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Submission + - SPAM: Google's Eric Schmidt Working Directly With the Clinton Campaign

An anonymous reader writes: Eric Schmidt, the chief executive of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, is working directly with Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, according to a memo contained within an email released by WikiLeaks.

“Discreet conversations” of forming “working relationships” with companies such as Facebook and Apple were also facilitated as early as October 2014, the memo stated. This is at least six months prior to when Clinton announced her candidacy for president.

The document was attached to an Oct. 26, 2014 email sent from Robby Mook, now Clinton’s campaign manager, to Cheryl Mills, a longtime Clinton aide; David Plouffe, Barack Obama’s previous campaign manager; and John Podesta, Clinton’s current campaign chairman whose email account was compromised.

The email was posted to Wikileaks after hackers believed to be working with the Russian government breached Podesta’s email account.

Link to Original Source

Submission + - Just 2 weeks in the mountains can change your blood for months (

schwit1 writes: The human body begins adapting to high-elevation environments as quickly as overnight, and these biological changes can last for months — even after the person has returned to lower elevations.

For the first time ever, scientists comparing the blood of mountain hikers have observed how multiple changes affect the red blood cells' ability to retain oxygen in low-oxygen environments — and it happens within hours.

The find contradicts an assumption that’s lasted for half a century suggesting that humans in high-altitude environments start producing new red blood cells that are more capable of supplying oxygen to their muscles and organs than the average human’s blood.

Submission + - Despite Obama's pledge to make govern. more open, report says secret laws abound ( 1

schwit1 writes: The Justice Department has kept classified at least 74 opinions, memos and letters on national security issues, including interrogation, detention and surveillance, according to a report released Tuesday by the Brennan Center for Justice.

Also still classified are between 25 and 30 significant opinions issued between 2003 and 2013 by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), the secretive federal court that interprets the law governing foreign intelligence-gathering inside the United States.

And at the State Department, 807 international agreements signed between 2004 and 2014 have not been published.

Submission + - Newly Released FBI Notes Confirm "Quid Pro Quo" Arrangement Between State & (

An anonymous reader writes: Per an interview with someone from the Record Management Division (name redacted), Patrick Kennedy, a senior executive in the State Department, did, in fact, contact someone within the FBI to seek "assistance in altering the email's classification in exchange for a 'quid pro quo.'" The interviewee continued that "[Redacted] advised that, in exchange for marking the email unclassified, STATE would reciprocate by allowing the FBI to place more Agents in countries where they are presently forbidden."

Given that these interview notes clearly show an improper "quid pro quo" arrangement between the State Department and FBI one has to wonder just how much corruption has to be exposed before James Comey is forced to "retire early."

Submission + - SPAM: NFL ratings plunge could spell doom for traditional TV

schwit1 writes: Football, America’s biggest prime-time powerhouse, has been thrust into a crisis this fall, with dwindling ratings sparking questions over whether it can remain a gold mine for television in an age when more Americans are abandoning traditional TV.

Network executives have long used the National Football League’s live games as a last line of defense against the rapid growth of “cord-cutting” and on-demand viewing upending the industry.

But now, the NFL is seeing its ratings tumble in the same way that the Olympics, awards shows and other live events have, falling more than 10 percent for the first five weeks of the season compared with the first five weeks of last season. A continued slide, executives say, could pose an even bigger danger: If football can’t survive the new age of TV, what can?

The explosion of modern entertainment options, offered on more devices and at any time, has splintered American audiences and sped TV’s decline, Hughes said. “Sports seemed to be immune from it — it was live, the last bastion of broadcast television. But [the world] has caught up to it now.”

They pointed to “a confluence of events,” including the election, to explain the ratings slide. Other weaknesses have plagued America’s most popular TV sport. Some of the league’s top players have retired or have been suspended, including Peyton Manning, Marshawn Lynch and Tom Brady, creating a star-power vacuum that may have driven casual fans away.

Add to that the cowardly way the NFL handled the Colin Kaepernick situation, which alienated so many, now former, fans.

Link to Original Source

Submission + - SPAM: CIA Prepping for Possible Cyber Strike Against Russia

schwit1 writes: The Obama administration is contemplating an unprecedented cyber covert action against Russia in retaliation for alleged Russian interference in the American presidential election, U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News.

Current and former officials with direct knowledge of the situation say the CIA has been asked to deliver options to the White House for a wide-ranging "clandestine" cyber operation designed to harass and "embarrass" the Kremlin leadership.

The sources did not elaborate on the exact measures the CIA was considering, but said the agency had already begun opening cyber doors, selecting targets and making other preparations for an operation. Former intelligence officers told NBC News that the agency had gathered reams of documents that could expose unsavory tactics by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Vice President Joe Biden told "Meet the Press" moderator Chuck Todd on Friday that "we're sending a message" to Putin and that "it will be at the time of our choosing, and under the circumstances that will have the greatest impact."

When asked if the American public will know a message was sent, the vice president replied, "Hope not."

Link to Original Source

Submission + - SPAM: No more manned Soyuz purchased by NASA after 2019

schwit1 writes: Both Boeing and SpaceX better get their manned capsules working by 2019, because NASA at this point has no plans to buy more seats on Russian Soyuz capsules after the present contract runs out.

Even as the commercial crew schedules move later into 2018, NASA officials say they are not considering extending the contract with Roscosmos — the Russian space agency — for more launches in 2019. The last Soyuz launch seats reserved for U.S. astronauts are at the end of 2018.

It takes more than two years to procure components and assemble new Soyuz capsules, so Russia needed to receive new Soyuz orders from NASA by some time this fall to ensure the spacecraft would be ready for liftoff in early 2019.

The second paragraph above notes that even if NASA decided it needed more Soyuz launches, it is probably too late to buy them and have them available by 2019.

Submission + - SPAM: No More Humans: Foxconn Deploys 40,000 Robots In China

schwit1 writes: Foxconn has deployed 40,000 robots in its factories in mainland China as it aims to reduce the number of workers at its plants creating digital devices. Those robots were deployed to Foxconn's manufacturing base in Zhengzhou, a panel factory in Chengdu, and computer and peripherals factories in Kunshan and Jiashan.

Dai said currently Foxconn can produce 10,000 robots annually. In the future, those robots are all potential replacements for human labor. For the Kunshan factory alone, Foxconn has cut 60,000 employees.

Prior to this, labor costs in mainland China were lower than robots; therefore, Foxconn maintained nearly one million workers. However, with the increase of labor costs and the younger generation's lack of interest in production line work, many companies have launched huge investments in automation.

Link to Original Source

Submission + - SPAM: Breakthrough increases plant yields by one third

schwit1 writes: Plant scientists have found a way to encourage plants to better use atmospheric nitrogen, thus increasing yields by more than one third.

For years, scientists have tried to increase the rate of nitrogen fixation in legumes by altering rhizobia bacterioid function or interactions that take place between the bacterioid and the root nodule cells.

Tegeder took a different approach: She increased the number of proteins that help move nitrogen from the rhizobia bacteria to the plant’s leaves, seed-producing organs and other areas where it is needed. The additional transport proteins sped up the overall export of nitrogen from the root nodules. This initiated a feedback loop that caused the rhizobia to start fixing more atmospheric nitrogen, which the plant then used to produce more seeds. “They are bigger, grow faster and generally look better than natural soybean plants,” Tegeder said. “Some evidence we have suggests they might also be highly efficient under stressful conditions like drought.”

The technique not only produces healthier plants and more seeds, it reduces the need for fertilizer, the overuse of which can be an environmental issue.

Submission + - SPAM: Numerous suspicious court cases aim at getting web pages taken down or deindexed

schwit1 writes: There are about 25 court cases throughout the country that have a suspicious profile:
  • All involve allegedly self-represented plaintiffs, yet they have similar snippets of legalese that suggest a common organization behind them. (A few others, having a slightly different profile, involve actual lawyers.)
  • All the ostensible defendants ostensibly agreed to injunctions being issued against them, which often leads to a very quick court order (in some cases, less than a week).
  • Of these 25-odd cases, 15 give the addresses of the defendants — but a private investigator (Giles Miller of Lynx Insights & Investigations) couldn’t find a single one of the ostensible defendants at the ostensible address.

Now, you might ask, what’s the point of suing a fake defendant (to the extent that some of these defendants are indeed fake)? How can anyone get any real money from a fake defendant? How can anyone order a fake defendant to obey a real injunction?

The answer is that Google and various other Internet platforms have a policy: They won’t take down material (or, in Google’s case, remove it from Google indexes) just because someone says it’s defamatory. Understandable — why would these companies want to adjudicate such factual disputes? But if they see a court order that declares that some material is defamatory, they tend to take down or deindex the material, relying on the court’s decision.

Yet the trouble is that these Internet platforms can’t really know if the injunction was issued against the actual author of the supposed defamation — or against a real person at all.

Link to Original Source

Submission + - SPAM: Green Bank goes private

schwit1 writes: The Green Bank radio telescope in West Virginia, having lost most of its government funding, has switched to a private model where they compete for customers on the open market.

[T]hey petitioned to retain a fraction of NSF funding and make up the difference with private contracts-a model then unheard of. Eventually, the NSF agreed to fund about 60 percent of Green Bank's operations in 2017, tapering to 30 percent in 2018.

To add cash flow to that federal tributary, Green Bankers had to nail down private contracts. The 140-foot telescope, home to the biggest ball bearing in the world, will download data from the Russian Space Agency's on-orbit radio telescope, RadioAstron, which will also hook up with the newer telescope to form a high-resolution array. The North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves has commissioned the flagship Green Bank Telescope to watch their network of pulsars for fingerprints of gravitational waves.

And Breakthrough Listen-a search for extraterrestrial intelligence-will look for the technological fingerprints of aliens. The project, funded by rich-guy Yuri Milner, will watch the sky 1,300 hours a year, debiting $2 million from Milner annually and depositing it into Green Bank's coffers.

In other words, they are marketing the telescope to the open market, selling time to use it to whoever has a need. And apparently, there is a need, though like most operations that go public to private, the telescope will have to become leaner and meaner and more efficient to stay in the black. Which is to the good.
Link to Original Source

Submission + - SPAM: Assange says WikiLeaks to expose Google

schwit1 writes:
  • WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange promised to release information on subjects including the U.S. election and Google
  • Assange said WikiLeaks plans to start publishing new material starting this week, but wouldn't specify the timing and subject
  • He warned that the so called 'October Surprise' will expose Google
  • Assange did not reveal what type of information would be leaked about the tech giant, but his 2014 book could provide a clue
  • In it, he wrote: '(Eric) Schmidt's tenure as CEO saw Google integrate with the shadiest of U.S. power structures...'

Link to Original Source

Submission + - SPAM: Experts said Arctic sea ice would melt entirely by Sep 2016 - they were wrong

An anonymous reader writes: Dire predictions that the Arctic would be devoid of sea ice by September this year have proven to be unfounded after latest satellite images showed there is far more now than in 2012.

Scientists such as Prof Peter Wadhams, of Cambridge University, and Prof Wieslaw Maslowski, of the Naval Postgraduate School in Moderey, California, have regularly forecast the loss of ice by 2016, which has been widely reported by the BBC and other media outlets.

Prof Wadhams, a leading expert on Arctic sea ice loss, has recently published a book entitled A Farewell To Ice in which he repeats the assertion that the polar region would free of ice in the middle of this decade.

As late as this summer, he was still predicting an ice-free September.

Yet, when figures were released for the yearly minimum on September 10, they showed that there was still 1.6 million square miles of sea ice (4.14 square kilometres), which was 21 per cent more than the lowest point in 2012.

Link to Original Source

Submission + - SPAM: Skin in the Game: Make Colleges Pay Loans If Their Graduates Can't

schwit1 writes: When the U.S. Education Department shut down ITT Technical Institute at the beginning of the fall semester, some people saw it as just desserts for the for-profit college. Given ITT’s relatively low graduation rates, alleged use of deceptive job placement figures in its recruiting efforts, and high numbers of loan defaults and delinquencies, the government may have seemed justified in refusing to fund more loans to ITT students.

Yet, now, 35,000 students are suddenly without a school and 8,000 faculty and staff are unemployed, and the entire episode shows that the government remains fixated on problems in the for-profit sector while virtually ignoring that all of U.S. higher education has long been guilty of what, in another business, might be called price gouging.

It will come as no surprise to most Americans that college tuition has been rising at about twice the rate of inflation for a quarter century. This has left student borrowers with increasingly heavy debt burdens, which in turn have led to rising delinquency and default rates. The fundamental problem is that a large portion of any college’s operating funds come from federal student loans, on which taxpayers take the loss if students fail to repay. Universities themselves have no skin in this game.

The solution is to require that colleges absorb some of the loss on delinquencies and defaults by their graduates and dropouts: say, the first 5 percent of losses. And 1 percent to 2 percent of loan amount should be deposited with the Education Department at origination, as collateral.

Only colleges can control tuition, and the cost of room and board and other student expenses. Only they can assess which students are likely to gain the benefits that college should provide. Only they can design their curriculums to prepare students to be productive members of society and to make a living sufficient to repay their loans. We should hold colleges accountable so they do all these things far better than in recent decades.

Link to Original Source

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