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The Military

Drones Being Used By Peeping Toms, The Military, And Terrorists (newsweek.com) 97

An anonymous reader writes: A 19-year-old woman called Massachusetts police about a drone peeking through her second-story window at 3 a.m. -- and was told no laws had been violated. Kansas is now passing an anti-harassment law after a woman reported her neighbor's drone was hovering over their pool and outside the window where her 16-year-old daughter was washing dishes. But meanwhile, the U.S. Navy has just outfitted one supercarrier with a new drone control room, while one Dutch activist writes in Newsweek that terrorist drone attacks "are not a matter of 'If' but 'When'." Noting that drones are cheap, portable and useful, PAX's Wim Zwijnenburg warns that "Terrorists and armed militia groups are already using consumer drones in conflict situations" -- for example, in Iraq, Syria, Gaza, and the Ukraine -- "and it is likely only a matter of time before they use them to carry out attacks in Europe or the U.S."

He believes ISIS is developing its own drone fleet, and warns about the possibility of swarms with "dozens of drones equipped with explosives or chemicals". Zwijnenburg proposes background checks and registrations for certain types of drones, as well as counter-drone technology to protect airports, crowded stadiums, and critical infrastructure points. Citing the blurring lines between military and civilian drones, he writes that "there needs to be an urgent and frank discussion among industry, the military, law enforcement, and most of all, the public, as to where we go from here."

Meanwhile, another prison just reported a drone had flown over their wall -- this time a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Heli Ball.
Microsoft

Amazon Beats Microsoft In 'The Battle of Seattle' (usatoday.com) 108

An anonymous reader writes: Yesterday Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos earned $5 billion in one afternoon when the company's stock price jumped 9.6%. Amazon reported an actual profit of $513 million (nearly double the amount expected), and next year Amazon's sales are projected by analysts to be 63% higher than Microsoft's, which USA Today calls "a good illustration of how growth in the sector has moved from hardware, software and chip companies to Internet firms selling goods or advertising online... [W]hile Bill Gates helped put Seattle area on the map as a U.S. tech hub, Bezos now runs the largest tech company in the State of Washington, by far, in terms of sales."

Amazon's Echo and Alexa devices are believed to be outselling their Kindles (and Alexa will soon make her first appearance on a non-Amazon device). But Amazon attributed their surprise jump in revenue to a 51% annual increase in the "tens of millions" of subscribers paying for their Amazon Prime shipping service (which in San Francisco now even includes delivery from restaurants), as well as a 64% increase from their AWS cloud service, which recently announced a new automated security assessment tool.

Amazon ultimately reported more than twice as much new business as Google and three times as much as Facebook, according to USA Today, which notes that now of all the tech companies, only Apple has more revenue than Amazon, and because of the jump in their stock price, Jeff Bezos is now the fourth-richest person in the world. But with all that money floating around, Seattle tech blogger Jeff Reifman is now wondering why Amazon's local home delivery vehicles in Seattle seem to be operating with out of state plates.
Government

Bison To Become First National Mammal Of The US (washingtonpost.com) 167

mdsolar quotes a report from Washington Post: North America used to be teeming with bison. But in one century, their numbers plummeted from tens of millions to just a few dozen in the wild after hunters nearly wiped out the continent's largest mammals. Now, the bison is about to become the first national mammal of the United States. The National Bison Legacy Act, which designates the bison as the official mammal of the United States, passed the House on Tuesday and the Senate on Thursday. The legislation now heads to President Obama's desk to be signed into law. At a time of political gridlock and partisan bickering, lawmakers agree on an official national mammal. The bison, which will join the bald eagle as a national symbol, represents the country's first successful foray into wildlife conservation. Lobbying for the official mammal designation was a coalition of conservationists; ranchers, for whom bison are business; and tribal groups, such as the InterTribal Buffalo Council, which wants to "restore bison to Indian nations in a manner that is compatible with their spiritual and cultural beliefs and practices."
Businesses

US Steel Says China Is Using Cyber Stealth To Steal Its Secrets (npr.org) 105

An anonymous reader writes: U.S. Steel Corp. filed a trade complaint with the International Trade Commission: "The Chinese industry has formed a cartel that sets purchase and sale prices, and controls production and export volumes to target export markets. The Chinese industry has used its government to steal U.S. Steel's closely guarded trade secrets and uses those trade secrets to produce advanced steel products it could not make on its own." The steelmaker based in Pittsburgh argues its Chinese rivals must be investigated and that they will "use every tool available to fight for fair trade." The ITC has 30 days to review the complaint and determine whether or not it's worth investigating. In the meantime, China's Commerce Ministry said the complaints "have no factual basis," urging the ITC to reject U.S. Steel's case. The investigation will likely take a while if the ITC decides to proceed with an investigation, as they'll be dealing with three separate issues: price fixing, false labeling to avoid duties, and theft of trade secrets.
Businesses

Rovi Acquires DVR Company TiVo For $1.1 Billion (usatoday.com) 50

Major Blud writes: TiVo, maker of one of the first consumer DVR's, has been purchased by IP powerhouse Rovi (formerly known as Macrovision) for $1.1 Billion. The combined company will go by the TiVo name. According to USA Today, "Shares of Rovi (ROVI) were up 3.7% to $17.99 in premarket trading. TiVo (TIVO) shares closed Thursday up 2% to $9.42." The combined company will reportedly hold more than 6,000 patents related to TV and video technology. Both Robi and TiVo represent a $3 billion entertainment technology company, with saving synergies of $100 million expected over the first year, the companies said.
Piracy

US Calls Switzerland An Internet Piracy Haven (torrentfreak.com) 118

An anonymous reader writes: The Office of the United States Trade Representative has published its annual Special 301 Report calling out other nations for failing to live up to U.S. IP enforcement standards. This year European ally Switzerland has been placed on the Watch List for protecting file-sharers and playing host to many pirate sites. "Generally speaking, Switzerland broadly provides high-levels of IPR protection and enforcement in its territory. Switzerland makes important contributions to promoting such protection and enforcement internationally, including in bilateral and multilateral contexts, which are welcomed by the United States," the USTR writes in its assessment.
The Military

North Korea Launches Two Midrange Missiles, Both Tests Fail (cnn.com) 71

An anonymous reader writes: According to South Korean Defense Ministry officials, North Korea fired two midrange Musudan missiles Thursday, and both missiles appear to have failed. The military cannot confirm exactly when the missile exploded but said it "crashed shortly after it was launched," a Defense Ministry official said. U.S. military officials said the missiles traveled an estimated 200 meters from the launchpad. This past weekend, North Korea launched a ballistic missile from a submarine off the east cost of the Korean peninsula. It only traveled about 30 km, well short of the 300 km range that would be considered a successful test. A little more than a week prior to that launch, North Korea failed to launch an intermediate-range missile on the 104th anniversary of the birthday of the country's 'eternal president,' Kim II Sung.
Google

Google CEO Predicts AI-Fueled Future (usatoday.com) 98

Google CEO Sundar Pichai says the next big evolution for technology is AI. "Looking to the future, the next big step will be for the very concept of the 'device' to fade away," Pichai wrote in Google's annual founders' letter. USA Today writes: His vision: Over time, computers, whatever shape they take, a mobile device in your hand or a mini computer on your wrist, "will be an intelligent assistant helping you through your day." This marks the first time anyone other than founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have penned the annual letter outlining Google's mission. "For us, technology is not about the devices or the products we build. Those aren't the end-goals," Pichai wrote in the letter posted Thursday. "Technology is a democratizing force, empowering people through information. Google is an information company. It was when it was founded, and it is today."
Bug

American Samoa Domain Registry Was Exposing Client Data Since the Mid-1990s (softpedia.com) 17

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Softpedia: A British security researcher that goes online only by the name of InfoSec Guy revealed today that American Samoa domain registry ASNIC was using an outdated domain name management system that contained a bug allowing anyone to view the personal details of any .as domain owner. The researcher also claims that anyone knowing of this bug would have been able to edit and delete any .as domain, just by altering the ASNIC domain info URL. Some of the big brands that own .as domains include Opera, Flickr, Twitter, McDonald's, British Gas, Bose, Adidas, the University of Texas, and many link shortening services. This flawed system has been online since the mid-1990s. The researcher contacted ASNIC after discovering the flaw at the end of January 2016, but email exchanges with the domain registry were scarce and confusing, with the registry issuing a statement today denying the incident and calling the allegations "inaccurate, misleading and sexed-up to the max," after previously acknowledging and fixing the security flaws.
HP

With Carly Fiorina As Running Mate, Cruz's H-1B Stance Now In Question (computerworld.com) 327

dcblogs quotes a report from Computerworld: In 2013, Sen. Ted Cruz emerged as one of the Senate's top H-1B visa supporters, and argued for a 500% visa cap increase. But during his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, Cruz had a conversion. Cruz's presidential platform proposed a $110,000 minimum wage for visa workers, among other restrictions, as a way of ending their use as low-cost labor. The move marked a complete turnabout on the H-1B issue. Cruz's decision Wednesday to add former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina as his running mate if he wins the nomination, may make his newly found H-1B beliefs a hard sell. At HP, Fiorina was a prominent supporter of the offshore outsourcing model, said Ron Hira, an associate professor of public policy at Howard University. "To pump up profits, she was an early adopter of the practice, which given HP's status as a leading Silicon Valley firm, pushed other firms to adopt offshoring," said Hira. As offshoring gained, Fiorina played a leading role in defending globalization. To make her point, in 2004, Fiorina said: "There is no job that is America's God-given right anymore," reported the San Francisco Chronicle.
United States

Half Of Americans Think Presidential Nominating System 'Rigged' (huffingtonpost.com) 338

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Huffington Post: More than half of American voters believe that the system U.S. political parties use to pick their candidates for the White House is "rigged" and more than two-thirds want to see the process changed. The results echo complaints from Republican front-runner Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Bernie Sanders that the system is stacked against them in favor of candidates with close ties to their parties -- a critique that has triggered a nationwide debate over whether the process is fair. The United States is one of just a handful of countries that gives regular voters any say in who should make it onto the presidential ballot. But the state-by-state system of primaries, caucuses and conventions is complex. The contests historically were always party events, and while the popular vote has grown in influence since the mid-20th century, the parties still have considerable sway. Just the other day, a poll was conducted by Harvard University showing a majority of young people do not support capitalism. Are the times they are a changin' or are people starting to wake up?
Transportation

Uber's New Policy Fines Riders Who Are Two Minutes Late 172

Uber says it has revised some of its policies to better compensate its drivers. As part of which, the company is testing charging customers a fee if they make a driver wait for more than two minutes (current waiting time is five minutes). Furthermore, the taxi aggregator says it is changing the ride cancellation grace period from five minutes to two minutes, adding that the fees can range from $5 to $10, depending on your city. Our very own Logan Abbott aka Whipslash faced this issue today. Though he tells us that the company refunded his money after he emailed and filed a complaint. The Verge reports:The feature was built in response to drivers' complaints about waiting for passengers, Uber said. In a statement released to The Verge and TechCrunch, Uber noted that these updated terms would ensure that "the whole system runs more smoothly and the Uber experience improves for everyone." Reduced wait times and the ability to charge for idle time, as well as compensation if riders cancel after two minutes, obviously benefit drivers, earning them a few extra dollars and allowing them to move onto the next fare sooner. But how this will make the passenger experience smoother is unclear. Traffic, wrong turns, and faulty GPS all contribute to making pick-up times unreliable. This can leave passengers out in the cold, waiting for drivers to arrive. Uber explained that if a driver is more than five minutes late for an estimated arrival, users can cancel the ride with no penalty.
Movies

Report: Comcast In Talks To Buy DreamWorks For $3 Billion (usatoday.com) 49

An anonymous reader quotes a report from USA Today: Comcast is in talks to buy DreamWorks Animation in a multi-billion-dollar deal, The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg are reporting. The cost of the deal would be more than $3 billion, according to both news organizations, citing unnamed sources. Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation, has been searching for a buyer for the company, which has a current market value of $2.3 billion. DreamWorks is based in Glendale, Calif., and was founded in 1994 by Katzenberg, filmmaker Steven Spielberg and movie and music executive David Geffen. The animation unit was spun off in 2004. Philadelphia-based Comcast has two primary businesses, Comcast Cable and NBCUniversal. Comcast also owns Universal Parks and Resorts. Comcast already owns an animation studio, Illumination Entertainment, known for its work on the Despicable Me and Minions movies.
Businesses

A Majority Of Millennials Now Reject Capitalism, Poll Shows (washingtonpost.com) 1069

A new poll shows that a majority of young people do not support capitalism. The study was conducted by Harvard University, which polled young adults ages 18-29. It found that 51 percent of those polled rejected capitalism, that is to say, they did not support it. Only 42 percent said they support capitalism -- there was a margin of error of 2.4 percentage points. When asked what alternative system they would prefer, there wasn't a clear winner. Just 33 percent said they supported socialism. When talking about politics or economics, it can get complicated and the poll does little to shed light on what parts of capitalism young people dislike or what parts of socialism young people like. It does appear to suggest young people are frustrated with the status quo and are more focused on the flaws of free markets.
Earth

Rise In CO2 Has 'Greened Planet Earth' (bbc.com) 336

schwit1 quotes a report from BBC: Carbon dioxide emissions from industrial society have driven a huge growth in trees and other plants. A new study says that if the extra green leaves prompted by rising CO2 levels were laid in a carpet, it would cover twice the continental USA. Climate skeptics argue the findings show that the extra CO2 is actually benefiting the planet. But the researchers say the fertilization effect diminishes over time. They warn the positives of CO2 are likely to be outweighed by the negatives. The lead author, Professor Ranga Myneni from Boston University, told BBC News the extra tree growth would not compensate for global warming, rising sea levels, melting glaciers, ocean acidification, the loss of Arctic sea ice, and the prediction of more severe tropical storms. The new study is published in the journal Nature Climate Change by a team of 32 authors from 24 institutions in eight countries. A new study has also shown that ever since Americans first heard the term global warming in the 1970's, the weather has actually improved for most people living in the U.S. The study published in the journal Nature found that 80% of the U.S. population lives in counties experiencing more pleasant weather than they did four decades ago.
Earth

New 'Tunneling' State of Water Molecules Discovered by Scientists (inhabitat.com) 60

MikeChino quotes a report from Inhabitat: Scientists just discovered a new state of water molecules that displays some pretty unexpected characteristics. This discovery, made by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), reveals that water molecules "tunnel" in ultra-small hexagonal channels (measuring only 5 angstrom across) of the mineral beryl. Basically, this means the molecules spread out when they are trapped in confined spaces, taking a new shape entirely. The ORNL used neutron scattering and computational modeling to reveal the "tunneling" state of water that breaks the rules of known fundamentals seen in gas, liquid, or solid state. The researchers said the discovery describes the behavior of water molecules present in tightly confined areas such as cell walls, soils, and rocks. The study was published in Physical Review Letters on April 22.
Government

Your Pay Is About To Go Up (gawker.com) 271

The Department of Labor's overtime rule is expected to be updated some time later this summer, and when it does, you will soon be entitled to overtime pay if you make less than $50,000 per year. According to Gawker, "It now appears that even if you are a salaried employee or some sort of 'manager,' you will still be entitled to time-and-a-half pay for working more than 40 hours per week, as long as your total salary falls under the threshold." How did they come to this conclusion? Gawker points out that the Department of Labor promotes a Wall Street Journal story which says that "The threshold would be increased to $970, or $50,440 annually. That level is about the 40th percentile of weekly earnings for salaried workers." Hamilton Nolan writes, "This rule has been a matter of political contention for years. But now that it is actually approaching, its import is becoming clear: overtime pay, which has long been isolated to a minority of workers, is about to be extended to almost the entire middle class."
Encryption

US Begins Dropping 'Cyberbombs' On ISIS (nytimes.com) 121

In what appears to be a significant shift in its tactic to battle against the terrorist organization, the U.S. has begun launching cyberattacks against ISIS (non-paywall link). The New York Times reports that the Department of Defense's Cyber Command unit is mounting cyberattacks against the terrorist organization. The Cyber Command unit aims to stop the organization from spreading its message. The Times reports: The goal of the new campaign is to disrupt the ability of the Islamic State to spread its message, attract new adherents, circulate orders from commanders and carry out day-to-day functions, like paying its fighters. A benefit of the administration's exceedingly rare public discussion of the campaign, officials said, is to rattle the Islamic State's commanders, who have begun to realize that sophisticated hacking efforts are manipulating their data. Potential recruits may also be deterred if they come to worry about the security of their communications with the militant group. "We are dropping cyberbombs," Robert O. Work, deputy secretary of defense said. "We have never done that before."
Government

Spy Chief Complains That Edward Snowden Sped Up Spread of Encryption By 7 Years (theintercept.com) 242

An anonymous reader cites an article on The Intercept: The director of national intelligence on Monday blamed NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden for advancing the development of user-friendly, widely available strong encryption. "As a result of the Snowden revelations, the onset of commercial encryption has accelerated by seven years," James Clapper said. The shortened timeline has had "a profound effect on our ability to collect, particularly against terrorists," he said. When pressed by The Intercept to explain his figure, Clapper said it came from the National Security Agency. "The projected growth maturation and installation of commercially available encryption -- what they had forecasted for seven years ahead, three years ago, was accelerated to now, because of the revelation of the leaks." Asked if that was a good thing, leading to better protection for American consumers from the arms race of hackers constantly trying to penetrate software worldwide, Clapper answered no. "From our standpoint, it's not ⦠it's not a good thing," he said."Of all the things I've been accused of," Snowden said, "this is the one of which I am most proud."
United States

Bill Nye Slams Donald Trump, Republicans On Climate Change (cnn.com) 257

An anonymous reader writes: On the eve of Earth Day, environmental activist Bill Nye told CNN that while everybody is more aware of climate change "than ever before," we still have a long way to go (annoying auto-play videos). The science educator and engineer, who became an icon on his 1990s hit show "Bill Nye the Science Guy," criticized the Republican presidential candidates and the fossil fuel industry for not acknowledging the deleterious effects of climate change. "There's still a very strong contingent of people who are in denial about climate change," Nye said. "And if you don't believe me, look at the three people currently running for president of the world's most influential country who are ... climate change deniers," Nye said, referring to the three Republican presidential candidates: Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich.

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