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Freshly Exhumed writes: Growing income inequality was one of the top four issues at the 2015 World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, ranking alongside European adoption of quantitative easing and geopolitical concerns. Felix Salmon, senior editor at Fusion, said there was a consensus that global inequality is getting worse, fueling overriding pessimism at the gathering. The result, he said, could be that the next big revolution will be in regulation rather than innovation. With growing inequality and the civil unrest from Ferguson and the Occupy protests fresh in people's mind, the world's super rich are already preparing for the consequences. At a packed session, former hedge fund director Robert Johnson revealed that worried hedge fund managers were already planning their escapes. "I know hedge fund managers all over the world who are buying airstrips and farms in places like New Zealand because they think they need a getaway," he said. Looking at studies like NASA's HANDY and by KPMG, the UK Government Office of Science, and others, Dr Nafeez Ahmed, executive director of the Institute for Policy Research & Development, warns that the convergence of food, water and energy crises could create a "perfect storm" within about fifteen years.
243 comments | 12 hours ago
An anonymous reader writes "The Register reports on a request from the US National Sheriffs' Association, which "wants Google to block its crowd-sourced traffic app Waze from being able to report the position of police officers, saying the information is putting officer's lives at risk." From the article: "'The police community needs to coordinate an effort to have the owner, Google, act like the responsible corporate citizen they have always been and remove this feature from the application even before any litigation or statutory action,' AP reports Sheriff Mike Brown, the chairman of the NSA's technology committee, told the association's winter conference in Washington....Brown called the app a 'police stalker,' and said being able to identify where officers were located could put them at personal risk. Jim Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, said his members had concerns as well. 'I can think of 100 ways that it could present an officer-safety issue,' Pasco said. 'There's no control over who uses it. So, if you're a criminal and you want to rob a bank, hypothetically, you use your Waze.'"
361 comments | yesterday
Press2ToContinue writes In their attempts to kill off strong encryption once and for all, top officials of the intelligence services are coming out with increasingly hyperbolic statements about why this should be done. Now, a former head of GCHQ, Sir David Omand has said: "One of the results of Snowden is that companies are now heavily encrypting [communications] end to end. Intelligence agencies are not going to give up trying to get the bad guys. They will have to get closer to the bad guys. I predict we will see more close access work." According to The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which reported his words from a talk he gave earlier this week, by this he meant things like physical observation, bugging rooms, and breaking into phones or computers. "You can say that will be more targeted but in terms of intrusion into personal privacy — collateral intrusion into privacy — we are likely to end up in an ethically worse position than we were before." That's remarkable for its implied threat: if you don't let us ban or backdoor strong encryption, we're going to start breaking into your homes.
374 comments | yesterday
HughPickens.com writes The Independent reports that hacktivist group Anonymous, in a project named Operation DeathEaters, is calling for help in its fight against international pedophile networks, or what it calls the "paedosadist industry" and has issued a video instructing activists on how they can aid in the operation. The Anonymous project is intended to break what it says is a conspiracy of silence among sympathetic politicians, police and mainstream media to downplay the full extent of the online child sex industry. "The premise behind OpDeathEaters is to expose high level complicity, obstruction of justice and cover-up in the paedo-sadist industry in order to show the need for independent inquiries," says Heather Marsh, an online activist who is helping to co-ordinate the operation and describes herself as an "old friend" of Anonymous. The Anonymous database, which will be hosted on the GitHub online repository, promises to collate cases from all around the world, cross-referencing connections within sub-groups including the police, armed forces, schoolteachers, politicians, media, academics and religious organisations. The database's ultimate purpose has yet to be fully determined, but in the first instance the group says it wants to shut down the child-sex industry by "dismantling the power structure which held it there" and by "educating to create a cultural change".
The group is calling on volunteers to help with the ongoing work, which has been divided into three steps. The first is about collecting "all the factual information," second is to "share that information as widely as possible," and the third step is "to set up an independent, internationally linked, inquiry into all the areas which do not appear to have been investigated properly." Activists point to the muted media coverage given to a recent case in Washington DC in which Michael Centanni, a senior Republican fundraiser, was charged with child sex offences after investigators traced transmissions of child pornography to his computers in his basement. The case was not covered by The Washington Post or the New York Times, and was only picked up by a local NBC affiliate state and The Washington Examiner, a small conservative paper in the city. According to the court filings, Centanni was found in possession of 3,000 images, many apparently filmed in his own bedroom, including one showing a man raping a five-year-old girl who cries "no" and "mommy" while the man says "good baby" and "stop crying," according to one filing.
395 comments | 2 days ago
hypnosec writes The US Air Force and private space flight company SpaceX have settled their dispute involving the military's expendable rocket program, thereby paving the way for SpaceX to join the spy satellite launch program known as Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV). The settlement opens doors for SpaceX to compete with United Launch Alliance (ULA) for launch of spy satellites. ULA is a joint Boeing-Lockheed venture – the only private player to have received clearance for launching black ops satellites.
80 comments | 2 days ago
jaa101 writes The Register (UK) and the Global Times (China) report that foreign VPN services are unavailable in China. A quote sourced to "one of the founders of an overseas website which monitors the Internet in China" claimed 'The Great Firewall is blocking the VPN on the protocol level. It means that the firewall does not need to identify each VPN provider and block its IP addresses. Rather, it can spot VPN traffic during transit and block it.' An upgrade of the Great Firewall of China is blamed and China appears to be backing the need for the move to maintain cyberspace sovereignty.
205 comments | 3 days ago
sarahnaomi writes There sits, in the Clarendon Laboratory at Oxford University, a bell that has been ringing, nonstop, for at least 175 years. It's powered by a single battery that was installed in 1840. Researchers would love to know what the battery is made of, but they are afraid that opening the bell would ruin an experiment to see how long it will last. The bell's clapper oscillates back and forth constantly and quickly, meaning the Oxford Electric Bell, as it's called, has rung roughly 10 billion times, according to the university. It's made of what's called a "dry pile," which is one of the first electric batteries. Dry piles were invented by a guy named Giuseppe Zamboni (no relation to the ice resurfacing company) in the early 1800s. They use alternating discs of silver, zinc, sulfur, and other materials to generate low currents of electricity.
210 comments | 3 days ago
lightbox32 sends news that scientists have found a way to slow individual photons within a beam of light. Their work was published today in Science Express (abstract, pre-print). The researchers liken a light beam to a team of cyclists — while the group as a whole moves at a constant speed, individual riders may occasionally drop back or move forward. They decided to focus on the individual photons, rather than measuring the beam as a whole. The researchers imposed a particular pattern on a photon, then raced it against another photon, and found that the two arrived at their destination at slightly different times. The work demonstrates that, after passing the light beam through a mask, photons move more slowly through space. Crucially, this is very different to the slowing effect of passing light through a medium such as glass or water, where the light is only slowed during the time it is passing through the material—it returns to the speed of light after it comes out the other side. The effect of passing the light through the mask is to limit the top speed at which the photons can travel.
139 comments | 3 days ago
hypnosec writes Stargazers are in for a treat: they will be able to witness a rare astronomical event early tomorrow morning (January 24, 2015) where shadows of three of Jupiter's largest moons — Io, Europa, and Callisto — will fall upon Jupiter simultaneously. Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles will provide a live online broadcast on its Livestream channel. It will begin on January 24 at 0430 GMT (January 23 at 11:30 PM EST, 8:30 PM PST) and end at 0700 GMT (2:00 AM EST, 11:00 PM PST). They've also posted a short animated video of how the event will appear.
53 comments | 4 days ago
Mark.JUK writes A new project called TWEETHER, which is funded by Europe's Horizon 2020 programme, has been set up at Lancaster University (England) with the goal of harnessing the millimetre wave (mmW) radio spectrum (specifically 92-95GHz) in order to deploy a new Point to Multipoint wireless broadband technology that could deliver peak capacity of up to 10Gbps (Gigabits per second). The technology will take three years to develop and is expected to help support future 5G based Mobile Broadband networks.
54 comments | 4 days ago
DW100 writes In a bizarre public blog post the CEO of BlackBerry, John Chen, has claimed that net neutrality laws should include forcing app developers to make their services available on all operating systems. Chen even goes as far as citing Apple's iMessage tool as a service that should be made available for BlackBerry, because at present the lack of an iMessage BlackBerry app is holding the firm back. Some excerpts from Chen's plea: Netflix, which has forcefully advocated carrier neutrality, has discriminated against BlackBerry customers by refusing to make its streaming movie service available to them. Many other applications providers similarly offer service only to iPhone and Android users. ... Neutrality must be mandated at the application and content layer if we truly want a free, open and non-discriminatory internet. All wireless broadband customers must have the ability to access any lawful applications and content they choose, and applications/content providers must be prohibited from discriminating based on the customer’s mobile operating system. Since "content providers" are writing code they think makes sense for one reason or another (expected returns financial or psychic), a mandate to write more code seems like a good way to re-learn why contract law frowns on specific performance.
307 comments | 5 days ago
New submitter Solandri writes: When Mt. Vesuvius erupted in A.D. 79, it destroyed a library of classical works in Herculaneum. The papyrus scrolls weren't incinerated, but were instead carbonized by the hot gases. The resulting black carbon cylinders have mostly withstood attempts to read their contents since their discovery. Earlier attempts to unfurl the scrolls yielded some readable material, but were judged too destructive. Researchers decided to wait for newer technology to be invented that could read the scrolls without unrolling them.
Now, a team led by Dr. Vito Mocella from the National Research Council's Institute for Microelectronics and Microsystems (CNR-IMM) in Naples, Italy has managed to read individual letters inside one of the scrolls. Using a form of x-ray phase contrast tomography (abstract), they were able to ascertain the height difference (about 0.1mm) between the ink of the letters and the papyrus fibers which they sat upon. Due to the fibrous nature of the papyrus and the carbon-based ink, regular spectral and chemical analysis had thus far been unable to distinguish the ink from the paper. Further complicating the work, the scrolls are not in neat cylinders, but squashed and ruffled as the hot gases vaporized water in the papyrus and distorted the paper.
66 comments | about a week ago
BarbaraHudson writes: The Independent lists the most popular passwords for 2014, and once again, "123456" tops the list, followed by "password" and "12345" at #3 (lots of Spaceballs fans out there?) . "qwerty" still makes the list, but there are some new entries in the top 25, including "superman", "batman", and "696969". The passwords used were mostly from North American and Western European leaks.
197 comments | about a week ago
HughPickens.com writes: The insurance industry is a fat target — there's were about $481 billion in premiums in 2013, and agents' commissions of about $50 billion. Now Conor Dougherty writes in the NYT that the boring but lucrative trade has been attracting big names like Google, which has formed a partnership with Comparenow, an American auto insurance comparison site that will give Google access to insurers in Comparenow's network. "A lot of people are waking up to the fact that it's a massive industry, it's old-fashioned, they still use human agents and the commissions are pretty big," says Jennifer Fitzgerald. It may seem like an odd match for Google, whose projects include driverless cars, delivery drones and a pill to detect cancer, but the key to insurance is having lots of data about people's backgrounds and habits, which is perhaps the company's greatest strength. "They have a ton of data on where people drive, how people drive," says Jon McNeill. "It's the holy grail of being able to price auto insurance correctly."
People in the industry and Silicon Valley say it is only a matter of time before online agencies attack the armies of intermediaries that are the backbone of the trade, and Google could present formidable competition for other insurance sellers. As many as two-thirds of insurance customers say they would consider purchasing insurance products from organizations other than insurers, including 23 percent who would consider buying from online service providers such as Google and Amazon. Google Compare auto insurance site has already been operating in Britain for two years as a search engine for auto insurance prices.
238 comments | about a week ago
Amanda Parker (3946253) writes EE, Virgin Media and Vodafone have thrown their support behind net neutrality by signing up to the Open Internet Code. Launched in 2012 by the Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG), the UK code commits the three internet service providers (ISPs) to provide full internet access with no data blocked "on the basis of commercial rivalry." Content providers can now lodge a complaint with the BSG if they feel their services are being discriminated against. This latest development means that all major ISPs providing fixed and mobile networks are signed up to the code. BSG CEO Matthew Evans said: "Unlike some countries, where net neutrality has become a controversial topic for discussion, the UK benefits from a fiercely competitive market and high levels of transparency — which together offer the best assurance of an open internet."
36 comments | about a week ago
mrspoonsi sends up an update on the investigation into Autonomy, a software company acquired by HP in 2011. HP paid a staggering $11.7 billion in the deal, then later wrote off $8.8 billion and claimed Autonomy's management intentionally defrauded them. The UK Serious Fraud Office opened a case on the matter in 2013, but that investigation has now been dropped. According to the Office's press release, they felt there was "insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction," given the information they had to work with. Autonomy is not off the hook, however — the case has now been entirely ceded to U.S. authorities.
53 comments | about a week ago
DavidGilbert99 writes A month after it blocked Google's Gmail, the Chinese government now stands accused of hacking Microsoft's Outlook email service, carrying out man-in-the-middle attack to snoop on private conversations. From ZDNet: " On Monday, online censorship watchdog Greatfire.org said the organization received reports that Outlook was subject to a man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack in China....After testing, Greatfire says that IMAP and SMTP for Outlook were under a MITM attack, while the email service's web interfaces were not affected.
35 comments | about a week ago
BarbaraHudson writes The BBC is reporting that tests show a protein called RBM3, involved in hibernation, may hold the key to regenerating synapses. In the early stages of Alzheimer's, and other neurodegenerative disorders, synapses are lost. This inevitably progresses to whole brain cells dying. But during hibernation, 20-30% of the connections in the brain — synapses — are culled as the body preserves resources over winter, and are reformed in the spring, with no loss of memory. Memories can be restored after hibernation as only the receiving end of the synapse shuts down. In a further set of tests, the team showed the brain cell deaths from prion disease and Alzheimer's could be prevented by artificially boosting RBM3 levels. Prof Mallucci was asked if memories could be restored in people if their synapses could be restored: "Absolutely, because a lot of memory decline is correlated with synapse loss, which is the early stage of dementia, so you might get back some of the synapse you've lost."
Further reading: here, here, and here"
79 comments | about a week ago
HughPickens.com writes Nicola Davis writes at The Guardian that a new exhibition at London's Science Museum tiitled Churchill's Scientists aims to explore how a climate that mingled necessity with ambition spurred British scientists to forge ahead in fields as diverse as drug-discovery and operational research, paving the way for a further flurry of postwar progress in disciplines from neurology to radio astronomy. Churchill "was very unusual in that he was a politician from a grand Victorian family who was also interested in new technology and science," says Andrew Nahum. "That was quite remarkable at the time." An avid reader of Charles Darwin and HG Wells, Churchill also wrote science-inspired articles himself and fostered an environment where the brightest scientists could build ground-breaking machines, such as the Bernard Lovell telescope, and make world-changing discoveries, in molecular genetics, radio astronomy, nuclear power, nerve and brain function and robotics. "During the war the question was never, 'How much will it cost?' It was, 'Can we do it and how soon can we have it?' This left a heritage of extreme ambition and a lot of talented people who were keen to see what it could provide." (More, below.)
75 comments | about two weeks ago
schwit1 writes, "Are paparazzi flying drones over your garden to snap you sunbathing? You may need the Rapere, the drone-hunting drone which uses 'tangle-lines' to quickly down its prey." From The Telegraph's article: It has been designed to be faster and more agile than other drones to ensure that they can't escape - partly by limiting flight time and therefore reducing weight. “Having worked in the UAS industry for years, we've collectively never come across any bogus use of drones. However it's inevitable that will happen, and for people such as celebrities, where there is profit to be made in illegally invading their privacy, there should be an option to thwart it,” the group say on their website. This seems more efficient than going after those pesky paparazzi drones with fighting kites (video), but it should also inspire some skepticism: CNET notes that the team behind it is anonymous, and that "Rapere works in a lab setting, however there aren't any photos or videos of the killer drone in action. The website instead has only a slideshow of the concept."
151 comments | about two weeks ago