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Submission + - Feds ask local police to scan license plates of cars parked at gun shows (

SonicSpike writes: Federal agents have persuaded police officers to scan license plates to gather information about gun-show customers, government emails show, raising questions about how officials monitor constitutionally protected activity.

Emails reviewed by The Wall Street Journal show agents with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency crafted a plan in 2010 to use license-plate readers—devices that record the plate numbers of all passing cars—at gun shows in Southern California, including one in Del Mar, not far from the Mexican border.

Agents then compared that information to cars that crossed the border, hoping to find gun smugglers, according to the documents and interviews with law-enforcement officials with knowledge of the operation.

The investigative tactic concerns privacy and guns-rights advocates, who call it an invasion of privacy. The law-enforcement officials say it is an important and legal tool for pursuing dangerous, hard-to-track illegal activity.

There is no indication the gun-show surveillance led to any arrests or investigative leads, but the officials didn’t rule out that such surveillance may have happened elsewhere. The agency has no written policy on its use of license-plate readers and could engage in similar surveillance in the future, they said.

Jay Stanley, a lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union, said the gun-show surveillance “highlights the problem with mass collection of data.” He said law enforcement can take two entirely legal activities, like buying guns and crossing the border, “and because those two activities in concert fit somebody’s idea of a crime, a person becomes inherently suspicious.”

John Chigos, CEO of PlateSmart Technologies, Inc., which sells license-plate-reader systems, said the devices help protect the public but he called it “an abuse of the technology’’ to target gun-show shoppers.

Submission + - The Ham Radio Parity Act passes the house! ( 1

bobbied writes: The House of representatives passed HR 1301 "The Ham Radio Parity Act" without objection on September 12, 2016. The measure calls on the FCC to amend its Part 97 rules “to prohibit the application to amateur stations of certain private land-use restrictions, and for other purposes.” This will allow for the reasonable accommodation of armature radio antennas in many places where they are currently prohibited by HOA's or private land use restrictions. This will be similar to the FCC's PRB-1 ruling in 1985 that did the same thing for Over The Air Television and Data service Antenna Structures. If this bill passes the senate, we will be one step closer to allowing armature radio operators, who provide emergency communications services, the right to erect reasonable antenna structures in places where they cannot do so now.

Submission + - SpaceX Can't Identify Cause of Fire (

Thelasko writes: Elon Musk stated on Twitter last night, "Still working on the Falcon fireball investigation. Turning out to be the most difficult and complex failure we have ever had in 14 years." He went on to say, "Important to note that this happened during a routine filling operation. Engines were not on and there was no apparent heat source."

Other Tweets mention a "bang" sound before the fire, and that SpaceX "have not rulled out" the possibility that something struck the rocket.


4-Billion-Pixel Panorama View From Curiosity Rover 101

SternisheFan points out that there is a great new panorama made from shots from the Curiosity Rover. "Sweep your gaze around Gale Crater on Mars, where NASA's Curiosity rover is currently exploring, with this 4-billion-pixel panorama stitched together from 295 images. ...The entire image stretches 90,000 by 45,000 pixels and uses pictures taken by the rover's two MastCams. The best way to enjoy it is to go into fullscreen mode and slowly soak up the scenery — from the distant high edges of the crater to the enormous and looming Mount Sharp, the rover's eventual destination."

Do Sleepy Surgeons Have a Right To Operate? 332

Hugh Pickens writes "BusinessWeek reports that a commentary from the New England Journal of Medicine calls on doctors to disclose when they're deprived of sleep and not perform surgery unless a patient gives written consent after being informed of their surgeon's status. 'We think that institutions have a responsibility to minimize the chances that patients are going to be cared for by sleep-deprived clinicians,' writes Dr. Michael Nurok, an anesthesiologist and intensive care physician. Research suggests that sleep deprivation impairs a person's psychomotor skills — those that require coordination and precision — as much as alcohol consumption and increases the risk of complications in patients whose surgeons failed to get much shuteye."

Microsoft Security Essentials 2.0 Released 175

Greg writes with this excerpt from Ars Techica: "Following a four-month beta program, Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) 2.0 has been released. The new version significantly revamps the heuristic scanning engine, adds Windows Firewall integration as well as network traffic inspection. The update unquestionably makes MSE, which has already become very popular due to its quiet but effective ways, even more of a must-have for Windows users. MSE has always been very good at finding and removing malware, but it has relied mainly on antimalware definitions. The improved heuristic engine makes it even better at detecting threats; at the same time, we expect the number of false positives to slightly increase as well. The new Windows Firewall integration is a minor improvement: it lets you tweak Microsoft's firewall from inside MSE."

Judge Declares Federal Healthcare Plan (Partly) Unconstitutional 1505

healeyb writes "In a surprise move, US District Judge Henry E. Hudson issued a ruling today that the universal healthcare law that was pushed through by the Obama administration is unconstitutional. Specifically, he invalidated the section of the law that requires all citizens to purchase healthcare insurance, arguing that it does not fall under the purview of Commerce Clause of the Constitution, as has been asserted by the government. The ruling represents the first major setback for President Barack Obama on an issue that will likely end up at the Supreme Court. Two other courts have shot down challenges to the law."

Actor Leslie Nielsen Dies at 84 167

An anonymous reader writes "Famous actor Leslie Nielsen died of pneumonia at a Florida hospital Sunday evening. Leslie was renowned for his comedic roles in dozens of films and TV shows, such as The Naked Gun and Police Squad. His characteristic style and humor was always enjoyable, and he will be sorely missed." Of course you might also remember him from The Forbidden Planet, which is classic sci-fi by any measure.

State Senator Admits Cable Industry Helped Write Pro-Industry Legislation 426

jamie sends in news of comments by David Hoyle, a State Senator in North Carolina, about recently defeated legislation he sponsored that would have limited the ability of government to develop municipal broadband. Hoyle readily admitted that the cable industry had a hand in writing the bill. We discussed the cable industry's extensive lobbying efforts in that region last year. From the article: "The veteran state senator says cities should leave broadband to the cable companies. 'It's not fair for any government unit to compete with private enterprise,' he says. In the last legislative session Sen. Hoyle tried to put a moratorium on any more local governments expanding into municipal broadband. When the I-Team asked him if the cable industry drew up the bill, Senator Hoyle responded, 'Yes, along with my help.' When asked about criticism that he was 'carrying water' for the cable companies, Hoyle replied, 'I've carried more water than Gunga Din for the business community — the people who pay the taxes.'"

Spectral Imaging Reveals Jefferson Nixed 'Subjects' for 'Citizens' 360

Jamie points out this excellent piece, well timed for America's Independence Day, that says spectrographic evidence has established that the one word Thomas Jefferson fully blotted out from an early draft of the Declaration of Independence was not "resident," or "patriot," but rather "subject." This, he replaced with "citizen."

The Pirate Bay's Founding Organization Shuts Down 107

kcurtis sent the news that Piratbryån, the lobbying organization out of which The Pirate Bay sprang, has disbanded. (The torrent tracker is alive and well.) "Piratbyrån had many purposes, but could be described as a pro-piracy lobbying organization. It was founded in response to Antipiratbyrån, the local anti-piracy outfit in Sweden. The goal was to start a debate on copyright issues and how they affect society. Until then, most press in Sweden would simply take everything Antipiratbyrån said for granted. Internationally, Piratbyrån is mostly known for launching The Pirate Bay in the fall of 2003, just a few months after the group itself was founded. ... The final decision to disband the group came after Ibi Kopimi Botani, a prominent member and co-founder of the group, passed away. Without one of its greatest minds, the group would never be the same again, Piratbyrån's members felt."

Red-Light Camera Ticket Revenue and Short Yellows 976

NicknamesAreStupid writes "A Fort Meyers news station reports a nerdy husband getting his wife out of a red-light camera ticket by proving the light was set with too short of a yellow. Then he goes out and proves that nearly 90% of the lights are set an average of about 20% too short. Is this a local incident, or have local governments nationwide found a new revenue source? What puzzles me is how a single picture can tell if you ran a light. If you are in the intersection before the light turns red, you have not run it, even if it takes a little while to clear it (say to yield to an unexpected obstacle). Wouldn't you need two pictures — one just before the light went red showing you are not in the intersection, and another after the light went red showing you in the intersection?"

Court Rules Against Vaccine-Autism Claims Again 416

barnyjr writes "According to a story from Reuters, 'Vaccines that contain a mercury-based preservative called thimerosal cannot cause autism on their own, a special US court ruled on Friday, dealing one more blow to parents seeking to blame vaccines for their children's illness. The special US Court of Federal Claims ruled that vaccines could not have caused the autism of an Oregon boy, William Mead, ending his family's quest for reimbursement. ... While the state court determined the autism was vaccine-related, [Special Master George] Hastings said overwhelming medical evidence showed otherwise. The theory presented by the Meads and experts who testified on their behalf "was biologically implausible and scientifically unsupported," Hasting wrote.'"

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