Submission + - The swamp Wins: EPA backs off plans to end or reduce ethanol policy (washingtontimes.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Scott Pruitt, EPA head, has retreated from his plans to reduce or end the program that subsidizes and encourages the use of ethanol in automobile gasoline.

After heavy pressure from lawmakers and other stakeholders, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt on Thursday night sided with pro-ethanol lawmakers and said his agency will abandon many controversial changes to the nation’s ethanol mandate — prompting a top biofuels leader to claim that Mr. Pruitt apparently has had an “epiphany” over the past few days.

In a letter to seven key senators, Mr. Pruitt — who had been critical of ethanol during his time as Oklahoma attorney general — shot down several major concerns about looming adjustments to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the federal law that requires the blending of ethanol with gasoline.

The letter comes just days after Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican and perhaps the loudest pro-ethanol voice in Congress, threatened to hold up nominees for top-level EPA posts if Mr. Pruitt didn’t acquiesce to their demands on the RFS.

It is going to take many years to drain the swamp, since it presently holds great power and is willing to use it to maintain its corrupt control over your money.

Submission + - Tech Companies To Lobby For Immigrant 'Dreamers' To Remain In US (reuters.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Nearly two dozen major companies in technology and other industries are planning to launch a coalition to demand legislation that would allow young, illegal immigrants a path to permanent residency, according to documents seen by Reuters. The Coalition for the American Dream intends to ask Congress to pass bipartisan legislation this year that would allow these immigrants, often referred to as “Dreamers,” to continue working in the United States, the documents said. Alphabet Inc’s Google, Microsoft Corp, Amazon.com Inc, Facebook Inc, Intel Corp, Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL], IBM Corp, Marriott International Inc and other top U.S. companies are listed as members, one of the documents shows. The push for this legislation comes after President Donald Trump’s September decision to allow the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to expire in March. That program, established by former President Barack Obama in 2012, allows approximately 900,000 illegal immigrants to obtain work permits. Some 800 companies signed a letter to Congressional leaders after Trump’s decision, calling for legislation protecting Dreamers. That effort was spearheaded by a pro-immigration reform group Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg co-founded in 2013 called FWD.us.

Submission + - Vungle CEO Arrested for Child Rape and Attempted Murder

Freshly Exhumed writes: Website Axios is working to get details about a revelation on a government website that Vungle CEO Zain Jaffer is facing charges at the Maple Street Correctional Center in Redwood City, California of attempted murder, a lewd act on a child, oral copulation of a person under 14, child abuse, assault with a deadly weapon and battery upon an officer and emergency personnel. Vungle is self-described on its web site as "the leading in-app video advertising platform for performance marketers", and was founded by Jaffer in 2011.

Submission + - Body Camera Study Shows No Effect On Police Use of Force Or Citizen Complaints (npr.org)

An anonymous reader writes: Having police officers wear little cameras seems to have no discernible impact on citizen complaints or officers' use of force, at least in the nation's capital. That's the conclusion of a study performed as Washington, D.C., rolled out its huge camera program. The city has one of the largest forces in the country, with some 2,600 officers now wearing cameras on their collars or shirts. In the wake of high-profile shootings, many police departments have been rapidly adopting body-worn cameras, despite a dearth of solid research on how the technology can change policing. "We need science, rather than our speculations about it, to try to answer and understand what impacts the cameras are having," says David Yokum, director of the Lab @ DC. His group worked with local police officials to make sure that cameras were handed out in a way that let the researchers carefully compare officers who were randomly assigned to get cameras with those who were not. The study ran from June 2015 to last December. It's to be expected that these cameras might have little impact on the behavior of police officers in Washington, D.C., he says, because this particular force went through about a decade of federal oversight to help improve the department.

Submission + - Google Says 64 Percent of Chrome Traffic On Android Now Protected With HTTPS (techcrunch.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Google’s push to make the web more secure by flagging sites using insecure HTTP connections appears to be working. The company announced today that 64 percent of Chrome traffic on Android is now protected, up 42 percent from a year ago. In addition, over 75 percent of Chrome traffic on both ChromeOS and Mac is now protected, up from 60 percent on Mac and 67 percent on ChromeOS a year ago. Windows traffic is up to 66 percent from 51 percent. Google also notes that 71 of the top 100 websites now use HTTPS by default, up from 37 percent a year ago. In the U.S., HTTPS usage in Chrome is up from 59 percent to 73 percent. Combined, these metrics paint a picture of fairly rapid progress in the switchover to HTTPS. This is something that Google has been heavily pushing by flagging and pressuring sites that hadn’t yet adopted HTTPS.

Submission + - Twitter will end revenge porn next week, hate speech in two (arstechnica.com)

AmiMoJo writes: In the beginning of 2017, Twitter said it would take on harassment and hate speech. CEO Jack Dorsey said the company would embrace a "completely new approach to abuse on Twitter" with open dialogue along the way. The changes begin next week. On October 27, Twitter will expand what types of "non-consensual nudity" (aka "revenge porn") that it takes action against. The company will already act when a victim complains, but Twitter will soon act even in cases where the victims may not be aware images were taken, instances like upskirt photos and hidden webcams. On November 3, Twitter will ban hate imagery in profile headers and avatars, and the service will start suspending accounts "for organizations that use violence to advance their cause." The same day it will institute a policy of stopping "Unwanted Sexual Advances," although the company says it has already been taking enforcement actions on this front. Later in November, Twitter will ban "hateful display names."

Submission + - Body Camera Giant Wants Police To Collect Your Videos Too (fastcompany.com)

tedlistens writes: Axon, the police supplier formerly known as Taser and now a leading maker of police body cameras, has also charged into police software with a service that allows police to manage and eventually analyze increasingly large caches of video, like a Dropbox for cops. Now it wants to add the public's video to the mix: An online tool called Citizen, set to launch later this year, will allow police to solicit the public for photos or video in the aftermath of suspected crimes and ingest them into Axon's online data platform. .

But systems like Citizen still raise new privacy and policy questions, and could test the limits of already brittle police-community relations. Would Citizen, for instance, also be useful for gathering civilian evidence of incidents of police misconduct or brutality? And how would ingesting citizen video into online police databases, like Axon's Evidence.com, allow police to mine it later for suspicious activity, in a sort of dragnet fashion? "It all depends," says one observer, "on how agencies use the tool."

Submission + - US AG Sessions Coming After Bitcoin (coindesk.com)

SonicSpike writes: U.S. Attorney General Jeffrey Sessions is concerned about the use of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in illicit transactions.

During his testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, Sessions – a former U.S. senator himself – highlighted the use of bitcoin in response to a question by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) about dark markets, or online marketplaces

“[Dark web users] use bitcoins and other untraceable financial capabilities and it is a big problem.”

In his remarks, Sessions referred to the closure of two dark markets, including previous ecosystem leader AlphaBay, following a crackdown by US authorities. Sessions claimed that AlphaBay's client base constituted "240,000 accounts where individuals were selling for the most part illegal substances and guns, including fentanyl."

Law enforcement officials have long expressed concern about the use of cryptocurrencies by dark markets, arguing that they obscure the paper trail that investigators might follow. Agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation have targeted this use case when seeking funds to bolster their cybercrime efforts, a trend that arguably began in the wake of the closure of the Silk Road, once the world's top dark market.

Sessions' appearance yesterday also led to indications that Congress may take up specific measures related to dark markets.

In her remarks, Sen. Feinstein stated that she would like to work with Sessions and the Justice Department on issues surrounding the dark web, potentially through legislation or alternative actions.

Submission + - Software Developer Creates Personal Cryptocurrency (wired.com)

mirandakatz writes: If you want to pick Evan Prodromou's brain—as many people often do—you'll have to pay him. And not just a consulting fee: You'll have to pay him in his own personal cryptocurrency, dubbed Evancoin. Currently, 20 days after his Initial Coin Offering, a single Evancoin is worth $45. As Prodromou tells Scott Rosenberg at Backchannel, “I’m not above a stunt! But in this case I’m really serious about exploring how cryptocurrency is changing what we can do with money and how we think about it. Money is this sort of consensual hallucination, and I wanted to experiment around that.” Read on to learn what, exactly, goes into creating a personal cryptocurrency, and whether Evancoin could becoming a phenomenon that spreads.

Submission + - Arkansas Will Pay Up To $1,000 Cash to Kids Who Pass AP Computer Science A Exam

theodp writes: The State of Arkansas will be handing out cash to high school students who pass an Advanced Placement test in computer science. "The purpose of the incentive program is to increase the number of qualifying scores (3, 4, or 5) on Advanced Placement Computer Science A exams," explained a press release for the Arkansas Advanced Placement Computer Science A Incentive Program (only 87 Arkansas public school students passed the AP CS A exam in 2016, according to College Board data). Gov. Asa Hutchinson added, "The Arkansas Department of Education’s incentive for high scores on the AP Computer Science A exam is a terrific way to reward our students for their hard work in school. The real payoff for their hard work, of course, is when they show their excellent transcripts to potential employers who offer good salaries for their skills." The tiered monetary awards call for public school students receiving a top score of 5 on the AP CS A exam to receive $1,000, with another $250 going to their schools. Scores of 4 will earn students $750 and schools $150, while a score of 3 will result in a $250 payday for students and $50 for their schools. The program evokes memories of the College Board's Google-funded AP STEM Access program, which rewarded AP STEM teachers with a $100 DonorsChoose.org gift card for each student who received a 3, 4, or 5 on an AP exam. DonorsChoose.org credits were also offered later by tech-bankrolled Code.org and Google to teachers who got their students coding.

Submission + - First mass-produced electric truck unveiled (nhk.or.jp)

AmiMoJo writes: Japan's Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus has unveiled what it says is the world's first mass-produced electric truck, as automakers around the world go all out to develop cars that run on battery power. The vehicle can carry about 3 tons of cargo and travel about 100 kilometers on a single charge. The truck, unveiled on Thursday, will be used by Japan's largest convenience store chain, Seven-Eleven. Seven-Eleven President Kazuki Furuya says some people complain about the noise delivery vehicles make, and says he is very impressed at how quiet the electric truck is.

Submission + - Is Freedom of Political Expression About To Be Curtailed? 1

superwiz writes: Alan Dershowitz, a Constitutional scholar and a Harvard Law professor, made a public prediction that freedom of political expression guaranteed by the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution would come under attack "soon". He made his prediction in 2008 in this speech:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPbr5ak6FaU&t=970.

And he outlined the reason for it quite simple: until recently public speech was only the domain of few privileged individuals. But as it becomes the domain of everyone more and more, the elites have more to gain by suppressing it. His outline starts at

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPbr5ak6FaU&t=1070.

Variety of sources reported today that Sen. McCain (R) joined Sens. Mark Warner(D) and Amy Klobuchar(D) in introducing legislature which would require disclosure of political ad buys on the Internet if the amount spent on the ads was $500 or greater. Ostensibly this law was introduced in response to "Russian interfering in the US election" in the form of a $100,000 ad buy on Facebook.

The language used to justify the legislature is somewhat misleading in that it attempts to paint "social media" as a new type of "media", claiming that it simply tries to bring new media inline with the old media. But it completely ignores the "social" part of the "social media", which makes it more akin to a town square than to the old broadcast media such as radio and TV.

A more cynical point of view is that every law has instances of potential overreach in enforcement. So it is plausible to expect that this law can be used as an instrument to quash or de-anonymize political posts of opponents by future political operatives. The very low threshold requiring deanonymizing ($500) puts a huge burden of proof on any social media company (such as Slashdot) to prove that its comments section does not get hijacked by astro-turfing. The counter argument, of course, is that the law doesn't require reporting sources of free posts. Any law, however, will have as chilling an effect as its worst successful application.

If this law passes, should we expect to see prohibition on AC posts after the 1st time a judge declares that politically-bent comments on Slashdot are no different from paid advertisements? Can Slashdot, or even some of the smaller sites, withstand such legal assaults on its format by well-funded future political campaigns?

Submission + - Facebook security boss says its corporate network is run "like a college campus" (zdnet.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Facebook's security chief has told employees that the social media giant needs to improve its internal security practices to be more akin to a defense contractor, according to a leaked recording obtained by ZDNet.

Alex Stamos made the comments to employees at a late-July internal meeting where he argued that the company had not done enough to respond to the growing threats that the company faces, citing both technical challenges and cultural issues at the company.

"The threats that we are facing have increased significantly and the quality of the adversaries that we are facing," he said. "Both technically and from a cultural perspective I don't feel like we have caught up with our responsibility."

"The way that I explain to [management] is that we have the threat profile of a Northrop Grumman or a Raytheon or another defense contractor, but we run our corporate network, for example, like a college campus, almost," he said.

Submission + - Blockchain: a new way to control nuclear smuggling (thebulletin.org)

meckdevil writes: Bitcoin's underlying technology, blockchain, has applications that reach far beyond cryptocurrency. Blockchain could be used to store property records, keep financial accounts, support "smart" contracts and—possibly— prevent the illicit trafficking of material and technology related to weapons of mass destruction.

Submission + - Judge shocked to learn NYPD's evidence database has no backup (arstechnica.com)

schwit1 writes: As part of an ongoing legal battle to get the New York City Police Department to track money police have grabbed in cash forfeitures, an attorney for the city told a Manhattan judge on October 17 that part of the reason the NYPD can’t comply with such requests is that the department’s evidence database has no backup. If the database servers that power NYPD’s Property and Evidence Tracking System (PETS)—designed and installed by Capgemini under a $25.5 million contract between 2009 and 2012—were to fail, all data on stored evidence would simply cease to exist.

Courthouse News reported that Manhattan Supreme Court judge Arlene Bluth responded repeatedly to the city’s attorney with the same phrase: “That’s insane.”

Submission + - Senators Announce New Bill That Would Regulate Online Political Ads (theverge.com)

An anonymous reader writes: As tech companies face continued scrutiny over Russian activity on their ad platforms, Senators today announced legislation meant to regulate political ads on the internet. The new bill, called the Honest Ads Act, would require companies like Facebook and Google to keep copies of political ads and make them publicly available. Under the act, the companies would also be required to release information on who those ads were targeted to, as well as information on the buyer and the rates charged for the ads. The new rules would bring disclosure rules more in line with how political ads are regulated in mediums like print and TV, and apply to any platform with more than 50 million monthly viewers. The companies would be required to keep and release data on anyone spending more than $500 on political ads in a year. It’s unclear how well the bill will fare. Companies like Facebook have been successfully fighting regulations for years. But this latest attempt has some bipartisan support: the act, sponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) is also co-sponsored by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). “Americans deserve to know who’s paying for the online ads,” Klobuchar said at a press conference announcing the legislation.

Submission + - Canadian Spy Agency open-sources it's "Assembly Line" malware fighting tool. (www.cbc.ca)

Pig Hogger writes:

Canada's electronic spy agency says it is taking the "unprecedented step" of releasing one of its own cyber defence tools to the public, in a bid to help companies and organizations better defend their computers and networks against malicious threats.
The Communications Security Establishment (CSE) rarely goes into detail about its activities — both offensive and defensive — and much of what is known about the agency's activities have come from leaked documents obtained by U.S. National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden and published in recent years.
But as of late, CSE has acknowledged it needs to do a better job of explaining to Canadians exactly what it does. Today, it is pulling back the curtain on an open-source malware analysis tool called Assemblyline that CSE says is used to protect the Canadian government's sprawling infrastructure each day.
"It's a tool that helps our analysts know what to look at, because it's overwhelming for the number of people we have to be able to protect things," Scott Jones, who heads the agency's IT security efforts, said in an interview with CBC News.

So, would you trust your files to some spookware, no matter how open-source it is?

Submission + - AI Breakthrough Takes Us One Step Closer To The Singularity. (gizmodo.com)

schwit1 writes: Remember AlphaGo, the first artificial intelligence to defeat a grandmaster at Go? Well, the program just got a major upgrade, and it can now teach itself how to dominate the game without any human intervention. But get this: In a tournament that pitted AI against AI, this juiced-up version, called AlphaGo Zero, defeated the regular AlphaGo by a whopping 100 games to 0, signifying a major advance in the field. Hear that? It’s the technological singularity inching ever closer.

A new paper published in Nature today describeshow the artificially intelligent system that defeated Go grandmaster Lee Sedol in 2016 got its digital ass kicked by a new-and-improved version of itself. And it didn’t just lose by a little—it couldn’t even muster a single win after playing a hundred games. Incredibly, it took AlphaGo Zero (AGZ) just three days to train itself from scratch and acquire literally thousands of years of human Go knowledge simply by playing itself. The only input it had was what it does to the positions of the black and white pieces on the board. In addition to devising completely new strategies, the new system is also considerably leaner and meaner than the original AlphaGo.

Submission + - Almost Half of Tech Workers Worry About Losing Their Jobs Because of Ageism (siliconbeat.com)

An anonymous reader writes: More than 40 percent of tech workers worry about losing their jobs because of age, a new survey shows. Jobs site Indeed also found that 18 percent of those who work in the tech industry worry “all the time” about losing their jobs because of ageism. The release of the survey Thursday comes amid other news about diversity — or lack thereof — in tech workplaces. Often when we report about diversity issues, readers wonder about older workers. The Indeed survey offers insight into the age of the tech workforce: It’s young. Indeed concluded from surveying more than 1,000 respondents in September that the tech workforce is composed of about 46 percent millennials, with 36 percent of respondents saying the average employee age at their company is 31 to 35, and 17 percent saying that the average worker age at their company is 20 to 30. What about Generation X and baby boomers? Twenty-seven percent of respondents said the average age of employees at their company is 36 to 40, while 26 percent of respondents said the workers at their companies are 40 and older.

Submission + - How Google's Pixel 2 Now Playing Song Identification Works

An anonymous reader writes: The most interesting Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL feature, to me, is Now Playing. If you’ve ever used Shazam or SoundHound, you probably understand the basics: The app uses your device’s microphone to capture an audio sample and creates an acoustic fingerprint to compare against a central song database. If a match is found, information such as the song title and artist are sent back to the user. Now Playing achieves this with two important differentiators. First, Now Playing detects songs automatically without you explicitly asking — the feature works when your phone is locked and the information is displayed on the Pixel 2’s lock screen (you’ll eventually be able to ask Google Assistant what’s currently playing, but not yet). Secondly, it’s an on-device and local feature: Now Playing functions completely offline (we tested this, and indeed it works with mobile data and Wi-Fi turned off). No audio is ever sent to Google.

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