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Comment Re:You can still fly this way if you want to (Score 1) 382

That's a valid point, but in the case of airlines, it *is* specifically because of deregulation.

The 1978 Airline Deregulation Act removed government control over airline fares. Up until that point the only thing airlines had to compete with was amenities, since they all had to charge the same price. With that cap removed, there began the classic free--market 'race to the bottom'. Ask any long-time industry veteran and they will tell you the same.

In your example of PC builders, I'm pretty sure that has to do with supply chain dominance by a few players, and the inability to survive off margins that become thinner every quarter. Not anything to do with regulation, but more about the market adding customers at a pace that could not help but attract serious dollars in an attempt to carve out a large portion of market share. "Hey, I'm middle class, so I better go out and get one of those computa-ma-jingies, hurr durr!" Cue Gateway, Dell, HP, Compaq, etc. to sell crappy components in a shiny box to people who have trouble using an ATM.

I'm pretty sure there's a lesson in here about: "lowering the barriers of accessibility past a certain point leads to the complete commoditization of your market, eventually turning it into a public toilet", but it's Monday, so fuck it.

Comment Re:Oh Baby Jeebus the hypocrisy (Score 1) 294

Jesus, pedant much? No, we are technically not at war with them.

We haven't technically declared war on anyone since 1942. We have engaged in plenty of donnybrooks, some authorized by Congress, some authorized by the UN, many just because the President felt like it. According to the DOJ:

"As the Supreme Court has observed, "[t]he United States frequently employs Armed Forces outside this country - over 200 times in our history - for the protection of American citizens or national security." United States v. Verdugo-Urquidez, 494 U.S. 259, 273 (1990). On at least 125 such occasions, the President acted without prior express authorization from Congress. See Bosnia Opinion, 19 Op. O.L.C. at 331. Such deployments, based on the President's constitutional authority alone, have occurred since the Administration of George Washington. See David P. Currie, The Constitution in Congress: Substantive Issues in the First Congress, 1789-1791, 61 U. Chi. L. Rev. 775, 816 (1994)"

The DPRK are at war with South Korea. The cease-fire is a condition of the Korean Armistice Agreement between them, which is monitored by the UN United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission, of which (surprise!) we are a permanent member. Between the authority granted us by the Armistice, UN Security Council Resolution 84and the Mutual Defense Treaty, we are allowed to respond militarily - excuse me, "act to meet the common danger" - to any violation of the cease-fire. And according to the DOJ, we can just say "national security! booga booga!" and send in the Marines whenever we like. What, exactly, is the difference?

Comment Re:No matter who it was (Score 5, Insightful) 167


The Iwo Jima and Okinawa invasions were planned as part of the same campaign. The goal was the airfields within 500 miles of the mainland. Our capture of Guam, Saipan, the Marianas and Tinian gave us long-range heavy bomber capability to carpet bomb Japanese factories, but the B-24s and B-29s had a rough time of it. It was a long flight: 3000 miles round trip, about 16 hours. Tokyo was right at the edge of the B-29s range, so a lot of planes made it back on fumes, or, if they took shrapnel through a fuel line, ditched in the middle of nowhere*. Plus, when they got over Japan, they had to contend with the Japanese air force all by themselves. They had no fighter escorts - the longest range U.S. fighter, the P47-N, only had a range of about 1800 miles (that's with drop tanks). The bomber wings were taking pretty high casualties, losing about 5% of all bombers sent out on each sortie, plus lots of dead gunners. We needed to have airfields much closer so we could have emergency landing places for the B-29s, SAR aircraft for downed crews, and those lovely fighter escorts. Air superiority wins wars, so the U.S. needed to capture islands much closer to the mainland.

Iwo Jima jumped off first (19 February – 26 March 1945). Iwo Jima had three airfields, but it's only 8 square miles, not a lot of room, and no deep anchorage ports for the Navy. Okinawa (1 April – 21 June 1945) had four existing airfields, plus it's 500 sq. mi. Bonus: it's in the Sea of Japan. This allowed us to attack from two directions and also support some of the Allied forces in China.

I don't think we realized how costly it was going to be to take the island. Plus we really REALLY wanted/needed those airfields. We thought we had figured out how to deal with the Japanese tunnel problem: flame tanks (M4A3R3 Zippo). We captured two of the four airbases within hours, and within a couple of days we held half of the island. It was taking the rest that was the problem.

Another aspect to this is the whole world was getting weird while this was going on. We invaded Okinawa Island on April 1. USSR entered the war against Japan on April 6. President Roosevelt died on April 12. Ernie Pyle, the famous and well-loved war correspondent, was killed on April 18th while accompanying a mop-up operation on one of the outlying Okinawan islands. Germany surrendered on May 8, and we hoped Japan might be demoralized and surrender as well. That didn't happen. We needed to end the war, fast. Momentum was on our side, morale was on our side. We had a new, 'unknown' president (Truman). The U.S. was running out of creative ways to raise money. Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt had already met in Yalta to carve up post-war Germany. The world was changing, a new order was arising. We were already looking beyond, and realized that we needed to be done with this whole thing.

* I highly recommend "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand. True story about a former U.S. Olympic runner who became a B-24 bombardier. Their plane developed serious mechanical problems on a long-range search mission. They ditched in the middle of the ocean, survived in a life raft for 47 days, then were captured by the Japanese and sent to one of the worst POW camps till the end of the war. Amazing story.

Comment Re:Translation (Score 3, Informative) 181

Do all of you clamoring about a "midnight vote" realize that this bill is still in committee? Even if the House Judiciary Committee passes it, it still has to pass both houses, the reconciliation process, and withstand a veto to become law.

I agree that the best time to strangle and bury this monster is before it leaves committee and becomes a soundbite issue that can be made law in the dead of night, but this isn't quite over yet.

Oppose SOPA, PROTECT-IP, and other anti-Internet freedom legislation

Comment Re:A judge can strip someone of their US citizensh (Score 1) 239

There's more here than meets the eye.

One of the charges was"obtaining citizenship by fraud". 8 CFR PART 340 allows USCIS to "reopen a naturalization proceeding and revoke naturalization" within 2 years of granting citizenship, if there's reason to believe the application was based on fraudulent information. Under this process, the woman can be "administratively denaturalized", but only after a full course of hearings and other due process.

I'll bet you dollars to donuts this was part of some bigger deal involving Washington and Beijing. The woman doesn't want to go to Federal prison for 20+ years, Washington doesn't want a diplomatic brouhaha involving a Chinese-born citizen, and Beijing doesn't want to lose face (again). This was a back-door option that worked for everyone.

Comment Re:18 months? 62 drops? (Score 1) 172

You seem to think that prosecutorial decisions are made by the FBI. That doesn't happen there, instead the decision is made by the US Attorney for that area.

Correct, mea culpa.

The minute the FBI gets involved it ceases to be a state matter

Not true. State and local law enforcement agencies are not subordinate to the FBI. However, if the FBI initiates an investigation there's no requirement to notify local LE or even the DOJ in some cases. The State is not prohibited from legal action until the DOJ files suit.

If you think the FBI ever hands stuff back to state or local law enforcement, you haven't been reading up on FBI much

Actually, the FBI frequently refers cases back to local jurisdictions, and for a wide variety of offenses such as child pornography, mortgage fraud, public corruption, and fraud. As you said (correctly), the prosecution is handled at the discretion of the US Attorney, and they can initiate, decline or transfer cases as they like. See USAM Chapter 9-27.001-.260

The FBI has no control over this process whatsoever as they are strictly an investigative agency. They do not...really make much of a decision about how far to pursue an investigation.

Not true. The FBI is a division of DOJ, but has full autonomy. The USAG appoints the FBI director, but does not have the authority to set or change FBI policy. The FBI can initiate investigations without a DOJ request and are not required to notify DOJ for certain investigation types. Similarly, the FBI can terminate an investigation on their own recognizance, regardless of DOJ direction. See DOJ Guidelines for Domestic FBI Investigations

You are correct the FBI did not direct the prosecution of this guy - that is DOJ's purview. But the FBI has it's own mission and prerogatives - it's not just DOJ's thug squad.

In the end, we really don't know who initiated it, who directed it, or at what point DOJ was put into the loop. So there is a burden on both parties. DOJ and FBI guidelines try to err on the side of avoiding costly, time-consuming or difficult cases where "substantial Federal interest is not served". I would argue this is true here. But the guy pled guilty, so it's all moot.

If I were the Akamai lead counsel, I would be super pissed though. There's no way they were in on this until the very end. That means the Feds let a known insider threat sit inside his network for years, stealing company data.

Comment 18 months? 62 drops? (Score 5, Interesting) 172

A guy tries to sell inside corporate information to Israel in exchange for $3,000 and information on his ex-wife and son. The FBI gets involved, and they set up a sting operation. The guy then proceeds to provide some fairly weak-sauce information: client lists, contracts and employee information. The whole ordeal is clumsy and sad.

How it should have happened:
After a few transactions, the FBI realizes this guy is zero threat. They refer the case to the Massachusetts Attorney General "for further joint investigation". Based on the evidence, the AG charges the guy with larceny or embezzlement or whatever, Akamai takes their civil remedies for breach of contract, etc, and the FBI declines to prosecute. The guy loses his job, pays $150K in fines and does 6 months in minimum security + probation. His life gets pretty hard.

How it actually happened:
After a few transactions, the FBI realizes the information sucks. No source code, no proprietary technology, no M&A data, no insider-level financials. It's client lists, contracts and internal employee information. The information is so weak, they can't even charge him with anything under existing Federal statutes. But there's a foreign government involved, so all sense of proportion is lost. They keep asking the guy for more information. And more. 18 months and 62 transactions later, they finally get to a point where:
  • a) they get one or more specific pieces of information that qualify as 'trade secrets'
  • b) the data in aggregate can qualify as 'trade secrets'

Now they can charge him under the Economic Espionage Act and prepare to drop him in a very deep, very dark hole. Slam dunk. Promotions all around for stopping a 'grave threat to U.S. economic security'. The guy loses his job, pays $400K in fines and goes to Federal prison for 10 years. His life is over.


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