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Submission + - Pentagon Plans Citywide Drone-Catching Dragnets (thedailybeast.com)

schwit1 writes: The U.S. government is a step closer to deploying a new system for tracking small drones flying over busy cities. But there’s no guarantee it will be affordable.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s two-year-old Aerial Dragnet initiative could begin testing in 2018, an agency official told The Daily Beast.

If it works and the government funds it, Aerial Dragnet could help military commanders and law enforcement officials keep tabs on drones zipping through urban battlefields or flying over densely populated city neighborhoods in the United States.

And the new drone-tracking system might even include unmanned aerial systems, or UASs, carrying sophisticated sensors. That’s right. Drone-hunting drones.

Submission + - Has the Decades-Old Floating Point Error Problem been Solved? (insidehpc.com) 1

overheardinpdx writes: Has the Decades-Old Floating Point Error Problem been Solved? Today a company called Bounded Floating Point announced a "breakthrough patent in processor design, which allows representation of real numbers accurate to the last digit for the first time in computer history."

"This bounded floating point system is a game changer for the computing industry, particularly for computationally intensive functions such as weather prediction, GPS, and autonomous vehicles," said the inventor, Alan Jorgensen, PhD. “By using this system, it is possible to guarantee that the display of floating point values is accurate to plus or minus one in the last digit.”

Submission + - New California declares 'independence' from California (usatoday.com)

Ayano writes:

The founders of New California took an early step toward statehood Monday with the reading of their own Declaration of Independence from California, a state they describe as "ungovernable." Their solution: Take over most of current-day California — including many rural counties — and leave the coastal urban areas to themselves.


Submission + - Pentagon Document Confirms Existence of Russian Doomsday Torpedo (popularmechanics.com)

schwit1 writes:

Kanyon is reportedly a very long range autonomous underwater vehicle that has a range 6,200 miles, a maximum depth of 3,280 feet, and a speed of 100 knots according to claims in leaked Russian documents.

But what really makes Kanyon nightmare fuel is the drone torpedo’s payload: a 100-megaton thermonuclear weapon. By way of comparison, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima was 16 kilotons, or the equivalent of 16,000 tons of TNT. Kanyon’s nuke would be the equivalent of 100,000,000 tons of TNT. That’s twice as powerful as Tsar Bomba, the most powerful thermonuclear weapon ever tested. Dropped on New York City, a 100-megaton bomb would kill 8 million people outright and injure 6 million more.

Kanyon is designed to attack coastal areas, destroying cities, naval bases, and ports. The mega-bomb would also generate an artificial tsunami that would surge inland, spreading radioactive contamination with the advancing water. To make matters worse there are reports the warhead is “salted” with the radioactive isotope Cobalt-60. Contaminated areas would be off-limits to humanity for up to 100 years.

And being sea-based makes it immune to ballistic missile defense.

Submission + - Incidental Harassment Authorization Issued to SpaceX (groundbasedspacematters.com)

schwit1 writes:

On December 26, 2017, the National Marine Fisheries Service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration published a notice in the Federal Register that it had issued SpaceX an incidental harassment authorization for its sonic booms

to incidentally harass, by Level B harassment only, marine mammals during boost-back and landing of Falcon 9 rockets at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, and at contingency landing locations in the Pacific Ocean.

People speak of the FAA having exclusive jurisdiction over regulating launches. Section 50919(a) of the Commercial Space Launch Act states that, except as provided by the CSLA, "a person is not required to obtain from an executive agency a license, approval, waiver, or exemption to launch a launch vehicle ." So why did SpaceX need NOAA's authorization for the landing of its first stage?

Arguably, SpaceX didn't. It needed NOAA authorization for something different, the harassment of marine mammals. The FAA authorizes the launch, but the activity of harassing a marine mammal is different, and thus regulated by a different agency. However, one might wonder whether NOAA isn't regulating the noise of the launch. If the aviation side of the FAA doesn't regulate the noise of launch vehicles , how does NOAA get to?


Submission + - Ex-C.I.A. Officer Suspected of Compromising Chinese Informants Is Arrested (nytimes.com)

schwit1 writes: A former C.I.A. officer suspected by investigators of helping China dismantle United States spying operations and identify informants has been arrested, the Justice Department said on Tuesday. The collapse of the spy network was one of the American government’s worst intelligence failures in recent years.

The arrest of the former officer, Jerry Chun Shing Lee, 53, capped an intense F.B.I. inquiry that began around 2012, two years after the C.I.A. began losing its informants in China. Investigators confronted an enduring mystery: How did the names of so many C.I.A. sources, among the agency’s most dearly held secrets, end up in Chinese hands?

Some intelligence officials believed that a mole inside the C.I.A. was exposing its roster of informants. Others thought that the Chinese government had hacked the C.I.A.’s covert communications used to talk to foreign sources of information.

Why the F.B.I. did not arrest Mr. Lee after originally finding the classified material in his notebooks remains unclear.

Officials are concerned that Mr. Lee’s case and at least one other represent a troubling pattern of Chinese intelligence targeting former agency officials, an easier task than trying to recruit current C.I.A. operatives.

In June, a former C.I.A. officer was charged with providing classified information to China and making false statements. Prosecutors said that the former officer, Kevin Patrick Mallory, 60, of Leesburg, Va., had top-secret documents and incriminating messages on a communications device he brought back from Shanghai.

In March, prosecutors announced the arrest of a longtime State Department employee, Candace Marie Claiborne, accused of lying to investigators about her contacts with Chinese officials. According to the criminal complaint against Ms. Claiborne, who pleaded not guilty, Chinese agents wired cash into her bank account and lavished her with thousands of dollars in gifts.

Submission + - New California declares 'independence' in bid to become 51st state (usatoday.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Two men have launched a campaign to divide rural California from the coastal cities, motivated by what they referred to as a “tyrannical form of government,” that doesn’t follow the state or federal constitution, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Unlike the failed 2016 campaign to split California into 6 states, the “New California” movement, founded by Robert Paul Preston and Tom Reed, seeks to consolidate rural California into a distinct economy separate from the coast.

Preston and Reed say the citizens of the state live “under a tyrannical form of government that does not follow the California and U.S. Constitutions.”

The "founders" have evoked Article IV Section 3 of the United States Constitution as justification for establishing a new economy with a new state constitution.

It states that a consensus must be reached by the state legislatures of California as well as congress. The process, according to New California representatives, could take 10 to 18 months.

The New California movement unveiled a “Declaration of Independence,” earlier this week that called for a “free and Independent State” with “full power to establish and maintain law and order, to promote general prosperity.”

Submission + - Google's Project Zero: BitTorrent App Allows Websites To Run Malicious Code (arstechnica.com)

cold fjord writes: arstechnica reports, "There's a critical weakness in the widely used Transmission BitTorrent app that allows websites to execute malicious code on some users' computers . . . other BitTorrent clients are likely similarly susceptible. Researcher Tavis Ormandy published the proof-of-concept attack code last week. . . .Ormandy's proof-of-concept attack exploits a Transmission function that allows users to control the BitTorrent app with their Web browser. . . . most people don't enable password protection because they assume the JSON RPC interface can only be controlled by someone with physical access to the computer . . . Using a hacking technique known as domain name system rebinding, Ormandy devised a way that the Transmission interface can be remotely controlled when a vulnerable user visits a malicious site.

Submission + - How Ludwig van Beethoven Invented the Taximeter: a true story, with some caveats (thirdcarriageage.com)

arctother writes: "In 1876, a new technology for managing interactions between drivers and passengers promised to transform the cab-riding experience. ... This proto-taximeter was not just a device for calculating cab fares: it was a technological means to intervene in person-to-person interaction at a site of social and class anxiety. As such, it bears more than a passing resemblance to the cab-reforming technology of today."

Submission + - New California declares "independence" from rest of state (cbsnews.com)

PolygamousRanchKid writes: With the reading of their own version of a Declaration of Independence, founders of the state of New California took the first steps to what they hope will eventually lead to statehood. CBS Sacramento reports they don't want to leave the United States, just California. The state of New California would incorporate most of the state's rural counties, leaving the urban coastal counties to the current state of California.

But unlike other separation movements in the past, the state of New California wants to do things by the book, citing Article 4, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution and working with the state legislature to get it done, similar to the way West Virginia was formed.

"Yes. We have to demonstrate that we can govern ourselves before we are allowed to govern," said founder Tom Reed.

Submission + - Australian raptors deliberately spread fires

An anonymous reader writes: If you've been counting the ways the Australian environment is trying to kill you, you can now add "arson" to the list. According to a six-year study published in The Journal of Ethnobiology, observers have confirmed Aboriginal rangers have been observing for years: birds of prey routinely carry burning or smouldering sticks into dry grassy areas to scare small mammals into fleeing so they can be pack-hunted more effectively. This has implications for environmental management, since the best firebreak will not protect your controlled burn from a "firehawk" determined to breach it.

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