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United States

The Executive Order That Led To Mass Spying, As Told By NSA Alumni 180

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-see-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this Ars piece about the executive order that is the legal basis for the U.S. government's mass spying on citizens. One thing sits at the heart of what many consider a surveillance state within the US today. The problem does not begin with political systems that discourage transparency or technologies that can intercept everyday communications without notice. Like everything else in Washington, there's a legal basis for what many believe is extreme government overreach—in this case, it's Executive Order 12333, issued in 1981. “12333 is used to target foreigners abroad, and collection happens outside the US," whistleblower John Tye, a former State Department official, told Ars recently. "My complaint is not that they’re using it to target Americans, my complaint is that the volume of incidental collection on US persons is unconstitutional.” The document, known in government circles as "twelve triple three," gives incredible leeway to intelligence agencies sweeping up vast quantities of Americans' data. That data ranges from e-mail content to Facebook messages, from Skype chats to practically anything that passes over the Internet on an incidental basis. In other words, EO 12333 protects the tangential collection of Americans' data even when Americans aren't specifically targeted—otherwise it would be forbidden under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978.
Businesses

When Customer Dissatisfaction Is a Tech Business Model 257

Posted by Soulskill
from the friendly-until-they-have-your-money dept.
jammag writes: A new trend has emerged where tech companies have realized that abusing users pays big. Examples include the highly publicized Comcast harassing service call, Facebook "experiments," Twitter timeline tinkering, rude Korean telecoms — tech is an area where the term "customer service" has an Orwellian slant. Isn't it time customer starting fleeing abusive tech outfits?

Comment: Re:Correction: (Score 1) 338

by Ichijo (#47725149) Attached to: FCC Warned Not To Take Actions a Republican-Led FCC Would Dislike

Those telcos are forced to provide service to everybody at the same price, which means they make a profit on tightly packed businesses in the city and that offsets their losses on the more widespread customers out of town.

Subsidies like this for suburban and rural residents is why we have sprawl.

I wouldn't mind paying $10 per gallon of milk in exchange for lower taxes and lower utility costs. (Especially because I'm lactose intolerant!)

Transportation

How Does Tesla Build a Supercharger Charging Site? 190

Posted by samzenpus
from the power-up dept.
cartechboy writes Tesla's Superchargers are the talk of the electric car community. These charging stations can take a Model S battery pack from nearly empty to about 150 miles of range in around 30 minutes. That's crazy fast, and it's nothing short of impressive. But what does it take to actually build a Tesla Supercharger site? Apparently a lot of digging. A massive trench is created to run high-capacity electric cables before the charging stations themselves are even installed. A diagram and photos of the Electric Conduit Construction build out have surfaced on the Internet. The conduits connect the charging stations to a power distribution center, which in turn is connected to a transformer that provides the power for charging cars. It took 11 days to install the six charging stalls in Goodland, Kansas. If you thought it was a quick process to build a Supercharger station, you were clearly wrong.

Comment: Re:which turns transport into a monopoly... (Score 1) 276

by Ichijo (#47717357) Attached to: Helsinki Aims To Obviate Private Cars

the worst transport freeloaders are cyclists who pay zero usage taxes yet use the roads and have their own special lanes/paths built for them.

Those aren't really for bicyclists. They're for motorists, to get bicyclists out of their way, because motorists don't want to have to share the road with bicyclists.

But you're correct that bicyclists don't pay any user fees for the roads. I propose a mileage fee to cover the road damage caused by the vehicle which is proportional to the 4th power of the weight of the vehicle. If a 2-ton vehicle owner pays $200 per year for the roads, then a 200-pound bicyclist going the same distance would pay 1/8th of a cent per year. Plus maybe an administrative fee of $10 per vehicle. That's fair, isn't it?

Comment: Re:which turns transport into a monopoly... (Score 1) 276

by Ichijo (#47717149) Attached to: Helsinki Aims To Obviate Private Cars

Airports are not expensive to set up and maintain...

In cities, they are extremely expensive, if you include the opportunity cost of capital. In other words, how much could you earn in a year by investing $(the monetary value of the land occupied by an airport) in the market? That is how much the land alone costs the city every year.

Comment: Re:which turns transport into a monopoly... (Score 1) 276

by Ichijo (#47715807) Attached to: Helsinki Aims To Obviate Private Cars

Phoenix uses the Proposition 400 sales tax to finance freeways, San Francisco has Proposition K, Los Angeles has Measure R, and San Diego has TransNet. Texas found that "no road [in the state] pays for itself in gas taxes and [user] fees."

Are there any cities in the USA where cars are economical without road subsidies or preferential treatment such as minimum parking requirements?

Comment: Re:which turns transport into a monopoly... (Score 2) 276

by Ichijo (#47714899) Attached to: Helsinki Aims To Obviate Private Cars

I'll never live anywhere that won't let me have a car or where for whatever reason cars are uneconomical.

Please name one city in your country where cars are economical without subsidies, such as sales taxes to finance freeways, and without preferential treatment, such as minimum parking requirements to force business owners to build more than the economically optimal amount of parking.

In my country (the USA), I don't think any such city exists.

Comment: Re:Safety vs Law (Score 1, Insightful) 475

by Ichijo (#47707677) Attached to: Google's Driverless Cars Capable of Exceeding Speed Limit

But bumping someone who's going 45 when you're going 90 will result in a major accident.

The one going 90 should have watched where he was going. Unless it's more important to pay attention to what's behind you than to what's in front of you?

It would be good if the USA adopted the Autobahn's rule of cruising in the right lane and passing only on the left, to separate fast moving traffic from slow moving traffic.

Comment: Re:Who pays the ticket? (Score 3, Informative) 475

by Ichijo (#47707501) Attached to: Google's Driverless Cars Capable of Exceeding Speed Limit

The driver's handbook in California explicitly states that you should at all times keep up with traffic, even if it means exceeding the speed limit a little bit, so that all cars are driving at roughly the same speed.

The 2014 manual says, on page 69:

Driving slower than other vehicles or stopping suddenly can be just as dangerous as speeding, if not more dangerous, because you may cause a rear end collision or cause other drivers to swerve to avoid hitting your vehicle. If you are in the fast lane and you notice vehicles moving to the right lane to pass you, or a line of vehicles is forming behind you, the best thing to do is move into the right lane, when it is safe, and let the vehicle(s) pass.

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