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Submission + - Wikileaks Reveals how NSA Analysts Earned "XKS Skilz points" by Spying (wikileaks.org)

Xenographic writes: Wikileaks has recently released 90 gigabytes of information relating to the German parliamentary inquiry into the surveillance activities of Germany's foreign intelligence agency Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) and its cooperation with the United States' National Security Agency (NSA). One of these is related to the gamification of XKeyscore (XKS), which is the NSA's program for searching and analyzing global Internet data. According to this PDF document, analysts could earn "XKS Skilz points" for spying:

"Combine these exciting finds with the introduction of XKS Skilz points, and you can see why McDonald's teamed up with Monopoly years ago: people buy more and even super size their orders just to get game pieces. With the brainchild of Skilz, where analysts can earn points and unlock achievements for performing tasks in XKS, people are willing to try new things within the tool. Analysts think to themselves, "Using the Pivot Data feature will earn 30 points... I'm going to try it and see what happens." Discovery! Points! We have been lured by our geeky desire to unlock achievements and earn points, and bragging rights are everything."

Submission + - Russian Supply Rocket Malfunctions, Breaks Up Over Siberia En Route To ISS (npr.org)

An anonymous reader writes: An unmanned cargo rocket bound for the International Space Station was destroyed after takeoff on Thursday. The Russian rocket took off as planned from Baikonur, Kazahkstan, on Thursday morning but stopped transmitting data about six minutes into its flight, as NPR's Rae Ellen Bichell reported: "'Russian officials say the spacecraft failed ... when it was about 100 miles above a remote part of Siberia. The ship was carrying more than 2 1/2 tons of supplies — including food, fuel and clothes. Most of that very likely burned up as the unmanned spacecraft fell back toward Earth. NASA says the six crew members on board the International Space station, including two Americans, are well stocked for now.'" This is the fourth botched launch of an unmanned Russian rocket in the past two years.

Submission + - Erich Bloch, Who Helped Develop IBM Mainframe Dies At 91

shadowknot writes: The New York Times is reporting that Erich Bloch who helped to develop the IBM Mainframe has died at the age of 91 as a result of complications from Alzheimer's disease. From the article:

In the 1950s, he developed the first ferrite-core memory storage units to be used in computers commercially and worked on the IBM 7030, known as Stretch, the first transistorized supercomputer. “Asked what job each of us had, my answer was very simple and very direct,” Mr. Bloch said in 2002. “Getting that sucker working.” Mr. Bloch’s role was to oversee the development of Solid Logic Technology — half-inch ceramic modules for the microelectronic circuitry that provided the System/360 with superior power, speed and memory, all of which would become fundamental to computing.

Submission + - Matt Taibbi: 'Washington Post' 'Blacklist' Story Is Shameful and Disgusting (rollingstone.com)

MyFirstNameIsPaul writes: From the article:

Most high school papers wouldn't touch sources like these. But in November 2016, both the president-elect of the United States and the Washington Post are equally at ease with this sort of sourcing.

Even worse, the Post apparently never contacted any of the outlets on the "list" before they ran their story. Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism says she was never contacted. Chris Hedges of Truthdig, who was part of a group that won the Pulitzer Prize for The New York Times once upon a time, said the same. "We were named," he tells me. "I was not contacted."

Hedges says the Post piece was an "updated form of Red-Baiting."

"This attack signals an open war on the independent press," he says. "Those who do not spew the official line will be increasingly demonized in corporate echo chambers such as the Post or CNN as useful idiots or fifth columnists."


Submission + - The Problem is Agendas In The Mainstream Media, Not 'Fake News" (thehill.com)

An anonymous reader writes: The 2016 election win by Donald Trump has resulted in many theories about how Trump won, and how the media missed his support. A prominent theory making the rounds in the media is that 'fake news' from fringe news sites, blogs, foreign government propaganda units, and other sources, is what helped push Trump over the top to win. Cathy Young, writing in The Hill, states that isn't the real problem. The real main problem is when the mainstream media reports the news filtered through an agenda, distorting some facts, ignoring others, and highlighting what supports their agenda. A recent example is the reporting that suggests Trump plans to create a "Muslim registry," implying that all Muslims in the US would have to register with the US government. But that isn't Trump's plan at all:

Trump may revive a program that was in place from 2001 to 2011; according to The Washington Post, that system “required people from countries deemed ‘higher risk’ to undergo interrogations and fingerprinting upon arrival” and, in some cases, “to follow a parole-like system by periodically checking in with local authorities.” Most of the countries identified as high-risk were majority-Muslim, and civil rights groups charged that the program targeted Muslims. But to call such a program a “Muslim registry” creates an essentially false impression — which is what many people were undoubtedly left with if they did not read the story carefully, or only saw the buzz about it in the social media.


Submission + - SQL Server on Linux (microsoft.com)

mj1ab writes: Earlier in the year Microsoft announced that the next version of SQL Server would run on Linux. The first CTP (Community Technology Preview) of SQL Server v.Next is now available: SQL Server v.Next—SQL Server on Linux. It seems to work as expected on a 64-bit Ubuntu 16.04 VM, but SQL Server Management Studio reports the OS as NT 6.2 (Windows Server 2012) and the data paths as C:\var\opt\mssql\data\. I guess it has a long way to go before the final release.

Submission + - Surprise, "Fake News" is fake news! (theintercept.com) 1

An anonymous reader writes: A Washington Post article published claims from an organization critical of several U.S. news sites as being âoeroutine peddlers of Russian propaganda.â
The article titled âoeRussian propaganda effort helped spread âfake newsâ(TM) during election, experts sayâ The source, a website calling itself PropOrNot, claims that millions of Americans have been deceived this year in a massive Russian âoemisinformation campaign.â The Intercept claims the article is "rife with obviously reckless and unproven allegations", and âoea lot of reporters passed on this story.â while the post was all too anxious to push some more red scare.

Submission + - Aspartame stops us from getting slimmer (dw.com)

schwit1 writes: For some time, nutritionists have suspected that artificial sweetener — often used as a substitute for sugar in coffee or added as an essential ingredient in diet sodas — does not help people lose weight. However, scientists have struggled to understand why this is the case.

Now, researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) have found a lead. "We found that aspartame blocks a gut enzyme called intestinal alkaline phosphatase (IAP)". IAP is produced in the small intestine. "We previously showed [this enzyme] can prevent obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome [a disease characterized by a combination of obesity, high blood pressure, a metabolic disorder and insulin resistence]. So, we think that aspartame might not work because, even as it is substituting for sugar, it blocks the beneficial aspects of IAP."

The researchers confirmed their suspicions via a variety of tests on mice. In one case, they fed IAP directly to mice, who were also on a high-fat diet. It turned out that the IAP could effectively prevent the emergence of the metabolic syndrome. It also helped relieve symptoms in animals that were already suffering from the obesity-related illness.

Submission + - Glenn Greenwald: Washington Post Disgracefully Promotes a McCarthyite Blacklist (theintercept.com)

MyFirstNameIsPaul writes: From the article:

...the article is rife with obviously reckless and unproven allegations, and fundamentally shaped by shoddy, slothful journalistic tactics. It was not surprising to learn that, as BuzzFeed’s Sheera Frenkel noted, “a lot of reporters passed on this story.” Its huge flaws are self-evident. But the Post gleefully ran with it and then promoted it aggressively, led by its Executive Editor Marty Baron...


Submission + - Scientists create an 8ins remote control bionic penis (dailymail.co.uk)

turkeydance writes: Scientists have created a heat-activated metal penis to help men with erectile dysfunction.

Developed by experts at the University of Wisconsin in America, the remote-controlled device lengthens to eight inches when heated to 42C.

Surgically inserted in the base of the penis through an incision, the one inch metal coil can be turned on by a remote held over the groin, generating a metal field which triggers a current.

The coil then warms the implant, making it expand and fully erect.

Submission + - Scientists Believe They Finally Have The Cure For The Common Cold

schwit1 writes: As winter sets in it's just a matter of time before the inevitable cold gets you and turns you into a snotty, bunged up wreck.

Unless you're elderly or a baby, the common cold is by no means life-threatening. But it's very annoying and, worse still, you get no sympathy, just people backing away in case they catch it.

However, after decades of research, the fabled cure for the common cold could be on its way in the form of a nasal spray called SynGEM, which is the brainchild of a Dutch biotechnology company.

After successful tests on mice and rats (yes, they get colds too), 36 human volunteers at London's Imperial College are now trying out the spray, which is hoped to kill off a cold before you've even had time to buy that family pack of tissues.

Submission + - Right-wing Breitbart blocked by AppNexus ad exchange for hate speech (betanews.com)

Mark Wilson writes: Right-wing website Breitbart — the darling of the so-called alt-right movement — has been blocked by a leading ad exchange. The site, home to Milo Yiannopoulos (also known as @Nero and banned from Twitter) will no longer be permitted to sell ad space via AppNexus.

The move comes after an audit by AppNexus found that Breitbart was in violation of its policies on hate speech and incitement to violence.

Submission + - Directed Evolution Teaches Nature the Unnatural, Brings Silicon to Life (hacked.com)

giulioprisco writes: Caltech researchers have achieved a spectacular demonstration that living organisms can be persuaded to make silicon-carbon bonds. The study is the first to show that nature can adapt to incorporate silicon into carbon-based molecules, the building blocks of life. This breakthrough could have en important impact on how medicines and other chemicals are made in the future, and open new horizons to synthetic biology.
Democrats

Russian Hacker Conspiracy Theory is Weak, But the Case For Paper Ballots is Strong (facebook.com) 286

On Wednesday, J. Alex Halderman, the director of the University of Michigan's Center for Computer Security & Society and a respected voice in computer science and information society, said that the Clinton Campaign should ask for a recount of the vote for the U.S. Presidential election. Later he wrote, "Were this year's deviations from pre-election polls the results of a cyberattack? Probably not. I believe the most likely explanation is that the polls were systematically wrong, rather than that the election was hacked. But I don't believe that either one of these seemingly unlikely explanations is overwhelmingly more likely than the other." The Outline, a new publication by a dozen of respected journalists, has published a post (on Facebook for now, since their website is still in the works), in which former Motherboard's reporter Adrianne Jeffries makes it clear that we still don't have concrete evidence that the vote was tampered with, but why still the case for paper ballots is strong. From the article: Halderman also repeats the erroneous claim that federal agencies have publicly said that senior officials in Russia commissioned attacks on voter registration databases in Arizona and Illinois. In October, federal agencies attributed the Democratic National Committee email hack to Russia, but specifically said they could not attribute the state hacks. Claims to the contrary seem to have spread due to anonymous sourcing and the conflation of Russian hackers with Russian state-sponsored hackers. Unfortunately, the Russia-hacked-us meme is spreading fast on social media and among disaffected Clinton voters. "It's just ignorance," said the cybersecurity consultant Jeffrey Carr, who published his own response to Halderman on Medium. "It's fear and ignorance that's fueling that." The urgency comes from deadlines for recount petitions, which start kicking in on Friday in Wisconsin, Monday in Pennsylvania, and the following Wednesday in Michigan. There is disagreement about how likely it is that the Russian government interfered with election results. There is little disagreement, however, that our voting system could be more robust -- namely, by requiring paper ballot backups for electronic voting and mandating that all results be audited, as they already are in some states including California. Despite the 150,000 signatures collected on a Change.org petition, what happens next really comes down to the Clinton team's decision.

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