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+ - Vintage 1960s era film shows IRS defending its use of computers ->

Submitted by coondoggie
coondoggie (973519) writes "It’s impossible to imagine the Internal Revenue Service or most other number-crunching agencies or companies working without computers. But when the IRS went to computers — the Automatic Data Processing system --there was an uproar. The agency went so far as to produce a short film on the topic called Right On The Button, to convince the public computers were a good thing."
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+ - Every Drone Mission the FBI Admits to Flying->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "The FBI insists that it uses drone technology to conduct surveillance in “very limited circumstances.” What those particular circumstances are remain a mystery, particularly since the Bureau refuses to identify instances where agents deployed unmanned aerial vehicles, even as far back as 2006.

In a letter to Senator Ron Paul last July, the FBI indicated that it had used drones a total of ten times since late 2006—eight criminal cases and two national security cases—and had authorized drone deployments in three additional cases, but did not actually fly them. The sole specific case where the FBI is willing to confirm using a drone was in February 2013, as surveillance support for a child kidnapping case in Alabama.

New documents obtained by MuckRock as part of the Drone Census flesh out the timeline of FBI drone deployments in detail that was previously unavailable. While heavily redacted—censors deemed even basic facts that were already public about the Alabama case to be too sensitive for release, apparently—these flight orders, after action reviews and mission reports contain new details of FBI drone flights."

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Comment: Re:china has smog, so its clearly chinas fault. (Score 4, Informative) 138

by jdschulteis (#46767259) Attached to: Pollution In China Could Be Driving Freak Weather In US

Americans constitute 5% of the worlds population, yet we consume 24% of its energy.

Please stop using this bogus comparison to imply that Americans use more than "their share" of the world's energy. The correct comparison is between inputs and outputs. The USA produces nearly 20% of the world's GDP. If your 24% is correct, we have room for improvements in energy efficiency, but we're not nearly the energy gluttons that you're suggesting. The low ratio of population to energy use is largely due to our high productivity.

+ - The EPA admits it doesn't have the data to justify its environmental regulations-> 1

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 (797399) writes "In a stunning admission, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy revealed to House Science, Space and Technology Committee chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) that the agency neither possesses, nor can produce, all of the scientific data used to justify the rules and regulations they have imposed on Americans via the Clean Air Act.

The EPA was subpoenaed by Congress for the data it uses, and they responded to say that what they have doesn’t really provide any proof that their regulations are necessary. But they then add that they are going to continue imposing their regulations anyway."

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+ - U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Fall 10% Since 2005, but HFC's still a problem->

Submitted by SpankiMonki
SpankiMonki (3493987) writes "U.S. greenhouse gas emissions fell nearly 10 percent from 2005 to 2012, more than halfway toward the U.S.'s 2020 target pledged at United Nations climate talks, according to the latest national emissions inventory.

Meanwhile, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) saw a dramatic rise of over 309 percent during the reporting period. Although the US and China recently agreed to reduce HFC production, the two countries accounted for the bulk of the increase in HFC emissions over the reporting period.

HFC use and emissions are rapidly increasing as a result of the phaseout of ozone-depleting substances (ODS) and growing global demand for air conditioning. Although safe for the ozone layer, the continued emissions of HFCs – primarily as alternatives to ODS and also from the continued production of HCFC-22 – will have an immediate and significant effect on the Earth’s climate system. Without further controls, it is predicted that HFC emissions could negate the entire climate benefits achieved under the Montreal Protocol."

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+ - IRS Can Now Seize Your Tax Refund To Pay A Relative's Debt

Submitted by Hugh Pickens DOT Com
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Just in time for the April 15 IRS filing deadline comes news from the Washington Post that hundreds of thousands of taxpayers who are expecting refunds are instead getting letters informing them that because of a debt they never knew about — often a debt incurred by their parents — the government has confiscated their check — sometimes on debts 20 or 30 years old. For example, when Mary Grice was 4, back in 1960, her father died, leaving her mother with five children to raise. Until the kids turned 18, Sadie Grice got survivor benefits from Social Security to help feed and clothe them. Now, Social Security claims it overpaid someone in the Grice family — it’s not sure who — in 1977. After 37 years of silence, four years after Sadie Grice died, the government is coming after her daughter. “It was a shock,” says Grice, 58. “What incenses me is the way they went about this. They gave me no notice, they can’t prove that I received any overpayment, and they use intimidation tactics, threatening to report this to the credit bureaus.”

The Treasury Department has intercepted $1.9 billion in tax refunds already this year — $75 million of that on debts delinquent for more than 10 years, says Jeffrey Schramek, assistant commissioner of the department’s debt management service. The aggressive effort to collect old debts started three years ago — the result of a single sentence tucked into the farm bill lifting the 10-year statute of limitations on old debts to Uncle Sam. The Federal Trade Commission, on its Web site, advises Americans that “family members typically are not obligated to pay the debts of a deceased relative from their own assets.” But Social Security officials say that if children indirectly received assistance from public dollars paid to a parent, the children’s money can be taken, no matter how long ago any overpayment occurred. Many of the taxpayers whose refunds have been taken say they’ve been unable to contest the confiscations because of the cost, because Social Security cannot provide records detailing the original overpayment, and because the citizens, following advice from the IRS to keep financial documents for just three years, had long since trashed their own records. More than 1,200 appeals have been filed on the old cases but only about 10 percent of taxpayers have won those appeals. "The government took the money first and then they sent us the letter," says Brenda Samonds.." We could never get one sentence from them explaining why the money was taken.”"

Comment: Re:What if we overcorrect? LA comparison (Score 1) 336

Shesh, nope. First, what tax subsidies are you talking about? There is no way Coal is subsidized, nor is oil and gas.

Do a little research. Here's a starting point.

It's going to be cheaper to make electricity by natural gas for a LONG time, especially over solar.

That depends on how bad the fracking earthquakes get.

+ - Russia prepares to attack the petrodollar

Submitted by Snirt
Snirt (1908938) writes "The existence of "petrodollars" is one of the pillars of America's economic might because it creates a significant external demand for American currency, allowing the US to accumulate enormous debts without defaulting. If a Japanese buyer wants to buy a barrel of Saudi oil, he has to pay in dollars even if no American oil company ever touches the said barrel. Dollar has held a dominant position in global trading for such a long time that even Gazprom's natural gas contracts for Europe are priced and paid for in US dollars. Until recently, a significant part of EU-China trade had been priced in dollars. Lately, China has led the BRICS efforts to dislodge the dollar from its position as the main global currency, but the "sanctions war" between Washington and Moscow gave an impetus to the long-awaited scheme to launch the petroruble and switch all Russian energy exports away from the US currency."

+ - Would Amazon Dare To Make A Phone? Of Course->

Submitted by jfruh
jfruh (300774) writes "'So-and-so is about to release a smartphone' is one of the oldest tech rumors around, and most of the time nothing comes of it. But Stephen Lawson of the IDG News Service argues that if anyone non-phonemaker were going to dip their toes into that treacherous water, it'd be Amazon. The company hasn't been afraid to take on incumbents in the tablet and TV set-top box markets, and the financial rewards for breaking out of the content ecosystem imposed by other providers are too great to ignore."
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+ - Microsoft Unveils Skynet UI

Submitted by Bob768
Bob768 (2670995) writes "Skynet is Here, Literally, Thanks to Microsoft. Skynet UI Turns Microsoft researchers have unveiled a new 3D scanning software called Skynet UI. No Skynet is not an artificial intelligence ready to take over the world, but it is a pretty clever way to turn a smartphone camera into a 3D scanner, without any additional hardware. The user interface uses a technology called 3D reconstruction to turn 2D images into 3D renderings.
Source: http://3dprint.com/2256/skynet..."

+ - Study Shows American Policy Exclusively Reflects Desires of the Rich->

Submitted by CamelTrader
CamelTrader (311519) writes "A forthcoming paper by Princeton's Martin Gilens and Northwestern's Benjamin Page analyzes policy over the past 20+ years and conclude that policy makers respond exclusively to the needs of people in the 90th wealth percentile. A summary at the Washington Post by Larry Bartels: http://www.washingtonpost.com/..."
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Comment: Re:Not a flamebait summary (Score 1) 236

by jdschulteis (#46731811) Attached to: GM Names Names, Suspends Two Engineers Over Ignition-Switch Safety

I have long held the belief that software can be life critical at times and software engineers should be held to the same professionalism as any other form of engineering.

It is a matter of fact, not belief, that software can be life critical. For the majority of software, though, cost and time-to-market considerations far outweigh coding to the highest professional standard. "Good enough" wins.

Comment: Re:Why not? (Score 1) 236

by jdschulteis (#46731755) Attached to: GM Names Names, Suspends Two Engineers Over Ignition-Switch Safety

In most places "Software Engineers" meet no accreditation requirements, have no requirement to belong to any society which regulates ethics, experience or training.

I've worked with real engineers, ethics was more important than their education.

There is no requirement to belong, but at least there is a society that promulgates ethics.

When someone says "I want a programming language in which I need only say what I wish done," give him a lollipop.

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