that Senator (and presidential contender) Rand Paul today used Senate rules to block a bill which would have extended those powers, which means that as of midnight Sunday on the U.S. east coast, sections 206, 207 and 215 of the Patriot Act will have expired. Says the Daily Dot's article, linked by reader blottsie: The reform bill, which the House passed before leaving town for a week-long recess, would end the government's bulk collection of Americans' phone records under the Patriot Act's controversial Section 215 but leaves the other two provisions intact. ... Sunday's procedural meltdown was the second narrow defeat for the USA Freedom Act. In a late-night session on Friday, May 22, the bill fell three votes short of an initial procedural step after [Senate Majority Leader] McConnell lobbied hard against it. The Senate's failure to meet its deadline was a blow to President Obama, who on Friday had warned lawmakers that the country would be vulnerable if the USA Freedom Act did not pass.
Government

The Patriot Act May Be Dead For Good 212

Posted by timothy
from the why-do-you-hate-america? dept.
HughPickens.com points out Shane Harris's report at The Daily Beast that when powerful spying authorities under the Patriot Act expire at the stroke of midnight Monday, as currently appears likely, they may never return. "Senators have been negotiating over whether to pass a House bill that would renew and tweak existing provisions in the long-controversial law, but if the sunset comes and the provisions are off the books, lawmakers in both chambers would be facing a vote to reinstate controversial surveillance authorities, which is an entirely different political calculation. ... Three major Patriot provisions are on the chopping block: so-called roving wiretaps, which let the government monitor one person's multiple electronic devices; the "lone-wolf" provision, which allows surveillance of someone who's not connected to a known terrorist group; and Section 215, which, among other things, the government uses to collect the records of all landline phone calls in the United States." Obama has been urging Congress to pass the Freedom Act, but not warning that the sky will fall if they don't. That may reflect a calculation on the president's part that the surveillance authorities aren't important enough to lose political capital fighting to keep them. Meanwhile with the Senate not slated to return to Washington until just hours before that deadline, opponents like Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) showing no signs of budging, and the House so far unwilling to bail out the upper chamber, the prospects for an eleventh-hour breakthrough look slim.
Bug

DARPA Wants You To Verify Software Flaws By Playing Games 28

Posted by samzenpus
from the play-the-bugs-away dept.
coondoggie writes: Researchers at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) think online gamers can perform the tedious software verification work typically done by professional coding experts. They were so impressed with their first crowdsourced flaw-detecting games, they announced an new round of five games this week designed for improved playability as well as increased software verification effectiveness. “These games translated players’ actions into program annotations and assisted formal verification experts in generating mathematical proofs to verify the absence of important classes of flaws in software written in the C and Java programming languages. An initial analysis indicates that non-experts playing CSFV games generated hundreds of thousands of annotations,” DARPA stated.
Programming

Australia's Prime Minister Doesn't Get Why Kids Should Learn To Code 306

Posted by samzenpus
from the seeing-the-forest-for-the-trees dept.
New submitter Gob Gob writes: The Prime Minister of Australia has come out and ridiculed an opposition policy aimed at teaching kids to code. In response to the leader of the Labor Party's question about whether he would commit to supporting Labor's push to have coding taught in every primary school in Australia, the Prime Minister said: "He said that he wants primary school kids to be taught coding so they can get the jobs of the future. Does he want to send them all out to work at the age of 11? Is that what he wants to do? Seriously?"
Earth

Ask Slashdot: What Happens If We Perfect Age Reversing? 684

Posted by samzenpus
from the mad-max-time dept.
ourlovecanlastforeve writes: With biologists getting closer and closer to reversing the aging process in human cells, the reality of greatly extended life draws closer. This brings up a very important conundrum: You can't tell people not to reproduce and you can't kill people to preserve resources and space. Even at our current growth rate there's not enough for everyone. Not enough food, not enough space, not enough medical care. If — no, when — age reversal becomes a reality, who gets to live? And if everyone gets to live, how will we provide for them?
Mars

How To Die On Mars 278

Posted by Soulskill
from the get-your-coffin-to-mars dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Many space-related projects are currently focusing on Mars. SpaceX wants to build a colony there, NASA is looking into base design, and Mars One is supposedly picking astronauts for a mission. Because of this, we've been reading a lot about how we could live on Mars. An article at Popular Science reminds us of all the easy ways to die there. "Barring any complications with the spacecraft's hardware or any unintended run-ins with space debris, there's still a big killer lurking out in space that can't be easily avoided: radiation. ... [And] with so little atmosphere surrounding Mars, gently landing a large amount of weight on the planet will be tough. Heavy objects will pick up too much speed during the descent, making for one deep impact. ... Mars One's plan is to grow crops indoors under artificial lighting. According to the project's website, 80 square meters of space will be dedicated to plant growth within the habitat; the vegetation will be sustained using suspected water in Mars' soil, as well as carbon dioxide produced by the initial four-member crew. However, analysis conducted by MIT researchers last year (PDF) shows that those numbers just don't add up."

Comment: For those in Power,oversimplification is the Point (Score 1) 325

by D4C5CE (#49779093) Attached to: Why PowerPoint Should Be Banned

Its slides are oversimplified, and bullet points omit the complexities of nearly any issue

So whatever split-second decision an overpaid high-level executive takes by not allowing anything the requisite minimum thought, s/he can later blame on (and get someone else fired for) having been given incomplete information as requested by demanding earlier on that every complex matter be reduced to a polished assortment of insufficient buzzwords in incomplete grammar. In short, PPTs institutionalize PHBs' hierarchical infallibility at the expense of underlings who have to use it.

Software

Why PowerPoint Should Be Banned 325

Posted by Soulskill
from the hang-on-my-clicker-isn't-working dept.
An anonymous reader writes: An editorial at the Washington Post argues that Microsoft PowerPoint is being relied upon by too many to do too much, and we should start working to get rid of it. "Its slides are oversimplified, and bullet points omit the complexities of nearly any issue. The slides are designed to skip the learning process, which — when it works — involves dialogue, eye-to-eye contact and discussions. Of course PowerPoint has merits — it can help businesses with their sales pitches or let teachers introduce technology into the classroom. But instead of being used as a means for a dynamic engagement, it has become a poor substitute for longer, well-thought-out briefings and technical reports. It has become a crutch."

Comment: No lessons learned 15 years after the Humpich case (Score 1) 107

by D4C5CE (#49759369) Attached to: Hacker Warns Starbucks of Security Flaw, Gets Accused of Fraud
So being able to demonstrate a vulnerability is criminalized just like in the old days: http://www.parodie.com/english...

When responsible reporting is deterred to uphold an illusion of flawlessness and corporate infallibility, blackhats are the only ones who benefit.

United Kingdom

Bank of England Accidentally E-mails Top-Secret "Brexit" Plan To the Guardian 396

Posted by timothy
from the brexit-is-good-with-toast-and-jam dept.
schwit1 writes: The first rule of "Project Bookend" is that you don't talk about "Project Bookend." In retrospect, maybe the first rule should have been "you don't accidentally e-mail 'Project Bookend' to a news agency," because as the Guardian reports, one of its editors opened his inbox and was surprised to find a message from the BOE's Head of Press Jeremy Harrison outlining the UK financial market equivalent of the Manhattan project. Project Bookend is a secret (or 'was' a secret) initiative undertaken by the BOE to study what the fallout might be from a potential 'Brexit', but if anyone asked what Sir Jon Cunliffe and a few senior staffers were up to, they were instructed to say that they were busy investigating "a broad range of European economic issues." And if you haven't heard the term before, "Brexit" refers to the possibility of Britain leaving the EU -- one of the possible outcomes of an upcoming referendum.
Communications

NSA-Reform Bill Fails In US Senate 135

Posted by timothy
from the couldn't-have-happened-to-a-nicer-bill dept.
New submitter Steven King writes with a link to The Daily Dot's report that the U.S. Senate has rejected the controversial USA Freedom Act, thus "all but guaranteeing that key provisions of the USA Patriot Act will expire"; had it passed, the bill would have allowed continued use of some mass data-collection practices, but with the addition of stronger oversight. From the article: The Senate failed to reach agreement on passage of the USA Freedom Act, a bill to reauthorize and reform Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, which the government has used to conduct bulk surveillance of Americans' phone records. The House of Representatives passed the bill last week by an overwhelming bipartisan majority, but Senate Democrats, who unified behind the bill, did not get enough Republican votes to assure passage. The linked piece also mentions that the EFF shifted its position on this bill, after a panel of Federal judges ruled that the Feds at the NSA had overstepped their bounds in collecting a seemingly unlimited trove of metadata relating to American citizen's phone calls.
News

Protons Collide At 13 TeV For the First Time At the LHC 52

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-big-or-go-home dept.
An anonymous reader writes to let everyone know the LHC has now smashed protons together at 13 TeV, the highest energy level yet achieved. They've posted the first images captured from the collisions, and explained the testing process as well. Jorg Wenninger of the LHC Operations team says, "When we start to bring the beams into collision at a new energy, they often miss each other. The beams are tiny – only about 20 microns in diameter at 6.5 TeV; more than 10 times smaller than at 450 GeV. So we have to scan around – adjusting the orbit of each beam until collision rates provided by the experiments tell us that they are colliding properly." Spokesperson Tiziano Camporesi adds, "The collisions at 13 TeV will allow us to further test all improvements that have been made to the trigger and reconstruction systems, and check the synchronisation of all the components of our detector."

Comment: Re: Dunning Kruger in action may have killed IBM (Score 1) 211

by D4C5CE (#49591453) Attached to: Yes, You Can Blame Your Pointy-Haired Boss On the Peter Principle

Dunning Kruger effect in action! This, guys, is what just may have killed IBM, from me to you. I am a former IBM employee.

Remarkably, Who Says Elephants Can't Dance? demands that "dealing final blows" be praised as "saving" (short-term "rescue" entrenching the long-term demise AKA "Historic Turnaround"). The sections measuring the merits e.g. of OS/2 (and over the years, pretty much any technological asset) by the same standard as consumer packaged goods are particularly saddening.

Books

Obama Announces e-Book Scheme For Low-Income Communities 126

Posted by samzenpus
from the you-get-a-book-and-you-get-a-book-and-you-get-a-book dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The White House has today launched an initiative encouraging top book publishers to supply $250 million worth of free e-books to low-income students. Partnering with local governments and schools nationwide, President Obama hopes that the e-book scheme will support low-income households who significantly trail the national average for computer ownership and digital connectivity. At Anacostia Library in Southeast Washington, D.C., Obama announced that libraries and schools in poorer communities would be supported by the scheme and efforts would be made to increase internet access at these establishments. Publishers involved in the program include Penguin Random House, Macmillan, Bloomsbury, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster. NGOs, such as book donation charity Firstbook, and public libraries will also be working together to develop apps to support the digital reading program.

Money cannot buy love, nor even friendship.

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