Z80xxc! writes "The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy announced a "policy memorandum" today requiring any federal agency with over $100 million in R&D expenditures each year to develop plans for making all research funded by that agency freely available to the public within one year of publication in any peer-reviewed scholarly journal. The full memorandum is available on the White House website. It appears that this policy would not only apply to federal agencies conducting research, but also to any university, private corporation, or other entity conducting research that arises from federal funding. For those in academia and the public at large, this is a huge step towards free open access to publicly funded research." Edward Tufte calls the move timid and unimaginative, linking to a Verge article that explains that it's not quite as sweeping as the summary above sounds.
Hugh Pickens writes "William D. Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, writes that although we have been bombarded with tales of woe about the potentially devastating impacts of cutting the Pentagon budget 8% under the sequester, examples of egregious waste and misplaced spending priorities at the Pentagon abound. One need look no further than the department's largest weapons program, the F-35 combat aircraft, which has just been grounded again after a routine inspection revealed a crack on a turbine blade in the jet engine of an F-35 test aircraft in California. Even before it has moved into full-scale production, the plane has already increased in price by 75%, and it has so far failed to meet basic performance standards. By the Pentagon's own admission, building and operating three versions of the F-35 — one for the Air Force, one for the Navy and one for the Marines — will cost more than $1.4 trillion over its lifetime, making it the most expensive weapons program ever undertaken. And in an era in which aerial combat is of diminishing importance and upgraded versions of current generation U.S. aircraft can more than do the job, it is not at all clear that we need to purchase more than 2,400 of these planes. Cutting the two most expensive versions of the F-35 will save over $60 billion in the next decade."
judgecorp writes "France is planning a €20 billion programme to get super-fast broadband to its rural population. About half the funds will come from government investment, and President Hollande believes the work will create 10,000 jobs. Half the population should have fast broadband in the next five years, and the whole country in ten years. France is at a disadvantage for broadband as it is a large country with a lot of rural areas. However, it also has a more left-leaning government willing to take on infrastructure projects."
s122604 writes "Automakers aren't too happy about a recent U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposal, which uses part of the wireless spectrum assigned to vehicle-to-vehicle technology for Wi-Fi instead. The FCC announced that it plans to free up 195 MHz of spectrum in the 5 GHz band for unlicensed use in an effort to address the U.S.' spectrum crisis. This could potentially lead to Wi-Fi speeds faster than 1 gigabit per second."
An anonymous reader writes "Back in late 2012, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg attributed the increase in statistical city-wide crime to Apple, noting that thieves had a propensity to target folks using iPhones and iPads. As an illustration of the problem, there were 3,890 more Apple product thefts than in 2012 than there were in 2011. At the time, Mayor Bloomberg's press secretary Marc La Vorgna explained that 'if you just took away the jump in Apple', crime in New York City would have been down year over year. Indeed, the number of major crimes reported in 2011 in NYC came in at 104,948 compared to 108.432 in 2012. If you exclude Apple related thefts from the figures, then the crime rate in 2012 is essentially the same as it was in 2011. In light of that, a new report from the New York Post details that Apple is now working with the NYPD in an effort to curb iPhone and other Apple related thefts."
An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from the Daily Dot: "Starting next week, most U.S. Internet users will be subject to a new copyright enforcement system that could force them to complete educational programs, and even slow their Internet speeds to a crawl. A source with direct knowledge of the Copyright Alert System [said] the five participating Internet service providers will start the controversial program Monday. The ISPs — industry giants AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner, and Verizon — will launch their versions of the CAS on different days throughout the week. Comcast is expected to be the first, on Monday." Of course, there are many ways around the Copyright Alert System, so it probably won't be terribly effective.
eldavojohn writes "A new report from China's environment ministry has resulted in long-overdue self-realizations as well as possible explanations for 'cancer villages.' The term refers to villages (anywhere from 247 to 400 known of them) that have increased cancer rates due to pollution from nearby factories and industry. The report revealed that many harmful chemicals that are prohibited and banned in developed nations are still found in China's water and air. Prior research has shown a direct correlation between industrialization/mining and levels of poisonous heavy metals in water. As a result, an air pollution app has grown in popularity and you can see the pollution from space. China has also released a twelve-year plan for environmental protection."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Earlier this month, a very public argument erupted between Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk and New York Times reporter John Broder, who claimed in a Feb. 8 column that his electric-powered Model S sedan had ground to a halt on a lonely stretch of Connecticut highway, starved for power. Musk retaliated by publishing the data from Broder's test drive, which suggested the reporter had driven the vehicle at faster speeds than he had claimed in the article (which would have drained the battery at a quicker rate) and failed to fully charge the car at available stations. Musk seems to have let the whole thing drop, but the whole brouhaha raises a point that perhaps deserves further exploration: the rising use of sensors in cars, and whether an automobile company—or any other entity, for that matter—has the right to take data from those sensors and use it for their own ends without the owner's permission. (For his part, Musk has claimed that Tesla only turns on data logging with 'explicit written permission from customers.') What do you think, Slashdot? Do we need the equivalent of a 'Do-Not-Track' option for cars?"
An anonymous reader writes "Michael Arrington, founder of TechCrunch, lives near Seattle and bought a boat there. He ordered it from a company based near him, but across the border in Canada. Yesterday, the company tried to deliver it to him, and it had to clear customs. An agent for the Department of Homeland Security asked him to sign a form. The form contained information about the boat, including its cost. The price was correct, but it was in U.S. dollars rather than Canadian dollars. Since the form contained legal warnings about making sure everything on it is true and accurate, Arrington suggested to the agent that they correct the error. She responded by seizing the boat. 'As in, demanded that we get off the boat, demanded the keys and took physical control of it. What struck me the most about the situation is how excited she got about seizing the boat. Like she was just itching for something like this to happen. This was a very happy day for her. ... A person with a gun and a government badge asked me to swear in writing that a lie was true today. And when I didn't do what she wanted she simply took my boat and asked me to leave.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) claims that Google has failed in its attempt to lower the search-results rankings of so-called 'pirate' Websites. "We have found no evidence that Google's policy has had a demonstrable impact on demoting sites with large amounts of piracy," read the report's summary (PDF). 'These sites consistently appear at the top of Google's search results for popular songs or artists.' Last August, Google indicated that it would start lowering the search-result rankings of Websites with high numbers of 'valid' copyright removal notices. 'This ranking change should help users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily—whether it's a song previewed on NPR's music website, a TV show on Hulu or new music streamed on Spotify,' Amit Singhal, Google's senior vice president of Engineering, wrote in a corporate blog posting at the time. Google, which receives millions of copyright removal notices every month, also offers a counter-notice tool for those who believe their Websites have been unfairly targeted for copyright violations."
concealment writes "Three independent bookstores are taking Amazon and the so-called Big Six publishers (Random House, Penguin, Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster and Macmillan) to court in an attempt to level the playing field for book retailers. If successful, the lawsuit could completely change how ebooks are sold. The class-action complaint, filed in New York on Feb 15., claims that by entering into confidential agreements with the Big Six publishers, who control approximately 60 percent of print book revenue in the U.S., Amazon has created a monopoly in the marketplace that is designed to control prices and destroy independent booksellers."
New submitter OhSoLaMeow writes with a story at The Daily Caller with unpleasant news from the Illinois state Senate, where a state senator has introduced a bill that "would require anonymous website comment posters to reveal their identities if they want to keep their comments online." From the article (warning — obnoxious ads with sound): "The bill, called the Internet Posting Removal Act, is sponsored by Illinois state Sen. Ira Silverstein. It states that a 'web site administrator upon request shall remove any comments posted on his or her web site by an anonymous poster unless the anonymous poster agrees to attach his or her name to the post and confirms that his or her IP address, legal name, and home address are accurate.'"
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "The courts are finally starting to get it, that the subscriber to an internet access account which has been used for a copyright infringement is not necessarily the infringer. In AF Holdings v. Rogers, a case in the Southern District of California, the Chief Judge of the Court has granted a motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim where the only evidence the plaintiff has against defendant is that defendant appears to have been the subscriber to the internet access account in question. In his 7-page opinion (PDF), Chief Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz noted that 'just because an IP address is registered to an individual does not mean that he or she is guilty of infringement when that IP address is used to commit infringing activity.'"
SpaceGhost writes "The Washington Post reports that the United States Postal Service has contracted with Wahconah Group, Inc. to produce a line of USPS-branded smart clothing. Per USPS Licensing manager Steven Mills 'This agreement will put the Postal Service on the cutting edge of functional fashion... The main focus will be to produce Rain Heat & Snow apparel and accessories using technology to create 'smart apparel' — also known as wearable electronics.' USPS Spokesman Roy Betts reports that the line will be found in premium department stores and specialty stores starting in 2014. The Washington Post points out that the USPS had done a similar retail line in the 1980s sold exclusively at Post Offices, but the line was discontinued after lobbyists complained of competition with the private sector." I hope it has hidden pockets for lost letters, and a loop for the package smashing mallet.
New submitter sc30317 writes "My house got robbed on Friday, and all of our electronics got stolen. Everything. Now, I have to go out and buy all new electronics with the insurance money. We had five TVs (don't ask), three laptops, a Bose Sound dock with iPod, a digital camera, and a desktop stolen. It's looking like I am going to get around $10K from the insurance company to replace everything. What would you do if you had to replace ALL of your technology in your house at once? I'm thinking: replace TVs; nice Desktop; new speakers; and new, cool stuff I don't know about (suggestions welcome). I already added a DVR security system, so hopefully the new things won't get burgled! Looking for suggestions to utilize my money in order to get the best stuff. Also, no Windows computers allowed in my house."
An anonymous reader writes "A White House petition to make unlocking cell phones legal again has passed the 100,000 signature mark. Passing the milestone means the U.S. government has to issue an official response. On January 26th, unlocking a cell phone that is under contract became illegal in the U.S. Just before that went into effect, a petition was started at whitehouse.gov to have the Librarian of Congress revisit that decision. 'It reduces consumer choice, and decreases the resale value of devices that consumers have paid for in full. The Librarian noted that carriers are offering more unlocked phones at present, but the great majority of phones sold are still locked.'"
codegen writes "The Ontario Court of Appeal has just ruled that the police can search your cellphone if you are arrested without a warrant if it is not password protected. But the ruling also stated that if it is password protected, then the police need a warrant. Previous to this case there was no decision on if the police could search your phone without a warrant in Canada."
New submitter Nyder writes "In a move that is sure to bring tears to the eyes of kids everywhere, Connecticut State Senator Toni Harp proposed a bill in January that would ban anyone younger than 18 from playing 'violent point-and-shoot' video games in arcades or other public establishments. 'The bill also called for research into the effects of violent video games on young minds, through a committee called the Violent Video Game Task Force within the Department of Children and Families. The task force would advise the Governor and General assembly on state programs that "may reduce the effects of violent video games on youth behavior," suggesting before the research was done that violent video games have an effect on children's actions.' Hopefully this won't pass; I guess the video game lobby hasn't paid this Senator enough 'funds' for her campaign."
angry tapir writes "The European Parliament's industry committee has approved more than 900 amendments to proposed new data protection laws. Civil liberties groups and consumer organizations were quick to accuse members of the Parliament (MEPs) of caving in to pressure from big business and the U.S. 'The Conservative and Liberal parties in the Parliament have voted against the interests of European consumers, who expect MEPs to ensure existing E.U. data protection standards are not diluted,' said Monique Goyens, director general of the European consumer organization, BEUC."
On January 26th, unlocking a cell phone that is under contract became illegal in the U.S. Just before that went into effect, a petition was started at whitehouse.gov to have the Librarian of Congress revisit that decision. "It reduces consumer choice, and decreases the resale value of devices that consumers have paid for in full. The Librarian noted that carriers are offering more unlocked phones at present, but the great majority of phones sold are still locked." The 30 days time limit on the petition is almost up, and it's about 11,000 signatures shy of the amount necessary to ensure a response from the Obama administration (100,000 total, recently increased from 25,000). The creator of the petition received a Cease & Desist letter from Motorola in 2005 for selling software that would allow users to unlock their phones, and he thinks it's only a matter of time before such legal threats begin again. This is part of a larger battle to protect the way consumers can use their devices. While it's still legal for people to root their phones, the Librarian of Congress failed to expand that legal protection to tablets, even though the devices are incredibly similar. The Librarian's decision (PDF) needs further review, and if the White House petition doesn't get enough signatures by February 23, such a review may not happen.