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Pfizer Blocks The Use Of Its Drugs In Executions 566 writes: Erik Eckholm reports in the NYT that the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has announced that it has imposed sweeping controls on the distribution of its products to ensure that none are used in lethal injections, a step that closes off the last remaining open-market source of drugs used in executions. "Pfizer makes its products to enhance and save the lives of the patients we serve," the company says, and "strongly objects to the use of its products as lethal injections for capital punishment." "With Pfizer's announcement, all F.D.A.-approved manufacturers of any potential execution drug have now blocked their sale for this purpose," says Maya Foa. "Executing states must now go underground if they want to get hold of medicines for use in lethal injection." The mounting difficulty in obtaining lethal drugs has already caused states to furtively scramble for supplies. Some states have used straw buyers or tried to import drugs from abroad that are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, only to see them seized by federal agents. Other states have experimented with new drug combinations, sometimes with disastrous results, such as the prolonged execution of Joseph Wood in Arizona in 2014, using the sedative midazolam. A few states have adopted the electric chair, firing squad or gas chamber as an alternative if lethal drugs are not available. Since Utah chooses to have a death penalty, "we have to have a means of carrying it out," said State Representative Paul Ray as he argued last year for authorization of the firing squad.

Nest Thermostat Bug Leaves Owners Without Heating ( 432

An anonymous reader writes: Google-owned smart homeware company Nest has asked users to reset their connected thermostats after a software bug forced controllers offline and left owners unable to heat their homes. The company has confirmed that a software update error had caused the thermostat's batteries to drain, therefore making it unable to control the temperature. Users of the smart home device took to social media to express their anger at being left with cold houses. Some feared that the fault had put water pipes under pressure, risking burst plumbing.

Pentagon Document Lays Out Battle Plan Against Zombies 131

mpicpp sends this news from CNN: "Never fear the night of the living dead — the Pentagon has got you covered. From responses to natural disasters to a catastrophic attack on the homeland, the U.S. military has a plan of action ready to go if either incident occurs. It has also devised an elaborate plan should a zombie apocalypse befall the country, according to a Defense Department document obtained by CNN. In an unclassified document titled 'CONOP 8888,' officials from U.S. Strategic Command used the specter of a planet-wide attack by the walking dead as a training template for how to plan for real-life, large-scale operations, emergencies and catastrophes."
The Military

Air Force Claims To Have Solved Fatal F-22 Oxygen Riddle 172

Hugh Pickens writes "DefenseTech reports that Air Force Maj. Gen. Charles Lyon, the director of operations for Air Combat Command, told the Pentagon press corps that a valve that inflates the Combat Edge upper pressure garment is the cause of hypoxia-like symptoms in pilots flying the F-22. The problem forced the service to ground the Air Force's most prized stealth fighter fleet for four months and led two Raptor pilots to tell the nation on CBS's 60 Minutes that they refused to fly the jet because the pilots feared for their lives. The vests help control the breathing of pilots in high G-force environments, inflating before pilots start to experience extreme G-force conditions. However Lyon explained that the valves caused the vests to inflate too early in an F-22 flight, causing pilots to hyperventilate in the cockpits. 'It's like putting a corset around your chest,' said Lyons. Eagle and Viper pilots stopped wearing the upper pressure garments in 2004 'because they were not giving us the contribution we thought they would,' said Lyon. F-22 pilots kept wearing them because they flew at higher altitudes and the vests protected the pilots from 'rapid decompression,' adding that F-22 pilots, many of whom flew the F-15 and F-16, didn't notice the vests had inflated early because of the layers of gear a pilot wears in flight. Such a simple answer to a problem that has eluded Air Force engineers and scientists for four years has left some Air Force pilots skeptical that the USAF has solved the problem. An F-16 pilot said the Air Force is either 'incompetent for missing this until now,' or 'dishonest and trying to sweep something under the rug.'"

Why Hubble Broke and How It Was Fixed 73

angry tapir writes "I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Charles (Charlie) Pellerin, who was NASA's director of astrophysics when the Hubble Space Telescope launched with its seemingly fatally flawed optical system. Pellerin went on to head up the servicing mission that finally fixed the telescope and for that was awarded NASA's highest honor, a Distinguished Service Medal. Since Hubble he has done a lot of thinking about the problems that led up to the error and how organizations can best avoid making similar mistakes."

Mozilla Releases Thunderbird 5 154

supersloshy writes "Mozilla has released the latest version of Thunderbird, their popular email client, now in sync with their new rapid-release versioning system. Among the new features are the new add-ons manager from Firefox 4, revised account creation, faster response times, the ability to load plugins in RSS feeds and over 390 platform fixes. For more information, read the release notes"

Obama's Twitter Account "Hacked" 308

Oxford_Comma_Lover writes "A 24-year-old living with his mother in France was arrested for 'hacking' into Obama's twitter accounts. (Warning: WSJ does obnoxious paywall things. Your miles may vary.) Apparently he guesses the answer to a question related to password recovery in order to break into the accounts of famous people; he has no computer science training or financial motive. He posted screenshots to a few boards and twitter found out within a few hours, either from a tip or from noticing when someone from France logs onto twitter as the President of the United States. (He did not actually tweet as POTUS, but just wanted to show he could break into the account.)"
Data Storage

Exploring Advanced Format Hard Drive Technology 165

MojoKid writes "Hard drive capacities are sometimes broken down by the number of platters and the size of each. The first 1TB drives, for example, used five 200GB platters; current-generation 1TB drives use two 500GB platters. These values, however, only refer to the accessible storage capacity, not the total size of the platter itself. Invisible to the end-user, additional capacity is used to store positional information and for ECC. The latest Advanced Format hard drive technology changes a hard drive's sector size from 512 bytes to 4096 bytes. This allows the ECC data to be stored more efficiently. Advanced Format drives emulate a 512 byte sector size, to keep backwards compatibility intact, by mapping eight logical 512 byte sectors to a single physical sector. Unfortunately, this creates a problem for Windows XP users. The good news is, Western Digital has already solved the problem and HotHardware offers some insight into the technology and how it performs."

What Carriers Don't Want You To Know About Texting 570

An anonymous reader writes "Randall Stross has just published a sobering article in The New York Times about how the four major US wireless carriers don't want anyone to know the actual cost structure of text message services to avoid public outrage over the doubling of a-la-carte per-message fees over the last three years. The truth is that text messages are 'stowaways' inside the control channel — bandwidth that is there whether it is used for texting or not — and 160 bytes per message is a tiny amount of data to store-and-forward over tower-to-tower landlines. In essence it costs carriers practically nothing to transmit even trillions of text messages. When text usage goes up, the carriers don't even have to install new infrastructure as long as it is proportional to voice usage. This makes me dream of the day when there is real competition in the wireless industry, not this gang-of-four oligopoly."
Operating Systems

Mastering POSIX File Capabilities 80

An anonymous reader passes along an IBM DeveloperWorks article on POSIX file capabilities, which have recently become available in the Linux kernel; they are expected in the mainline kernel by 2.6.24. POSIX file capabilities parcel out root user powers into smaller privileges. The article details how to program using file capabilities and how to switch on the ability of a system's setuid root binaries to use file capabilities.
Data Storage

Seagate Releases Hybrid Hard Drive 218

An anonymous reader writes to tell us Seagate has released a new hybrid hard drive. This new drive adds the speed of a solid state drive to the conventional hard drive. Originally designed for laptops this new drive comes in 80, 120, and 160 GB flavors and features 256MB of flash memory.

Replacing Copper With Pencil Graphite 122

Late-Eight writes "A key discovery at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute could help advance the role of graphene as a possible heir to copper and silicon in nanoelectronics. Researchers believe graphene's extremely efficient conductive properties can be exploited for use in nanoelectronics. Graphene, a one-atom-thick sheet of carbon, eluded scientists for years but was finally made in the laboratory in 2004 with the help of everyday, store-bought transparent tape. The current research, which shows a way to control the conductivity of graphene, is an important first step towards mass producing metallic graphene that could one day replace copper as the primary interconnect material on nearly all computer chips." Researchers are now hot to pursue graphene for this purpose over the previous favorite candidate, buckytubes (which are just rolled-up graphene). Farther down the road, semiconducting graphene might take over from silicon at the heart of logic chips.

Adobe Flash Exploit Could Log Keystrokes 156

Kenyon Lessi writes "Adobe has issued three critical security updates, one of which is designed to stop a problem in the way the Flash player interacts with browsers, which could result in users' keystrokes being transmitted to attackers. The problem affect Adobe Flash Player version, and, as well as their earlier versions running on all platforms."

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