a whoabot writes "The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Obama administration has stepped in to defend AT&T in the case over their participation in the warrantless wiretapping program started by Bush. The Obama administration argues that that continuation of the case will lead to the disclosure of important 'state secrets.' The Electronic Frontier Foundation has described the action as an 'embrace' of the Bush policy." Update: 04/07 15:18 GMT by T : Glenn Greenwald of Salon has up an analysis of this move, including excerpts from the actual brief filed. Excerpt: "This brief and this case are exclusively the Obama DOJ's, and the ample time that elapsed — almost three full months — makes clear that it was fully considered by Obama officials."
theodp writes "Steve Jobs wasn't around to convince you that you should be impressed, but on Wednesday Apple unveiled a 4GB Shuffle that's half the size of its predecessor. Holding up to 1,000 songs, the pre-shrunk Shuffle sports a 10-hour battery life and also adds a new VoiceOver feature that can recite song titles, artists, and playlist names, as well as provide status information. Even without a show from Steve, the new player is generally leaving folks dazzled, although there are some complaints." Update: 3/14 at 14:10 by SS: Reader Mike points out some disturbing news that the new Shuffle contains DRM which, according to a review at iLounge, prevents it from fully working with any headphones that don't have an Apple "authentication chip."
chareverie writes "The Prime Minister of the UK is being urged to impose high taxes on violent video games in an effort to reduce the number of knife-related crime. The request comes from Richard Taylor, who argues that young people 'feel that the law has no control over them. They just feel that they can go on the streets and do whatever they like.' He doesn't have a definitive number on how much to tax on the offensive video games, but says that they should be 'very high.' Rap music is also voiced to be a concern due to the alleged negativity and language. Taylor's son, Damilola Taylor, was killed in November 2000 at the age of 10 by knife stabbing."
Crazy Taco writes "Tom's Hardware reports on newly discovered screenshots that reveal Microsoft is planning to release their newest version of Windows in multiple confusing versions ... again. The information comes from the latest version of the Windows 7 beta, build 7025 (the public beta is build 7000), and shows a screen during installation that asks the user which version of the OS he or she would like to install. Who's up for guessing what the difference is between Windows 7 'Starter' and Windows 7 'Home Basic?'"
J ROC writes "Phone numbers on Canada's Do-Not-Call registry have apparently been sold to off-shore telemarketers, scam artists, and other ne'er-do-wells, according to reports in the Globe & Mail and CBC News. The CRTC, which runs the registry, sells lists of phone numbers online for a small fee; making it available to anybody who might be interested in buying it, including con artists. I guess this explains why, ever since I added my number to the registry, I've been getting phone calls from 000-000-0000 trying to interest me in some free vacation scam. Canada's Privacy Commissioner is currently investigating."
palegray.net is one of many who writes "President Obama has publicly sided with the Bush administration on the question of whether the President should be allowed to establish warrantless wiretapping programs designed to monitor US citizens. The President has asked a federal judge to stay a ruling that would allow key evidence into the domestic spying case against the government. 'Thursday's filing by the Obama administration marked the first time it officially lodged a court document in the lawsuit asking the courts to rule on the constitutionality of the Bush administration's warrantless-eavesdropping program.'" jamie points out that Obama's views and opinions were made clear through his Senate vote and numerous public statements, but many others see this as a disappointing start to an administration promising transparency and openness.
JCWDenton writes "Former National Security Agency analyst Russell Tice, who helped expose the NSA's warrantless wiretapping in December 2005, has now come forward with even more startling allegations. Tice told MSNBC's Keith Olbermann on Wednesday that the programs that spied on Americans were not only much broader than previously acknowledged but specifically targeted journalists."
An anonymous readerwrites "On Friday the wonderfully customer centric AirTran decided to remove a family of 9 US born Muslims after a comment between two family members regarding how close to the Jet engine they had been seated. The wonderful part is that after the FBI cleared the family 2 hours later, AirTran refused to fly the family, and refused to rebook them on their way from Washington to Orlando, Florida. The family purchased additional tickets on US Airways later that day, after AirTran requested that the irate father be escorted from their booking podiums by security. This whole story highlights the pathetic customer service we are getting from the Airlines these days — they actually treat us like criminals first and ask questions later. Just don't get me started on Delta." It's nice to see that stupidity still knows no bounds.
gplus writes "December 5th was the 75th anniversary of the end of alcohol prohibition in the US. The Wall Street Journal has an op-ed which argues that now may be the time to discuss our war on drugs and the drug prohibition currently in place. The article argues that the harm caused by the banned substance must be balanced against the harms caused by the prohibition. As to why Americans in 1933 finally voted to end prohibition, while we barely even discuss it: 'Most Americans in 1933 could recall a time before prohibition, which tempered their fears. But few Americans now can recall the decades when the illicit drugs of today were sold and consumed legally. If they could, a post-prohibition future might prove less alarming.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Warner Music is pitching the idea of a 'music tax' for various top universities. The idea is that students would be free to file share, but the university needs to monitor and track everything, create a pool of money, hand it over to a recording industry entity that promises to distribute the proceeds fairly. In exchange, the university gets a 'covenant not to sue' from the music labels. It's not a full license, just a basic promise that they won't sue. It's also claimed that this is 'voluntary' but the Warner Music guy says that they need to include all universities and all ISPs to really make it work. It's basically a music tax, where the recording industry gets to sit back and collect money."
thepacketmaster writes "A previous Slashdot article I posted mentioned the possibility of Stephen Hawking coming to Canada. The Toronto Star now reports that he has accepted the position. Hawking will hold the title of distinguished research chair at the prestigious Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics."
Ponca City, We love you writes "Astronauts flying aboard space shuttle Endeavour are delivering a device to the International Space Station that may leave you wondering if NASA is taking recycling too far. Among the ship's cargo is a water regeneration system that distills, filters, ionizes, and oxidizes wastewater — including urine — into fresh water for drinking or, as one astronaut puts it, 'will make yesterday's coffee into today's coffee.' The US space agency spent $250M for the water recycling equipment but with the space shuttles due to retire in two years, NASA needed to make sure the station crew would have a good supply of fresh water. The Environmental Control and Life Support Systems uses a purification process called vapor compression distillation: urine is boiled until the water in it turns to steam. In space, there's an additional challenge: steam doesn't rise, so the entire distillation system is spun to create artificial gravity to separate the steam from the brine. The water has been thoroughly tested on Earth, including blind taste tests that pitted recycled urine with similarly treated tap water. 'Some people may think it's downright disgusting, but if it's done correctly, you process water that's purer than what you drink here on Earth,' said Endeavour astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper."
TechDirt is reporting on a disappointing development out of Canada. An Ontario transportation board has fined PickupPal, a Web-based service for arranging carpools, because a local bus company complained of the competition. (TechCrunch apparently first broke the story.) "[The transportation board has] established a bunch of draconian rules that any user in Ontario must follow if it uses the service — including no crossing of municipal boundaries — meaning the service is only good within any particular city's limits. It's better than being shut down completely, and the service can still operate elsewhere around the world, but this is yet another case where we see regulations, that are supposedly put in place to improve things for consumers, do the exact opposite."
svnt writes "Janella Spears wiped out her husband's retirement account, remortgaged their paid-for house, and took out a lien against the family car in an attempt to cash in on the deal. A undercover officer involved with the investigation called it the worst example of the scam he's ever seen. Thoughtfully, Spears has gone public with her story as a warning to others not to fall victim."