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Submission + - SPAM: Problem with Yahoo Groups

An anonymous reader writes: The venerable site "yahoo groups," used by many groups as an e-mail list and place to share files, is apparently experiencing problems. Multiple users are reporting in forums being unable to upload files to the site. Sporatic early report of a problem date to October 3, with attempts at uploading getting a message "Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content." The problem seems to have reappeared around November 24. with multiple users reporting the same problem.

Submission + - 32 states offer online voting, but experts warn it isn't secure (

Geoffrey.landis writes: According to the Washington Post, 32 states have implemented some form of online voting for the 2016 U.S. presidential election-- even though multiple experts warn that internet voting is not secure. In many cases, the online voting options are for absentee ballots, overseas citizens or military members deployed overseas.

According to Verified voting, "voted ballots sent via Internet simply cannot be made secure and make easy and inviting targets for attackers ranging from lone hackers to foreign governments seeking to undermine US elections."

Submission + - Israel meets with Google and Youtube to discuss censoring videos (

An anonymous reader writes: Various sources report Israel’s Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Tzipi Hotovely meeting with representatives of Google and YouTube to discuss censoring Palestinian videos believed to incite violence. Original aricle (in Hebrew) from Maariv

The open question is how Google and Youtube will define "inciting violence".

Currently, all foreign journalists in the Palestinian territories are required to register with the Israeli military, and all footage must be approved through the Israeli Military Censor’s office before being released. However, according to the article in alternet individual Palestinians have been uploading videos showing violence by Israeli soldiers, including execution-style killings, and highlighting the living conditions in the territories, which Israeli authorities consider inflammatory.

Submission + - Blue Origin "New Shepherd" makes it to space... and back again

Geoffrey.landis writes: Blue Origin's "New Shepherd" suborbital vehicle made its first flight into space (defined as 100 km altitude)... and successfully landed both the capsule (by parachute) and the booster rocket (vertical landing under rocket power). This is the first time that a vehicle has made it into space and had all components fully recovered for reuse since the NASA flights of the X-15 in the 1960s.
Check out the videos at various places on the web

Submission + - Virginia ditches "America's worst voting machines" (

Geoffrey.landis writes: Computerized voting machines are bad news in general, but the WINVote machines used in Virginia might just have earned their reputation as the most insecure voting machine in America, featuring wifi that can't be turned off (protected, however, with a WEP password of "abcde"), an unencrypted database, and administrative access with a hardcoded password of "admin." According to security research Jeremy Epstein, if the machines weren't hacked in past elections, "it was because nobody tried." But with no paper trail-- we'll never know. Well, after ignoring the well-documented problems for over a decade, Virginia finally decided to decommission the machines... after the governor had problems with the machines last election and demanded an investigation.

"In total, the vulnerabilities investigators found were so severe and so trivial to exploit, Epstein noted that “anyone with even a modicum of training could have succeeded” in hacking them. An attacker wouldn’t have needed to be inside a polling place either to subvert an election... someone 'within a half mile with a rudimentary antenna built using a Pringles can could also have attacked them."

Submission + - You can't audit voting machines in Kansas

Geoffrey.landis writes: A statistician discovered evidence of suspicious counting on voting machines in Kansas. The voting machines keep a paper trail for verification... but her request to examine the record of votes is being blocked with the explanation that no one, not even the election officials, is allowed to see it.

According to the Washington Post "The voting machines that Sedgwick County uses have a paper record of the votes, known as Real Time Voting Machine Paper Tapes... . Since the software is proprietary, even elections officials can’t examine it and postelection audits can’t be done, according to Pamela Smith, president of Verified Voting Foundation".

Even the Kansas papers editorialize that this is going too far. More evidence that the software used in voting machines should never be proprietary.

Submission + - Mini Ice Age: nothing to worry about

Geoffrey.landis writes: Last week a news story suggested that a new model of sunspot activity predicted a dramatic drop in solar activity coming up, possibly resulting in coming a mini-ice age. Take that prediction with a bit of skepticism, though-- later news analysis suggests that the story may be more media hype than science. Valentina Zharkova, the scientist whose research is being quoted, made no mention of a "mini Ice age"-- her work was only on modelling the solar dynamo. And, in any case, the solar minimum predicted was estimated to last only three solar cycles-- far less than the 17th century Maunder Minimum.

Phil Plait, known for his "bad astronomy" column, does a more detailed analysis of the claims, pointing out that the effect, if it even exists at all, is weak-- and the much discussed "Little Ice Age" is currently believed to most likely have been triggered by volcanic action, not sunspots. And, in any case, any predicted cooling is small compared to already-present global warming. So, probably no need to stock up on firewood, dried food, and ammunition quite yet-- the mini ice age isn't likely to be coming quite yet.

Submission + - Five Craziest Space Missions (

An anonymous reader writes: We’ve landed on a comet – so where next? The BBC Future lists its choice of the five craziest space missions currently being proposed. They may sound wild, but all of these are missions that have been seriously discussed as possible future missions: Floating astronauts in the clouds of Venus, sailing on the methane seas of Titan, melting a torpedo probe through the ice of Europa, catching an asteroid in a net and bringing it to lunar orbit, and a 100-year starship mission to the Alpha Centauri and beyond.

Submission + - Linking drought and climate change: difficult to do (

Geoffrey.landis writes: An article about the current California drought on 538 points out that even though global climate warming may exacerbate droughts, it's nearly impossible to attribute any particular drought to climate warming: The complex, dynamic nature of our atmosphere and oceans makes it extremely difficult to link any particular weather event to climate change. That’s because of the intermingling of natural variations with human-caused ones. They also cite a Nature editorial pointing out the same thing about extreme weather:

Submission + - Adrift (

Geoffrey.landis writes: After the space shuttle retired in 2011, Russia has hiked the price of a trip to the International Space Station, to $71 million per seat. Less well recognized is the disparity in station crews. Before the shuttle stopped flying, an equal number of American and Russian crew members lived on board. But afterwards the bear began squeezing. For every two NASA astronauts that have flown to the station, three Russians have gone.

Eric Burger asks, how did it come to this?

Submission + - Police Departments Using Car Tracking Database Sworn to Secrecy (

An anonymous reader writes: Vigilant Solutions, maintains what they claim is the nation’s largest database of license-plate tracking data, "LEARN" (Law Enforcement Archival and Reporting Network). But when a law enforcement agency signs up to use the database, they are sworn to keep it secret. The reason? They are quite clear about that: "to prohibit users from cooperating with any media outlet to bring attention to LEARN or LEARN-NVLS."

So, they're tracking you (they're tracking everybody)... but they don't want you to know.

The agreement, uncovered by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, states: You shall not create, publish, distribute, or permit any written, electronically transmitted or other form of publicity material that makes reference to LEARN or this Agreement without first submitting the material to LEARN-NVLS and receiving written consent from LEARN-NVLS. This prohibition is specifically intended to prohibit users from cooperating with any media outlet to bring attention to LEARN or LEARN-NVLS. Breach this provision may result in LEARN-NVLS immediately termination of this Agreement upon notice to you."

...Immediately after WIRED published the story, though, the agreement mysteriously changed. The secrecy provision is still there, but the statement that it's "specifically intended" to prevent the media attention has vanished.

Submission + - A Playlist for Comet Ison (

Geoffrey.landis writes: As comet ISON made its perilous perihelion pass, I decided that ISON needed a theme song, but as the nature of its journey became evident, shattering in the sunlight, I realized that ISON needs an entire playlist. So, for your entertainment, here's my comet ISON playlist. Comments?

Submission + - Why the Arabic World Turned Away From Science (

Geoffrey.landis writes: "The historical period that we call the dark ages, from perhaps 600 to 1200 AD, was the golden age of Islamic science, when great advances in science and technology were taking place in the middle east. But somehow, as the west experienced its renaissance, the blossoming of the age of science, and the founding of the modern technological world, the Arabic world instead turned away from science. Muslim countries have nine scientists, engineers, and technicians per thousand people, compared with a world average of forty-one, and of roughly 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, only two scientists from Muslim countries have won Nobel Prizes in science. Why? In an article "Why the Arabic World Turned Away from Science" in The New Atlantis, Hillel Ofek examines both the reasons why Islamic science flourished, and why it failed. Are we turning the same way, with a rising tide of religious fundamentalism and dogma shouting down the culture of inquiry and free thinking needed for scientific advances? Perhaps we should be looking at the decline of Islamic science as a cautionary tale."

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