McGruber writes: The Associated Press is reporting (http://bigstory.ap.org/article/8fb0819e3b6543788237f32070f73974/business-owner-2-firms-face-visa-fraud-charges) that Federal Prosecutors have filed conspiracy charges against a part-owner of two information technology firms and an employee for fraudulently using the H-1B program.
Prosecutors said the conspirators falsely represented that the foreign workers had full-time positions and were paid an annual salary. They said the workers were only paid when placed at a third-party client and the defendants sometimes generated false payroll records. The defendants are charged with conspiracy to commit visa fraud and obstruct justice and conspiracy to harbor aliens. They face up to 15 years in prison if convicted on all counts.
McGruber writes: The Washington Post is reporting that the IIT Educational Services ended operations at all of its ITT Technical Institutes on Tuesday, citing government action to curtail the company’s access to millions of dollars in federal loans and grants, a critical source of revenue. The shutdown occurred two weeks after the federal Education Department said ITT would no longer be allowed to enroll new students who rely on federal loans and grants, award raises, pay bonuses or make severance payments to its executives without government approval.
The shutdown of ITT campuses puts hundreds of millions of dollars in federal financial aid on the line because the government is obligated to forgive the federal loans of students affected by the closure. ITT reported almost $850 million in total revenue in 2015, roughly $580 million of which was sourced from federal aid, according to the department.
Earlier this year, Slashdot covered the Massachusetts Attorney General suing ITT Tech for exploiting computer network students (https://news.slashdot.org/story/16/04/04/2241230/massachusetts-ag-sues-itt-tech-for-exploiting-computer-network-students) and how the SEC charged the company for fraud over its student loan programs (https://yro.slashdot.org/story/15/05/13/029215/sec-charges-itt-educational-services-with-fraud).
McGruber writes: While NPR and other media outlets are no featuring comments from readers on their website, the Washington Post's Media Columnist Margaret Sullivan says that "reader comments an irreplaceable guide to my constituency." Sullivan also explains the importance of online comments attached to articles: "I find value in reader comments that can’t be adequately reproduced elsewhere. The argument that the conversation has migrated to Facebook and Twitter is flawed. Those are good places for discussion, but they are no substitute for having discussion take place where the story itself lives. I’m convinced that many smart readers with something to contribute will not follow a story onto social media to talk about it. News organizations should fix online comments rather than ditch them."
Sullivan concludes her article by describing how open-source tools from the Coral Project (https://coralproject.net/) can improve online commenting.
McGruber writes: Delta Air Lines, grounded around the world after an unexplained computer glitch (https://it.slashdot.org/story/16/08/08/1251252/delta-air-lines-grounded-around-the-world-after-computer-outage), has an opening for an "Operations Manager IT — Crisis Management" (https://delta.greatjob.net/jobs/JobDescRequestAction.action?PSUID=66c3ea1e-88b3-4ad4-b1e6-7b79cec74147) The job responsibilities include "Help to resolve identify, troubleshoot and resolve Crisis Situations within the IT organization; Ensure the availability, performance and operational integrity of the Information Systems and Networks serving the Delta enterprise; and Communicate the business impact and ensure the right resources are available and engaged to quickly resolve any technology issue."
McGruber writes: In a June 30 letter, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO, http://www.transportation.org/), Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America, http://www.itsa.org/ ) and the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE, http://www.ite.org/ ), requested that the US Secretary of Transportation finally release the Vehicle to Infrastructure (V2I) Deployment Guidance. The organizations note that the draft V2I guidance was issued in September 2014 and, in the two years since, the federal government and the auto industry have been funding V2I deployments that have proceeded without the final V2I Guidance.
The delay is apparently related to the National Cable & Telecommunication's (NCTA) efforts to allow wi-fi to share the 5.9 GHz band used for V2I. That effort is described in a July 11 article, "NCTA, Wi-Fi Alliance push for 5.9 GHz sharing": http://www.fiercewireless.com/...
At least two FCC commissioners have shown an interest in sharing in the 5.9 GHz band. More than a year ago, Commissioners Michael O'Rielly and Jessica Rosenworcel rallied around the idea, saying there are ways to use it for Wi-Fi while protecting the Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) systems that are intended for road safety.
McGruber writes: WABE, one of the NPR stations in Atlanta, is reporting that Georgia’s Public Service Commission is investigating Google Fiber contractor S&N Communications after it reported damaging gas lines 36 different times in the past year. In the first quarter of this year, utility company Atlanta Gas Light had a 67 percent increase in reports of damaged natural gas lines within its service areas.
Atlanta Fire Department Sgt. Cortez Stafford said sometimes the fire department responds to five calls in one day. "Due to the amount of crews digging and boring in the Atlanta area, there has been a significant increase in our number of emergency responses to gas leaks," Stafford said. "It's a pretty severe incident because with that amount of gas flowing, if it ignites, then that could start a fire in another location." Sgt. Stafford said some of these crews are operating boring machines to install fiber optic cables for companies like Google Fiber. He said the drills are hitting gas lines that can range in diameter from 1 to 4 inches. They can be high pressure lines or supply lines that feed off to other feeder lines.
In May, WSB-Television news reported (http://www.wsbtv.com/news/local/atlanta/google-fiber-contractor-connected-to-several-line-breaks/296434858) that Google Fiber contractors were responsible for hitting gas lines at four different locations.
McGruber writes: The Washington Post is reporting (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2016/06/30/tesla-owner-killed-in-fatal-crash-while-car-was-on-autopilot) that Joshua David Brown, 40, of Canton, Ohio was was killed in a May 7 collision in Florida with a tractor trailer while the Tesla was in "Autopilot" mode. "Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied," Tesla said in a blog post entitled "A Tragic Loss (https://www.teslamotors.com/blog/tragic-loss).
Michelle Krebbs, a senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book, called for a recall of cars with Autopilot. And Karl Brauer, another senior analyst at KBB, added: “I’d like to say I didn’t see this coming, but it was inevitable based on the documented abuses of driver-assist technology we’ve been seeing on sites like YouTube.”
“This will be a big hit to Tesla’s reputation because the automaker has been seen as a leader in both passenger safety and advanced technology,” Brauer added.
McGruber writes: CNBC is reporting that Microsoft is acquiring "professional social platform" LinkedIn for $196 per share, in an all-cash deal valued at $26.2 billion.
In a statement, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said "The LinkedIn team has grown a fantastic business centered on connecting the world's professionals. Together we can accelerate the growth of LinkedIn, as well as Microsoft Office 365 and Dynamics as we seek to empower every person and organization on the planet."
McGruber writes: Back in 2009, Georgia Dentist Gordon Trent Austin was indicted on multiple counts of assault and battery—including against children. He was also indicted on charges of Medicaid fraud, to which he pleaded guilty in exchange for the other charges being dropped. An anonymous youtube user later republished a Georgia TV station’s 2009 news story about Austin, titling it "Psycho Dentist — Gordon Trent Austin — Georgia" (https://youtu.be/vtCVHcT2mB0). In 2015, Austin sued the anonymous YouTube user. Austin also attempted to lift the Youtube user's anonymity by subpoenaing Google. First Amendment lawyer Paul Alan Levy of Public Citizen leapt to the defense of the anonymous user, arguing that Austin has no case, as the former dentist has not provided any evidence of defamation, and the statute of limitations has expired. (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2016/01/rogue-dentist-who-allegedly-hit-patients-now-targets-anonymous-youtube-user/)
Now, Atlanta television station CBS46 reports (http://www.cbs46.com/story/32169844/georgia-party-delegate-previously-indicted-for-medicaid-fraud) that the former dentist is one of 30 delegates that Georgia's Republican Party has named to represent the state at this year's national convention in Cleveland. The station spoke with the chairman of the nominating committee, who was surprised and concerned. He said the party doesn't have the resources to vet everyone.
When the Georgia State Board of Dentistry revoked Austin's license (https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2692552-2009-2250-DN008598-003.html) on December 7, 2009, its docket stated that Austin "entered a guilty plea to six (6) counts of misdemeanor theft by taking. Respondent received first offender treatment and was sentenced to probation for five consecutive 12-month periods and one concurrent 12-month period."
McGruber writes: The Australian Transportation Safety Bureau released a report (http://www.atsb.gov.au/media/5770117/debris-examination-mh370_19april2016.pdf) that concludes two items of debris recovered from beaches in Mozambique are from the Malaysian Airlines Berhad (MAB) Boeing 777 aircraft, registered 9M-MRO, that went missing on March 8, 2014 while operating as MH370.
McGruber writes: The Associated Press is reporting that TSA's PreCheck program is causing maddening long security lines at US airports.
TSA's PreCheck security lanes can screen 300 passengers an hour, twice that of its standard security lanes. Based on that and other increased efficiencies, the TSA's front-line screeners were cut from 47,147 three years ago to 42,525 currently. At the same time, the number of annual fliers passing through checkpoints has grown from 643 million to more than 700 million.
The TSA told Congress its goal was to have 25 million fliers enrolled in the PreCheck registration program but, as of March 1, only 9.3 million people had registered for PreCheck. TSA first tried to make up for that shortfall by randomly placing passengers into the express Precheck lanes, but scaled back that effort for fear dangerous passengers were being let through. That's when the regular security lines started growing, up to 90 minutes in some cases. The TSA is now shifting some resources to tackle lines at the nation's biggest airports, but it claims there is no easy solution to the problem with a record number of fliers expected this summer.
To enroll in TSA's Precheck registration program, travelers must pay $85 to $100 every five years, then submit to a background check, in-person interview at an airport, and to being fingerprinted. Unsurprisingly, getting once-a-year fliers to spend the time or the money to register has been a challenge. While 250,000 to 300,000 people are registering for Precheck every month, it will take more than four years at that pace to reach the TSA's target enrollment.
McGruber writes: Google's rollout of Fiber in Atlanta (https://fiber.google.com/cities/atlanta/) is causing competitor AT&T to create new jobs: The Atlanta Business Journal is reporting (http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/news/2016/03/14/at-t-to-hire-more-than-340-in-georgia.html) that AT&T is hiring for more than 340 retail & technical jobs across Georgia, to support AT&T's rollout of its competing fiber service.
McGruber writes: The Washington, DC Metrorail subway system is being completely shutdown for at least 29 hours so that crews can check 600 underground jumper cables. A problem with those jumper cables caused a fire at the McPherson Square station early Monday and was also the cause of a fatal smoke incident in January, 2015, that killed one person and injured others. (http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/metro-shutdown--372144902.html)
The safety checks could have been delayed until the weekend or conducted at night over about six days, officials said. But if the system were kept open, a public announcement about the risk would have to be made. That would have put passengers, and Metro, in the awkward position of publicly acknowledging that it was operating despite being aware of a potentially deadly safety problem. Metro also would have been liable in the case of any crashes or calamities. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/2016/03/15/8e0b2be4-eae8-11e5-b0fd-073d5930a7b7_story.html?hpid=hp_hp-top-table-low_metro-4pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory)
The shutdown prompted the Washington Post to publish an editorial titled "It’s official: Metro is a national embarrassment". (https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/its-official-metro-is-a-national-embarrassment/2016/03/15/3a33c828-eaf7-11e5-bc08-3e03a5b41910_story.html)
McGruber writes: A month after it suffered a nationwide outage (http://www.fastcompany.com/3056724/fast-feed/comcast-nationwide-outage-on-presidents-day-nationwide-outrage-on-twitter), Comcast announced that a Dunwoody, Georgia resident is the first customer in the NATION to get Comcast’s new $80/month uncapped 1-gigabit service.(http://business.blog.myajc.com/2016/03/15/comcast-gets-furious-speed-with-1-gig-in-atlanta/) The service will only be available in select Atlanta neighborhoods. The company would not say how many people would be chosen for the initial roll out of its 1-gigabit service, but admitted the numbers would be small to “ensure seamless deployment,” a spokesman said. The company claims that the service will roll out more broadly later in the year.
Comcast has 22.4 million broadband customers (http://nypost.com/2015/05/04/comcast-now-has-more-internet-subscribers-than-cable-subscribers/).
McGruber writes: Last Fall, certified public accountant Dennis Nicholl boarded a Chicago subway train while carrying a plastic bag of Old Style beer. Nicholl popped open a beer and looked around the car, scowling as he saw another rider talking on a cellphone. He pulled out a black device from his pocket and switched it on. Commuters who had been talking on their phones went silent, checking their screens for the source of their dropped calls.
On Tuesday, undercover officers arrested Nicholl. Cook County prosecutors and Chicago police allege he created his own personal "quiet car" on the subway by using an illegal device he imported from China. He was charged with unlawful interference with a public utility, a felony.
This is not the first time Nicholl has been charged with jamming cell calls. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge in June 2009, according to court records. He was placed under court supervision for a year, and his equipment was confiscated and destroyed.