writes "Scientists expect the changing climate to bring on more drought; there's going to be less rainfall in the already arid regions. That alone would be bad news for denizens of the planet's dry zones—in some places in North Africa, the American Southwest, India, and the Middle East, water shortages could well become an existential threat to societies built there. But new research shows that in addition to less rain, the rate of evaporation is likely to rise, too. Combined, the two forces could dry out up to a third of the planet.
The study, published in the journal Climate Dynamics last month, estimates that climate change will cause reduced rainfall alone to dry out 12 percent of the Earth's land by 2100. But if evaporation is factored in, the study's authors say that it will "increase the percentage of global land area projected to experience at least moderate drying by the end of the 21st century from 12 to 30 percent.""Link to Original Source
writes "Ever throw a baseball? Or a paper plane? Watch out—the Federal Aviation Administration thinks that anything that flies through the air might be aircraft that it can regulate.
That’s a bit hyperbolic, but not by much. Last month, a federal judge ruled that the Federal Aviation Administration didn’t correctly regulate drones, so anyone could fly them legally. In that case, the judge decided two things: The FAA never made drone regulations and standard aircraft regulations the FAA has do not apply to drones because they aren’t “aircraft” in the traditional sense (at least as far as the FAA has traditionally defined them). In their original argument, the FAA said that it has the right to regular anything that flies through the air—and, in an appeal to that decision, they’ve decided to double down on the whole thing.
We’ve covered that case plenty, so if you need anything more than a quick primer, you can check out the specifics here. Basically what happened was, a couple years ago, a drone pilot named Raphael Pirker flew his 5 pound, styrofoam drone around the University of Virginia, and got paid to do it. That angered the FAA, who has been trying to keep commercial drone flights grounded. But, because they never actually made regulations, they went after Pirker for the “reckless operation of an aircraft,” which turned out to be a really bad idea, because the FAA has always specifically referenced “model aircraft” when it wants to talk about RC aircraft or drones. Furthermore, the statute they tried to get Pirker on references things like pilots walking around the cabin and flight attendants being distracting—clearly not something you can do on a foam drone."Link to Original Source
writes "The winners of Columbia Univeristy's 2014 Pulitzer Prizes have just been announced.
"Link to Original Source
- PUBLIC SERVICE — Two Prizes: The Guardian US and The Washington Post
- BREAKING NEWS REPORTING — The Boston Globe Staff
- INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING — Chris Hamby of The Center for Public Integrity, Washington, D.C.
- EXPLANATORY REPORTING — Eli Saslow of The Washington Post
- LOCAL REPORTING — Will Hobson and Michael LaForgia of the Tampa Bay Times
- NATIONAL REPORTING — David Philipps of The Gazette, Colorado Springs, CO
- INTERNATIONAL REPORTING — Jason Szep and Andrew R.C. Marshall of Reuters
- FEATURE WRITING — No award
- COMMENTARY — Stephen Henderson of the Detroit Free Press
- CRITICISM — Inga Saffron of The Philadelphia Inquirer
- EDITORIAL WRITING — The Editorial Staff of The Oregonian, Portland
- EDITORIAL CARTOONING — Kevin Siers of The Charlotte Observer
- BREAKING NEWS PHOTOGRAPHY — Tyler Hicks of The New York Times
- FEATURE PHOTOGRAPHY — Josh Haner of The New York Times
writes ""Did you know they have special laws to protect kid-fuckers in federal prison?” Andrew Auernheimer asked me with a grin on his face. “I can't hit them, it's a five year felony if I do. We're not held to the same standard because the feds protect kid-fuckers, and don’t want them to have a bad time in prison.”
On Friday night, Auernheimer, better known as “weev,” emerged from Allenwood Federal Correctional Center in Pennsylvania at about 10:30 PM. 28 months earlier than expected, he was free to leave just hours after learning his conviction had been overturned by judges in the 3rd Circuit US Court of Appeals. I rushed out to retrieve him in a van with his victorious lawyer, Tor Ekeland, as well as a videographer and a mutual friend of weev's and mine."Link to Original Source
writes "Earlier this week, politicians in Canada introduced the Digital Privacy Act, a bill that looks a lot like the United States’ Cyber Information Sharing and Protection Act, which caused widespread outrage and was eventually killed in the Senate.
But Canada’s version of the bill is even more problematic, argues Michael Geist, a law professor at the University of Ottawa who studies Internet policy. With CISPA, the United States government would have incentivized companies to share user information with the government, as long as it related to a “cyber threat.”
The big problem with CISPA, however, was the legal immunity given to companies who overshared customers’ information, meaning they couldn’t be sued if they provided too much. The Digital Privacy Act, meanwhile, allows companies to share information not only with the Canadian government, but with anyone, with legal immunity:"Link to Original Source
writes "A federal court has decided to vacate the conviction of Andrew 'weev' Aurenheimer, the "web's most notorious troll," on charges of accessing a computer without authorization. This is a swift response to an appeals hearing held just two weeks ago, in which the defense argued that among the problems with Aurenheimer's conviction was the issue of venue—the defense, led by the law professor Orin Kerr, argued that it was improper and arbitrary that the case was prosecuted in New Jersey, where none of the alleged criminal activity occurred.
The judges agreed. In the decision handed down today, they write that "Because we conclude that venue did not lie in New Jersey, we will reverse the District Court’s venue determination and vacate Auernheimer’s conviction.""Link to Original Source
writes "One hundred faculty members of the nation's most renowned university have signed an open letter calling on Harvard to divest its holdings in fossil fuel companies. Harvard's is the largest university endowment in the world
For the last few years, a national movement has called on on universities, foundations, and municipalities to divest from fossil fuels. Led by students, as well as organized groups like 350.org, it has seen a number of significant victories—at least nine colleges and over a dozen cities have pulled their investments in companies that extract or burn fossil fuels like coal and oil."Link to Original Source
writes "The FBI just gamified its latest manhunt. As I was just scanning the bureau's many twitter feeds, I saw a couple of fresh tweets reporting that William Bradford Bishop, Jr. had just been added to the bureau's most wanted list.
When I clicked on the tweet that offered a photo gallery of Bishop, the 'Family Annihilator,' some studio-lit photos of this gallery-quality clay bust were far beyond the everyday mug shots I'd expected.
"Am I'm picking out which glasses my character in GTA will wear?" I thought as I looked at artist Karen Taylor's masterful 3D rendering of Bishop. Bishop is a man who has been a fugitive for almost 40 years (he's 77 now, and Taylor age-processed him to look that old) after allegedly killing his mother, his wife, and their three sons in Bethesda, Md. Bishop, a former Foreign Service officer for the State Department, is described by the FBI as "highly intelligent," and investigators on his case believe he could be hiding in plain sight."Link to Original Source
writes "Your smoke detector seems like it's on your side, right? And your carbon monoxide detector is looking out for you. But in New Zealand, that extra box on your ceiling is looking out for your landlord. I guess the others were too—since fires and dead bodies are probably bad for property values—but I can't really find the upside for residents who live with a MethMinder in their homes that is waiting to call the authorities on them should they tamper with the box or, you know, break bad and cook some meth.
Ken Hetherington, a software engineer from Pakuranga, Auckland, designed the device after a friend was forced to spend $28,500 (AUS) to repair a vacation home that had been converted into a lab. The MethMinder runs on a long battery life and is fitted with a Vodafone SIM card that sends out a warning to both the police and the landlord if it smells something meth-y in the aira."Link to Original Source
writes "An anonymous guardian angel is sitting atop an extremely large pile of dogecoins, and has started giving them away via Twitter's @dogetipbot. His (or her) first spree was launched in mid-March, when he sent 14 million dogecoins to the doge4water cause, and has since picked up the pace since. The user @savethemhood is spewing millions of dogecoins to celebrities and tech influencers. The only request? That the good deed be passed along to people in need. "No press, no interviews," the user tweets. His intentions are simple, and he's concluded that he's going to help fix it with dogecoins.
So far, @savethemhood given large sums of dogecoins out to these persons and entities. I translated the amounts to reflect US dollars based on dogecoin's price at time of writing:
"Link to Original Source
- Jimmy Fallon — 15.5 million ($6,773)
- Ashton Kutcher — 15 million ($6,555)
- Alexis Ohanian — 3 million ($1,311)
- Jason Calacanis — 3 million ($1,311)
- Nick Bilton — 2 million ($874)
- Alexia Tsotsis — 2 million ($874)
- Robert Scoble 2 million ($874)
- Ev Williams — 2 million ($874)
- Gabe Rivera — 2 million ($874)
writes "It's well-understood that the cornucopia of devices that make up the growing Internet of Things can be hacked. But there's another side to the coin, too: Infected things—thing vending machines or an office printer—can also be used as a vector into other systems. To put it bluntly, when everything's connected, any door will do.
That's the conclusion of a fascinating New York Times article about hacking the IoT. It sounds like brain-bending future talk, to an extent; that malicious code is able to hide inside vending machines with wi-fi and attack other objects is just cause for raised eyebrows. But security experts have long understood that hacking a corporate network via some Internet-connected object was more or less inevitable, and it comes down to an intrinsic part of how connected objects work."Link to Original Source
writes "When I first heard about Airpooler, I thought it sounded like Rideshare for airplanes. Airpooler is a service that matches propeller plane pilots with passengers in exchange for flight costs. If you have a pilot’s license and are planning to rent a plane to fly from Northern California to Southern California, Airpooler can help pair you up with someone willing to help pay for the plane's associated costs.
It’s easy to imagine Airpooler turning into a service where a bunch of crust punks go in on a flight and pack into a prop plane for $20 a head. That doesn’t seem to be the goal of Airpooler, but Andy Finke, CTO and co-founder of Airpooler, certainly didn’t tell me it was impossible. There are, however, rules about how many people can fit in one plane. I spoke with Finke about the service."Link to Original Source
writes "It’s a story we all know—Christopher Columbus discovers America, his European buddies follow him, they meet the indigenous people living there, they indigenous people die from smallpox and guns and other unknown diseases, and the Europeans get gold, land, and so on.
It’s still happening today in Brazil, where 238 indigenous tribes have been contacted in the last several decades, and where between 23 and 70 uncontacted tribes are still living. A just-published report that takes a look at what happens after the modern world comes into contact with indigenous peoples isn’t pretty: Of those contacted, three quarters went extinct. Those that survived saw mortality rates up over 80 percent. This is grim stuff."Link to Original Source
writes "Security holes are par for the course on the web today, but a new, massive bug dubbed "Heartbleed” is particularly nasty, and widespread: Experts say that two-thirds of websites and nearly everyone that’s used the internet in the last two years could be affected to some extent.
The irony is, the those who have put the most effort into privacy and security are the most vulnerable.
The bug exposes the popular cryptographic software, OpenSSL, a mainstay web encryption. Heartbleed makes it possible for anyone to eavesdrop on encrypted sites and access the sensitive data they’re supposed to be protecting, all without leaving any trace on the site’s server. Even worse, attackers can also retrieve cryptographic keys and passwords and use that info to decrypt any past or future web traffic."Link to Original Source
writes "When it comes to military tech, the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) usually makes the headlines with its gadgets, gizmos, and kickass robots. It’s a prolific supporter of robo-defence projects, from Boston Dynamics’ Cheetah and its cousin Big Dog to autonomous hands and unsteady humanoids.
But the latest piece of military robot news comes from across the Atlantic at the UK’s Ministry of Defence, which has unveiled an animatronic man to test suits and equipment for the British armed forces. “Porton Man” looks pretty impressively modern and human-like until you realise he’s stuck to a clunky external frame that moves his limbs like a puppet. But hey, at least he’s not stumbling through steps at a snail’s pace before inevitably crashing to the ground, like DARPA's cyborg hopefuls.
The frame lets Porton Man run, walk (sorry, “march”), sit, and kneel in mid-air, to mimic the common movements of a human soldier. He can also hold his arms up as if sighting a weapon."Link to Original Source