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Submission + - Delta Airline NOC Outage Will Mean a $120 Million Loss (thestreet.com)

SonicSpike writes: A veteran airline analyst has put the price tag at $120 million for last week's computer outage at Delta Air Lines (DAL) and said the outage means the airline will be forced to become "more humble."

Delta's computer outage began Aug. 8, and resulted in about 2,100 cancellations before the carrier resumed normal operations on Thursday.

In a report issued Monday, Cowen & Co. analyst Helane Becker estimated the airline will suffer a $120 million operating income loss from the outage. That includes $50 million in lost revenue combined with a cost of $70 million.

She cited lost revenue from customers who have or will book away from Delta as well as the cost of cancellations, delays and the $200 vouchers that Delta provided to many customers.

Submission + - SPAM: Babylon 5 actor Jerry Doyle passed away at 60

SonicSpike writes: Jerry Doyle — best known for his role on "Babylon 5" — died Wednesday ...

A call was made to his Las Vegas home yesterday afternoon after he was found unresponsive. It's unclear how the political radio talk show host and actor died ... but we're told no foul play is suspected. An autopsy is pending.

Jerry starred as security officer Michael Garibaldi from 1994 to 1998 and was married to co-star Andrea Thompson from 1995 to 1997. He was in Wall Street before going into acting.

As of late ... Jerry hosted a nationally syndicated libertarian leaning radio talk show, The Jerry Doyle Show. He was 60.

Link to Original Source

Submission + - WikiLeaks takes down DNC Chair after damaging release (cnn.com) 1

SonicSpike writes: Debbie Wasserman Schultz announced Sunday she is stepping down as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee at the end of the party's convention, which is set to begin here Monday.

The Florida congresswoman's resignation — under pressure from top Democrats — comes amid the release of leaked emails showing DNC staffers favoring Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders in the party's 2016 primary contest.

Submission + - SpaceX Just Nailed Its Second Falcon 9 Ground Landing (wired.com)

SonicSpike writes: SpaceX just launched a rocket into space, then landed a substantial part of it back on solid ground for the second time. And the only reason they were able to do it was because they weren’t afraid to fail. Probably some engineering skill, too. And money.

Last night’s launch was the commercial spaceflight company’s ninth mission to the International Space Station. Its payload was a Dragon capsule loaded with two and a half tons of gear, most impressive of which is the International Docking Adaptor—a crucial modification that will give the next generation of space capsules access to the station.

SpaceX Releases Rockets-Eye View of Yesterday’s Landing
The Dragon, which should arrive at the ISS in the next two days, also has a handheld DNA sequencer, so the astronauts on board can finally figure out what’s inside all those aliens they’ve been capturing for the past decade. Just kidding, it’s for tissue from mice, and other little organisms with Earthly origins. Besides the tech and the science, the capsule is loaded with creature comforts like like food, water, and oxygen. Astronauts, what a bunch of prima donnas.

Getting that payload into orbit is priority one, but the main attraction was the landing. Not only is it a very cool engineering feat, but these landings save the company about $60 million worth of non-exploded rocket every time. So far, the company has landed four times before—once on the ground, three times on a drone barge in the middle of the ocean. Once SpaceX starts relaunching these things, they will be at a huge advantage over commercial spaceflight competitors like Blue Origin, United Launch Alliance, and Sierra Nevada.

Submission + - SPAM: US House to Vote on Curbing NSA Surveillance in Wake of Orlando Shooting

SonicSpike writes: An internal Republican fight is emerging over an anti-surveillance amendment passed by the House each of the past two years, but which foes say must be defeated this year in light of the Orlando shootings.

The measure, sponsored by Representative Thomas Massie of Kentucky (and graduate of MIT), would effectively prohibit the National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies from searching data collected incidentally on American citizens during surveillance of non-U.S. citizens outside of the country.

The House is set to vote on the provision Thursday as an amendment to the fiscal 2017 Defense Department spending bill, H.R. 5293, which is on the House floor.

The same amendment was passed last year by the House as part of the fiscal 2016 defense spending bill in a 255-174 vote across party lines. The previous year, it passed by a 293-123 vote. Both times, it was stripped out in negotiations with the Senate over a final bill that went to the president.

At issue is the amendment’s prevention of queries or searches of information or communications collected under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, without a warrant.

That FISA program is intended to focus on foreign terrorism suspects. But inevitably, information is collected about U.S. citizens in the course of this surveillance. Massie and Democratic co-sponsor Zoe Lofgren of California, and others, suggest Section 702 can be used as a "back-door" way to spy on U.S. citizens.

Opponents of Massie’s amendment say it would prevent intelligence agencies from being able to query or search for someone by name in the Section 702 database, simply because he is an American citizen, to see what is known about him.

Link to Original Source

Submission + - Drop the Supersonic Aircraft Ban, Watch Business Boom (wsj.com)

SonicSpike writes: In an Op-Ed from the WSJ:

Today’s aircraft designers are able to run hundreds of computer simulations to discover “quiet supersonic” designs that substantially curtail perceived noise. NASA has been investing in noise-abatement research like this since the mid-1980s, and now private startups are also getting into the game, with at least two U.S. companies, Boom and Aerion, in preproduction of affordable supersonic passenger jets.

So long as the FAA maintains the supersonic ban, these companies have a reduced incentive to implement noise-abatement technologies and gain access to the lucrative coast-to-coast market. But the agency’s official position—offered in a 2008 public statement—is that it will forgo issuing a noise standard for supersonic travel until the “designs become known and the noise impacts of supersonic flight are shown to be acceptable.”

And that’s the catch: Without an official noise standard, how are America’s aviation companies to know what counts as acceptable? No company is going to spend millions of dollars producing a quiet supersonic aircraft behind a veil of ignorance, only to discover later that the FAA does not find it to be quiet enough.

Submission + - Senate bill would let FBI read your emails without a court order (cnet.com)

SonicSpike writes: The Senate Intelligence Committee last week approved a bill that would make it easier for the government to read what you're writing online.

The 2017 Intelligence Authorization Act, if enacted into law, would let the FBI obtain email records without a court order. All the agency would need is a National Security Letter, which lets the FBI get information from companies about their customers without alerting the person being investigated. Currently, the FBI can access phone records that way, but not emails.

The bill is the latest move by the federal government to shore up its powers when it comes to surveilling citizens. The government has been battling Apple and other tech companies for more access to data stored on devices. Law enforcement argues it can't fight crimes unless it has access to information on mobile gadgets. Technology companies and rights groups argue that features like strong encryption, which scrambles data so it can be read only by the intended recipient, are needed to keep people safe and protect privacy.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and Vice Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said Tuesday in a joint statement that the 2017 Intelligence Authorization Act makes it easier for the government to keep Americans safe.

Submission + - How the FAA Shot Down "Uber for Planes" (fee.org)

SonicSpike writes: Imagine traveling from Boston to Martha’s Vineyard in under an hour and for less than $70. Believe it or not, this option was available from Flytenow’s website or app, by looking for a general aviation pilot who was making that trip, and then splitting the cost with that pilot and whoever else was sharing the flight.

Entrepreneurs were bringing private air travel to the masses until Flytenow’s leadership met with members of the Federal Aviation Administration to ensure that they were complying with all laws and regulations.

Instead of embracing this service, the FAA used tortuous logic to ban Flytenow and other online flight-sharing websites because it considered these to be “common carriers” (such as Delta Airlines). Private pilots cannot possibly comply with the myriad regulations that apply to the large airlines.

In what follows, Flytenow founders Alan Guichard and Matt Voska explain why the federal government should make the FAA allow flight sharing to get off the ground.

Submission + - John McAfee denied Libertarian Party nomination for President (reason.com)

SonicSpike writes: In a decisive rout for pragmatism over purity, the Libertarian Party has nominated former New Mexico Republican Governor and 2012 nominee Gary Johnson for president. Johnson came within an eyelash of winning on the first ballot, pulling 49.5 percent of the vote, just short of the required majority. (Libertarian activist Austin Petersen and software magnate John McAfee came in second and third, respectively, with 21.3 percent and 14.1 percent.) With sixth-place finisher Kevin McCormick (and his 0.973 percent of the vote) booted from the second ballot, Johnson sailed through with 55.8 percent.

Submission + - SPAM: FDA Imposes a Slow-Motion Ban on E-Cigarettes

SonicSpike writes: Today the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced what amounts to a slow-motion ban on e-cigarettes, ignoring the pleas of harm reduction advocates who say it makes no sense to prevent smokers from switching to nicotine products that are indisputably much less hazardous than the ones they are using now. The FDA rule, a preliminary version of which was published two years ago, effectively requires e-cigarette manufacturers to get their products approved as "new tobacco products," an expensive, arduous, and time-consuming process that will be prohibitive for most, if not all, of them.
Link to Original Source

Submission + - What Government Can Learn From Moore's Law (reason.com)

SonicSpike writes: In an open marketplace, a business that doesn't evolve to offer better goods and services at ever-more-affordable prices simply won't survive. That reality is particularly well-understood in places like Silicon Valley, which has been shaped by a folk understanding of Moore's Law, named for Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, who first observed in the 1970s that the number of transistors that fit on a computer chip doubles every two years, yielding cheaper and more powerful computers at a rapid rate. The result is a world in constant motion where risktaking is rewarded almost above all else.

"In today's fast-paced information age, everyone is expected to be constantly innovating and reinventing their business at the speed of 'Moore's Law,'" my Mercatus colleague Adam Thierer says. "Firms have to tear up their business plans every couple of years."

But while virtually all industries are engaged in a constant race to meet consumer needs, there's one sector where no such impetus need be present. "Governments never tear up any old law; they stay on the books seemingly forever," Thierer says. As a result, taxpayers at the federal, state, and local levels end up getting the same or worse services at higher and higher prices—exactly the opposite of what happens in the private sector.

Submission + - How South Park Saved Fair Use (reason.com)

SonicSpike writes: For 19 seasons, South Park has provided cutting cultural commentary centered around the foul-mouthed adventures of elementary school students Stan, Kyle, Kenny, and Cartman. But the raunchy cartoon has also helped establish an important legal entertainment precedent that expands free speech rights.

"When anybody creates anything, basically, that thing automatically gets copyrighted and for the most part it can't be used in certain ways without permission," explains Higgins. "But there are some really important exceptions to that rule, and there are some really important places where we say, 'Actually, members of the public, no matter who they are, can use this thing for all sorts of reasons without getting permission.'"

In 2010, EFF became unlikely allies with the media giant Viacom—the owner of Comedy Central—which had been sued by Brownmark Films after a 2008 South Park episode called "Canada on Strike" parodied a popular viral video by the musician Samwell.

The South Park version of the video, starring a recurring character named Butters, mimics the original video nearly shot-for-shot. The stunningly unsubtle lyrics are slightly abbreviated but otherwise unchanged. The kids post their rendition to "YouToob" and watch as it grabs millions of hits. Brownmark was not amused.

EFF and Viacom argued that the South Park episode was a clear case of fair use, as it was a parody commenting on the viral video trend. The criteria under which a fair use determination is made include whether or not the work transforms the original work, the nature of the original work, how much of the original work is used, and whether it affects the market for the original work. One reason the suit was so important was that the video walked several lines: It was a close copy, it was not transformative in the sense that term had been traditionally understood, it used a significant proportion of the original, and it was for commercial rather than educational use.

The case eventually made its way to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, where the judges ruled in favor of South Park. The decision cited EFF's argument that lawsuits too often are "baseless shakedowns" designed to extract cash from deep-pocketed creators and distributors, such as Viacom. "Ruinous discovery heightens the incentive to settle rather than defend these frivolous suits," it said. "District courts need not, and indeed ought not, allow discovery when it is clear that the case turns on facts already in evidence."

The ruling has become important to entertainment law, because it says that a fair use suit can be stopped before going to trial. This can help creators avoid the huge costs of litigation brought on by frivolous copyright lawsuits.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the "What, What (In the Butt)" case has been the most cited in courtrooms across the country in the last five years, thanks to the growth of digital content.

Submission + - Nat'l Weather Service To Ditch ALL CAPS Formatting Next Month (arstechnica.com)

SonicSpike writes: After upgrading its supercomputing core in 2015, the National Weather Service is continuing its lumbering slog toward modern systems in a far different way: by saying goodbye to teletype.

After more than two decades of trying, the NWS has finally made every upgrade needed in both the hardware and software chain to remove an all-caps requirement from forecasts and other warnings. The service's Monday announcement kicked off the 30-day transition period that is being given so that customers and subscribers can prepare for the change to mixed-case lettering in all NWS announcements, meaning we'll see the change begin to propagate on May 11.

All-caps messaging was previously required due to the NWS' reliance on teletype machines, which broadcast their text over phone lines and weren't built to recognize upper or lower cases of letters. In addition to removing teletype machines from the information chain, the NWS also had to upgrade its AWIPS 2 software system across the board to recognize mixed-type submissions.

The announcement confirmed that all-caps will not be verboten once all types of NWS forecasts, announcements, and warnings convert to mixed-case (which will happen in stages between May 11 and "early next year." Going all-caps will be allowed in order to "emphasize threats," and international bulletins will continue to be sent all-caps to comply with regulations outside the United States. The NWS chose to describe capital letters as "synonymous with angry shouting,"

Submission + - Mysterious black box on top of utility pole turns out to be ATF camera (abc15.com)

SonicSpike writes: The bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives came forward Thursday, admitting that a box spotted and removed from an SRP power pole in Phoenix belonged to them and was part of an ongoing investigation.

ATF officials would not elaborate on the investigation and would not say if they were conducting surveillance in the area.

"I don't feel safer," said Brian Clegg, who called ABC15 about the box on the power pole behind his house.

Clegg was suspicious there could be cameras installed in the boxes but ATF would not confirm that.

"I feel that my privacy has been violated," said Clegg. "It's right behind my house."

SRP tells ABC15 they had no idea the box was installed on their power pole. They said ATF has to notify them or work with them if they have an object on their property.

ATF tells ABC15 depending on the investigation and security they can put security measures in place without permission.

They say in this case they "acted within their bounds" but would not elaborate.

Submission + - The Draft Encryption Bill Is 'Ludicrous, Dangerous, Technically Illiterate (wired.com)

SonicSpike writes: On Thursday evening, the draft text of a bill called the “Compliance with Court Orders Act of 2016,” authored by offices of Senators Diane Feinstein and Richard Burr, was published online by the Hill.1 It’s a nine-page piece of legislation that would require people to comply with any authorized court order for data—and if that data is “unintelligible,” the legislation would demand that it be rendered “intelligible.” In other words, the bill would make illegal the sort of user-controlled encryption that’s in every modern iPhone, in all billion devices that run Whatsapp’s messaging service, and in dozens of other tech products. “This basically outlaws end-to-end encryption,” says Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology. “It’s effectively the most anti-crypto bill of all anti-crypto bills.”

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