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Submission + - White House urges ban on non-compete agreements for many workers (

schwit1 writes: The Obama administration on Tuesday called on U.S. states to ban agreements prohibiting many workers from moving to their employers' rivals, saying it would lead to a more competitive labor market and faster wage growth.

The administration said so-called non-compete agreements interfere with worker mobility and states should consider barring companies from requiring low-wage workers and other employees who are not privy to trade secrets or other special circumstances to sign them.

Nearly every state allows non-compete agreements, and legal battles over their validity are common. Courts in determining whether the agreements are lawful generally focus on the length of time they are in effect, their geographical limits and whether employees had access to trade secrets.

The Obama administration on Tuesday also urged states to ban non-compete agreements that are not proposed before a job offer or promotion is accepted and said employers should not be able to enforce the agreements when workers are laid off.

Submission + - AT&T Is Spying on Americans for Profit, New Documents Reveal (

schwit1 writes: The telecom giant is doing NSA-style work for law enforcement—without a warrant—and earning millions of dollars a year from taxpayers.

Hemisphere isn’t a “partnership” but rather a product AT&T developed, marketed, and sold at a cost of millions of dollars per year to taxpayers. No warrant is required to make use of the company’s massive trove of data, according to AT&T documents, only a promise from law enforcement to not disclose Hemisphere if an investigation using it becomes public.

Hemisphere is used far beyond the war on drugs to include everything from investigations of homicide to Medicaid fraud.

Submission + - Google Chrome To Make Certificate Transparency Mandatory In 2017 (

An anonymous reader writes: Google Chrome will make certificate transparency obligatory for domains issued from October 2017. The announcement, by Google software engineer Ryan Sleevi, makes clear that the Chrome team will extend all necessary help to certificating authorities to prepare them for compliance in the next twelve months. 'Although the date is a year away, we encourage any participants that wish to have their use cases addressed to bring them forward as soon as possible during the next three months. This will ensure that the IETF, the CA/Browser Forum, and the broader community at large have ample time to discuss the challenges that may be faced, and find appropriate solutions for them.' The Certificate Transparency open framework, which has been criticized over privacy aspects, uses logs to which information can only be appended (not removed or altered) to provide an authentic chain of trust which is capable of detecting compromised certificates in hours rather than the days, weeks or months involved in traditional propagation.

Submission + - Electronic surveillance up 500% in D.C.area since 2011, almost all sealed cases (

schwit1 writes: Secret law enforcement requests to conduct electronic surveillance in domestic criminal cases have surged in federal courts for Northern Virginia and the District, but only one in a thousand of the applications ever becomes public, newly released data show.

The bare-bones release by the courts leaves unanswered how long, in what ways and for what crimes federal investigators tracked individuals’ data and whether long-running investigations result in charges.

In Northern Virginia, electronic surveillance requests increased 500 percent in the past five years, from 305 in 2011 to a pace set to pass 1,800 this year.

Only one of the total 4,113 applications in those five years had been unsealed as of late July, according to information from the Alexandria division of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, which covers northern Virginia.

Submission + - Just 2 weeks in the mountains can change your blood for months (

schwit1 writes: The human body begins adapting to high-elevation environments as quickly as overnight, and these biological changes can last for months — even after the person has returned to lower elevations.

For the first time ever, scientists comparing the blood of mountain hikers have observed how multiple changes affect the red blood cells' ability to retain oxygen in low-oxygen environments — and it happens within hours.

The find contradicts an assumption that’s lasted for half a century suggesting that humans in high-altitude environments start producing new red blood cells that are more capable of supplying oxygen to their muscles and organs than the average human’s blood.

Submission + - Despite Obama's pledge to make govern. more open, report says secret laws abound ( 1

schwit1 writes: The Justice Department has kept classified at least 74 opinions, memos and letters on national security issues, including interrogation, detention and surveillance, according to a report released Tuesday by the Brennan Center for Justice.

Also still classified are between 25 and 30 significant opinions issued between 2003 and 2013 by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), the secretive federal court that interprets the law governing foreign intelligence-gathering inside the United States.

And at the State Department, 807 international agreements signed between 2004 and 2014 have not been published.

Submission + - Feds Demand Everyone's Fingerprints To Open Phones (

ArtemaOne writes: Under the Fourth Amendment, Americans are protected from unreasonable searches and seizures, but according to one group of federal prosecutors, just being in the wrong house at the wrong time is cause enough to make every single person inside provide their fingerprints and unlock their phones.

Back in 2014, a Virginia Circuit Court ruled that while suspects cannot be forced to provide phone passcodes, biometric data like fingerprints doesn’t have the same constitutional protection. Since then, multiple law enforcement agencies have tried to force individual suspects to unlock their phones with their fingers, but none have claimed the sweeping authority found in a Justice Department memorandum recently uncovered by Forbes.

Submission + - SPAM: NFL ratings plunge could spell doom for traditional TV

schwit1 writes: Football, America’s biggest prime-time powerhouse, has been thrust into a crisis this fall, with dwindling ratings sparking questions over whether it can remain a gold mine for television in an age when more Americans are abandoning traditional TV.

Network executives have long used the National Football League’s live games as a last line of defense against the rapid growth of “cord-cutting” and on-demand viewing upending the industry.

But now, the NFL is seeing its ratings tumble in the same way that the Olympics, awards shows and other live events have, falling more than 10 percent for the first five weeks of the season compared with the first five weeks of last season. A continued slide, executives say, could pose an even bigger danger: If football can’t survive the new age of TV, what can?

The explosion of modern entertainment options, offered on more devices and at any time, has splintered American audiences and sped TV’s decline, Hughes said. “Sports seemed to be immune from it — it was live, the last bastion of broadcast television. But [the world] has caught up to it now.”

They pointed to “a confluence of events,” including the election, to explain the ratings slide. Other weaknesses have plagued America’s most popular TV sport. Some of the league’s top players have retired or have been suspended, including Peyton Manning, Marshawn Lynch and Tom Brady, creating a star-power vacuum that may have driven casual fans away.

Add to that the cowardly way the NFL handled the Colin Kaepernick situation, which alienated so many, now former, fans.

Link to Original Source

Submission + - SPAM: CIA Prepping for Possible Cyber Strike Against Russia

schwit1 writes: The Obama administration is contemplating an unprecedented cyber covert action against Russia in retaliation for alleged Russian interference in the American presidential election, U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News.

Current and former officials with direct knowledge of the situation say the CIA has been asked to deliver options to the White House for a wide-ranging "clandestine" cyber operation designed to harass and "embarrass" the Kremlin leadership.

The sources did not elaborate on the exact measures the CIA was considering, but said the agency had already begun opening cyber doors, selecting targets and making other preparations for an operation. Former intelligence officers told NBC News that the agency had gathered reams of documents that could expose unsavory tactics by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Vice President Joe Biden told "Meet the Press" moderator Chuck Todd on Friday that "we're sending a message" to Putin and that "it will be at the time of our choosing, and under the circumstances that will have the greatest impact."

When asked if the American public will know a message was sent, the vice president replied, "Hope not."

Link to Original Source

Submission + - SPAM: No more manned Soyuz purchased by NASA after 2019

schwit1 writes: Both Boeing and SpaceX better get their manned capsules working by 2019, because NASA at this point has no plans to buy more seats on Russian Soyuz capsules after the present contract runs out.

Even as the commercial crew schedules move later into 2018, NASA officials say they are not considering extending the contract with Roscosmos — the Russian space agency — for more launches in 2019. The last Soyuz launch seats reserved for U.S. astronauts are at the end of 2018.

It takes more than two years to procure components and assemble new Soyuz capsules, so Russia needed to receive new Soyuz orders from NASA by some time this fall to ensure the spacecraft would be ready for liftoff in early 2019.

The second paragraph above notes that even if NASA decided it needed more Soyuz launches, it is probably too late to buy them and have them available by 2019.

Submission + - SPAM: No More Humans: Foxconn Deploys 40,000 Robots In China

schwit1 writes: Foxconn has deployed 40,000 robots in its factories in mainland China as it aims to reduce the number of workers at its plants creating digital devices. Those robots were deployed to Foxconn's manufacturing base in Zhengzhou, a panel factory in Chengdu, and computer and peripherals factories in Kunshan and Jiashan.

Dai said currently Foxconn can produce 10,000 robots annually. In the future, those robots are all potential replacements for human labor. For the Kunshan factory alone, Foxconn has cut 60,000 employees.

Prior to this, labor costs in mainland China were lower than robots; therefore, Foxconn maintained nearly one million workers. However, with the increase of labor costs and the younger generation's lack of interest in production line work, many companies have launched huge investments in automation.

Link to Original Source

Submission + - SPAM: Breakthrough increases plant yields by one third

schwit1 writes: Plant scientists have found a way to encourage plants to better use atmospheric nitrogen, thus increasing yields by more than one third.

For years, scientists have tried to increase the rate of nitrogen fixation in legumes by altering rhizobia bacterioid function or interactions that take place between the bacterioid and the root nodule cells.

Tegeder took a different approach: She increased the number of proteins that help move nitrogen from the rhizobia bacteria to the plant’s leaves, seed-producing organs and other areas where it is needed. The additional transport proteins sped up the overall export of nitrogen from the root nodules. This initiated a feedback loop that caused the rhizobia to start fixing more atmospheric nitrogen, which the plant then used to produce more seeds. “They are bigger, grow faster and generally look better than natural soybean plants,” Tegeder said. “Some evidence we have suggests they might also be highly efficient under stressful conditions like drought.”

The technique not only produces healthier plants and more seeds, it reduces the need for fertilizer, the overuse of which can be an environmental issue.

Submission + - SPAM: Ignorant of Straisand Effect, YouTube restricts Trump's video

mi writes: In an attempt to limit its impact, YouTube's censors have placed "unlisted" Trump's anti-Clinton video and then made it inaccessible in the "restricted" mode.

Predictably, the efforts backfired and the video was seen by over 370K times within 24 hours — seemingly a record for the "Team Trump" channel.

At the time of this typing, all restrictions seem to have been removed from the video.

Link to Original Source

Submission + - SPAM: Numerous suspicious court cases aim at getting web pages taken down or deindexed

schwit1 writes: There are about 25 court cases throughout the country that have a suspicious profile:
  • All involve allegedly self-represented plaintiffs, yet they have similar snippets of legalese that suggest a common organization behind them. (A few others, having a slightly different profile, involve actual lawyers.)
  • All the ostensible defendants ostensibly agreed to injunctions being issued against them, which often leads to a very quick court order (in some cases, less than a week).
  • Of these 25-odd cases, 15 give the addresses of the defendants — but a private investigator (Giles Miller of Lynx Insights & Investigations) couldn’t find a single one of the ostensible defendants at the ostensible address.

Now, you might ask, what’s the point of suing a fake defendant (to the extent that some of these defendants are indeed fake)? How can anyone get any real money from a fake defendant? How can anyone order a fake defendant to obey a real injunction?

The answer is that Google and various other Internet platforms have a policy: They won’t take down material (or, in Google’s case, remove it from Google indexes) just because someone says it’s defamatory. Understandable — why would these companies want to adjudicate such factual disputes? But if they see a court order that declares that some material is defamatory, they tend to take down or deindex the material, relying on the court’s decision.

Yet the trouble is that these Internet platforms can’t really know if the injunction was issued against the actual author of the supposed defamation — or against a real person at all.

Link to Original Source

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