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Submission + - A Texas Cell Phone Bill Would Bar Warrantless Collection of Location Data (

pigrabbitbear writes: "The Supreme Court may have approved the warrantless wiretapping of American citizens for just about forever, but the good old state of Texas isn't going to take that lying down. Texas lawmakers don't believe that cell phone location data is fair game for law enforcement, and a couple identical bills filed in Texas's House and Senate would provide sweeping protections for private cell users."

Submission + - The Obama Administration Will Not Rule Out Using Drone Strikes on American Soil (

pigrabbitbear writes: "Yesterday the FBI got all kinds of worked up about a drone sighting near JFK, even if it was careful to avoid the use of that rather-loaded noun. But while rising civilian drone use is becoming a rather convoluted legal topic, it's clear that the government has no problems using its favorite aerial surveillance technology with little legal oversight.

Now, a big question raised during the Christopher Dorner manhunt was whether or not a lethal drone strike on a US citizen on US soil would be legal. Attorney General Eric Holder has just commented on that matter, and while it would allegedly require war-like circumstances, he certainly didn't rule it out."

The Military

Submission + - America Won't Float Its Giant Terrifying Spy Blimp Over Afghanistan After All (

pigrabbitbear writes: "Apologies Afghanistan, it appears that you will not have the pleasure of a 100-meter spy blimp floating over you, observing in detail the minutia of your citizens’ daily lives. Too bad.

Inside Defense reports that the Army’s Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) has been terminated for cost and schedule-related reasons:

The reason likely has to do with the program being behind schedule and over budget ... LEMV's fate — particularly its intended deployment to Afghanistan — has been in question since earlier last year. The window to send the airship to the battlefield is closing as U.S. troops prepare for a withdrawal in 2014. The airship was once scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan in December 2011.

And now it’s been deflated. Just after it had logged its first successful test-float, too."


Submission + - Ten Radically Futuristic Ideas in Obama's State of the Union Address (

pigrabbitbear writes: "Obama's first State of the Union Address since his reelection was largely and predictably dedicated to nearsighted deficit talk and weary calls to overcome Congressional dysfunction. But amidst the boilerplate—and the comparatively impassioned calls for action on gun control and, to a lesser extent, climate change—Obama snuck in some radical, forward-looking ideas. Some are downright utopian. SOTUs are notorious for being lofty wish-lists, so consider these proposals as Obama's wildest political fantasies.

Here's how the president wants us to win the future this time:

1. Transform Declining Towns into 3D Printing Hubs

2. Spend Money on Science Like We're in a Space Race

3. Use Oil and Gas Money to Fund Cleantech Research

4. Amp Up Wind Power

5. Go All-In On Solar

6. Build High Speed Rail to Attract Foreign Investment

7. Get Self-Healing Power Grids

8. Acheive Universal Preschool

9. Turn High Schools Into High Tech Incubators

10. Peg the Minimum Wage to the Cost of Living

Of course, Obama had plenty of backwards and incoherent ideas, too—ramping up oil drilling while trying to fight climate change, signing a cyber-security executive order that somehow promotes both "information-sharing" and privacy, and referring to his "transparent" war on terror without mentioning drones, for instance. But this is a difficult time for the U.S. and for Washington, and even as he pointed out huge challenges, Obama did his job as President tonight, pointing at America's opportunities, and the kind of changes that, you know, you want to believe in."


Submission + - An American-Made iPhone Won't Happen Now, Or Ever (

pigrabbitbear writes: "A hot iPhone rumor made its way around the Internet on Thursday. It wasn’t an Apple rumor, though. It was a Foxconn rumor. And it wasn’t about a worker riot or suicide pacts, it was a rumor that a new Foxconn plant in the U.S. would lead to an American-made iPhone.

According to a Digitimes report, Foxconn is planning on opening up plants in the United States. Foxconn makes a lot of stuff, but as it’s one of Apple primary manufacturing partners, lots of people jumped to the salacious conclusion that a U.S.-based Foxconn factory could finally produce an American-made iPhone.

Foxconn denied the Digitimes report today. A company spokeswoman told CNET that the company actually “already has multiple facilities based in the U.S.” but that “there are no current plans to expand our operations there at this time.” Foxconn doesn’t make iPhones in the existing factories, and they don’t plan to."


Submission + - Why Can't We Vote on Our iPhones Yet? (

pigrabbitbear writes: "As America hunkers down for yet another presidential election, it’s becoming increasingly clear that millions of citizens are going run into some serious problems at the polls. Conditions at voting stations in Florida are already being compared to a third world country, as early voters waited in line for up to nine hours to cast their ballot — only to be given absentee ballots and told to come back later. In Ohio, the state that will likely decide it all, legal wrangling over the state’s early voting procedures continued up until Friday, when a judge finally decided that polls would be open for in-person voting over the weekend. They had lines there, too. Shouldn't we just be able to vote on our smartphones?

Cyber security experts don't think so. “Internet voting sounds like it would be so convenient and such a modern application of technology, but when we get down into the details about what it would take for Internet voting to do well, it turns out to be an incredibly difficult security problem,” J. Alex Halderman, an assistant professor of computer science at the University of Michigan, told Live Science. Halderman added that the most secure networks in the world fall victim to hacker attacks all the time. And what better target for a catastrophic data breach than an election? “So protecting against that kind of threat if you’re doing Internet voting is going be very hard, especially if Google and the Pentagon can’t get this right,” Halderman said."

United States

Submission + - Why Isn't Election Day a National Holiday? ( 4

pigrabbitbear writes: "Voting is a pain in the ass. First of all, there are lines, unpredictable lines that leave some out in the November cold while they’re waiting to do their civic duty. Then, with all of these new voter ID laws popping up, there’s all kinds of red tape. “Do I need to bring my Social Security card?” you might ask yourself. “How about my passport, a copy of my most recent utility bill, an expired library card? What’s it take to prove you’re American these days?” And inevitably, you’re going to miss some work since Election Day is always a Tuesday. For salaried employees, this is probably just annoying — or a relief depending on how much you like your job. But for hourly employees, this means lost wages. So in a way, you have to pay to vote. No wonder voter turnout is so low."
The Military

Submission + - Meet Jim Inhofe, The Bigoted Senator That Formed the U.S. Senate's Drone Caucus (

pigrabbitbear writes: "For the last three years, the House Unmanned Systems Caucus has fought for the interests of drone manufacturers in the House of Representatives. “The Congressional Unmanned Systems Caucus’ goal is to educate members of Congress on every facet of this industry,” reads their Chairmen’s message. “We are this industry’s voice on Capitol Hill, and will work closely with industry to ensure we continue to expand this sector through efficient government regulation and oversight.” And now, the House has a sister drone caucus in the Senate."

Submission + - To Protect Drones, Obama Blocked a Chinese Company From Buying a Windfarm (

pigrabbitbear writes: "A funny thing happened in Oregon last week. For the first time in 22 years, the president put a stop to a foreign acquisition of a business in the United States with an executive order. In doing so, Obama stopped a Chinese company from owning and operating a windfarm in Oregon that happens to be within spitting distance of Naval Weapons Systems Training Facility, a top secret naval base used to test drones and train for electronic warfare."

Submission + - How Big Pharma Hooked America on Legal Heroin (

pigrabbitbear writes: "The active ingredient in OxyContin, oxycodone, isn’t a new compound. It was originally synthesized in Germany in 1916. The patent on the medication had expired well before Purdue Pharma, a Stamford, Connecticut-based pharmaceutical company and the industry leader in pain medication, released it under the brand name in 1996. The genius of Purdue’s continued foray into pain-management medication – they had already produced versions of hydromorphone, oxycodone, fentanyl, codeine, and hydrocodone – was twofold. They not only created a drug from an already readily available compound, but they were able to essentially re-patent the active ingredient by introducing a time-release element. Prior to the 1990s, strong opioid medications were not routinely given for miscellaneous or chronic, moderately painful conditions; the strongest classes of drugs were often reserved for the dying. But Purdue parlayed their time-release system not only into the patent for OxyContin. They also went on a PR blitz, claiming their drug was unique because of the time-release element and implied that it was so difficult to abuse that the risk of addiction was “under 1%.”"
United States

Submission + - The Awful Film That's Ignited Anti-American Fury in the Middle East ( 1

pigrabbitbear writes: "Yesterday a chanting crowd of approximately 2,000 Egyptians stormed the walls of the American embassy in Cairo, while another mob in Benghazi stormed the U.S. consulate there. In Egypt, the mob scaled the embassy and tore the U.S. flag to pieces while raising a black Islamic flag of their own. In Benghazi, RPGs were fired at the consulate which was also set to flames. Twenty gunmen fired rounds and rockets, one of which killed Chris Stevens, the American ambassador to Libya who’s spent the last five years serving there. Three other Americans were also killed on the consulate grounds in Benghazi last night.

Amateurish films funded by religious fundamentalists aren’t uncommon. But translate them into the language of other religious fundamentalists, and you can spark a hell-storm of murderous fury."


Submission + - Why Your Data Is Safer With Facebook Than Washington (Interview) (

pigrabbitbear writes: "Henry Cittone is the managing partner of Cittone & Chinta LLP, a firm that has worked in intellectual property for the past 10 years. The firm handles copyright, trademark, and patent litigation, and is regularly called upon to opine on DMCA compliance and data privacy issues. He was nice enough to chat with Motherboard about CISPA hype and what’s likely to happen when Washington decides to regulate the web."
United States

Submission + - The U.S.'s Insane Attempt to Build a Harbor with a Two Megaton Nuclear Bomb

pigrabbitbear writes: Its destructive force aside, the atomic bomb represented the pinnacle of American scientific development in the mid-20th century. And even as scientists like J. Robert Oppenheimer seemed rather horrified at what they’d unleashed, others became more consumed by the scientific possibilities of the atomic age. The most famous proponent of nuclear was Edward Teller, the father of the hydrogen bomb and one of the inspirations for Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove.

As the world’s superpowers raced towards mutually-assured destruction, Teller became more enthusiastic about finding potential non-weapon uses for the phenomenal power of splitting or fusing the atom. Teller liked nuclear energy; his final paper, in 2006, would detail how to build an underground thorium reactor. But as the Cold War heated up, Teller became obsessed with using actual atomic bombs for civil engineering. Thanks to that type of numbers-driven thinking — if a bomb is as powerful as a million tons of TNT, why not use it to reshape the Panama Canal? — as well as Teller’s incessant prodding, the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) created Project Chariot. The mission: to create a new port in northwestern Alaska using a series of underwater nuclear explosions.
The Almighty Buck

Submission + - This is What Wall Street's Terrifying Robot Invasion Looks Like (

pigrabbitbear writes: "Given the the endless mind-whirling acronyms, derivatives and structures of the financial markets, we’re rarely served with a visualization that so elegantly illustrates the arrival of Wall Street’s latest innovation. This is what High Frequency Trading — the official monicker of Wall Street’s robot army — looks like, when specially programmed computers make massive bets at lightning speed. Created by Nanex, the GIF charts the rise of HFT trading volumes across all US stock exchanges between 2007 and 2012. The initial murmur, the brewing storm, the final detonation: Not just unsettling, it’s terrifying."

Submission + - The NSA Is Not Spying on You, Claims NSA Official at DefCon (

pigrabbitbear writes: "Nobody really knows what the National Security Agency is up to on a day-to-day level. The massive intelligence outfit is responsible for monitoring foreign communication operates in such secrecy that nobody really knows how big its operation in Fort Meade, Maryland is or what they’re doing inside. But what they don’t do, says NSA chief General Keith Alexander, is spy on Americans. When asked whether the NSA keeps a file on every American at last week’s DefCon cybersecurity conference, Alexander said unequivocally: “No, we don’t. Absolutely no. And anybody who would tell you that we’re keeping files or dossiers on the American people knows that’s not true.”

But there’s a catch. “We may, incidentally, in targeting a bad guy, hit on somebody from a good guy,” Alexander continued. “We have requirements from the FISA court and the attorney general to minimize that, which means nobody else can see it unless there’s a crime that’s been committed And so from my perspective, the people who would say that we’re [targeting Americans] should know better.”"

Without life, Biology itself would be impossible.