WikiLeaks Cables Foreshadow Russian Instigation of Ukrainian Military Action
Take any issue at all. Take a random sample of of possible outcomes. It's statistically unavoidable that some of them will more or less hit home.
Even better, take Paul the Octopus (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P... ), who correctly predicted the outcome of several soccer matches and was offered a job by a UK bookmaker for his performance.
I fear it makes as much sense to credit Paul for deep psychic insights into soccer as Mrs. Palin for an astute grasp of international politics. Perhaps I'd rather take my chances on Paul.
Whole Foods: America's Temple of Pseudoscience
If Whole Foods (often) are a waste of money, they aren't actively dangerous (well, except to your wallet).
Laugh if you will, at people's gullibility, and then read up on the Radithor patent medicine (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... ).
Of course it's well known that the food industry isn't worried about health effects of what it sells. They're happy to simply put in whatever ingredients make a product sell. Just look at all the stuff that contains sugar (often disguised as "corn syrup" to avoid having to print the word "sugar" on the label).
And "naturally risen" meat isn't all bull either (pardon the pun). It's because standard commercial beef is quite likely to contain antibiotics (see e.g. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/... ). The reason is of course that feeding animals antibiotics raises production, so it's cost-effective.
It's also grossly irresponsible and really should be banned on the spot. Why? Serving up diluted amounts of antibiotics ensures (through natural selection) that those bacteria that survive the initial onslaught are immune to those same antibiotics. And where do those bacteria and residual antibiotics end up? Well ... in animal poop and from there in surface waters, sewers and oceans. And via the slaughterhouse (if they're a teensy bit careless about separating out intestines in the thousands of carcasses they process each day) in your steak.
Given that those dirty little critters actually exchange pieces of DNA, it's easy to see how whole families of bacteria that live in sewers, surface waters and seas can gain resistance to antibiotics. Which is why we're now facing a crisis with perfectly ordinary bacteria being hard to treat when they cause an infection (just Google for MRSA). Or being even being impossible to treat, so that people with a weak immune system (elderly, post-surgery patients) die from infections that had stopped being a threat when antibiotics were discovered some 70 years ago.
Of course the industry resists. They're not responsible for public health or MRSA, they're responsible for their own bottom line (see e.g. http://www.usatoday.com/story/... ). Which is why the FDA is embarking on a campaign of voluntary reductions.
Reading labels (if you can be bothered) gives you a lot of information you need to make sensible choices in what you eat. That's why we have food labeling regulations (which incidentally are severely criticised by some libertarians as "undue interference with the markets").
Even then there's little defence against people who seek solace in bogus science. But it's better to light a candle ... etc. One very interesting site I have found that debunks various "power" food additives is this one ( http://www.ergo-log.com/ ). They genuinely impressed me by truthfully and insightfully reporting on scientific publications concerning food supplements. They know their stuff, both from a (bio)chemical point of view and from a statistical (and experimental design) point of view. Not a light read, but Recommended.
Slashdot Asks: Do You Label Your Tech Gear, and If So, How?
The one or two things I really want labelled in a way that won't come off, I engraved my name on using a Dremel tool.
There's an added benefit of making the thing you label less attractive to others (depending on where you put the engraving).
German Chancellor Proposes European Communications Network
If she doesn't know already (she's a Ph.D. in Physics after all), somebody ought to tell Mrs. Merkel that this European Network already exists. You just have to configure the routers to prevent EU-internal traffic from using nodes outside the EU.
The interesting thing is that (as far as I know) this won't stop the flow of metadata and intercepts towards the NSA. Why not? Well, I believe that each and every EU country has bilateral deals with the US to share raw data in bulk. The British, the French, the Dutch, the Danes, the Germans (!), the Italians, the Spaniards, and the Polish. And err who else matters over there?
They're doing this for approximately the same reason as Singapore and Korea do it: they need the assistance of the US. Read: their security services want intercept data from parts of the communication network they can't monitor but the US can. So they do a deal: they give the US the intercept data (and metadata) they have access to in return for intercept data they don't have access to.
Therefore metadata and intercepts from all over the globe will continue to flow towards the NSA with the consent of those EU countries. Germany included.
What might happen though is that they'll be able to negotiate a better deal with the US is they act together than by having a lot of bilateral deals.
Snowden Used Software Scraper, Say NSA Officials
I don't agree with your argument that not knowing the exact location of files you want in a huge system, and then writing a query that will probably get everything you want alongside a lot of stuff you're not primarily interested in, implies that you're going on a fishing expedition.
Far from it. In fact if you're looking for illegal data-collection methods you know the mechanism but not the location, the name of the program, or the actual method.
Most database queries and WWW search engine queries work like that. Especially when the figure of merit is "don't overlook something we want to know about" and "minimise the effort on the query" instead of "minimise the number of hits returned".
After all, you can carry gigabytes of data with you on a USB stick and you can sift through it later when you're about to publish...
So err ... given the constraints I'd say it would be very hard to argue that Snowden went on a fishing trip.
Snowden Used Software Scraper, Say NSA Officials
You're probably right about the NSA trying to make this point. Whether they have succeeded is another matter.
It's obvious that for someone trying to extract documents from the NSA network stealth is essential. Not spending too much time at work fine-tuning queries or wading through lots of material you don't have any business looking at is a start. Therefore using some sort of script or other software tool for the job is practically a necessity.
The suggestion that Snowden's "take" contained a disproportional amount of files related to military goings-on (as opposed to spying on US citizens) would need substantiation. Probably in the form of a copy of the script/tool he used plus the search terms used *plus* the ratio of military to non-military material in NSA's systems.
For example, it could very well be that search terms that cover how the NSA collects its data (Snowden's focus in publications) will return large amounts of militarily-oriented hits without specifically targeting military stuff. After all, NSA runs a large number of monitoring stations, most of whose data feed goes into military assessments rather than anti-terrorism related ones (I hear). So this mil/non-mil ratio would have significant impact on the ratio of mil/non-mil stuff that Snowden's query got him.
Somehow I doubt that NSA would like to divulge that ratio in a public court.
Nobel Prize Winning Economist: Legalize Sale of Human Organs
Whenever there is a way to make money off X (here X is selling donor organs) there is a premium on abuse. I.e. making X happen while seriously harming people.
What harm to people? Well: generally ensuring someone with a useful organ dies far before their time (gives best quality organs) and have that organ harvested. If there's money in it someone will do it.
How will people abuse organ trade?
First off, you can go and kill people who aren't in a good position to defend themselves and who won't be missed and harvest their organs. Who? Take e.g. runaway children or orphans, illegal immigrants, homeless people, generally anyone without a social network, and (as previous posts mentioned) people in Mexico, Latin America, and certain countries in South America who antagonise someone who can arrange a murder.
Secondly, offer poor but otherwise healthy people who desperately need money for their children or spouse the following deal: we'll buy your organ (for a reasonable amount), we'll give your family the money, but you agree to be put to sleep so that we can harvest your organ. Illegal in the US, but who cares? You can always take a (voluntary) trip to Mexico or to Columbia to fulfill your end of the bargain.
And how would you like for e.g. the FARC (Google Columbia) to collect its "revolutionary taxes" by kidnapping "enemies of the people" and cutting out their organs? The market doesn't care where the product came from, right?
Besides which the whole idea is totally redundant.
Simply make organ donorship the legal default and you'll have lots of donor organs. And legislate that only people who themselves have signed a legally binding agreement to be a donor after they die (regardless of their families' wishes) qualify for donor organs.
This whole idea is "free market" taken outside the area where it's beneficial.
Record Wind Power Levels Trigger Energy Price Fall Across Europe
Consumers aren't affected as in Europe they typically have contracts with their utility companies for fixed rate delivery of electricity. I hear it's around $0.30 / KWh.
The ones affected are the companies that actually own power plants to generate power and sell it to the utility companies, as they are the ones who see their earnings fluctuate between $0.50/MWh to $60/MWh.
And guess what? These market conditions make it hard to impossible to make a profit out of modern clean gas-fired power plants. I know of at least one example (The Netherlands) where an ultra-modern gas-fired plant had to be closed down and dismantled because it couldn't compete. It was a plant that could both supply a base load and respond quickly to variations. It could compete very well as a peak-load plant ... but not as a base load supplier. Unfortunately the market for peak loads had shrunk to the extent that it could no longer be operated at a profit.
The plants best suited to survive in this market are old, dirty, written-off coal plants (base load) and old dirty written-off peakers. Oh irony ... abundant (but quite volatile) green power kills off the cleanest and most modern fossil fuel plants first. I bet the Greens don't like that.
The Startling Array of Hacking Tools In NSA's Armory
I'm surprised by what I saw, heard, and read about NSA interception technology.
This stuff goes far, quite far, and to quote Jacob Applebaum: "I can't remember voting on any of this stuff, or even having seen a public debate on it".
How about you?
Sun Not a Significant Driver of Climate Change
I thought that this was understood, but good to make it explicit.
Is the World Ready For Facial Recognition On Google Glass?
The mistake that people focused on technology make is the extent to which unwanted behaviour can be repressed.
It all depends on what society at large thinks is a worthwhile price to pay. Take file sharing (of copyrighted files) for example. It's perfectly possible to stamp it out: just legislate to allow the MPAA and RIA to demand all ISP's to install monitoring software and match whatever you upload to a database of signatures of copyrighted works. The Snowdon papers show that it's very likely that the infrastructure is available to do just that.
Encryption is of course to be outlawed for use by private citizens. US-style "damages" will pay for the enforcement effort and file sharing will be killed in short order.
Of course there are such pesky things like the first amendment that would get in the way, but those are only *legal* and *political* obstacles, not technological ones. Which means they can be removed whenever people feel like it. And people's perception of what is or isn't acceptable can be changed by abuses of technology.
For example, it's perfectly possible to legislate that whoever uploads your mug without your consent is liable for damages (freeing the ones pictured from having to prove any actual damages) and legislate that all and any ISPs and hosting companies must give their full cooperation and assist anyone who can show that their picture has been uploaded without their consent to identify the perpetrator. That would also necessitate the end of anonymous internet access.
What you really mean is that you don't wish for this to happen, not that it can't happen for technological (or political) reasons.
If you thought that no amount of political pressure can effectively take away your rights to upload pictures of people, just wait until the first pedophile ring is discovered scouting schools for attractive "candidates" using Google Glasses and putting the lot online for perusal.
Unfortunately people have a way of abusing new technology in ways that lead to hitherto unheard of legal constraints.
Sun Not a Significant Driver of Climate Change
The thing with Science is that you amend established theory in the light of new evidence or improved analysis of existing evidence. And that's what we see here.
Of course you never bothered to glance at the article before grabbing your keyboard, but if you had, you would have seen that this study tries to see which hypothesis about what factor was the main driver of climate the best fits the reconstructed temperatures over the past 100 years (based on observations).
The reason why we conduct studies like these isn't to identify the drivers of climate in the past hundred million years. It's to identify the main drivers now and in recent times, such as the past 100 years.
The question of what the driver of climate has been in the past 100 years is one open to investigation and debate. To be blunt: that case wasn't closed after you finished your geophysics course.
Counter to your claim, this study finds that assuming insolation was the main driver of climate over the past 100 years is not consistent with reconstructed temperatures.
I think you do a genuine disservice to any informed debate on what the cause of the (observed) global warming by donning a mantle of quasi-authority and (a) confusing the question of climate drivers on a geological timescale with those happening now and (b) dismissing a study you never even bothered read.
Ask Slashdot: Can Commercial Hardware Routers Be Trusted?
Don't be uncharitable towards the NSA! They're as unhappy as you are this all got out.
They took every precaution to prevent the world from learning about this sort of thing. If they'd had their way, nobody would know or suspect and everything would be fine.
If you want to blame anyone for having all this come out, blame that tattletale contractor guy with the big usb sticks.
NSA Head Asks How To Spy Without Collecting Metadata
Keith Alexander was being rhetorical, I think.
What he means (as I understand it) is this:
(1) the NSA must be able to detect, identify, and trace people who are involved in threats to state security or criminal acts on basis of their communications
(2) one of the main (and indispensible) tools in such work is social network analysis, i.e. who talks to whom and how often. If people communicate a lot, or if they communicate little but highly significantly then they form a social network and are probably working together
(3a) you don't have the ability to detect and identify social networks on basis of communication unless you have the ability to collect metadata from anyone (i.e. you install technical means to tap everything)
(3b) it's impossible to reliably detect and identify social networks on basis of communication alone without actually using those taps to collect all metadata from everyone.
(4) therefore having reliable detection capabilities and not hoovering everyone's metadata are mutually exclusive.
(5) So unless you allow the NSA unrestricted collection of metadata (including that of all Americans), you prevent the NSA from doing its job
You can agree or disagree with him here (and you're invited to do so) but you either refute this line of reasoning or you accept that you are preventing the NSA from doing its job.
And unless you can refute this reasoning, you end up deciding whether or not to give up certain liberties (i.e. online privacy) in order to gain security. The point being that you will run an additional risk unless you give up those liberties.
Now that's a decision the voters can and should make I think. After all, they're the real stakeholders, not the organizations.
Australian Defense Scientists Plagiarizing Trade Secrets
Well, sorry for the inflammatory parent post but it did get people's attention (yours among others).
You obviously know more about the situation in Australia than I do, and disabling the freedom of the press will definitely encourage corruption.
From the article however it appears that Australian civil servants regularly misappropriate technical information that comes to them under certain state-security statutes and then turn around and hand it to commercial parties of their choice to develop into products.
I honestly don't understand how these people can sleep at night. As a civil servant you're supposed to serve the people that employ you, not steal their work under cover of security statutes. And as for those "scientists" plagiarising (i.e. putting their own name on) ideas and inventions handed to them by state security ... words fail me.
Plus that gem about that new Aussie law (the Defence Trade Controls Act) that seems so broad that it can criminalise you for innocuous acts like sending an email with an explanation or leaving a server open (think about OSS) with e.g. software or information on potential dual use technology. (See e.g. http://www.uws.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/470072/Defence_Controls_Act_-_Information_v2.pdf and fos a list of controlled goods: http://www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/F2012L02318/be04cd99-b7aa-4f39-a4cb-e35196ffc653)
In all probability the Australian government just wanted to impress the US with its zeal and preparedness to go after proliferators. In doing that they seem to have created a law (the DTCA) that allows communication about just about anything that could possibly find dual use to be retrospectively criminalised.
The only way to stay clear seems to be to either have a legal department vet each and every communication outside Australia (including accessible servers). Otherwise you put your head on the chopping block and all you can do is hope nobody will (with hindsight !) find cause to bring down the axe.
This is a school of legislation that goes back to the best traditions of the Crown asserting its Sovereign Rights over its subjects. Just put in a catch-all article and see if you're going to invoke it afterwards. Result: ease of legislation for the Government and everybody else has to live in fear of being prosecuted and can only hope for leniency and good will on part of the Government.
Now the US has got many things wrong, but this isn't one of them.
Australian Defense Scientists Plagiarizing Trade Secrets
They really do seem to have a lingering criminal streak down there.
Only it now manifests as a lack of ethics in legislation.
Singapore & South Korea Help NSA Tap Undersea Cables
Nations usually act on a single motivating factor: self-interest.
Given that we're asking this question on a US forum we can take it as granted that 60% of the readers couldn't find either country on a map and that 90% have zero knowledge of their political and historical position. So about 90% will be ill-equipped to understand where Singapore's and South-Korea's self-interests might lie. But now that the question is asked, we can remedy that.
South Korea, needs the US to help defend themselves against neighbours who would be prepared to wage a full-scale war against them (North Korea). The US are pretty much the only ally of note and value they have, and they know it.
Singapore is surrounded by neighbours that completely dwarf them (Malaysia, Indonesia) only 50 years ago encompassed them (Malaysia), have an Islamic majority (Malaysia) or a virulent Islamic minority (Indonesia) and are debating whether to become a fully Islamic state (Malaysia).
Both countries have brought about an economic boom and depend on security (i.e. the absence of shooting wars), good trade relations with the West, open sea lanes and suchlike.
In both cases a critical part of their national security is having accurate information on what their neighbours are really up to. And in both cases the only serious partner is the US. As a stabilizing factor, a main ally, or a party with whom to trade information that they themselves cannot collect (like e.g. satellite coverage, ocean reconnaissance, comprehensive traffic monitoring etc. etc.).
For countries like that, helping the US eavesdrop on message traffic makes an uncommon lot of sense and is a small price to pay.
Whilst Snowden's relevations may have a beneficial effect on US *domestic* intelligence oversight, having such data-collection arrangements splattered on the front page are detrimental to the collective national security of the US, Singapore, and Korea.
Turn it any way you want, knowing what people are up to gives you a head start in dealing with them, and the US have been a stabilizing factor in Asia for 60 years or so. Eroding this data-collection capability is the price we pay for openness. I'm not certain if the price is too steep, all I'm saying is that it's a very real price we pay. Even if not everybody realises it or wants to hear about it.
GCC 4.9 Coming With Big New Features
Plans are plans, and primarily interesting to incrowd and fanbois.
News is (mostly) about what actually happened.
Let's not confuse the two
GCC 4.9 Coming With Big New Features
You might have heard about the difference between software that's "done" and software that's "work-in-progress" (or "half-baked" to use a less charitable term).
As a compiler *user* (as opposed to a compiler hobbyist) I'm not in the least interested in any work-in-progress in-the-repository stuff because I don't want to waste my time stumbling into all the bugs. So until and unless the GCC is officially released as 4.9, it doesn't exist for me.
I'm perfectly aware that GCC isn't a commercial product, which is all the more reason to stay away from "cutting edge" stuff. I'm happy to let 'em work on that and I'll take a look at it after it's done (and others have verified that this particular cutting edge stuff actually cuts the mustard, so to speak).
Good of you to note that GCC doesn't do press-releases. Only the kind of article that Phoronix published looks for all the world like a press-release to me. Phoronix however is Phoronix ... geek territory with people avidly lapping up the latest new year's resolutions on part of tool makers. It's a specialist audience.
Only ... echoing such articles on Slashdot suggests that it has some news value to a more general audience. Unfortunately that's not the case with half-baked stuff like this it's-in-the-repositories code. If it were done, it wouldn't be "in-the-repository", ok? It would have been *released*.
GCC 4.9 Coming With Big New Features
How about notifying us when it's actually there? I get a bit antsy about newsflashes like this ("we're planning to release version X and if all goes well it will totally prod buttock").
I'm not particularly interested in what people (GCC in this case) say they'll (probably) include in the next release.
Why not wait until they've actually released the new version and we have something to test? Or better yet, someone has done the tests for us and is writing about the results.