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  • Direct Sales OK Baked Into Nevada's $1.3 Billion Incentive Deal With Tesla

    The new battery factory that Tesla has announced it will build in Nevada comes with some nice perks: specifically, with a package of tax incentives, road construction, and legislative protection from the kind of dealer cartels that have hindered Tesla's ability to sell cars in some other states. A Bloomberg wire story gives some details about the size of the deal that Nevada made to attract the company: The biggest chunk of the deal, Tesla's sales tax exemptions, is worth an estimated at $725 million. In addition, the company would save more than an estimated $300 million in payroll and other taxes through 2024. ... Among the bills approved in both houses was a provision phasing out and eliminating 1970s-era tax credits for insurance companies, which backers said would free up about $125 million over five years beginning in 2016 for transferable tax credits to Tesla. The package would also gut a pilot program approved just last year giving tax credits to the film industry, freeing up about $70 million for Tesla. ... Lawmakers also agreed to buy right of way to build a road connecting I-80 and U.S. 50, a project estimated to cost $43 million that will improve access to the industrial park from other regions of the state.

    149 comments | 4 days ago

  • Cuba Calculates Cost of 54yr US Embargo At $1.1 Trillion

    First time accepted submitter ltorvalds11 writes Cuba says its economy is suffering a "systematic worsening" due to a US embargo, the consequences of which Havana places at $1.1 trillion since Washington imposed the sanctions in 1960, taking into account the depreciation of the dollar against gold. "There is not, and there has not been in the world, such a terrorizing and vile violation of human rights of an entire people than the blockade that the US government has been leading against Cuba for 55 years," Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister Abelardo Moreno told reporters. He also blamed the embargo for the difficulties in accessing internet on the island, saying that the United States creates an obstacle for companies providing broadband services in Cuba. Additionally, he said that the area is one of the "most sensitive" to the embargo, with economic losses estimated at $34.2 million. It is also the sector that has fallen "victim of all kinds of attacks" by the US, as violations of the Cuban radio or electronic space "promote destabilization" of Cuban society, the report notes. The damage to Cuban foreign trade between April 2013 and June 2014 amounted to $3.9 billion, the report said. Without the embargo, Cuba could have earned $205.8 million selling products such as rum and cigars to US consumers. Barack Obama last week signed the one-year extension of the embargo on Cuba, based on the Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917, created to restrict trade with countries hostile to the U.S..

    530 comments | 5 days ago

  • Protesters Blockade Microsoft's Seattle Headquarters Over Tax Breaks

    reifman (786887) writes "A thousand unionized healthcare workers protested outside Microsoft's Seattle offices over its Nevada tax dodge on Friday. Microsoft shareholders have pocketed more than $5.34 billion in tax savings as Washington State social services and schools have taken huge cuts. In a hearing Wednesday, the Supreme Court suggested it may hold the Legislature in contempt and order it to repeal all tax breaks to restore proper funding to K-12 schools and universities." I suspect Microsoft's lawyers are careful to engage in legal tax avoidance rather than illegal tax evasion. Geekwire notes "The South Lake Union satellite facility is not a major office for Microsoft, compared to its presence in Redmond. It’s not clear why the workers didn’t protest at Microsoft headquarters."

    246 comments | about two weeks ago

  • "Net Neutrality" Coiner Tim Wu Is Running For Lt. Governor of New York

    speedplane (552872) writes Tim Wu, the popular Columbia Law Professor, author of The Master Switch, and the guy who coined the term Net Neutrality, is running for Lieutenant Governor of the great state of New York. He "has waged a shoestring anti-establishment campaign," that is well underway, and has even begun receiving attacks from the incumbent: "It has not always been smooth for Mr. Wu .... Surrogates for Mr. Cuomo have pounced on his admitted lack of 'message discipline' for comments he made comparing net neutrality to the suffragist movement (which he says were taken out of context) and sympathizing with Airbnb (which he says is 'fair game' because he has a 'wait-and-see approach' to regulating start-ups)."

    40 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Obama Administration Seeks $58M To Put (Partly) Toward Fighting Ebola

    The Associated Press reports (here, as carried by the Washington Times) that The White House is asking Congress for $58 million above current levels to speed the production of promising drugs to fight Ebola and additional flexibility for the Department of Homeland Security to cope with the thousands of unaccompanied Central American children still arriving at the southern border. ... [T]he $58 million request for the Centers for Disease Control would help the agency ramp up production and testing of the experimental drug called ZMapp, which has shown promise in fighting the Ebola epidemic in western Africa. It would also help keep the development and manufacturing of two Ebola vaccines on track. The White House request also seeks to use $10 million in unused balances at the Department of Health and Human Services to help with the Ebola outbreak in Africa. The scarcity of ZMapp, the most promising treatment known for Ebola, is such that the third U.S. doctor to have been returned after being infected by the disease will be treated without it.

    105 comments | about two weeks ago

  • White House Names Google's Megan Smith As CTO

    itwbennett writes that, as expected, The White House has named long-time Google executive Megan Smith as the government's new CTO, in charge of improving technology and the use of data across agencies. Smith most recently served as vice president at Google's tech lab, Google[x]. She previously served as CEO of PlanetOut, helped design early smartphone technologies at General Magic and worked on multimedia products at Apple Japan in Tokyo. She holds bachelor's and master's degrees in mechanical engineering from MIT, and just might be, as noted in a previous Slashdot post, the first US CTO worthy of the title. Also on Thursday, the White House named Alexander Macgillivray, a former general counsel and head of public policy at Twitter, as deputy U.S. CTO.

    75 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Code.org Discloses Top Donors

    theodp (442580) writes "Under the leadership of Code.org, explained the ACM, it joined CSTA, NCWIT, NSF, Microsoft and Google in an effort "to reshape the U.S. education system," including passing a federal law making Computer Science a "core subject" in schools. If you're curious about whose money helped fuel the effort, Code.org's Donors page now lists those who gave $25,000+ to $3,000,000+ to the K-12 CS cause (the nonprofit plans to raise $20-30 million for 2015-16 operations). Microsoft is at the top of the list as a Platinum Supporter ($3,000,000+), while Bill Gates is Gold ($1,000,000+), and Steve Ballmer is Silver ($500,000+). Interestingly, six of Code.org's ten biggest donors are also Founders of Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us tech immigration reform PAC."

    59 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Kernel Developer Dmitry Monakhov Arrested For Protesting Ukraine Invasion

    sfcrazy (1542989) writes, based on a report from Ted T'so, that Kernel developer Dmitry Monakhov was detained for 15 days for disobeying a police officer. The debacle came about when Monakhov decided to protest the recent invasion into Ukraine by Russian armed forces. Monakhov is using Twitter to keep people informed about his experience with the Russian judicial system; a human translator can probably do a better job than Google in this case.

    205 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Hacker Disrupts New Zealand Election Campaign

    An anonymous reader writes New Zealand is facing its weirdest election ever with a hacker calling himself "Rawshark" progressively dumping emails hacked from a controversial blogger. This weekend, revelations forced the resignation of one Government minister and nobody knows what will drop next. Emails revealed that the blogger, called "Whale Oil", was in contact with both a government minister in charge of New Zealand's white collar crime investigations unit and with a PR man acting for a founder of a failed finance company then under investigation.

    75 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Islamic State "Laptop of Doom" Hints At Plots Including Bubonic Plague

    Foreign Policy has an in-depth look at the contents of a laptop reportedly seized this year in Syria from a stronghold of the organization now known as the Islamic State, and described as belonging to a Tunisian national ("Muhammed S."). The "hidden documents" folder of the machine, says the report, contained a vast number of documents, including ones describing and justifying biological weapons: The laptop's contents turn out to be a treasure trove of documents that provide ideological justifications for jihadi organizations -- and practical training on how to carry out the Islamic State's deadly campaigns. They include videos of Osama bin Laden, manuals on how to make bombs, instructions for stealing cars, and lessons on how to use disguises in order to avoid getting arrested while traveling from one jihadi hot spot to another. ... The information on the laptop makes clear that its owner is a Tunisian national named Muhammed S. who joined ISIS in Syria and who studied chemistry and physics at two universities in Tunisia's northeast. Even more disturbing is how he planned to use that education: The ISIS laptop contains a 19-page document in Arabic on how to develop biological weapons and how to weaponize the bubonic plague from infected animals. ... "The advantage of biological weapons is that they do not cost a lot of money, while the human casualties can be huge," the document states.

    369 comments | about three weeks ago

  • How Big Telecom Smothers Municipal Broadband

    Rick Zeman writes: The Center for Public Integrity has a comprehensive article showing how Big Telecom (aka, AT&T, Comcast, Charter, Time Warner) use lobbyists, paid-for politicians, and lawsuits (both actual and the threat thereof) in their efforts to kill municipal broadband. From the article: "The companies have also used traditional campaign tactics such as newspaper ads, push polls, direct mail and door-to-door canvassing to block municipal networks. And they've tried to undermine the appetite for municipal broadband by paying for research from think tanks and front groups to portray the networks as unreliable and costly."

    111 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Limiting the Teaching of the Scientific Process In Ohio

    frdmfghtr (603968) writes Over at Ars Technica, there's a story about a bill in the Ohio legislature that wants to downplay the teaching of the scientific process. From the article: "Specifically prohibiting a discussion of the scientific process is a recipe for educational chaos. To begin with, it leaves the knowledge the kids will still receive—the things we have learned through science—completely unmoored from any indication of how that knowledge was generated or whether it's likely to be reliable. The scientific process is also useful in that it can help people understand the world around them and the information they're bombarded with; it can also help people assess the reliability of various sources of information." The science standards would have "...focus on academic and scientific knowledge rather than scientific processes; and prohibit political or religious interpretation of scientific facts in favor of another." Political interpretation of scientific facts include humans contributing to climate change according to the bill's sponsor, who also thinks intelligent design would be OK under the law.

    528 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Net Neutrality Is 'Marxist,' According To a Koch-Backed Astroturf Group

    Jason Koebler (3528235) writes American Commitment, a conservative group with strong ties to the Koch brothers has been bombarding inboxes with emails filled with disinformation and fearmongering in an attempt to start a "grassroots" campaign to kill net neutrality — at one point suggesting that "Marxists" think that preserving net neutrality is a good idea. American Commitment president Phil Kerpen suggests that reclassifying the internet as a public utility is the "first step in the fight to destroy American capitalism altogether" and says that the FCC is plotting a "federal Internet takeover," a move that "sounds more like a story coming out of China or Russia."

    531 comments | about three weeks ago

  • A New Homegrown OS For China Could Arrive By October

    According to a Reuters report, China could have a new homegrown operating system by October to take on imported rivals such as Microsoft Corp, Google Inc and Apple Inc, Xinhua news agency said on Sunday. Computer technology became an area of tension between China and the United States after a number of run-ins over cyber security. China is now looking to help its domestic industry catch up with imported systems such as Microsoft's Windows and Google's mobile operating system Android. The operating system would first appear on desktop devices and later extend to smartphone and other mobile devices, Xinhua said, citing Ni Guangnan who heads an official OS development alliance established in March. It would make sense for even a "homegrown" operating system to be based on existing ones, in the way Red Flag Linux is. Conceptually related: Earlier this year, Chinese company Coship Electronics announced (and demonstrated) a mobile OS called 960 OS.

    93 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Air Force Requests Info For Replacement Atlas 5 Engine

    schwit1 (797399) writes The U.S. Air Force on Thursday issued a request for information from industry for the replacement of the Russian-made engines used by ULA's Atlas 5 rocket: "Companies are being asked to respond by Sept. 19 to 35 questions. Among them: "What solution would you recommend to replace the capability currently provided by the RD-180 engine?" Air Force officials have told Congress they only have a broad idea of how to replace the RD-180. Estimates of the investment in money and time necessary to field an American-built alternative vary widely. Congress, meanwhile, is preparing bills that would fund a full-scale engine development program starting next year; the White House is advocating a more deliberate approach that begins with an examination of applicable technologies. In the request for information, the Air Force says it is open to a variety of options including an RD-180 facsimile, a new design, and alternative configurations featuring multiple engines, and even a brand new rocket. The Air Force is also trying to decide on the best acquisition approach. Options include a traditional acquisition or a shared investment as part of a public-private partnership. [emphasis mine]"

    The Atlas 5 is built by Lockheed Martin. This is really their problem, not the Air Force or ULA. In addition, the Air Force has other options, both from Boeing's Delta rocket family as well as SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket.

    108 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Finding an ISIS Training Camp Using Google Earth

    An anonymous reader writes: Terrorist organization ISIS has been in the news a lot lately for their hostile activities in Iraq and Syria. They've also been very active online, posting propaganda and photos on various social networking sites to try to recruit more members. Frequently, they'll have pictures of themselves in nondescript locations — but even carefully selected images give clues to a real location. Citizen journalists at Bellingcat analyzed a group of these photos, comparing buildings and bridges in the background to images from Google Earth. With very little to go on, they were able to pinpoint the location of a terrorist training camp.

    134 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Microsoft Lobby Denies the State of Chile Access To Free Software

    walterbyrd writes: Fresh on the heels of the entire Munich and Linux debacle, another story involving Microsoft and free software has popped up across the world, in Chile. A prolific magazine from the South American country says that the powerful Microsoft lobby managed to turn around a law that would allow the authorities to use free software. "An independent member of the Chilean Parliament, Vlado Mirosevic, pushed a bill that would allow the state to consider free software when the authorities needed to purchase or renew licenses. ... A while later, the same member of the Parliament, Daniel Farcas, proposed another bill that actually nullified the effects of the previous one that had just been adopted. To make things even more interesting, some of the people who voted in favor of the first law also voted in favor of the second one. ... The new bill is even more egregious, because it aggressively pushes for the adoption of proprietary software. Companies that choose to use proprietary software will receive certain tax breaks, which makes it very hard for free software to get adopted."

    159 comments | about a month ago

  • WikiLeaks' Assange Hopes To Exit London Embassy "Soon"

    An anonymous reader writes Julian Assange has hosted a press conference in which he indicated he is soon about to leave the embassy of Ecuador in London. From the article: "WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has spent over two years in Ecuador's London embassy to avoid a sex crimes inquiry in Sweden, said on Monday he planned to leave the building 'soon', but Britain signaled it would still arrest him if he tried. Assange made the surprise assertion during a news conference alongside Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino. But his spokesman played down the chances of an imminent departure, saying the British government would first need to revise its position and let him leave without arrest, something it has repeatedly refused to do.

    299 comments | about a month ago

  • How California's Carbon Market Actually Works

    Lasrick writes: Almost 10 years ago, California's legislature passed Assembly Bill 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. AB 32 set the most ambitious legally binding climate policy in the United States, requiring that California's greenhouse gas emissions return to 1990 levels by the year 2020. The centerpiece of the state's efforts — in rhetorical terms, if not practical ones — is a comprehensive carbon market, which California's leaders promote as a model policy for controlling carbon pollution. Over the course of the past 18 months, however, California quietly changed its approach to a critical rule affecting the carbon market's integrity. Under the new rule, utilities are rewarded for swapping contracts on the Western electricity grid, without actually reducing greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere. Now that the Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to regulate greenhouse gases from power plants, many are looking to the Golden State for best climate policy practices. On that score, California's experience offers cautionary insights into the challenges of using carbon markets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

    97 comments | about a month ago

  • The Billion-Dollar Website

    stoborrobots writes: The Government Accountability Office has investigated the cost blowouts associated with how the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) handled the Healthcare.gov project. It has released a 60-page report entitled Healthcare.gov: Ineffective Planning and Oversight Practices Underscore the Need for Improved Contract Management, with a 5 page summary. The key takeaway messages are:

    • CMS undertook the development of Healthcare.gov and its related systems without effective planning or oversight practices...
    • [The task] was a complex effort with compressed time frames. To be expedient, CMS issued task orders ... when key technical requirements were unknown...
    • CMS identified major performance issues ... but took only limited steps to hold the contractor accountable.
    • CMS awarded a new contract to another firm [and the new contract's cost has doubled] due to changes such as new requirements and other enhancements...

    194 comments | about a month ago

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