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Submission + - When it comes to surveillance gear, many police ignore public records laws in fa (

v3rgEz writes: What should take precedence: State public records laws, or contractual agreements between local police, the FBI, and the privately owned Harris Corporation? That's the question being played out across the country, as agencies are strongly divided on releasing much information, if any, on how they're using Stingray technology to collect and monitor phone metadata without judicial oversight.

Submission + - MN legislature introduces amendemnt to protect electronic communication ( 1

Bob the Super Hamste writes: The Minnesota legislature has introduced an amendment to the MN Constitution to enshrine the protections afforded by the 4th amendment to electron communication and data as well. It appears that this amendment has broad diverse support in the state house but leadership in the state senate is only lukewarm on it. In the senate Ron Latz (DFL) Chairman of the Judiciary Committee had blocked the amendment stating that he feels it is redundant. Additionally Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk (DFL) opposes the amendment because it is an amendment to the MN constitution. If passed Minnesota would become only the second state enact such a change after Missouri which did so last year and was passed by 75% of the popular vote.

Submission + - What Will It Take to End Mass Surveillance? (

Nicola Hahn writes: Both the White House and the U.S. Intelligence Community have recently announced reforms to surveillance programs sanctioned under Section 215 of the Patriot Act and Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. But do these reforms represent significant restructuring or are they just bureaucratic gestures intended to create the perception that officials are responding to public pressure?

The Executive’s own Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board has written up an assessment of reform measures implemented by the government. For those who want a quick summary the Board published a fact sheet which includes a table listing recommendations made by the board almost a year ago and corresponding reforms. The fact sheet reveals that the Board’s mandate to “end the NSA’s bulk telephone records program” has not been implemented.

In other words, the physical infrastructure of the NSA’s global panopticon is still in place. In fact, it’s growing larger. So despite all of the press statements and associated media buzz very little has changed. There are people who view this as an unsettling indication of where society is headed. Ed Snowden claimed that he wanted to “trigger” a debate, but is that really enough? What will it take to tear down Big Brother?

Submission + - Climate Scientist Wins Defamation Suit Against National Post (

Layzej writes: A leading Canadian climate scientist has been awarded $50,000 in a defamation suit against The National Post newspaper. Andrew Weaver sued the Post over four articles published between December 2009 and February 2010. The articles contain “grossly irresponsible falsehoods that have gone viral on the Internet,” and they “poison” the debate over climate change, Weaver asserted in a statement at the time the suit was filed.

The judge agreed, concluding “the defendants have been careless or indifferent to the accuracy of the facts. As evident from the testimony of the defendants, they were more interested in espousing a particular view than assessing the accuracy of the facts.”

This is the first of several law suits launched by climate scientists against journalists who have published alleged libels and falsehoods. Climate scientist Ben Santer suggests the following explanation for these types of defamations: "if you can’t attack the underlying science, you go after the scientist.”

Submission + - Utah cyberattacks - up to 300 million per day - may be aimed at NSA facility (

schwit1 writes: Five years ago, Utah government computer systems faced 25,000 to 30,000 attempted cyberattacks every day.

At the time, Utah Public Safety Commissioner Keith Squires thought that was massive. "But this last year we have had spikes of over 300 million attacks against the state databases" each day: a 10,000-fold increase.

Why? Squires says it is probably because Utah is home to the new, secretive National Security Agency computer center, and hackers believe they can somehow get to it through state computer systems.

"I really do believe it was all the attention drawn to the NSA facility. In the cyberworld, that's a big deal," Squires told a legislative budget committee Tuesday. "I watched as those increases jumped so much over the last few years. And talking to counterparts in other states, they weren't seeing that amount of increase like we were."

Submission + - Developer Saved Years Later by His Own Hardware (

szczys writes: Would you do a better job designing hardware if your life depended on it? Chris Nefcy is in that exact position. Years ago he developed an Automatic External Defibrilator for First Medic. The device allows non-doctors to restart a human heart in the field. When Chris had a heart attack his ticker was restarted with shocks from his own hardware.

His story isn't just heartwarming, he also covers the path that led him into developing the AED and the bumpy road encountered getting the hardware to market.

Submission + - Norway is the first country in the world to divest from fossil fuels (

mdsolar writes: Norway, the nation with the largest sovereign fund in the world, is withdrawing from its investments in fossil fuels. A number of universities, cities, and religious institutions have joined the so-called “divestment” movement, but Norway is the first nation to do so officially.

“It’s not the first time a country’s fund has sold off companies,” Jamie Henn, co-founder of the international climate-change advocacy group, told Quartz. “But it’s definitely the first time they’ve done so in the context of climate risk and environmental concerns.”

Norway is divesting from 32 coal companies, most of which are linked to either high carbon emissions or deforestation. It’s also pulling out of investments in tar sands and cement. Moral high ground aside, investing in these companies—like the fossil fuels they generate—may be unsustainable. While Norway can now boast that it has made a bold move toward a cleaner planet, it has in the process also shed assets that are inherently risky.

Submission + - The Man Squatting on Millions of Dollars Worth of Domain Names

Jason Koebler writes: For the last 21 years, Gary Millin and his colleagues at World Accelerator have been slowly accumulating a veritable treasure trove of seemingly premium generic domain names. For instance, Millin owns, has sold, or has bartered away,,,,,,, and more than 1,000 other domain names that can be yours (including, which he owns), as long as you've got the startup idea to back it up. Millin doesn't sell domain names anymore, instead, he trades them to startups in exchange for a stake in the company.

Submission + - Programming safety into self-driving cars (

aarondubrow writes: Automakers have presented a vision of the future where the driver can check his or her email, chat with friends or even sleep while shuttling between home and the office. However, to AI experts, it's not clear that this vision is a realistic one. In many areas, including driving, we'll go through a long period where humans act as co-pilots or supervisors before the technology reaches full autonomy (if it ever does). In such a scenario, the car would need to communicate with drivers to alert them when they need to take over control. In cases where the driver is non-responsive, the car must be able to autonomously make the decision to safely move to the side of the road and stop. Researchers from the University of Massachusetts Amherst have developed 'fault-tolerant planning' algorithms that allow semi-autonomous machines to devise and enact a "Plan B."

Submission + - What Happened to the Photography Industry in 2014? (

Iddo Genuth writes: 2013 was the worst year for the photography industry in decades — but what happened in 2014 and will the upcoming blitz of cameras (including the super resolution Canon 5D S with 50MP sensor to be announced tomorrow) change everything in 2015?

The official numbers published by CIPA (the Camera & Imaging Products Association) are out and they tell a story of a struggling photography industry trying to stay afloat in a sea of smartphones. Will it survive? This is the big question all of the photography manufacturers are facing over the past two years, and eventually what does it all mean for us as consumers?

Submission + - Bipartisan Bill Would Mandate Warrant To Search Emails (

jfruh writes: Bills were introduced into both the House and Senate yesterday that would amend the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, requiring a warrant to search Americans' email messages stored on third-party servers even if they're more than 180 days old. The current version of the law was passed in 1986, and was written in an environment where most email users downloaded emails to their computer and erased them after reading them.

Submission + - The Algorithm That 'Sees' Beauty in Photographic Portraits

KentuckyFC writes: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But what if the beholder is a machine? Scientists from Yahoo Labs in Barcelona have trained a machine learning algorithm to pick out beautiful photographic portraits from a collection of not-so-beautiful ones. They began with a set of 10,000 portraits that have been rated by humans and then allowed the algorithm to "learn" the difference by taking into account personal factors such as the age, sex and race of the subject as well as technical factors such as the sharpness of the image, the exposure and the contrast between the face and the background and so on. The trained algorithm was then able to reliably pick out the most beautiful portraits. Curiously, the algorithm does this by ignoring personal details such as age, sex, race, eye colour and so on and instead focuses only on technical details such as sharpness, exposure and contrast. The team say this suggests that any subject can be part of a stunning portrait regardless of their looks. It also suggests that "perfect portrait" algorithms could be built in to the next generation of cameras, rather like the smile-capturing algorithms of today.

Submission + - There's a Smartphone Attachment That Will Test for HIV in 15 Minutes

stephendavion writes: The device has the potential to save millions of lives. A team of researchers from Columbia University have developed a device that can be plugged into a smartphone and used to quickly test for HIV and syphilis. The mobile device tests for three infectious disease markers in just 15 minutes by using a finger-prick of blood, and draws all the power it needs from the smartphone, Science Daily reports. The accessory costs an estimated $34 to make and is capable of replicating tests done in a laboratory using equipment that costs many thousands of dollars.

Submission + - The strangest moon in the Solar System

StartsWithABang writes: Moons in our Solar System — at least the ones that formed along with the planets — all revolve counterclockwise around their planetary parents, with roughly uniform surfaces orbiting in the same plane as their other moons and rings. Yet one of Saturn's moon's, Iapetus, is unique, with a giant equatorial ridge, an orbital plane that doesn't line up, and one half that's five times brighter than the other. While the first two are still mysteries, the last one has finally been solved!

Submission + - Radio Shack collapse continues (

grimmjeeper writes: According to a CNN article, Radio Shack is being accused of defaulting on a loan. Their stock has lost 90% of it's value in the last year. They've fallen below the $50M market value and have been delisted by the NYSE. They say they have no intention to submit a plan to raise their market value to be relisted.

The once proud and ubiquitous Radio Shack basically dead. It just doesn't know enough to stop breathing yet. Decades of mismanagement, failing to keep up with changes in the market place, failures to capitalize on their strengths, it's all caught up with them. There is nothing left for them to do at this point. They are too far gone. The fat lady is about to take the stage.

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