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Sugar Industry Bought Off Scientists, Skewed Dietary Guidelines For Decades (arstechnica.com) 527

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Back in the 1960s, a sugar industry executive wrote fat checks to a group of Harvard researchers so that they'd downplay the links between sugar and heart disease in a prominent medical journal -- and the researchers did it, according to historical documents reported Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. One of those Harvard researchers went on to become the head of nutrition at the United States Department of Agriculture, where he set the stage for the federal government's current dietary guidelines. All in all, the corrupted researchers and skewed scientific literature successfully helped draw attention away from the health risks of sweets and shift the blame to solely to fats -- for nearly five decades. The low-fat, high-sugar diets that health experts subsequently encouraged are now seen as a main driver of the current obesity epidemic. The bitter revelations come from archived documents from the Sugar Research Foundation (now the Sugar Association), dug up by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco. Their dive into the old, sour affair highlights both the perils of trusting industry-sponsored research to inform policy and the importance of requiring scientists to disclose conflicts of interest -- something that didn't become the norm until years later. Perhaps most strikingly, it spotlights the concerning power of the sugar industry. In a statement also issued today, the Sugar Association acknowledged that it "should have exercised greater transparency in all of its research activities." However, the trade-group went on to question the UCSF researchers' motives in digging up the issue and reframing the past events to "conveniently align with the currently trending anti-sugar narrative." The association also chastised the journal for publishing the historical analysis, which it implied was insignificant and sensationalist. "Most concerning is the growing use of headline-baiting articles to trump quality scientific research -- we're disappointed to see a journal of JAMA's stature being drawn into this trend," the association wrote. But scientists disagree with that take. In an accompanying editorial, nutrition professor Marion Nestle of New York University argued that "this 50-year-old incident may seem like ancient history, but it is quite relevant, not least because it answers some questions germane to our current era."

Voting Machines Can Be Easily Compromised, Symantec Demonstrates (cbsnews.com) 217

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes a report from CBS News: For the hackers at Symantec Security Response, Election Day results could be manipulated by an affordable device you can find online. "I can insert it, and then it resets the card, and now I'm able to vote again," said Brian Varner, a principle researcher at Symantec, demonstrating the device...

Symantec Security Response director Kevin Haley said elections can also be hacked by breaking into the machines after the votes are collected. "The results go from that machine into a piece of electronics that takes it to the central counting place," Haley said. "That data is not encrypted and that's vulnerable for manipulation."

40 states are using a voting technology that's at least 10 years old, according to the article. And while one of America's national election official argues that "there are paper trails everywhere," CBS reports that only 60% of states conduct routine audits of their paper trails, while "not all states even have paper records, like in some parts of swing states Virginia and Pennsylvania, which experts say could be devastating."

US Seizure of Kim Dotcom's Assets Will Stand, Says Appeals Court (arstechnica.com) 166

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday in favor of the American government's seizure of a large number of Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom's overseas assets. Seized items include millions of dollars in various seized bank accounts in Hong Kong and New Zealand, multiple cars, four jet skis, the Dotcom mansion, several luxury cars, two 108-inch TVs, three 82-inch TVs, a $10,000 watch, and a photograph by Olaf Mueller worth over $100,000. After years of delay, in December 2015, Dotcom was finally ordered to be extradited to the United States to face criminal charges. But his appeal is set to be heard before the High Court in Auckland on August 29. In its court filings, prosecutors argued that because Dotcom had not appeared to face the charges against him in the United States, he is therefore susceptible to "fugitive disentitlement." That legal theory posits that if a defendant has fled the country to evade prosecution, he or she cannot make a claim to the assets that the government wants to seize under civil forfeiture. But as the Dotcom legal team claimed, the U.S. can neither use its legal system to seize assets abroad nor can Dotcom be considered a fugitive if he has never set foot in the United States. However, the 4th Circuit disagreed: "Because the statute must apply to people with no reason to come to the United States other than to face charges, a "sole" or "principal" purpose test cannot stand. The principal reason such a person remains outside the United States will typically be that they live elsewhere. A criminal indictment gives such a person a reason to make the journey, and the statute is aimed at those who resist nevertheless." Civil forfeiture in the United States allows law enforcement to seize one's assets if they are believed to be illegally acquired -- even without filing any criminal charges.

Top DNC Staffers Leave Following WikiLeaks Email Scandal (usatoday.com) 424

An anonymous reader writes from a report via USA Today: Following the leak of nearly 20,000 Democratic National Committee emails and the resignation of DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, several more staffers are leaving their positions. USA Today reports Amy Dacey, the chief executive officer of the DNC, Luis Miranda, the party's communications director, and Brad Marshall, chief financial officer, are all leaving the DNC. The statement announcing the staff changes praises the outgoing aides and makes no mention of the email issue. "Thanks in part to the hard work of Amy, Luis, and Brad, the Democratic Party has adopted the most progressive platform in history, has put itself in financial position to win in November, and has begun the important work of investing in state party partnerships. I'm so grateful for their commitment to this cause, and I wish them continued success in the next chapter of their career," said Donna Brazile, the party's interim chairwoman. Some of the leaked emails from party staffers depicted officials favoring now-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders during their primary campaign.

The FBI Recommends Not To Indict Hillary Clinton For Email Misconduct (theverge.com) 1010

FBI Director James Comey says that his agency isn't recommending that the DOJ pursue charges against Hillary Clinton for setting up a private email server as Secretary of State. At a press conference on Tuesday, Comey added that while there is "evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information," they think that "no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case." The Verge reports:The recommendation is the result of a painstaking investigation by the bureau, which uncovered a number of new details. The investigation found 110 emails in 52 email chains were determined to contain classified information, including 8 chains contained information that was marked as top secret at the time, Director Comey said. Secretary Clinton used several different email servers and numerous mobile devices, and many of those servers were decommissioned and otherwise altered as they were replaced.
United States

At Least 33 US Cities Used Water Testing 'Cheats' Over Lead Concerns (theguardian.com) 101

An anonymous reader writes: In an exclusive report via The Guardian, investigators found there to be at least 33 cities across 17 U.S. states that have used water testing "cheats" in an effort to cover up potentially dangerous levels of lead. The investigation was launched after the toxic water crisis in Flint, Michigan, and found that 21 of these cities used the same water testing methods that resulted in criminal charges against three government employees in Flint. Such cities include Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit and Milwaukee. The Guardian reports: "The Guardian investigation concerned thousands of documents detailing water testing practices over the past decade. They include: Despite warnings of regulators and experts, water departments in at least 33 cities used testing methods over the past decade that could underestimate lead found in drinking water. Officials in two major cities -- Philadelphia and Chicago -- asked employees to test water safety in their own homes. Two states -- Michigan and New Hampshire -- advised water departments to give themselves extra time to complete tests so that if lead contamination exceeded federal limits, officials could re-sample and remove results with high lead levels. Some cities denied knowledge of the locations of lead pipes, failed to sample the required number of homes with lead plumbing of refused to release lead pipe maps, claiming it was a security risk."

CIA Watchdog 'Mistakenly' Destroyed Its Only Copy Of A Senate Torture Report (yahoo.com) 209

An anonymous reader writes: According to Yahoo News, the CIA inspector general's office "mistakenly" destroyed its only copy of a mammoth Senate torture report at the same time lawyers for the Justice Department were assuring a federal judge that copies of the document were being preserved. Agency officials described the deletion of the document to Senate investigators as an "inadvertent" foul-up by the inspector general. "CIA inspector general officials deleted an uploaded computer file with the report and then accidentally destroyed a disk that also contained the document, filled with thousands of secret files about the CIA's use of 'enhanced' interrogation methods," reports Yahoo News. The Senate Intelligence Committee and Justice Department knew about the incident last summer, sources said. However, the destruction of a copy of the sensitive report was never made public, nor was it reported to the federal judge at the time who was overseeing a lawsuit seeking access to the still classified document under the Freedom of Information Act. Despite this incident, a CIA spokesperson has said another unopened computer disk with the full report is still locked in a vault at agency headquarters. "I can assure you that the CIA has retained a copy," wrote Dean Boyd, the agency's chief of public affairs, in an email. Feinstein is calling for the CIA inspector general to obtain a new copy of the report to replace the one that disappeared. A 500-page summary was released in 2014, and concluded that the CIA misled Americans on the effectiveness of "enhanced interrogation." Specifically, the interrogations were poorly managed and unreliable.

Prisons Moving To All-Video Visitation (mic.com) 277

"A new system called 'video visitation' is replacing in-person jail visits with glitchy, expensive Skype-like video calls," reports Tech.Mic. "It's inhumane, dystopian and actually increases in-prison violence -- but god, it makes money."

Slashdot reader gurps_npc writes: In-person costs a lot to administer, while you can charge people to 'visit' via video conferencing. (Charge as in overcharge -- just like they charge up to $14 a minute for normal, audio only telephone calls). This is new, and the few studies that have been done show that doing this increases violence in the prison -- and it's believed to also increase recidivism. But the companies making a ton on it like that -- repeat customers and all. Of course, the service is horrible, often being full of static and dropped calls -- and the company doesn't help you fix the problem.
Meanwhile, the EFF reports that last year Facebook disabled 53 U.S prisoner and 74 U.K. prisoner accounts at the request of the government, and is urging people to report takedown requests for inmate social media to OnlineCensorship.org.
United States

Why 6 Republican Senators Think You Don't Need Faster Broadband (cio.com) 522

itwbennett writes: Broadband in the United States still lags behind similar service in other industrialized countries, so Congress made broadband expansion a national priority, and it offers subsidies, mostly in rural areas, to help providers expand their offerings,' writes Bill Snyder. And that's where an effort by the big ISPs and a group of senators to change the definition of broadband comes in. Of course, the ISPs want the threshold to be as low as possible so it's easier for them to qualify for government subsidies. In a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, dated January 21, 2016, the senators called the current broadband benchmark of 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream 'arbitrary' and said that users don't need that kind of speed anyway. '[W]e are aware of few applications that require download speeds of 25 Mbps.' the senators wrote, missing the simple fact that many users have multiple connected devices.

"Unsecured Memory Card" Prompts Election Fraud Investigation In Georgia (ajc.com) 172

McGruber writes: On Tuesday, there was an election in Dekalb County, Georgia. An area of the county known as LaVista Hills voted on a referendum on whether they should incorporate into a brand-new city or whether they should remain an unincorporated part of the county. The referendum failed by a mere 136 votes, less than 1 percent of all votes cast. The second in command at DeKalb County's office of elections is now alleging there were very serious irregularities regarding the LaVista Hills cityhood vote. Piazza says voters were turned away at their polling places, voter material wasn't properly secured, and that "there was a memory card that collects citizen votes loose in the office." Piazza's allegations have prompted Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to open an investigation. Local Atlanta television stations are reporting that Piazza first reported the irregularities to his boss in Dekalb County and that she responded by putting him on leave. One TV station is also broadcasting footage of state investigators removing election equipment from Dekalb County offices. (Those reports are not yet posted on their websites.)

AVG Proudly Announces It Will Sell Your Browsing History To Online Advertisers 229

An anonymous reader writes: AVG, the Czech antivirus company, has announced a new privacy policy in which it boldly and openly admits it will collect user details and sell them to online advertisers for the purpose of continuing to fund its freemium-based products. This new privacy policy is slated to come into effect starting October 15. The policy says: We collect non-personal data to make money from our free offerings so we can keep them free, including: Advertising ID associated with your device; Browsing and search history, including meta data; Internet service provider or mobile network you use to connect to our products, and Information regarding other applications you may have on your device and how they are used.

Kansas Secretary of State Blocks Release of Voting Machine Tapes 288

PvtVoid writes: Wichita State University statistician Beth Clarkson has filed a lawsuit under Kansas' open records law to force the state to release paper tape records from voting machines, to be used as data in her research on statistical anomalies in voting patterns in the state. Clarkson, a certified quality engineer with a Ph.D. in statistics, has analyzed election returns in Kansas and elsewhere over several elections that indicate 'a statistically significant' pattern where the percentage of Republican votes increase the larger the size of the precinct. The pattern could be voter fraud or a demographic trend that has not been picked up by extensive polling. Secretary of State Kris Kobach argued that the records sought by Clarkson are not subject to the Kansas open records act, and that their disclosure is prohibited by Kansas statute.

Wikipedia Admin's Manipulation "Messed Up Perhaps 15,000 Students' Lives" 264

Andreas Kolbe writes: Recently, "ArbCom", Wikipedia's highest court, banned an administrator account that for years had been manipulating the Wikipedia article of a bogus Indian business school – deleting criticism, adding puffery, and enabling the article to become a significant part of the school's PR strategy. Believing the school's promises and advertisements, families went to great expense to send sons and daughters on courses there – only for their children to find that the degrees they had gained were worthless. "In my opinion, by letting this go on for so long, Wikipedia has messed up perhaps 15,000 students' lives," an Indian journalist quoted in the story says. India is one of the countries where tens of millions of Internet users have free access to Wikipedia Zero, but cannot afford the data charges to access the rest of the Internet, making Wikipedia a potential gatekeeper.

Report: Verizon Claimed Public Utility Status To Get Government Perks 140

An anonymous reader writes "Research for the Public Utility Law Project (PULP) has been released which details 'how Verizon deliberately moves back and forth between regulatory regimes, classifying its infrastructure either like a heavily regulated telephone network or a deregulated information service depending on its needs. The chicanery has allowed Verizon to raise telephone rates, all the while missing commitments for high-speed internet deployment' (PDF). In short, Verizon pushed for the government to give it common carrier privileges under Title II in order to build out its fiber network with tax-payer money. Result: increased service rates on telephone users to subsidize Verizon's 'infrastructure investment.' When it comes to regulations on Verizon's fiber network, however, Verizon has been pushing the government to classify its services as that of information only — i.e., beyond Title II. Verizon has made about $4.4 billion in additional revenue in New York City alone, 'money that's funneled directly from a Title II service to an array of services that currently lie beyond Title II's reach.' And it's all legal. An attorney at advocacy group Public Knowledge said it best: 'To expect that you can come in and use public infrastructure and funds to build a network and then be free of any regulation is absurd....When Verizon itself is describing these activities as a Title II common carrier, how can the FCC look at broadband internet and continue acting as though it's not a telecommunication network?'"
The Courts

Supreme Court OKs Stop and Search Based On Anonymous 911 Tips 461

An anonymous reader writes "On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that police officers are legally allowed to stop and search vehicles based solely on anonymous 911 tips. Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the majority opinion, reasoned that 'a 911 call has some features that allow for identifying and tracking callers' as well as for recording their calls, both of which he believed gave anonymous callers enough reliability for police officers to act on their tips with reasonable suspicion against the people being reported.

The specific case before them involved an anonymous woman who called 911 to report a driver who forced her off the road. She gave the driver's license plate number and the make and model of his car as well as the location of the incident in question. Police officers later found him, pulled him over, smelled marijuana, and searched his car. They found 30 pounds of weed and subsequently arrested the driver. The driver later challenged the constitutionality of the arrest, claiming that a tip from an anonymous source was unreliable and therefore failed to meet the criteria of reasonable suspicion, which would have justified the stop and search. Five of the nine justices disagreed with him."
The ruling itself (PDF).

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