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Democrats

Hillary Clinton Chooses Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine As Running Mate (go.com) 332

An anonymous reader quotes a report from ABC News: Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine has been chosen as Hillary Clinton's running mate -- a man she called a "relentless optimist" who "devoted his life to fighting for others." Kaine has long been considered to be at the top of Clinton's short list. He was previously vetted for the vice presidency by Barack Obama in 2008. Kaine was an early supporter of Clinton's, appearing at a "Ready for Hillary" breakfast in May 2014 where he urged her to enter the 2016 presidential race. Kaine told NBC in June that he "encouraged her to run in May of 2014, because I could telescope forward and see some of the challenges that this nation would be facing. And I decided that by reason of character, by reason of background, and experience, but also especially by reason of results, she would be the most qualified person to be president in January of 2017." Prior to being elected to the Senate, Kaine served as governor and lieutenant governor of Virginia. In 2009, President Obama picked Kaine to lead the Democratic National Committee. Last week, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump announced Mike Pence as his VP running mate.
Government

Issa Bill Would Kill A Big H-1B Loophole (computerworld.com) 235

ErichTheRed writes: This isn't perfect, but it is the first attempt I've seen at removing the "body shop" loophole in the H-1B visa system. A bill has been introduced in Congress that would raise the minimum wage for an H-1B holder from $60K to $100K, and place limits on the body shop companies that employ mostly H-1B holders in a pass-through arrangement. Whether it's enough to stop the direct replacement of workers, or whether it will just accelerate offshoring, remains to be seen. But, I think removing the most blatant and most abused loopholes in the rules is a good start. "The high-skilled visa program is critical to ensuring American companies can attract and retain the world's best talent," said Issa in a statement. "Unfortunately, in recent years, this important program has become abused and exploited as a loophole for companies to replace American workers with cheaper labor from overseas."
Businesses

Amazon Loses Huge Footwear Company Because Of Fake Products, a Problem It Denies Is Happening (cnbc.com) 335

Several sellers on Amazon had noted earlier this month that the platform is riddled with counterfeit products and that things have gotten worse after Chinese manufacturers were allowed to sell goods to the consumers in the United States. Amid the report, the German footwear company Birkenstock has announced it will no longer sell its sandals on Amazon. The company added that it will also ban any sales of its products by third-party sellers on Amazon, effectively making its products unavailable on the world's largest online store, according to a report on CNBC. From the report: "The Amazon marketplace, which operates as an 'open market,' creates an environment where we experience unacceptable business practices which we believe jeopardize our brand," Birkenstock USA CEO David Kahan wrote from the company's U.S. headquarters in Novato, California. "Policing this activity internally and in partnership with Amazon.com has proven impossible."
Government

EPA's Gasoline Efficiency Tests Provide No Valid Information At All (hotair.com) 136

schwit1 writes from a report via Behind The Black: The tests the EPA uses to establish the fuel efficiency of cars are unreliable, and likely provide no valid information at all about the fuel efficiency of the cars tested. Robert Zimmerman reports from Behind The Black: "The law requiring cars to meet these fuel efficiency tests was written in the 1970s, and specifically sets standards based on the technology then. Worse, the EPA doesn't know exactly how its CAFE testing correlates with actual results, because it has never done a comprehensive study of real-world fuel economy. Nor does anyone else. The best available data comes from consumers who report it to the DOT (WARNING: Source may be paywalled) -- hardly a scientific sampling. Other than that, everything is fine. Companies are forced to spend billions on this regulation, the costs of which they immediately pass on to consumers, all based on fantasy and a badly-written law. Gee, I'm sure glad we never tried this with healthcare!"
Businesses

Verizon Begins Charging a Fee Just to Use an Older Router (dslreports.com) 180

Karl Bode, reporting for DSLReports: Several users have written in to note that Verizon has informed them the company will begin charging FiOS customers with an older router a new "Router Maintenance Charge." An e-mail being sent to many Verizon FiOS customers says that the fee of $2.80 will soon be charged every month -- unless users pay Verizon to get a more recent iteration of its FiOS gateway and router. Since Verizon FiOS often uses a MOCA coax connection and the gateway is needed for Verizon TV, many FiOS users don't have the ability to swap out gear as easily as with other ISPs. "Our records indicate that you have an older model router that is being discontinued," states the e-mail. "If you do plan to keep using your current router, we will begin billing, on 9.29.16, a monthly Router Maintenance Charge of $2.80 (plus taxes), to ensure we deliver the best support."
Android

Army Special Operations Command Ditching Android For iPhone, Says Report (gizmodo.com) 251

The United States Army's Special Operations Command is ditching its Android phones for the "faster" iPhone, according to a report. The source cited in the story says that Android phones were freezing unexpectedly, which was one of the reasons they decided to give the iPhone 6s a spin. Gizmodo adds: The smartphones allow members of the Special Operations Command to access rich information about the battlefield. There's also quickly accessible information, like a weapons and ammunitions guide. Other apps can help with high altitude jumps; another can detect radiation. While DARPA helped develop the program on Android due to the operating system's open platform, Apple's hardware is apparently superior enough to warrant the switch.
Businesses

Volkswagen Sued For Violating State Environmental Statutes With Dieselgate (theverge.com) 123

The attorneys general of New York, Massachusetts, and Maryland are suing Volkswagen for violating state environmental regulations with its diesel emissions cheating scandal. The states say that the car company has violated their air quality laws, combined with some sort of anti-fraud measure for the defeat mechanisms to bypass emissions testing. The move comes after many states agreed to a $14.7 billion settlement for violating consumer protection and EPA and California state environmental regulations. The Verge reports: "Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche defrauded thousands of Massachusetts consumers, polluted our air, and damaged our environment and then, to make matters worse, plotted a massive cover-up to mislead environmental regulators," said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey in a statement. This was echoed by New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, who released his own statement saying "the allegations against Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche reveal a culture of deeply-rooted corporate arrogance, combined with a conscious disregard for the rule of law and the protection of public health and the environment."
Government

Google: Government Requests For User Data Hit All-Time High In Second Half Of 2015 (zdnet.com) 40

Stephanie Condon, writing for ZDNet: Government requests for user data from Google hit an all-time high in the second half of 2015, the internet company revealed on Monday. Through July to December 2015, governments from around the globe made 40,677 requests, impacting as many as 81,311 user accounts. That's an 18 percent spike from the first half of 2015, when government requests for data impacted 68,908 users. By far and away, the most requests came from the United States, which made 12,523 data requests for this reporting period. The requests impacted 27,157 users or accounts. Google reports the number of user data requests it has received every six-month period going as far back as the second half of 2009. It started detailing the number of users and/or accounts impacted in the first half of 2011. "Usage of our services have increased every year, and so have the user data request numbers," the company noted. Since the second half of 2010, Google has reported the percentage of user data requests it at least partially complies with. For the second half of 2015, the company produced at least some data for 64 percent of requests. That figure has been about the same since 2013, but it's been trending slightly downward. Google complied with 79 percent of requests from the United States.
Moon

Taiwan Building Lunar Lander For NASA Moon-Mining Mission (blastingnews.com) 84

MarkWhittington quotes a report from Blasting News: According to AFP, the Chung-shan Institute of Science and Technology in Taiwan is building a $47 million, 3.7 metric ton lunar lander on behalf of NASA. The vehicle is designed to carry a rover called Resource Prospector, which would roll about the lunar surface searching out deposits of oxygen, hydrogen, and water. The Resource Prospector mission is still being formulated but is envisioned to be a joint project with several national space agencies and commercial companies. The lunar lander is the first vehicle of its type to be built in Taiwan. "The Resource Prospector would take samples from about a meter beneath the lunar surface and then heat them in an oven to ascertain what the materials are that comprise it," reports Blasting News. The mission is part of the second stage to NASA's Journey to Mars program called "Proving Ground." "Should the Resource Prospector prove to be successful, the moon could be used as a base for space journeys into Mars," says Han Kuo-change, the head of CSIST's international cooperation program.
Security

DARPA Will Stage an AI Fight in Las Vegas For DEF CON (yahoo.com) 89

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: "A bunch of computers will try to hack each other in Vegas for a $2 million prize," reports Tech Insider calling it a "historic battle" that will coincide with "two of the biggest hacking conferences, Blackhat USA and DEFCON". DARPA will supply seven teams with a supercomputer. Their challenge? Create an autonomous A.I. system that can "hunt for security vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit to attack a computer, create a fix that patches that vulnerability and distribute that patch -- all without any human interference."

"The idea here is to start a technology revolution," said Mike Walker, DARPA's manager for the Cyber Grand Challenge contest. Yahoo Tech notes that it takes an average of 312 days before security vulnerabilities are discovered -- and 24 days to patch it. "if all goes well, the CGC could mean a future where you don't have to worry about viruses or hackers attacking your computer, smartphone or your other connected devices. At a national level, this technology could help prevent large-scale attacks against things like power plants, water supplies and air-traffic infrastructure.

It's being billed as "the world's first all-machine hacking tournament," with a prize of $2 million for the winner, while the second and third place tem will win $1 million and $750,000.
Government

The Case Against a Universal Basic Income (vox.com) 1126

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: A prominent think tank founder argues that a Universal Basic Income is more likely to increase poverty than decrease it. Robert Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, estimates just in the U.S. the cost would reach $3 trillion a year, "close to 100 percent of all tax revenue the federal government collects... A UBI that's financed primarily by tax increases would require the American people to accept a level of taxation that vastly exceeds anything in U.S. history..."

In a long interview with Vox, he warns that "If you have big, very expensive, and therefore highly politically unrealistic proposals, then I worry that people will look at them and say, 'Okay, we can do one or two pieces,' and too often the pieces that get selected out are pieces where a lot of the money goes to the middle or upper middle class... even UBI's staunchest supporters say we can get there in 15 to 20 years. I am totally not comfortable with any policy prescription that says we wait 15 to 20 years to deal with very deep poverty." He suggests instead focussing on the neediest people first, possibly by subsidizing jobs programs and making housing more affordable.

Businesses

Cities Struggling To Crack Down On Airbnb Renters (latimes.com) 259

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: A California man has been charged with eight misdemeanors for renting several apartments under his own name, and then subletting them all. "Apartments in Santa Monica that might fetch $3500 a month as ordinary rentals, are worth three or four times that on a daily or weekly basis," reports one newsweekly, and the subletter notes that he only received two years of probation plus a $3,500 fine, "what one of my properties makes in a month." On Wednesday three prominent U.S. Senators "called for a regulatory probe into whether short-term rental websites such as Airbnb are taking housing away from long-term renters and pushing up prices," but the number of Americans planning to use Airbnb this summer has apparently already doubled since last year.

The Hotel and Lodging Association of Alaska is complaining that the state's renters "are not required to follow the same state and federal safety mandates that are required for other hotels and lodges creating an unsafe and unfair market for consumers as well as hoteliers." But it seems like currently the only pushback is coming from local and city officials, like the short-term rental rules that Airbnb is currently fighting in their home city of San Francisco. For example, in Maine, the owner of one of Portland's 425 rentals units is now fighting a city order "demanding that he stop renting out part of his home through Airbnb. "Portland has a limited staff to enforce zoning rules, so it comes down on the most egregious cases, said City Hall spokeswoman Jessica Grondin."

I laughed at the quote from the City Hall spokeswoman. "It's kind of like speeding on the highway. You know it is illegal, you do it anyway, and you get caught."
Government

U.S. Curtails Federal Election Observers (fortune.com) 180

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Fortune: Federal election observers can only be sent to five states in this year's U.S. presidential election, among the smallest deployments since the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965 to end racial discrimination at the ballot box. The plan, confirmed in a U.S. Department of Justice fact sheet seen by Reuters, reflects changes brought about by the Supreme Court's 2013 decision to strike down parts of the Act...

Attorney General Loretta Lynch said on Friday the Justice Department's ability to deploy election observers had been "severely curtailed" by the Supreme Court's decision... Dale Ho, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Voting Rights Project, said federal observers are especially needed this year because 17 states have tightened restrictions on voting since the last presidential election.

Government

Is The DOJ Using Obsolete Software To Subvert FOIA Requests? (theguardian.com) 85

"A new lawsuit alleges that the U.S. Department of Justice intentionally conducts inadequate searches of its records using a decades-old computer system when queried by citizens looking for records that should be available to the public," reports The Guardian. Slashdot reader Bruce66423 writes: An MIT PhD student has filed a suit in Federal court alleging that the use of a 21-year-old, IBM green screen controlled search software to search the Department of Justice databases...constitutes a deliberate failure to provide the data that should be being produced.
Ryan Shapiro's lawsuit alleges "failure by design," saying that the Justice Department records are inadequately indexed -- and that they fail to search the full text of their records when responding to requests "When few or no records are returned, Shapiro said, the FBI effectively responds 'sorry, we tried' without making use of the much more sophisticated search tools at the disposal of internal requestors." The FBI has a $425 million software system to handle FOIA requests, but refuses to use it, saying that would be "needlessly duplicative...and wasteful of Bureau resources."
Republicans

Paypal Founder Peter Thiel To Speak At Trump's Republican Convention (nbcbayarea.com) 268

Slashdot reader speedplane writes: The New York Times is reporting that renowned Venture Capitalist, Paypal Founder, and Gawker Litigation Funder, Peter Thiel will be speaking at the Republican National Convention. The original story does not state what Thiel will discuss at the convention, only that he'll be speaking the last day, but there's plenty of speculation.
Facebook issued a statement that though Thiel is on their board of directors, his appearance was "personal," saying Thiel "is not attending on behalf of Facebook or to represent our views." NBC reports Thiel will be the first openly-gay man to speak at the convention in 16 years, "as party leaders refuse to soften the GOP's formal opposition to gay marriage," noting Thiel "has been a staunch supporter of Donald Trump's run for the oval office, previously supported Ron Paul for president and has identified himself as a conservative libertarian in the past... Other speakers will include four of Trump's children, Las Vegas casino owner Phil Ruffin, and actor and former underwear model Antonio Sabato Jr."
Government

Patriot Act Expansion Fails In The House (thehill.com) 93

An anonymous reader write: The "Anti-terrorism Information Sharing Is Strength Act" failed in the U.S. Congress on a vote held earlier this week. "Many libertarians warned of potential privacy violations if the measure went into effect," reported The Hill, "which helped prevent it from reaching the necessary two-thirds majority to pass through the fast-track process under which it was considered." The bill would've expanded the number of crimes which would trigger the expanded investigation powers, including crimes covered by the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. "The Patriot Act should not be casually expanded," warned the House Liberty in a statement, arguing the bill would "permit the government to demand information on any American from any financial institution merely upon reasonable suspicion."
In a related story, a new campaign ad is criticizing Senator Russ Feingold for being the only Senator to vote against the original Patriot Act in October of 2001. Shipped to TV stations Thursday night, its narration begins "Islamic terrorists slaughtering innocents. And when Congress gave law enforcement the tools to keep Americans safe from international terror, only one senator voted no: Russ Feingold." After Friday's attack in Nice, Feingold's opponent attempted to reschedule the ads until a later date, but was unable to stop them from airing on at least three stations.
Communications

White House Pledges $400M To Back Speedier 5G Wireless Networks (fortune.com) 86

The Obama Administration has announced a new funding initiative to ensure the United States maintains its leadership in the mobile technology space. For this, it will spend over $400 million on large-scale test platforms led by National Science Foundation with an aim to develop and advance wireless technology to 5G and beyond. Fortune reports: To be sure, the private sector has also been getting smarter and better organized for 5G this year and the new Obama effort will be conducted in conjunction with a bevy of technology and telecommunications partners. All four major wireless carriers, AT&T, Verizon Communications, Sprint, and T-Mobile, are participating. Tech companies on board include Intel, Juniper Networks, Qualcomm, and Nokia. Notably, Apple, Google, and Microsoft are missing from the list. "These super-fast, ultra-low latency, high-capacity networks will enable breakthrough applications for consumers, smart cities, and the Internet of Things that cannot even be imagined today," the White House said in a statement. The report adds: The transition to the next generation standard for wireless networks, so-called 5G, has so far been fraught with confusion, complications, and even some contradictions. But in a few years, when 5G gear sending data at up to 100 times the speed of current networks is commonplace, people may remember July 2016 as a major turning point. The private sector has offered mixed messages about when 5G will be available for regular people and just what it will be used for. Without many standards yet agreed upon, some predicted 5G would be ready starting next year, but others said not until 2020 or later. Some wanted to use it to speed up smartphone connections, while others said it was better suited to improve home and business Internet connections or to collect data from smart devices in the "Internet of Things."
Communications

Comcast Expands $10 Low-Income Internet Plan (arstechnica.com) 61

Jon Brodkin, reporting for Ars Technica: Comcast's Internet Essentials program that provides $10-per-month Internet service to low-income families has been expanded to make about 1.3 million additional households eligible. Comcast created Internet Essentials in order to secure approval of its acquisition of NBCUniversal in 2011 and has decided to continue it indefinitely even though the requirement expired in 2014. Comcast says the 10Mbps plan has connected more than 600,000 low-income families since 2011, for a total of 2.4 million adults and children, and provided 47,000 subsidized computers for less than $150 each. Advocates for the poor have complained that the Internet Essentials service is too hard to sign up for, in part because of problems with the application process but also because it's usually only available to families with kids in school. That latter issue is what Comcast addressed today, announcing that "adults without a child eligible for the National School Lunch Program will be eligible to apply for Internet Essentials." Previously, pilot programs gave access to some low-income seniors and low-income community college students, but this is the first time that Internet Essentials will be available to adults without children nationwide.
Communications

T-Mobile Gives Customers Free Pokemon Go Data (theverge.com) 59

An anonymous reader shares a report from The Verge: T-Mobile has been a pioneer in giving special treatment to various apps and types of content used on its mobile network, and the carrier announced today that Pokemon Go will be joining its enclave of free data. Starting on July 19th, T-Mobile customers will have Pokemon Go data exempted from their high-speed data caps for a year. The company is also throwing in some other perks, like $15 in Lyft rides ("to get to a new pokestop or gym"), and a free Wendy's Frosty, making the slow death of net neutrality literally sweet.
Republicans

145 Tech Leaders Say 'Trump Would Be A Disaster For Innovation' (cnn.com) 360

An anonymous reader writes from a report via CNN: "We have listened to Donald Trump over the past year and we have concluded: Trump would be a disaster for innovation," wrote 145 technology leaders in an open letter Medium post published Thursday. Some of the leaders are from tech giants like Google, Facebook and Apple, others from small startups, venture capital firms, nonprofits and universities. "We believe in an inclusive country that fosters opportunity, creativity and a level playing field. Donald Trump does not," reads the letter, which was signed by well-known names like Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak, Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield, IAC's Barry Diller, Reddit's Alexis Ohanian and Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales. "His reckless disregard for our legal and political institutions threatens to upend what attracts companies to start and scale in America. He risks distorting markets, reducing exports, and slowing job creation," reads the letter, published by chief marketing officer at Color Genomics and former VP at Twitter Katie Jacobs Stanton. Moreover, Trump has shown "poor judgment and ignorance about how technology works," they wrote, citing his proposal to "shut down" parts of the Internet and the fact that he has revoked reporters' press credentials. "We stand against Donald Trump's divisive candidacy," the letter concludes. "We embrace an optimistic vision for a more inclusive country, where American innovation continues to fuel opportunity, prosperity and leadership." Meanwhile, Jon Swartz writes from USA Today that "If there was any lingering doubt as to tech's favored presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton put an end to that Tuesday with a tech plan that reads like a Silicon Valley wish list."

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