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Updated: 8 min 39 sec ago

850 Billion NSA Surveillance Records Searchable By Domestic Law Enforcement

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 6:15pm
onproton (3434437) writes The Intercept reported today on classified documents revealing that the NSA has built its own "Google-like" search engine to provide over 850 billion collected records directly to law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and the DEA. Reporter Ryan Gallagher explains, "The documents provide the first definitive evidence that the NSA has for years made massive amounts of surveillance data directly accessible to domestic law enforcement agencies." The search engine, called ICREACH, allows analysts to search an array of databases, some of which contain metadata collected on innocent American citizens, for the purposes of "foreign intelligence." However, questions have been raised over its potential for abuse in what is known as "parallel construction," a process in which agencies use surveillance resources in domestic investigations, and then later cover it up by creating a different evidence trail to use in court.

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The Evolution of Diet

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 5:35pm
An anonymous reader writes Here's a story from National Geographic that looks at the historical diets of people from around the world and what that diet might look like in the future. From the article: "So far studies of foragers like the Tsimane, Arctic Inuit, and Hadza have found that these peoples traditionally didn't develop high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, or cardiovascular disease. 'A lot of people believe there is a discordance between what we eat today and what our ancestors evolved to eat,' says paleoanthropologist Peter Ungar of the University of Arkansas. The notion that we're trapped in Stone Age bodies in a fast-food world is driving the current craze for Paleolithic diets. The popularity of these so-called caveman or Stone Age diets is based on the idea that modern humans evolved to eat the way hunter-gatherers did during the Paleolithic—the period from about 2.6 million years ago to the start of the agricultural revolution—and that our genes haven't had enough time to adapt to farmed foods."

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NRC Analyst Calls To Close Diablo Canyon, CA's Last Remaining Nuclear Plant

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 4:51pm
An anonymous reader writes Michael Peck, who for five years was Diablo Canyon's lead on-site inspector, says in a 42-page, confidential report that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is not applying the safety rules it set out for the plant's operation. The document, which was obtained and verified by The Associated Press, does not say the plant itself is unsafe. Instead, according to Peck's analysis, no one knows whether the facility's key equipment can withstand strong shaking from those faults — the potential for which was realized decades after the facility was built. Continuing to run the reactors, Peck writes, "challenges the presumption of nuclear safety."

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NRC Analyst Calls For Closure of Diablo Canyon, CA's Last Remaining Nuclear Plant

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 4:51pm
An anonymous reader writes Michael Peck, who for five years was Diablo Canyon's lead on-site inspector, says in a 42-page, confidential report that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is not applying the safety rules it set out for the plant's operation. The document, which was obtained and verified by The Associated Press, does not say the plant itself is unsafe. Instead, according to Peck's analysis, no one knows whether the facility's key equipment can withstand strong shaking from those faults — the potential for which was realized decades after the facility was built. Continuing to run the reactors, Peck writes, "challenges the presumption of nuclear safety."

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Facebook Cleans Up News Feed By Reducing Click-Bait Headlines

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 4:07pm
An anonymous reader writes "Facebook today announced further plans to clean up the News Feed by reducing stories with click-bait headlines as well as stories that have links shared in the captions of photos or within status updates. The move comes just four months after the social network reduced Like-baiting posts, repeated content, and spammy links."

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Whole Organ Grown In Animal For First Time

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 3:20pm
An anonymous reader writes British scientists have produced the first working organ grown from scratch in a living animal. Reprogrammed cells created in a lab were used in a mouse to produce a thymus. The organ was created using connective tissue cells from a mouse embryo and were converted into a different cell strain by changing a genetic switch in their DNA. The resulting cells grew into the whole organ after being injected. It has only been tested on mice so far, but researchers at Edinburgh University say that within a decade the procedure could be effective and safe enough for humans. The findings were published in Nature Cell Biology.

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Is Dong Nguyen Trolling Gamers With "Swing Copters"?

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 2:37pm
Nerval's Lobster writes Given its extreme difficulty, it's tempting to think that the new Swing Copters is Dong Nguyen's attempt at a joke (You thought 'Flappy Bird' was hard? Check this out!), or maybe even a meta-comment on the emerging "masocore" gaming category. Or maybe he just wanted to make another game, and the idea of an ultra-difficult one appealed. Whatever the case, Nguyen can rely on the enduring popularity of Flappy Bird to propel Swing Copters to the top of the Google and iOS charts. But his games' popularity illuminates a rough issue for developers of popular (or even just semi-popular) apps everywhere: how do you deal with all the copycats flooding the world's app stores? Although Google and Apple boast that their respective app stores feature hundreds of thousands of apps, sometimes it seems as if most of those apps are crude imitations of other apps. The perpetual fear among app developers is that they'll score a modest hit—only to see their years of hard work undermined by someone who cobbles together a clone in a matter of weeks or days. If Apple and Google want to make things friendlier out there for developers, they might consider stricter enforcement policies for the blatant rip-offs filling their digital storefronts.

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Choose Your Side On the Linux Divide

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 1:54pm
snydeq writes The battle over systemd exposes a fundamental gap between the old Unix guard and a new guard of Linux developers and admins, writes Deep End's Paul Venezia. "Last week I posted about the schism brewing over systemd and the curiously fast adoption of this massive change to many Linux distributions. If there's one thing that systemd does extremely well, it is to spark heated discussions that devolve into wild, teeth-gnashing rants from both sides. Clearly, systemd is a polarizing subject. If nothing else, that very fact should give one pause. Fundamental changes in the structure of most Linux distributions should not be met with such fervent opposition. It indicates that no matter how reasonable a change may seem, if enough established and learned folks disagree with the change, then perhaps it bears further inspection before going to production. Clearly, that hasn't happened with systemd."

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Numerous Methane Leaks Found On Atlantic Sea Floor

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 1:08pm
sciencehabit writes Researchers have discovered 570 plumes of methane percolating up from the sea floor off the eastern coast of the United States, a surprisingly high number of seeps in a relatively quiescent part of the ocean. The seeps suggest that methane's contribution to climate change has been underestimated in some models. And because most of the seeps lie at depths where small changes in temperature could be releasing the methane, it is possible that climate change itself could be playing a role in turning some of them on.

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Securing the US Electrical Grid

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 12:24pm
An anonymous reader writes The Center for the Study of the Presidency & Congress (CSPC) launched a project to bring together representatives from the Executive Branch, Congress, and the private sector to discuss how to better secure the U.S. electric grid from the threats of cyberattack, physical attack, electromagnetic pulse, and inclement weather. In this interview with Help Net Security, Dan Mahaffee, the Director of Policy at CSPC, discusses critical security challenges.

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Systems That Can Secretly Track Where Cellphone Users Go Around the Globe

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 11:40am
cold fjord writes with this story about the proliferation of companies willing to sell tracking information and systems. Makers of surveillance systems are offering governments across the world the ability to track the movements of almost anybody who carries a cellphone, whether they are blocks away or on another continent. The technology works by exploiting an essential fact of all cellular networks: They must keep detailed, up-to-the-minute records on the locations of their customers to deliver calls and other services to them. Surveillance systems are secretly collecting these records to map people's travels over days, weeks or longer ... It is unclear which governments have acquired these tracking systems, but one industry official ... said that dozens of countries have bought or leased such technology in recent years. This rapid spread underscores how the burgeoning, multibillion-dollar surveillance industry makes advanced spying technology available worldwide. "Any tin-pot dictator with enough money to buy the system could spy on people anywhere in the world," said Eric King, deputy director of Privacy International.

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Robo Brain Project Wants To Turn the Internet Into a Robotic Hivemind

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 10:55am
malachiorion writes Researchers are force-feeding the internet into a system called Robo Brain. The system has absorbed a billion images and 120,000 YouTube videos so far, and aims to digest 10 times that within a year, in order to create machine-readable commands for robots—how to pour coffee, for example. From the article: "The goal is as direct as the project’s name—to create a centralized, always-online brain for robots to tap into. The more Robo Brain learns from the internet, the more direct lessons it can share with connected machines. How do you turn on a toaster? Robo Brain knows, and can share 3D images of the appliance and the relevant components. It can tell a robot what a coffee mug looks like, and how to carry it by the handle without dumping the contents. It can recognize when a human is watching a television by gauging relative positions, and advise against wandering between the two. Robo Brain looks at a chair or a stool, and knows that these are things that people sit on. It’s a system that understands context, and turns complex associations into direct commands for physical robots."

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Put A Red Cross PSA In Front Of the ISIS Beheading Video

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 10:10am
Bennett Haselton writes After footage of James Foley's beheading by ISIS terrorists was posted online on Tuesday, Twitter and Youtube elected to remove any footage or links to the footage posted by users. Obviously this reduces the incentive for terrorist groups to post such content, by shrinking their audience, but it also reduces the public's access to information. Would it be ethical to make the content available, if it was preceded by an advertisement for a cause that runs counter to everything ISIS stands for? Read below to see what Bennett has to say.

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New Nail Polish Alerts Wearers To Date Rape Drugs

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 9:24am
stephendavion writes Checking to see if your drink has been tampered with is about to get a whole lot more discreet. Thanks to the work of four North Carolina State University undergrads, you'll soon be able to find out without reaching for a testing tool. That's because you'll already have five of them on each hand. The team — Ankesh Madan, Stephen Gray, Tasso Von Windheim, and Tyler Confrey-Maloney — has come up with a creative and unobtrusive way to package chemicals that react when exposed to Rohypnol and GHB. They put it in nail polish that they're calling Undercover Colors.

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13-Year-Old Finds Fungus Deadly To AIDS Patients Growing On Trees

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 8:38am
An anonymous reader writes Researchers have pinpointed the environmental source of fungal infections that have been sickening HIV/AIDS patients in Southern California for decades. It literally grows on trees. The discovery is based on the science project of a 13-year-old girl, who spent the summer gathering soil and tree samples from areas around Los Angeles hardest hit by infections of the fungus named Cryptococcus gattii.

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Princeton Nuclear Fusion Reactor Will Run Again

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 7:48am
mdsolar writes with good news for the National Spherical Torus Experiment. Tucked away from major roadways and nestled amid more than 80 acres of forest sits a massive warehouse-like building where inside, a device that can produce temperatures hotter than the sun has sat cold and quiet for more than two years. But the wait is almost over for the nuclear fusion reactor to get back up and running at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. "We're very excited and we're all anxious to turn that machine back on," said Adam Cohen, deputy director for operations at PPPL. The National Spherical Torus Experiment (NSTX) has been shut down since 2012 as it underwent a $94 million upgrade that will make it what officials say will be the most powerful fusion facility of its kind in the world. It is expected to be ready for operations in late winter or early spring, Cohen said.

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Lizard Squad Bomb Threat Diverts Sony Exec's Plane To Phoenix

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 7:06am
As if cutting off from their games millions of users wasn't enough for the day, Forbes reports that [the] hacker collective (or individual) known as the “Lizard Squad” succeeded in taking offline many gaming services including Blizzard’s Battle.net and Sony PSN. But things took a turn from irritating DDoS attacks to another level of harassment earlier this afternoon when the group took to Twitter to announce publicly that it a believed the flight carrying Sony Online Entertainment President John Smedley had explosives on board. The flight had been bound from Dallas to San Diego, but in response to the bomb threat, the plane was diverted to Phoenix.

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Munich Council Say Talk of LiMux Demise Is Greatly Exaggerated

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 6:00am
ndogg (158021) writes "The rumors of Munich's city government going back to Microsoft seem to have been greatly exaggerated. There was a review of the city's IT systems that was called for by the mayor, but it wasn't solely just to decide on whether to move back to Microsoft. And while there have been complaints about LiMux, they mostly seem to concern compatibility with OpenOffice.org, which may well be resolved by switching to LibreOffice."

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Aussie Airlines To Allow Uninterrupted Mobile Use During Flights

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 3:13am
Bismillah (993337) writes "While you're in coverage during take-off and landing, at least. Passengers flying with Qantas and Virgin Australia might be able to leave their devices on from as early as September this year after the Civil Aviation Authority decided it was no longer unsafe to do so."

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Airbnb To Hand Over Data On 124 Hosts To New York Attorney General

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 12:12am
Peer-to-peer lodging service Airbnb has agreed to hand over data on 124 of its hosts in New York as part of an investigation by the state's Attorney General into the operation of illegal hotels. The AG first requested data for almost all of Airbnb's hosts in the state, but after "legal wrangling," that number was whittled down to the current 124. The data in question will be unredacted personal information, meaning names and addresses. In a blog post, Airbnb's David Hantman said, "nothing about these hosting profiles suggests [the Attorney General] is after anyone but individuals who may be flagrantly misusing our platform." Airbnb is confident that the targets of this request are hosts considered to be "bad actors," but they don't explain what classifies somebody as a "bad actor."

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