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Comment Re:Where I live there are no mail trucks (Score 1) 265

>> drones fly under 400 feet and weigh less than 55 pounds

Well that's good. I'm sure 55 pound weights dropped from 400 feet are harmless.

A four ton delivery vehicle at 25 miles per hour is not exactly harmless, either. In assessing the overall impact, you take into account both the potential damage from an accident and the probability of such accidents. For example, the fact that said delivery vehicle is operated by a driver that has been on the road for many hours and makes frequent stops and that the drone is equipped with 8 redundant rotor/motors and no doubt many other redundant systems and failure management strategies from the planning of the flight path, monitoring of vehicle health and constant assessment of possible damage-minimizing crash locations at all times.

I believe the expected impact of such drones should be an overall reduction in the death, injury, property damage and environmental impact associated with delivering replacements for important items chewed by dogs.


Creator of Relay On BITNET, Predecessor of IRC, Dies ( 34

tmjva writes: Jeff Kell passed away on November 25 as reported here in the 3000newswire. He was inventor of BITNET Relay, a predecessor of Internet Relay Chat using the REXX programming language.

In 1987 he wrote the following preserved article about RELAY and here is his obituary. May this early inventor rest in peace.

Submission + - Air Force hires civilian drone pilots for combat patrols - legality questioned (

schwit1 writes: For the first time, civilian pilots and crews now operate what the Air Force calls "combat air patrols," daily round-the-clock flights above areas of military operations to provide video and collect other sensitive intelligence.

Civilians are not allowed to pinpoint targets with lasers or fire missiles. They operate only Reapers that provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, known as ISR, said Air Force Gen. Herbert "Hawk" Carlisle, head of Air Combat Command.

Submission + - GlassRAT Targets Chinese Nationals, Lurked for 3 Years Undetected (

chicksdaddy writes: RSA researchers issued a report today ( about a remote access trojan (or RAT) program dubbed “GlassRAT” that they are linking to sophisticated and targeted attacks on “Chinese nationals associated with large multinational corporations," The Security Ledger reports. (

Discovered by RSA in February of this year, GlassRAT was first created in 2012 and “appears to have operated, stealthily, for nearly 3 years in some environments,” in part with the help of a legitimate certificate from a prominent Chinese software publisher and signed by Symantec and Verisign, RSA reports.

The software is described as a “simple but capable RAT” that packs reverse shell features that allow attackers to remotely control infected computers as well as transfer files and list active processes. The dropper program associated with the file poses as the Adobe Flash player, and was named “Flash.exe” when it was first detected.

RSA discovered it on the PC of a Chinese national working for a large, U.S. multi-national corporation. RSA had been investigating suspicious network traffic on the enterprise network. RSA says telemetry data and anecdotal reports suggest that GlassRAT may principally be targeting Chinese nationals or other Chinese speakers, in China and elsewhere, since at least early 2013.

RSA said it has discovered links between GlassRAT and earlier malware families including Mirage, Magicfire and PlugX. Those applications have been linked to targeted campaigns against the Philippine military and the Mongolian government. (

Submission + - A Secretive Air Cargo Operation Is Running in Ohio, and Signs Point to Amazon (

citadrianne writes: In 2013, at the height of the holiday season, a surge of last minute Amazon orders and bad weather left many customers without gifts under the tree on Christmas day.

Amazon said the problem was not due to issues with its warehouses or staff, but failures on the part of UPS and other shipping partners. It apologized and reimbursed some customers with $20 gift cards, but the debacle underscored for Amazon the disadvantages of relying on third party shippers for its delivery process.

Since then, Amazon has been increasingly investing in its own alternatives, from contracting additional couriers to rolling out its own trucks in some cities.

The latest rumored venture into Amazon shipping has a name: Aerosmith.

An air cargo operation by that name launched in September of this year in Wilmington, Ohio on a trial basis. The operation is being run by the Ohio-based aviation holding company Air Transport Services Group, or ATSG, out of a state-of-the art facility. It's shipping consumer goods for a mysterious client that many believe to be Amazon.

Submission + - Fake Bomb Detector, Blamed for Hundreds of Deaths, Is Still in Use writes: Murtaza Hussain writes at The Intercept that although it remains in use at sensitive security areas throughout the world, the ADE 651 is a complete fraud and the ADE-651’s manufacturer sold it with the full knowledge that it was useless at detecting explosives. There are no batteries in the unit and it consists of a swivelling aerial mounted to a hinge on a hand-grip. The device contains nothing but the type of anti-theft tag used to prevent stealing in high street stores and critics have likened it to a glorified dowsing rod.

The story of how the ADE 651 came into use involves the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. At the height of the conflict, as the new Iraqi government battled a wave of deadly car bombings, it purchased more than 7,000 ADE 651 units worth tens of millions of dollars in a desperate effort to stop the attacks. Not only did the units not help, the device actually heightened the bloodshed by creating “a false sense of security” that contributed to the deaths of hundreds of Iraqi civilians. A BBC investigation led to a subsequent export ban on the devices.

The device is once again back in the news as it was reportedly used for security screening at hotels in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh where a Russian airliner that took off from that city’s airport was recently destroyed in a likely bombing attack by the militant Islamic State group. Speaking to The Independent about the hotel screening, the U.K. Foreign Office stated it would “continue to raise concerns” over the use of the ADE 651. James McCormick, the man responsible for the manufacture and sale of the ADE 651, received a 10-year prison sentence for his part in manufacture of the devices, sold to Iraq for $40,000 each. An employee of McCormick who later became a whistleblower said that after becoming concerned and questioning McCormick about the device, McCormick told him the ADE 651 “does exactly what it’s designed to. It makes money.”

Submission + - Anonymous Reportedly "RickRolling" Isis (

retroworks writes: According to a recent tweet from the #OpParis account, Anonymous are delivering on their threat to hack Isis [slashdot, and are now flooding all pro-Isis hastags with the grandfather of all 2007 memes — Rick Aston's "Never Gonna Give You Up" (1987) music video, aka “Rick Roll” meme. Whenever a targeted Isis account tries to spread a message, the topic will instead be flooded with countless videos of Rick Astley circa 1987.

Not all are praising Anonymous methods, however. While Metro UK reports that the attacks have been successful, finding and shutting down 5,500 Twitter accounts, the article also indicates that professional security agencies have seen sources they monitor shut down. Rick Aston drowns out intelligence as well as recruitment.

Submission + - How Close Are We To a Mission on Mars? (

destinyland writes: "NASA is developing the capabilities needed to send humans to an asteroid by 2025 and Mars in the 2030s," reads the official NASA web site. But National Geographic points out that "the details haven't been announced, in large part because such a massive, long-term spending project would require the unlikely support of several successive U.S. presidents." And yet on November 4th, NASA put out a call for astronaut applications "in anticipation of returning human spaceflight launches to American soil, and in preparation for the agency’s journey to Mars," and they're currently experimenting with growing food in space. And this week they not only ordered the first commercial mission to the International Space Station, but also quietly announced that they've now partnered with 22 private space companies.

Comment Re:The real worry should be Kessler Syndrome (Score 1) 98

Just making a single important orbit permanently uninhabitable can be pretty devastating.

Imagine a small satellite in a retrograde orbit close to the geosynchronous ring. The satellite is just a big hunting rifle cartridge full of buckshot with a tiny remote controlled gas canister that can turn it into a slowly expanding cloud of ruin. It will destroy everything in that orbit within twelve hours, hitting satellites at a relative speed of 6000 m/s.

[shudder] I didn't know I was that evil.

Comment Re:Cue the flood... (Score 1) 193

X can be a cure for cancer,

That's a very good example. We're nowhere near a "cure for cancer", but that's only because there isn't such a thing. Cancer is lots and lots of different things that all kind-a-sort-a look the same.

And while we haven't "cured cancer" we've cured a lot of cancer during the years, and we're continually improving. In the seventies/eighties in Sweden, three out of every four children diagnosed with cancer died as a result of the disease. Today, it is one out of every four. And counting. We're continually getting a little bit better.

So that we're not solving an ill posed problem shouldn't blind us to the fact that we're taking large strides to solve the well posed ones. Without any big headlines, just slow steady messy progress, complete with a lack of great breakthroughs and fanfare.

Comment Re:GM producers are shooting themselves in the foo (Score 1) 514

ve said this before -- if you want labels to differentiate, then add a label to non-GMO food (and obviously, enforce truth-in-advertising laws on that). That's not something that a producer of GMO food can reasonably lobby to prevent.

"Reasonable" has nothing to do with it.

In Pennsylvania the big dairies tried to make it illegal to use a "no BGH" label on milk, regardless of whether such a label was accurate or not.

Similarly, the so-called "DARK act" (stupid name) would allow genetically engineered organisms to be marketed with "all natural" labels, in order to defeat negative labeling.

It seems to me that this whole thing smells like a clever attempt by certain corporate powers to undermine a hundred years of consumer information law. They probably don't really care about GMOs so much as they care about regulatory capture.

They want to go back to the caveat emptor era. This is just a skirmish in that ongoing war. They've already crushed the USDA, after all, now they are going after the FDA.

Comment Re:It's the lawyers, not the convict (Score 1) 108

One point: it is not "wrong" for a lawyer to defend his client to the best of his ability, and do his best to get an acquittal, EVEN IF THE CLIENT IS GUILTY.

Not for all values of "guilty". It is not ethical, and in fact against both the rules and the law for a lawyer to lie on his clients behalf. So if the lawyer knows that his client is "guilty" (a client can't by definition be guilty, since the court hasn't ruled on the matter yet), through e.g. a private confession, but the client then instructs his lawyer to act as if that wasn't true, then the lawyer must recuse himself.

As the information exchanged between the attorney and client is privileged, he can't tell anyone why he recused himself, but recuse he must.

This is why lawyers are sometimes careful in discussing certain things with their clients, in some instances, the less they know, the more effectively they can represent their clients.

Now of course, if a lawyer thinks his client is "probably" guilty, that hasn't and can't have any bearing on the case. The defence attorney is there to defend, not help the prosecution make their case. If the client maintains their innocence so be it.

Now, in actual fact in the US at least, with the current plea bargaining system, this is not the problem. Its the complete opposite. It's the lawyer who will instruct his client to plead guilty, even when the client maintains his innocence, as the system is rigged (and contains abominations like the Alford plea...), and the risk of a trial is too great if you're not independently wealthy.

Comment Re:This is really wierd (Score 1) 184

And as a result of Paris, there is a lot of racism directed at muslims the last couple days, or at least it suddenly feels like so. Nobody yet realizes that calling for the mass execution of muslims because they are evil and rape and murder sounds stunningly like Nazi rhetoric against the Jewish (just as untrue), and worse, it appears as though now it's culturally acceptable.

And the terrorists know that and are actively seeking it.

It's an age old tactic. After all all insurgencies start small with just a handful of those willing to take action actively in the fight. The vast majority just want to get on with their lives, no matter the circumstances. That risks that the revolution peters out. So in order to put some backbone into the population rallying them against a common enemy is the order of the day.

This can be done by for example hitting the enemy hard enough that they retaliate (if you're occupied by a reasonable man, try and kill him in the most gruesome fashion imaginable in the hopes that his replacement will act much harsher and put the squeeze on the population at large). Another way, as in Beslan, is to commit heinous acts of terror against the majority group of the population (whether ethnic, political or similar) in the hope that they'll over react and oppress the minority that you're trying to rally.

Attacks like Paris of course reek of the latter. If I was an ISIS/Al queda/Boko haram i.e. "islamic" terroris (in our eyes that is) I'd start the exact same course of action. Their problem is that they don't have sufficient support in their local western communities. Which is not surprising, many in those communities fled that shit, that's why there here. So in order to rally them, I'd say: "Let's see if we can't anger the majority into putting the boot in hard enough to make our people see things our way."

It's heartening to note that even in cases like Beslan, that tactic failed. The wide scale repression of the population they terrorists claimed to represent, failed to materialise. We'd do well to follow this example, as doing the opposite and letting ourselves get carried away is exactly what the Islamic terrorist strategists want.

Anything cut to length will be too short.