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Submission + - Congressional panel told NASA has no plan for the Journey to Mars (blastingnews.com)

MarkWhittington writes: Testimony at a hearing before the House Science Committee’s Subcommittee on Space suggested that NASA’s Journey to Mars lacks a plan to achieve the first human landing on the Red Planet almost six years after President Obama announced the goal on April 15, 2010. Moreover, two of the three witnesses argued that a more realistic near term goal for the space agency would be a return to the moon. The moon is not only a scientifically interesting and potentially commercially profitable place to go but access to lunar water, which can be refined into rocket fuel, would make the Journey to Mars easier and cheaper.

Submission + - A Tech Rebellion Brewing? (xconomy.com)

gthuang88 writes: Joi Ito is a rebel, but he’s also head of the MIT Media Lab and depends on funding from big companies like Fox, Intel, and Google. Anil Dash is a Web entrepreneur, but he wants the industry held responsible for its nefarious terms of service, poor civic track record, and lack of diversity. Ayah Bdeir runs a hardware startup, but she rails against blind consumption of apps and devices. A recent PopTech gathering shows tech leaders are wrestling with their role in society. It also uncovers a fundamental tension between rebellious startups and the institutions they seek to disrupt.

Submission + - Google Glass competitor meets crowdsource funding goal, in two weeks (citeworld.com)

backabeyond writes: Atheer Labs is a relative unknown with a Google Glass competitor that has one big drawback — users have to connect the glasses via a physical wire to an Android phone. But it seems that people are still interested in it. In two weeks, a couple hundred people paid $250 or more to get the glasses, as part of Atheer's Indiegogo campaign. Seems there's a lot of demand for this kind of wearable, flaws and all.

Submission + - Bitcoin Was Created by the NSA: The Latest Shocking Snowden Revelation (sharpenedsticks.com)

Sharpened Sticks writes: Startling evidence gleaned from the Edward Snowden leaked US Federal Government documents suggest that Bitcoin, the popular and ostensibly anonymous crypto-currency, is in fact, a creation of the US National Security Agency (NSA).

A scanned image of a diplomatic memo, which is clearly marked “HARD COPY ONLY” was initially erroneously cataloged as a pro-forma required notification to US Embassy personnel in Japan about the timing of war games in the Pacific region. The memo, which provides details of Operation Satoshi, cites the creation of a traceable crypto-currency that is imbued with a false sense of anonymity.

Submission + - 16-Yr-Old Student Has Developed a Way to Turn Banana Peels Into Bioplastic (inhabitat.com)

formaggio writes: A sixteen-year-old Turkish student recently discovered that the starches and cellulose contained in a banana peel can also be used to create materials that insulate wires and form medical protheses. Bilgin developed a chemical process that turns the peels into a non-decaying bioplastic. She hopes that it will help replace the need for petroleum and combat pollution.
Facebook

Submission + - FBI monitors Facebook "likes," records Skype calls, court case reveals

colinneagle writes: On November 19, in Riverside County, CA, the FBI announced that four men were charged for conspiracy to provide material support to terrorism. The government alleges that Sohiel Omar Kabir, Ralph Deleon, Miguel Alejandro Santana and Arifeen David Gojali were plotting "to provide material support to terrorists by making arrangements to join al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan in order to kill, among others, American targets, announced André Birotte, Jr., the United States Attorney in Los Angeles, and Bill Lewis, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI's Los Angeles Field Office."

The FBI's terrorism complaint, which is posted on Scribd, has a section devoted to the "Defendants' Social Media." Apparently the FBI counts the number of "likes" and can hold postings of images, videos, shared links to articles and videos, as well as comments against people.

The FBI agent also revealed, "I have reviewed audio and video recordings of the Skype call and, based on other photographs of KABIR, believe that the image displayed during the call depicts KABIR." Numerous other Skype conversations were also "recorded," but it is unclear if this was via electronic eavesdropping of Skype or recorded by the CS. What is clear is that a simple document search found "Skype" or "Skyped" mentioned 23 times, not counting the reference explaining what Skype is.

Most of us certainly would not agree with or support the messages posted on Facebook. It is, however, the principle of the matter. "Much of the 'evidence' presented in the indictment is constitutionally protected speech, where the defendants express their views on the resistance to the occupation of Afghanistan," according to the activist site Fight Back.
Privacy

Submission + - Facebook Tweaks Site To Clarify Who Can See What (computerworld.com)

CWmike writes: "Facebook is making a series of design changes to the site to make it clearer to users who can see the content that they post, an issue Google has been criticizing Facebook about since it launched its own social network, Google+, in June. 'You have told us that 'who can see this?' could be clearer across Facebook, so we have made changes to make this more visual and straightforward," Facebook said in a blog post on Tuesday. The main change is that Facebook will now display the intended audience for a photo, a text post, a tag or any other piece of content right next to it, or 'inline.' Until now, those controls have been on a separate Settings section of the profile. 'Your profile should feel like your home on the web — you should never feel like stuff appears there that you don't want, and you should never wonder who sees what's there.' Another change Facebook is introducing is allowing users to modify the audience of a post after it's published, which they couldn't do before."
Robotics

Submission + - Fukushima Robot Operator Writes Tell-All Diary (ieee.org)

An anonymous reader writes: An anonymous robot operator at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant has kept a blog describing in candid detail his day-to-day life at the crippled facility, including robot training exercises and actual radiation-survey and clean-up missions. The blog was recently deleted, but some copies existed around the web and IEEE Spectrum has translated and published portions of it in English [http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/industrial-robots/fukushima-robot-operator-diaries]. The blog shows that although the operators use remote-controlled robots, they have to work in areas of high radiation, using protective gear and shielded trucks. They also rely on a great deal of improvisation, and there have been a few incidents that put the robot missions at risk.

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