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Submission + - AMD Reveals Radeon R9 Fury X Specifications And Preliminary Performance Numbers (hothardware.com)

MojoKid writes: AMD announced new Radeon R9 and R7 300 series of graphics cards earlier this week, and while they are interesting, they're not nearly as impressive as AMD's upcoming flagship of AMD GPU, code named Fiji. Fiji will find its way into three products this summer: the Radeon R9 Nano, Radeon R9 Fury, and the range-topping (and water-cooled) Radeon R9 Fury X. Other upcoming variants like AMD's dual-Fiji board were teased at E3 but are still under wraps. While full reviews are still under embargo, the official specification of the Radeon R9 Fury X have been revealed, along with an array of benchmark scores comparing the GPU to NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 980 Ti. Should the numbers AMD has released jibe with independent reviews, the Fury X looks very strong.

Submission + - US hacking: Military and intelligence data 'accessed' (bbc.com) 1

middleclassjobs writes: Details of a major hack emerged last week, but officials have now given details of a potential second breach. Hackers with suspected links to China appear to have accessed sensitive data on US intelligence and military personnel, American officials say. Officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to the Associated Press (AP) news agency, believe the attackers have targeted the forms submitted by intelligence and military personnel for security clearances.
The document includes personal information — everything from eye color, to financial history, to past substance abuse, as well as contact details for the individual's friends and relatives.

Submission + - DEA steals life savings of innocent man

schwit1 writes: In another example of civil forfeiture, DEA agents confiscated the life savings of a man heading to California based on no evidence.

There was no evidence of a crime, the man was never charged, but three weeks later he still has not gotten his money back.

Sean Waite, the agent in charge for the DEA in Albuquerque, said he could not comment on the Rivers case because it is ongoing. He disputed allegations that Rivers was targeted because of his race. Waite said that in general DEA agents look for "indicators" such as whether the person bought an expensive one-way ticket with cash, if the person is traveling from or to a city known as a hot spot for drug activity, if the person's story has inconsistencies or if the large sums of money found could have been transported by more conventional means.

"We don't have to prove that the person is guilty," Waite said. "It's that the money is presumed to be guilty."

Read the whole article. This is entirely unconstitutional. The fifth amendment to the Bill of Rights expressly forbids the taking of private property "without just compensation."

Submission + - China Builds Artificial Islands in South China Sea 1

HughPickens.com writes: Matthew Fisher reports that to support part of its claim to about 85 per cent of the South China Sea, Beijing is building artificial islands on tiny outcroppings, atolls and reefs in hotly disputed waters in the Spratly Archipelago. Tons of sand, rocks, coral cuttings, and concrete are transforming miniscule Chinese-occupied outcroppings into sizeable islands with harbors, large multi-story buildings, airstrips, and other government facilities. Adm. Harry Harris Jr., commander of the U.S. Navy’s Pacific fleet, dubbed Beijing’s island-building project in the South China Sea “a great wall of sand" and says China has created “over four square kilometers of artificial land mass,” adding there were serious questions about Beijing’s intentions. The scale of China's construction in the Spratly Islands is clear in new satellite images. "What's really stunning in these images, every time you see a new set of images come out, is just the speed and scale at which this work is occurring," says Mira Rapp-Hooper. A spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry insists the islands are being built to give ships a haven in the typhoon heavy region. “We are building shelters, aids for navigation, search and rescue as well as marine meteorological forecasting services, fishery services and other administrative services” for both China and its neighbors, the spokeswoman said, according to Reuters, though no one was buying that explanation.

Submission + - Holder's end to federal property seizure greatly exaggerated

schwit1 writes: A few days ago there was a /. story titled Eric Holder Severely Limits Civil Forfeiture. A close look at Eric Holder’s announcement on Friday that he was ending the use of federal law to seize private property turns out to be greatly exaggerated.

Holder’s order applies only to “adoption,” which happens when a state or local agency seizes property on its own and then asks the Justice Department to pursue forfeiture under federal law. “Over the last six years,” the DOJ says in the press release announcing Holder’s new policy, “adoptions accounted for roughly three percent of the value of forfeitures in the Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture Program.” By comparison, the program’s reports to Congress indicate that “equitable sharing” payments to state and local agencies accounted for about 22 percent of total deposits during those six years. That means adoptions, which the DOJ says represented about 3 percent of deposits, accounted for less than 14 percent of equitable sharing. In other words, something like 86 percent of the loot that state and local law enforcement agencies receive through federal forfeitures will be unaffected by Holder’s new policy.

The story also notes how the press, especially the Washington Post which led with this story, teamed up with Holder to overstate the impact Holder’s order would have.

Submission + - Interior of burnt Herculaneum scroll read for first time 1

Solandri writes: When Mt. Vesuvius erupted in A.D. 79, it destroyed a library of classical works in Herculaneum. The papyrus scrolls weren't incinerated, but were instead carbonized by the hot gases. The resulting black carbon cylinders have mostly withstood attempts to read their contents since their discovery. Earlier attempts to unfurl the scrolls yielded some readable material, but were judged too destructive. Researchers decided to wait for newer technology to be invented that could read the scrolls without unrolling them.

Now, a team led by Dr Vito Mocella from the National Research Council's Institute for Microelectronics and Microsystems (CNR-IMM) in Naples, Italy has managed to read individual letters inside one of the scrolls. Using a form of x-ray phase contrast tomography, they were able to ascertain the height difference (about 0.1mm) between the ink of the letters and the papyrus fibers which they sat upon. Due to the fibrous nature of the papyrus and the carbon-based ink, regular spectral and chemical analysis had thus far been unable to distinguish the ink from the paper. Further complicating the work, the scrolls are not in neat cylinders, but squashed and ruffled as the hot gases vaporized water in the papyrus and distorted the paper.

Full paper in Nature Communications (paywalled).

Submission + - Intel Is Hitting The Wall On Moore's Law (itworld.com)

jfruh writes: Fifty years ago, Gordon Moore observed that the number of transistors engineers were managing to squeeze onto a chip was doubling every two years. Four years later, Moore co-founded Intel, a company that elevated this observation into a law and put it at the heart of its business. But now, with chip engineering reaching the point where components are measured in terms of individual molecules, Moore's Law may have reached it's limits — with dire results for Intel.

Submission + - Reactions to Disgusting Images Predict a Persons Political Ideology (elsevierhealth.com)

LuxuryYacht writes: A new study shows that the way your brain responds to photos of of maggots, mutilated carcasses, and gunk in the kitchen sink gives a pretty good indication of whether you're liberal or conservative.

"Remarkably, we found that the brain's response to a single disgusting image was enough to predict an individual's political ideology," Read Montague, a Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute psychology professor who led the study, said in a written statement.

83 men and women viewed a series of images while having their brains scanned in a functional MRI (fMRI) machine. The images included the disgusting photos described above, along with photos of babies and pleasant landscapes.

Afterward, the participants were asked to rate how grossed out they were by each photo. They also completed a survey about their political beliefs, which included questions about their attitudes toward school prayer, gun control, immigration, and gay marriage.

There was no significant difference in how liberals and conservatives rated the photos. But the researchers noted differences between the two groups in the activity of brain regions associated with disgust recognition, emotion regulation, attention and even memory. The differences were so pronounced that the researchers could analyze a scan and predict the person's political leaning with 95 percent accuracy.

Submission + - Practice Does Not Make Perfect (slate.com)

Scroatzilla writes: What makes someone rise to the top in music, games, sports, business, or science? This question is the subject of one of psychology’s oldest debates. Malcolm Gladwell's "10,000 hours" rule probably isn't the answer. Recent research has demonstrated that deliberate practice, while undeniably important, is only one piece of the expertise puzzle—and not necessarily the biggest piece.

Submission + - Solar plant sets birds on fire as they fly overhead (www.cbc.ca)

Elledan writes: Federal investigators in California have requested that BrightSource — owner of thermal solar plants — halt the construction of more, even bigger plants until the impact of these plants on wildlife has been further investigated. The BrightSource solar plant in the Mojave Desert which was investigated reportedly kills between 1,000 and 28,000 birds a year with the concentrated solar energy from its 300,000 mirrors, charring and incinerating feathers of passing birds. This isn't the first report of negative environmental impact by this type of solar plant either.

Submission + - Solar plant scorches birds in mid air (foxnews.com) 4

Obscene_CNN writes: The new solar energy plant that is owned by Google and two energy companies is killing birds in mid air. The plant which works by concentrating the suns rays is killing and igniting the birds as they fall out of the sky. BrightSource Energy, NRG Solar, and Google say they are studying methods of reducing the bird deaths.

Submission + - Supreme Court Upholds Michigan's Ban On Affirmative Action in College Admissions

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: CNN reports that the Supreme Court by a vote of 6 — 2 has upheld a Michigan law banning the use of racial criteria in college admissions, finding that a lower court did not have the authority to set aside the measure approved in a 2006 referendum supported by 58% of voters. "This case is not about how the debate about racial preferences should be resolved. It is about who may resolve it," wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy. "Michigan voters used the initiative system to bypass public officials who were deemed not responsive to the concerns of a majority of the voters with respect to a policy of granting race-based preferences that raises difficult and delicate issues." Kennedy’s core opinion in the Michigan case seems to exalt referenda as a kind of direct democracy that the courts should be particularly reluctant to disturb. This might be a problem for same-sex marriage opponents if a future Supreme Court challenge involves a state law or constitutional amendment enacted by voters. Justice Sonia Sotomayor reacted sharply in disagreeing with the decision in a 58 page dissent. "For members of historically marginalized groups, which rely on the federal courts to protect their constitutional rights, the decision can hardly bolster hope for a vision of democracy (PDF) that preserves for all the right to participate meaningfully and equally in self-government."

The decision was the latest step in a legal and political battle over whether state colleges can use race and gender as a factor in choosing what students to admit. Michigan has said minority enrollment at its flagship university, the University of Michigan, has not gone down since the measure was passed. Civil rights groups dispute those figures and say other states have seen fewer African-American and Hispanic students attending highly competitive schools, especially in graduate level fields like law, medicine, and science. “Today’s decision turns back our nation’s commitment to racial equality and equal treatment under the law by sanctioning separate and unequal political processes that put undue burdens on students,” National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel said in a statement. “The Supreme Court has made it harder to advocate and, ultimately, achieve equal educational opportunity."

Submission + - The American Middle Class Is No Longer the World's Richest (nytimes.com)

gollum123 writes: The American middle class, long the most affluent in the world, has lost that distinction. While the wealthiest Americans are outpacing many of their global peers, a New York Times analysis shows that across the lower- and middle-income tiers, citizens of other advanced countries have received considerably larger raises over the last three decades. After-tax middle-class incomes in Canada — substantially behind in 2000 — now appear to be higher than in the United States. The poor in much of Europe earn more than poor Americans. The struggles of the poor in the United States are even starker than those of the middle class. A family at the 20th percentile of the income distribution in this country makes significantly less money than a similar family in Canada, Sweden, Norway, Finland or the Netherlands. Thirty-five years ago, the reverse was true.

Submission + - Anti-tech protests in San Francisco turn out to be underhanded ploy by union

execthis writes: In the news over past weeks and months have been stories about protests in San Francisco in which buses for Google have been blocked by protesters. Today it is revealed that a union is behind these protests, which amount to a dirty tactic on their part to attempt to humiliate the City and County of San Francisco government into giving raises to their employees. In other words, they have been faux protests staged by the Service Employees International Union as an underhanded attempt to gain leverage and force the city to give them wage increases. Its interesting to note that there recently were other seemingly faux protests in front of Staples stores, this time by the postal workers (I say seemingly because they did not appear to openly reveal that they were in fact postal workers).

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