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Submission + - Ex-CIA director: Snowden should be 'hanged' for Paris (

SonicSpike writes: A former CIA director says leaker Edward Snowden should be convicted of treason and given the death penalty in the wake of the terrorist attack on Paris.

“It’s still a capital crime, and I would give him the death sentence, and I would prefer to see him hanged by the neck until he’s dead, rather than merely electrocuted,” James Woolsey told CNN’s Brooke Baldwin on Thursday.

Woolsey said Snowden, who divulged classified in 2013, is partly responsible for the terrorist attack in France last week that left at least 120 dead and hundreds injured.

“I think the blood of a lot of these French young people is on his hands,” he said.

Submission + - Presidential candidate promises not to ban encryption (

SonicSpike writes: The Obama administration may have punted for now on the topic of encryption, but Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said he’ll ensure Americans can securely protect their digital data if he’s elected president.

Speaking in Des Moines, Iowa, on Thursday, Mr. Paul, a Republican, said he won’t ban encryption if he wins next November’s election, cementing his stance with respect to a hot-button issue that widened a rift between Silicon Valley and Washington this year before the White House ultimately decided last month not to push for a legislative solution.

“The head of the FBI came out with this recently. He says, ‘Oh, we’re going to ban encryption.’ And it’s like we want to build a backdoor into Facebook and a backdoor into Apple products,” the presidential hopeful said at the Yahoo Digital Democracy conference this week. “A backdoor means that the government can look at your stuff, look at your information, your conversations. The problem is, is that the moment you build an opening — and I’m not an expert on coding or anything — but the moment you give a vulnerability to a code that someone can get into your source code, not only can the government, but so can your enemies, so can foreign governments.”

“What’s China going to say? ‘Apple, you want to do business with us, you’ll have to give us an opening so we can watch,’ ” Mr. Paul added. “I don’t think we want that.”

Citing the increasing availability of robust, easy-to-use encryption and its effect on criminal investigations and counterterrorism probes, the Justice Department this year urged companies like Apple and Google to rethink the capabilities of their products before deciding last month to put their efforts on hold.

This is in contrast to Jeb Bush's recent statements about wanting to ban encryption:

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Legislative hashing system to ensure integrity of bills?

SonicSpike writes: Bills in any given legislature are usually dozens, if not hundreds, of pages long making it impossible for the legislators to read the bills in their entirety prior to a final vote. Often times these bills have very minor but far-reaching changes added in the middle of the night by a single politician or clerk outside of the formal amendment process (this action is usually illegal but rarely caught or pursued). Changing a bill secretly just prior to a vote would ensure that these changes become law with no accountability.

Could a legislature introduce a hashing / checksum system that would allow each revision of a bill to be given a different hash as it worms its way through the legislative process? Each bill would have a different hash after each amendment. And the hash could be compared just prior to the final vote with the hash from the previous amendment to ensure the integrity of the text.

Is this possible? What would this sort of system look like? Would it be a significant technical challenge to implement?

Submission + - How close are we to fusion power? (

SonicSpike writes: The ability to not only utilize but, at will, to create fire — a source of heat, light and energy that could be applied to a variety of purposes — was perhaps the key development that led humankind to dominate the plant and animal world, and eventually, all of Earth itself. By harnessing and controlling a rapidly releasable form of energy that stemmed from an abundant, accessible, freely available source — plant matter — we became capable of doing something no other living creature had ever done before.

As time went on, we were able to move to more efficient and scalable technologies.

Instead of burning wood for energy, we were able to find fuel sources that packed a greater amount of energy release into smaller masses and volumes: coal, oil, and gas. But these are still all chemical-based energy sources, where energy is liberated by changing the bonding configurations of electrons in atoms and molecules.

In the 20th century, we discovered the secrets of harnessing the energy inside the atomic nucleus, allowing us to split the heaviest elements through the process of nuclear fission.

But there’s a different way of harnessing the power of the nucleus that circumvents all three of these risks: nuclear fusion.

Naysayers love to claim that nuclear fusion is always decades away — and always will be — but the reality is we’ve moved ever closer to the breakeven point and solved a large number of technical challenges over the past twenty years. Nuclear fusion, if we ever achieve it on a large scale, will usher in a new era for humanity: one where energy conservation is a thing of the past, as the fuel for our heart’s desires will literally be without limits.

Submission + - Man shoots down drone hovering over his backyard (

SonicSpike writes: The way William Merideth sees it, it’s pretty clear-cut: a drone flying over his backyard was a well-defined invasion of privacy, analogous to a physical trespassing.
Not knowing who owned it, the Kentucky man took out his shotgun and fired three blasts of Number 8 birdshot to take the drone out.

"It was just right there," he told Ars. "It was hovering, I would never have shot it if it was flying. When he came down with a video camera right over my back deck, that's not going to work. I know they're neat little vehicles, but one of those uses shouldn’t be flying into people's yards and videotaping."

Minutes later, a car full of four men that he didn’t recognize rolled up, "looking for a fight."

"Are you the son of a bitch that shot my drone?" one said, according to Merideth.

His terse reply to the men, while wearing a 10mm Glock holstered on his hip: "If you cross that sidewalk onto my property, there’s going to be another shooting."

The men backed down, retreated to their car, and waited for the police to arrive.

"His only comment was that he hoped I had a big checkbook because his drone cost $1,800," Merideth added.

The Kentuckian was arrested Sunday evening in Hillview, Kentucky, just south of Louisville and charged with criminal mischief and wanton endangerment. He was released the following day.

Submission + - NASDAQ Expects to Be First Exchange To Use Blockchain (

SonicSpike writes: Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. expects to become the first major exchange operator to use the technology behind bitcoin when a project in its private-companies business goes live in the fourth quarter.

The stock market operator is partnering with infrastructure provider Chain to use blockchain to issue and transfer the shares of privately held companies. Blockchain is the ledger that drives the bitcoin digital currency.

The technology will be “of fundamental importance to Wall Street,” Nasdaq Chief Executive Officer Bob Greifeld said during a phone interview Thursday. “The benefits to the industry are immense and cannot be ignored.”

Advocates for the software say it will dramatically speed up and simplify how trading of everything from stocks to loans and derivatives is processed. Wall Street professionals endorsed blockchain in a recent Greenwich Associates survey, with 94 percent saying it could be used in finance.

Earlier this year, Nasdaq joined a clutch of companies seeking to adapt blockchain for mainstream finance, saying it would “leverage blockchain technology as part of an enterprise-wide initiative.”

“We also plan to announce further blockchain initiatives in the future,” Greifeld said Thursday during a conference call with analysts. “The application of blockchain technology within Nasdaq’s private market aims to modernize, streamline and really secure cumbersome administrative functions,”

Submission + - Hillary Clinton takes aim at 'Uber economy' (

SonicSpike writes: In a major campaign speech in New York City, the former secretary of state didn’t mention the ride-sharing service by name. But it was pretty clear what sort of companies she was talking about when she got to how some Americans earn money.

“Many Americans are making extra money renting out a spare room, designing websites, selling products they design themselves at home, or even driving their own car,” she said at the New School.

But that sort of work comes with its own problems, she said.

“This ‘on demand’ or so-called ‘gig economy’ ... is raising hard questions about workplace protections and what a good job will look like in the future,” Clinton added.

Submission + - A solar energy bubble in the making? (

SonicSpike writes: The federal government spent an astounding $39 billion subsidizing solar energy schemes last year, according to the Taxpayers Protection Alliance. Despite the massive amount squandered on taxpayer-funded handouts, solar provides a paltry 0.6 percent of America’s electricity supply.

Solar subsidies are moving from Washington to Wall Street, leaving the taxpayers defenseless. In recent years, companies have used a variety of financing mechanisms, most notably third-party solar leasing, to take advantage of lavish government handouts. Companies are then bundling and securitizing those leases to raise funds to pay the upfront costs for more home and small business solar installations.

These financing options are not problematic for all investments. When government subsidies are involved, however, risk and reward are significantly distorted, making the financial risk alarming and potentially disastrous for taxpayers. As a result, the situation surrounding the solar industry has turned into a ticking time bomb

The circumstance is being exacerbated because solar leasing companies are in a mad dash to finance and build as many rooftop solar projects before the end 2016. That’s when a 30 percent federal Investment Tax Credit expires – and, likely, when the solar industry will collapse.

In fact, U.S. Bankcorp, Bank of America and Merrill Lynch all established tax equity funds to help solar panel giant SolarCity exploit government tax credits and flood the United States with rooftop solar panels. Goldman Sachs followed suit with a $500 million fund to help Americans with poor credit purchase solar panels that they otherwise couldn’t afford – the same type of risky investment that caused the housing bubble to burst.

Something similar happened to the wind power marketplace after a wind production tax credit ended. Once the credit expired, wind production plummeted; a sure indication the subsidy resulted in an oversupplied market. Solar will likely suffer a similar fate.

Submission + - Proposed regulation could keep 3D-printed gun blueprints offline for good ( 1

SonicSpike writes: A notice posted on June 3rd in a recent Federal Register show that some changes are being made to the International Traffic in Arms (ITAR) regulations. Hidden within the proposal, which restricts what gear, technology, and info can and cannot be exported out of the US, is a ban on posting schematics for 3D printed gun parts online.

The ruling comes just a month after Cody Wilson and, his group Defense Distributed filed a lawsuit against the federal government for forcing them to remove blueprints of the “Liberator” 3D-printed gun of off their website. Wilson described the move as a violation of First Amendment Rights and believes that the new mandate is a direct response to his lawsuit.

In the public notice, the State Department revises the definition of export in an attempt to “remove activities associated with a defense article’s further movement or release outside the United States.”

Included in the new provision is “technical data” posted on the Internet.

“By putting up a digital file, that constitutes an export of the data,” a senior State Department official stated. “If it’s an executable digital file, any foreign interests can get a hold of it.

“These proposed definition changes are part of our broader effort to streamline and modernize a Cold War era regulatory system to better safeguard against illicit attempts to procure sensitive U.S. defense technologies under Export Control Reform.”

The official added that the proposed definition changes have been in the works for several years, ever since President Obama announced his Export Control Initiative in 2009 and that these changes in definition seek to account for technologies not foreseen — like 3D-printing — when these regulations were initially developed.

However, Wilson says that it’s a back door way to ramp up gun control stateside.

“It's speech control to regulate the gun culture, It's not coming, like some are suggesting. It is here and I've been threatened with it and complete ruin for over two years.”

Submission + - Rand Paul will force expiration of the PATRIOT ACT (

SonicSpike writes: US Senator Rand Paul plans to force the expiration of the PATRIOT Act Sunday by refusing to allow Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to expedite debate on a key surveillance bill.

In a statement on Saturday, Paul warned that he would not consent to any efforts to pass either an extension of current law or the USA Freedom Act, a reform bill passed overwhelmingly by the House earlier this month.

“So tomorrow, I will force the expiration of the NSA illegal spy program,” Paul said.

Because of the nature of the Senate rules, Paul can force the expiration of the PATRIOT Act, which he has vowed on the campaign trail to repeal as president because he contends it invades Americans’ privacy rights.

In a rare Sunday session, McConnell, sources said, appears likely to move the USA Freedom Act, despite his opposition to how the bill overhauls the National Security Agency’s bulk data collection program. That’s because McConnell has little other choice given the vast support within Congress for the bill.

But Paul argues that bill actually expands the PATRIOT Act and he’s threatening to prevent the Senate from moving to final passage Sunday. He can likely prevent the bill from passing until at least Thursday, three days after the expiration of a law many argue is central to the nation’s security.

A full statement by Senator Rand Paul is at this link,

Submission + - Rand Paul Begins Filibuster Of PATRIOT ACT Renewal (

SonicSpike writes: Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is filibustering the Patriot Act on the Senate floor, and it doesn’t look like he’s going to stop anytime soon.

The Republican presidential candidate took control of the floor Wednesday afternoon at 1:18 p.m., simultaneously explaining on Twitter that he is filibustering the renewal of the Patriot Act because of the National Security Agency’s program that collects bulk phone record data of American citizens.

The ongoing filibuster can be watched live here:

Submission + - FBI and Homeland Security Respond to Hacked Digital Billboards (

SonicSpike writes: Multiple billboards in downtown Atlanta were hacked and began to display the infamous Goatse meme from the Internet.

Thousands of YESCO digital billboards are installed across the country. Naturally, it comes with an internet connection. The setup is exactly as insecure as you’d imagine: many of these electronic billboards are completely unprotected, dangling on the public internet without a password or any kind of firewall. This means it’s pretty simple to change the image displayed from a new AT&T offer to, say, Goatse.

The appearance of this unexpected mammoth image alarmed residents so much that at least one called 911.

“There’s an electronic billboard that is flashing a naked man,” one woman said in the 911 call. “It’s not actually an emergency; it’s just totally disgusting.” Police say the billboard’s owner temporarily cut power to the billboard.

Submission + - Warrantless airport seizure of laptop "cannot be justified," judge rules (

SonicSpike writes: The US government's prosecution of a South Korean businessman accused of illegally selling technology used in aircraft and missiles to Iran was dealt a devastating blow by a federal judge. The judge ruled Friday that the authorities illegally seized the businessman's computer at Los Angeles International Airport as he was to board a flight home.

The authorities who were investigating Jae Shik Kim exercised the border exception rule that allows the authorities to seize and search goods and people—without court warrants—along the border and at airport international terminals. US District Court judge Amy Berman Jackson of the District of Columbia noted that the Supreme Court has never directly addressed the issue of warrantless computer searches at an international border crossing, but she ruled (PDF) the government used Kim's flight home as an illegal pretext to seize his computer. Authorities then shipped it 150 miles south to San Diego where the hard drive was copied and examined for weeks, but the judge said the initial seizure "surely cannot be justified."

Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must be first overcome. -- Dr. Johnson