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UK Minister: British Cabinet Was Told Nothing About GCHQ/NSA Spying Programs 85

dryriver writes "From the Guardian: 'Cabinet ministers and members of the national security council were told nothing about the existence and scale of the vast data-gathering programs run by British and American intelligence agencies, a former member of the government has revealed. Chris Huhne, who was in the cabinet for two years until 2012, said ministers were in "utter ignorance" of the two biggest covert operations, Prism and Tempora. The former Liberal Democrat MP admitted he was shocked and mystified by the surveillance capabilities disclosed by the Guardian from files leaked by the whistleblower Edward Snowden. "The revelations put a giant question mark into the middle of our surveillance state," he said. "The state should not feel itself entitled to know, see and memorize everything that the private citizen communicates. The state is our servant." Huhne also questioned whether the Home Office had deliberately misled parliament about the need for the communications data bill when GCHQ, the government's eavesdropping headquarters, already had remarkable and extensive snooping capabilities. He said this lack of information and accountability showed "the supervisory arrangements for our intelligence services need as much updating as their bugging techniques."'"

Submission + - Aereo required to testify about non-public patent info

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes: In ABC v Aereo, a copyright infringement action against Aereo, the Magistrate Judge has overruled Aereo's attorney/client privilege objection to being forced to divulge non-public details about its patented technology. In his 15 page decision (PDF) he ordered the continued deposition of the company's CTO and CEO about their patent applications. My gut reaction is that this sets a very dangerous precedent, giving the big copyright plaintiffs yet another 'in terrorem' device to use against technology startups — the power to use the lawsuit as a chance to delve into a defendant's non-public tech secrets.
Cellphones

Leaked Manual Reveals Details On Google's Nexus 5 177

Features of Google's next Nexus phone have finally been outed, along with confirmation that the phone will be built by LG, as a result of a leaked service manual draft; here are some of the details as described at TechCrunch: "The new Nexus will likely be available in 16 or 32GB variants, and will feature an LTE radio and an 8-megapixel rear camera with optical image stabilization (there’s no mention of that crazy Nikon tech, though). NFC, wireless charging, and that lovely little notification light are back, too, but don’t expect a huge boost in longevity — it’s going to pack a sealed 2,300mAh battery, up slightly from the 2100mAh cell that powered last year’s Nexus 4. That spec sheet should sound familiar to people who took notice of what happened with the Nexus 4. Just as that device was built from the foundation laid by the LG Optimus G, the Nexus 5 (or whatever it’s going to be called) seems like a mildly revamped version of LG’s G2."

Submission + - (Ex-)CIA analyst writes insider study of Counterterrorism Center

guanxi writes: (Spoiler: It turns our their jobs are even more bureaucratic as most of ours; in fact, some ask if the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) is too large to function efffectively.) CIA analyst and sociology Ph.D. candidate Bridget Nolan suggested to her superiors that she write her dissertation on her workplace. They said no; she said yes; Bridget won. She had to quit the CIA, but now her study is in the public domain. Imagine a workplace where "ordinary conversations ... involve a kind of competitive one-upsmanship, "in which intelligence officers ‘out-correct’ and ‘out-logic’ each other in the course of routine conversation to the point where any increased accuracy in what has been said no longer seems meaningful." Maybe that doesn't take much imagination.

Comment Re:Sure, to lower paying jobs (Score 1) 674

Capitalism requires that increased productivity should cause increased wages. When the 10 Luddites are replaced by a machine (that costs the same as paying 4 Luddites) and 1 Luddite, does the remaining Luddite's pay increase 10 fold, 4 fold, or 2 fold? Where does the money go? This is the riddle of the robot menace, and why Capitalism can't solve the problem by itself.

The remaining worker's pay remains the same, and the difference is split between the owners of the capital (the machines), the makers of the capital, and lowered costs to the consumers of the end product. The only reason the worker's pay would increase would be if the supply of workers was constrained (e.g. by an increased skills requirement).

I'm not sure where you learned economics, but basic supply and demand applies to the labor market too.

Comment Re:2015: Terminator2 robots created to kill previo (Score 1) 149

This reminds me of SF short story, where people came up with idea of robotic doves (birds) acting as police and paralysing people who wanted to commit murder. But they had to adapt to do the job properly - to detect intent even in most ruthless killers. Soon they started to prevent people killing insects. After that, it was not possible to switch off TV set. And solution for that was to create self-evolving robotic killer hawks to catch the doves... anybody knows what was the name of the story, cannot find it now?

You're looking for Robert Sheckley's 1953 short story Watchbird , via Project Gutenberg. There was a TV adaptation in 2007's Season 1, Episode 6, Masters of Science Fiction.

Great read.

Comment Re:Homeopathy (Score 1) 291

Due to a lack of regulatory oversight for homeopathic remedies, that's probably never going to happen.

Why? Science doesn't require the government to happen. Real pharmaceutical companies do studies of the viability of the products long before they reach the stage where they are ready to do testing for regulatory purposes.

As to useful medicines, read a basic biochemistry textbook for 2nd year. Thousands of citations in there, which I could take and link to the papers they're based on.

Put up, or shut up. Find just one paper to demonstrate positive effects of homeopathy in a statistically significant group that shows better than placebo applications. No biochemistry textbook is going to show that magical shaky water has effects that real chemicals do.

Comment Re:Citation, please. (Score 1) 291

It doesn't always have to be better than a placebo to work.

Yes, it does. If it does worse than the placebo effect, then it is hurting the patient, and the placebo effect is only disguising this fact.

Homeopathy usually works on the placebo effect. That doesn't mean it doesn't work. Quite the opposite.

Yes, it does mean that it doesn't work. If you gave someone distilled water, told them it was a homeopathic cure, and it had the same effect, then homeopathy doesn't actually do anything, because it's not the "medicine" that's having the effect. That's what the placebo effect is used for -- to eliminate non-medicine effects in judging the value of a medicine.

But with infinite dilution side effects should be diluted infinitely to.

If that were the case, then the main effect would also be diluted infinitely (i.e. reduced to zero) too. Which is what actually happens with homeopathy, because it's utter nonsense.

Comment Citation, please. (Score 4, Informative) 291

That said, some homeopathic remedies have proven useful in medical research into cures.

Citation, please. The fundamental theory of homeopathy is unsound and violates fundamental physics. If you have a study with a statistically significant population that shows statistically significant improvements over a placebo, then please put the authors in touch with James Randi, who has offered $1 million to anyone who can prove it to work.

The problem is the dosage levels normally used are insufficient to cause that changes claimed.

At higher dosages, homeopathy stops being homeopathy and starts being herbalism. That's a whole different kettle of fish.

Comment It's more that you *have* to. (Score 1) 171

It's more that you *have* to choose disease risks. This isn't engineering a baby's genome from scratch -- it's just a matching system between potential gametes.

For example, if you're a woman looking to have a child via artificial insemination, then this system will let you profile the risks and rewards of using different donor sperm with your own eggs. All of these genomes (and your own) carry defective genes. So, do you want the donor with a high IQ and arthritis or the one with good looks and a high risk of heart disease? It'll depend in part on what genes you have that make the risks worse in addition to what benefits you most value.

Comment Re:Zombies. (Score 1) 608

No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.

Of course, the slimy lawyers in Congress saw the loophole in this populist amendment right away: just pass a law making raises automatic, and once it's in effect they get raises forever.

You do realize that all this means is that any automatic raise had to wait until the next election after it was passed. It can be removed as easily, but that would just have to wait until the next election to take effect.

It doesn't mean that every time they get a raise, the counter resets on when it could be repealed.

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