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Submission + - Snowden Leaks Cost Pulitzer Winning Journalist W.H. Security Clearance, Job (businessinsider.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Ashkan Soltani was recently detailed to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy from a position at the the Federal Trade Commission. Former Google executive and White House chief technology officer Megan Smith extended a warm welcome. His portfolio at the White House included privacy issues, data ethics, and outreach to the technical community, among others. His drug test was complete, and the FBI investigation for his clearance was under way, when the wheels came off. His clearance was denied. Ashkan's move to the White House surprised some when it was announced due to his history. Ashkan had worked at the Washington Post where he helped analyze and safeguard the Snowden NSA document dump. A technologist at the ACLU noted that Ashkan had published many stories that probably irritated US intelligence officials. Government organizations have previously warned government employees to not access classified information made available in the media. Nobody is directly stating this is the reason, but the subtexts seem clear enough. Ashkan intends to leave Washington and head back to the west coast.

Submission + - A Bot That Drives Robocallers Insane

Trailrunner7 writes: Robocalls are among the more annoying modern inventions, and consumers and businesses have tried just about every strategy for defeating them over the years, with little success. But one man has come up with a bot of his own that sends robocallers into a maddening hall of mirrors designed to frustrate them into surrender.

The bot is called the Jolly Roger Telephone Company, and it’s the work of Roger Anderson, a veteran of the phone industry himself who had grown tired of the repeated harassment from telemarketers and robocallers. Anderson started out by building a system that sat in front of his home landlines and would tell human callers to press a key to ring through to his actual phone line; robocallers were routed directly to an answering system. He would then white-list the numbers of humans who got through.

Sometimes the Jolly Roger bot will press buttons to be transferred to a human agent and other times it will just talk back if a human is on the other end of the line to begin with.

Submission + - UK wants authority to serve warrants in U.S. (usatoday.com)

schwit1 writes: British and U.S. officials have been negotiating a plan that could allow British authorities to directly serve wiretap orders on U.S. communications companies in criminal and national security inquiries, U.S. officials confirmed Thursday.

The talks are aimed at allowing British authorities access to a range of data, from interceptions of live communications to archived emails involving British suspects, according to the officials, who are not authorized to comment publicly.

Under the proposed plan, British authorities would not have access to records of U.S. citizens if they emerged in the British investigations.

Congressional approval would be required of any deal negotiated by the two countries.

Submission + - Battle brewing over the right to record 4k and 8k broadcasts in Japan (itmedia.co.jp)

AmiMoJo writes: Japanese broadcasters have indicated that 4k and 8k broadcasts may have recording disabled via a "do not copy" flag, which receivers would be expected to obey. Now the Internet Users Association (MIAU) and Shufuren (Housewives Federation) have submitted documentation opposing the ban. The document points out that the ban will only inconvenience the majority of the general audience, while inevitably failing to prevent unauthorized copying by anyone determined to circumvent the protection.

Submission + - Intel Says Chips To Become Slower But More Energy Efficient (thestack.com)

An anonymous reader writes: William Holt, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Intel's Technology and Manufacturing Group, has said at a conference that chips will become slower after industry re-tools for new technologies such as spintronics and tunnelling transistors. "The best pure technology improvements we can make will bring improvements in power consumption but will reduce speed." If true, it's not just the end of Moore's Law, but a rolling back of the progress it made over the last fifty years.

Submission + - K-12 CS Framework Draft: Kids Taught to 'Protect Original Ideas' in Early Grades

theodp writes: Remember that Code.org and ACM-bankrolled K-12 Computer Science Education Framework that Microsoft, Google, Apple, and others were working on? Well, a draft of the framework was made available for review on Feb. 3rd, coincidentally just 3 business days after U.S. President Barack Obama and Microsoft President Brad Smith teamed up to announce the $4+ billion Computer Science for All initiative for the nation's K-12 students. "Computationally literate citizens have the responsibility to learn about, recognize, and address the personal, ethical, social, economic, and cultural contexts in which they operate," explains the section on Fostering an Inclusive Computing Culture, one of seven listed 'Core K-12 CS Practices'. "Participating in an inclusive computing culture encompasses the following: building and collaborating with diverse computational teams, involving diverse users in the design process, considering the implication of design choices on the widest set of end users, accounting for the safety and security of diverse end users, and fostering inclusive identities of computer scientists." Hey, do as they say, not as they do! Also included in the 10-page draft (pdf) is a section on Law and Ethics, which begins: "In early grades, students differentiate between responsible and irresponsible computing behaviors. Students learn that responsible behaviors can help individuals while irresponsible behaviors can hurt individuals. They examine legal and ethical considerations for obtaining and sharing information and apply those behaviors to protect original ideas." Gotta get to 'em while they're young to prevent a recurrence of The Boy Who Could Change the World, right?

Submission + - If You Registered Your Drone with the FAA, Kiss Your Privacy Goodbye (reason.com)

SonicSpike writes: Are you a law-abiding drone owner who registered your unmanned aerial vehicle with the federal government? Congratulations! Total strangers can now find your name, address, and lots of stuff about your fun toy in a public, searchable database!

Late last year, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that virtually everyone who owns a drone (a drone's a drone, no matter how small, it seems) would have to register their flying computers for $5 a pop with the federal government. The penalty for failing to register: civil fines of up to $27,500 and criminal penalties of up to $250,000 and imprisonment for three years.

Reason's Scott Shackford has written about the failure of the FAA to actually convince most people to register their drones.

And thank goodness for that incompetence, since it will offset this latest revelation of incompetence: The 300,000 entries in the federal UAV registry are public, searchable, and downloadable, despite claims by the feds to the contrary, Engadget reports.

Submission + - New Clues to How the Brain Maps Time (quantamagazine.org) 1

An anonymous reader writes: Our brains have an extraordinary ability to monitor time. A driver can judge just how much time is left to run a yellow light; a dancer can keep a beat down to the millisecond. But exactly how the brain tracks time is still a mystery. Researchers have defined the brain areas involved in movement, memory, color vision and other functions, but not the ones that monitor time. Indeed, our neural timekeeper has proved so elusive that most scientists assume this mechanism is distributed throughout the brain, with different regions using different monitors to keep track of time according to their needs.

Over the last few years, a handful of researchers have compiled growing evidence that the same cells that monitor an individual’s location in space also mark the passage of time. This suggests that two brain regions — the hippocampus and the entorhinal cortex, both famous for their role in memory and navigation — can also act as a sort of timer.

Submission + - AMD: It's Time to Open up the GPU (gpuopen.com)

An anonymous reader writes: AMD has called for the opening up of GPUs to developers. Today Nicolas Thibieroz, a senior engineering manager for the company, announced the launch of GPUOpen, its initiative to provide code and documentation to PC developers, embracing open source and collaborative development with the community. He says, "Console games often tap into low-level GPU features that may not be exposed on PC at the same level of functionality, causing different — and usually less efficient — code paths to be implemented on PC instead. Worse, proprietary libraries or tools chains with “black box” APIs prevent developers from accessing the code for maintenance, porting or optimizations purposes. Game development on PC needs to scale to multiple quality levels, including vastly different screen resolutions." And here's how AMD wants to solve this: "Full and flexible access to the source of tools, libraries and effects is a key pillar of the GPUOpen philosophy. Only through open source access are developers able to modify, optimize, fix, port and learn from software. The goal? Encouraging innovation and the development of amazing graphics techniques and optimizations in PC games." They've begun by posting several technical articles to help developers understand and use various tools, and they say more content will arrive soon.

Submission + - Cats may have been domesticated more than once (sciencemag.org)

sciencehabit writes: The rise of cats may have been inevitable. That’s one intriguing interpretation of a new study, which finds that early Chinese farmers may have domesticated wild felines known as leopard cats more than 5000 years ago. If true, this would indicate that cats were domesticated more than once—in China, and 5000 years earlier in the Middle East. It would also suggest that the rise of farming was destined to give rise to the housecat.

Submission + - California's Worst Gas Leak In 40 Years (And Crews Can't Stop It) (wired.com)

schwit1 writes: While world leaders signed the 'historic' agreement signed in Paris to fix the world's "greatest threat," a natural gas storage site in southern California is belching 145,000 pounds per hour of Methane — a greenhouse gas 70 times more potent than carbon dioxide. What is worse, while official proclaim this a "top priority" a fix won't arrive until spring as emergency crews recognize "the leak was far from routine, and the problem was deeper underground."

In just the first month, that's added up to 80,000 tons, or about a quarter of the state's ordinary methane emissions over the same period.

Submission + - Log into most any Linux system by hitting backspace 28 times

mrspoonsi writes: Security researchers have discovered a ludicrously simple way to hack into a number of Linux distributions: Just tap the backspace key 28 times in a row. A team from the Cybersecurity Group at Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV) in Spain found that doing so for builds utilizing the ubiquitous Grub2 bootloader — that's to say just about all of them — immediately bypasses the lock screen, initiates the "Grub rescue shell" and grants the user access to the system for whatever nefarious things they have in mind. The team found that the backspace trick triggers a memory error, which in turn launches the rescue shell.

Comment System has no interest in error correction (Score 2) 245

The Slate article is worth reading. Scandal 1: The lying, conscienceless lab workers and the short (2 and 3 year) prison terms they received for their crimes, compared to those they convicted. Scandal 2: The Massachusetts State Attorney General that knew they were using falsified evidence and covered it up. Scandal 3: Each of the wrongly convicted 30,000 to 60,000 individual prisoners has to hire an attorney to fight for his own release. Which is difficult to do without any sort of income. Scandal 4: The feds have the same problem on the same scale with hair evidence analysis that is based on non-existent science. Scandal 5: Others states have similar issues.

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