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Austin Is Conducting Sting Operations Against Ride-Sharing Drivers ( 178

Since the Uber and Lyft ride-sharing apps stopped service in Austin, drunk driving has increased, riders are hunting for alternatives, and the police are conducting undercover sting operations against unauthorized ride-sharing drivers. With Chicago also considering new restrictions on ride-sharing apps, Slashdot reader MarkWhittington shares this report from Austin: With thousands of drivers and tens of thousands of riders who once depended on ride-sharing services in a lurch, a group called Arcade City has tried to fill the void with a person-to-person site to link up drivers and riders who then negotiate a fare. Of course, according to a story on KVUE, the Austin city government, and the police are on the case. The Austin Police Department has diverted detectives and resources to conduct sting operations on ride-sharing drivers who attempt to operate without official sanction. Undercover operatives will arrange for a ride with an Arcade City driver and then bust them, impounding their vehicle and imposing a fine.
"The first Friday and Saturday after Uber was gone, we were joking that it was like the zombie apocalypse of drunk people," one former ride-sharing driver told Earlier this month the site compared this year's drunk driving arrests to last years -- and discovered that in the three weeks since Uber and Lyft left Austin, 7.5% more people have been arrested for drunk driving.

From File-Sharing To Prison: The Story of a Jailed Megaupload Programmer ( 112

An anonymous reader writes: "I had to be made an example of as a warning to all IT people," says former Megaupload programmer Andrew Nomm, one of seven Megaupload employees arrested in 2012. Friday his recent interview with an Estonian journalist was republished in English by Ars Technica (which notes that at one point the 50 million users on Megaupload's file-sharing site created 4% of the world's internet traffic). The 37-year-old programmer pleaded guilty to felony copyright infringement in exchange for a one-year-and-one-day sentence in a U.S. federal prison, which the U.S. Attorney General's office called "a significant step forward in the largest criminal copyright case in US history."

"It turned out that I was the only defendant in the last 29 years to voluntarily go from the Netherlands to the USA..." Nomm tells the interviewer, adding "I'll never get back the $40,000 that was seized by the USA." He describes his experience in the U.S. prison system after saying good-bye to his wife and 13-year-old son, adding that now "I have less trust in all sorts of state affairs, especially big countries. I saw the dark side of the American dream in all its glory..."

In U.S. court documents Nomm "acknowledged" that the financial harm to copyright holders "exceeded $400 million."

Google Fiber To Acquire Gigabit Internet Provider Webpass ( 59

An anonymous reader writes: Google Fiber has announced a deal to acquire high-speed internet service provider Webpass. Webpass is a 13-year-old company that provides high-speed internet, including gigabit service, for businesses and residential customers across parts of the U.S.. Webpass is most widely known in California, with service running in San Fransisco, Oakland, Emeryville, Berkeley and San Diego. It also has service in Miami, Miami Beach, Coral Gables, Chicago, and Boston. The President of Webpass, Charles Barr, said in a blog post: "Joining Google Fiber will be a great development for our users because the companies share the same vision of the future and commitment to the customer," he said. "Google Fiber's resources will enable Webpass to grow faster and reach many more customers than we could as a standalone company." The acquisition should help Google Fiber with its plans to grow to more than 20 U.S. cities in the near future, helping connect to business and residential markets.

New FAA Rules Allow US Companies To Fly Drones Without a Pilot's License ( 124

On Tuesday, the Obama administration announced new rules for commercial drones. It states that drone pilots can now fly without waiting to get permission from the government. Previously, commercial operators were required to apply for a waiver from the FAA to operate small drones for commercial purposes. According to the new regulation, a drone must weigh less than 25kg, and it must fly under 400 feet (122m) and at a maximum speed of 161km per hour. DJI spokesman Adam Lisberg said: This is a major development for the future of drones in America. It means that businesses and farmers and government agencies and academic researchers can put drones to work without having to get an airplane pilot's license or follow other onerous rules. Those were pretty high barriers to entry. Part 107 is a vote of confidence from the FAA that drones can be safely integrated into the national airspace, and that a wider adoption of drones for all sorts of non-recreational uses will bring real benefits to America.More coverage on The Verge, and Reuters.

Invoking Orlando, Senate Republicans Set Up Vote To Expand FBI Spying ( 655

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell set up a vote late on Monday to expand the FBI's authority to use a secretive surveillance order without a warrant to include email metadata and some browsing history information. The move, made via an amendment to a criminal justice appropriations bill, is an effort by Senate Republicans to respond to last week's mass shooting in an Orlando nightclub after a series of measures to restrict guns offered by both parties failed on Monday. Privacy advocates denounced the effort, saying it seeks to exploit a mass shooting in order to expand the government's digital spying powers. The amendment would broaden the FBI's authority to use so-called National Security Letters to include electronic communications transaction records such as time stamps of emails and the emails' senders and recipients. NSLs do not require a warrant and are almost always accompanied by a gag order preventing the service provider from sharing the request with a targeted user. The amendment filed Monday would also make permanent a provision of the USA Patriot Act that allows the intelligence community to conduct surveillance on "lone wolf" suspects who do not have confirmed ties to a foreign terrorist group. A vote is expected no later than Wednesday, McConnell's office said. Last week, FBI Director James Comey said he is "highly confident that [the Orlando shooter] was radicalized at least in part through the internet."

Bigger Isn't Better As Mega-Ships Get Too Big and Too Risky 263 writes: Alan Minter writes at Bloomberg that between 1955 and 1975, the average volume of a container ship doubled -- and then doubled again over each of the next two decades. The logic behind building such giants was once unimpeachable: Globalization seemed like an unstoppable force, and those who could exploit economies of scale could reap outsized profits. But it is looking more and more like the economies of scale for mega-ships are not worth the risk. The quarter-mile-long Benjamin Franklin recently became the largest cargo ship ever to dock at a U.S. port and five more mega-vessels are supposed to follow. But today's largest container vessels can cost $200 million and carry many thousands of containers -- potentially creating $1 billion in concentrated, floating risk that can only dock at a handful of the world's biggest ports. Mega-ships make prime targets for cyberattacks and terrorism, suffer from a dearth of qualified personnel to operate them, and are subject to huge insurance premiums. But the biggest costs associated with these floating behemoths are on land -- at the ports that are scrambling to accommodate them. New cranes, taller bridges, environmentally perilous dredging, and even wholesale reconfiguration of container yards are just some of the costly disruptions that might be needed to receive a Benjamin Franklin and service it efficiently. Under such circumstances, you'd think that ship owners would start to steer clear of big boats. But, fearful of falling behind the competition and hoping to put smaller operators out of business, they're actually doing the opposite. Global capacity will increase by 4.5 percent this year. "Sooner or later, even the biggest operators will have to accept that the era of super-sized shipping has begun to list," concludes Minter. "With global growth and trade still sluggish, and the benefits of sailing and docking big boats diminishing with each new generation, ship owners are belatedly realizing that bigger isn't better."

New York Criminalizes the Use Of Ticket-Buying Bots ( 212

An anonymous reader writes: If you failed to get tickets for your favorite band, even though your finger was poised on the "buy" link the instant they went on sale, don't worry -- you never stood a chance. They were probably snapped up by bots that, in one case, bought 1,012 Madison Square Garden U2 tickets in less than a minute. The state of New York has declared that scalpers who use them could get fines and even jail time. "New Yorkers have been dealing with this frustrating ticket buying experience for too long," says state assembly member Marcos Crespie. Using such bots was illegal before, but only brought civil, not criminal sanctions. However, a three-year investigation by NY attorney general Eric. T. Schneiderman found that the practice was so widespread that the state had to take harsher measures. Ticketing outlets and credit card companies revealed that bots scoop up the best seats in seconds, which scalpers then resell at prices many times over face value. Scalpers who exploit such software could now face criminal, class A misdemeanor charges.

High IQ Countries Have Less Software Piracy, Research Finds ( 242

Ernesto Van der Sar, writing for TorrentFreak (edited and condensed): There are hundreds of reasons why people may turn to piracy. A financial motive is often mentioned, as well as lacking legal alternatives. A new study from a group of researchers now suggests that national intelligence can also be added to the list. In a rather straightforward analysis, the research examined the link between national IQ scores and local software piracy rates -- from data provided by the Business Software Alliance. They concluded that there's a trend indicating that countries with a higher IQ have lower software piracy rates.

FCC To Vote On Spectrum For 5G Wireless Networks ( 38

5G has been in the news for years, but it's not available for commercial use just yet. Things will become clearer this week. The Federal Communications Commission will vote on July 14 to decide new rules to identity and open spectrum for next-generation high-speed 5G wireless applications. Reuters reports: FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said if the FCC "approves my proposal next month, the United States will be the first country in the world to open up high-band spectrum for 5G networks and applications." He said the FCC also will seek comments on opening other high-frequency spectrum bands. Policymakers and mobile phone companies say the next generation of wireless signals needs to be 10 to 100 times faster and be far more responsive to allow advanced technologies like virtual surgery or controlling machines remotely.

Those 100,000 Lost Air Force Files Have Been Found Again ( 36

The Air Force now says it will be able to recover those 100,000 investigation files dating back to 2004, after "aggressively leveraging all vendor and department capabilities." An anonymous reader quotes a report from Government Executive about the mysteriously corrupted database: In a short, four-sentence statement released midday on Wednesday, service officials said the Air Force continues to investigate the embarrassing incident in which the files and their backups were corrupted. "Through extensive data recovery efforts over the weekend and this week, the Air Force has been able to regain access to the data in the Air Force Inspector General Automated Case Tracking System..." the statement reads. Earlier on Wednesday, the Air Force chief of staff said that the effort to recover the files involved Lockheed Martin and Oracle, the two defense contractors that run the database, plus Air Force cyber and defense cyber crime personnel.
The Chief of Staff hopes "there won't be a long-term impact, other than making sure we understand exactly what happened, how it happened and how we keep it from ever happening again." The Air Force is conducting an independent review, while Lockheed Martin is now also performing a separate internal review.

NASA Unveils Plans For Electric-Powered Plane ( 55

An anonymous reader quotes a report from New York Times: A new experimental airplane being built by NASA could help push electric-powered aviation from a technical curiosity and pipe dream into something that might become commercially viable for small aircraft. At a conference on Friday of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics in Washington, Charles F. Bolden Jr., the NASA administrator, announced plans for an all-electric airplane (Warning: source may be paywalled) designated as X-57 and nicknamed "Maxwell," part of the agency's efforts to make aviation more efficient and less of a polluter. "The X-57 will take the first giant step in opening a new era of aviation," Mr. Bolden declared. Maxwell is equipped with 14 electric propeller-turning motors located along the wings, which will all be used to create sufficient thrust during take-off and landing. Only two large motors on the tips of the wings will be used once it's up in the air. The plane is a result of NASA's "New Aviation Horizons" initiative: a 10-year program to create a new generation of X-planes that will make use of greener energy, use half as much fuel, and be half as loud as commercial aircraft in use today.

Watts Bar Unit 2 Is The First New US Nuclear Reactor In Decades ( 117

tomhath writes from a report via The Washington Post: The Tennessee Valley Authority's (TVA) Watts Bar Unit 2 is the first nuclear reactor to come online since 1996, when the Watts Bar Unit 1 started operations. The new reactor is designed to add 1,150 megawatts of electricity generating capacity to southeastern Tennessee. By summer's end, authorities expect the new reactor at this complex along the Chickamauga Reservoir, a dammed section of the Tennessee River extending northward from Chattanooga, to steadily generate enough electricity to power 650,000 homes. But while nuclear reactors account for the lion's share of the carbon-free electricity generated in the United States, the industry faces this new set of circumstances in a state of near-crisis. A combination of very cheap natural gas and deregulated energy markets in some states has led to a growing number of plant closures in recent years. A new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance says that renewable energy, including solar, wind and hydroelectric will overtake natural gas as an energy source by 2027.

Non-US Encryption Is 'Theoretical', Claims CIA Chief In Backdoor Debate ( 312

Iain Thomson, writing for The Register: CIA director John Brennan told U.S. senators they shouldn't worry about mandatory encryption backdoors hurting American businesses. And that's because, according to Brennan, there's no one else for people to turn to: if they don't want to use U.S.-based technology because it's been forced to use weakened cryptography, they'll be out of luck because non-American solutions are simply "theoretical." Thus, the choice is American-built-and-backdoored or nothing, apparently. The spymaster made the remarks at a congressional hearing on Thursday after Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) questioned the CIA's support for weakening cryptography to allow g-men to peek at people's private communications and data. Brennan said this was needed to counter the ability of terrorists to coordinate their actions using encrypted communications. The director denied that forcing American companies to backdoor their security systems would cause any commercial problems.

Let's Drug Test The Rich Before Approving Tax Deductions, Says US Congresswoman ( 760

Press2ToContinue writes from a report via The Guardian: "The [tax] benefits we give to poor people are so limited compared to what we give to the top 1% [of taxpayers]," Congresswoman Gwen Moore says. "It's a drop in the bucket." Many states implement drug-testing programs to qualify for benefit programs so that states feel they are not wasting the value they dole out. However, seven states who implemented drug testing for tax benefit program recipients spent $1 million on drug testing from the inception of their programs through 2014. But the average rate of drug use among those recipients has been far below the national average -- around 1% overall, compared with 9.4% in the general population -- meaning there's been little cost savings from the drug testing program. Why? "Probably because they can't afford it," says Moore. "We might really save some money by drug-testing folks on Wall Street, who might have a little cocaine before they get their deal done," she said, and proposes a bill requiring tests for returns with itemized deductions of more than $150,000. "We spend $81bn on everything -- everything -- that you could consider a poverty program," she explained. But just by taxing capital gains at a lower rate than other income, a bit of the tax code far more likely to benefit the rich than the poor, "that's a $93bn expenditure. Just capital gains," she added. Why not drug-test the rich to ensure they won't waste their tax benefits? She is "sick and tired of the criminalization of poverty." And, she added: "We're not going to get rid of the federal deficit by cutting poor people off Snap. But if we are going to drug-test people to reduce the deficit, let's start on the other end of the income spectrum."

Renewables Are Set To Overtake Gas and Coal By 2027 ( 263

Lucas123 writes: Renewable energy, including solar, wind and hydroelectric will overtake natural gas as an energy source by 2027. According to a new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, ten years later those same renewables will have surpassed the largest electricity-generating fossil fuel: coal. Solar and wind will account for almost 60% of the $11.4 trillion invested in energy over the next 25 years, according to Bloomberg's New Energy Outlook 2016 report. One conclusion that may surprise, Bloomberg noted, is that the forecast shows no golden age for natural gas, except in North America. As a global generation source, gas will be overtaken by renewables in 2027. The electric vehicle boom will increase electricity demand by 2,701TWh (terawatt hours), or 8% of global electricity demand in 2040. The rise of EVs will drive down the cost of lithium-ion batteries, making them increasingly attractive to be deployed alongside residential and commercial solar systems.

Software Industry Has $1 Trillion Economic Impact In US ( 55

An anonymous reader writes from a report via CNET: A report from software trade organization BSA The Software Alliance shows that the software industry is driving economics gains across the country. The software industry had a $1.07 trillion impact on U.S. gross domestic product in 2014, according to the report. It's being driven by 2.5 million jobs directly related to the software industry, with an additional 7.3 million positions for people in real estate, professional services and other fields the industry supports. California surpassed all other states with 408,143 software jobs that contributed roughly $90.53 billion to the GDP. New York came in second with 147,361 software jobs contributing $37.16 billion. Texas came in third with 200,000 jobs adding about $30 billion. Alaska came in last place with 1,325 software jobs contributing $248 million to the GDP.

WHO: Drinking Extremely Hot Coffee, Tea 'Probably' Causes Cancer ( 274

An anonymous reader writes from a report via USA Today: The World Health Organization reports that drinking coffee, tea and other beverages at temperatures hotter than 149 degrees Fahrenheit may lead to cancer of the esophagus. These hot beverages can injure cells in the esophagus and lead to the formation of cancer cells, said Mariana Stern, an associate professor of preventative medicine and urology at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine. But scientists did say that if you drink coffee at cooler temperatures, it is not only safe but it may decrease of the risk of liver cancer by 15%, according to research published in Lancet Oncology. Previously, the International Agency for Research on Cancer ruled coffee was a "possible carcinogenic" in 1991. The research involved Stern and 22 other scientists from 10 countries, who examined about 1,000 studies on more than 20 types of cancer.

US Company's China Employee Allegedly Stole Code To Help Local Government ( 49

Reader itwbennett writes: Xu Jiaqiang, a Chinese national, worked as a developer for an unnamed U.S. company's branch in China (a Reuters report says it's IBM) from November 2010 to May 2014, when he resigned voluntarily. A year later he was allegedly caught trying to sell stolen proprietary source code to U.S. undercover agents, who claimed they were starting a large-data storage company. The software is described in the original complaint as a key component of one of the world's largest scientific supercomputers and of commercial applications that require rapid access to large volumes of data. In December 2015, Xu was arrested by the FBI, alleged to have stolen for his own benefit and that of the National Health and Family Planning Commission in China, although no specific charges relating to actual transfer of the code to the National Health and Family Planning Commission are mentioned in the superseding indictment.

Assange: Wikileaks Will Publish 'Enough Evidence' To Indict Hillary Clinton ( 741

An anonymous reader writes from a report via RT: Julian Assange says Wikileaks will have "a very big year" as it will publish enough new information about Hillary Clinton to indict her. In an ITV interview about the Democratic presidential candidate, Assange said, "We have emails relating to Hillary Clinton which are pending publication." As it stands, about 32,000 emails from Clinton's private server have been leaked by Wikileaks. Assange has yet to comment on how many new emails will be released or when they will be published. While he thinks there will be enough to indict Clinton, he doesn't think it will happen under Attorney General Loretta Lynch. He does think "the FBI can push for concessions from the new Clinton government in exchange for its lack of indictment." Specifically, Assange revealed the leaked emails show that she overrode the Pentagon's reluctance to overthrow sovereign Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, and that "they predicted the post-war outcome would be what it is, which is ISIS taking over the country." Clinton's email controversy came to light in 2013 after a hacker named Guccifer breached her personal server.

How ISIS Finally Hacked the Arkansas Library Association ( 58

An anonymous reader shares this story from earlier in the week: "ISIS hacking crews aren't the most talented hackers you'll find," reports Softpedia, noting that the terrorist group had finally succeeded in leaking the addresses and phone numbers of of over 800 employees of Arkansas high school and college libraries. "The Arkansas State Police is not working on the case," reports Newsweek, "and is leaving the follow-up to the Arkansas Library Association." In addition, "It appears that the FBI does not believe the threat from ISIS's cyber-hacks and lone-wolf directives is serious enough to occupy its resources on each individual." The ISIS hacking crew's previous targets have included a church's website in Michigan, a Japanese dance instructor, and an SEO optimization site which they'd apparently mistaken for Google.
One small-town library director told Newsweek that he personally found their library hack "vaguely amusing".

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