pigrabbitbear writes: "It's rare to see things flying outside your airplane window. A far off craft, a flock of birds — whatever else is zooming through the clouds at high speeds is going to feel a little dangerous. So when an Alitalia pilot made his final approach to New York's JFK airport on Monday afternoon, he was certainly startled to see another little plane flying near by. Here's an excerpt of the resulting talk with the air traffic controller:
JFK controller: Uh, what did you see?
Alitalia pilot: We saw a drone, a drone aircraft
JFK controller: What altitude did you see that aircraft?
Alitalia pilot: About 1,500 feet.
Within an hour, the Federal Bureau of Investigation issued a request for the public's help in finding the drone's operator. To the bureau's credit, they chose not to repeat the Alitalia pilot's "drone" designation, choosing instead to go with the slightly less militaristic "unmanned aircraft." Nobody called it a "model airplane."
The FBI is still looking for the miniature UFO. "The FBI is investigating the incident and looking to identify and locate the aircraft and its operator," reads a press release. "The unnamed aircraft was described as black in color and no more than three feet wide with four propellers.""
pigrabbitbear writes: "The Senate Judiciary Committee opened its doors this week for an emotional hearing about gun violence, gun control and, specifically, a ban on 157 different types of assault rifles. What exactly an assault rifle is has been a source of debate, but the proposed ban defines them as having having "military-style" features like detachable magazines, pistol grips, and even the capacity to be used as grenade or rocket launchers.
Introduced by Sen. Diane Feinstein in the days after the Newtown massacre, the ban is especially controversial, because it includes America's favorite rifle: the AR-15. That's one of the guns that Adam Lanza used when he killed 20 first graders and six adults in Sandy Hook Elementary School.
According to Defense Distributed, the website is getting about 3,000 unique visitors a day. That's not exactly Facebook-sized traffic, but it is about as big as eBay India. And DEFCAD is sort of like eBay, in a way. It's one big store that lets people upload and download files for 3D printing guns. So far about a quarter of a million files have been downloaded. "Obviously, there’s an interest in what we’re doing," Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson told Venturebeat. "Enthusiasts want these files.""
pigrabbitbear writes: "Everywhere you look these days, there's someone taking a picture, whether it be some buffoon Instagramming the sidewalk or Google's airplanes. Plus, now we've got these newfangled drone things, which are shockingly good at capturing images from the air, and which are now well within the reach of citizens and governments alike. Neal Kurk, a Republican member of New Hampshire's House of Representatives knows that those drones present a growing privacy concern, and in response has introduced a bill that would ban all aerial photography in the state. That is, unless you're working for the government.
The bill, HB 619-FN (PDF), is blessedly short, and I suggest reading the whole thing for yourself. But here's the key opening paragraphs, courtesy PetaPixel:
IV-a. A person is guilty of a class A misdemeanor if such person knowingly creates or assists in creating an image of the exterior of any residential dwelling in this state where such image is created by or with the assistance of a satellite, drone, or any device that is not supported by the ground. This prohibition shall not apply where the image does not reveal forms identifiable as human beings or man-made objects.
Paragraphs I [and], II and IV-a shall not be construed to impair or limit any otherwise lawful activities of law enforcement personnel, nor are [they] intended to limit employees of governmental agencies or other entities, public or private, who, in the course and scope of their employment and supported by articulable suspicion, attempt to capture any type of visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression of a person during an investigation, surveillance, or monitoring of conduct to obtain evidence of suspected illegal activity."
pigrabbitbear writes: "It's the most modern lament in retail: Brick-and-mortar shopping has gone the way of the dodo as everyone buys their junk online. But for the once-booming online gambling market, salvation may require a reversal of that trend. For one online gaming giant, buying a casino in Atlantic City is the first step to bring Internet poker back to the US.
In 2006, playing online poker for real cash was deemed illegal. While that didn't stop more serious players from playing, especially once the big hosts started funneling cash offshore, the FBI and DoJ's crackdown on April 15, 2011 did. The big trio of online poker–PokerStars, Full Tilt, and Absolute Poker–were all shut down, domains seized, and executives arrested on charges related to fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling. While PokerStars and others continued operations in foreign, legal markets, the U.S. poker craze pretty much collapsed.
That doesn't mean the lucrative market has gone away. Now, the Rational Group, which owns both PokerStars and Full Tilt, may be hinting at a workaround: the company is looking to buy a struggling casino in Atlantic City. Rational faces a rather large mess of regulatory hurdles, but if it does end up acquiring the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel, it would have a huge foothold in New Jersey's young market for internet gambling."
pigrabbitbear writes: "Well, this is embarrassing. Seven members of the elite Navy SEAL Team Six are in hot water after revealing state secrets to a video game company. They were just trying to help, you see. Electronic Arts wanted to make the new Medal of Honor: Warfighter as realistic as possible, so they enlisted the help of men who had actually been in battle. EA hired seven Navy SEALs on active duty, including one who was involved in the mission that took out Osama bin Laden, and four others who transferred out of the unit as paid consultants on the project. In the process of helping the developers, the SEALs divulged classified information about how the military works. It seemed like a good idea at the time."
pigrabbitbear writes: "Beijing is pulling out all the stops in its quest to keep the 18th Party Congress “harmonious,” so that the country’s leaders can properly pursue the ongoing process of reform and opening up. So far this year, that has also meant blocking Bloomberg and the Times’ brand-new Chinese language site. And as of today, according to reports and tests from China, that also means blocking all Google.com sites. It may be temporary – the government has offered no statement, and it likely won’t – but it’s an unprecedented step in China’s ongoing quest to firm up that Great Firewall and keep its citizens inside Chinanet."
pigrabbitbear writes: "After the Fukushima meltdown, Germany vowed to abolish its nuclear reactors. Japan too, but yeah—Germany. After the criss, protests and popular sentiment supercharged the nation like enriched uranium; it was the only other place to see such a vociferous movement against nuke power. Before long, Angela Merkel’s government had outlined a plan to phase out nuclear energy and a number of reactors were singled out for immediate closure. Then came the criticism:
By abandoning nuclear power, said the critics, Germany would return to the globe-warming embrace of fossil fuel power. They’d have to burn more coal, or at least more gas, and the emissions generated would be worse than any risk of keeping the nuke plants humming. Germany persisted."
pigrabbitbear writes: "Just three weeks after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told an audience at the Sea, Air and Space Museum that the U.S. is on the brink of a “cyber Pearl Harbor,” the government has decided it needs to beef up the ranks of its digital defenses. It’s assembling a league of extraordinary computer geeks for what will be known as the “Cyber Reserve.”"
pigrabbitbear writes: "Things aren’t looking awesome for Pirate Bay founder Gottfrid Svartholm, who’s currently under lock and key in a newly built jail about 15 minutes north of Stockholm. Svartholm’s mother Kristina says that her 28-year-old boy is being held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day without any human contact other than his interactions with the guards. It’s been nearly two months since Svartholm was arrested in Cambodia, where he’d been living for years, and extradited back to Sweden, where he’s due to spend a year behind bars and pay a $1.1 million fine for copyright offenses related to his role at the Pirate Bay. But that’s not why Sweden’s being so tough on him in prison. Authorities believe he may have played a role in the hacking of Logica, a Swedish technology company with ties to the country’s tax authorities. They haven’t charged him with any crimes yet in that case, however."
Press TV, one of IRIB’s biggest networks, is predictably unhappy with the Eutelsat cutoff. In a post using rhetoric that’s oddly familiar in the U.S., Press TV blames “pop-culture press” for spreading the lie that the Eutelsat decision is a positive change that’s backed by legitimate E.U. sanctions, and saying that the decision violates the E.U.‘s supposed policy of free speech. Rather than note that a private company deciding to end a contract with a country that’s repeatedly attacked its services does not constitute an assault on free speech, Press TV’s missive descends into blaming everything on Israel."
pigrabbitbear writes: "Imagine you’ve made it into the second round of interviews at a prospective employer, and they ask for your Facebook password in order to have a look around. (Yes, this actually happens.) Unless you’ve been poised for a career in politics (or you are a total lame-o), you’re probably not too pumped on what they are about to see. And from a legal perspective, it sure sounds like an intrusive proposition.
In some states, such conduct would be illegal. California is the latest state to enact a law that prevents employers from requesting access to an employee’s or a prospective employee’s social media account. Already, Delaware, Maryland, and Illinois have enacted similar legislation, and in 2012 alone 14 states have considered laws that would restrict employers from requesting access to social networking usernames and passwords of applicants, students, or employees."
pigrabbitbear writes: "You heard that right: Smiling has been banned in New Jersey. Well, it’s only been banned for driver’s license photos, but I doubt there would be many offenders anyway. (Ha!!1) The reason is mildly Orwellian: the Garden State is rolling out new software to try to track down license fraud with the use of facial recognition software that matches new photos to a database of all old driver’s license photos to make sure the same person isn’t getting licensed twice under assumed names. I guess the software doesn’t work well if one smiles, but wait, how many people are actually trying to get multiple licenses with their own face on there?"
pigrabbitbear writes: "There’s no word yet on how many fights broke out over the new iPhone at shops around the world over the weekend between eager customers or Apple and Samsung fanboys, but violence has surfaced at one of the plants where the phone is made. What was originally reported as a “fight” now looks more like a “riot,” according to sources. And while it’s hard to ignore the plight of the workers who made the world’s gleaming new iPhones, the incident was, statistically speaking, just one of hundreds that happened yesterday alone."