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Explosions and Multiple Shootings In Paris, Possible Hostages ( 965

An anonymous reader writes: Multiple sources are reporting that at least 18 people are dead across three shootings in central Paris. The Associated Press reports as many as 26, as of this writing. Some victims were at a restaurant, while others were at a nearby theater. Early reports indicate there may be a hostage situation with more people at that theater. Police have also confirmed an explosion at a bar near Stade de France stadium, where a football match was underway between France and Germany. There are reports of other explosions heard at the stadium as well, but no details yet. "The attack comes as France has heightened security measures ahead of a major global climate conference that starts in two weeks, out of fear of violent protests and potential terrorist attacks." The attacks occurred not far from where the Charlie Hebdo shooting happened in January. "French news media reported that Kalashnikov rifles had been involved in the shootings — a favored weapon of militants who have attacked targets in France — and that many rounds had been fired."

UK May Blacklist Homeopathy ( 287

New submitter Maritz writes: Vindication may be on the horizon for people who defer to reality in matters of health — UK ministers are considering whether homeopathy should be put on a blacklist of treatments GPs in England are banned from prescribing, the BBC has learned. The controversial practice is based on the principle that "like cures like," but critics say patients are being given useless sugar pills. The Faculty of Homeopathy said patients supported the therapy. A consultation is expected to take place in 2016. The total NHS bill for homeopathy, including homeopathic hospitals and GP prescriptions, is thought to be about £4m.

Comment Re:What does "gets their first mean" (Score 1) 239

Send out space drones to plant your flag or establish first physical visits. Yeah, probably not the best system, as I can see a few early squatters, or maybe only one entity, claiming everything worth claiming. We can do better. A USA/NASA/Boeing/Microsoft/Northrop partnership or a Chinese effort in the vein of the Apollo program could do that quickly and lead to a two horse race or complete domination by one side, but I don't think that would be in the best interest of humanity and Earth.

Comment NOT whoever gets there first (Score 1) 239

I say NOT whoever simply gets there first. We don't want to encourage anyone to simply create a fleet of space drones to take cybersquatting to new levels. I can imagine an economic titan ramping up to squat on every near-Earth asteroid worth exploiting, and eliminating competition by going all-in on the new land rush. That could have huge consequences for innovation and competition. I don't have the answer just yet for a claim system conducive to expedited progress, but we should hold out for one that doesn't potentially give all of the inconceivably vast resources to one or a few companies or national governments.

Perhaps a global consortium of some sort would be best, as it could lean on the most technologically capable and forward-thinking partners, with the aim of benefiting all of Earth's inhabitants as we begin branch out beyond our home. Or you can make it a free-for-all and let billionaires get much, much richer as a few already huge corporations (or NASA/the USA or and/or PRC) reap all the rewards and dominate asteroid exploration, mining, and exploitation.
United States

Justice Officials Fear Nation's Biggest Wiretap Operation May Not Be Legal ( 118

schwit1 writes with news about a vast wiretapping program and questions about its legality. USA Today reports: "Federal drug agents have built a massive wiretapping operation in the Los Angeles suburbs, secretly intercepting tens of thousands of Americans' phone calls and text messages to monitor drug traffickers across the United States despite objections from Justice Department lawyers who fear the practice may not be legal. Nearly all of that surveillance was authorized by a single state court judge in Riverside County, who last year signed off on almost five times as many wiretaps as any other judge in the United States. The judge's orders allowed investigators — usually from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration — to intercept more than 2 million conversations involving 44,000 people, federal court records show."

Man Behind Week-Long Bitcoin Attacks Reveals Himself 71

An anonymous reader writes: A Russian man that calls himself "Alister Maclin" has been disrupting the Bitcoin network for over a week, creating duplicate transactions, and annoying users. According to Bitcoin experts, the attack was not dangerous and is the equivalent of "spam" on the Bitcoin blockchain servers, known in the industry as a "malleability attack," creating duplicate transactions, but not affecting Bitcoin funds. Maclin recently gave an interview to Vice.

Comment Re:Unlikely (Score 1) 221

They have it all wrong. In 15 years, the pinnacle of commercial airplanes won't be shiny, fast and high tech. They will be more like buses or trains: slow, boring, reliable and affordable.

They're already slow, boring and reliable. Where I disagree is that I don't see them getting a whole lot more affordable in 15 years. Fuel and maintenance costs should continue to drop as more old planes are replaced with current and upcoming models but ticket prices have only gone up. People will continue to pay high prices for air travel unless ground travel suddenly becomes a whole lot quicker and we build highways and railroads over large bodies of water. We all seem to hate airlines, but what are you going to do, go Greyhound? Yeah, right. Air travel will continue to be both expensive and popular for the foreseeable future, especially but not only in America. Not every place has a rail system like Western Europe, nor is as compact.

Comment Re:Concorde didn't fail because of tech (Score 2) 221

It failed because the cost of tickets was unsustainable...

The Concorde failed because a tire exploded, it streaked terrifyingly across the Paris sky trailing hundreds of feet of fire, and crashed in a giant fireball, killing everyone. And then the fleet was instantly and irrevocably grounded. The program had its economic issues over the years, but was still in operation nonetheless - until the disaster.

I think you are misremembering history. Concordes were not instantly and irrevocably grounded after the 2000 Paris accident, as some flew well into 2003. Maintenance costs were rising on the old planes and demand sagged after 9/11. The Paris wreck was a heavy blow but it is not what ultimately ended Concorde service. The flight deck of those things was so antiquated by 2003 and they were so inherently crappy to fly that I'm surprised they made it that long. Incredible machines, and a real marvel in their day, but it is not accurate to say that their one and only fatal accident did them in.

And, for the record, the tire only exploded because it had help from debris another plane had left on the runway, and because other factors caused the Concorde to use more of the runway than normal on takeoff. As demanding as it was (long runway requirement, so unique to fly, incredibly thirsty, limited cargo and seating capacity, old, and expensive to maintain) the plane in question was completely airworthy. Decreased demand and increased costs related to security caused a lot of grief in the airline industry after 9/11, and didn't just kill the Concorde.

Comment The race is on? (Score 0) 221

What race is on? The race for funding for a project that requires new and unproven technology, and a ridiculously huge leap of faith, considering the fastest manned military aircraft in history has never even touched Mach 4? Yeah, um, the race is not on. Not yet, and sure as hell not any time soon. This half-assed summary reads like a bullshit Popular Mechanics blurb about someone's pie in the sky dream.

If fares were a modern equivalent of Concorde fares there would certainly be quite a few interested customers, and not just for the novelty of flying at Mach 8 or reaching any major city quicker than I can drive across Ohio. But beginning work soon on a Mach 8 commercial airliner would require skipping several logical and necessary steps, since there is currently no supersonic airliner in use or in the works and no manned military plane (some of the most advanced machines in the world) exceeds Mach 2 by very much. Achieving Mach 8 is no joke, and I can't see rocket propulsion receiving any consideration for a passenger craft.

Yet Another Compromising Preinstalled "Glitch" In Lenovo Laptops 89

New submitter execthis writes: Japanese broadcaster NHK is reporting that yet another privacy/security-compromising "glitch" has been found to exist in preinstalled software on Lenovo laptops. The article states that the glitch was found in Spring and that in late July Lenovo began releasing a program to uninstall the difficult-to-remove software. The article does not specify, but it could be referring to a BIOS utility called Lenovo Service Engine (LSE) for which Lenovo has released a security advisory with links to removal tools for various models.

Do Old Programmers Need To Keep Leaping Through New Hoops? 242

Nerval's Lobster writes: In recent years, it seems as if tech has evolved into an industry that lionizes the young. Despite all the press about 21-year-old rock-star developers and 30-year-old CEOs, though, is there still a significant market for older programmers and developers, especially those with specialized knowledge? The answer is "yes," of course, and sites like Dice suggest that older tech pros should take steps such as setting up social media accounts and spending a lot of time on Github if they want to attract interest from companies and recruiters. But do they really need to go through all of that? If you have twenty, thirty, or even forty years of solid tech work under your belt, is it worth jumping through all sorts of new hoops? Or is there a better way to keep working — provided you don't already have a job, that is, or move up to management, or get out of the game entirely in order to try something startling and new.

Lenovo Installed Software On Laptops That Persisted After Complete Wipes 163

An anonymous reader writes: The Next Web has confirmed reports from owners of Lenovo laptops that the company used a BIOS feature to install its software on the laptops even if a user wiped a device clean and reinstalled the operating system. "If Windows 7 or 8 is installed, the BIOS of the laptop checks 'C:\Windows\system32\autochk.exe' to see if it's a Microsoft file or a Lenovo-signed one, then overwrites the file with its own. Then, when the modified autochk file is executed on boot, another two files LenovoUpdate.exe and LenovoCheck.exe are created, which set up a service and download files when connected to the internet." Lenovo has published a patch to remove this functionality. The article notes that this technique seems to be sanctioned by a Microsoft policy. "Manufacturers are obligated to ensure that the mechanism can be updated if an attack is discovered and should be removable by the user, but the rules outlined in the document are fairly loose and don't require the OEM to notify the owner of the laptop that such a mechanism is in place."

The two most common things in the Universe are hydrogen and stupidity. -- Harlan Ellison