Fnord666 sends this quote from an article at Slate: "Despite the pervasiveness of law enforcement surveillance of digital communication, the FBI still has a difficult time monitoring Gmail, Google Voice, and Dropbox in real time. But that may change soon, because the bureau says it has made gaining more powers to wiretap all forms of Internet conversation and cloud storage a 'top priority' this year. ... a 1994 surveillance law called the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act only allows the government to force Internet providers and phone companies to install surveillance equipment within their networks. But it doesn't cover email, cloud services, or online chat providers like Skype. Weissmann said that the FBI wants the power to mandate real-time surveillance of everything from Dropbox and online games ('the chat feature in Scrabble') to Gmail and Google Voice. 'Those communications are being used for criminal conversations,' he said."
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An anonymous reader writes "Want to be invisible to Google? Apparently you can't, at least according to the European Commission and Information Commissioner's Office. '"The right to be forgotten worries us as it makes people expect too much," said [deputy commissioner David Smith]. Instead, Smith said the focus should be on the "right to object" to how personal data is used, as this places the onus on businesses to justify the collection and processing of citizens' data. "It is a reversal of the burden of proof system used in the existing process. It will strengthen the person's position but it won't stop people processing their data." EC data protection supervisor Peter Hustinx added the right to be forgotten is currently unworkable as most countries are divided on what qualifies as sensitive personal data. "I believe the right to be forgotten is an overstatement," said Hustinx."
olePigeon (Wik) writes "Cornell University's New York based Weill Cornell Medical College issued a press release today regarding an unsettling trend in the U.S. patent system: Humans don't "own" their own genes, the cellular chemicals that define who they are and what diseases for which they might be at risk. Through more than 40,000 patents on DNA molecules, companies have essentially claimed the entire human genome for profit, report Dr. Christopher E. Mason of Weill Cornell Medical College, and the study's co-author, Dr. Jeffrey Rosenfeld, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey and a member of the High Performance and Research Computing Group, who analyzed the patents on human DNA. Their study, published March 25 in the journal Genome Medicine, raises an alarm about the loss of individual 'genomic liberty.'"
ananyo writes "In a twist that evokes the dystopian science fiction of writer Philip K. Dick, neuroscientists have found a way to predict whether convicted felons are likely to commit crimes again from looking at their brain scans. Convicts showing low activity in a brain region associated with decision-making and action are more likely to be arrested again, and sooner. The researchers studied a group of 96 male prisoners just before their release. They used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to scan the prisoners' brains during computer tasks in which subjects had to make quick decisions and inhibit impulsive reactions. The scans focused on activity in a section of the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), a small region in the front of the brain involved in motor control and executive functioning. The researchers then followed the ex-convicts for four years to see how they fared. Among the subjects of the study, men who had lower ACC activity during the quick-decision tasks were more likely to be arrested again after getting out of prison, even after the researchers accounted for other risk factors such as age, drug and alcohol abuse and psychopathic traits."
jfruh writes "The Swedish Language Council is a semi-official, government funded body that regulates, cultivates, and tracks changes to the Swedish language. Every year it releases a list of new words that have crept into Swedish, and one of 2012's entries was 'ogooglebar' — 'ungoogleable,' meaning something that can't be found with a search engine. After Google demanded that the definition be changed and the Council add a disclaimer about Google's trademark, the Council has instead decided to remove the word from the list altogether."
coondoggie writes "In a move federal prosecutors hope sends a strong message to the knuckleheads who point lasers at aircraft for fun, a California man was sentenced to 30 months in prison for shining one at two aircraft. According to the FBI Adam Gardenhire, 19, was arrested on March 29, 2012 and named in a two-count indictment filed in United States District Court in Los Angeles that said he pointed the beam of a laser at a private plane and a police helicopter that responded to the report."
We've mentioned over the last few years several times the funding problems that mean the U.S. government's weather satellite stable is thinner than we might prefer. A story at the Weather Underground outlines the plan of a company called PlanetIQ to fill the needs met with the current constellation of weather sats with private ones instead. From the article, describing testimony last week before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce: "PlanetIQ's solution includes launching a constellation of 12 small satellites in low-Earth orbit to collect weather data, which PlanetIQ says the federal government could access at less cost and risk than current government-funded efforts. ... [PlanetIQ Anne Hale] Miglarese added that within 28 to 34 months from the beginning of their manufacture, all 12 satellites could be in orbit. As for the cost, she says, "We estimate that for all U.S. civilian and defense needs globally for both terrestrial and space weather applications, the cost to government agencies in the U.S. will be less than $70 million per year. As the satellites collect data, PlanetIQ would sell the data to government weather services around the world as well as the U.S. Air Force. The most recently launched polar-orbiting satellite, sent into space by the U.S. in 2011, cost $1.5 billion."
An anonymous reader writes "As reported by Slashdot, Nokia recently notified the IETF that its RFC 6386 video codec (aka VP8, released by Google under a BSD license with a waiver of that company's patent rights) infringed several dozen of its patents; furthermore, Nokia was not inclined to license them under FRAND (fair, reasonable, and non-discriminating) terms. While the list provided by Nokia looks intimidating, Pamela Jones at Groklaw discovered that many appeared to be duplicates except for the country of filing; and even within a single country (e.g. the U.S.), some appeared to be overlapping. In other words, there may be far fewer distinct patented issues than what appears on Nokia's IETF form. Thom Holwerda at OSNews also weighed in, recalling another case where sweeping patent claims by Qualcomm and Huawei against the Opus open source audio codec proved to be groundless FUD. The familiar name Florian Mueller pops up again in Holwerda's article."
theodp writes "GeekWire reports on Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' pending patent on remote displays that communicate with base stations and operate on wireless power. Reducing devices to mere screens with minimal storage that receive pre-rendered content (e.g., bitmap images), the patent application explains, eliminates the need for bulky batteries or processors, and employing techniques like electromagnetic or electrostatic induction allows one to cut the cord completely. Such remote displays, Amazon suggests, could find a home on college campuses (tablets), in your car (windshield displays or DVD players), and even on your face (eyeglasses)." There's already a (not wirelessly powered) device similar to the one described in the patent.
An anonymous reader writes with some news that might make you think twice before getting a network-enabled camera. From the article: "Users' desire to share things online has influenced many markets, including the digital camera one. Newer cameras increasingly sport built-in Wi-Fi capabilities or allow users to add SD cards to achieve them in order to be able to upload and share photos and videos as soon as they take them. But, as proven by Daniel Mende and Pascal Turbing, security researchers with ERNW, these capabilities also have security flaws that can be easily exploited for turning these cameras into spying devices. The researchers chose to compromise Canon's EOS-1D X DSLR camera and exploit each of the four ways it can communicate with a network. Not only have they been able to hijack the information sent from the camera, but have also managed to gain complete control of it."
derekmead writes "3D-printing gun parts has taken off, thanks to the likes of Cody Wilson and Defense Distributed. While the technology adds a rather interesting wrinkle to the gun control debate, the ATF currently is pretty hands-off, ... 'We are aware of all the 3D printing of firearms and have been tracking it for quite a while,' Earl Woodham, spokesperson for the ATF field office in Charlotte, said. 'Our firearms technology people have looked at it, and we have not yet seen a consistently reliable firearm made with 3D printing.' A reporter called the ATF's Washington headquarters to get a better idea of what it took to make a gun 'consistently reliable,' and program manager George Semonick said the guns should be 'made to last years or generations.' In other words, because 3D-printed guns aren't yet as durable as their metal counterparts, the ATF doesn't yet consider them as much of a concern."
Despite calls to limit the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, it looks like Congress is planning to drastically expand the law and penalties. walterbyrd writes with a few of the major changes listed in the draft bill (22 pages): "Adds computer crimes as a form of racketeering. Expands the ways in which you could be guilty of the CFAA — including making you just as guilty if you plan to 'violate' the CFAA than if you actually did so. Ratchets up many of the punishments. Makes a very, very minor adjustment to limit 'exceeding authorized access.' Expands the definition of 'exceeding authorized access' in a very dangerous way. Makes it easier for the federal government to seize and forfeit anything." TechCrunch also reports rumors that the plan is to push the bill through quickly for approval with a number of other "cybersecurity" bills in mid-April.
First time accepted submitter sfm writes "Ever tangle with a grumpy flight attendant over turning off your Kindle Fire before takeoff? This may change if the FAA reviews their policy for these devices. The FAA is under extreme pressure to either change the rules or give a good reason to keep them in place. From the article: 'According to people who work with an industry working group that the Federal Aviation Administration set up last year to study the use of portable electronics on planes, the agency hopes to announce by the end of this year that it will relax the rules for reading devices during takeoff and landing. The change would not include cellphones.'"
An anonymous reader writes in with news about a West Virginia bill that would prohibit drivers from "using a wearable computer with head mounted display." Republican Gary G. Howell sponsored the bill in reaction to reading an article on Google Glass and said: "I actually like the idea of the product and I believe it is the future, but last legislature we worked long and hard on a no-texting-and-driving law. It is mostly the young that are the tech-savvy that try new things. They are also our most vulnerable and underskilled drivers. We heard of many crashes caused by texting and driving, most involving our youngest drivers. I see the Google Glass as an extension."
CowboyRobot writes "A proposed tax in Massachusetts may affect software services and Web design and hosting. If approved, the state estimates the tax may bring in a quarter billion dollars in 2014 by expanding its tax on 'canned software' to include some elements of cloud computing. The tax would cover custom-designed software and services based in the cloud. "Custom" software includes the design of Web sites, so the cost to local businesses of a new Web site would increase by 4.5% on contracts to design the site, write Java, PHP or other custom code. The cost of site hosting and bandwidth would also be taxed."
JimmyQS writes "The Harvard Business Review blog has an invited piece about Innovation Software. Tony McCaffrey at the University of Massachusetts Amherst talks about several pieces of software designed to help engineers augment their innovation process and make them more creative, including one his group has developed called Analogy Finder. The software searches patent databases using natural language processing technology to find analogous solutions in other domains. According to Dr. McCaffrey 'nearly 90% of new solutions are really just adaptations from solutions that already exist — and they're often taken from fields outside the problem solver's expertise.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Last week, in a blow to the content industry, the Ninth Circuit granted Veoh a pyrrhic victory against Universal Music Group and clarified the scope of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's safe harbor provisions for online service providers. By adopting a position taken by the Second Circuit in Viacom v. YouTube, the decision harmonized the law in two intellectually influential jurisdictions and set the standard in New York and California, national hubs for content creation and technological innovation. Going forward, tech startups will have more room to innovate while facing decreased risk of crippling financial liability. An article by two IP lawyers published today in TechCrunch simplifies and explains the scope of safe harbor protection in light of these rulings.
CNET reports that a British businessman named Jim McCormick is facing charges now for fraud; McCormick "charged 27,000 pounds (around $41,000) for devices that weren't quite what he said they were." That's putting it mildly; what he was selling as bomb detecting devices were actually souped-up (or souped-down, with non-functional circuitboards and other flim-flammery) golf-ball detectors. The Daily Mail has some enlightening pictures.
schwit1 writes "Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) wants to create a 'virtual Congress,' where lawmakers would leverage videoconferencing and other remote work technology to conduct their daily duties in Washington from their home districts. Under a resolution Pearce introduced on Thursday, lawmakers would be able to hold hearings, debate and vote on legislation virtually from their district offices. The big loser would be the DC area and K Street in particular. The change would also be a double-edged sword for security."
New submitter RougeFemme writes with news of Friday's announcement that FCC chairman Julius Genachowski will step down in the next several weeks (also at Politico), and asks "Obama promised us the continuation of a free, open Internet. Will the resignation of the FCC chairman have any affect on that 'net neutrality'?"
crankyspice writes "The federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently affirmed, in Columbia Pictures Industries v. Fung (docket no. 10-55946), the summary judgment and injunctions against Gary Fung and his IsoHunt (and 3d2k-it) websites, finding liability for secondary copyright infringement for the sites' users' BitTorrent (and eDonkey) file sharing, under the 'inducement' theory (set forth by the Supreme Court in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Inc. v. Grokster Ltd. , 545 U.S. 913 (2005)). The injunctions were left largely intact, with modifications required to make it more clear to the defendants what BitTorrent (etc) related activity they're enjoined from." Bloomberg has a short article on the case, too.
An anonymous reader writes "Google just settled video codec patent claims with MPEG LA and its VP8 format, which it wants to be elevated to an Internet standard, already faces the next round of patent infringement allegations. Nokia submitted an IPR declaration to the Internet Engineering Task Force listing 64 issued patents and 22 pending patent applications it believes are essential to VP8. To add insult to injury, Nokia's declaration to the IETF says NO to royalty-free licensing and also NO to FRAND (fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory) licensing. Nokia reserves the right to sue over VP8 and to seek sales bans without necessarily negotiating a license deal. Two of the 86 declared IPRs are already being asserted in Mannheim, Germany, where Nokia is suing HTC in numerous patent infringement cases. A first VP8-related trial took place on March 8 and the next one is scheduled for June 14. In related Nokia-Google patent news, the Finns are trying to obtain a U.S. import ban against HTC to force it to disable tethering (or, more likely, to pay up)."
An anonymous reader writes According to the AP, the IRS is being "scolded for spending $60,000 dollars on an elaborate parody video that played at a 2010 conference. 'The video features an elaborate set depicting the control room, or bridge, of the spaceship featured in the hit TV show. IRS workers portray the characters, including one who plays Mr. Spock, complete with fake hair and pointed ears. The production value is high even though the acting is what one might expect from a bunch of tax collectors. In the video, the spaceship is approaching the planet 'Notax,' where alien identity theft appears to be a problem.' You can find the hilarious and/or nausea-inducing video on YouTube."
SonicSpike writes with the news that the U.S. Senate yesterday "passed a nonbinding proposal to allow states to collect sales tax on Internet sellers that have no presence within their borders. The proposal was an amendment to a 2014 budget bill that the Senate debated Friday. It was pushed by Senators Mike Enzi, a Wyoming Republican, and Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, and was designed to give backers a sense of whether they had enough votes to push forward with final legislation to impose an Internet sales tax. The vote showed they have plenty of backing to overcome any filibuster seeking to block a final sales tax bill."
squiggleslash writes "Concerned about their use as fronts for gambling operations, the Florida legislature passed a law banning Internet cafes. The law appears to be a reaction in part to the recent stepping down of Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, embroiled in a scandal involving a company that operates Internet Cafes. More ordinary cafes with Wi-fi, where you supply your own computer (such as Starbucks), are not affected by the ban." The nomenclature here is confusing; the bill (PDF) (summary) is clearly aimed only at "cafes" that are essentially gambling venues; an Internet cafe wouldn't violate the proposed rule merely by providing computers. Whatever you think of prohibitions on gambling among consenting adults, the bill itself is sort of amusing for its very specific loopholes for bingo and "reverse vending machines."
helix2301 writes with this snippet from NBC News: "The U.S. government is expanding a cybersecurity program that scans Internet traffic headed into and out of defense contractors to include far more of the country's private, civilian-run infrastructure. As a result, more private sector employees than ever before, including those at big banks, utilities and key transportation companies, will have their emails and Web surfing scanned as a precaution against cyber attacks." Further on, the story notes that "By using DHS as the middleman, the Obama administration hopes to bring the formidable overseas intelligence-gathering of the NSA closer to ordinary U.S. residents without triggering an outcry from privacy advocates who have long been leery of the spy agency's eavesdropping."
itwbennett writes "Do you know what data the 1300+ tracking companies have on you? Privacy blogger Dan Tynan didn't until he had had enough of being stalked by grandpa-friendly Jitterbug phone ads. Tracking company BlueKai and its partners had compiled 471 separate pieces of data on him. Some surprisingly accurate, some not (hence the Jitterbug ad). But what's worse is that opting out of tracking is surprisingly hard. On the Network Advertising Initiative Opt Out Page you can ask the 98 member companies listed there to stop tracking you and on Evidon's Global Opt Out page you can give some 200 more the boot — but that's only about 300 companies out of 1300. And even if they all comply with your opt-out request, it doesn't mean that they'll stop collecting data on you, only that they'll stop serving you targeted ads."
redletterdave writes "After a French civil court ruled on Jan. 24 that Twitter must identify anyone who broke France's hate speech laws, Twitter has since refused to identify the users behind a handful of hateful and anti-Semitic messages, resulting in a $50 million lawsuit. Twitter argues it only needs to comply with U.S. laws and is thus protected by the full scope of the First Amendment and its free speech privileges, but France believes its Internet users should be subject to the country's tighter laws against racist and hateful forms of expression."
Newsubmitter davek writes with news that the U.S. will be applying money-laundering laws to Bitcoin and other 'virtual currencies.' "The move means that firms that issue or exchange the increasingly popular online cash will now be regulated in a similar manner as traditional money-order providers such as Western Union Co. WU +0.17% They would have new bookkeeping requirements and mandatory reporting for transactions of more than $10,000. Moreover, firms that receive legal tender in exchange for online currencies or anyone conducting a transaction on someone else's behalf would be subject to new scrutiny, said proponents of Internet currencies. 'I think it's inevitable that just like you have U.S. dollars used by thieves and criminals, it's sadly inevitable you will have criminals use a virtual currency. We want to work with authorities,' said Jeff Garzik, a Bitcoin developer. Still, law enforcement, regulators and financial institution have expressed worries about the hard-to-trace attributes of virtual currencies, helping trigger this week's move from the Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCen."
coondoggie writes "Researchers at DARPA want to take the science of machine learning — teaching computers to automatically understand data, manage results and surmise insights — up a couple notches. Machine learning, DARPA says, is already at the heart of many cutting edge technologies today, like email spam filters, smartphone personal assistants and self-driving cars. 'Unfortunately, even as the demand for these capabilities is accelerating, every new application requires a Herculean effort. Even a team of specially-trained machine learning experts makes only painfully slow progress due to the lack of tools to build these systems,' DARPA says."
tsamsoniw writes "Hoping to strike a blow against sexism in the tech industry , developer and tech evangelist Adria Richards took to Twitter to complain about two male developers swapping purportedly offensive jokes at PyCon. The decision has set into motion a chain of events that illustrate the impact a tweet or two can make in this age of social networking: One the developers and Richards have since lost their jobs, and even the chair of PyCon has been harassed for his minor role in the incident."
skade88 writes "Ars is reporting that GoPro, the company that makes cameras used in extreme sports such as sky diving and swimming with dolphins has issued a DMCA take down notice on a review at DigitalRev that they do not like. See DMCA notice here. From the article: 'DigitalRev has a blog post up about the takedown, suggesting that most DMCA takedowns are "abusive" in nature. "We hope GoPro is not suggesting, with this DMCA notice, that camera reviews should be done only when they are authorized by the manufacturers," writes DigitalRev. "GoPro (or should we call you Go*ro instead?), we'd be interested to hear what you have to say" about the infringement notice.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "Cyber-attacks are much in the news lately, thanks to some well-publicized hacks and rising concerns over malware. Many of these attacks are likely backed in some way by governments anxious to seize intellectual property, or simply probe other nations' IT infrastructure. But do nations actually have a right to fire off a bomb or a clip of ammunition at cyber-attackers, especially if a rival government is backing the latter as part of a larger hostile action? Should a military hacker, bored and exhausted from twelve-hour days of building malware, be regarded in the same way as a soldier with a rifle? Back in 2009, the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (which also exists under the lengthy acronym NATO CCD COE) commissioned a panel of experts to produce a report on the legal underpinnings of cyber-warfare. NATO CCD COE isn't funded by NATO, and nor is it a part of that organization's command-and-control structure—but those experts did issue a nonbinding report (known as "The Tallinn Manual on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Warfare") exploring the ramifications of cyber-attacks, and what targeted nations can do in response. It's an interesting read, and the experts do suggest that, under circumstances, a nation under cyber-attack can respond to the cyber-attackers with "kinetic force," so long as that force is proportional. Do you agree?"
Trepidity writes "The extensive NASA Technical Report Archive was just taken offline, following pressure from members of U.S. Congress, worried that Chinese researchers could be reading the reports. U.S. Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA) demanded that 'NASA should immediately take down all publicly available technical data sources until all documents that have not been subjected to export control review have received such a review,' and NASA appears to have complied. Although all reports are in the public domain, there doesn't appear to be a third-party mirror available (some university libraries do have subsets on microfiche)."
SonicSpike excerpts from CNet's coverage of the latest in the seemingly inevitable path toward consistently applied Internet sales taxes for U.S citizens: "Internet tax supporters are hoping that a vote in the U.S. Senate as early as today will finally give them enough political leverage to require Americans to pay sales taxes when shopping online. Sens. Mike Enzi (R-Wy.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) are expected to offer an amendment to a Democratic budget resolution this week that, by allowing states to 'collect taxes on remote sales,' is intended to usher in the first national Internet sales tax." There goes one of the best ways to vote with your dollars.
psykocrime writes "The crazy kids at Fogbeam Labs have started a discussion about Google and their relationship with the Open Web, and questioning who will step up to defend these principles, even as Google seem to be abdicating their position as such a champion. Some candidates mentioned include Yahoo, IBM, Red Hat, Mozilla, Microsoft and The Wikimedia Foundation, among others. The question is, what organization(s) have both the necessary clout and the required ethical principles, to truly champion the Open Web, in the face of commercial efforts which are clearly inimical to Open Source, Open Standards, Libre Culture and other elements of an Open Web?"
wiredog writes "Microsoft has released a report of all the subpoenas and other requests it got from law enforcement in 2012, and the way it responded to them. This is similar to the Google Transparency Report."
First time accepted submitter danhuby writes "Apple have removed sweatshop-themed game Sweatshop HD by UK developers LittleLoud from their app store citing clause 16.1 — 'Apps that present excessively objectionable or crude content will be rejected.' According to the PocketGamer article, Littleloud's head of games, Simon Parkin, told Pocket Gamer that 'Apple removed Sweatshop from the App Store last month stating that it was uncomfortable selling a game based around the theme of running a sweatshop.'"
jfruh writes "Defense Distributed, a U.S. nonprofit that aims to make plans for guns available owners of 3-D printers, recently received a federal firearms license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. That license doesn't cover semi-automatic weapons and machine guns, though — and there are questions about whether the legislation that defines that license really apply to the act of giving someone 3-D printing patterns. Experts on all sides of the issue seemed to agree that no clarification of the law would happen until a high-profile crime involving a 3-D printed weapon was committed."
sgroyle (author Simon Royle) writes with an excerpt from an article he wrote about discovering that publisher WHSmith has been adding DRM to books without their authors' permission, and against their intent: "DRM had, without my knowledge, been added to my book. I quickly checked my other books; same thing. Then I checked the books of authors who, because of their vocal and public opposition, I know are against DRM – Konrath, Howey, and Doctorow, to name a few – same result. ALL books on WHSmith have DRM in them. Rather than assume WHSmith where at fault, I checked with my distributor, Draft2Digital. They send my books to Kobo, who in turn send my books to WHSmith. D2D assured me the DRM was not being added by them and were distressed to hear that this was the case. Kobo haven't replied to any of the messages in this thread: 'WHSmith putting DRM in books distributed via Kobo'. I'm not holding my breath." Update: 03/22 21:02 GMT by T : Problem resolved. Hanno Liem of the Kobo team wrote with good news that the DRM notices that were appended were done so in error, and since corrected: "The original site has been updated – it was just a bug on our site, and was resolved within a day I think. We're all slashdot readers here at Kobo Operations, and this is kinda painful :p" Thanks, Hanno.
Hugh Pickens writes writes "After the Watergate scandal taught Richard Nixon the consequences of recording White House conversations, none of his successors has dared to do it. But Nixon wasn't the first. He got the idea from his predecessor Lyndon Johnson, who felt there was an obligation to allow historians to eventually eavesdrop on his presidency. Now David Taylor reports on BBC that the latest set of declassified tapes of President Lyndon Johnson's telephone calls show that by the time of the Presidential election in November 1968, LBJ had evidence that Nixon had sabotaged the Vietnam war peace talks — or, as he put it, that Nixon was guilty of treason and had 'blood on his hands'. It begins in the summer of 1968. Nixon feared a breakthrough at the Paris Peace talks designed to find a negotiated settlement to the Vietnam war that he knew would derail his campaign. Nixon therefore set up a clandestine back-channel to the South Vietnamese involving Anna Chennault, a senior campaign adviser. In late October 1968 there were major concessions from Hanoi which promised to allow meaningful talks to get underway in Paris. This was exactly what Nixon feared. Chennault was dispatched to the South Vietnamese embassy with a clear message: the South Vietnamese government should withdraw from the talks, refuse to deal with Johnson, and if Nixon was elected, they would get a much better deal. Meanwhile the FBI had bugged the ambassador's phone and transcripts of Chennault's calls were sent to the White House. Johnson was told by Defense Secretary Clark Clifford that the interference was illegal and threatened the chance for peace. The president gave Humphrey enough information to sink his opponent but by then, a few days from the election, Humphrey had been told he had closed the gap with Nixon and would win the presidency so Humphrey decided it would be too disruptive to the country to accuse the Republicans of treason, if the Democrats were going to win anyway. In the end Nixon won by less than 1% of the popular vote, escalated the war into Laos and Cambodia with the loss of an additional 22,000 American lives, and finally settled for a peace agreement in 1973 that was within grasp in 1968."
jrepin writes "There's a new front in the battle against digital restrictions management (DRM)technologies. These technologies, which supposedly exist to enforce copyright, have never done anything to get creative people paid. Instead, by design or by accident, their real effect is to interfere with innovation, fair use, competition, interoperability, and our right to own things. That's why we were appalled to learn that there is a proposal currently before the World Wide Web Consortium's HTML5 Working Group to build DRM into the next generation of core Web standards. The proposal is called Encrypted Media Extensions, or EME. Its adoption would be a calamitous development, and must be stopped."
An anonymous reader writes "According to a report at The Daily Beast, the Obama administration has decided to give the drone program to the Pentagon, taking it away from the CIA. This could lead to increased transparency for the program and stricter requirements for drone strikes. From the article: 'Officials anticipate a phased-in transition in which the CIA’s drone operations would be gradually shifted over to the military, a process that could take as little as a year. Others say it might take longer but would occur during President Obama’s second term. “You can’t just flip a switch, but it’s on a reasonably fast track,” says one U.S. official. During that time, CIA and DOD operators would begin to work more closely together to ensure a smooth hand-off. The CIA would remain involved in lethal targeting, at least on the intelligence side, but would not actually control the unmanned aerial vehicles. Officials told The Daily Beast that a potential downside of the agency’s relinquishing control of the program was the loss of a decade of expertise that the CIA has developed since it has been prosecuting its war in Pakistan and beyond. At least for a period of transition, CIA operators would likely work alongside their military counterparts to target suspected terrorists.'"
judgecorp writes "A new manual for cyber war has been compiled by international legal experts and published by NATO. The manual proposes that hospitals and dams should be off-limits for online warfare, and says that a conventional response is justified if an attack causes death or serious damage to property. The manual might get its first practical application today — South Korea's TV stations and banks have come under an attack which may well originate from North Korea."
An anonymous reader writes "I'm an indie developer about to release a small ($5 — $10 range) utility for graphic designers. I'd like to employ at least a basic deterrent to pirates, but with the recent SimCity disaster, I'm wondering: what is a reasonable way to deter piracy without ruining things for legitimate users? A simple serial number? Online activation? Encrypted binaries? Please share your thoughts."
coondoggie writes "Commercial grade green and red laser pointers emit energy far beyond what is safe, posing skin, eye and fire hazards. That was the conclusion of a National Institute of Standards and Technology study on the properties of handheld lasers. The study tested 122 of the devices and found that nearly 90% of green pointers and about 44% of red pointers tested were out of federal safety regulation compliance."
c0lo writes "U.S. federal authorities are examining Microsoft's involvement with companies and individuals that allegedly paid bribes to overseas government officials in exchange for business. The United States Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission have both opened preliminary investigations into the bribery allegations involving Microsoft in China, Italy and Romania. The China allegations were first shared with United States officials last year by an unnamed whistle-blower who had worked with Microsoft in the country, according to the person briefed on the inquiry. The whistle-blower said that a Microsoft official in China directed the whistle-blower to pay bribes to government officials to win business deals. U.S. government investigators are also reviewing whether Microsoft had a role in allegations that resellers offered bribes to secure software deals with Romania's Ministry of Communications. In Italy, Microsoft's dealings with consultants that specialize in customer-loyalty programs are under scrutiny, with allegations that Microsoft's Italian unit used such consultants as vehicles for lavishing gifts and trips on Italian procurement officials in exchange for government business. In a blog post Tuesday afternoon, John Frank, a vice president and deputy general counsel at Microsoft, said the company could not comment about continuing investigations. Mr. Frank said it was not uncommon for such government reviews to find that the claims were without merit. Somehow, given the way OOXML became a standard, it wouldn't surprise me if it were an actual fire that caused this smoke."
cylonlover writes with news that another police department has received authorization to start using drones for tasks like "...photographing crime scenes and searching for missing people." From the article: "The police department in Arlington can now use new tools in support of public safety over the Texas urban community — two small helicopter Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. The FAA has granted permission for the Arlington police to fly these unmanned aircraft under certain circumstances: they must fly under 400 feet, only in the daytime, be in sight of the operator and a safety observer, and be in contact with the control tower at the nearby Dallas-Fort Worth airport — one of the busiest in the country." They're using a Leptron Avenger, which "has been designed with military grade features" but don't worry, "police are quick to emphasize that the 4- to 5-foot-long aircraft aren’t the same as military drones."
concealment sends this quote from an article about evading internet censorship with the sneakernet: "Dissident Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez on Saturday told newspaper publishers from around the Western Hemisphere that 'nothing is changing' in Cuba’s ossified political system and that 'the situation of press freedom in my country is calamitous.' But Sanchez said underground blogs, digital portals and illicit e-magazines proliferate, passed around on removable computer drives known as memory sticks. The small computer memories, also known as flash drives or thumb drives, are dropped into friendly hands on buses and along street corners, offering a surprising number of Cubans access to information. 'Information circulates hand to hand through this wonderful gadget known as the memory stick,' Sanchez said, 'and it is difficult for the government to intercept them. I can't imagine that they can put a police officer on every corner to see who has a flash drive and who doesn't.'"
An anonymous reader writes "The Charleston Gazette is reporting that the state of West Virginia hired a consulting firm for over $100,000 to investigate the state's use of Federal stimulus money (which included the purchase of $22,000 routers for tiny buildings). Unfortunately, the state government is now refusing a FOIA request to release the firm's report. The reason? The findings 'might be embarrassing to some people,' according to Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette."