Government

Putin's Internet Czar Wants To Ban Windows On Government PCs 305

SmartAboutThings writes: The Russian government is allegedly looking to ban Microsoft's Windows operating system, increase taxes on foreign technology companies, develop its homegrown OS and encourage local tech companies to grow. All these proposals comes from German Klimenko, Vladimir Putin's new 'internet czar, as Bloomberg describes him. In a 90-minute interview, Klimenko said forcing Google and Apple to pay more taxes and banning Microsoft Windows from government computers are necessary measures, as he is trying to raise taxes on U.S. companies, thus helping local Russian competitors such as Yandex and Mail.ru.
Businesses

Sen. Blumenthal Demands Lifting of IT 'Gag' Order (computerworld.com) 219

dcblogs writes: U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) is asking the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the layoff and replacement of IT workers by foreign workers at a state energy utility. But he is also demanding that the utility, Eversource Energy, drop a particularly restrictive non-disparagement clause that laid off employees had to sign to receive their severance. This clause bars discussion "that would tend to disparage or discredit" the utility. [emphasis added] He wants the employees, who had to train foreign replacements, to be able to state "honestly what happened to them."
Government

North Korea Accused of Testing an ICBM With Missile Launch Into Space (examiner.com) 286

MarkWhittington writes: Reuters reported that North Korea launched a long-range missile that is said to have placed a satellite into space. The launch happened much to the consternation of North Korea's neighbors, South Korea and Japan, as well as the United States. Pyongyang claimed that the missile launch was part of that country's peaceful space program. But, other countries are pretty sure that the launch was a test of an ICBM capable of placing a nuclear weapon on any target in the world, particularly the United States.
Space

Giant Magellan Telescope Set To Revolutionize Ground-Based Astronomy 105

StartsWithABang writes: If you want to see farther, deeper and at higher resolution than ever before into the Universe, you need four things: the largest aperture possible, the best-quality optical systems and cameras/CCDs, the least interference from the atmosphere, and the analytical techniques and power to make the most of every photon. While the last three have improved tremendously over the past 25 years, telescope size hasn't increased at all. That's all about to change over the next decade, as three telescopes — the Giant Magellan Telescope, the Thirty Meter Telescope and the European Extremely Large Telescope — are set to take us from 8-10 meter class astronomy to 25-40 meter class. While the latter two are fighting over funding, construction rights and other political concerns, the Giant Magellan Telescope is already under construction, and is poised to be the first in line to begin the future of ground-based astronomy.
Government

UK Wants Authority To Serve Warrants In U.S. (usatoday.com) 144

schwit1 writes with this news, as reported by USA Today: British and U.S. officials have been negotiating a plan that could allow British authorities to directly serve wiretap orders on U.S. communications companies in criminal and national security inquiries, U.S. officials confirmed Thursday. The talks are aimed at allowing British authorities access to a range of data, from interceptions of live communications to archived emails involving British suspects, according to the officials, who are not authorized to comment publicly. ... Under the proposed plan, British authorities would not have access to records of U.S. citizens if they emerged in the British investigations. Congressional approval would be required of any deal negotiated by the two countries.
Government

Free State Project Reaches Goal of 20,000 Signups (freestateproject.org) 459

Okian Warrior writes: As a followup to our recent story, at 11AM Tuesday, Free State Project president Carla Gericke announced the FSP had reached its goal of recruiting 20,000 participants. The 20,000 mark is significant, because it 'triggers the move' – the mass migration of the Free State Project participants who have all agreed to move to New Hampshire within the next five years. So far, almost 2,000 have already relocated to the state.
Government

Everything You Need To Know About the Big New Data-Privacy Bill In Congress 29

erier2003 writes with this excerpt from The Daily Dot: The United States and the European Union have agreed to a transatlantic data-sharing arrangement to protect U.S. companies' overseas activities and European citizens' privacy, but another initiative—one that's still working its way through Congress—could be just important to U.S.–E.U. relations and transnational privacy rights. The Judicial Redress Act is considered essential to a broader agreement between the U.S. and Europe over the sharing of data in criminal and terrorism investigations. The negotiations over the newly announced E.U.–U.S. Privacy Shield may have received more attention, but the concerns at the heart of this bill are no less important.
Government

Marco Rubio Wants To Permanently Extend NSA Mass Surveillance (nationaljournal.com) 350

SonicSpike writes: Marco Rubio wants Congress to permanently extend the authorities governing several of the National Security Agency's controversial spying programs, including its mass surveillance of domestic phone records. The Florida Republican and 2016 presidential hopeful penned an op-ed on Tuesday condemning President Obama's counterterrorism policies and warning that the U.S. has not learned the "fundamental lessons of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001." Rubio called on Congress to permanently reauthorize core provisions of the post-9/11 USA Patriot Act, which are due to sunset on June 1 of this year and provide the intelligence community with much of its surveillance power. "This year, a new Republican majority in both houses of Congress will have to extend current authorities under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and I urge my colleagues to consider a permanent extension of the counterterrorism tools our intelligence community relies on to keep the American people safe," Rubio wrote in a Fox News op-ed.
Piracy

All 12 Member Countries Sign Off On the TPP (freezenet.ca) 186

Dangerous_Minds writes: News is surfacing that the TPP has officially been signed by all 12 member countries. This marks the beginning of the final step towards ratification. Freezenet has a quick rundown of what copyright provisions are contained in the agreement, including traffic shaping, site blocking, enforcement of copyright when infringement is "imminent," and a government mandate for ISPs to install backdoors for the purpose of tracking copyright infringement on the Internet.
Mars

Congressional Testimony Says NASA Has No Plan For the Journey To Mars (blastingnews.com) 310

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.
Businesses

Senators Blast Comcast, Other Cable Firms For "Unfair Billing Practices" (arstechnica.com) 176

An anonymous reader writes: Six Democratic US senators [Wednesday] criticized Comcast and other TV and broadband providers for charging erroneous fees, such as cable modem rental fees billed to customers who bought their own modems. The senators have written a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler asking the commission to 'stop unfair billing practices.'.....Last year, more than 30 percent of complaints to the FCC about Internet service and 38 percent of complaints about TV service were about billing...
Censorship

Julian Assange May Surrender To British Police On Friday (twitter.com) 327

bestweasel writes: As reported by The Guardian and others, Julian Assange has announced via Wikileaks that: "Should the UN announce tomorrow that I have lost my case against the United Kingdom and Sweden, I shall exit the embassy at noon on Friday to accept arrest by British police as there is no meaningful prospect of further appeal. ... However, should I prevail and the state parties be found to have acted unlawfully, I expect the immediate return of my passport and the termination of further attempts to arrest me."
Censorship

Beyond the Liberator: A 3D-Printed Plastic 9mm Semi-Auto Pistol 295

Profiled at Ars Technica is the (mostly) 3D-printed semi-auto pistol design from a West Virginia maker known as Derwood. The PLA-based design, which Derwood calls the Shuty MP-1, isn't quite all-plastic; like others that are roughly similar, it utilizes metal for a few parts that aren't practical in plastic. (Ars says just the barrel and springs, but it looks like metal is used for the guide rod and an internal plate, as well as for the screws that hold the whole thing together.) The core of the gun is a lower that bears a strong resemblance to an AR-15's, but the assembled gun looks to me more like a Skorpion submachine gun. Unlike Cody Wilson's single-shot Liberator pistol (mentioned here a few times before), the design files are not available for download -- at least not yet: "Not long," Derwood writes in a comment on a YouTube video of the pistol's assembly.
United States

Former DoE Employee Ensnared By Secret-Selling Sting Pleads Guilty (washingtonpost.com) 40

mdsolar writes: A former Energy Department employee accused of attempting to infiltrate the agency's computer system to steal nuclear secrets and sell them to a foreign government pleaded guilty Tuesday to a reduced charge of attempting to damage protected government computers in an email "spear-phishing attack." Charles Harvey Eccleston, a former employee at the department and at the independent Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), was arrested March 27 by Philippine authorities after an undercover FBI sting operation. Eccleston, 62, a U.S. citizen who had been living in the Philippines since 2011, was "terminated" from his job at the NRC in 2010, according to the Justice Department. In January 2015, the department said, he targeted more than 80 Energy Department employees in Washington at four national nuclear labs with emails containing what he thought were links to malicious websites that, if activated, could infect and damage computers.
It's funny.  Laugh.

John Cleese Warns Campus Political Correctness Leading Towards 1984 (washingtonexaminer.com) 668

An anonymous reader writes: Ashe Schow writes at the Washington Examiner that, "The Monty Python co-founder, in a video for Internet forum Big Think, railed against the current wave of hypersensitivity on college campuses, saying he has been warned against performing on campuses. "[Psychiatrist Robin Skynner] said: 'If people can't control their own emotions, then they have to start trying to control other people's behavior,'" Cleese said. "And when you're around super-sensitive people, you cannot relax and be spontaneous because you have no idea what's going to upset them next." Cleese said that it's one thing to be "mean" to "people who are not able to look after themselves very well," but it was another to take it to "the point where any kind of criticism of any individual or group could be labeled cruel." Cleese added that "comedy is critical," and if society starts telling people "we mustn't criticize or offend them," then humor goes out the window. "With humor goes a sense of proportion," Cleese said. "And then, as far as I'm concerned, you're living in 1984." Cleese is just the latest comedian to lecture college students about being so sensitive.
United States

Journalist Claims Secret US Flight 'To Capture Snowden' Overflew Scottish Airspace (thenational.scot) 198

schwit1 writes with a story in The National (a newspaper which makes no bones about it support for an independent Scotland) describing the charge laid by a Scottish journalist that in 2013 a secret U.S. flight involving a plane involved in CIA renditions crossed Scottish airspace, as part of a secret plan to capture whistleblower Edward Snowden. Alex Salmond, then Scotland's First Minister, is calling for transparency with regard to the knowledge that the UK government had of the flight and its mission. According to the report, The plane, which passed above the Outer Hebrides, the Highlands and Aberdeenshire, was dispatched from the American east coast on June 24 2013, the day after Snowden left Hong Kong for Moscow. The craft was used in controversial US 'rendition' missions. Reports by Scottish journalist Duncan Campbell claim the aircraft, traveling well above the standard aviation height at 45,000 feet and without a filed flight plan, was part of a mission to capture Snowden following his release of documents revealing mass surveillance by US and UK secret services. ... [N977GA, the aircraft named as involved in this flight] was previously identified by Dave Willis in Air Force Monthly as an aircraft used for CIA rendition flights of US prisoners. This included the extradition of cleric Abu Hamza from the UK. Snowden accused the Danish Government of conspiring in his arrest. In response to flight reports, he said: "Remember when the Prime Minister Rasmussen said Denmark shouldn't respect asylum law in my case? Turns out he had a secret."
Democrats

Perfect Coin-Toss Record Broke 6 Clinton-Sanders Deadlocks In Iowa (marketwatch.com) 634

schwit1 writes: While it was hard to call a winner between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders last night, it's easy to say who was luckier. The race between the Democrat presidential hopefuls was so tight in the Iowa caucus Monday that in at least six precincts, the decision on awarding a county delegate came down to a coin toss. And Clinton won all six, media reports said.
The Military

Israeli Vulture Suspected of Spying Returned 109

New submitter red crab writes: BBC reports that a griffon vulture with GPS tracking device attached to its leg that was part of conservation program at Tel Aviv University was captured in Lebanon after it was suspected to be a Israeli spy. UN Liaison forces helped secure the release of the bird after holding talks with Lebanese and Israeli officials.
Canada

A Legal Name Change Puts 'None of the Above' On Canadian Ballot (foxnews.com) 171

PolygamousRanchKid writes: The ballot to fill a legislative seat in Canada next month includes none of the above—and it's a real person. Sheldon Bergson, 46, had his name legally changed to Above Znoneofthe and is now a candidate for the Ontario legislature, the CBC reports. The election is Feb. 11. The ballot lists candidates in alphabetical order by surname so his name will be the 10th of the 10 candidates as Znoneofthe Above, according to CBC. One of his opponents is running on the line of the None of The Above Party. Maybe the American folks can learn from their cousins up north? Shouldn't every election have a line for "None of the above"? I can't wait until Little Bobby Tables hits 35.

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