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Submission + - Tensions reignite over West Texas nuclear waste storage (

mdsolar writes: The years long fight over whether to build a nuclear waste storage facility in West Texas has touched off again over the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s decision to move ahead on the review process.

Earlier this month the federal government’s top-nuclear division wrote a letter to Waste Control Specialists, the Dallas-based company developing the waste facility, informing them that the agency would be beginning its environmental review of the project even though the company’s initial application remained incomplete.

“By starting the EIS process now, the NRC will be able to engage interested members of the public earlier and accord the public additional time to review the WCS license application,” the letter reads.

That prompted four environmental groups to write the NRC Wednesday, arguing it should dismiss the application because Congress never intended for a privately-owned facility to take possession of nuclear waste when it passed the Nuclear Waste Policy Act in 1982.

The facility proposed by Waste Control Specialists would be located in Andrews County, northwest of Midland on the Texas-New Mexico border. It would initially store 5,000 metric tons of spent fuel though has raised the prospect of increasing that volume to 40,000 metric tons – more than half the total waste from nuclear plants in this country.

Submission + - Congress moves to limit civil forfeiture (

schwit1 writes: A bill now moving through both houses of Congress will place some limits on the ability of state and federal governments to confiscate private property.

The bills most important provision will be to shift the burden of proof to the government, not the citizen. However,

Unfortunately, while the DUE PROCESS Act contains many of the procedural reforms that The Heritage Foundation and a broad coalition of organizations have called for in our recent Meese Center report, “Arresting Your Property,” it does not tackle two of the most perverse aspects of forfeiture law: the financial incentives that underlie modern civil forfeiture practices and the profit-sharing programs known as “equitable sharing.”

Under federal law, 100 percent of the proceeds of successful forfeitures are retained by the federal law enforcement organization that executed the seizure. This money is available to be spent by these agencies without congressional oversight, meaning they can—and do—self-finance. This profiteering incentive is extended to state and local agencies through programs administered by the Justice and Treasury departments known as “equitable sharing,” which allow property seized at the state and local level to be transferred to federal authorities for forfeiture under federal law. The feds then return up to 80 percent of the resulting revenues to the originating agency.

Thus, federal law provides every law enforcement agency in the country with a direct financial incentive to seize cash and property—sometimes at the expense of investigating, arresting, and prosecuting actual criminals—and simultaneously encourages state and local agencies to circumvent state laws that are more protective of property rights or restrictive as to how forfeiture proceeds may be spent than the federal standard.

The simple fact is that civil forfeiture is already blatantly illegal, as per the plain words in the fifth amendment to the Constitution:

No person . . .[shall] be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

It is a horrible tragedy that so few people today respect these plain words.

Submission + - Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee

rmdingler writes: Ted Cruz drops out of the race after losing in Indiana. Donald Trump has become the presumptive nominee before Hillary has locked things up versus Bernie.

This is huge.

Submission + - Mitsubishi Admits Cheating Fuel Economy Test Data

An anonymous reader writes: Japanese car-maker Mitsubishi has admitted to falsifying emissions test data for some of its own brand and Nissan models, as the latest auto victim following last year’s Volkswagen scandal. Japan’s sixth-biggest car company was forced to speak up today and confirmed that there was evidence that its employees had altered emissions data for a number of models. This, it suggests, could total to 157,000 of its own brand light passenger vehicles and 468,000 cars produced for Nissan. Among other details given at today’s press conference in Tokyo, it was revealed that the majority of these affected vehicles had been sold in the domestic Japanese market.

Mitsubishi president Tetsuro Aikawa said that the company had been alerted to the potential issue after Nissan had reported inconsistent fuel economy data. He added that an internal investigation had uncovered evidence of cheating, and the misconduct had been immediately reported to the Japanese transportation ministry.

Submission + - Blue Origin Relaunches and Lands Rocket for a Third Time (

TechnoidNash writes: Blue Origin, the space-tourism company owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, performed another successful test of their reusable rocket New Shepard this weekend on April 2. This is the third time that the New Shepard has been launched and safely landed, a huge accomplishment towards making space travel affordable and cost-effective. Read more:

Submission + - Are Vehicle Safety Inspections a Waste of Time and Money? writes: Mark Gibson writes in the Washington Post that Virginia has a personal vehicle safety program overseen by the state police that cannot be shown to enhance public safety. The people who perform inspections are often the same people who fix any identified deficiencies. By contrast, neighboring Maryland requires only that a safety inspection take place upon transfer of ownership. The District does not require safety inspections at all. Pennsylvanians spend more than $600 million a year on mandated annual vehicle safety checks — one of 12 states requiring such. Mechanics look for indicators of problems with brakes, tires, suspensions and more. Since new cars are engineered to be safer, some people are again questioning the need for annual inspections. PennDOT commissioned a consultant, Cambridge Systematics, in 2009 to study the effectiveness of the state's inspection program. The study found that putting an estimated 11 million vehicles through garages costs motorists $267 million to $621 million. Without inspections, Pennsylvania would log between 127 and 187 more traffic fatalities each year, the consultants said.

According to a 2015 study the Government Accountability Office “examined the effect of inspection programs on crash rates related to vehicle component failure, but showed no clear influence.” The safety inspection typically involves a driver bringing a car to an authorized shop for testing on the brakes, steering, suspension and headlights, among other factors. Drivers get a sticker on the windshield to show their car has passed. “Nobody can prove with any degree of certainty that spending the money, suffering the inconvenience of getting your vehicle inspected, actually produces desired results," says Mike Wright. According to Gibson a government program that requires the purchase of a good or service in return for a nonexistent public benefit is illiberal and anti-consumer. "Two-thirds of states see no need to impose the burden of annual personal vehicle safety inspections on their citizens; Virginia should end its inspection requirement."

Submission + - Why We Should Fear A Cashless World (

An anonymous reader writes: Dominic Frisby writes a very interesting, albeit heavily opinionated, article discussing why we should all fear a cashless world. He argues it will hand yet more power to the financial sector in that banks and related fintech companies will oversee all transactions. Every payment you will make will be traceable. While inequality is already a problem, it may too be exacerbated even further in a cashless society. Frisby writes, "Cash, on the other hand, empowers its users. It enables them to buy and sell, and store their wealth, without being dependent on anyone else. They can stay outside the financial system, if so desired."

Submission + - Fast-Food CEO Says He's Investing In Machines (

An anonymous reader writes: The CEO of Carl's Jr., Andy Puzder, has been inspired by the 100-percent automated restaurant, Eatsa, as he looks for ways to deal with rising minimum wages. "With government driving up the cost of labor, it's driving down the number of jobs," he says. "You're going to see automation not just in airports and grocery stories, but in restaurants." Puzder doesn't believe in progressive ideas like raising the minimum wage. "Does it really help if Sally makes $3 more an hour if Suzie has no job? If you're making labor more expensive, and automation less expensive — this is not rocket science," says Puzder. What comes as a challenge is automating employee tasks such as cooking. This is where he draws the line and doesn't think that it's likely any machine could perform such work. But for more rote tasks like grilling a burger or taking an order, technology may be even more precise than human employees. "They're always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there's never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case," says Puzder in regards to replacing employees with machines.

Submission + - Fukushima 5 years on (

AmiMoJo writes: Today is 5 years since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant was damaged by an earthquake and tsunami, leading to a series of meltdowns. Nearly half a million people were evacuated at the time, with 100,000 still unable to return to their homes. The government has set a goal of 20mSv/year before people are allowed to live in affected areas again, and while progress is being made hotspots are still a problem in many areas. Reconstruction has been largely waiting for decontamination to be completed, allowing homes and businesses to fall into ruin. Those who do wish to return find their communities gutted, with essential services and jobs gone. Meanwhile, engineers are still unable to determine exactly what happened at Daiichi, particularly what saved reactor 2's pressure vessel from exploding.

Submission + - Beyond silicon—the search for new semiconductors (

mdsolar writes: Our modern world is based on semiconductors. In addition to your computer, cellphones and digital cameras, semiconductors are a critical component of a growing number of devices. Think of the high-efficiency LED lights you are putting in your house, along with everything with a lit display or control circuit: cars, refrigerators, ovens, coffee makers and more. You would be hard-pressed to find a modern device that uses electricity that does not have semiconductor circuits in it.

While most people have heard of silicon and Silicon Valley, they do not realize that this is just one example of a whole class of materials.

But the workhorse silicon – used in all manner of computers and electronic gadgets – has its technical limits, particularly as engineers look to use electronic devices for producing or processing light. The search for new semiconductors is on. Where will these materials innovations come from?

Submission + - China is headed to the moon to mine helium 3 (

MarkWhittington writes: Why is China so interested in exploring the moon? The Chinese have already placed two probes in lunar orbit and have landed a rover on the lunar surface. Later this decade, China intends to conduct a sample return mission to the moon. In the next decade, China is likely to send human astronauts to the lunar surface for the first time since the Apollo 17 mission in December 1972. The answer, according to the UK Telegraph, is that the moon contains valuable resources, including one in particular that may revolutionize energy production on Earth.

Submission + - Sea Pirates and Cyber Attacks: Infosec Breaches in the Maritime Industry

An anonymous reader writes: The Maritime Trade Information Sharing Center, Gulf of Guinea (MTISC-GoG) has denied that it has suffered a data breach that could result in sea pirates knowing details about ships in the region, including their position.

“MTISC – GoG is aware of the currently unsubstantiated allegations contained within the ISPS Statement issued by Danish Coastguard regarding information security at the Centre in Accra, Ghana. Despite urgent requests for further information, nothing has been provided by the Danish authorities,” they said. The Danish Coastguard issued the statement on February 23.

Interestingly enough, a Data Breach Digest released by Verizon this week at RSA Conference includes information about a cyber attack that compromised a shipping company’s systems. The attackers, believed to be associated with maritime pirates, were after information about the company’s vessels and the cargo they were carrying.

Submission + - Insecticide: should an entire species be exterminated? (

schwit1 writes: Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that is spreading panic around the world. It was first linked to hydrocephaly — a developmental defect in infants that results in abnormally small heads, severe learning difficulties, and often early death — only last year in Brazil. WHO estimates that it may infect 3 million to 4 million people in the Americas alone this year — and its "new approach" is to exterminate the mosquitoes. Literally.

We have the capability using gene modification that stops offspring from surviving into adulthood. They die as larvae, before they can breed.

The great American biologist and champion of biodiversity E.O. Wilson gets the last word on this. In his book "The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth," he makes an exception for Anopheles gambiae, the mosquito that spreads malaria in Africa. "Keep their DNA for research," he writes, "and let them go."

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