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Updated: 4 hours 55 min ago

Snowden: 'Governments Can Reduce Our Dignity To That Of Tagged Animals'

4 hours 59 min ago
An anonymous reader writes: NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden writes a report on The Guardian explaining why leaking information about wrongdoing is a vital act of resistance. "One of the challenges of being a whistleblower is living with the knowledge that people continue to sit, just as you did, at those desks, in that unit, throughout the agency; who see what you saw and comply in silence, without resistance or complaint," Snowden writes. "They learn to live not just with untruths but with unnecessary untruths, dangerous untruths, corrosive untruths. It is a double tragedy: what begins as a survival strategy ends with the compromise of the human being it sought to preserve and the diminishing of the democracy meant to justify the sacrifice." He goes on to explain the importance and significance of leaks, how not all leaks are alike, nor are their makers, and how our connected devices come into play in the post-9/11 period. Snowden writes, "By preying on the modern necessity to stay connected, governments can reduce our dignity to something like that of tagged animals, the primary difference being that we paid for the tags and they are in our pockets."

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A Small Group of Journalists Control and Decide What Should Trend On Facebook

5 hours 43 min ago
An anonymous reader writes: According to five former members of Facebook's trending news team, "news curators" as they're known internally, Zuckerberg and company take a downright dim view of the media industry and its talent. In interviews with Gizmodo, these former curators described grueling work conditions, humiliating treatment, and a secretive, imperious culture in which they were treated as disposable outsiders. After doing a tour in Facebook's news trenches, almost all of them came to believe that they were there not to work, but to serve as training modules for Facebook's algorithm." "We choose what's trending," said one former news curator. From personal experience I can share a similar incident. An Indian outlet extensively wrote about flaws in Facebook's Free Basics. Few days later, "Ban [that outlet's name]" was trending on Facebook. Clicking on it, for the first few hours, literally didn't return any relevant result, as nobody was talking about it, and no media outlet had written about it. It was after more than a day or so after this fabricated item kept trending that some other outlets started to write about it. (That's common in the media industry: writing about trending topics.) In the past, we've also seen Facebook employees ask whether the company should do anything to stop Donald Trump from becoming the president.

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Should You Pay Sales Tax on Internet Purchases? South Dakota Law Could Be The Test

6 hours 14 min ago
An anonymous reader shares a PCWorld report: A new South Dakota law may end up determining whether most U.S. residents are required to pay sales taxes on their Internet purchases. The South Dakota law, passed by the Legislature there in March, requires many out-of-state online and catalog retailers to collect the state's sales tax from customers. The law is shaping up to be a legal test case challenging a 25-year-old U.S. Supreme Court ruling that prohibits states from levying sales taxes on remote purchases. Unless courts overturn the South Dakota law, it will embolden other states to pass similar Internet sales tax rules, critics said. The law could "set the course for enormous tax and administrative burdens on businesses across the country," Steve DelBianco, executive director of e-commerce trade group NetChoice, said in a statement. If dozens of states adopt Internet sales taxes, online sellers could face audits and changing tax rules in thousands of taxing jurisdictions nationwide. Even with software that could make tax calculations easier, that would be a burden, NetChoice says. And online shoppers could end up paying up to 10 percent more for many products.

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Prince Quietly Helped Launch a Coding Program For Inner City Youth

6 hours 54 min ago
An anonymous reader writes: Though many would say Prince changed the world through his music, the artist also took a hands-on approach to changing the world beyond music. The global superstar was the inspiration behind YesWeCode, an Oakland nonprofit, which works to help young people from minority backgrounds enter the tech world. The idea for the program came from a conversation between Prince and his friend Van Jones, who heads Rebuild the Dream charity, following the 2012 shooting of teenager Travoyn Martin. "Prince said, 'A black kid wearing a hoodie might be seen as a thug. A white kid wearing a hoodie might be seen as a Silicon Valley genius. Let's teach the black kids how to be like Mark Zuckerberg.'" Jones told CNN. The program is aiming to teach 100,000 low-income non-white teenagers how to write code, and was launched at the 20th Anniversary Essence Festival in New Orleans in 2014.

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Biotech Company To Attempt Revitalizing Nervous Systems of Brain-Dead Patients

7 hours 34 min ago
Sarah Knapton, writing for The Telegraph: A groundbreaking trial to see if it is possible to regenerate the brains of dead people, has won approval from health watchdogs. A biotech company called BioQuark in the U.S. has been granted ethical permission to recruit 20 patients who have been declared clinically dead from a traumatic brain injury, to test whether parts of their central nervous system can be brought back to life. Scientists will use a combination of therapies, which include injecting the brain with stem cells and a cocktail of peptides, as well as deploying lasers and nerve stimulation techniques which have been shown to bring patients out of comas. The trial participants will have been certified dead and only kept alive through life support. They will be monitored for several months using brain imaging equipment to look for signs of regeneration, particularly in the upper spinal cord -- the lowest region of the brain stem which controls independent breathing and heartbeat.

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Samsung Smart Home Flaws Let Hackers Pick Connected Doors From Anywhere In the World

8 hours 19 min ago
Researchers have discovered flaws in Samsung's Smart Home automation system, which if exploited, allows them to carry a range of remote attacks. These attacks include digitally picking connected door locks from anywhere in the world. The flaws have been documented by researchers from the University of Michigan ahead of the 2016 IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy. "All of the above attacks expose a household to significant harm -- break-ins, theft, misinformation, and vandalism," the researchers wrote in a paper. "The attack vectors are not specific to a particular device and are broadly applicable." Dan Goodin, reports for Ars Technica: Other attacks included a malicious app that was able to obtain the PIN code to a smart lock and send it in a text message to attackers, disable a preprogrammed vacation mode setting, and issue a fake fire alarm. The one posing the biggest threat was the remote lock-picking attack, which the researchers referred to as a "backdoor pin code injection attack." It exploited vulnerabilities in an existing app in the SmartThings app store that gives an attacker sustained and largely surreptitious access to users' homes. The attack worked by obtaining the OAuth token that the app and SmartThings platform relied on to authenticate legitimate users. The only interaction it required was for targeted users to click on an attacker-supplied HTTPS link that looked much like this one that led to the authentic SmartThings login page. The user would then enter the username and password. A flaw in the app allowed the link to redirect the credentials away from the SmartThings page to an attacker-controlled address. From then on, the attackers had the same remote access over the lock that users had.

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Taking a 'Gap Year' Before College Is a British Tradition That's Becoming a Big Trend In The US

8 hours 59 min ago
An anonymous user cites an article on Quartz: Today, many U.S. universities not only allow admitted students to take a year off before beginning their studies, but encourage it. In 2000, Harvard's admissions officers co-authored an article titled "Time Out or Burn Out for the Next Generation," in which they suggest admitted students combat the mounting pressures of secondary and post-secondary education (and modern life in general) by taking a year off. [...] The term "gap year" caught on in the US about a decade ago, when Prince William and Prince Harry took planned time off before entering university in the UK, according to Holly Bull, president of an independent agency called Interim Programs that helps US pre-college students plan their time off. Bull's father founded the agency in 1980 to promote the concept. "I've basically watched the trend grow from its inception in the U.S.," she says. "And while I wouldn't call it mainstream now, we've seen a lot of growth." This growth has led to a burgeoning "gap year" planning services industry, populated by an increasing number of consulting agencies such as Bull's. The American Gap Association (AGA), founded in 2012, oversees this industry, acting as a kind of accreditation agency. Based on the programs it reviews, the AGA estimates that between 30,000 and 40,000 students annually take a planned "gap year" in the U.S., and that the number of students doing this has grown by between 20% and 30% each year since 2006."The growing popularity of gap years speaks to a larger conversation in the US about what direction education is heading and how we help young people become thoughtful, caring citizens," Joe O'Shea, president of the AGA, says.

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'I'll Make Their Life Miserable': Tech CEO Bullies Low-income Vendors By His Home

9 hours 49 min ago
An anonymous reader quotes an article on The Guardian that has caused a spark on social media: A Silicon Valley tech CEO has sparked backlash for comments slamming local fruit vendors, saying he would "make their life miserable" and "destroy" their produce if they were stationed near his house -- making him the latest wealthy Californian entrepreneur to publicly rail against low-income people. Mark Woodward, CEO of software company Invoca, published -- and later deleted -- a Facebook post saying that he would have no qualms about aggressively harassing unauthorized fruit sellers in his neighborhood if they got near his home. "I would go out there and make their life miserable. I would do whatever it took to make them leave. If that meant destroying some of their produce, or standing out there with signs to chase everyone away, Or just making them very uncomfortable, I would do that in a heartbeat."

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Oceans Could Soon Not Have Enough Oxygen To Support Marine Life

10 hours 29 min ago
An anonymous reader writes: As the climate continues to change in response to the increasing amount of carbon humans pump into the atmosphere, the oceans are being particularly hard hit from melting Arctic sea ice, acidification, and warming surface temperatures. Yet those are not the only difficulties that marine life has to deal with, as a new study reports that the oceans are also losing oxygen. As the majority of marine life relies on the oxygen dissolved in the oceans, it is worrying that noticeable differences have been observed in the gas concentrations in the world's waters. The reduction in oxygen will have profound effects on ocean biodiversity, though as the study published in Global Biogeochemical Cycles shows, not all regions will be affected in the same way or over the same period of time."Loss of oxygen in the ocean is one of the serious side effects of a warming atmosphere, and a major threat to marine life," said lead author Matthew Long of the National Center for Atmospheric Research. "Since oxygen concentrations in the ocean naturally vary depending on variations in winds and temperature at the surface, it's been challenging to attribute any deoxygenation to climate change. This new study tells us when we can expect the impact from climate change to overwhelm the natural variability."

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Ubuntu Founder Pledges No Back Doors In Linux

11 hours 9 min ago
Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical and Ubuntu Foundation, gave an interview to eWeek this week ahead of Ubuntu Online Summit (UOS). In the wide-ranging interview, Shuttleworth teased some features that we could expect in Ubuntu 16.10, and also talked about security and privacy. From the report: One thing that Ubuntu Linux users will also continue to rely on is the strong principled stance that Shuttleworth has on encryption. With the rapid growth of the Linux Foundation's Let's Encrypt free Secure Sockets Layer/Transport Layer Security (SSL/TLS) certificate platform this year, Shuttleworth noted that it's a good idea to consider how that might work in an integrated way with Ubuntu. Overall, he said, the move to encryption as a universal expectation is really important. "We don't do encryption to hide things; we do encryption so we can choose what to share," Shuttleworth said. "That's a profound choice we should all be able to make." Shuttleworth emphasized that on the encryption debate, Canonical and Ubuntu are crystal clear. "We will never backdoor Ubuntu; we will never weaken encryption," he said.

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Lab-Grown Meat Is In Your Future, and It May Be Healthier Than the Real Stuff

11 hours 49 min ago
An anonymous reader shares an article on The Sydney Morning Herald:Scientists and businesses working full steam to produce lab-created meat claim it will be healthier than conventional meat and more environmentally friendly. But how much can they improve on old-school pork or beef? In August 2013, a team of Dutch scientists showed off their lab-grown burger (cost: $435,000) and even provided a taste test. Two months ago, the American company Memphis Meats fried the first-ever lab meatball (cost: $23,700 per pound). Those who have tasted these items say they barely differ from the real deal. The Dutch and the Americans claim that within a few years lab-produced meats will start appearing in supermarkets and restaurants. And these are not the only teams working on cultured meat (as they prefer to call it). Another company, Modern Meadow, promises that lab-grown "steak chips" -- something between a potato chip and beef jerky -- will hit the stores in the near future, too.

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Tim Cook Defends Apple, Teases Exciting New Products In The Pipeline

12 hours 44 min ago
anderzole quotes a report from BGR: Apple's earnings report last week saw the company report a year over year decline in profits for the first time since 2003. The biggest contributing factor to the decline, not surprisingly, is that year over year iPhone sales dropped by 16%. Notably, Apple's most recent quarter represents the company's first iPhone sales decline in history. Consequently, the usual contingent of pundits and analysts have come out of the woodwork, all exclaiming that we've reached 'peak iPhone' and that Apple at this point has nowhere to go but down. In an effort to inject a bit of good news and all-around optimism to a particularly negative Apple news cycle, Tim Cook earlier today appeared on CNBC with Jim Cramer where the Apple CEO teased that Apple's still has a lot of innovation left to do and some interesting items in the product pipeline. "We've got great innovation in the pipeline," Cook said to Cramer. "New iPhones that will incentivize you and other people that have iPhones today to upgrade to new iPhones. We are going to give you things you can't live without that you just don't know you need today. That has always been the objective of Apple is to do things that really enrich people's lives. That you look back on and you wonder, how did I live without this."

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Researchers Solve One Of The Biggest Mysteries About How Water Flows On Mars

15 hours 47 min ago
An anonymous reader writes: Not only is water flowing on Mars, it's also boiling. This experiment published today in Nature Geoscience solves one of the major mysteries about the surface of the red planet. Gizmodo writes, "Researchers built a chamber simulating the conditions and atmosphere of Mars, then put ice in there to melt. The ice did melt and the water from it flowed -- but there was also a surprise. The surface of the water boiled as it flowed, and that boiling was strong enough to move not just the water but also dirt and debris surrounding the streams. Importantly, temperature was not the major factor in this boiling water, it was due to the pressure of the atmosphere." You may remember pictures of flowing water on Mars which surfaced last year. One would think the summer temperatures should be too cold for water to flow on Mars (as seen in the images), however, the water that flows on Mars is a salty-brine which lowers the freezing point of the water. So how does the water manage to carve out the landscape so quickly and visibly? Easy: the boiling water theory. Boiling water hits a boiling stage along its surface, where it kicks up dust and dirt and debris in the water's wake. The research team did see the boiling water move debris, but they also saw collapses along the sides of the flows. The boiling and disturbance it causes etches those lines on Mars clearly enough for satellites to notice them.

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Novel Model Illustrates The Finer Details Of Nuclear Fission

18 hours 46 min ago
mdsolar quotes a report from Phys.Org: For nearly 80 years, nuclear fission has awaited a description within a microscopic framework. In the first study of its kind, scientists collaborating from the University of Washington, Warsaw University of Technology (Poland), Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Los Alamos National Laboratory, developed a novel model to take a more intricate look at what happens during the last stages of the fission process. Using the model, they determined that fission fragments remain connected far longer than expected before the daughter nuclei split apart. Moreover, they noted the predicted kinetic energy agreed with results from experimental observations. This discovery indicates that complex calculations of real-time fission dynamics without physical restrictions are feasible and opens a pathway to a theoretical microscopic framework with abundant predictive power.

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China Creates World's First Graphene Electronic Paper

Mon, 05/02/2016 - 11:33pm
An anonymous reader writes from a report published on Tech Times: China has developed the world's first graphene electronic paper that can possibly revolutionize the screen displays on electronic gadgets such as wearable devices and e-readers. Developed by Guangzhou OED Technologies in partnership with another company in the Chongqing Province, the material is also the world's lightest and strongest material in prevalence today. It's 0.335 nanometers thick and can be used to create hard or flexible graphene displays. Graphene e-paper comes with the capability to conduct both heat and electricity, and it can supposedly enhance optical displays to a brighter level, owing to its high-light transmittance properties. What about cost? Since it's derived from carbon, graphene-based e-papers can be easily produced cost-effectively. Traditional e-papers use indium metal for their display, which is very expensive and rare to source.

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UAE To Build Artificial Mountain To Improve Rainfall

Mon, 05/02/2016 - 10:10pm
An anonymous reader writes: The United Arab Emirates is in the early stages of developing an artificial mountain that would force air upwards and create clouds that could produce additional rainfall. While the Middle East and Africa continues to get hotter, researchers are further motivated and more desperate for solutions to maximize rainfall. "Building a mountain is not a simple thing," said NCAR scientist and lead researcher Roelof Bruintjes. "We are still busy finalizing assimilation, so we are doing a spread of all kinds of heights, widths and locations [as we simultaneously] look at the local climatology." The specific location has yet to be decided on as the team is still testing out different sites across the UAE. "If [the project] is too expensive for [the government], logically the project won't go through, but this gives them an idea of what kind of alternatives there are for the long-term future." Bruintjes said. "If it goes through, the second phase would be to go to an engineering company and decide whether it is possible or not."

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Kim Jong-Un Bans All Weddings, Funerals And Freedom Of Movement In North Korea

Mon, 05/02/2016 - 9:27pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Independent: Weddings and funerals have been banned and Pyongyang is in lockdown as preparations for a once-in-a-generation party congress get underway in North Korea. The ruling Worker's Party of Korea, headed by the country's leader, Kim Jong-un, is due to stage the first gathering of its kind for 36 years on Friday. Free movement in and out of the capital has also been forbidden and there has been an increase in inspections and property searches, according to Daily NK, which claims to have sources in the country. The temporary measures are said to be an attempt to minimize the risk of "mishaps" at the event, according to Cheong Joon-hee, a spokesman at South Korea's Unification Ministry. Meanwhile, North Korea has been conducting missile tests left and right, many of which have failed miserably.

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LG's New Fingerprint Sensor Doesn't Need A Button

Mon, 05/02/2016 - 8:44pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Mashable: LG Innotek has developed a fingerprint sensor that's placed under a glass surface instead of in a physical button, the company announced Sunday. The new sensor could lead to smartphones that you can unlock by placing your finger on the phone screen. The LG-owned electronics parts manufacturer achieved this by cutting out a 0.01-inch thick slot in the lower part of a smartphone's cover glass, and then inserting a very thin fingerprint sensor into it. In other words, the sensor is still under the cover glass, but the slot moves the sensor close enough to the surface to read a fingerprint. That way, the sensor is protected from water and scratches, and can be installed anywhere under the phone's glass surface.

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China Probes Baidu Over False Medical Ads After Student Dies

Mon, 05/02/2016 - 8:01pm
hackingbear writes: China's Internet regulator said on Monday it will send a team to investigate Baidu Inc over the death of a university student who used the Chinese search engine to look for treatment for his rare cancer, and to find an experimental treatment offered by the Second Hospital of Beijing Armed Police Corps, which eventually proved ineffective. Before dying, Wei accused Baidu online of promoting false medical information, as well as the hospital for misleading advertising in claiming a high success rate for the treatment, state radio said. The post attracted a large public outcry. Baidu says around one quarter of its revenues come from medical and health-care advertisers.

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Self-Driving Features Could Lead To More Sex In Moving Cars, Expert Warns

Mon, 05/02/2016 - 7:18pm
An anonymous reader writes: According to CBC.ca, "At least one expert is anticipating that, as the so-called 'smart' cars get smarter, there will eventually be an increase in an unusual form of distracted driving: hanky-panky behind the wheel." Barrie Kirk of the Canadian Automated Vehicles Centre of Excellence said, "I am predicting that, once computers are doing the driving, there will be a lot more sex in cars. That's one of several things people will do which will inhibit their ability to respond quickly when the computer says to the human, 'Take over.'" Federal officials, who have been tasked with building a regulatory framework to govern driverless cars, highlighted their concerns in briefing notes compiled for Transport Minister Marc Garneau. "Drivers tend to overestimate the performance of automation and will naturally turn their focus away from the road when they turn on their auto-pilot," said the note. The Tesla autopilot feature has been receiving the most criticism as there have been many videos posted online showing Tesla drivers engaged in questionable practices, including reading a newspaper or brushing their teeth.

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