Bismillah writes Wikileaks' latest release of documents shows that the Australian New South Wales police force has spent millions on licenses for the FinFisher set of law enforcement spy- and malware tools — and still has active licenses. What it uses FinFisher, which has been deployed against dissidents by oppressive regimes, for is yet to be revealed. NSW Police spokesperson John Thompson said it would not be appropriate to comment "given this technology relates to operational capability".
curtwoodward writes: Many states have laws that prevent car manufacturers from operating their own dealerships, a throwback to the days when Detroit tried to undercut its franchise dealers by opening company-owned shops. But dealers have taken those laws to the extreme as they battle new competition from Tesla, which is selling its cars direct to the public. In some states, dealers have succeeded in limiting Tesla's direct-sales model. But not in Massachusetts (PDF): the state's Supreme Court says the dealers don't have any right to sue Tesla for unfair competition, since they're not Tesla dealers. No harm, no foul.
blottsie writes After months of heated debate, viral campaigns, deliberate "slowdowns" and record-breaking public responses, the Federal Communications Commission is finally set to decide how "net neutrality"—the principle that all data must be treated equally by Internet service providers (ISPs)—should look in the U.S., or if it should exist at all. Today, Sept. 15, the FCC officially closes its public comment period on its latest net neutrality proposal. The plan enables ISPs to discriminate against certain types of data, in certain circumstances, by charging extra for broadband “fast lanes” between content providers—like Netflix or YouTube—and users.
The Associated Press reports (here, as carried by the Washington Times) that The White House is asking Congress for $58 million above current levels to speed the production of promising drugs to fight Ebola and additional flexibility for the Department of Homeland Security to cope with the thousands of unaccompanied Central American children still arriving at the southern border. ... [T]he $58 million request for the Centers for Disease Control would help the agency ramp up production and testing of the experimental drug called ZMapp, which has shown promise in fighting the Ebola epidemic in western Africa. It would also help keep the development and manufacturing of two Ebola vaccines on track. The White House request also seeks to use $10 million in unused balances at the Department of Health and Human Services to help with the Ebola outbreak in Africa. The scarcity of ZMapp, the most promising treatment known for Ebola, is such that the third U.S. doctor to have been returned after being infected by the disease will be treated without it.
Jason Koebler (3528235) writes When someone with an e-tattoo or an implanted biochip inevitably commits a crime, and evidence of that crime exists on that device within them, do they have a legal right to protect that evidence? Do cyborgs have the same rights as humans? "The more you take a thing with no rights and integrate it indelibly into a thing that we invest with rights, the more you inevitably confront the question: Do you give the thing with no rights rights, or do you take those rights away from the thing with rights?," Benjamin Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, who just released a paper exploring the subject, said.
Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes In South Carolina a 16-year old boy, Alex Stone, was arrested and charged with creating a disturbance at his school, as well as suspended, for choosing to write: "I killed my neighbor's pet dinosaur. I bought the gun to take care of the business," in response to a class writing assignment. The story has attracted international attention.
tlhIngan writes Municipal broadband is in the news again — this time Chief of Staff Matthew Berry, speaking at the National Conference of State Legislatures, has endorsed states' right to ban municipal broadband networks and warned the (Democrat-led) FCC to not do anything that a future Republican led FCC would dislike. The argument is that municipal broadband discourages private investment in broadband communications, that taxpayer-funded projects are barriers to future infrastructure investment.
An anonymous reader writes with a link to a story in the LA Times: "Few places in the country are so warm and bright as Mary Wilkerson's property on the beach near St. Petersburg, Fla., a city once noted in the Guinness Book of World Records for a 768-day stretch of sunny days. But while Florida advertises itself as the Sunshine State, power company executives and regulators have worked successfully to keep most Floridians from using that sunshine to generate their own power. Wilkerson discovered the paradox when she set out to harness sunlight into electricity for the vintage cottages she rents out at Indian Rocks Beach. She would have had an easier time installing solar panels, she found, if she had put the homes on a flatbed and transported them to chilly Massachusetts. While the precise rules vary from state to state, one explanation is the same: opposition from utilities grown nervous by the rapid encroachment of solar firms on their business."
Around the world, American schools' long summer break is viewed as an anomaly, and the long summer seems to be getting shorter. While most American primary and secondary schools used to start after Labor Day, more and more of them now open sometime in August (and that's not counting the ones that have gone to a year-round schedule). Some of my younger relatives started a new school year last week (in Indiana), while Baltimore schools start later this month. Both Seattle and Portland's kids have until after Labor Day (with start dates of the 3rd and 4th of September, respectively). The 4th is also the start date for students in New York City's public schools, the country's largest district. Colleges more often start in September, but some get a jump start in August, especially with required seminars or orientation programs for new students. Whether you're in school, out of school, or back in school by proxy (packing lunches or paying tuition), what time does (or did) your school-year start? Would you prefer that your local public schools run all year round, if they're of the long-summer variety? (And conversely, if your local schools give short shrift to summer, whether that's in the U.S. or anywhere else, do you think that's a good idea?)
rtoz writes Researchers at MIT, Microsoft, and Adobe have developed an algorithm that can reconstruct an audio signal by analyzing minute vibrations of objects depicted in video. In one set of experiments, they were able to recover intelligible speech from the vibrations of a potato-chip bag (video) photographed from 15 feet away through soundproof glass.
Dave Knott sends this news from the CBC: Tesla stock was up five per cent on Friday morning after CEO Elon Musk said the electric-car company would deliver 100,000 vehicles next year. Its earnings report released Thursday shows Tesla continues to operate at a loss as it spends on engineering and setting up an assembly line for its Model X SUV, which is scheduled to go into production early next year. But investors were cheered by the news that the company would deliver 100,000 vehicles next year, up from 22,000 in 2013 and a projected 35,000 this year. Tesla reported a loss of $61.9 million in its second quarter, compared with a loss of $30.5 million in the same quarter a year ago. Revenue nearly doubled to $769.3 million, missing Wall Street's forecast of $801.9 million, but expenses were also up as Tesla prepares some ambitious projects, spending $93 million in the quarter on research and development alone. While the Model X is in development, the longer-term plan is for a cheaper, mass-market car, the Model 3, to be launched in 2017. The biggest investment Tesla will make is in its large lithium-ion production plant, to be built at an as-yet-unnamed U.S. location in a $5-billion partnership with Panasonic.
acidradio (659704) writes American air charter specialist Phoenix Air has been contracted by the U.S. Army to haul an American physician afflicted with Ebola from Liberia to the Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. This will be the first 'purposeful' transport of an Ebola victim to the U.S. The patient will be flown in a special Gulfstream III (formerly owned by the Danish Air Force) outfitted for very specialized medical transports such as this. I dunno. I know there are brilliant doctors and scientists in Atlanta who handle highly-communicable diseases, but is this such a brilliant idea? theodp (442580) writes with related news In response to the Ebola outbreak, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued Interim Guidance about Ebola Virus Infection for Airline Flight Crews, Cleaning Personnel, and Cargo Personnel. "Ebola virus is transmitted by close contact with a person who has symptoms of Ebola," the CDC explains. "Close contact is defined as having cared for or lived with a person with Ebola or having a high likelihood of direct contact with blood or body fluids of an Ebola patient. Examples of close contact include kissing or embracing, sharing eating or drinking utensils, close conversation (3 feet), physical examination, and any other direct physical contact between people. Close contact does not include walking by a person or briefly sitting across a room from a person."
mrspoonsi sends word that researchers from Temple University have managed to eliminate the HIV-1 virus from human cells for the first time. "When deployed, a combination of a DNA-snipping enzyme called a nuclease and a targeting strand of RNA called a guide RNA (gRNA) hunt down the viral genome and excise the HIV-1 DNA (abstract). From there, the cell's gene repair machinery takes over, soldering the loose ends of the genome back together – resulting in virus-free cells." While antiretroviral therapy can treat people who are infected with HIV, the immune system is incapable of actually removing the virus, so this is an important step in fighting it. The researchers still have to overcome the problem of delivering the the genetic "toolkit" to each affected cell in a patient's body, and also HIV's high mutation rate.
mpicpp points out a report in the Chicago Tribune saying that thousands of the city's drivers have been wrongfully ticketed for red light violations because of "faulty equipment, human tinkering, or both." The Tribune's investigation uncovered the bogus tickets by analyzing the data from over 4 million tickets issued in the past seven years. Cameras that for years generated just a few tickets daily suddenly caught dozens of drivers a day. One camera near the United Center rocketed from generating one ticket per day to 56 per day for a two-week period last summer before mysteriously dropping back to normal. Tickets for so-called rolling right turns on red shot up during some of the most dramatic spikes, suggesting an unannounced change in enforcement. One North Side camera generated only a dozen tickets for rolling rights out of 100 total tickets in the entire second half of 2011. Then, over a 12-day spike, it spewed 563 tickets — 560 of them for rolling rights. Many of the spikes were marked by periods immediately before or after when no tickets were issued — downtimes suggesting human intervention that should have been documented. City officials said they cannot explain the absence of such records.
An anonymous reader writes When Google+ launched, it received criticism across the internet for requiring that users register with their real names. Now, Google has finally relented and removed all restrictions on what usernames people are allowed to use. The company said, "We know you've been calling for this change for a while. We know that our names policy has been unclear, and this has led to some unnecessarily difficult experiences for some of our users. For this we apologize, and we hope that today's change is a step toward making Google+ the welcoming and inclusive place that we want it to be."