Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
For the out-of-band Slashdot experience (mostly headlines), follow us on Twitter, or Facebook. ×
Government

Editor of 'Reason' Discusses Federal Subpoena To Unmask Commenters 144 144

mi points out an article from Nick Gillespie, editor of libertarian website Reason, who was recently asked by the federal government to provide identifying information on anonymous commenters from one of the site's blog posts. Not only was Reason issued a subpoena for the commenters's identities, but they were also placed under a gag order, preventing them from even mentioning it to somebody who wasn't their lawyer. Gillespie says the comments in question were "hyperbolic, in questionable taste–and fully within the norms of Internet commentary." He continues: To the extent that the feds actually thought these were serious plans to do real harm, why the hell would they respond with a slow-moving subpoena whose deadline was days away? By spending five minutes doing the laziest, George Jetson-style online "research" (read: Google and site searches), they would have found publicly available info on some of the commenters. I'm talking things like websites and Google+ pages. One of the commenters had literally posted thousands of comments at Reason.com, from which it is clear that he (assuming it is a he) is not exactly a threat to anyone other than common decency."
The Courts

Supreme Court Upholds Key Obamacare Subsidies 591 591

HughPickens.com writes: Retuers reports that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled 6 — 3 in favor of the nationwide availability of tax subsidies that are crucial to the implementation of President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law, handing a major victory to the president. It marked the second time in three years that the high court ruled against a major challenge to the law brought by conservatives seeking to gut it.

"Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them," wrote Chief Justice Roberts in the majority opinion (PDF). He added that nationwide availability of the credits is required to "avoid the type of calamitous result that Congress plainly meant to avoid." The ruling will come as a major relief to Obama as he seeks to ensure that his legacy legislative achievement is implemented effectively and survives political and legal attacks before he leaves office in early 2017. Justice Antonin Scalia took the relatively rare step of reading a summary of his dissenting opinion from the bench. "We really should start calling the law SCOTUScare," said Scalia referencing the court's earlier decision upholding the constitutionality of the law.
Power

The Presidential Candidate With a Plan To Run the US On 100% Clean Energy 308 308

merbs writes: Thus far, no other candidate has said they're going to make climate change their top priority. Martin O'Malley has not only done that, but he has outlined a plan that would enact emissions reductions in line with what scientists say is necessary to slow global climate change—worldwide emissions reductions of 40-70 percent by 2050. He's the only candidate to do that, too. His plan would phase out fossil-fueled power plants altogether, by midcentury.
Science

General Mills To Drop Artificial Ingredients In Cereal 163 163

schwit1 writes: General Mills announced Monday that it will be removing artificial colors and flavoring from its cereal products over the next two to three years. The company said that Trix and Reese's Puffs will be some of the first cereals to undergo the changes adding that cereals like Lucky Charms that have marshmallows may take longer to reformulate. They say 90 percent of their cereals will have no artificial ingredients by the end of 2016. "We've continued to listen to consumers who want to see more recognizable and familiar ingredients on the labels and challenged ourselves to remove barriers that prevent adults and children from enjoying our cereals," said Jim Murphy, president of General Mills cereal division, in a statement.
Government

Swedish Investigators Attempt Assange Interview; Wikileaks Makes Major Release 153 153

cold fjord writes: It seems Julian Assange rates his own section (The Assange Matter) on a Swedish government website related to the investigation. It contains some FAQs on points that seem to keep coming up in Slashdot discussions. The website isn't completely up to date at the moment since it doesn't discuss the recent attempt by Swedish investigators to interview Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Unfortunately that attempt failed since the government of Ecuador didn't give permission to the Swedish delegation to enter their embassy. That is quite odd given the years of demands for this. Concurrent with this, Wikileaks has started releasing what is reported to be more than 500,000 leaked Saudi Arabian diplomatic documents that are sure to stir up some controversies. Most are in Arabic so it may take some time for their contents to filter out.
Transportation

Allstate Patents Physiological Data Collection 142 142

TigerPlish writes: Allstate has been granted patent no. US 20140080100 A1 for a "driving-behavior database that it said might be useful for health insurers, lenders, credit-rating agencies, marketers and potential employers." The program is just in the patent stage for now, but the company says: "the invention has the potential to evaluate drivers' physiological data, including heart rate, blood pressure and electrocardiogram signals, which could be recorded from steering wheel sensors." Imagine a world where you are denied employment or credit based on the information obtained from your car and sold by your insurer. What could possibly go wrong?
Earth

Study: Sixth Extinction Event Is Underway 294 294

garyisabusyguy writes: We've heard proposals in the past that a new extinction event is underway. However, a new study takes into consideration many other factors that may be tilting the data, and still comes to the inevitable conclusion that we have triggered a large die-off, and that we may become victims of it as well.

From the paper's abstract: "Even under our assumptions, which would tend to minimize evidence of an incipient mass extinction, the average rate of vertebrate species loss over the last century is up to 114 times higher than the background rate. Under the 2 E/MSY background rate, the number of species that have gone extinct in the last century would have taken, depending on the vertebrate taxon, between 800 and 10,000 years to disappear. These estimates reveal an exceptionally rapid loss of biodiversity over the last few centuries, indicating that a sixth mass extinction is already under way."

The authors suggest that rapid work to avert the worst of the die-off is still possible. The question may really be whether we can get past paid trolls, FUD, and finger pointing in order to act wisely in a timely manner.
Programming

Ask Slashdot: What's the Harm In a Default Setting For Div By Zero? 1066 1066

New submitter CodeInspired writes: After 20 years of programming, I've decided I'm tired of checking for div by zero. Would there be any serious harm in allowing a system wide setting that said div by zero simply equals zero? Maybe it exists already, not sure. But I run into it all the time in every language I've worked with. Does anyone want their div by zero errors to result in anything other than zero?
Microsoft

Is Microsoft's .NET Ecosystem On the Decline? 250 250

Nerval's Lobster writes: In a posting that recently attracted some buzz online, .NET developer Justin Angel (a former program manager for Silverlight) argued that the .NET ecosystem is headed for collapse—and that could take interest in C# along with it. "Sure, you'll always be able to find a job working in C# (like you would with COBOL), but you'll miss out on customer reach and risk falling behind the technology curve," he wrote. But is C# really on the decline? According to Dice's data, the popularity of C# has risen over the past several years; it ranks No. 26 on Dice's ranking of most-searched terms. But Angel claims he pulled data from Indeed.com that shows job trends for C# on the decline. Data from the TIOBE developer interest index mirrors that trend, he said, with "C# developer interest down approximately 60% down back to 2006-2008 levels." Is the .NET ecosystem really headed for long-term implosion, thanks in large part to developers devoting their energies to other platforms such as iOS and Android?
Communications

Should Edward Snowden Trust Apple To Do the Right Thing? 196 196

Nicola Hahn writes: As American lawmakers run a victory lap after passing the USA Freedom Act of 2015, Edward Snowden has published an op-ed piece which congratulates Washington on its "historic" reform. He also identifies Apple Inc. as a champion of user privacy. Snowden states: "Basic technical safeguards such as encryption — once considered esoteric and unnecessary — are now enabled by default in the products of pioneering companies like Apple, ensuring that even if your phone is stolen, your private life remains private." This sort of talking point encourages the perception that Apple has sided with users in the battle against mass surveillance. But there are those who question Snowden's public endorsement of high-tech monoliths. Given their behavior in the past is it wise to assume that corporate interests have turned over a new leaf and won't secretly collaborate with government spies?
Government

Julian Assange To Be Interviewed In London After All 262 262

mpawlo writes: The Swedish Director of Public Prosecution Ms Marianne Ny has submitted a request for legal assistance to the English authorities and a request to Ecuadorian authorities regarding permission to interview Julian Assange at Ecuador's embassy in London during June-July 2015. Back in 2010, a warrant was issued in Stockholm, Sweden for WikiLeaks founder and spokesman Julian Assange. Ever since, Assange has found refugee at the embassy of Ecuador in London.
China

Glen Greenwald: Don't Trust Anonymous Anti-Snowden Claims 222 222

Glen Greenwald casts a scathing look at the claims (such as by the Sunday Times) that Edward Snowden's leaked information had been cracked by Russian and Chinese spy agencies. Greenwald compares Snowden to some other public figures against whom underhanded tactics were employed by the U.S. government. A slice: There’s an anonymously made claim that Russia and China “cracked the top-secret cache of files” from Snowden’s, but there is literally zero evidence for that claim. These hidden officials also claim that American and British agents were unmasked and had to be rescued, but not a single one is identified. There is speculation that Russia and China learned things from obtaining the Snowden files, but how could these officials possibly know that, particularly since other government officials are constantly accusing both countries of successfully hacking sensitive government databases?
China

Report: Russia and China Crack Encrypted Snowden Files 546 546

New submitter garyisabusyguy writes with word that, according to London's Sunday Times, "Russia and China have cracked the top-secret cache of files stolen by the fugitive US whistleblower Edward Snowden, forcing MI6 to pull agents out of live operations in hostile countries, according to senior officials in Downing Street, the Home Office and the security services," and suggests this non-paywalled Reuters version, too. "MI6 has decided that it is too dangerous to operate in Russia or China," writes the submitter. "This removes intelligence capabilities that have existed throughout the Cold War, and which may have helped to prevent a 'hot' nuclear war. Have the actions of Snowden, and, apparently, the use of weak encryption, made the world less safe?"
Python

How Much Python Do You Need To Know To Be Useful? 263 263

Nerval's Lobster writes: Since Python is a general-purpose language, it finds its way into a whole lot of different uses and industries. That means the industry in which you work has a way of determining what you actually need to know in terms of the language, as developer Jeff Cogswell explains in a new Dice piece. For example, if you're hired to write apps that interact with operating systems and monitor devices, you might not need to know how to use the Python modules for scientific and numerical programming. In a similar fashion, if you're hired to write Python code that interacts with a MySQL database, then you won't need to master how it works with CouchDB. The question is, how much do you need to know about Python's basics? Cogswell suggests there are three basic levels to learning Python: Learn the core language itself, such as the syntax and basic types (and the difference between Python 2 and Python 3); learn the commonly used modules, and familiarize yourself with other modules; learn the bigger picture of software development with Python, such as including Python in a build process, using the pip package manager, and so on. But is that enough?
Earth

Why Our Brains Can't Process the Gravest Threats To Humanity 637 637

merbs writes: Our brains are unfathomably complex, powerful organs that grant us motor skills, logic, and abstract thought. Brains have bequeathed unto we humans just about every cognitive advantage, it seems, except for one little omission: the ability to adequately process the need for the whole species' long-term survival. They're miracle workers for the short-term survival of individuals, but the scientific evidence suggests that the human brain flails when it comes to navigating wide-lens, slowly-unfurling crises like climate change.

Real computer scientists don't program in assembler. They don't write in anything less portable than a number two pencil.

Working...