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Exxon Mobile CEO Sues To Stop Fracking Near His Texas Ranch 317

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Exxon Mobile's CEO Rex Tillerson's day job is to do all he can to protect and nurture the process of hydraulic fracturing—aka 'fracking'—so that his company can continue to rake in billions via the production and sale of natural gas. 'This type of dysfunctional regulation is holding back the American economic recovery, growth, and global competitiveness,' said Tillerson in 2012 of attempts to increase oversight of drilling operations. But now Rick Unger reports at Forbes that Tillerson has joined a lawsuit seeking to shut down a fracking project near his Texas ranch. Why? Because the 160 foot water tower being built next to Tillerson's house that will supply the water to the near-by fracking site, means the arrival of loud trucks, an ugly tower next door, and the general unpleasantness that will interfere with the quality of his life and the real estate value of his sizeable ranch. The water tower is being built by Cross Timbers Water Supply Corp., a nonprofit utility that has supplied water to the region for half a century. Cross Timbers says that it is required by state law to build enough capacity to serve growing demand. In 2011, Bartonville denied Cross Timbers a permit to build the water tower, saying the location was reserved for residences. The water company sued, arguing that it is exempt from municipal zoning because of its status as a public utility. In May 2012, a state district court judge agreed with Cross Timbers and compelled the town to issue a permit. The utility resumed construction as the town appealed the decision. Later that year, the Tillersons and their co-plaintiffs sued Cross Timbers, saying that the company had promised them it wouldn't build a tower near their properties. An Exxon spokesman said Tillerson declined to comment. The company 'has no involvement in the legal matter' and its directors weren't told of Mr. Tillerson's participation, the spokesman said."

Submission + - First Government Lawsuit Against a Patent Troll (

walterbyrd writes: Late last year, a vigorous and secretive patent troll began sending out thousands of letters to small businesses all around the country, insisting that they owed between $900 and $1,200 per worker just for using scanners. The brazen patent-trolling scheme, carried out by a company called MPHJ technologies and dozens of shell companies with six-letter names, has caught the attention of politicians.

MPHJ and its principals may have gone too far. They're now the subject of a government lawsuit targeting patent trolling—the first ever such case. Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell has filed suit in his home state, saying that MPHJ is violating Vermont consumer-protection laws.


Submission + - Full disk encryption is too good, says US intellig ( 4

MrSeb writes: "A new research paper, titled "The growing impact of full disk encryption on digital forensics," illustrates the difficulty that CSI teams have in obtaining enough digital data to build a solid case against criminals. According to the researchers, one of which is a member of US-CERT — the US government's primary defense against internet and digital threats — there are three main problems with full disk encryption (FDE): First, evidence-gathering goons can turn off the computer (for transportation) without realizing it's encrypted, and thus can't get back at the data (unless the arrestee gives up his password, which he doesn't have to do); second, if the analysis team doesn't know that the disk is encrypted, it can waste hours trying to read something that's ultimately unreadable; and finally, in the case of hardware-level disk encryption, tampering with the device can trigger self-destruction of the data. The paper does go on to suggest some ways to ameliorate these issues, but ultimately the researchers aren't hopeful: "Research is needed to develop new techniques and technology for breaking or bypassing full disk encryption.""

Submission + - 'Cyber-roach' forces rethink on animal movement (

Lanxon writes: A team of researchers at the Royal Veterinary College in London has built a "cyber-cockroach" ( a cockroach wearing an accelerometer in a tiny backback) to try and better understand the movements of many-legged animals. They found that unlike bipedal creatures, animals with more than two legs don't adjust their movements when walking over a softer surface.

Submission + - Laser turns 50 (

sonicimpulse writes: It was dismissed by some scientists as "a solution looking for a problem."

But when the first working laser was rolled out 50 years ago this week — developed at California's Hughes Research Laboratory — it didn't take long for the hyperfocused beams of light to find work.

Having fascinated science-fiction fans since the origins of ray guns in the late 1800s, lasers (literally "Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation") have become common in modern life.

From talking on the telephone to listening to a CD, laser technology makes a lot of what we do happen.


Compact Disc Turns 26, Has a Bright Future 487

javipas writes "The Compact Disc was created 26 years ago, but apparently it is as healthy as 15 years ago, when computing versions of this format (CD-ROM, CD-R, CD-RW) made the market explode. Nowadays CD has been replaced in some segments, but not on the music industry, that continues to support it massively. The shy return of vinyl and the absence of real competitors make CD's future very bright, so it seems this birthday will not be by any means the last one we celebrate. Happy birthday!"

NASA Contractor Needs Urine 291

Apparently, NASA sent a memo to its employees at the Johnson Space Center asking for their urine so they, NASA, could use it to test the Orion space capsule. How much urine? 30 liters per day, including weekends. Disposal of urine for up to six months would be required if Orion is to work as planned.

Alert reader nettamere adds a link to story at, excerpting: "Donations will be treated with a chemical that can hold solid particulates in the liquid so they don't clog up the tubing in microgravity, said Leo Makowski, company spokesman for Hamilton Sundstrand, a contractor designing the new spaceship's toilet. ... "It's difficult to come up with a faux urine, explained NASA's Jim Lewis, the systems manager overseeing development of Orion's potty. 'That's why we depend on collections.'"


Steven Hawking Considering Move To Canada 378

thepacketmaster learned of "...the possibility of Steven Hawking moving to Waterloo in Canada: 'A report out of Britain suggests Stephen Hawking is considering an invitation to come work at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics....But he's also being encouraged to move to Ontario by his University of Cambridge colleague Neil Turok, the mathematical physicist who will take over as Perimeter's executive director on Oct. 1. Perimeter confirmed last night that it has made a standing offer to Hawking...Turok is leaving Cambridge after failing to persuade university authorities, research councils and sponsors to spend $40 million...By comparison, Waterloo's Perimeter Institute has about $600 million in funding...The addition of Hawking to Perimeter's staff of top physicists would be a major coup for the research institute, founded in 1999 by Mike Lazaridis, founder and co-CEO of Research In Motion, which makes the BlackBerry.'"