linuxwrangler writes "Two teens are behind bars after hatching a plan that involved drugging milkshakes they gave to the parents of one of the kids. The parents were suspicious after waking groggy the next day, and used a home drug-test on one of the remaining drinks. The teens came up with the plan in order to avoid their 10pm Internet curfew."
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Hugh Pickens writes "Facing a $10 billion revenue shortfall for transportation financing, the Oregon Legislature is expected to consider a bill to require drivers with a vehicle getting at least 55 miles per gallon of gasoline to pay a per-mile tax after 2015 to offset the loss in tax revenue for fuel efficient cars at the gas pump, where the government has traditionally collected money to build and fix roads. Oregonians currently pay 30 cents per gallon, a tax that is automatically added at the pump, but as cars become more fuel efficient and alternative fuel sources are identified, state officials project gas tax revenue will decline. 'Everybody uses the road, and if some pay and some don't, then that's an unfair situation that's got to be resolved,' says Jim Whitty of the Department of Transportation. Opponents of the Oregon proposal say it will hurt a new industry. 'It will be one more obstacle that the industry and auto dealers will face in convincing consumers to buy these new cars,' says Paul Cosgrove, a lobbyist for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. Other states, such as Nevada and Washington, are also looking at a per-mile charge and a Washington law that would charge electric car owners an annual fee goes into effect in February. Oregon did a pilot study of the mileage tax (PDF) where participants paid 1.56 cents per mile and got a credit for any gasoline tax they paid at the pump. Although initial media portrayals of the system were almost uniformly negative, 91% of test participants preferred the mileage tax to paying gas taxes."
Bobfrankly1 writes "Robert Stuart and his company Extensions Software are being charged by New York authorities, claiming he is promoting gambling in New York because of the actions of his clients. They are charging him after he rejected a plea agreement that would have him plead guilty to lesser charges, adding backdoors to his software, and using said backdoors to gather details on his clients and their customers." Another article on the case at Salon.
itwbennett writes "According to an ITworld report, 'Google has agreed to change some of its business practices, including allowing competitors access to some standardized technologies, to resolve a U.S. Federal Trade Commission antitrust complaint against the company.' This includes 'allow[ing] competitors access to standards-essential patents the company acquired along with its purchase of Motorola Mobility.' Also among the business practices Google has agreed to stop is 'scraping Web content from rivals and allegedly passing it off as its own, said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz.'" SlashCloud has some more details, including links to the agreement itself and Google's soft-pedaling description of "voluntary product changes."
Frequent contributor Bennett Haselton writes this week with his explanation of how an improved algorithm on the White House's petition-creation site could do away with Death Star petitions and even improve on the existing serious ones. Read on below for his modest proposal on that front.
cathyreisenwitz writes "The 2012 bankruptcy of Rhode Island-based video-game developer 38 Studios isn't just a sad tale of a start-up tech company falling victim to the vagaries of a rough economy. It is a completely predictable story of crony capitalism, featuring star-struck legislators and the hubris of a larger-than-life athlete completely unprepared to compete in business." Reason makes no bones about its view of this kind of public-private "partnership."
DavidGilbert99 writes with this excerpt from IB Times: "The Sandy Hook shooting once again raised the debate about how much power violent videogames wield over teenagers. Following proclamations from the National Rifle Association and the establishment of a study by the National Academy of Sciences to investigate the psychological effects of violent games on children, a group in Connecticut is now having its say Southington, a town 30 miles from where the shooting took place, is offering gift tokens in exchange for violent videogames, as well as other violent media such as DVDs or videos. The group, called SouthingtonSOS, said in a statement: 'There is ample evidence that violent video games, along with violent media of all kinds, including TV and movies portraying story after story showing a continuous stream of violence and killing, has contributed to increasing aggressiveness, fear, anxiety and is desensitizing our children to acts of violence including bullying.'" And Yes, they plan to destroy the traded-in games. (Note: Beware the obnoxious auto-playing video ad with sound; adjust volume accordingly.)
Curseyoukhan writes "Infosec vendor IID (Internet Identity) probably hopes that by the time 2014 rolls around no one will remember the prediction it just made. That is the year it says we will see the first murder via internet connected device. The ability to do this has been around for quite some time but the company won't say why it hasn't happened yet. Probably because that would have screwed up their fear marketing. CIO blogger challenges them to a $10K bet over their claim."
inode_buddha writes "Not long ago we ran a story about how a NY newspaper published lists of gun owners. Now, it seems the same newspaper has hired armed guards in response to unspecified threats to the editor, amid 'large volumes of negative response.' From the article: 'The editor, Caryn McBride, told police the newspaper hired a private security company whose "employees are armed and will be on site during business hours," the report said. The guards are protecting the newspaper's staff and Rockland County offices in West Nyack, New York.'"
New submitter earlzdotnet writes "A new patent troll is in town, this time targeting the users of technology, rather than the creators. They appear to hold a process patent for 'scanning a document and then emailing it.' They are targeting small businesses in a variety of locations and usually want somewhere between $900 to $1200 per employee for 'infringement' of their patent. As with most patent trolls, they go by a number of shell companies, but the original company name appears to be Project Paperless LLC. Joel Spolsky said in a tweet that 'This is organized crime, plain and simple...' I tend to agree with him. When will something be done about this legal mafia?"
jfruh writes "Those Nigerian spam scams of the last decade may have just been the first step in a looming African cyber-crime wave. Africa has the world's fastest-growing middle class, whose members are increasingly tech-savvy and Internet connected — and the combination of ambitious, educated people, a ceiling on advancement due to corruption and lack of infrastructure, and lax law enforcement is a perfect petri dish for increased cybercrime."
An anonymous reader sends word that the Russian Space industry will be getting a big boost over the next eight years. Prime Minister Medvedev has approved $68.71 billion in space-related funding from 2013 to 2020. That's a huge increase from the $3.3 billion spent annually in 2010 and 2011. The increased funding is one of several efforts to restoring Russia's slowly fading spaceflight capabilities. "The failure of a workhorse Proton rocket after launch in August caused the multimillion-dollar loss of an Indonesian and a Russian satellite. A similar problem caused the loss of a $265 million communications satellite last year. Medvedev criticized the state of the industry in August, saying problems were costing Russia prestige and money." Medvedev said, "The program will enable our country to effectively participate in forward-looking projects, such as the International Space Station, the study of the Moon, Mars and other celestial bodies in the solar system."
dgharmon sends this news from the Atlantic Wire: "After a years-long legal battle, federal prosecutors in Belgium now believe their investigation is complete enough to charge the Church of Scientology and its leaders as a criminal organization on charges of extortion, fraud, privacy breaches, and the illegal practice of medicine. ... Multiple reports and the group's legal history point to one key factor here: The Belgian government won't charge Scientology for being a cult — authorities are focusing on prosecuting it as a criminal organization. Which is a new twist, as most of the group's many court battles over the years have focused on establishing its legitimacy as a religion. ... The Church of Scientology houses its European headquarters in Brussels, so a ban in Belgium could be crippling to the group — and authorities there seem to know it."
EagleHasLanded writes "The U.S. Metric Association has been advocating for metrication since 1916 – without much success. In the mid-1970s, the U.S. government passed the Metric Conversion Act, but now it seems the time for complete conversion has come and gone. Or could U.S. educators and health & safety advocates put this issue back on Congress' radar screen?"
jrepin writes "While the UK has seen the light, the EU has actually gone backwards on open standards in recent times. The original European Interoperability Framework required royalty-free licensing, but what was doubtless a pretty intense wave of lobbying in Brussels overturned that, and EIF v2 ended up pushing FRAND, which effectively locks out open source — the whole point of the exercise. Shamefully, some parts of the European Commission are still attacking open source."
SternisheFan writes with this excerpt from CNET: "Installous, a major portal for pirated paid apps from Apple's App Store, won't be around anymore. Development team Hackulous today announced the closure of Installous on their official Web site. As of today, the pirated app store no longer works, and only shows these errors: 'Outdated version. Installous will now terminate' or 'API Error. API unavailable.' For many years, Installous offered complete access to thousands of paid iOS apps for free for anyone with a jailbroken iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. Think of it as being able to walk into a fancy department store, steal anything you want, and never get caught."
ezabi writes "After announcing a 43 million USD license agreement with Microsoft, the Egyptian government was faced with a protest from FOSS enthusiasts staging a protest before the cabinet. Later, representatives from the community had a meeting with the minister of communications and information technology. Such a meeting led to the ministry issuing a press release (in Arabic) stating its commitment to gradually move to open source (Google Translate to English) as a strategic option for future projects. It's worth mentioning that all governmental websites used in the elections and constitution referendum were all based on open source solutions."
First time accepted submitter cathyreisenwitz writes "The New York Times' Bits blog has a great piece on the FAA's inconvenient, outdated and unhelpful rules regarding electronic devices on planes: 'Dealing with the F.A.A. on this topic is like arguing with a stubborn teenager. The agency has no proof that electronic devices can harm a plane's avionics, but it still perpetuates such claims, spreading irrational fear among millions of fliers.' The rules illustrate why we shouldn't let the government regulate the internet: Government regulations are nearly always outdated and too cautious."
Hugh Pickens writes "BBC reports that U.S. energy companies are racing to install wind turbines before a federal tax credit expires at the end of this year which could be lost as Congress struggles with new legislation to avoid the 'fiscal cliff.' 'There's a lot of rushing right now to get projects completed by the end of the year,' says Rob Gramlich, senior vice president at the American Wind Energy Association. 'There's a good chance we could get this extension, it is very hard to predict, but the industry is not making bets on the Congress getting it done,' Even if there is an extension there is likely to be a significant curtailment of wind installations in 2013. From 1999 to 2004, Congress allowed the wind energy production tax credit to expire three times, each time retroactively extending it several months after the expiration deadline had passed, but wind energy companies say they need longer time frames to negotiate deals to sell the power they generate. 'Even if the tax credit is extended, our new construction plans likely will be ramped back substantially in 2013 compared with the last few years,' says Paul Copleman. 'So much time has passed without certainty that a normal one-year extension would not be a game-changer for our 2013 build plans.'"
jvillain writes "The Guardian has up a story detailing the crack down on Occupy Wall Street (OWS). It goes on to show how the FBI, DHS, Terrorist Fusion Centers and the banks all worked together to stifle dissent. From the article: 'This production [of documents], which we believe is just the tip of the iceberg, is a window into the nationwide scope of the FBI's surveillance, monitoring, and reporting on peaceful protesters organizing with the Occupy movement These documents also show these federal agencies functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America.' The next question is how many Americans are now listed as part of a 'terrorist group' by the government for their support of OWS?"