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Submission + - Air Force hires civilian drone pilots for combat patrols - legality questioned (

schwit1 writes: For the first time, civilian pilots and crews now operate what the Air Force calls "combat air patrols," daily round-the-clock flights above areas of military operations to provide video and collect other sensitive intelligence.

Civilians are not allowed to pinpoint targets with lasers or fire missiles. They operate only Reapers that provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, known as ISR, said Air Force Gen. Herbert "Hawk" Carlisle, head of Air Combat Command.

Submission + - Did scientists pick up their first intelligent radio waves from aliens? (

schwit1 writes: Astronomers have picked up five mysterious unidentified radio signals that could originate from outside the Milky Way.

The "fast radio bursts" included one "double signal" never heard before and have left astronomers buzzing with excitement over the possibility of it being a message with alien origins.

Only 11 of the unidentified transient radio pulses have been recorded before around the world.

And it is the curious new double blast — which was accompanied by four "singles" — which has baffled astronomers analyzing data from the Parkes radio telescope in New South Wales, Australia.

Submission + - France using emergency powers to prevent climate change protests (

Bruce66423 writes: Following the Paris massacre, the French government declared a state of emergency. One of the regulations this introduced was control of large scale gatherings, and one of the events that is being caught up in this is planned protests to do with Climate Change conference in Paris next month. This has resulted in some activists being put under house arrest — yet other gathering, such as commercial street markets — are being allowed to go ahead. Funny that; anyone would think that the government is using the opportunity to suppress dissent.

Submission + - Japan launches its first commercial payload

schwit1 writes: Using its H-IIA rocket, upgraded to lower cost, Japan launched its first commercial payload today, putting Canada’s Telestar 12V into geosynchronous orbit.

It is not clear if Japan’s government-run space program can compete. The rocket is built by Mitsubishi, but it appears owned and operated by JAXA, the equivalent of Japan’s NASA. It has also been a very expensive rocket to launch, as for much of its existence it has been like SLS, more dedicated to producing pork jobs than actually competing with other rocket companies. Whether they can upgrade it sufficiently to compete in price with other rockets is highly questionable.

Nonetheless, that Japan is trying to compete is good news. The more competition, the better. The effort alone will produce new ideas, which in turn can only help lower the cost to get into space, thus making it possible for more people to afford it.

Submission + - Highschooler suspended over an "insensitive" tweet ( 1

mi writes: When a teacher complained about low voter-turnout in a Massachusetts town, one of the students suggested, it may be because too many of the residents aren't legally allowed to vote: "When only 10 percent of Revere votes for mayor cause the other 90 percent isn't legal". The school punished the student because "the district believes in freedom of speech, but cannot support insensitive language".

Submission + - NASA contracting development of new ion/nuclear engines

schwit1 writes: NASA has awarded three different companies contracts to develop advanced ion and nuclear propulsion systems for future interplanetary missions, both manned and unmanned.

These are development contacts, all below $10 million. However, they all appeared structured like NASA’s cargo and crew contracts for ISS, where the contractor does all of the development and design, with NASA only supplying some support and periodic payments when the contractor achieves agreed-upon milestones. Because of this, the contractors will own the engines their develop, and will be able to sell them to other customers after development, thereby increasing the competition and innovation in the field.

Submission + - Princeton, Georgetown Join Growing List Of Colleges Pushed To Airbrush History B (

noramendozanm1 writes: At Princeton, student protesters known as the Black Justice League are occupying the university presidentâ(TM)s office demanding the scalp of former school president and U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, whom they have branded a racist. Georgetownâ(TM)s student sit-in lasted only one day before the president gave in to demands that the [...]

Submission + - Satellite wars (

schwit1 writes: Sixty years after the space race began, an orbital arms race is again in development.

Military officials from the US, Europe and Asia confirm in private what the Kettering Group and other amateur stargazers have been watching publicly. Almost every country with strategically important satellite constellations and its own launch facilities is considering how to defend — and weaponize — their extraterrestrial assets. “I don’t think there is a single G7 nation that isn’t now looking at space security as one of its highest military priorities and areas of strategic concern,” says one senior European intelligence official.

The US is spending billions improving its defences — primarily by building more capacity into its constellations and improving its tracking abilities. A $900m contract was awarded to Lockheed Martin in 2014 to develop a radar system capable of tracking objects as small as baseballs in space in real time. But there are also hints that the US may be looking to equip its satellites with active defences and countermeasures of their own, such as jamming devices and the ability to evade interceptions.

A purely offensive anti-satellite programme is in fast development as well. High-energy weapons and manoeuvrable orbiters such as space planes all open the possibility of the US being able to rapidly weaponise the domain beyond the atmosphere, should it feel the need to do so.

Submission + - Obamacare regulations to destroy craft beer industry

schwit1 writes: The cost to meet Obamacare regulations requiring beer companies to include specific calorie information on every beer they make is likely going to destroy many small local beer breweries.

As of December 2016, all brewers must include a detailed calorie count on every type of beer they produce. Failure to comply with the new regulations means craft brewers will not be able to sell their beer in any restaurant chain with over 20 locations. Because this is a major market for selling beer, it hamstrings smaller craft brewers if they do not comply.

The Cato Institute estimates the Obamacare calorie labeling requirements will cost a business as much as $77,000 to implement. For larger beer companies, this is a drop in the bucket, but for small, local craft brewers it represents a significant cost that they must pay. As a result, it creates a significant disadvantage compared to larger beer companies who can better absorb the cost of this new regulation.

But hey, who cares if a major thriving industry should be destroyed by government regulations.

Submission + - File Says NSA Found Way to Replace Email Program (

schwit1 writes: Newly disclosed documents show that the NSA had found a way to create the functional equivalent of shut down programs. The shift has permitted the agency to continue analyzing social links revealed by Americans’ email patterns, but without collecting the data in bulk from American telecommunications companies — and with less oversight by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

The disclosure comes as a sister program that collects Americans’ phone records in bulk is set to end this month. Under a law enacted in June, known as the USA Freedom Act, the program will be replaced with a system in which the NSA. can still gain access to the data to hunt for associates of terrorism suspects, but the bulk logs will stay in the hands of phone companies.

The newly disclosed information about the email records program is contained in a report by the NSA’s inspector general that was obtained through a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act. One passage lists four reasons that the NSA. decided to end the email program and purge previously collected data. Three were redacted, but the fourth was uncensored. It said that “other authorities can satisfy certain foreign intelligence requirements” that the bulk email records program “had been designed to meet.”

Adding features does not necessarily increase functionality -- it just makes the manuals thicker.