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Government

Submission + - Failed Attack May Have Targeted City of Detroit (mlive.com)

Geosota writes: The intended scale of the Christmas Bombing may have been far larger than reported. The number of lives spared when Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's PETN-bomb failed to detonate is quoted as 300. Though quite serious, the attack may have had a bolder objective: Detroit. FIRST, the attempt was timed as Flight 253 was descending to Detroit Metropolitan Airport over the city itself. Flaming shrapnel would have spread over a large populated area. WORSE, detained passengers say there was a second person handcuffed and lead away when a bomb-sniffing dog sat down in front of his checked luggage. The FBI denies this, but there are multiple eye-witnesses who have spoken to the media about it. Furthermore, the unidentified second man had also been observed in Amsterdam persuading security personnel into allowing UFA to board the airplane without a passport (because he was a "refugee"). This suitcase could have held a much larger bomb capable of inflicting massive damage on the ground. An attack of this scale on a major American city would have been devastating with perhaps as large a loss of life as the World Trade Center airborne attack.
Encryption

Submission + - Quantum Encryption Implementation Broken (events.ccc.de)

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes: "Professor Johannes Skaar's Quantum Hacking group at NTNU have found a new way to break quantum encryption. Even though quantum encryption is theoretically perfect, real hardware isn't, and they exploit these flaws. Their technique relies on a particular way of blinding the single photon detectors so that they're able to perform an intercept-resend attack and get a copy of the secret key without giving away the fact that someone is listening. This attack is not merely theoretical, either. They have built an eavesdropping device and successfully attacked their own quantum encryption hardware. More details can be found in their conference presentation."
The Media

The Rise of Machine-Written Journalism 134

Hugh Pickens writes "Peter Kirwan has an interesting article in Wired UK on the emergence of software that automates the collection, evaluation, and even reporting of news events. Thomson Reuters, the world's largest news agency, has started moving down this path, courtesy of an intriguing product with the nondescript name NewsScope, a machine-readable news service designed for financial institutions that make their money from automated, event-driven trading. The latest iteration of NewsScope 'scans and automatically extracts critical pieces of information' from US corporate press releases, eliminating the 'manual processes' that have traditionally kept so many financial journalists in gainful employment. At Northwestern University, a group of computer science and journalism students have developed a program called Stats Monkey that uses statistical data to generate news reports on baseball games. Stats Monkey identifies the players who change the course of games, alongside specific turning points in the action. The rest of the process involves on-the-fly assembly of templated 'narrative arcs' to describe the action in a format recognizable as a news story. 'No doubt Kurt Cagle, editor of XMLToday.org, was engaging in a bit of provocation when he recently suggested that an intelligent agent might win a Pulitzer Prize by 2030,' writes Kirwin. 'Of course, it won't be the software that takes home the prize: it'll be the programmers who wrote the code in the first place, something that Joseph Pultizer could never have anticipated.'"
Medicine

Ginkgo Doesn't Improve Memory Or Cognitive Skills 403

JumperCable writes "Ginkgo biloba has failed — again — to live up to its reputation for boosting memory and brain function. Just over a year after a study showed that the herb doesn't prevent dementia and Alzheimer's disease, a new study from the same team of researchers has found no evidence that ginkgo reduces the normal cognitive decline that comes with aging. In the new study, the largest of its kind to date, DeKosky and his colleagues followed more than 3,000 people between the ages of 72 and 96 for an average of six years. Half of the participants took two 120-milligram capsules of ginkgo a day during the study period, and the other half took a placebo. The people who took ginkgo showed no differences in attention, memory, and other cognitive measures compared to those who took the placebo, according to the study, which was published in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association."
News

Why Do So Many Terrorists Have Engineering Degrees 736

Socguy noted that Slate is apparently a little desperate for some traffic as they are writing about"Why so many of the terrorists have engineering degrees, and they come to the conclusion that engineers and engineering students are much more likely to hold strong conservative and religious views than a general cross section of the public. Further, engineers tend to hold a particular mind-set that disdains ambiguity and compromise. Terrorist organizations have long recognized that engineering departments are fertile ground for recruitment and have concentrated their efforts there. A 2005 report from British intelligence noted that Islamic extremists were frequenting college campuses, looking for 'inquisitive' students who might be susceptible to their message. In particular, the report noted, they targeted engineers."
Microsoft

MS Issues Word Patch To Comply With Court Order 179

bennyboy64 writes "iTnews reports that Microsoft has begun offering what appears to be a patch for its popular Word software, allowing it to comply with a recent court ruling which has banned the software giant from selling patent-infringing versions of the word processing product. The workaround should put an end to a long-running dispute between Canadian i4i and Redmond, although it has hinted that the legal battle might yet take another turn."
Microsoft

A Decade of Dreadful Microsoft Ads 220

Barence writes "PC Pro has rounded up the most howlingly awful examples of ads churned out by Microsoft over the past decade. The selection includes the cringe-worthy Gates & Seinfeld ads — where Gates looks like he’s delivering his lines with the help of a cattle prod — to the terrible Windows 7 party ads (an 'F1 key for social inadequates,' according to PC Pro), to the one that got away: an excellent in-house training video produced by The Office's Ricky Gervais."
Security

GSM Decryption Published 299

Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that German encryption expert Karsten Nohl says that he has deciphered and published the 21-year-old GSM algorithm, the secret code used to encrypt most of the world's digital mobile phone calls, in what he called an attempt to expose weaknesses in the security system used by about 3.5 billion of the 4.3 billion wireless connections across the globe. Others have cracked the A5/1 encryption technology used in GSM before, but their results have remained secret. 'This shows that existing GSM security is inadequate,' Nohl told about 600 people attending the Chaos Communication Congress. 'We are trying to push operators to adopt better security measures for mobile phone calls.' The GSM Association, the industry group based in London that devised the algorithm and represents wireless operators, called Mr. Nohl's efforts illegal and said they overstated the security threat to wireless calls. 'This is theoretically possible but practically unlikely,' says Claire Cranton, a GSM spokeswoman, noting that no one else had broken the code since its adoption. 'What he is doing would be illegal in Britain and the United States. To do this while supposedly being concerned about privacy is beyond me.' Simon Bransfield-Garth, the chief executive of Cellcrypt, says Nohl's efforts could put sophisticated mobile interception technology — limited to governments and intelligence agencies — within the reach of any reasonable well-funded criminal organization. 'This will reduce the time to break a GSM call from weeks to hours,' Bransfield-Garth says. 'We expect as this further develops it will be reduced to minutes.'"
Earth

North Magnetic Pole Moving East Due To Core Flux 346

National Geographic is reporting that the migration of Earth's magnetic pole has accelerated again and is now racing in Russia's direction at a blazing 40 miles per year. This movement began in earnest around 1904 at about 9 miles per year and has been accelerating since. "Geologists think Earth has a magnetic field because the core is made up of a solid iron center surrounded by rapidly spinning liquid rock. This creates a 'dynamo' that drives our magnetic field. Scientists had long suspected that, since the molten core is constantly moving, changes in its magnetism might be affecting the surface location of magnetic north. Although the new research seems to back up this idea, Chulliat is not ready to say whether magnetic north will eventually cross into Russia. 'It's too difficult to forecast,' Chulliat said. Also, nobody knows when another change in the core might pop up elsewhere, sending magnetic north wandering in a new direction."

Comment Energy efficiency per ton: train vs airfreight? (Score 1) 491

"Then it seems we could cut down air traffic considerably. NYC to Atalanta is only about 800 miles, if I could get there by train in four hours, a airplane would offer no time advantage.

If the difference in fuel efficiency is considerable, then maybe the US should consider building something like that?"

That is an interesting question, that I will have to go research.

I need to try to find credible numbers on the relative total-system energy required of hauling people via each method, and for hauling a ton of freight via each method.

I even wonder what the total cost of each system, say over 20yrs, would be.

(Share if you have already found such answers.)

Linux

Happy Birthday, Linus 376

Glyn Moody writes "Today is the birthday of Linus. Just under 19 years ago, on the first day the shops in Helsinki were open after the holidays, Linus rushed out and spent all his Christmas and birthday money on his first PC: a DX33 80386, with 4 Megs of RAM, no co-processor, and a 40 Megabyte hard disc. Today, the kernel he wrote on that system powers 90% of the fastest supercomputers, and is starting to find its way into more and more smartphones — not to mention everything in between. What would the world look like had he spent his money on something else?"
GNU is Not Unix

GNU Emacs Switches From CVS To Bazaar 198

kfogel writes "GNU Emacs, one of the oldest continuously developed free software projects around, has switched from CVS to Bazaar. Emacs's first recorded version-control commits date from August, 1985. Eight years later, in 1993, it moved to CVS. Sixteen years later, it is switching to Bazaar, its first time in a decentralized version control system. If this pattern holds, GNU Emacs will be in Bazaar for at least thirty-two years ..."
Transportation

World's First Production Hybrid Motorcycle To Hit Market In India 128

bluemanlines writes "The Indian company Eko Vehicles has announced the development of the world's first production hybrid motorcycle, called the ET-120. In a short time this motorcycle will run on the Indian streets, offering about 280 miles per gallon with a top speed of 40 miles per hour."

Submission + - SPAM: FBI issues code cracker challenge

coondoggie writes: The FBI today posted a pictogram on its site and challenged code crackers to solve its mysteries. In the bureau's challenge it is using pictogram symbols based on Native American motifs. The challenge offers over 50 words to decipher.
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