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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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+ - 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

+ - Fighting the "War on Terror " by Banning Cash->

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 (797399) writes "It was just a matter of time before Western governments used the trumped up "War on Terror" as an excuse to drastically ratchet up the very real war on the use of cash and personal privacy that they are waging against their own citizens.

Taking advantage of public anxiety in the wake of the attacks on Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket, France has taken the first step. It seems the terrorists involved partially financed these attacks by cash, as well as by consumer loans and the sale of counterfeit goods. What a shockeroo!

The terrorists used CASH to purchase some of the stuff they needed--no doubt these murderers were also shod and clothed and used cell phones, cars, and public sidewalks during the planning and execution of their mayhem. Why not restrict their use? A naked , barefoot terrorist without communications is surely less effective than a fully clothed and equipped one.

Despite the arrant absurdity of blaming cash and financial privacy for these crimes, French Finance Minister Michel Sapin brazenly stated that it was necessary to "fight against the use of cash and anonymity in the French economy."

He then announced extreme and despotic measures to further restrict the use of cash by French residents and to spy on and pry into their financial affairs.

These measures, which will be implemented in September 2015, include:

Prohibiting French residents from making cash payments of more than 1,000 euros, down from the current limit of 3,000 euros.

Given the parlous state of the stagnating French economy the limit for foreign tourists on currency payments will remain higher, at 10,000 euros down from the current limit of 15,000 euros.

The threshold below which a French resident is free to convert euros into other currencies without having to show an identity card will be slashed from the current level of 8,000 euros to 1,000 euros.

In addition any cash deposit or withdrawal of more than 10,000 euros during a single month will be reported to the French anti-fraud and money laundering agency Tracfin.

French authorities will also have to be notified of any freight transfers within the EU exceeding 10,000 euros, including checks, pre-paid cards, or gold.

"

Link to Original Source

+ - World's largest asteroid impacts found in central Australia

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 (797399) writes "Scientists doing geothermal research in Australia have discovered evidence of what they think is the largest known impact zone from an meteorite on Earth.

The zone is thought to be about 250 miles across, and suggests the bolide split in two pieces each about 6 miles across before impact. The uncertainty is that the evidence for this impact is quite tentative:

The exact date of the impacts remains unclear. The surrounding rocks are 300 to 600 million years old, but evidence of the type left by other meteorite strikes is lacking. For example, a large meteorite strike 66 million years ago sent up a plume of ash which is found as a layer of sediment in rocks around the world. The plume is thought to have led to the extinction of a large proportion of the life on the planet, including many dinosaur species.

However, a similar layer has not been found in sediments around 300 million years old, Dr Glikson said. “It’s a mystery – we can’t find an extinction event that matches these collisions. I have a suspicion the impact could be older than 300 million years,” he said.

In other words, they find some evidence that an impact occurred, but not other evidence that is expected to be found with such an impact. Moreover, the rocks at the sedimentary layer where the impact is found are dated around 300 million years ago, a time when no major extinction took place. Either this impact didn’t really happen, or it didn’t happen when it appears it should have, or it shows that large impacts don’t necessarily cause mass extinctions."

+ - Boeing patents 'Star Wars'-style force fields->

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 (797399) writes "Aircraft and military manufacturer Boeing has been granted a patent on a system that is designed to prevent explosion shockwaves from harming a target.

The system is not designed to prevent direct impact from shells or shrapnel; rather, it is designed to protect a target — such as a vehicle or building — from the damaging effects of shockwaves from a nearby explosion."

Link to Original Source

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