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Submission + - Justice Department resumes program to steal property of citizens

schwit1 writes: The Obama Justice Department has resumed its partnership with state police departments to seize the property of citizens for profit.

Asset forfeiture is a contentious practice that lets police seize and keep cash and property from people who are never convicted of wrongdoing — and in many cases, never charged. Studies have found that use of the practice has exploded in recent years, prompting concern that, in some cases, police are motivated more by profit and less by justice.

The Justice Department's Equitable Sharing Program allowed state and local authorities to pursue asset forfeiture under federal, rather than state law, particularly in instances where local law enforcement officers have a relationship with federal authorities as part of a joint task force. Federal forfeiture policies are more permissive than many state policies, allowing police to keep up to 80 percent of assets they seize.

Participation by the Justice Department had been suspended in December, but not because the Obama administration didn't like the program, it turns out. Instead, the suspension allowed them to keep the money themselves that local police had seized under federal law. This however discouraged local police from pursuing more confiscations, so they have resumed the program.

The graph at the link is incredible. Do you know that citizens now lose more property to the government under this program than they do from ordinary burglaries?

Submission + - A possible impact on Jupiter?

schwit1 writes: On March 17 two different amateur astronomers have taken videos of a bright flash on Jupiter which suggests something had crashed into the gas giant.

March 17th's impact, if the evidence for it holds up, becomes the fourth such event in the past decade. The largest of these occurred July 19, 2009, and it left a distinctly dark "powder burn" in Jupiter's upper atmosphere first spotted by Australian astro-imager Anthony Wesley. That was followed by three lesser strikes on June 3, 2010 (recorded independently by Wesley and Christopher Go); on August 10, 2010 (independently seen by Masayuki Tachikawa and Kazuo Aoki); and on September 10, 2012 (seen visually by Dan Petersen and independently recorded by George Hall).

Counting the historic multiple-hit crash of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 in July 1994, that's a grand total of six impacts on Jupiter in the past 22 years.

Submission + - Mass surveillance silences minority opinions, according to study

sittingnut writes: According to a study(pdf) by Elizabeth Stoycheff, from Wayne State University, published in Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, and referred to in Washington Post, "knowing one is subject to surveillance and accepting such surveillance as necessary, act as moderating agents in the relationship between one’s perceived climate of opinion and willingness to voice opinions online." In other words, "knowledge of government surveillance causes people to self-censor their dissenting opinions online". This study adds to the well-researched phenomenon, known as “spiral of silence”, of people suppressing unpopular opinions to fit in, by explicitly examining how government surveillance affects self-censorship. Participants who claimed, they don't break any laws and don't have anything to hide, and tended to support mass surveillance as necessary for national security, were the most likely to silence their minority opinions.

Submission + - India forged Google SSL certificates

NotInHere writes: As Google writes on its Online Security Blog, the National Informatics Centre of India (NIC) used its intermediate CA certificate issued by Indian CCA, to issue several unauthorized certificates for Google domains, allowing to do Man in the middle attacks. Possible impact however is limited, as, according to Google, the root certificates for the CA were only installed on Windows, which Firefox doesn't use, and for the Chrom{e,ium} browser, the CA for important Google domains is pinned to the Google CA.
According to its website, the NIC CA has suspended certificate issuance, and according to Google, its root certificates were revoked by Indian CCA.

Submission + - How Vacuum Tubes, New Technology Might Save Moore's Law (hothardware.com)

MojoKid writes: The transistor is one of the most profound innovations in all of human existence. First discovered in 1947, it has scaled like no advance in human history; we can pack billions of transistors into complicated processors smaller than your thumbnail. After decades of innovation, however, the transistor has faltered. Clock speeds stalled in 2005 and the 20nm process node is set to be more expensive than the 28nm node was for the first time ever. Now, researchers at NASA believe they may have discovered a way to kickstart transistors again — by using technology from the earliest days of computing: The vacuum tube. It turns out that when you shrink a Vacuum transistor to absolutely tiny dimensions, you can recover some of the benefits of a vacuum tube and dodge the negatives that characterized their usage. According to a report, vacuum transistors can draw electrons across the gate without needing a physical connection between them. Make the vacuum area small enough, and reduce the voltage sufficiently, and the field emission effect allows the transistor to fire electrons across the gap without containing enough energy to energize the helium inside the nominal "vacuum" transistor. According to researchers, they've managed to build a successful transistor operating at 460GHz — well into the so-called Terahertz Gap, which sits between microwaves and infrared energy.

Submission + - Citing "Terrorism," Illinois spent $250k on Stingray to fight regular crime

v3rgEz writes: New documents released on MuckRock show the Illinois State Police crying "Terrorist" in order to get funding and approval for a $250,000 Stingray cell snooping system, even though, as Mike Masnick at Techdirt notes, the technology is being used to fight regular crime. The ToS on the device actually prevent officers from seeking a warrant to use it, because doing so would disclose the device's use to the courts. MuckRock currently has a crowdfunding campaign to fund similar requests across the country.

Submission + - High School Students Launch the First Satellite to Locate SOS Radio Signals (i24news.tv)

Iddo Genuth writes: Last Thursday a unique miniscule solar-powered satellite built by a group of Israeli high school students was launched successfully from the Yasny launch base in Russia. The satellite will demonstrate the capability to help travelers in remote locations use a simple low-cost radio transmitter to report their location in case of emergency.

This is only the second nano satellite in the world to be built by high school students (the first was TJ3SAT launched with the help of NASA in late 2013). Almost 200 students worked on the project over the years, with 40 working nonstop over the past several months to complete the satellite in time for the launch.

Submission + - A Laser Message from Space (nasa.gov)

dsinc writes: Anyone who remembers dialup internet can sympathize with the plight of NASA mission controllers. Waiting for images to arrive from deep space, slowly downloading line by line, can be a little like the World Wide Web of the 1990s. Patience is required.

A laser on the International Space Station (ISS) could change all that. On June 5th, 2014, the ISS passed over the Table Mountain Observatory in Wrightwood, California, and beamed an HD video to researchers waiting below. Unlike normal data transmissions, which are encoded in radio waves, this one came to Earth on a beam of light.

Submission + - Mt. Gox CEO Returns to Twitter, Enrages Burned Investors

An anonymous reader writes: Mark Karpeles doesn't seem to understand how much anger and trouble the $400 million Mt. Gox fiasco caused his customers. According to Wired: "After a long absence, the Mt Gox CEO has returned to Twitter with a bizarre string of tone-deaf tweets that were either written by a Turing test chat bot, or by a man completely oblivious to the economic chaos he has wrought. His first message after losing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of bitcoins? 'What would we do without busybox?'—a reference to a slimmed-down Linux operating system used on devices such as routers. He’s also Tweeted about a noodle dish called yakisoba and Japanese transportation systems." Andreas Antonopoulos, the CSO with Blockchain says, "He continues to be oblivious about his own failure and the pain he has caused others. He is confirming that he is a self-absorbed narcissist with an inflated sense of self-confidence who has no remorse.”

Submission + - German Intel Agency Helps NSA Tap Fiber Optic Cables in Germany 2

An anonymous reader writes: Der Spiegel has written a piece on the extent of collaboration between Germany's intelligence agency, Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), and the U.S.'s National Security Agency (NSA). The sources cited in the piece do reveal BND's enthusiastic collusion in enabling the NSA to tap fiber optic cables in Germany, but they seem inconclusive as to how much information from the NSA's collection activity in the country is actually shared between the NSA and BND. Of note is evidence that the NSA's collection methods do not automatically exclude German companies and organizations from their data sweep; intelligence personnel have to rectro-actively do so on an individual basis when they realize that they are surveilling German targets. Germany's constitution protects against un-warranted surveillance of correspondence, either by post or telecommunications, of German citizens in Germany or abroad and foreigners on German soil.

Submission + - Quantum or not, controversial computer runs no faster than a normal one (sciencemag.org)

sciencehabit writes: The D-Wave computer, marketed as a groundbreaking quantum machine that runs circles around conventional computers, solves problems no faster than an ordinary rival, a new test shows. Some researchers call the test of the controversial device, described online today in Science, the fairest comparison yet. But D-Wave argues that the computations used in the study were too easy to show what its novel chips can do.

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: What's the best rapid development language to learn today? 2

An anonymous reader writes: Many years ago, I was a coder—but I went through my computer science major when they were being taught in Lisp and C. These days I work in other areas, but often need to code up quick data processing solutions or interstitial applications. Doing this in C now feels archaic and overly difficult and text-based. Most of the time I now end up doing things in either Unix shell scripting (bash and grep/sed/awk/bc/etc.) or PHP. But these are showing significant age as well.

I'm no longer the young hotshot that I once was—I don't think that I could pick up an entire language in a couple of hours with just a cursory reference work—yet I see lots of languages out there now that are much more popular and claim to offer various and sundry benefits.

I'm not looking to start a new career as a programmer—I already have a career—but I'd like to update my applied coding skills to take advantage of the best that software development now has to offer.

Ideally, I'd like to learn a language that has web relevance, mobile relevance, GUI desktop applications relevance, and also that can be integrated into command-line workflows for data processing—a language that is interpreted rather than compiled, or at least that enables rapid, quick-and-dirty development, since I'm not developing codebases for clients or for the general software marketplace, but rather as one-off tools to solve a wide variety of problems, from processing large CSV dumps from databases in various ways to creating mobile applications to support field workers in one-off projects (i.e. not long-term applications that will be used for operations indefinitely, but quick solutions to a particular one-time field data collection need).

I'm tired of doing these things in bash or as web apps using PHP and responsive CSS, because I know they can be done better using more current best-of-breed technologies. Unfortunately, I'm also severely strapped for time—I'm not officially a coder or anything near it; I just need to code to get my real stuff done and can't afford to spend much time researching/studying multiple alternatives. I need the time that I invest in this learning to count.

Others have recommended Python, Lua, Javascript+Node, and Ruby, but I thought I'd ask the Slashdot crowd: If you had to recommend just one language for rapid tool development (not for the development of software products as such—a language/platform to produce means, not ends) with the best balance of convenience, performance, and platform coverage (Windows, Mac, Unix, Web, Mobile, etc.) what would you recommend, and why?

Submission + - Supreme Court of Canada strengthens user privacy (michaelgeist.ca)

midol writes: Supreme Court Delivers Huge Victory for Internet Privacy & Blows Away Gov't Plans for Reform
Friday June 13, 2014
For the past several months, many Canadians have been debating privacy reform, with the government moving forward on two bills: lawful access (C-13) and PIPEDA reform (S-4). One of the most troubling aspects of those bills has been the government's effort to expand the scope of warrantless, voluntary disclosure of personal information.

Bill C-13 proposes to expand warrantless disclosure of subscriber information to law enforcement by including an immunity provision from any criminal or civil liability (including class action lawsuits) for companies that preserve personal information or disclose it without a warrant. Meanwhile, Bill S-4, proposes extending the ability to disclose subscriber information without a warrant from law enforcement to private sector organizations. The bill includes a provision that allows organizations to disclose personal information without consent (and without a court order) to any organization that is investigating a contractual breach or possible violation of any law. I appeared before both committees in recent weeks (C-13, S-4), but Conservative MPs and Senators were dismissive of the concerns associated with voluntary disclosures.

This morning another voice entered the discussion and completely changed the debate. The Supreme Court of Canada issued its long-awaited R. v. Spencer decision, which examined the legality of voluntary warrantless disclosure of basic subscriber information to law enforcement. In a unanimous decision written by (Harper appointee) Justice Thomas Cromwell, the court issued a strong endorsement of Internet privacy, emphasizing the privacy importance of subscriber information, the right to anonymity, and the need for police to obtain a warrant for subscriber information except in exigent circumstances or under a reasonable law.

more at the site...

Submission + - Planes disappearing from radar in Europe !? (deredactie.be)

thygate writes: Early this month, on several occasions, several planes disappeared from radar for several seconds to 25 minutes. Incidents have been reported in Czech Republic, Slovakia, Switzerland and Germany. Authorities report that at no time were there any problems with the planes and radio communication was available at all times during these radar blackouts.
Eurocontrol and the EASA have started an investigation, there is a global concern about safety since the MH370 disappearance.
There are speculations about NATO military exercises involving radio equipment tests, but the alliance has refused to comment. The Hungarian ministry of defense refuses this explanation, stating the technology used is not powerful enough to cause these blackouts.
According to an Australian newspaper it could of even been hackers, but it is unclear if this is even possible.

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