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We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).

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+ - Seed from ancient extinct plant planted and brought back to life

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 (797399) writes "Israeli scientists have successfully gotten a 2000-year-old seed of an extinct date plant to grow and now reproduce.

Methuselah sprouted back in 2005, when agriculture expert Solowey germinated his antique seed. It had been pulled from the remains of Masada, an ancient fortification perched on a rock plateau in southern Israel, and at the time, no one could be sure that the plant would thrive. But he has, and his recent reproductive feat helps prove just how well he’s doing.

For a while, the Judean date palm was the sole representative of his kind: Methuselah’s variety was reportedly wiped out around 500 A.D. But Solowey has continued to grow date palms from ancient seeds discovered in the region, and she tells National Geographic that she is “trying to figure out how to plant an ancient date grove.” Doing so would allow researchers to better understand exactly what earlier peoples of the region were eating and how it tasted.

"

+ - NASA denies new space station partnership with Russia

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 (797399) writes "NASA officials today denied they were negotiating a partnership with Russia to build a space station replacement for ISS, as suggested yesterday by the head of Russia’s space program.

Maybe the misunderstanding comes from NASA head Charles Bolden, who is currently in Russia. Bolden probably said some nice feel-good things to the Russians, things like “We want to keep working together,” and “We will support your plans for your future space station.” None of this was meant as a commitment, but the Russians might have taken them more seriously than Bolden realized."

+ - Taxpayer subsidies to ULA to end

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 (797399) writes "Because it has concluded that they make it impossible to have a fair competition for contracts, the Air Force has decided to phase out taxpayer subsidies to the United Launch Alliance (ULA).

The specific amounts of these subsidies have been effectively buried by the Air Force in many different contracts, so we the taxpayers really don’t know how much the are.

Nonetheless, this decision, combined with the military report released yesterday that criticized the Air Force’s over-bearing and restrictive certification process with SpaceX indicates that the political pressure is now pushing them hard to open up bidding to multiple companies, which in turn will help lower cost and save the taxpayer money."

+ - Dark matter is even more of a mystery that expected

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 (797399) writes "Using the Hubble and Chandra space telescopes astronomers have discovered that dark matter is not only invisible to direct observation, it is invisible to itself!

In this new research, Harvey and his team realized just how invisible this stuff is, even to itself. As two galactic clusters collide, the stars, gas and dark matter interact in different ways. The clouds of gas suffer drag, slow down and often stop, whereas the stars zip past one another, unless they collide — which is rare. On studying what happens to dark matter during these collisions, the researchers realized that, like stars, the colliding clouds of dark matter have little effect on one another.

Thought to be spread evenly throughout each cluster, it seems logical to assume that the clouds of dark matter would have a strong interaction — much like the colliding clouds of gas as the colliding dark matter particles should come into very close proximity. But rather than creating drag, the dark matter clouds slide through one another seamlessly.

The data here is on the very edge of reality, built on too many assumptions. We know that something undetected as yet is influencing the motions of galaxies, but what exactly it is remains completely unknown. These results only make the mystery more mysterious."

+ - GAO denied access to Webb telescope workers by Northrop Grumman

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 (797399) writes "In a report as well as at House hearings today the GAO reported that Northrop Grumman has denied them one-on-one access to workers building the James Webb Space Telescope.

The interviews, part of a running series of GAO audits of the NASA flagship observatory, which is billions of dollars overbudget and years behind schedule, were intended to identify potential future trouble spots, according to a GAO official. But Northrop Grumman Aerospace, which along with NASA says the $9 billion project is back on track, cited concerns that the employees, 30 in all, would be intimidated by the process.

To give Northrop Grumman the benefit of the doubt, these interviews were a somewhat unusual request. Then again, if all was well why would they resist? Note too that the quote above says the cost of the telescope project is now $9 billion. If the project was “back on track: as the agency and Northrop Grumman claim, than why has the budget suddenly increased by another billion?"

+ - A drastic drop in complaints after San Diego outfitted its PD with body cameras

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 (797399) writes "Surprise, surprise! Immediately after San Diego outfitted its police force with 600 body camera the number of complaints plunged.

The report, which took one full year into account, found that complaints against police have fallen 40.5 percent and use of “personal body” force by officers has been reduced by 46.5 percent. Use of pepper spray has decreased by 30.5 percent.

Two benefits can be seen immediately. First, the police are being harassed less from false complaints. Second, and more important, the police are finding ways to settle most disputes without the use of force, which means they are abusing their authority less.

These statistics do confirm what many on both the right and the left have begun to believe in recent years, that the police have been almost certainly using force against citizens inappropriately too often. In San Diego at least the cameras are serving to stem this misuse of authority."

+ - Google Visits White House Once a Week->

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 (797399) writes "As the federal government was wrapping up its antitrust investigation of Google, company executives had a flurry of meetings with top officials at the White House and Federal Trade Commission, the agency running the probe.

Google co-founder Larry Page met with FTC officials to discuss settlement talks, according to visitor logs and emails reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. Google Chairman Eric Schmidt met with Pete Rouse, a senior adviser to President Barack Obama, in the White House.

The documents don’t show exactly what was discussed in late 2012. Soon afterward, the FTC closed its investigation after Google agreed to make voluntary changes to its business practices."

Link to Original Source

+ - New bill would repeal Patriot Act

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 (797399) writes "Two Congressmen have introduced legislation to repeal the Patriot Act as well as end all unconstitutional domestic spying by government agencies.

The article notes that there is bi-partisan support for “doing something” about the out-of-control surveillance of federal agencies like the National Security Agency. I agree. Expect something like this to get passed. Whether Obama will veto it is another question. Despite what he says (which no one should every believe), he likes the idea of prying into the lives of private citizens."

+ - We know where you've been: Ars gets 4.6M license plate scans from the Oakland PD-> 1

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 (797399) writes "One citizen demands: "Do you know why Oakland is spying on me and my wife?"

If you have driven in Oakland any time in the last few years, chances are good that the cops know where you’ve been, thanks to their 33 automated license plate readers (LPRs).

In response to a public records request, Ars obtained the entire LPR dataset of the Oakland Police Department (OPD), including more than 4.6 million reads of over 1.1 million unique plates between December 23, 2010 and May 31, 2014. The dataset is likely the largest publicly released in the United States—perhaps in the world.

After analyzing this data with a custom-built visualization tool, Ars can definitively demonstrate the data's revelatory potential. Anyone in possession of enough data can often—but not always—make educated guesses about a target’s home or workplace, particularly when someone’s movements are consistent (as with a regular commute)."

Link to Original Source

+ - Russian bombers flying over Baltic Sea with transponders switched off->

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 (797399) writes "The Swedish Air Force on Tuesday tracked four Russian combat aircraft flying with their transponders turned off over the Baltic Sea, officials said.

The Russian planes — two long-range, nuclear-capable Tu-22M3 bombers and two Sukhoi Su-27 fighters — were flying in international airspace, according to Sweden's Armed Forces.

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom called it "unacceptable" for the Russian planes to be flying with shut-off transponders that are necessary for identifying aircraft on radar, calling it violation of international aviation rules.

"This has happened now on a number of occasions and in a very challenging way," Wallstrom told reporters in Stockholm. "We are tired of always having to protest against this kind of ... breach of rules.""

Link to Original Source

+ - FEMA targets climate change skeptic governors, could withhold funding->

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 (797399) writes "The Obama administration has issued new guidelines that could make it harder for governors who deny climate change to obtain federal disaster-preparedness funds.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s new rules could put some Republican governors in a bind. The rules say that states’ risk assessments must include “consideration of changing environmental or climate conditions that may affect and influence the long-term vulnerability from hazards in the state.”

The policy, which goes into effect in March 2016, doesn’t affect federal money for relief after a hurricane, flood, or other natural disaster. But states seeking disaster preparedness money from Washington will be required to assess how climate change threatens their communities, a requirement that wasn’t included in FEMA’s 2008 guidelines."

Link to Original Source

+ - German Airbus A320 plane crashes in French Alps ->

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 (797399) writes "Germanwings A320 aircraft flying from Barcelona to Düsseldorf goes down in southern French Alps with 148 on board

A distress call was made by the aircraft at 10.47am, while the plane was “in an abnormal situation”, the French transport ministry said. The crash happened shortly afterwards, it added. The aircraft disappeared off the radar at around 11.20am, Le Figaro reported. The plane dropped from 11,500 metres to 2,100 metres (38,000ft to 6,925ft) in nine minutes between 10.31am and 10.40am, air radar services said. The distress call to air traffic control in Marseilles was “mayday, mayday, mayday” and the pilot requested an emergency descent, meaning all air space had to be cleared below the route of the aircraft."

Link to Original Source

+ - GAO says IRS taxpayer security stinks!

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 (797399) writes "A GAO report has found the IRS financial security system has gigantic holes, including allowing former employees access to taxpayer confidential records long after they have left the agency.

The GAO report says the IRS uses old outdated software without proper security functions. IRS passwords can easily be compromised, the report notes. Even worse, the report says the IRS does not always delete employee access when workers quit or are fired.

But don’t worry. The IRS might not be able to protect your private data, but it is still very good at losing the emails of employees and using the tax code to harass their political opponents."

+ - $1B TSA Behavioral Screening Program Slammed as Ineffective "Junk Science"->

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 (797399) writes "The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been accused of spending a billion dollars on a passenger-screening program that’s based on junk science.

The claim arose in a lawsuit (pdf) filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which has tried unsuccessfully to get the TSA to release documents on its SPOT (Screening Passengers by Observation Techniques) [pdf]) program through the Freedom of Information Act.

SPOT, whose techniques were first used in 2003 and formalized in 2007, uses “highly questionable” screening techniques, according to the ACLU complaint, while being “discriminatory, ineffective, pseudo-scientific, and wasteful of taxpayer money.” TSA has spent at least $1 billion on SPOT.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported in 2010 that “TSA deployed SPOT nationwide before first determining whether there was a scientifically valid basis for using behavior detection and appearance indicators as a means for reliably identifying passengers as potential threats in airports,” according to the ACLU. And in 2013, GAO recommended that the agency spend less money on the program, which uses 3,000 “behavior detection officers” whose jobs is to identify terrorists before they board jetliners."

Link to Original Source

+ - NFL will broadcast a game on digital platform for first time ever->

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 (797399) writes "For the first time the NFL will have a regular-season game on a digital platform to be streamed worldwide, when the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars face off in London on Oct. 25 at 9:30 a.m. ET. The game will still be available on television in the Buffalo and Jacksonville markets, the Florida Times-Union said. But most of the world will be watching it online.

Details such as which Internet site the game will be streamed on haven't been determined yet, but it's an interesting move for the NFL. The Wall Street Journal said the game will not be on DirecTV's NFL Sunday Ticket, like its other out-of-market games. If the live stream is met with positive reviews, like the early start time in London was last year, it could open up another medium for the NFL to broadcast its games. And with so many people watching shows and games via mobile devices, it would seem that an online option will be widely accepted by many fans. It would also open up another revenue stream for the NFL. With so many sports broadcasts available live online, it makes sense for the NFL to follow that plan too, or at least test the waters."

Link to Original Source

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