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Earth

Satellite Spots Massive Object Hidden Under the Frozen Wastes of Antarctica (thesun.co.uk) 296

schwit1 quotes a report from The Sun: Scientists believe a massive object which could change our understanding of history is hidden beneath the Antarctic ice. The huge and mysterious "anomaly" is thought to be lurking beneath the frozen wastes of an area called Wilkes Land. It stretches for a distance of 151 miles across and has a maximum depth of about 848 meters. Some researchers believe it is the remains of a truly massive asteroid which was more than twice the size of the Chicxulub space rock which wiped out the dinosaurs. If this explanation is true, it could mean this killer asteroid caused the Permian-Triassic extinction event which killed 96 percent of Earth's sea creatures and up to 70 percent of the vertebrate organisms living on land.This "Wilkes Land gravity anomaly" was first uncovered in 2006, when NASA satellites spotted gravitational changes which indicated the presence of a huge object sitting in the middle of a 300 mile wide impact crater.
Robotics

Mining Companies Are Using Autonomous Trucks, Drills and Trains To Boost Efficiency, Reduce Employees (technologyreview.com) 94

schwit1 quotes a report from MIT Technology Review: Mining companies are rolling out autonomous trucks, drills, and trains, which will boost efficiency but also reduce the need for human employees. Rio Tinto uses driverless trucks provided by Japan's Komatsu. They find their way around using precision GPS and look out for obstacles using radar and laser sensors. The company's driverless trucks have proven to be roughly 15 percent cheaper to run than vehicles with humans behind the wheel -- a significant saving since haulage is by far a mine's largest operational cost. Trucks that drive themselves can spend more time working because software doesn't need to stop for shift changes or bathroom breaks. They are also more predictable in how they do things like pull up for loading. "All those places where you could lose a few seconds or minutes by not being consistent add up," says Rob Atkinson, who leads productivity efforts at Rio Tinto. They also improve safety. The driverless locomotives, due to be tested extensively next year and fully deployed by 2018, are expected to bring similar benefits. They also anticipate savings on train maintenance, because software can be more predictable and gentle than any human in how it uses brakes and other controls. Diggers and bulldozers could be next to be automated.
Government

Republicans Propose Bill To Impose Fines For Live-Streaming From House Floor (digitaltrends.com) 157

Likely in response to the 25-hour sit-in staged by Democrats earlier in 2016, protesting the lack of gun reform, House Speaker Paul Ryan has proposed new fines and ethics violations for House members that take photo and video from the floor of the chamber. Digital Trends reports: According to Bloomberg, the first violation will net violators a $500 fine, which will be deducted from member's paychecks. Second and subsequent violations will carry a steeper fine of $2,500 per incident. Not only that, any other incidents that may disrupt decorum could be sent to the House Committee on Ethics, potentially leading to sanctions. "These changes will help ensure that order and decorum are preserved in the House of Representatives so lawmakers can do the people's work," a spokeswoman for Ryan said in a statement. Taking photo or video had already been prohibited on the floor, but was never enforced. But after the sit-in, led by John Lewis (D-Ga.), Ryan called a recess, effectively ending the C-SPAN broadcast. That is when Democrats used their phones and took to social media. "The imposition of a fine could potentially violate both the First Amendment, as well as, the Speech and Debate clause, which creates extensive protections for speech by legislators," Chip Gibbons, who serves as the policy and legislative counsel for the Bill of Rights Defense Committee and Defending Dissent Foundation, told Digital Trends in an email. According to Gibbons, courts have already found that under certain circumstances, recording footage does fall under speech. "Given the public interest -- and inherently political nature of the act -- it seems likely that videos, photography, and live streaming from the House floor would also be found to be speech, and protected by the First Amendment," Gibbons said.
Social Networks

Jack Dorsey Says Twitter Needs An Edit Function (buzzfeed.com) 75

Twitter is considering an edit function for tweets. In a seemingly impromptu chat on his platform Thursday, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey gave hope to those who have long advocated for the feature, telling one user that "a form of edit is def needed" and another that an edit function is something the company is "thinking a lot about." From a report: The demand for an edit button has become something of a meme on Twitter. After seemingly every new Twitter product announcement, many of the platform's users respond with some form of "Yes, but still no edit button?" Meanwhile the feature has become standard in competing platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.
Power

World's First 'Solar Panel Road' Opens In France (theverge.com) 277

The world's first solar road has officially opened in the small village of Tourouvre-au-Perche in Normandy, France. The road is 1 kilometer long and can generate enough electricity to power the street lights. The Verge reports: That might not sound very impressive for 30,000 square feet of solar panels -- and it kind of isn't, especially for its $5.2 million price tag. The panels have been covered in a silicon-based resin that allows them to withstand the weight of passing big rigs, and if the road performs as expected, Royal wants to see solar panels installed across 1,000 kilometers of French highway. There are numerous issues, however. For one, flat solar panels are less effective than the angled panels that are installed on roofs, and they're also massively more expensive than traditional panels. Colas, the company that installed the road, hopes to reduce the cost of the panels going forward and it has around 100 solar panel road projects in progress around the world. Earlier this year, Solar Roadways partnered with the Missouri Department of Transportation to upgrade a small stretch of the historic Route 66 roadway with solar-powered panels. They too are facing the same seemingly insurmountable cost problems as Colas and the French.
Government

Congressional Report Claims Snowden In 'Contact With Russian Intelligence' (cnn.com) 185

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNN: Edward Snowden has been in contact with Russian intelligence officials since arriving in Russia in 2013, according to a new report from Congress. "Since Snowden's arrival in Moscow, he has had, and continues to have, contact with Russian intelligence services," the 33-page report, issued Thursday by the bipartisan House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked volumes of information on American intelligence and surveillance operations to the media, settled in Moscow after initially traveling to Hong Kong following his 2013 public disclosure of classified information. The Russian government granted asylum to Snowden shortly thereafter. Large portions of the pertinent section, entitled "foreign influence," are redacted, but one paragraph reveals the Russian link, saying that Frants Klintsevich, the deputy chairman of the Russian parliament's defense and security committee, "publicly conceded that 'Snowden did share intelligence' with his government." Snowden immediately took to Twitter following the report's release to dispute the accusations, writing "they claim without evidence that I'm in cahoots with the Russians." The report cites classified material in the section linking Snowden to Russian intelligence. The investigation also noted that Snowden left encrypted hard drives containing classified information in Hong Kong and that the CIA had refused to grant Snowden access to sensitive information years before he began working with the NSA, documenting numerous issues that Snowden had with supervisors and co-wokers during his various jobs in the intelligence community.
The Almighty Buck

India Just Flew Past Us In the Race To E-Cash (backchannel.com) 216

New submitter mirandakatz writes: Since India's prime minister banned 86 percent of the rupee notes in circulation last month, citizens have been waiting in hours-long lines for ATMs. But these circumstances have also created an unexpected progression: a burgeoning cashless economy. At Backchannel, Lauren Razavi explores how India is now beating many Western countries in adopting mobile payments, and how demonetization has triggered a radical shift toward reimagining India's enormous informal economy as a data-driven digital marketplace. From the report: "Before last month, Paytm, a mobile app that allows users to pay for everything from pizza to utility bills, saw steady business -- it was processing between 2.5 and 3 million transactions a day. Now, usage of the app has close to doubled. 6 million transactions a day is common; 5 million is considered a bad day. Rather than being forced to idle away time in excruciatingly long lines, 'people are proactively exploring other ways to settle payments besides cash,' says Deepak Abbot, senior vice president at Paytm. 'Now people are realizing they don't need to really line up, because merchants are starting to accept other forms of payment.' All of this has created a newfound system that practically incentives mobile payment. With so many people queuing up at banks every day -- and a lot of Indian bureaucracy to wade through in order to open a traditional bank account or line of credit -- the appeal of more convenient digital alternatives is easy to understand. According to a report in the Hindu Business Line, as many as 233 million unbanked people in India are skipping plastic and moving straight to digital transactions. 'Cash has lost its credibility and payments are no longer perceived in the same way,' says Upasana Taku, the cofounder of Indian mobile wallet company MobiKwik, which reported a 40 percent increase in downloads and a 7,000 percent increase in bank transfers since demonetization. 'There's chaos at the moment but also relief that India will now be an improved economy,' she says."

Comment The Ghost of Ned Ludd (Score 3, Informative) 414

The folks with all the money realized a few decades ago: there's just too many people (as other than prostitutes and bodyguards, we don't need them anymore due to off-shoring, computerization and automation).

But rolling the cattle trucks is a bit too on the nose, so let's go with Permanent War, sugar-based industrialized food, set them at each others' throats with race and religion-based hatreds, choke-off competent and well-funded primary education, and what the hell, add in the idea that vaccines are a bad idea.

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