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Earth

Weather Promising for Sunday Morning SpaceX Launch 49 49

Posted by timothy
from the ask-the-north-koreans dept.
USA Today reports that the weather looks good for Sunday morning's planned launch at 10:21, Florida time (14:21 GMT) of SpaceX's Dragon cargo capsule, loaded with a docking adapter intended for future manned-crew access to the International Space Station. An excerpt: "The forecast calls for a 90% chance of weather good enough to permit SpaceX's 208-foot Falcon 9 rocket to blast off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station during an instantaneous launch window. ... "This is actually pretty cool, because it does play right into our next Crew Dragon program," [Hans] Koenigsmann, SpaceX's vice president for mission assurance, said of the docking adapter in a separate news briefing. "It's something that we bring up for our own future, and so we're really motivated to bring this up." Related: astroengine points out that as part of this launch, SpaceX will make another attempt at landing the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket on a floating platform off the coast of Florida after sending the Dragon cargo vehicle to the International Space Station. Although SpaceX is hoping to achieve something the rocket industry has never done before (true usability of rocket engines, cutting costs), it's not the only game in town — Blue Origin, ULA and Airbus all have rocket return desires.
Government

Supreme Court Ruling Supports Same-Sex Marriage 1058 1058

Posted by timothy
from the stuff-that-matters dept.
The U.S. Supreme Court issued Friday a landmark decision, ruling that marriage is a Constitutionally protected right to homosexual as well as heterosexual couples. The New York Times notes that last year, by refusing to hear appeals to decisions favoring same-sex marriage in five states, the court "delivered a tacit victory for gay rights, immediately expanding the number of states with same-sex marriage to 24, along with the District of Columbia, up from 19." (In the time since, several more states have expanded marriage to include gay couples.) Reuters expains a bit of the legal and political history of the movement which led to today's decision, and points out some of the countries around the world which have made similar moves already.
United States

France Could Offer Asylum To Assange, Snowden 212 212

Posted by timothy
from the asylum-and-delcious-croissants dept.
HughPickens.com writes: The Intercept reports that in the aftermath of the NSA's sweeping surveillance of three French presidents, French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira thinks National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange might be allowed to settle in France. Taubira was asked about the NSA's surveillance of three French presidents, disclosed by WikiLeaks this week, and called it an "unspeakable practice." Taubira's comments echoed those in an editorial in France's leftist newspaper Libération that France should respond to the U.S.'s "contempt" for its allies by giving Edward Snowden asylum. France would send "a clear and useful message to Washington, by granting this bold whistleblower the asylum to which he is entitled," wrote editor Laurent Joffrin in an angry editorial titled "Un seul geste" — or "A single gesture." (google translate) If Paris offers Snowden asylum, it will be joining several other nations who have done so in the past, including Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela. However, Snowden is still waiting in Moscow to hear from almost two dozen other countries where he has requested asylum.
Mars

DARPA Is Already Working On Designer Organisms To Terraform Mars 136 136

Posted by samzenpus
from the good-bacteria dept.
MarkWhittington writes: Space visionaries dream of a time when human beings will not only settle Mars, but will terraform the Red Planet into something more Earth-like, with a breathable atmosphere, running water, and a functioning biosphere. Evidence exists that Mars was more or less Earth-like billions of years ago before the atmosphere leached away into space and the water became frozen under the ground and at the poles. Terraforming Mars is decades away from the beginning and probably centuries away from the end. But DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is already genetically engineering organisms that will help turn the Red Planet blue, according to a story in Motherboard.
The Courts

Supreme Court Upholds Key Obamacare Subsidies 588 588

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-that-we'll-stop-arguing-about-it dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Retuers reports that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled 6 — 3 in favor of the nationwide availability of tax subsidies that are crucial to the implementation of President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law, handing a major victory to the president. It marked the second time in three years that the high court ruled against a major challenge to the law brought by conservatives seeking to gut it.

"Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them," wrote Chief Justice Roberts in the majority opinion (PDF). He added that nationwide availability of the credits is required to "avoid the type of calamitous result that Congress plainly meant to avoid." The ruling will come as a major relief to Obama as he seeks to ensure that his legacy legislative achievement is implemented effectively and survives political and legal attacks before he leaves office in early 2017. Justice Antonin Scalia took the relatively rare step of reading a summary of his dissenting opinion from the bench. "We really should start calling the law SCOTUScare," said Scalia referencing the court's earlier decision upholding the constitutionality of the law.
United States

Google, Apple, and Others Remove Content Related To the Confederate Flag 814 814

Posted by Soulskill
from the symbols-are-for-the-symbol-minded dept.
davek writes with news that Google is removing results related to the Confederate Flag from Google Shopping, the company's online marketplace. They're also blocking advertisements involving the flag. They say, "We have determined that the Confederate flag violates our Ads policies, which don't allow content that's generally perceived as expressing hate toward a particular group." At the same time, Apple is removing from the App Store any games or other software featuring the Confederate Flag. This, of course, follows the recent shooting in South Carolina, which triggered a nationwide debate over whether the flag should be flown at government buildings (or anywhere). Major online merchant websites like eBay and Amazon have already taken the step of banning merchandise relating to the flag.
Government

France, Up In Arms Over NSA Spying, Passes New Surveillance Law 80 80

Posted by samzenpus
from the was-that-wrong? dept.
An anonymous reader writes: French President Francois Hollande held an emergency meeting with top security officials to respond to WikiLeaks documents that say the NSA eavesdropped on French presidents. The documents published in Liberation and investigative website Mediapart include material that appeared to capture current president, François Hollande; the prime minister in 2012, Jean-Marc Ayrault; and former presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and Jacques Chirac, talking candidly about Greece's economy and relations with Germany. The Intercept reports: "Yet also today, the lower house of France's legislature, the National Assembly, passed a sweeping surveillance law. The law provides a new framework for the country's intelligence agencies to expand their surveillance activities. Opponents of the law were quick to mock the government for vigorously protesting being surveilled by one of the country's closest allies while passing a law that gives its own intelligence services vast powers with what its opponents regard as little oversight. But for those who support the new law, the new revelations of NSA spying showed the urgent need to update the tools available to France's spies."
Transportation

Lexus Creates a Hoverboard 102 102

Posted by samzenpus
from the marty-mcfly-approved dept.
walterbyrd writes: Lexus has built a functional prototype of a hoverboard that hovers several centimeters off the ground. The "Slide" is for demonstration purposes only and works through magnetic levitation created by superconductors, a spokesperson says. USA Today reports: "As cool as that sounds, there are some major limitations. Since it operates magnetically, it only can hover over a steel surface. And it also only works as long as the liquid nitrogen holds out."
United States

US Military To Develop Star Wars-Style Hoverbikes With British company 108 108

Posted by samzenpus
from the mind-the-ewoks dept.
New submitter amalcolm writes: The U.S. military may soon be zooming around on Star Wars-style hoverbikes. U.K. based Malloy Aeronautics has joined forces with Survice Engineering to develop the vehicles for the Department of Defense. "The Department of Defense is interested in Hoverbike technology because it can support multiple roles," said Mark Butkiewicz, who works for Survice. "It can transport troops over difficult terrain and when it's not used in that purpose it can also be used to transport logistics, supplies, and it can operate in both a manned and unmanned asset."
Businesses

Who Owns Your Overtime? 380 380

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-don't-know-but-he-can-keep-it dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Fran Sussner Rodgers writes in the NY Times that a little-noticed change in the American workplace is about to occur. Later this month the Department of Labor is expected to announce an adjustment to the Fair Labor Standards Act raising the salary threshold for overtime from $23,660 per year to at least double that threshold. In 1975, the last year the threshold was significantly raised, 60 percent of salaried workers fell within the requirement for overtime pay while today, only 8 percent do. The new requirement should be a welcome change for millions of American workers.

But the change also speaks to an issue that affects everyone, whether eligible for overtime or not — the clash between the finite amount of time employees actually have versus the desire of employers to treat time as an inexhaustible resource. Employees in the United States currently work more hours than workers in any of the world's 10 largest economies except Russia. When everything over 40 hours is free to the employer, the temptation to demand more is almost irresistible. But for most employees, the ones exempt from overtime rules, their managers have little incentive to look for ways to use their time more efficiently. "We are a tired, stressed and overworked nation, which has many negative consequences for our personal health and the care of our children. As a nation, we work harder and longer than almost all of our competitors, and much of that work is uncompensated," writes Rodgers. "Time is our personal currency. We parcel it out, hour by hour, to meet the demands placed on us. We all pay a steep price, as individuals and as a nation, when we can't meet our most important obligations."
United States

US Securities and Exchange Commission Hunting Insider Trading Hackers 20 20

Posted by Soulskill
from the new-sheriff-in-town dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is actively investigating the FIN4 financial hacking group identified by FireEye last December, according to a Reuters report. In an unprecedented extension of its usual practice, the SEC is soliciting information about security breaches from private companies, who are not obliged to reveal them unless the breach enters into categories covered by federal law. Former SEC Head of Internet Enforcement John Reed Stark describes the proactive stance of the organization as an "absolute first."
Google

DOJ Vs. Google: How Google Fights On Behalf of Its Users 78 78

Posted by samzenpus
from the who-has-your-back? dept.
Lauren Weinstein writes: While some companies have long had a "nod and wink" relationship with law enforcement and other parts of government -- willingly turning over user data at mere requests without even attempting to require warrants or subpoenas, it's widely known that Google has long pushed back -- sometimes though multiple layers of courts and legal processes -- against data requests from government that are not accompanied by valid court orders or that Google views as being overly broad, intrusive, or otherwise inappropriate. Over the last few days the public has gained an unusually detailed insight into how hard Google will fight to protect its users against government overreaching, even when this involves only a single user's data. One case reaches back to the beginning of 2011, when the U.S. Department of Justice tried to force Google to turn over more than a year's worth of metadata for a user affiliated with WikiLeaks. While these demands did not include the content of emails, they did include records of this party's email correspondents, and IP addresses he had used to login to his Gmail account. Notably, DOJ didn't even seek a search warrant. They wanted Google to turn over the data based on the lesser "reasonable grounds" standard rather than the "probable cause" standard of a search warrant itself. And most ominously, DOJ wanted a gag order to prevent Google from informing this party that any of this was going on, which would make it impossible for him to muster any kind of legal defense.
The Military

The US Navy's Warfare Systems Command Just Paid Millions To Stay On Windows XP 192 192

Posted by samzenpus
from the thank-you-sir-may-I-have-another? dept.
itwbennett writes: The Navy relies on a number of legacy applications and programs that are reliant on legacy Windows products,' said Steven Davis, a spokesman for the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command in San Diego. And that reliance on obsolete technology is costing taxpayers a pretty penny. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, which runs the Navy's communications and information networks, signed a $9.1 million contract earlier this month for continued access to security patches for Windows XP, Office 2003, Exchange 2003 and Windows Server 2003.
The Almighty Buck

Ask Slashdot: Making Donations Count 268 268

Posted by samzenpus
from the biggest-bang-for-your-buck dept.
An anonymous reader writes: As a recent college graduate I now have a job and enough money to actually buy things and donate to causes. Up until now I really haven't been paying attention to which groups are best to donate and which are scams. For example, Goodwill seems like a great organization until you dig deeper and discover they hire under privileged and disabled people only to exploit the related government handouts instead of doing it to benefit those people. What are some quality organizations to donate to? Who do you donate to and why? I'm looking for improving the poor, supporting constitutional rights, and supporting issues many Slashdotters can agree on such as net neutrality and anything against the media companies. I don't care what political group the money ends up going to. The specific case is more important than some arbitrary label. I'm also in the USA, so foreign recommendations are probably less helpful.
China

Schneier: China and Russia Almost Definitely Have the Snowden Docs 157 157

Posted by timothy
from the branching-paths dept.
cold fjord writes: Writing at Wired, Bruce Schneier states that he believes that China and Russia actually do have the Snowden documents, but that the path by which they got them may be different than what has been reported: "... The vulnerability is not Snowden; it's everyone who has access to the files. I've handled some of the Snowden documents myself, and even though I'm a paranoid cryptographer, I know how difficult it is to maintain perfect security. It's been open season on the computers of the journalists Snowden shared documents with since this story broke in July 2013. And while they have been taking extraordinary pains to secure those computers, it's almost certainly not enough to keep out the world's intelligence services. .... Which brings me to the second potential source of these documents to foreign intelligence agencies: the US and UK governments themselves. I believe that both China and Russia had access to all the files that Snowden took well before Snowden took them because they've penetrated the NSA networks where those files reside."
Transportation

Privately Owned Armored Trucks Raise Eyebrows After Dallas Attack 609 609

Posted by samzenpus
from the new-must-have-toy dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Manny Fernandez writes in the NY Times that the scores of military and police-style vans, trucks and cars offered for sale on Craigslist and eBay have raised concerns for some law enforcement officials, particularly after the Dallas attack on a police headquarters. Officials say the vehicles appear to be legal for the most part, so there is little they can do. Jeff Funicello, for example, is selling his black 1975 GMC armored truck on Craigslist. The body is armored, and the windows are bulletproof. It has sliding portholes to point rifles from and a sprinkler system inside. Long ago, it transported money, and it was once the target of a shootout in the 1980s. Of course, people have been driving reinforced cars long before the Dallas attack on a police headquarters. But the celebrities and executives who install bulletproof windows and other types of armor on their vehicles often do not want it noticed. Celebrity clients generally demand that the exteriors of their luxury armored vehicles look normal so they blend in. However those who buy and sell armored vans want people to look. And the popularity of apocalyptic movies and television shows has put a new twist and added a macabre cachet to such vehicles "This is America," says Funicello. "I should be able to have a howitzer or a bazooka if I want one. If I wanted to buy a fire truck, I could."
United Kingdom

Jimmy Wales: London Is Better For Tech Than "Dreadful" Silicon Valley 410 410

Posted by samzenpus
from the home-is-where-the-tech-is dept.
Mickeycaskill writes: Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has praised London as a tech hub, saying its cultural assets make it an ideal place to do business and superior to Silicon Valley as a place to live. “I meet people around London and they ask ‘when do you go back to San Francisco?’ assuming I’m here for a few days, but I live in London,” he said at the launch of Tech.London. “There’s always this bit of British self-deprecation about ‘oh well, things are so great in Silicon Valley’. But I can tell you, things aren’t that great in Silicon Valley. London has all these incredible advantages of a tech scene, but it’s also a place people want to live. Nobody wants to live in Silicon Valley – it’s dreadful out there. London is this incredible cultural city, it’s at the crossroads of the world. In the US you have San Francisco for tech, Los Angeles for movies and Washington for politics. In London you have all these things. It’s a great place to do business.”
Government

FCC Votes To Subsidize Broadband Connections For Low-Income Households 283 283

Posted by samzenpus
from the getting-up-to-speed dept.
Mark Wilson writes: Today the FCC voted in favor of updating its Lifeline program to include broadband. This would mean that households surviving on low incomes would be able to receive help paying for a broadband connection. It might not be as important as electricity or water, but having a broadband connection is seen as being all but essential these days. From helping with education and job hunting, to allowing for home working, the ability to get online is seen as so vital by some that there have been calls for it to be classed as a utility. The Lifeline program has been running since the 80s, and originally provided financial help to those struggling to pay for a phone line. It was expanded in 2008 to include wireless providers, and it is hoped that this third expansion will help more people to get online.
Security

Encryption Would Not Have Protected Secret Federal Data, Says DHS 142 142

Posted by samzenpus
from the might-as-well-give-up dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Sean Gallagher reports at Ars Technica that Dr. Andy Ozment, Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity in the Department of Homeland Security, told members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that in the case of the recent discovery of an intrusion that gave attackers access to sensitive data on millions of government employees and government contractors, encryption would "not have helped" because the attackers had gained valid user credentials to the systems that they attacked—likely through social engineering. Ozment added that because of the lack of multifactor authentication on these systems, the attackers would have been able to use those credentials at will to access systems from within and potentially even from outside the network. "If the adversary has the credentials of a user on the network, they can access data even if it's encrypted just as the users on the network have to access data," said Ozment. "That did occur in this case. Encryption in this instance would not have protected this data."

The fact that Social Security numbers of millions of current and former federal employees were not encrypted was one of few new details emerged about the data breach and House Oversight member Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) was the one who pulled the SSN encryption answer from the teeth of the panel where others failed. "This is one of those hearings where I think that I will know less coming out of the hearing than I did when I walked in because of the obfuscation and the dancing around we are all doing here. As a matter of fact, I wish that you were as strenuous and hardworking at keeping information out of the hands of hackers as you are in keeping information out of the hands of Congress and federal employees. It's ironic. You are doing a great job stonewalling us, but hackers, not so much."
United States

Is Surespot the Latest Crypto War Victim? 26 26

Posted by samzenpus
from the lets-see-what-you're-doing dept.
George Maschke writes: Patrick G. Eddington writes in a Christian Science Monitor op-ed about indications that the government may be snooping on users of Surespot, a free and open source encrypted messaging app for Android and iOS. Such users include, but are hardly limited to, Islamic State militants. He writes in the piece: "Has encrypted chat service Surespot been compromised by the US government? Surespot user and former Army intelligence officer George Maschke recently published a provocative theory suggesting the answer is yes. Mr. Maschke’s key pieces of evidence are intriguing. In May 2014, he e-mailed 2Fours LLC, which is Surespot’s parent company, asking whether the company had ever received a National Security Letter (NSL), a court order to provide information, or other government request to cooperate in an investigation. He was assured in writing that 2Fours had received no such requests. That changed in November 2014, when Surespot’s founder, Adam Patacchiola, told Maschke via e-mail that 'we have received an e-mail asking us how to submit a subpoena to us which we haven’t received yet.'"