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China

Russia Falls Behind In Annual Space Launches For First Time Ever (themoscowtimes.com) 93

From a report on the Moscow Times: This year, for the first time in history, Russia has fallen behind the United States and China as the world's leading launcher of space rockets. Russia will finish 2016 with just 18 launches, according to open source data, compared to China's 19 and America's 20 launches. Alexander Ivanov, deputy chief of Russia's Roscosmos space agency, said on Nov. 29 that the launch rate has decreased because Moscow's space strategy has changed. Currently, it's top priority is reviving existing and aging satellite groupings. But there are other reasons Russia's launch rate may be falling behind. Since the 1957 launch of Sputnik, the world's first satellite, Russia has been the undisputed leader in annual launch rates -- a figure that spoke to the general health of its space program and aerospace industry. At the peak of the Soviet space program, Russia often launched around 100 rockets a year. Since 1957, Russia has launched over 3,000 rockets -- roughly twice as many as the U.S. But with the Russian economy in crisis, space budgets have plummeted. Funding for the next decade of Russian space activity stands at just 1.4 trillion rubles ($21.5 billion), a figure that was only finalized after three rounds of cuts to proposed funding, which began at 3.4 trillion rubles ($52.3 billion). The U.S. space agency, NASA, received a budget of $19.3 billion in 2016 alone. To make matters worse, Russian rockets are becoming uncharacteristically undependable.
Hardware Hacking

How I Freed My Android Tablet: A Journey in Reverse Engineering (www.thanassis.space) 79

Slashdot reader ttsiod is an embedded software engineer at the European Space Agency, and shares this story about his quest to "dominate" his new tablet: Just like it's predecessor, I wanted to run a Debian chroot inside it -- that would allow me to apt-get install and run things like Privoxy, SSH SOCKS/VPN tunnels, Flask mini-servers, etc; and in general allow me to stay in control. But there was no open-source way to do this... and I could never trust "one-click roots" that communicate with servers in China... It took me weeks to reverse engineer my tablet -- and finally succeed in becoming root. The journey was quite interesting, and included both hardware and software tinkering. I learned a lot while doing it -- and wanted to share the experience with my fellow Slashdotters...
He writes that "I trust Debian. Far more than I trust the Android ecosystem," and describes everything from how he probed the boot process and created his own boot image to hunting for a way "to tell SELinux to get off my lawn".
The Military

Air Force Says F-35 Glitches Mean the A-10 Will Keep Flying 'Indefinitely' (jalopnik.com) 325

The A-10 aircraft "is just too effective to get rid of," wrote one defense blogger -- especially in light of ongoing issues with the F-35. schwit1 quotes Jalopnik: Strategists have feared that the jet will be axed in favor of funding the F-35, but the U.S. Air Force recently confirmed that it plans to keep the A-10 flying "indefinitely." While the Air Force is theoretically supposed to be diverting the A-10's operating expenses to feed the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the people in charge are now planning to keep the plane running...

Air Force Materiel Command chief Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski told AviationWeek in a interview, "Our command, anyway, is approaching this as another airplane that we are sustaining indefinitely." While the beancounters and product planners are trying to push the A-10 off the board, Materiel Command is going to keep on keeping the planes in peak condition, which will give the A-10 it's best chance of proving its worth over and over again. And it seems to be working -- the A-10 posted a 5% increase in its availability rate from 2014 to 2015, and the Air Force seems to keep postponing its demise.

In Congress one representative has even suggested an operational testing "fly-off" between the two aircraft -- a jet-vs-jet competition to determine whether any more A-10s get retired.
Google

Google's 'Project Zero' Hid A Major Vulnerability in Apple's OS and iOS Cores (thestack.com) 88

In June Google's task-force against zero day exploits "identified a coding exploit in the underlying kernel of Apple's OSX and it's mobile operating system iOS, which could allow for root-level escalation of privileges for an attacker in a non-updated version of the OS," according to The Stack.

An anonymous reader writes that Google "initially refused Apple's request for sixty days' grace, but eventually settled on September 21st for disclosure. But when Apple's last-minute September fix turned out to be ineffective, Project Zero agreed to keep quiet, eventually granting Apple nearly five months of silence about the task_t bug -- which has now been fixed in the latest updates to Mac OS and iOS." The fix was released Monday, the Stack reports: Since the task_t bug allows the user to gain any entitlements they may want, it could also nullify kernel code signing, which would allow unauthorized programs to run with elevated privileges on a Mac system. Any current OSX or iOS user who has applied the latest system updates is not susceptible to the task_t vulnerability.
Intel

Intel Announces Atom E3900 Series - Goldmont for the Internet of Things (anandtech.com) 68

Intel has announced the Atom E3900 series. Based upon the company's latest generation Goldmont Atom CPU core, the E3900 series will be Intel's most serious and dedicated project yet for the IoT market. AnandTech adds: So what does an IoT-centric Atom look like? By and large, it's Broxton and more. At its core we're looking at 2 or 4 Goldmont CPU cores, paired with 12 or 18 EU configurations of Intel's Gen9 iGPU. However this is where the similarities stop. Once we get past the CPU and GPU, Intel has added new features specifically for IoT in some areas, and in other areas they've gone and reworked the design entirely to meet specific physical and technical needs of the IoT market. The big changes here are focused on security, determinism, and networking. Security is self-evident: Intel's customers need to be able to build devices that will go out into the field and be hardened against attackers. Bits and pieces of this are inerieted from Intel's existing Trusted Execution Technology, while other pieces, such as boot time measuring, are new. The latter is particularly interesting, as Intel is measuring the boot time of a system as a canary for if it's been compromised. If the boot time suddenly and unexpectedly changes, then there's a good chance the firmware and/or OS has been replaced.
Open Source

Vim 8.0 Released! (google.com) 125

Long-time Slashdot reader MrKaos writes: The venerable and essential vim has had it's first major release in 10 years. Lots of new and interesting features including, vim script improvements, JSON support, messages exchange with background processes, a test framework and a bunch of Windows DirectX compatibility improvements. A package manager has been added to handle the ever-growing plug-in library, start-up changes and support for a lot of old platforms has been dropped. Many Vimprovements!
EU

Finland Prepares Their First Tests Of A Universal Basic Income (futurism.com) 630

Finland is getting ready to launch their first pilot program with a Universal Basic Income -- one of several countries which are now testing the concept. An anonymous reader quotes a report from Futurism.com: Finland is about to launch an experiment in which a randomly selected group of 2,000-3,000 citizens already on unemployment benefits will begin to receive a monthly basic income of 560 euros (approximately $600). That basic income will replace their existing benefits. The amount is the same as the current guaranteed minimum level of Finnish social security support. The pilot study, running for two years in 2017-2018, aims to assess whether basic income can help reduce poverty, social exclusion, and bureaucracy, while increasing the employment rate.
In January a basic income program will also begin testing in the Netherlands, according to the article, which points out that Y Combinator has also launched a test program in Oakland, California. And there's now also calls for a Universal Basic Income in India, where one social worker argues it's "sound social policy," while pointing out that it's already being implemented in other countries. "In Brazil, it targets the poor and has been a way out of poverty; in Iran, it has substituted for subsidies and citizens receive about $500 a year..."
Transportation

Falcon 9 Explodes On Pad (npr.org) 338

Reader Mysticalfruit writes: NPR is reporting that a Falcon9 carrying the AMOS-6 satellite that was supposed to launch on Sat exploded during it's scheduled static fire. No injuries are reported. They're reporting that this was going to be the first reflown first stage.
The Verge adds:SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket, meant to launch a satellite this weekend, exploded on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral, Florida this morning. The explosion occurred during the preparation for the static fire test of the rocket's engines, NASA told the Associated Press. The blast reportedly shook buildings "several miles away." The company confirmed to The Verge the loss of the Falcon 9 an hour later: "SpaceX can confirm that in preparation for today's static fire, there was an anomaly on the pad resulting in the loss of the vehicle and its payload. Per standard procedure, the pad was clear and there were no injuries."
The Internet

New SWEET32 Crypto Attacks Speed Up Deprecation of 3DES, Blowfish (threatpost.com) 53

Researchers "have devised a new way to decrypt secret cookies which could leave your passwords vulnerable to theft," reports Digital Trends. Slashdot reader msm1267 writes: New attacks revealed today against 64-bit block ciphers push cryptographic ciphers such as Triple-DES (3DES) and Blowfish closer to extinction. The attacks, known as SWEET32, allow for the recovery of authentication cookies from HTTPS traffic protected by 3DES, and BasicAUTH credentials from OpenVPN traffic protected by default by Blowfish.

In response, OpenSSL is expected to remove 3DES from its default bulid in 1.1.0, and lower its designation from High to Medium 1.0.2 and 1.0.1. OpenVPN, meanwhile, is expected to release a new version as well with a warning about Blowfish and new configuration advice protecting against the SWEET32 attacks. The researchers behind SWEET32 said this is a practical attack because collisions begin after a relatively short amount of data is introduced. By luring a victim to a malicious site, the attacker can inject JavaScript into the browser that forces the victim to connect over and over to a site they're authenticated to. The attacker can then collect enough of that traffic -- from a connection that is kept alive for a long period of time -- to recover the session cookie.

Blackberry

Canadian Fined For Not Providing Border Agents Smartphone Password (www.cbc.ca) 276

Reader da_foz writes: A Canadian was reentering Canada when he was arrested and charged with hindering or obstructing border officials. At the time traces of cocaine were found on his bags and he was carrying $5,000 in cash. He provided his smartphone to border agents as requested, however refused to provide the password. Canada Border Services Agency officials asked for Philippon's smartphone and its password. From a report: "He handed over his BlackBerry but refused to disclose the code to access the phone. Philippon was arrested and charged under the federal Customs Act, accused of hindering or obstructing border officials." It is unclear if he provided the password while agreeing to the fine.
Crime

Iran Is Arresting Models Who Pose Without Headscarves On Instagram (bbc.com) 375

An anonymous reader writes: The Tehran cybercrimes court said the country has arrested eight people working for online modeling agencies deemed to be "un-Islamic." The women models were arrested for starring in photos on Instagram and elsewhere without wearing their headscarves, which has been required in public since 1979. A total of 170 people have been identified by investigators for being involved in online modeling, including 59 photographers and make-up artists, 58 models and 51 fashion salon managers and designers. The court's prosecutor Javad Babaei announced the the threats on TV, claiming modeling agencies accounted for about 20 percent of posts on Instagram from Iran and that they had been "making and spreading immoral and un-Islamic culture and promiscuity." He added, "We carried out this plan in 2013 with Facebook, and now Instagram is the focus."
Businesses

Amazon Bows To Pressure To Bring Same-Day Deliveries To Poor Areas (fortune.com) 178

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Fortune: After pressure from lawmakers, Amazon is revamping its same-day delivery service in response to complaints that it failed to provide service to poor, minority neighborhoods. The retail giant said it would bring its same-day delivery service to all Zip Codes in the 27 cities where its offered, not just in the wealthier areas, according to a Bloomberg report on Friday.
Communications

North Korea Launches Missile and Tries To Jam GPS Signals (go.com) 127

An anonymous reader writes: Hours after North Korea fired a short-range missile into the sea in retaliation for ongoing U.S. join military drills with South Korea, they started jamming GPS navigation systems near its border with South Korea, affecting hundreds of fishing boats but not causing any immediate danger. There were no disruptions to drivers' satellite navigation system or air traffic, but warning messages were broadcast in affected areas warning ships not to rely on their GPS navigation. In a statement, the South Korean Ministry of National Defense said: "North Korea has been continuously disrupting GPS system since 7:30 pm [Thursday] and thereby interfering and hampering our military movements, which is threatening the safety of our people."
Firefox

Mozilla Bans Popular Firefox Add-On That Tampered With Security Settings (softpedia.com) 112

An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla has banned the popular (250,000+ installs) YouTube Unblock add-on that allowed users to view YouTube clips blocked in their country. The reason for this move is because the add-on was caught disabling a Firefox security setting (code signing) which the allowed it to silent-install another add-on, which Avast (antivirus software) was detecting as malware. Earlier in 2015, the same plugin was again caught cheating when it was using an self-contained update system that was bypassing Mozilla's add-on review process.
Government

Rubio and Kasich Are Living Out a Classic Game Theory Dilemma 428

HughPickens.com writes: Kevin Quealy writes in the NYT that the two remaining mainstream candidates for the GOP Presidential nomination — Marco Rubio and John Kasich — are living out an issue studied for decades in game theory. Game theorists might call the GOP predicament an anti-coordination game or a volunteer's dilemma but most of us might call it by a more familiar name: chicken. Although Rubio is the obvious establishment favorite, the two are splitting some votes. so to have his best chance against Trump and Cruz, Rubio needs Kasich to drop out. The longer both candidates remain in the race, the worse it is for both of them.

Kasich's first option is to stay in the race but he could go further, by committing to stay in no matter what. In a classic game of chicken between two drivers rushing headlong toward each other, this strategy is like removing your steering wheel, leaving you no choice but to drive straight toward your opponent. Kasich could hope for another robotic debate performance from Rubio or even an implosion from the Trump or Cruz campaigns. Kasich 's second strategy would be to cut a deal with Rubio — offer to drop out, for example, in exchange, for the second spot on a Rubio ticket or a cabinet post. Kasich's third strategy would be to threaten to support a different candidate, like Trump or Cruz. If the threat had the potential to damage Rubio enough, it could be a useful bargaining chip. "Being crazy is a strategy, but only if your opponent actually believes it," says Richard Thaler. Part of the problem is that this is a game that's played just once. "The chance to be your party's nominee for president comes along only every four or eight years, even for the very luckiest candidates," says Quealy. "If the candidates lived in a universe in which they could run for president hundreds of times, they might agree that, on average, their shared interests were better served by cooperating." But this is not an iterated dilemma. It's a one-time-only dilemma with a tremendous payoff for the winner. Ultimately, both Kasich and Rubio risk an outcome neither wants. But as Daniel Diermeier, the dean of the public policy school at the University of Chicago, notes, "A very important lesson of game theory is that sometimes the world is a grim place."

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