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Security

Judge Allows Small Businesses To Sue Credit Card Giants For Forcing Them To Adopt Chip Readers (computerworld.com) 311

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Computerworld: A federal judge has ruled it is plausible that four national credit-card companies improperly conspired "in lockstep" to set a deadline of Oct. 1, 2015 for requiring retailers to upgrade their technology to accept embedded chip cards for credit and debit card purchases. In an order issued Friday (Case number C 16-01150 WHA), U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup agreed with two small Florida businesses -- B and R Supermarket and Grove Liquors -- which brought the lawsuit in March. Alsup's ruling also allows the antitrust case against Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover Financial Services to move forward in federal court for the Northern District of California. The two retailers are seeking to create a class-action case involving millions of small retailers who have been required under the Oct. 1, 2015 deadline to assume liability for fraudulent card charges if they haven't upgraded to the more-secure chip card technology instead of magnetic-stripe cards. The retailers believe there was industry conspiracy over creation of the deadline that violates fair trade practices. In the same ruling, the judge allowed two other retailers -- Los Angeles-based gourmet food chain Monsieur Marcel and New York-based grocery story chain Fine Fare -- to intervene in the case. Lawyers for the retailers have said a class-action lawsuit could include 8 million U.S. small businesses. They would seek repayment of the cost of upgrading to chip card readers and related software, estimated at $6 billion. However, the National Retail Federation has recently estimated the total cost of the conversion in the U.S. at up to $35 billion.
Earth

Oscar Winners, Sports Stars and Bill Gates Are Building Lavish Bunkers (hollywoodreporter.com) 332

turkeydance quotes a report from Hollywood Reporter: Given the increased frequency of terrorist bombings and mass shootings and an under-lying sense of havoc fed by divisive election politics, it's no surprise that home security is going over the top and hitting luxurious new heights. Or, rather, new lows, as the average depth of a new breed of safe haven that occupies thousands of square feet is 10 feet under or more. Those who can afford to pull out all the stops for so-called self-preservation are doing so -- in a fashion that goes way beyond the submerged corrugated metal units adopted by reality show "preppers" -- to prepare for anything from nuclear bombings to drastic climate-change events. Gary Lynch, GM at Rising S Bunkers, a Texas-based company that specializes in underground bunkers and services scores of Los Angeles residences, says that sales at the most upscale end of the market -- mainly to actors, pro athletes and politicians (who require signed NDAs) -- have increased 700 percent this year compared with 2015, and overall sales have risen 150 percent. Any time there is a turbulent political landscape, we see a spike in our sales. Given this election is as turbulent as it is, "we are gearing up for an even bigger spike," says marketing director Brad Roberson of sales of bunkers that start at $39,000 and can run $8.35 million or more (FYI, a 12-stall horse shelter is $98,500). Adds Mike Peters, owner of Utah-based Ultimate Bunker, which builds high-end versions in California, Texas and Minnesota: "People are going for luxury [to] live underground because they see the future is going to be rough. Everyone I've talked to thinks we are doomed, no matter who is elected." Robert Vicino, founder of Del Mar, Calif.-based Vivos, which constructs upscale community bunkers in Indiana (he believes coastal flooding scenarios preclude bunkers being safely built west of the Rockies), says, "Bill Gates has huge shelters under every one of his homes, in Rancho Santa Fe and Washington. His head of security visited with us a couple years ago, and for these multibillionaires, a few million is nothing. It's really just the newest form of insurance."
Robotics

Using a Bomb Robot to Kill a Suspect Is an Unprecedented Shift in Policing (vice.com) 983

A police standoff with a suspect in the killing of five police officers in Dallas came to an abrupt end on Friday morning in an unusual way. The police said that negotiations broke down, an exchange of gunfire happened, but then they had no option but to use "bomb robot and place a device on its extension for it to detonate where the suspect was." Motherboard explains the unprecedented shift in policing. From an article: Peter W. Singer, an expert in military technology and robot warfare at the New America Foundation, tweeted that this is the first known incident of a domestic police force using a robot to kill a suspect. Singer tweeted that in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, soldiers have strapped claymore mines to the $8,000 MARCbot using duct tape to turn them into jury-rigged killing devices. Singer says all indications are that the Dallas Police Department did something similar in this case -- it improvised to turn a surveillance robot into a killing machine. Improvised device or not, the concerns here mirror a debate that's been going on for a few years now: Should law enforcement have access to armed drones, or, for that matter, weaponized robots? In 2013 Kentucky Senator Rand Paul staged a 13-hour filibuster that was focused entirely on concerns about the use of armed drones on US soil. Last year, North Dakota became the first state to legalize nonlethal, weaponized drones for its police officers. [...] The ability for police to remotely kill suspects raises due process concerns. If a shooter is holed up and alone, can they be qualified as an imminent threat to life? Are there clear protocols about when a robot can be used to engage a suspect versus when a human needs to engage him or her? When can the use of lethal force be administered remotely?
Cellphones

Political Polls Become Less Reliable As We Head Into 2016 Presidential Election 292

HughPickens.com writes: Cliff Zukin writes in the NY Times that those paying close attention to the 2016 election should exercise caution as they read the polls — election polling is in near crisis as statisticians say polls are becoming less reliable. According to Zukin, two trends are driving the increasing unreliability of election and other polling in the United States: the growth of cellphones and the decline in people willing to answer surveys. Coupled, they have made high-quality research much more expensive to do, so there is less of it. This has opened the door for less scientifically-based, less well-tested techniques.

To top it off, a perennial election polling problem, how to identify "likely voters," has become even thornier. Today, a majority of people are difficult or impossible to reach on landline phones. One problem is that the 1991 Telephone Consumer Protection Act has been interpreted by the Federal Communications Commission to prohibit the calling of cellphones through automatic dialers, in which calls are passed to live interviewers only after a person picks up the phone. To complete a 1,000-person survey, it's not unusual to have to dial more than 20,000 random numbers, most of which do not go to actual working telephone numbers.

The second unsettling trend is rapidly declining response rates, reaching levels once considered unimaginable. In the late 1970s, pollsters considered an 80 percent response rate acceptable, but by 2014 the response rate has fallen to 8 percent. "Our old paradigm has broken down, and we haven't figured out how to replace it," concludes Zukin. "In short, polls and pollsters are going to be less reliable. We may not even know when we're off base. What this means for 2016 is anybody's guess."
The Internet

Internet Transit Provider Claims ISPs Deliberately Allow Port Congestion 210

An anonymous reader writes "Level 3, an internet transit provider, claimed in a recent blog post that six ISPs that it regularly does business with have refused to de-congest most of their interconnect ports. 'Congestion that is permanent, has been in place for well over a year and where our peer refuses to augment capacity.' Five of the six ISPs that Level 3 refers to are in the U.S., and one is in Europe. Not surprisingly, 'the companies with the congested peering interconnects also happen to rank dead last in customer satisfaction across all industries in the U.S. Not only dead last, but by a massive statistical margin of almost three standard deviations.' Ars Technica reports that ISPs have also demanded that transit providers like Level 3 pay for access to their networks in the same manner as fringe service providers like Netflix."
Cellphones

Really, Why Are Smartphones Still Tied To Contracts? 482

Bennett Haselton writes: "It's not trivial to explain why cell phone companies find it profitable to sell phones at a deep up-front discount and make it back over a two-year contract. Why don't other companies sell similarly-priced goods the same way? (And why, for that matter, has T-Mobile found it more profitable to do the opposite, selling the phone and the service separately?) I'm trying to come up with an explanation that makes realistic and consistent assumptions about the stupidity of the buying public, and still makes sense." Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.
Television

US Cord Cutters Getting Snubbed From NBC's Olympic Coverage Online 578

Monoman writes "The Washington Post reports, 'The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics start tonight. But if you're among the 9 percent of U.S. households who have broadband but don't subscribe to paid television, it will be nearly impossible to (legally) watch the games online this year. ... That's because while NBC is streaming all of the events live online, full access to the livestream will only be available to paying cable subscribers. And thanks to a $4.38 billion exclusive deal NBC struck with the International Olympics Committee (IOC) in 2011 for the privilege of broadcasting the Olympic games in the U.S. through 2020, cord-cutters don't have a lot of options.' Is this a money play by Comcast/NBC to get some subscribers back? Should the FCC step in and require NBC to at least provide a stream of their OTA content?"
News

Gunman Opens Fire At LAX 520

McGruber tips news that today at 9:30AM PST, a man removed an assault rifle from a bag at Los Angeles International Airport and opened fire. The shooter moved into the screening area, and then further into the terminal. One TSA agent was killed; roughly six more people were injured. The gunman was a ticketed passenger. (Early reports suggested he worked for the TSA — this does not seem to be the case.) Police engaged him in gunfire, and he's now in custody. His motive is unknown at this time.
Patents

US Shutdown Is Good News For Patent Trolls 84

judgecorp writes "It's just a sidebar on the US government shutdown but, while agencies including NASA and NIST are displaying blank websites, the US Patent and Trademark Office is running as normal because its funding is guaranteed by the US Constitution. Thus, patent trolls can continue to file bogus business patents, while the FTC is closed and can't combat them, and the Department of Justice can't handle appeals and enforcement."
The Military

US Intercepts Iranian Order For Attack On US Embassy In Iraq 433

cold fjord writes "Another NSA story? The Wall Street Journal reports, 'The U.S. has intercepted an order from Iran to militants in Iraq to attack the U.S. Embassy and other American interests in Baghdad in the event of a strike on Syria ... U.S. officials said they are on alert for Iran's fleet of small, fast boats in the Persian Gulf ... U.S. officials also fear Hezbollah could attack the U.S. Embassy in Beirut. While the U.S. has moved military resources in the region for a possible strike, it has other assets in the area that would be ready to respond to any reprisals by Syria, Iran or its allies. ... Israel has so far been the focus of concerns about retaliation from Iran and its Lebanese militant ally Hezbollah. The commander-in-chief of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard Corps said last week that an attack on Syria would lead to the "destruction of Israel." ... The Iranian message, intercepted in recent days, came from Qasem Soleimani, the head of Revolutionary Guards' Qods Force, and went to Iranian-supported Shiite militia groups in Iraq, according to U.S. officials.' What's interesting is this Washington Post story from 2011: Iran's Quds Force was blamed for attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq."
The Media

Time Reporter "Can't Wait" To Justify Drone Strike On Julian Assange 490

First time accepted submitter Tuck News writes "A reporter for TIME Magazine sparked a Twitter war when he said that he 'can't wait to write a defense of the drone strike that takes out Julian Assange'. Michael Grunwald deleted his tweet after a follower argued that it would only encourage Assange supporters.Grunwald's employer distanced itself from the tweet, saying 'Michael Grunwald posted an offensive tweet from his personal Twitter account that is in no way representative of TIME's views.'"
United States

US Lawmakers Want Sanctions On Any Country Taking In Snowden 650

An anonymous reader points out this story about the latest effort by the U.S. to get Edward Snowden back in the country. "A U.S. Senate panel voted unanimously on Thursday to seek trade or other sanctions against Russia or any other country that offers asylum to former spy agency contractor Edward Snowden, who has been holed up for weeks at a Moscow airport. The 30-member Senate Appropriations Committee adopted by consensus an amendment to a spending bill that would direct Secretary of State John Kerry to meet with congressional committees to come up with sanctions against any country that takes Snowden in."
Movies

Police, Copyright Industry Raid Movie Subtitle Fansite 344

Swedish Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge reports that a fansite providing subtitles for movies has been raided by Swedish police at the behest of the copyright industry. "The movie subtitle fansite undertexter.se, literally meaning subtitles.se, is a site where people contribute their own translations of movies. This lets people who aren't good at the original language of a movie or cartoon put those fan-made subtitles – fansubs – on top of the movie or cartoon. Fansubbing is a thriving culture which usually provides better-than-professional subtitles for new episodes with less than 24 hours of turnaround (whereas the providers of the original cartoon or movie can easily take six months or more). What’s remarkable about this raid is that the copyright industry has decided to do a full-out raid against something that is entirely fan-made. It underscores the general sentiment of the copyright monopoly not protecting the creator of artwork, but protecting the big distribution monopolies, no matter who actually created the art."
Google

Google Fiber Adds 14th City: Lee's Summit 81

symbolset writes "On Thursday night the Lee's Summit city council passed three resolutions to welcome Google Fiber to their community. This is the 12th community in the Kansas City Metro Area to welcome Google Fiber and the 14th city overall. The KC map now covers almost all of the KC metro area with parts in both Kansas and Missouri. 8 months into the rollout two fiberhoods have been completed, 30 more are underway and 50 more are to start by the end of summer. This covers most of the territory of both Kansas Citys ahead of schedule and completes before the end of winter so the timeline has been accelerated. As Google runs their fiber across town it appears they're putting backbones down the major thoroughfares to be trunks out to the wider communities. With Provo wired with fiber already, Austin to start next, it looks like Google Fiber's ambitions are not to deliver their symmetric gigabit uncapped, unfiltered, inexpensive fiber Internet to just a few privileged enclaves. They still have over 1,000 cities left to go who have already petitioned to be Google Fiber cities, so it's not like they're going to run out of work."
The Courts

Kim Dotcom Wins Case Against NZ Police To Get Seized Material Back 111

New submitter Mistakill writes "It seems the case against Kim Dotcom for the NZ Police isn't going well, with Kim Dotcom scoring another victory in his legal battles. Police have been told they must search everything they seized from Dotcom and hand back what is not relevant to the U.S. extradition claims. Justice Helen Winkelmann told police their complaints about the cost and time of the exercise were effectively their own fault for indiscriminately seizing material in the first place. She wrote, 'The warrants could not authorize the permanent seizure of hard drives and digital materials against the possibility that they might contain relevant material, with no obligation to check them for relevance. They could not authorize the shipping offshore of those hard drives with no check to see if they contained relevant material. Nor could they authorize keeping the plaintiffs out of their own information, including information irrelevant to the offenses.'"

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