Velcroman1 writes "Banking giant JPMorgan Chase has filed a patent application for an electronic commerce system that sounds remarkably like Bitcoin — but never mentions the controversial, Internet-only currency. The patent application was filed in early August but made publicly available only at the end of November; it describes a 'method and system for processing Internet payments using the electronic funds transfer network.' The system would allow people to pay bills anonymously over the Internet through an electronic transfer of funds — just like Bitcoin. It would allow for micropayments without processing fees — just like bitcoin. And it could kill off wire transfers through companies like Western Union — just like Bitcoin. There are 18,126 words in the patent application. 'Bitcoin' is not one of them."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "The Tulsa World reports that in their zeal to tout their faith in the public square, conservatives in Oklahoma may have unwittingly opened the door to a wide range of religious groups, including satanists who are now seeking to put their own statue next to a Ten Commandments monument on the Statehouse steps. The Republican-controlled Legislature in Oklahoma authorized the privately funded Ten Commandments monument in 2009, and it was placed on the Capitol grounds last year despite criticism from legal experts who questioned its constitutionality. But the New York-based Satanic Temple saw an opportunity and notified the state's Capitol Preservation Commission that it wants to donate a monument too. 'We believe that all monuments should be in good taste and consistent with community standards,' Lucien Greaves wrote in letter to state officials. 'Our proposed monument, as an homage to the historic/literary Satan, will certainly abide by these guidelines.' Brady Henderson, legal director for ACLU Oklahoma, said if state officials allow one type of religious expression, they must allow alternative forms of expression, although he said a better solution might be to allow none at all on state property. 'We would prefer to see Oklahoma's government officials work to faithfully serve our communities and improve the lives of Oklahomans instead of erecting granite monuments to show us all how righteous they are,' says Henderson. 'But if the Ten Commandments, with its overtly Christian message, is allowed to stay at the Capitol, the Satanic Temple's proposed monument cannot be rejected because of its different religious viewpoint.'"
An anonymous reader writes "The U.S. Centers for Disease Control have announced that measles cases in the U.S. spiked this year, rising to three times their recent average rate. It's partly due to a greater number of people traveling to the U.S. when they're infectious, but also because a frustrating number of people are either failing to have their children vaccinated, or are failing to do so in a timely manner. Dr. Thomas Friedman said, 'Around 90 percent of the people who have had measles in this country were not vaccinated either because they refused, or were not vaccinated on time.' Phil Plait adds, 'In all three of these outbreaks, someone who had not been vaccinated traveled overseas and brought the disease back with them, which then spread due to low vaccination rates in their communities. It's unclear how much religious beliefs themselves were behind the outbreaks in Brooklyn and North Carolina; it may have been due to widespread secular anti-vax beliefs in those tight-knit groups. But either way, a large proportion of the people in those areas were unvaccinated.'"
An anonymous reader writes with news of a device built by a company in the U.K. which uses pulses of electromagnetic energy to disrupt the electronic systems of modern cars, causing them to shut down and cut the engine. Here's a description of how it works: "At one end of a disused runway, E2V assembled a varied collection of second-hand cars and motorbikes in order to test the prototype against a range of vehicles. In demonstrations seen by the BBC a car drove towards the device at about 15mph (24km/h). As the vehicle entered the range of the RF Safe-stop, its dashboard warning lights and dials behaved erratically, the engine stopped and the car rolled gently to a halt. Digital audio and video recording devices in the vehicle were also affected.''It's a small radar transmitter,' said Andy Wood, product manager for the machine. 'The RF [radio frequency] is pulsed from the unit just as it would be in radar, it couples into the wiring in the car and that disrupts and confuses the electronics in the car causing the engine to stall.'"
Z80xxc! writes "Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos revealed during a CBS 60 Minutes interview that the company is working on a service called 'Prime Air' to deliver packages by autonomous octocopter drones within 30 minutes of hitting the 'buy' button. The plan still requires more testing and FAA approval, but Bezos predicts it'll be available to the public in the next 4-5 years. With a lot of backlash against drones, and some towns even offering bounties to shoot them down, will this technology ever take off, or is this just another one of Amazon's eccentric CEO's fantastical flight ideas?"
Charliemopps writes "For 20 years the password for the U.S. nuclear arsenal was '00000000.' Kennedy instituted a security system on all nuclear warheads to prevent them from being armed by someone unauthorized. It was called PAL, and promised to secure the entire US arsenal around the world. Unfortunately for Kennedy (and I guess, the whole world) U.S. military leadership was more concerned about delaying a launch than securing Armageddon. They technically obeyed the order but then set the password to 8 Zeros, or '00000000'."
rtoz writes "The American intelligence service — NSA — infected more than 50,000 computer networks worldwide with malicious software designed to steal sensitive information, documents provided by former NSA-employee Edward Snowden show."
Microsoft released the Xbox One today, putting the next-gen console war into full swing. A common theme throughout most of the reviews is that properly evaluating the system is going to take time. Not only are updates for the console continuing to roll out, but the usefulness of some of its technology will depend on what game-makers and other content producers can do with it. Digital Foundry says, "It is willing to make the trades on gaming power in order to potentially revolutionize the way we interact with entertainment in the living room." The Penny Arcade Report calls the hardware and UI a "confusing mess" — until you learn to use it, at which point the hands-free navigation is fast and convenient. Polygon's review is once again visually-oriented, providing a good look at the UI, comparing the controller with the Xbox 360's controller, and giving a demonstration of how Kinect recognizes users. Their conclusion is that while "Kinect isn't a fully realized product yet," "the Xbox One feels like it's from the future." iFixit has a full teardown of the Xbox One, giving it a repairability score of 8/10 (the Kinect sensor gets 6/10). HotHardware has more details about the console's internals, including power consumption and temperature readings. Eurogamer has a compilation of launch coverage, including launch title reviews.
Wired reports that IceCube, the detection facility built just to detect such things, has seen just what it was looking for, even though the researchers involved didn't know it at the time. High-energy neutrinos, the target that IceCube was seeking, weren't showing up as had been hoped, but it turns out that there were quite a few (nearly 30 already, with 2013's data still being recorded) in the three years that the detector has been operating — they just weren't obvious until the data was combed for it. "Most of the 28 high-energy neutrinos so far detected originate from parts of the night sky that don’t include the Milky Way, making it quite likely that they are arriving from a distant source. There are still too few neutrinos to make any specific conclusions about AGNs or gamma-ray bursts, but the IceCube team will continue gathering new data."
An anonymous reader writes in with news about a NASA project that aims to grow plants on the moon in specially made containers. "In 2015, NASA will attempt to make history by growing plants on the Moon. If they are successful, it will be the first time humans have ever brought life to another planetary body. The Lunar Plant Growth Habitat team, a group of NASA scientists, contractors, students and volunteers, is finally bringing to life an idea that has been discussed and debated for decades. They will try to grow arabidopsis, basil, sunflowers, and turnips in coffee-can-sized aluminum cylinders that will serve as plant habitats. But these are no ordinary containers – they’re packed to the brim with cameras, sensors, and electronics that will allow the team to receive image broadcasts of the plants as they grow. These habitats will have to be able to successfully regulate their own temperature, water intake, and power supply in order to brave the harsh lunar climate."
ananyo writes "New genome sequences from two extinct human relatives suggest that these 'archaic' groups bred with humans and with each other more extensively than was previously known. The ancient genomes, one from a Neanderthal and one from a different archaic human group, the Denisovans, were presented at a meeting at the Royal Society in London. They suggest that interbreeding went on between the members of several ancient human-like groups living in Europe and Asia more than 30,000 years ago, including an as-yet unknown human ancestor from Asia. 'What it begins to suggest is that we're looking at a 'Lord of the Rings'-type world — that there were many hominid populations,' says Mark Thomas, an evolutionary geneticist at University College London who was at the meeting but was not involved in the work."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "The Boston Globe reports that the pending use of GPS tracking devices, slated to be installed in Boston police cruisers, has many officers worried that commanders will monitor their every move. Boston police administrators say the system gives dispatchers the ability to see where officers are, rather than wait for a radio response and supervisors insist the system will improve their response to emergencies. Using GPS, they say, accelerates their response to a call for a shooting or an armed robbery. 'We'll be moving forward as quickly as possible,' says former police commissioner Edward F. Davis. 'There are an enormous amount of benefits. . . . This is clearly an important enhancement and should lead to further reductions in crime.' But some officers said they worry that under such a system they will have to explain their every move and possibly compromise their ability to court street sources. 'No one likes it. Who wants to be followed all over the place?' said one officer who spoke anonymously because department rules forbid police from speaking to the media without authorization. 'If I take my cruiser and I meet [reluctant witnesses] to talk, eventually they can follow me and say why were you in a back dark street for 45 minutes? It's going to open up a can of worms that can't be closed.' Meanwhile civil libertarians are relishing the rank and file's own backlash. 'The irony of police objecting to GPS technology for privacy reasons is hard to miss in the aftermath of United States v. Jones,' says Woodrow Hartzog. 'But the officers' concerns about privacy illustrate just how revealing GPS technology can be. Departments are going to have to confront the chilling effect this surveillance might have on police behavior.'"
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Congress held its first-ever hearing on virtual currencies this afternoon, and it may have been the best PR boost bitcoin's had yet. The tone at the hearing held before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee was overwhelmingly positive as the panel weighed the risks of the technology that grew out of the criminal underbelly of the web, with the potential economic value of the now-booming futurist money. The prevailing sentiment over the two-hour deep dive into the pros and cons of the digital coins boils down to this: We need to uphold America's position as center of technical innovation by welcoming the new currency—but that that can't be done without government safeguards and regulations." SonicSpike wrote in with a link to another report in Bloomberg. The Federal Reserve has no plans to regulate Bitcoin (lacking regulatory authority), but the SEC chair wrote "Regardless of whether an underlying virtual currency is itself a security, interests issued by entities owning virtual currencies or providing returns based on assets such as virtual currencies likely would be securities and therefore subject to our regulation."
McGruber writes "The Washington Post reports that 'Federal prosecutors have not filed a sealed indictment against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, despite persistent rumors that a nearly three-year grand jury investigation into him and his organization had secretly led to charges, according to senior law enforcement sources. ... "Nothing has occurred so far," said one law enforcement official with knowledge of the case. "If Assange came to the U.S. today, he would not be arrested. But I can't predict what's going to happen. He might be in six months." The law enforcement official providing this assurance chose to remain anonymous.'"