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Crime

Oklahoma Says It Will Now Use Nitrogen Gas As Its Backup Method of Execution 590

Posted by timothy
from the that's-not-the-only-cost dept.
schwit1 writes Yesterday, Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin signed into law a bill that approves the use of nitrogen gas for executions in the state. The method, which would effectively asphyxiate death row inmates by forcing them to breathe pure nitrogen through a gas mask, is meant to be the primary alternative to lethal injection, the Washington Post reports.

Fallin and other supporters of the procedure say it's pain-free and effective, noting that the nitrogen would render inmates unconscious within ten seconds and kill them in minutes. It's also cheap: state representatives say the method only requires a nitrogen tank and a gas mask, but financial analysts say its impossible to give precise figures, the Post reports.

Oklahoma's primary execution method is still lethal injection, but the state's procedure is currently under review by the Supreme Court. Earlier this week, Tennessee suspended executions statewide following challenges to its own lethal injection protocol.
The Courts

FBI Overstated Forensic Hair Matches In Nearly All Trials Before 2000 173

Posted by timothy
from the why-the-house-wins-so-often dept.
schwit1 writes The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000. Of 28 examiners with the FBI Laboratory's microscopic hair comparison unit, 26 overstated forensic matches in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95 percent of the 268 trials reviewed so far, according to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Innocence Project, which are assisting the government with the country's largest post-conviction review of questioned forensic evidence. The cases include those of 32 defendants sentenced to death. Of those, 14 have been executed or died in prison, the groups said under an agreement with the government to release results after the review of the first 200 convictions.
Earth

The Last Time Oceans Got This Acidic This Fast, 96% of Marine Life Went Extinct 417

Posted by Soulskill
from the it's-not-easy-being-green dept.
merbs writes: The biggest extinction event in planetary history was driven by the rapid acidification of our oceans, a new study concludes (abstract). So much carbon was released into the atmosphere, and the oceans absorbed so much of it so quickly, that marine life simply died off, from the bottom of the food chain up. That doesn't bode well for the present, given the similarly disturbing rate that our seas are acidifying right now. A team led by University of Edinburgh researchers collected rocks in the United Arab Emirates that were on the seafloor hundreds of millions of years ago, and used the boron isotopes found within to model the changing levels of acidification in our prehistoric oceans. They now believe that a series of gigantic volcanic eruptions in the Siberian Trap spewed a great fountain of carbon into the atmosphere over a period of tens of thousands of years. This was the first phase of the extinction event, in which terrestrial life began to die out.
Encryption

NSA Worried About Recruitment, Post-Snowden 247

Posted by Soulskill
from the should-have-thought-of-that-before-being-jerks dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The NSA employs tens of thousands of people, and they're constantly recruiting more. They're looking for 1,600 new workers this year alone. Now that their reputation has taken a major hit with the revelations of whistleblower Edward Snowden, they aren't sure they'll be able to meet that goal. Not only that, but the NSA has to compete with other companies, and they Snowden leaks made many of them more competitive: "Ever since the Snowden leaks, cybersecurity has been hot in Silicon Valley. In part that's because the industry no longer trusts the government as much as it once did. Companies want to develop their own security, and they're willing to pay top dollar to get the same people the NSA is trying to recruit." If academia's relationship with the NSA continues to cool, the agency could find itself struggling within a few years.
The Military

New Compound Quickly Disables Chemical Weapons 52

Posted by Soulskill
from the breaking-things-that-break-people dept.
sciencehabit writes: In 2013, the Syrian military allegedly launched sarin gas rockets into a rebel-held town, killing hundreds. After diplomats brokered a deal to eradicate the weapons, international organizations began the dangerous job of destroying them. One roadblock to chemical weapons disposal is that heat and humidity quickly break down enzymes that can disable the deadly chemicals. Now, researchers have developed a highly stable compound that can inactivate nerve agents like sarin in a matter of minutes.
Windows

Microsoft Finally Allows Customers To Legally Download Windows 7 ISOs 132

Posted by Soulskill
from the baby-steps dept.
MojoKid writes: It's long been a pet peeve of many end users that Microsoft has made it such a challenge to procure a legitimate ISO image of its various operating systems. It seems like the company should have no problem offering them in an easy-to-find spot on its website, because after all, it's not like they can be taken utilized without a legal key. Sometimes, people simply lose the disc or ISO they had, and so it shouldn't be such a challenge to get a replacement. Fortunately, with a new feature on the Microsoft site, you are now able to get that replacement Windows 7 ISO. However, it's behind a bit of protection. You'll need to provide your legal product code, and then the language, in order to go through to the download page. If you've somehow lost your key but are still using the OS that it's tied to, you can retrieve it through a few different third party tools. However, it does seem like not all valid keys work properly just yet, since some users are reporting valid keys throwing errors or not enabling a download for some reason.
Medicine

New Jersey Gov. Christie: Parents Should Have Choice In Vaccinations 740

Posted by Soulskill
from the welcome-to-the-worst-leg-of-the-campaign-cycle dept.
kwyjibo87 writes: New Jersey Governor and self-appointed public health expert Chris Christie weighed in on the public debate over whether or not parents should have a choice in vaccinating their children, telling reporters in the U.K., "I also understand that parents need to have some measure of choice in things as well, so that's the balance that the government has to decide." He added, "Not every vaccine is created equal and not every disease type is as great a public health threat as others." These statements from Gov. Christie follow President Obama commenting in an interview with NBC: "There is every reason to get vaccinated — there aren't reasons to not."

Gov. Christie quickly backpedaled on his "vaccine choice" comments, with the Governor's office stating, "The Governor believes vaccines are an important public health protection and with a disease like measles there is no question kids should be vaccinated," but amending: "At the same time different states require different degrees of vaccination, which is why he was calling for balance in which ones government should mandate."
Sony

Sony Sells Off Sony Online Entertainment 101

Posted by samzenpus
from the circle-of-business dept.
donniebaseball23 writes Sony Online Entertainment is to become Daybreak Game Company and turn its focus to multi-platform gaming. The company has been acquired by Columbus Nova and is now an indie studio. "We will continue to focus on delivering exceptional games to players around the world, as well as bringing our portfolio to new platforms, fully embracing the multi-platform world in which we all live," said Daybreak president John Smedley. But why did Sony shed SOE? Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter believes an online gaming company "isn't a great fit, particularly as games are shifting increasingly to a free-to-play mobile model."
Privacy

Snowden Documents: CSE Tracks Millions of Downloads Daily 103

Posted by samzenpus
from the keeping-an-eye-on-things dept.
Advocatus Diaboli writes Canada's electronic spy agency sifts through millions of videos and documents downloaded online every day by people around the world, as part of a sweeping bid to find extremist plots and suspects, CBC News has learned. Details of the Communications Security Establishment project dubbed 'Levitation' are revealed in a document obtained by U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden and recently released to CBC News. Under Levitation, analysts with the electronic eavesdropping service can access information on about 10 to 15 million uploads and downloads of files from free websites each day, the document says.
Encryption

Justice Department: Default Encryption Has Created a 'Zone of Lawlessness' 431

Posted by Soulskill
from the what-would-you-call-this-zone-that's-allegedly-associated-with-danger? dept.
Jason Koebler writes: Leslie Caldwell, an assistant attorney general at the Justice Department, said Tuesday that the department is "very concerned" by the Google's and Apple's decision to automatically encrypt all data on Android and iOS devices.

"We understand the value of encryption and the importance of security," she said. "But we're very concerned they not lead to the creation of what I would call a 'zone of lawlessness,' where there's evidence that we could have lawful access through a court order that we're prohibited from getting because of a company's technological choices.
Earth

Fish Found Living Half a Mile Under Antarctic Ice 79

Posted by timothy
from the we're-going-to-need-a-lot-more-line dept.
BarbaraHudson (3785311) writes "Researchers were startled to find fish, crustaceans and jellyfish investigating a submersible camera after drilling through nearly 2,500 feet (740 meters) of Antarctic ice. The swimmers are in one of the world's most extreme ecosystems, hidden beneath the Ross Ice Shelf, roughly 530 miles (850 kilometers) from the open ocean. "This is the closest we can get to something like Europa," said Slawek Tulaczyk, a glaciologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz and a chief scientist on the drilling project. More pictures here."
Crime

Innocent Adults Are Easy To Convince They Committed a Serious Crime 291

Posted by timothy
from the well-you-did-you-know dept.
binarstu (720435) writes "Research recently published [link is to abstract only; full text requires subscription] in Psychological Science quantifies how easy it is to convince innocent, "normal" adults that they committed a crime. The Association for Psychological Science (APS) has posted a nice summary of the research. From the APS summary: "Evidence from some wrongful-conviction cases suggests that suspects can be questioned in ways that lead them to falsely believe in and confess to committing crimes they didn't actually commit. New research provides lab-based evidence for this phenomenon, showing that innocent adult participants can be convinced, over the course of a few hours, that they had perpetrated crimes as serious as assault with a weapon in their teenage years."
Censorship

Pope Francis: There Are Limits To Freedom of Expression 894

Posted by timothy
from the what-else-would-the-pope-say? dept.
hcs_$reboot writes Pope Francis spoke about the Paris terror attacks, defending free speech as not only a fundamental human right but a duty to speak one's mind for the sake of the common good. But he added there were limits. While Francis insisted that it was an "aberration" to kill in the name of God and said religion can never be used to justify violence, he said there was a limit to free speech when it concerned offending someone's religious beliefs. By way of example, he referred to a friend: "if someone says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch". "There are so many people who speak badly about religions or other religions, who make fun of them, who make a game out of the religions of others," he said. "They are provocateurs."
Image

South Korean Activist To Drop "The Interview" In North Korea Using Balloons 146 Screenshot-sm

Posted by samzenpus
from the it's-raining-movies dept.
Siddharth Srinivas writes Park Sang Hak, a North Korean democracy activist, said he will start dropping 100,000 DVDs and USBs with Sony's The Interview by balloon in North Korea as early as late January. He's partnering with the U.S.-based non-profit Human Rights Foundation, which is financing the making of the DVDs and USB memory sticks of the movie with Korean subtitles.
Botnet

Ask Slashdot: What Should We Do About the DDoS Problem? 312

Posted by Soulskill
from the build-another-internet-and-don't-tell-the-hackers dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Distributed denial of service attacks have become a big problem. The internet protocol is designed to treat unlimited amounts of unsolicited traffic identically to important traffic from real users. While it's true DDoS attacks can be made harder by fixing traffic amplification exploits (including botnets), and smarter service front ends, there really doesn't seem to be any long term solution in the works. Does anyone know of any plans to actually try and fix the problem?

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