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Submission + - Polar Vortex Sends Life-Threatening Freeze to US

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: Reuters reports that the Midwestern United States is shivering through the region's lowest temperatures in twenty years as forecasters warn that life-threatening cold is heading eastward as a polar vortex of freezing Arctic weather sweeps across the United States. "The coldest temperatures in almost two decades will spread into the northern and central U.S. today behind an arctic cold front," says the National Weather Service. "Combined with gusty winds, these temperatures will result in life-threatening wind chill values as low as 60 degrees below zero (Fahrenheit/minus 51 degrees Celsius)." The coldest temperature reported in the lower 48 states on Sunday was minus 40 F (-40 C) in the towns of Babbitt and Embarrass, Minnesota. Meteorologists warn that the wind-chill factor could make it feel twice as cold, causing frostbite to exposed parts of the body within minutes. Eleven people have already died in weather-related incidents in the past week, including a 71-year-old woman with Alzheimer's who wandered from her home in upstate New York and was found frozen to death only 100m away. Polar vortexes occur seasonally at the North Pole, and their formation resembles that of hurricanes in more tropical regions: fast-moving winds build up around a calm center. Unlike a hurricane, these are frigid polar winds, circling the Arctic at more than 100 miles per hour. The spinning winds typically trap this cold air in the Arctic. But the problem comes when the polar vortex weakens or splits apart, essentially flinging these cold wind patterns out of the Arctic and into our backyards. "All the ingredients are there for a near-record or historic cold outbreak," says meteorologist Ryan Maue. "If you're under 40, you've not seen this stuff before."

Submission + - Could British Firm Force Pinterest To Change Its Name? (techweekeurope.co.uk)

judgecorp writes: Pinterest could be in trouble — a British firm has successfully claimed ownership of the European trademark "Pinterest", even though it has not yet used the term in any public products. Pinterest was formed in 2011, and popular by 2011, but did not launch in Europe until 2012 — months after the UK company Premium Interest had registered the trademark. That trademark has now been confirmed by the European Commission's Office for the Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM). Since so much of Pinterest's business is based on its name, the ruling could force Pinterest to change its name — a move which has precedents: Microsoft is changing the name of Skydrive because it infringes the trademark of British broadcaster BSkyB, normally known as Sky.

Submission + - Yahoo Advertising Serves Up Malware for Thousands

wjcofkc writes: CNN and CNET News report that thousands of users have been affected by malicious advertisements served by ads.yahoo.com. The attack, which lasted several days, exploited vulnerabilities in Java and installed malware. The Netherlands based Fox-IT estimates that the infection rate was at about 27,000 infections per hour. In response to the breach in security, Yahoo issued the following statement, "At Yahoo, we take the safety and privacy of our users seriously. We recently identified an ad designed to spread malware to some of our users. We immediately removed it and will continue to monitor and block any ads being used for this activity." While the source of the attack remains unknown, Fox-IT says it appears to be "financially motivated." For an in depth analysis of the attack, check out this Fox-IT blog post. The Washington Post cites this incident as an reminder that Java has become and Internet security menace.

Submission + - Edward Snowden Does Not Deserve Clemency 2

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: Fred Kaplan, the Edward R. Murrow press fellow at the Council on Foreign Relation, writes at Slate that if Edward Snowden's stolen trove of beyond-top-secret documents had dealt only with the domestic surveillance by the NSA, then some form of leniency might be worth discussing. But Snowden did much more than that. "Snowden's documents have, so far, furnished stories about the NSA’s interception of email traffic, mobile phone calls, and radio transmissions of Taliban fighters in Pakistan’s northwest territories; about an operation to gauge the loyalties of CIA recruits in Pakistan; about NSA email intercepts to assist intelligence assessments of what’s going on inside Iran; about NSA surveillance of cellphone calls “worldwide,” an effort that 'allows it to look for unknown associates of known intelligence targets by tracking people whose movements intersect.'" Kaplan says the NYT editorial calling on President Obama to grant Snowden “some form of clemency” paints an incomplete picture when it claims that Snowden “stole a trove of highly classified documents after he became disillusioned with the agency’s voraciousness.” In fact, as Snowden himself told the South China Morning Post, he took his job as an NSA contractor, with Booz Allen Hamilton, because he knew that his position would grant him “access to lists of machines all over the world [that] the NSA hacked.” Snowden got himself placed at the NSA’s signals intelligence center in Hawaii says Kaplan for the sole purpose of pilfering extremely classified documents and gained access to his cache of documents by lying to 20 to 25 of his fellow employees to persuade them to give him their logins and passwords, turning them into his unwitting accomplices. "It may be telling that Snowden did not release—or at least the recipients of his cache haven’t yet published—any documents detailing the cyber-operations of any other countries, especially Russia or China, even though he would have had access to the NSA’s after-action reports on the hundreds or thousands of hacking campaigns that they too have mounted over the years," concludes Kaplan. "If it turned out that Snowden did give information to the Russians or Chinese (or if intelligence assessments show that the leaks did substantial damage to national security, something that hasn’t been proved in public), then I’d say all talk of a deal is off—and I assume the Times editorial page would agree."

Submission + - Google: Tax Loopholes Good, SEO Loopholes Evil

theodp writes: "I view that you should pay the taxes that are legally required," quipped Google Chairman Eric Schmidt in a blame-the-victim-defense after Google came under fire for exploiting loopholes that allowed it to pay a mere £6m in UK tax on sales of £2.6bn. "If the British system changes the tax laws then we will comply." But don't try to get away with exploiting loopholes in Google's rules with your stupid Search Engine Optimization tricks, kids, or your site may end up sleeping with the fishes like Rap Genius. Google, you see, makes it crystal clear in its Webmaster Guidelines that it won't tolerate any BS letter-of-the-rules defenses: "These quality guidelines cover the most common forms of deceptive or manipulative behavior, but Google may respond negatively to other misleading practices not listed here. It's not safe to assume that just because a specific deceptive technique isn't included on this page, Google approves of it. Webmasters who spend their energies upholding the spirit of the basic principles will provide a much better user experience and subsequently enjoy better ranking than those who spend their time looking for loopholes they can exploit."

Submission + - Snapchat Users Phone Numbers Exposed To Hackers (theguardian.com)

beaverdownunder writes: From the Guardian:

Snapchat users’ phone numbers may be exposed to hackers due to an unresolved security vulnerability, according to a new report released by a group of Australian hackers.

Snapchat is a social media program that allows users to send pictures to each other that disappear within 10 seconds. Users can create profiles with detailed personal information and add friends that can view the photos a user shares.

But Gibson Security, a group of anonymous hackers from Australia, has published a new report with detailed coding that they say shows how a vulnerability can be exploited to reveal phone numbers of users, as well as their privacy settings.

Submission + - Google's Duplicitous Stance on Loopholes, Spirit of Law 2

theodp writes: When it comes to tax loopholes, Google has certainly embraced the letter and not the spirit of the tax law. "Google plays by the rules set by politicians," quipped Google's UK head, defending the company's payment of a mere £6m in tax on sales of £2.6bn. "I view that you should pay the taxes that are legally required," added Google Chairman Eric Schmidt. "If the British system changes the tax laws then we will comply." So, one might ask whether Rap Genius was also playing by the letter of the rules, if not the spirit, when Google penalized Rap Genius for its link schemes. After all, don't they have the same fiduciary responsibility to investors that Google says motivates its tax strategy? Well, you could ask, but it wouldn't matter. In a case of what's-good-for-the-goose-is-not-good-for-the-gander, Google makes it clear that it won't countenance BS letter-of-the-law defenses from those who seek to exploit loopholes. From the Google Webmaster Guidelines, "These quality guidelines cover the most common forms of deceptive or manipulative behavior, but Google may respond negatively to other misleading practices not listed here. It's not safe to assume that just because a specific deceptive technique isn't included on this page, Google approves of it. Webmasters who spend their energies upholding the spirit of the basic principles will provide a much better user experience and subsequently enjoy better ranking than those who spend their time looking for loopholes they can exploit." So, in Lord Google's eyes, is exploiting loopholes good AND evil?

Submission + - Memo to Parents and Society: Teen Social Media "Addiction" is Your Fault (wired.com)

FuzzNugget writes: Wired presents a this damning perspective on so-called social media addiction...

If kids can’t socialize, who should parents blame? Simple: They should blame themselves. This is the argument advanced in It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens, by Microsoft researcher Danah Boyd. Boyd ... has spent a decade interviewing hundreds of teens about their online lives. What she has found, over and over, is that teenagers would love to socialize face-to-face with their friends. But adult society won’t let them. “Teens aren’t addicted to social media. They’re addicted to each other,” Boyd says. “They’re not allowed to hang out the way you and I did, so they’ve moved it online.

It’s true. As a teenager in the early ’80s I could roam pretty widely with my friends, as long as we were back by dark. Over the next three decades, the media began delivering a metronomic diet of horrifying but rare child-abduction stories, and parents shortened the leash on their kids. Politicians warned of incipient waves of youth wilding and superpredators (neither of which emerged). Municipalities crafted anti-loitering laws and curfews to keep young people from congregating alone. New neighborhoods had fewer public spaces. Crime rates plummeted, but moral panic soared. Meanwhile, increased competition to get into college meant well-off parents began heavily scheduling their kids’ after-school lives.


Submission + - WSJ: NSA Drowns in Useless Data, Impeding Work, Former Employee Claims (news168.co.uk)

An anonymous reader writes: "Some of the documents released by Mr. Snowden detail concerns inside the NSA about drowning in information. An internal briefing document in 2012 about foreign cellphone-location tracking by the agency said the efforts were "outpacing our ability to ingest, process and store" data.

"In March 2013, some NSA analysts asked for permission to collect less data through a program called Muscular because the "relatively small intelligence value it contains does not justify the sheer volume of collection," another document shows.

"In response to questions about Mr. Binney's claims, an NSA spokeswoman says the agency is "not collecting everything, but we do need the tools to collect intelligence on foreign adversaries who wish to do harm to the nation and its allies."

Some of this may be behind a paywall, but if approached via EU papers WSJ sometimes allows access to "World News" articles w/o subscription

Submission + - Prime Minister Wiretapped - Vast Corruption Upending Turkey's Government (businessinsider.com)

cold fjord writes: Business Insider reports, "The prime minister will be lucky to emerge in one piece ... Dawn raids last Tuesday nabbed almost 60 people and implicated three government ministries, the directors of state banks, and some of Turkey’s most powerful businessmen in a massive corruption probe spread across three different cases. Three members of Turkey's cabinet resigned on Christmas Day, and one called on Erdogan to follow suit as accusations of kickbacks, smuggling, and abuse of office continue to mount. The scandal has even acquired an international dimension as suspicions that Iran has been using Turkey’s banks to shirk sanctions were further bolstered by the arrest of Reza Sarraf, an Iranian businessmen who is accused of bribing the Economic Minister while coordinating transactions from Iran worth $120 billion. The AKP is scrambling to defend itself by claiming the arrests are a result of a dastardly foreign conspiracy ... while police officials have been removed and reshuffled and special prosecutors appointed to a degree that makes Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre look like exemplary justice. The Turkish press continues to eagerly publish the latest colorful details that emerge from the probe, including police reports of $500,000 bribes administered in boxes of chocolate and news that Erdoan himself was being wiretapped as part of the investigation." — Erdogan urged to resign. Three days ago Turkey banned journalists from entering police stations. Police are using tear gas on protesters.

Submission + - Netflix: Non-'A' Players Unworthy of Jobs 5

theodp writes: Describing How Netflix Reinvented HR for the Harvard Business Review, ex-Chief Talent Officer Patty McCord describes 'the most basic element of Netflix’s talent philosophy: The best thing you can do for employees-a perk better than foosball or free sushi-is hire only “A” players to work alongside them.' Continuing her Scrooge-worthy tale, McCord adds that firing a once-valuable employee instead of finding another way for her to contribute yielded another aha! moment for Netflix: "If we wanted only 'A' players on our team, we had to be willing to let go of people whose skills no longer fit, no matter how valuable their contributions had once been. Out of fairness to such people—and, frankly, to help us overcome our discomfort with discharging them—we learned to offer rich severance packages." It's a sometimes-praised-sometimes-criticized strategy that's straight out of Steve Jobs' early '80s playbook. But, even if you assume your execs are capable of identifying 'A' players, how do you find enough employees if 90% of the country's population are deemed unworthy of jobs? Well, Netflix CEO Reed Hasting's support of Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us PAC suggests one possible answer — you get lobbyists to convince Congress you need to hire as many people as you want from outside the country. An article commenter points out that Netflix's 'Culture of Fear' has earned it a 3.2/5.0 rating on Glassdoor.

Submission + - Rackspace Email Customers Notified of Potential Vulnerability

latuZimZactly writes: Rackspace has asked customers of its email service to reset account passwords.

Dear Rackspace Customer — We have recently corrected a potential vulnerability that may have allowed external access to some of your end-user's credentials. To be safe, we've reset the passwords for the mailboxes identified below. Please log in to your Admin Control Panel to change the password and to allow access to your user once again. Please note that your admin credentials were not at risk.

The notification originated from mailtrust.com, a service acquired by Rackspace in October 2007, and was confirmed by Rackspace support.

Yes this was sent out by the Email and Apps Department. We understand that it was not a normal means of communication but generating a ticket would of taken longer. Due to the security issue involved on this issue emails was the quickest way to reach our administrators to address this issue. A ticket will be created shortly documenting this issue in your ticket history.

Submission + - The FBI's Secret Interrogation Manual: Available for checkout at the Library (motherjones.com)

McGruber writes: The FBI Supervisory Special Agent who authored the FBI's interrogation manual submitted the document for copyright protection — in the process, making it available to anyone with a card for the Library of Congress to read.

The story is particularly mind-boggling for two reasons. First, the American Civil Liberties Union fought a legal battle with the FBI over access to the document. When the FBI relented and released a copy to the ACLU, it was heavily redacted — unlike the 70-plus page version of the manual available from the Library of Congress.

Second, the manual cannot even qualify for a copyright because it is a government work. Anything "prepared by an officer or employee of the United States government as part of that person's official duties" is not subject to copyright in the United States.

Submission + - PS4's Holiday Debacle (goozernation.com)

kube00 writes: The PS4 is Sony's next gen console and was pushed hard to captive audiences. As some gamers know, its been pretty hard to find one. Here’s the tale of one GoozerNation member who got their PS4 only to find out why some gamers wait to buy new hardware.

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