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Submission + - Scientists discover Earth has dramatically more trees than previously thought->

schwit1 writes: In a blockbuster study released Wednesday in Nature, a team of 38 scientists finds that the planet is home to 3.04 trillion trees, blowing away the previously estimate of 400 billion. That means, the researchers say, that there are 422 trees for every person on Earth.
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Submission + - Government still hasn't notified individuals whose personal data was hacked

schwit1 writes: Months after the federal government admitted publicly that the personal data of more than 20 million government employees had been hacked they still have not sent notifications to those millions.

Instead, they've turned this into an opportunity to spend taxpayer money for their friends!

        The agency whose data was hacked, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), said the Defense Department will begin "later this month" to notify employees and contractors across the government that their personal information was accessed by hackers. OPM said notifications would continue over several weeks and "will be sent directly to impacted individuals."

        OPM also announced that it hired a contractor to help protect the identities and credit ratings of employees whose data was hacked. In a statement, OPM said it had awarded a contract initially worth more than $133 million to a company called Identity Theft Guard Solutions LLC, doing business as ID experts, for identity theft protections for the 21.5 million victims of the security data breach. The contractor will provide credit and identity monitoring services for three years, as well as identity theft insurance, to affected individuals and dependent children aged under 18, the agency said.

Hopefully they aren't as incompetent as the company chosen to build the Obamacare website.

Submission + - The MH370 Mystery Gets a Little Weirder->

schwit1 writes: It's been a month since a flaperon from a Boeing 777 was found a La Reunion beach and investigators still can't say definitively whether it came from MH370 or how it got to the island.

What was holding things up, it turned out, was that the ID plate that should have been attached to the inboard edge of the flaperon was missing. And that was not the only problem. According to the New York Times, Boeing and the National Transportation Safety Board found that the object did not match Malaysia Airlines' maintenance records. ...How the part found its way to a beach on La Reunion is another issue. The Depeche article contained a tantalizing hint. "According to a Toulouse aeronautics expert who requested anonymity," the article stated, "the element of the wing would not have floated for several months at the water's surface but would have drifted underwater a few meters deep." It's not yet known why investigators reached this conclusion, but one clue might be that the flaperon found on La Reunion was encrusted on every edge with goose barnacles. These animals are a type of crustacean that attaches while young to a floating object and spends its entire adult life affixed to the same spot. Since they obviously can only survive underwater, their distribution around the object suggests that the entirety of it must have spent at least several months submerged.


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Submission + - New Horizons team picks its next Kuiper Belt target

schwit1 writes: The New Horizons science team has picked its next Kuiper Belt fly-by target beyond Pluto.

New Horizons will perform a series of four maneuvers in late October and early November to set its course toward 2014 MU69 — nicknamed "PT1" (for "Potential Target 1") — which it expects to reach on January 1, 2019. Any delays from those dates would cost precious fuel and add mission risk. "2014 MU69 is a great choice because it is just the kind of ancient KBO, formed where it orbits now, that the Decadal Survey desired us to fly by," said New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado. "Moreover, this KBO costs less fuel to reach [than other candidate targets], leaving more fuel for the flyby, for ancillary science, and greater fuel reserves to protect against the unforeseen."

The fly-by itself will be really exciting, because this object will truly be the most unusual we will have ever gotten a close look at, as it has spent its entire existence far out in the dim reaches of the solar system.

Submission + - Porn-Sniffing Dog Helped Bring Down Subway Star Jared Fogle->

schwit1 writes:

A rambunctious black Labrador named Bear — one of only five dogs in the nation trained to sniff out electronic data devices — played a key role in the arrest of former Subway pitchman Jared Fogle on child-porn charges.

Bear's dog whisperer, Todd Jordan, gave NBC News a demonstration of how he works his magic, walking him through an apartment while repeatedly giving him the command "Seek!"

According to Bear's trainer, the dog was trained to smell the chemicals used in the manufacture of the devices, in this case a thumb drive. And it he substance of the article is true, it works as the dog found a thumb drive that otherwise eluded detection.

No, dogs cannot smell porn. Not kiddie porn. Not adult porn. Not lawful or unlawful porn. Not porn at all. A $5 footlong, sure, but pretty much anyone can smell that, not that they necessarily want to unless they've made millions off them.

The 2-year-old rescue pooch nosed out a thumb drive that humans had failed to find during a search of Fogle's Indiana house in July, several weeks before he agreed to plead guilty to having X-rated images of minors and paying to have sex with teenage girls.

The dog zeroed in on a kitchen drawer, which Jordan opened to reveal a device. "Good boy!" he told Bear, giving him a handful of food.

While the question of whether dogs can and should be used as a proxy for probable cause, whether to search directly or to obtain a warrant to search, is one of grave concerns, as it's fraught with substantial failings, plus its efficacy is little different than a coin toss, the âoeporn sniffing dogâ presents a very different picture.

Yet, apparently, dogs (Labradors in particular) can be trained to sniff out data storage devices. Whoda thunk?

Link to Original Source

Submission + - Carbon Offsets May Have Dramatically Increased Emissions->

schwit1 writes: That's the finding of a new report from the Stockholm Environment Institute, which investigated carbon credits used to offset greenhouse gas emissions under a UN scheme. As one of the co-authors of the report put it, issuing these credits "was like printing money."

As a result of political horse trading at UN negotiations on climate change, countries like Russia and the Ukraine were allowed to create carbon credits from activities like curbing coal waste fires, or restricting gas emissions from petroleum production. Under the UN scheme, called Joint Implementation, they then were able to sell those credits to the European Union's carbon market. Companies bought the offsets rather than making their own more expensive, emissions cuts.

But this study, from the Stockholm Environment Institute, says the vast majority of Russian and Ukrainian credits were in fact, "hot air" — no actual emissions were reduced.


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Submission + - EPA withholds Colorado disaster documents demanded by Congress 2

schwit1 writes: The EPA, when ordered by Congress to release documents describing that agency's planning prior to the toxic waste disaster it caused in Colorado, has failed to meet the deadline set by Congress for turning over those documents.

"It is disappointing, but not surprising, that the EPA failed to meet the House Science Committee's reasonable deadline in turning over documents pertaining to the Gold King Mine spill," said Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX). "These documents are essential to the Committee's ongoing investigation and our upcoming hearing on Sept. 9. But more importantly, this information matters to the many Americans directly affected in western states, who are still waiting for answers from the EPA."

Smith — who frequently spars with the EPA — is chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. EPA director Gina McCarthy has been asked to appear and answer questions about the agency's role in creating a 3-million-gallon toxic spill into Colorado's Animas River on Aug. 5. Critics say McCarthy and the EPA have been unresponsive, secretive and unsympathetic toward millions of people who live in three states bordering the river.

The word "coverup" comes to mind, though how could anyone believe that the Obama administration (the most transparent in history!) would do such a thing baffles the mind.

Submission + - Next Texas Energy Boom: Solar->

Layzej writes: The Wall Street Journal reports: "Solar power has gotten so cheap to produce—and so competitively priced in the electricity market—that it is taking hold even in a state that, unlike California, doesn’t offer incentives to utilities to buy or build sun-powered generation."

Falling cost is one factor driving investment. "Another reason for the boom: Texas recently wrapped up construction of $6.9 billion worth of new transmission lines, many connecting West Texas to the state’s large cities. These massive power lines enabled Texas to become, by far, the largest U.S. wind producer. Solar developers plan to move electricity on the same lines, taking advantage of a lull in wind generation during the heat of the day when solar output is at its highest.

Link to Original Source

Submission + - Updates Make Windows 7 and 8 Spy On You Like Windows 10-> 1

schwit1 writes: Windows 10 has been launched and already installed on more than 50 million computers worldwide. It is now a known fact that Windows 10 user data is being sent back to Microsoft servers back in Redmond, Washington. Well, now new updates that are being deployed to all Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 machines will turn their computers into a big piece of spyware, just like their predecessor, Windows 10.
Link to Original Source

Submission + - Rutgers to Students: No Such Thing as Free Speech, We Are Watching You->

schwit1 writes: Rutgers University students, you are being watched.

That appears to be the message a Rutgers.edu web page would like the campus community to absorb. The web page is maintained by the Bias Prevention & Education Committee, which chillingly warns students that there is "no such thing as free speech," and to "think before you speak."

Link to Original Source

Submission + - Jury Nullification/1st Amendment victory in Denver->

schwit1 writes: Denver's city attorney has directed the police and sheriff's department to stop arresting people passing out jury nullification literature in front of the courthouse. The order was revealed Friday in U.S. District Court during a hearing involving a lawsuit against the city and Denver police chief Robert White. The lawsuit was filed earlier this month on behalf of activists who want to distribute jury nullification information outside the Lindsey-Flanigan courthouse. They sued after two others who were handing out pamphlets were charged with seven counts of jury tampering by District Attorney Mitch Morrissey. The lawsuit argues that the arrests are a violation of free speech rights and asks for a federal injunction against further arrests.
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