mr_mischief writes: Multiplesourcesreport that the US found remnants of WMD programs, namely chemical weapons, in Iraq after all. Many US soldiers were injured by them, in fact.
Why the cover-up, when so many people were making it a point to say there were no WMD? Was it to keep morale up? Was it out of embarrassment that many of these weapons were developed with Western help? Was it because these were older weapons not actively being produced? Maybe it's because the US troops did not follow international protocols to secure and properly dispose of the weapons.
Well, whatever the reason, it's a bad thing. If there are any of these caches under ISIL control it could be a very bad thing.
mr_mischief writes: The White House, through the "We the People" petition site, has received a petition to allow civilians to proactively free children, the elderly, and animals stuck in hot cars and then contact authorities, as these situations are time-sensitive. The petition asks for a federal law granting people the right to do this uniformly across the country.
So far it has fewer than 1,000 signatures, but do we really need it to have more? Is there a jurisdiction in the US where breaking a window to save a human life is actually considered a crime by police and the courts? If so, what madness is that? Do Congress and the President really need to state in a statute that saving a life is justifiable grounds for what it basically minor property damage?
Is this a case of overly cautious people, overly litigious civil society, or overzealous enforcement of laws? How does it interact with good samaritan laws? What makes doing the right thing so hard?
According to the Washington Post, "A bipartisan pair of Senate leaders have introduced a first-of-its-kind bill aimed at stopping terrorist suspects such as the would-be Times Square bomber from hiding their identities by using prepaid cellphones to plot their attacks." The proposal says the term of retention by the phone companies should last until eighteen months after deactivation.
At least The Post mentions some of the problems, which is better than many others covering the story. They cover the need for anonymous communications for battered spouses, whistleblowers, and others. They also note the concern that it could be a precursor to registered-only communications on the Internet.
Mobiledia quotes Chuck Schumer as, ""This proposal is overdue because for years terrorists, drug kingpins and gang members have stayed one step ahead of the law by using prepaid phones that are hard to trace," said Schumer. "There's no reason why it should still be this easy for terror plotters to cover their tracks."
Mobiledia goes on to compare freedoms about electronics in the US to, of all places, Thailand, Singapore, and Australia. "Several countries, including Australia, Germany, Japan, Norway, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland and Thailand, already require prepaid buyers to register their information."
According to Rueters, Republican John Conryn is quoted as, "A major lesson we've learned from the investigation and arrest of Faisal Shahzad is that we must require individuals purchasing a prepaid cell phone in this country to provide verified identifying information," Cornyn said (emphasis added by submitter to Slashdot).
Michael McAuliff of The New York Daily News editorializes, "We suspect most people will like this measure, but the phone companies, libertarians, and immigrant groups may not be pleased."
Is this really an important power of government, or is it just more grabbing of the privacy and security of normal Americans using a questionable rallying cry?
Rebecca Ward is the Senior Product Counsel for Google Chrome. When asked about the debacle and the public outcry, she said, "In order to keep things simple for our users, we try to use the same set of legal terms (our Universal Terms of Service) for many of our products. Sometimes, as in the case of Google Chrome, this means that the legal terms for a specific product may include terms that don't apply well to the use of that product. We are working quickly to remove language from Section 11 of the current Google Chrome terms of service. This change will apply retroactively to all users who have downloaded Google Chrome."
mr_mischief writes: It's a common theme on Slashdot to point out sloppy reporting, especially around tech or science articles. I thought I'd point out this US political snafu from a paper that should know better — The Washington Post has Senator Ted Kennedy labeled as a Democrat from Illinois. Too bad he's from Massachusetts. Perhaps this sloppy reporting problem has as much to do with hurrying the stories as having no clue about what's being reported.
mr_mischief writes: According to GameSpot, PC World, and PSX Extreme, the Office of Film and Literature Classification has refused to classify Bethesda's third installment to the venerable series.
Games apparently need to be classified with a rating to be legal for sale in Australia. The most adult-oriented classification for games is for material suitable for the age of 15 and over. That means the OFLC deems something in the game — rumored to be use of the drug morphine, although there are no details as to why on the OFLC site — is unsuitable for those under 15. There are higher classifications for other media.
mr_mischief writes: SciAm reports that farmers and USDA scientists have tracked the energy inputs into a native perennial grass over a five-year period. They've also tracked the output, and they say there's a 540% surplus of energy harvested over what's put in by the farmers. It even grows on land that's not good enough farmland for raising food and fiber crops. The catch is that it requires cellulose to ethanol conversion, which unlike sugar to ethanol conversion is not yet a commercial concern in the US.
The DOE intends to help change the picture by partially funding six refineries for cellulosic biorefineries to the tune of $1.2 billion.
mr_mischief writes: As it's hard to miss the stories lately, all of us on/. are likely to know people are underwhelmed with Windows Vista. Well, Don Reisinger over at CNet's News.com is not quite just underwhelmed. He suggests that Vista may be the downfall of Microsoft because the company has really just missed the mark with the operating system. Despite years in development, Reisinger says Vista was delivered to market too early. He also says it's overpriced and plain doesn't work well enough for its users, among other complaints. His suggestion? Support those who are running it, but ditch Vista and move on.
There's a dual-mode menu which offers a simple system for novice computer users, and a slightly more advanced version for others. It's not aimed squarely at the same market as the One Laptop Per Child project's XO, and is expected to be sold to end suers worldwide. It's targeted at new users who don't own a computer or at people who want a cheap, small laptop for basic tasks.
The reviewed version has a 7" screen and a cramped keyboard to match, but a 10" version is available for $100 more. It offers built-in wired and wireless networking,four USB 2.0 ports, and a three-hour battery life. The storage options are a bit cramped, as you only get 4 GB of onboard storage (8 GB on the $299 model) and no optical drive. As the review says, though, USB 2.0 can make up for that if you like, and the lack of moving drive parts makes the machine run dead quiet."
While doctors understandably don't want to promote promiscuous sex and 50% is still too strong a chance of transmitting such a serious disease, the recommendation is that circumcision be part of a plan to combat the disease.
Although every disease is different, I wonder if it's clear enough to people that if one disease is slowed by this practice that it probably has some effect in slowing some other diseases as well.
What's next, the MS directives of robotic behavior, including "Do not allow Microsoft to be harmed through your actions or inactions", and "Do not play music, movies, or games that are not from cartel-approved suppliers?"
Despite VML being passed over and another alternative being made a standard, Microsoft implemented it anyway. In the implementation there is a security problem that MS says can allow an attacker total control of a target system.
If it's nonstandard, duplicating functionality offered by a standard, and they can't be bothered to do it right the first time, perhaps they shouldn't preinstall it on millions of computers around the world. How could Microsoft actually get enough of an edge from undercutting a fairly widely implemented standard with a dangerous implementation that it is financially worthwhile for them? Wouldn't be better for them in the long run to just implement the standard, or is there some huge installed base of VML somewhere that I'm just missing?