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Submission + - Russia Retaliates: Blocks GPS, Bans US Use Of Its Rocket Engines (

schwit1 writes: Moscow is banning Washington from using Russian-made rocket engines, which the US has used to deliver its military satellites into orbit, said Russia’s Deputy PM, Dmitry Rogozin, who is in charge of space and defense industries.

According to Rogozin, Russia is also halting the operation of all American GPS stations on its territory from June 1.

Russia currently hosts 11 ground-based GPS stations, the Deputy PM said.

The move comes after the US refused to place a signal correction station for Russia’s own space-based satellite navigation system, GLONASS, on American territory, he explained.

This is a major problem for the US military because (as Bloomberg reports),

The Pentagon has no “great solution” to reduce its dependence on a Russian-made engine that powers the rocket used to launch U.S. military satellites, the Defense Department’s top weapons buyer said.

“We don’t have a great solution,” Frank Kendall, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, said yesterday after testifying before a Senate committee. “We haven’t made any decisions yet.”

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the Air Force to review its reliance on the rocket engine after tensions over Russia’s takeover of Ukraine’s Crimea region prompted questions from lawmakers about that long-time supply connection.

United Launch Alliance LLC, a partnership of Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co., uses the Russian-made RD-180 engine on Atlas V rockets.

Submission + - H R Giger dead: Alien artist and designer died aged 74 ( 2

M3.14 writes: H. R. Giger, the Swiss artist and designer of Ridley Scott's Alien, has died, aged 74. Hans Rudolf 'Ruedi' Giger sustained injuries caused by a fall, Swiss newspaper Neue Zuercher Zeitung has reported (German link. English summary here). The terrifying creature and sets he created for Ridley Scott’s film earned him an Oscar for special effects in 1980. In the art world, Giger is appreciated for his wide body of work in the fantastic realism and surrealistic genres. Film work was just one of his talents. Giger is also known for his sculptures, paintings and furniture. The H.R. Giger Museum, inaugurated in the summer of 1998 in the Château St. Germain, is a four-level building complex in the historic, medieval walled city of Gruyères. It is the permanent home to many of the artist’s most prominent works.

Comment Re:Autoimmune disorder... (Score 2) 350

There is huge risk in sending out the swat team, this has been proven time and time again, by far the safer and quicker response is by a properly managed police force and confirmation being sought by 'actively' patrolling police officers. No public call should ever, I repeat ever, activate the swat team, only a request by a senior officer on site should bring the dogs out.

And this appears to be exactly what happened in this case, as the kid is being charged with multiple attempts at swatting only. The attempted calls to the investigative reporter were defused by calls from the local police department. The police appear to have learned their lesson from previous swatting incidents, and no tactical teams were deployed.

Comment Re:Autoimmune disorder... (Score 1) 350

In the articles linked, it is mentioned that he is being charged with making bomb threats and attempted swatting. In the case of the investigative reporter targeted, he was targeted three times and each time the situation was defused with a simple phone call from the police department or a drive-by from a beat cop, with no swat team intervention. Thus, despite concerns here about the police overreacting, the police in all cases calmly verified the situation, avoiding the need to send in a tactical team.

In the case of bomb threats, there is no way to properly verify the situation without doing a thorough search and evacuating the building. If you know better way, police departments across North America would like to know.

Comment Pitfalls of sharing economy (Score 5, Insightful) 255

This is why I am critical of the sharing economy. It is is the pinnacle of outsourcing where the management (uber, airbnb) reaps the cream of the profits at little risk, while their "subcontractors", so to speak, take the burden of all the risks (legally and financially), while also having to shoulder maintenance and operating expenses. The responsible and ethical move for these companies would be to properly inform these subcontractors the insurance requirements, legal risks, local workplace standards required for operation, and try to assist them if possible to meet these requirements.

Instead, they prefer to claim ignorance and shoulder all responsibility on their user base. When legal problems inevitably arise, they cast their users/subcontractors adrift, letting them fend for themselves. It's utterly disgraceful.

Comment His question was important and legitimate (Score 3, Insightful) 396

I don't understand the hatred towards Snowden for asking an important question regarding surveillance. From the linked article his question:

"So I'd like to ask you, does Russia intercept, store or analyze in any way the communications of millions of individuals? And do you believe that simply increasing the effectiveness of intelligence or law enforcement investigations can justify placing societies, rather than subjects, under surveillance?"

It is a perfectly valid question which needs to be asked to all world leaders. While Putin's answer can certainly be seen as pure political spin, the question itself is a legitimate and forceful question to be posed. And by asking it, it forced Putin to provide an answer through which he can be measured against. He has basically said in nationwide tv that if they did have a mass surveillance system, the state would be breaking the law. This public statement can now be used to hold him accountable should evidence surface proving him as lying.

I would also argue that the question is a far more direct one regarding surveillance than any that has been posed to Obama. And unlike Putin, Obama insists such a surveillance program is legal and necessary. One cannot reform the system without admitting the problem first. Were Obama to give the same answer as Putin to that question, the repercussions would be enormous, as it places a moral and legal standard on the role of surveillance in our society from the chief executive of the nation itself.

Comment This is great and all but... (Score 1) 98

They've gotten themselves into autonomous cars, fiber optic internet, robotics, and Wi-Fi balloons.

That's all great, but if I was shareholder I'd be worried about what their long-term vision for the company is. Sure, their R&D projects are a geek's wet dream, but they are unfocused. They appear to try and cover any and all emerging technologies, from wide variety of disparate sectors. Apple tries to focus on the consumer electronics sector. Google? I'm not quite sure what they are trying to be, and as an investor I'd be wary in investing in a company with such a schizophrenic view of its future.

Comment Re:Not going to work... (Score 4, Informative) 408

A while back I was prescribed an anti-depressant. The doctor said he didn't know if it would work for me. He said it wasn't even well understood *how* it worked.

You had a bad and uninformed doctor. A good doctor should have at least a general idea of how the medication works, and he certainly shouldn't be prescribing drugs without knowing if they'd work or how!

That confused me because presumably whatever was in the pill was added for a reason, but clearly there's a lot of trial and error. And clearly there are extremely nasty side effects from many drugs.

So many pharmaceuticals' effectiveness may be overrated, as may be their safety. I'm not sure some medicinal plants are necessarily less effective or less safe.

Presumably chemicals in our drugs are often extracted from nature. why wouldn't the same chemicals in their natural form have the same potential to work? For example, willow bark has salicin (from whence aspirin came), and has been used medicinally since the time of Hippocrates.

There may be side effects from pharmaceutical drugs, but they are well understood as a result of the extensive testing they are required to go through, and a lot of effort is made to minimize those side effects. Medicinal plants have the same range of side effects. The difference is herbal medicine doesn't go through scientific testing, it's side effects are not required to be labeled and are not as well understood. Drugs that are isolated from medicinal herbs will typically try to isolate the active ingredient, reducing the chances of side effects from other plant ingredients that may have unwanted pharmacological properties and refining the dosage to the minimum necessary.

The idea of treating the whole person instead of just the symptom is a growing concern in western medicine. This has always been the defining characteristic of homeopathy's holistic approach.

So many homeopathic treatments are almost certainly bunk, but throwing out all homeopathy may be short sighted, just as throwing out all of western medicine would be.

The defining characteristic of homeopathy is the "like cures like" approach, with medicine prepared from repeated dilution. This has been repeatedly proven to be bunk and without merit. If the core fundamentals of their medical approach is false, having been consistently disproven, why shouldn't the whole field be throw out as discredited and without merit?

Comment Re:Tracking` (Score 2) 233

I assume the live-streaming solution you're talking about is the one proposed by FLYHT. Their proposed solution, however, would only send essential data at the moment an event is detected, and it wouldn't supersed a standard flight data recorder. It wouldn't carry cockpit voice recording, for example, which was essential in determining what happened in the case of AF447. With the Air France case as an example, the search for the black box would still have to be carried out to close the investigation. And while it may have narrowed the search area, we already had an idea of where it went down based on transponder and ACARS data. And the ACARS transmissions also provided a good idea of what the precipitating event was in that case. It is therefore unclear what the FLYHT system would have added in value to that event.

As to the MH370 case, as I mentioned it is quite likely that whatever took down ACARS and the transponder systems in the aircraft would have also affected live-streaming by any black box recorder. And even with some data streamed, you would still need to find the cockpit voice and flight data recorder to get a complete picture.

Comment Re:Tracking` (Score 2) 233

Without understanding what went wrong with the plane, we can't know whether the proposed enhanced black box would be effective. There were systems in the aircraft to report its position and status remotely - namely ACARS and its transponders. These failed or were disabled early on. It is quite possible that whatever took those systems out would have also disabled communications from an enhanced black box.

Until we know the cause of the crash, proposing a solution is premature.

Comment Bennett Haselton = Sheldon Cooper (Score 1) 273

All of Bennett Haselton's post suffer from the same flaw: they're long winded, technical solutions for problems that are at their core are a social problem. Trying to impose a convoluted mathematical solution to a human/social problem is always doomed to fail. It's almost like I hear Sheldon Cooper from "The Big Bang Theory" speaking through him when he posts: a complete lack of understanding of social interaction in the real world, and an obstinate belief that you can fix the real world if only people would use your methodically thought algorithms to plan their lives.

Comment Antarctica (Score 3, Insightful) 150

How is this different from winter over expeditions in the South Pole, where you have a small group of people, isolated in a dome from the rest of the globe, and only able to leave their dome through puffy bulky suits.

And in fact. winter time expeditions at South Pole station are a better representation of Mars would be: they are effectively isolated, with the potential of any minor equipment malfunction turning into a life-or-death issue in the harsh Antarctic winter, dependent only on their own supplies. I doubt these NASA volunteers staying in a balmy hawaiian island will have to worry much if a medical problem or equipment malfunction occurs.

Comment Re:I dont get it (Score 1) 551

This is like asking why a battered wife doesn't defend herself against her abusive husband.

The Russian military is much larger than the Ukrainian military, and the Ukrainians knew they didn't stand a chance in any conflict. Additionally, having a tumultuous change of government at the same time which paralyzed decision making didn't help. The Russians, on the other hand, had been preparing for this for weeks, moving additional troops into the Crimea before the opportunity presented itself. It didn't help that Ukrainian military equipment is antiquate soviet holdovers, with very little equipment upgrades in the last 25 years.

On top of it, the majority of the Ukrainian navy was in the Crimea, which enabled the Russians to easily bottle it up. Ukrainian policy allowed servicemen to be based near their hometowns - which would have made the army more pliable to local pressures. Finally, the Ukrainians also have to worry about the Russian-speaking eastern part of the country separating at the moment.

There was very little the Ukrainians could do, and shooting back would have been a pointless loss of lives and only provided an excuse for Putin for even further aggression.


Bitcoin Exchange Flexcoin Wiped Out By Theft 704

mrspoonsi writes "Joining MtGox, Flexcoin today announced they have had their vault wiped out, to the tune of some 896 BTC (about $615,000) by hackers. 'On March 2nd 2014 Flexcoin was attacked and robbed of all coins in the hot wallet. The attacker made off with 896 BTC, dividing them into these two addresses: 1NDkevapt4SWYFEmquCDBSf7DLMTNVggdu [and] 1QFcC5JitGwpFKqRDd9QNH3eGN56dCNgy6. As Flexcoin does not have the resources, assets, or otherwise to come back from this loss, we are closing our doors immediately.'"

MtGox Files For Bankruptcy Protection 465

Sockatume writes "The beleaguered MtGox bitcoin exchange has officially filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo. According to the Wall Street Journal, Bitcoin held an impromptu press conference that addressed recent rumors. They state that they have over $60m in liabilities against just $30m in assets, and confirm the loss of over $500m worth of Bitcoins, split between customers' balances (750,000 BTC) and company assets (100,000 BTC). Owner Mark Karpeles said, 'There was some weakness in the system, and the bitcoins have disappeared. I apologize for causing trouble.'"

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