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Submission + - Judge tosses Wikimedia's anti-NSA lawsuit because Wikipedia isn't big enough (

An anonymous reader writes: A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Wikimedia Foundation, Amnesty International, and others against the NSA and other U.S. intelligence agencies for their surveillance of internet communications. The judge used some odd reasoning in his ruling to absolve the NSA of any constitutional violations. He said that since the plaintiffs couldn't prove that all upstream internet communications were monitored, they didn't have standing to challenge whatever communications were monitored. This is curious, given that tech companies are known to be under gag orders preventing them from discussing certain types of government data collection. The judge also made a strange argument about Wikipedia's size: "For one thing, plaintiffs insist that Wikipedia's over one trillion annual Internet communications is significant in volume. But plaintiffs provide no context for assessing the significance of this figure. One trillion is plainly a large number, but size is always relative. For example, one trillion dollars are of enormous value, whereas one trillion grains of sand are but a small patch of beach."

Submission + - Campaign to ban development of sexbots (

Earthquake Retrofit writes: Dr Kathleen Richardson, a robot ethicist at De Montfort University in Leicester, wants to raise awareness of the issue and persuade those developing sex robots to rethink how their technology is used. She believes that they reinforce traditional stereotypes of women and the view that a relationship need be nothing more than physical.

Submission + - Pron App locks up phone in Ransomware (

rmdingler writes: A porn app secretly takes control of your device, and then your picture, before demanding a $500 extortion payment.

People who download Adult Player have their Smartphone locked, but what makes this one news is they take control of the camera and snap a photo of you to post with the ransom note. We know what you look like, too!The notice is designed to look like it's from the FBI.

Submission + - Wireless Hacking a Car Now a Reality

aitikin writes: As the two hackers remotely toyed with the air-conditioning, radio, and windshield wipers, I mentally congratulated myself on my courage under pressure. That’s when they cut the transmission.

Immediately my accelerator stopped working. As I frantically pressed the pedal and watched the RPMs climb, the Jeep lost half its speed, then slowed to a crawl. This occurred just as I reached a long overpass, with no shoulder to offer an escape. The experiment had ceased to be fun.

Submission + - Resistance to antibiotics found in isolated Amazonian tribe (

sciencehabit writes: When scientists first made contact with an isolated village of Yanomami hunter-gatherers in the remote mountains of the Amazon jungle of Venezuela in 2009, they marveled at the chance to study the health of people who had never been exposed to Western medicine or diets. But much to their surprise, these Yanomami’s gut bacteria have already evolved a diverse array of antibiotic-resistance genes, according to a new study, even though these mountain people had never ingested antibiotics or animals raised with drugs. The find suggests that microbes have long evolved the capability to fight toxins, including antibiotics, and that preventing drug resistance may be harder than scientists thought.

Submission + - $56,000 Speeding Ticket Issued Under Finland's System of Fines Based on Income writes: Joe Pinsker writes at The Atlantic that Finish businessman Reima Kuisla was recently caught going 65 miles per hour in a 50 zone in his home country and ended up paying a fine of $56,000. The fine was so extreme because in Finland, some traffic fines, as well as fines for shoplifting and violating securities-exchange laws, are assessed based on earnings—and Kuisla's declared income was €6.5 million per year. Several years ago another executive was fined the equivalent of $103,000 for going 45 in a 30 zone on his motorcycle. Finland’s system for calculating fines is relatively simple: It starts with an estimate of the amount of spending money a Finn has for one day, and then divides that by two—the resulting number is considered a reasonable amount of spending money to deprive the offender of. Then, based on the severity of the crime, the system has rules for how many days the offender must go without that money. Going about 15 mph over the speed limit gets you a multiplier of 12 days, and going 25 mph over carries a 22-day multiplier. Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Austria, France, and Switzerland also have some sliding-scale fines, or “day-fines,” in place, but in America, flat-rate fines are the norm. Since the late 80s, when day-fines were first seriously tested in the U.S., they have remained unusual and even exotic.

Should such a system be used in the United States? After all, wealthier people have been shown to drive more recklessly than those who make less money. For example Steve Jobs was known to park in handicapped spots and drive around without license plates. But more importantly, day-fines could introduce some fairness to a legal system that many have convincingly shown to be biased against the poor. Last week, the Department of Justice released a comprehensive report on how fines have been doled out in Ferguson, Missouri. "Ferguson’s law enforcement practices are shaped by the City’s focus on revenue rather than by public safety needs," it concluded. The first day-fine ever in the U.S. was given in 1988, and about 70 percent of Staten Island’s fines in the following year were day-fines. A similar program was started in Milwaukee, and a few other cities implemented the day-fine idea and according to Judith Greene, who founded Justice Strategies, a nonprofit research organization, all of these initiatives were effective in making the justice system fairer for poor people. “When considering a proportion of their income,people are at least constantly risk-averse. This means that the worst that would happen is that the deterrent effect of fines would be the same across wealth or income levels,” says Casey Mulligan. "We should start small—say, only speeding tickets—and see what happens."

Submission + - France blocks Belgian euro coin marking Battle of Waterloo 2

hcs_$reboot writes: A COIN is threatening to inflame tensions in Europe.. Belgium hit out at France on Thursday after Paris forced it to scrap a new two-euro coin celebrating the 200th anniversary of the defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. Belgium decided to produce a coin marking the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, where Napoleon was defeated by the British and the Prussians, featuring an image of the monument at the site. But Paris objected, saying that there would be an “unfavourable reaction in France” and that "the Battle of Waterloo has a particular resonance in the collective consciousness that goes beyond a simple military conflict".

Submission + - US Government Questionnaire: Is Your Child a Terrorist? 1 writes: Are you, your family, or your community at risk of turning to violent extremism? Now you can find out as The Intercept reports that a rating system devised by the National Counterterrorism Center titled "Countering Violent Extremism: A Guide for Practitioners and Analysts,” lets police, social workers and educators rate individuals on a scale of one to five in categories such as: “Expressions of Hopelessness, Futility,” “Talk of Harming Self or Others,” and “Connection to Group Identity (Race, Nationality, Religion, Ethnicity).” The ranking system is supposed to alert government officials to individuals at risk of turning to radical violence, and to families or communities at risk of incubating extremist ideologies. Families are judged on factors such as “Aware[ness] of Each Other’s Activities,” as well as levels of “Parent-Child Bonding,” (PDF) and communities are rated by access to health care and social services, in addition to “presence of ideologues or recruiters” as potential risk factors. A low score in any of these categories would indicate a high risk of “susceptibility to engage in violent extremism,” according to the document. Users of the guide are encouraged to plot the scores on a graph to determine what “interventions” could halt the process of radicalization before it happens.

Experts have suggested that intervention by law enforcement or other branches of the government in individuals’ lives, particularly young people, based solely based on the views they express, can potentially criminalize constitutionally protected behavior. “The idea that the federal government would encourage local police, teachers, medical and social service employees to rate the communities, individuals and families they serve for their potential to become terrorists is abhorrent on its face,” says former FBI agent Mike German calling the criteria used for the ratings “subjective and specious.” Arun Kundnani questions the science behind the rating system. “There’s no evidence to support the idea that terrorism can be substantively correlated with such factors to do with family, identity, and emotional well-being," says Kundnani. "“It is obvious that, in practice, [this] would mostly only be applied to Muslim communities."

Submission + - New Nicotine Vaccine May Succeed Where Others Have Failed (

Zothecula writes: If you're a smoker who's trying to quit, you may recall hearing about vaccines designed to cause the body's immune system to treat nicotine like a foreign invader, producing antibodies that trap and remove it before it's able to reach receptors in the brain. It's a fascinating idea, but according to scientists at California's Scripps Research Institute, a recent high-profile attempt had a major flaw. They claim to have overcome that problem, and are now developing a vaccine of their own that they believe should be more effective.

Submission + - Samsung Plans for Contactless Payment Technology Mobile Handsets (

Augustine Bunker writes: Samsung is facing tough resistance from its arch rival Apple iPhones and the contact-less payment iPhones could be an added advantage. The latest iPhones users are able to make effortless payment at shops and this is something worrisome to Samsung manufacturers. In this issue, Samsung is heading fast for contactless payment technology.

Submission + - LAPD Orders Body Cams That Will Start Recording When Police Use Tasers writes: Lily Hay Newman reports that the LAPD has ordered 3,000 Tasers that, when discharged, will automatically activate cameras on officers' uniforms, which will create visual records of incidents at a time of mounting concern about excessive force by U.S. law enforcement officers. The new digital Taser X26P weapons record the date, time and duration of firing, and whether Taser wires actually strike suspects and how long the thousands of volts of electricity pulse through them. “This technology gives a much better picture of what happens in the field,” says Steve Tuttle. The idea of using a Taser discharge as a criterion for activating body cams is promising, especially as more and more police departments adopt body cams and struggle to establish guidelines for when they should be on or off. Police leadership—i.e., chiefs and upper management—is far more supportive of the technology and tends to view body-worn cameras as a tool for increasing accountability and reducing civil liability. On the other hand, the patrol officer culture is concerned that the technology will be an unfair intrusion into their routine activities—for instance, it might invite over-managing minor policy violations. "In addition to these new Taser deployments, we plan to issue a body-worn camera and a Taser device to every officer," says Police Chief Charlie Beck. "It is our goal to make these important tools available to every front line officer over the next few years."

Submission + - Killer whales caught on tape speaking dolphin (

sciencehabit writes: Two years ago, scientists showed that dolphins imitate the sounds of whales. Now, it seems, whales have returned the favor. Researchers analyzed the vocal repertoires of 10 captive orcas, three of which lived with bottlenose dolphins and the rest with their own kind. Of the 1551 vocalizations these seven latter orcas made, more than 95% were the typical pulsed calls of killer whales. In contrast, the three orcas that had only dolphins as pals busily whistled and emitted dolphinlike click trains and terminal buzzes, the scientists report in the October issue of The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. The findings make orcas one of the few species of animals that, like humans, is capable of vocal learning—a talent considered a key underpinning of language.

Submission + - Burning Man report for tech geeks

marcmerlin writes: Haven't been to burning man, or missed this year's and would like a summary?
Marc MERLIN has posted a summary of this year with full GPS map, pictures from the air, and everything neatly categorized, with a track of his 127 miles of biking to visit as many camps as possible.
Also if you plan on going, check out the tips at the bottom of the page

Submission + - Fukushima's Biological Legacy ( 1

An anonymous reader writes: Scientists began gathering biological information only a few months after the disastrous 2011 meltdown of the Fukushima power plant in Japan. Results of these studies are now beginning to reveal serious biological effects of the Fukushima radiation on non-human organisms ranging from plants to butterflies to birds. A series of articles summarizing these studies has been published in the Journal of Heredity describing impacts ranging from population declines to genetic damage (abstract 1, abstract 2, abstract 3, abstract 4). Most importantly, these studies supply a baseline for future research on the effects of ionizing radiation exposure to the environment. Common to all of the published studies is the hypothesis that chronic (low-dose) exposure to ionizing radiation results in genetic damage and increased mutation rates in reproductive and non-reproductive cells.

Submission + - How Engineers Are Building A Power Station At The South Pole

KentuckyFC writes: One of the more ambitious projects at the South Pole is the Askaryan Radio Array, a set of radio antennas under the ice that will listen for the tell tale signals of high energy neutrinos passing by. This array will eventually be over a thousand times bigger than the current largest neutrino detector: Icecube, which monitors a cubic kilometre of ice next door to the planned new observatory. But there's a problem. How do you supply 24/7 power to dozens of detectors spread over such a vast area in the middle of the Antarctic? The answer is renewable energy power stations that exploit the sun during the summer and the wind all year round. The first of these stations is now up and running at the South Pole and producing power. It is also helping to uncover and iron out the various problems that these stations are likely to encounter. For example; where to put the batteries needed to supply continuous power when all else fails. The team's current approach is to bury the battery to protect it from temperature extremes. That works well but makes maintenance so difficult that scaling this approach to dozens of power stations doesn't seem feasible. That's a problem for the future but for the moment, green power has finally come to the white continent.

Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man -- who has no gills. -- Ambrose Bierce