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Government

GAO Denied Access To Webb Telescope Workers By Northrop Grumman 123

Posted by samzenpus
from the sorry-you-can't-come-in dept.
schwit1 writes In a report as well as at House hearings today the GAO reported that Northrop Grumman has denied them one-on-one access to workers building the James Webb Space Telescope. "The interviews, part of a running series of GAO audits of the NASA flagship observatory, which is billions of dollars overbudget and years behind schedule, were intended to identify potential future trouble spots, according to a GAO official. But Northrop Grumman Aerospace, which along with NASA says the $9 billion project is back on track, cited concerns that the employees, 30 in all, would be intimidated by the process." To give Northrop Grumman the benefit of the doubt, these interviews were a somewhat unusual request. Then again, if all was well why would they resist? Note too that the quote above says the cost of the telescope project is now $9 billion. If the project was "back on track" as the agency and Northrop Grumman claim, then why has the budget suddenly increased by another billion?

Comment: Re:homeowner fail (Score 2) 524

Centurytel operates the same way. The sold and billed for DSL to my rural address that they didn't service. They even had a turn on date. A day before turn on, I received an email saying that, No, DSL is not available in your service area.
It took flaming hoops to get the deposit and first months fee returned.

Crime

Online "Swatting" Becomes a Hazard For Gamers Who Play Live On the Internet 569

Posted by samzenpus
from the hands-up-controllers-down dept.
HughPickens.com writes Nick Wingfield reports at the NYT that practical jokers who call in bogus reports of violence provoking huge police responses have set their sights on a new set of victims: video gamers who play live on the Internet, often in front of huge online audiences. Last month, several hundred people were watching Joshua Peters as he played RuneScape from his parents' home as video showed Peters suddenly leaving his computer when police officers appeared at the house and ordered him and his family at gunpoint to lie face down on the ground after some had called 911 claiming Peters had just shot his roommate. "With the live-streaming platforms, it amplifies the entire situation," says James Clayton Eubanks who says he has been swatted about a half-dozen times while he streamed his Call of Duty sessions. "Not only do they get to do this and cause this misery, they get to watch it unfold in front of thousands of people."

Game companies like Twitch have publicly said that swatting is dangerous, but that there is little else they can do to prevent the pranks. Tracking the culprits behind the pranks is difficult. While bomb scares and other hoaxes have been around for decades, making threats anonymously has never been so easy. Swatters use text messages and online phone services like Skype to relay their threats, employing techniques to make themselves hard to trace. They obtain personal addresses for their victims through property records and other public databases, or by tricking businesses or customer service representatives at a victim's Internet provider into revealing the information. Brandon Willson, a gamer known online as "Famed God," made up a murder to get police to go to an unsuspecting west suburban resident's home last year and ended up behind bars in Nevada awaiting extradition. As part of the investigation, police traveled to Las Vegas to help local police execute a search warrant at Willson's home. Computers seized there contained evidence of the swatting incident, as well as similar incidents across the country, prosecutors claim. Willson faces up to five years in prison if he is convicted on charges of computer tampering and one count each of intimidation, computer fraud, identity theft and disorderly conduct. His mother, Brenda Willson, says her son is innocent and does not smoke, drink or have tattoos. "He would never swat," she says.
Government

WHO Report Links Weed Killer Ingredient To Cancer Risk 179

Posted by samzenpus
from the what's-to-blame dept.
An anonymous reader sends word that a common weed killer may cause cancer according to the World Health Organization. "The world's most widely used weed killer can 'probably' cause cancer, the World Health Organization said on Friday. The WHO's cancer arm, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, said glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup and other herbicides, was 'classified as probably carcinogenic to humans.' It also said there was 'limited evidence' that glyphosate was carcinogenic in humans for non-Hodgkin lymphoma." Unsurprisingly, Monsanto, Roundup's manufacturer disagrees saying there is no evidence to support the findings and calls on WHO to hold a meeting to explain their conclusions.
Security

LightEater Malware Attack Places Millions of Unpatched BIOSes At Risk 83

Posted by timothy
from the nothing's-perfect dept.
Mark Wilson writes Two minutes is all it takes to completely destroy a computer. In a presentation entitled 'How many million BIOSes would you like to infect?' at security conference CanSecWest, security researchers Corey Kallenberg and Xeno Kovah revealed that even an unskilled person could use an implant called LightEater to infect a vulnerable system in mere moments. The attack could be used to render a computer unusable, but it could also be used to steal passwords and intercept encrypted data. The problem affects motherboards from companies including Gigabyte, Acer, MSI, HP and Asus. It is exacerbated by manufactures reusing code across multiple UEFI BIOSes and places home users, businesses and governments at risk.
Transportation

Chevy Malibu 'Teen Driver' Tech Will Snitch If You Speed 224

Posted by timothy
from the no-problem-for-ferris-bueller dept.
mpicpp writes General Motors wants to help curb teen crashes with a new system that lets parents monitor their kids' driving habits—even when mom and dad aren't actually in the car. Dubbed Teen Drive, the new system will debut in the 2016 Chevy Malibu, offering a bunch of features designed to encourage safe driving. It will, for instance, mute the radio or any device paired with the car when front seat occupants aren't wearing their seatbelts, and give audible and visual warnings when the vehicle is traveling faster than preset speeds. It doesn't end there. Brace yourself, teens, because you might not like this next part too much. The new system also lets parents view a readout of how you drove the car, including how fast you went, how far you drove, and whether any active safety features (like over-speed warnings) were engaged. Parents can also set the radio system's maximum volume to a lower level, and select a maximum speed between 40 and 75 miles per hour, which, if exceeded, will trigger warnings.
Communications

Twitter Adds Tool To Report Tweets To the Police 79

Posted by timothy
from the but-first-this-detour-to-fort-meade dept.
itwbennett writes Twitter is ramping up its efforts to combat harassment with a tool to help users report abusive content to law enforcement. The reports would include the flagged tweet and its URL, the time at which it was sent, the user name and account URL of the person who posted it, as well as a link to Twitter's guidelines on how authorities can request non-public user account information from Twitter. It is left up to the user to forward the report to law enforcement and left up to law enforcement to request the user information from Twitter.
Security

White House Proposal Urges All Federal Websites To Adopt HTTPS 155

Posted by Soulskill
from the moving-at-the-speed-of-government dept.
blottsie writes: In an effort to close security gaps that have resulted in multiple security breaches of government servers, the Obama administration on Tuesday introduced a proposal to require all publicly accessible federal websites to use the HTTPS encryption standard. "The majority of federal websites use HTTP as the as primary protocol to communicate over the public Internet," reads the proposal on the website of the U.S. Chief Information Officer. "Unencrypted HTTP connections create a privacy vulnerability and expose potentially sensitive information about users of unencrypted Federal websites and services."
United States

White House Office of Administration Not Subject to FOIA, Says White House 334

Posted by timothy
from the well-they-certainly-are-transparent dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this story at USA Today: The White House is removing a federal regulation that subjects its Office of Administration to the Freedom of Information Act, making official a policy under Presidents Bush and Obama to reject requests for records to that office. The White House said the cleanup of FOIA regulations is consistent with court rulings that hold that the office is not subject to the transparency law.
Robotics

SXSW: Do Androids Dream of Being You? 80

Posted by samzenpus
from the more-you-than-you dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes In 2010, Dr. Martine Rothblatt (founder of United Theraputics and Sirius Radio) decided to build a robotic clone of her partner, named Bina. In theory, this so-called "mindclone" (dubbed Bina48) can successfully mimic the flesh-and-blood Bina's speech and decision-making, thanks to a dataset (called a "mindfile") that contains all sorts of information about her mannerisms, beliefs, recollections, values, and experiences. But is software really capable of replicating a person's mind? At South by Southwest this year, Rothblatt is defending the idea of a "mindfile" and clones as a concept that not only works, but already has a "base" thanks to individuals' social networks, email, and the like. While people may have difficulty embracing something engineered to replicate their behavior, Rothblatt suggested younger generations will embrace the robots: "I think younger people will say 'My mindclone is me, too.'" Is her idea unfeasible, or is she onto something? Video from Bloomberg suggests that Bina48 still has some kinks to work out before it can pass for human.
Microsoft

Microsoft Has Received 1 Million Pieces of Feedback For Windows 10 236

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-do-you-really-think dept.
jones_supa writes Microsoft's Windows Insider lead, Gabe Aul, has announced that the company has received one million pieces of feedback through the Windows 10 Technical Preview Feedback app. The app opens right from the Start Menu and it has been critical to the operating system's development allowing testers to send details to Microsoft about what they think of Windows, problems they have been facing, and if there are any improvements they would like to see. The app has been part of both desktop and phone flavors of the OS. Microsoft seems to have made a real effort lately to listen to consumer feedback and has been opening up avenues to discuss new features for some time. Have you sent feedback through the app?
United States

How To Execute People In the 21st Century 1080

Posted by samzenpus
from the end-of-the-road dept.
HughPickens.com writes Matt Ford writes in The Atlantic that thanks to a European Union embargo on the export of key drugs, and the refusal of major pharmaceutical companies to sell them the nation's predominant method of execution is increasingly hard to perform. With lethal injection's future uncertain, some states are turning to previously discarded methods. The Utah legislature just approved a bill to reintroduce firing squads for executions, Alabama's House of Representatives voted to authorize the electric chair if new drugs couldn't be found, and after last years botched injection, Oklahoma legislators are mulling the gas chamber.

The driving force behind the creation and abandonment of execution methods is the constant search for a humane means of taking a human life. Arizona, for example, abandoned hangings after a noose accidentally decapitated a condemned woman in 1930. Execution is also prone to problems as witnesses routinely report that, when the switch is thrown, the condemned prisoner "cringes," "leaps," and "fights the straps with amazing strength." The hands turn red, then white, and the cords of the neck stand out like steel bands. The prisoner's limbs, fingers, toes, and face are severely contorted. The force of the electrical current is so powerful that the prisoner's eyeballs sometimes pop out and "rest on [his] cheeks." The physical effects of the deadly hydrogen cyanide in the gas chamber are coma, seizures and cardiac arrest but the time lag has previously proved a problem. According to Ford one reason lethal injection enjoyed such tremendous popularity was that it strongly resembled a medical procedure, thereby projecting our preconceived notions about modern medicine—its competence, its efficacy, and its reliability—onto the capital-punishment system. "As states revert to earlier methods of execution—techniques once abandoned as backward and flawed—they run the risk that the death penalty itself will be seen in the same terms."
United States

FAA Says Ad-Bearing YouTube Drone Videos Constitute "Commercial Use" 239

Posted by timothy
from the biggest-portion-is-the-lion's-share dept.
schwit1 writes If you fly a drone and post footage on YouTube, you could end up with a letter from the Federal Aviation Administration. Earlier this week, the agency sent a legal notice to Jayson Hanes, a Tampa-based drone hobbyist who has been posting drone-shot videos online for roughly the last year. The FAA said that, because there are ads on YouTube, Hanes's flights constituted a commercial use of the technology subject to stricter regulations and enforcement action from the agency. It said that if he did not stop flying 'commercially,' he could be subject to fines or sanctions.
Science

Ask Slashdot: Why Does Science Appear To Be Getting Things Increasingly Wrong? 320

Posted by Soulskill
from the tougher-questions-tougher-answers dept.
azaris writes: Recent revelations of heavily policy-driven or even falsified science have raised concern in the general public, but especially in the scientific community itself. It's not purely a question of political or commercial interference either (as is often claimed when it comes to e.g. climate research) — scientists themselves are increasingly incentivized to game the system for improved career prospects, more funding, or simply because they perceive everyone else to do it, too. Even discounting outright fraud or manipulation of data, the widespread use of methodologies known to be invalid plagues many fields and is leading to an increasing inability to reproduce recent findings (the so-called crisis of reproducibility) that puts the very basis of our reliance on scientific research results at risk. Of course, one could claim that science is by nature self-correcting, but the problem appears to be getting worse before it gets better.

Is it time for more scientists to speak out openly about raising the level of transparency and honesty in their field?

Simplicity does not precede complexity, but follows it.

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