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."
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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?"
An anonymous reader writes "YouTube has dropped 2 billion fake music industry views and their offending videos. From the article: 'Google made good on its promise to weed out views inflated by artificial means last week, according to Daily Dot. Record company sites impacted included titans like Universal Music Group, which reportedly lost 1 billion of its 7 billion views, and Sony, who lost 850 million views. The cuts affected marquee names like Rhianna, Beyonce and Justin Bieber. YouTube said in a statement that the figures had been deliberately, artificially inflated. 'This was not a bug or a security breach. This was an enforcement of our view count policy,' the company, which is owned by Google, wrote.'"
On Saturday, Pakistan briefly lifted the months-old ban on YouTube, spurred by the widely distributed U.S.-made video presented as a trailer for a film titled "Innocence of Muslims" and decried in many places around the world as blasphemous toward Islam. "After months of criticism of the ban, the government decided to allow Pakistanis to have access to YouTube again, saying steps had been taken to ensure that offensive content would not be visible. But those efforts apparently failed, and the authorities quickly backtracked," writes the New York Times. "Quickly" is right: access to YouTube was apparently open for just three minutes, which seems about right; it shouldn't take longer than that to discover things on the site to which adherents of any particular religion might take umbrage. What's surprising is that this took lifting the censorship on a wide scale, rather than just taking a smaller peek through tunneling software.
Location services can be useful and fun, but, depending on how paranoid ("cautious") you are, you might already dislike the idea of a social-network dashboard keeping track of where you are at a given moment. After all, bad guys can use computers, too. Now, Foursquare may up your level of caution just a bit: CNET reports that "Beginning January 28, 2013, users' 'full names' will be displayed across the check-in service and venue owners will have increased access to users' check-in data, the company announced in an e-mail sent to users late last night." Users, though, "will still have control of the name displayed by altering their 'full name' in their settings," and can opt out of the increased flow of data to business owners. For users' sake, I hope Foursquare doesn't go in for the "real names" fetish to the extent that both Google and Facebook have.
Yesterday, we ran a story with the headline "Free Software Foundation Campaigning To Stop UEFI SecureBoot." It's more complicated than that, though, writes gnujoshua: "We want computer manufacturers to implement Secure Boot in a way that is secure. If a user can't disable Secure Boot and they are unable to sign their own software (e.g., bootloader, OS, etc), then we call that particular implementation 'Restricted Boot.' We don't want computer makers to implement Restricted Boot. We want them to implement Secure Boot and to provide a way for individuals to install a fully free OS on their computers. Many computer makers are implementing UEFI Secure Boot in this way, and we want to continue encouraging them to do so." The complete text of the statement they'd like people to sign reads: "We, the undersigned, urge all computer makers implementing UEFI's so-called "Secure Boot" to do it in a way that allows free software operating systems to be installed. To respect user freedom and truly protect user security, manufacturers must either allow computer owners to disable the boot restrictions, or provide a sure-fire way for them to install and run a free software operating system of their choice. We commit that we will neither purchase nor recommend computers that strip users of this critical freedom, and we will actively urge people in our communities to avoid such jailed systems."
Ars Technica reports that "On Friday the ITC filed a redacted version of a remedy suggested by ITC Administrative Law Judge Thomas Pender, in which he recommended a ban be enforced against Samsung products that were found to infringe upon four Apple patents. The judge also recommended that Samsung post a bond for 88 percent of the value of its infringing mobile phones, as well as 32.5 percent of the value of infringing media players, and 37.6 percent of the value of infringing tablets." That sounds like a clear loss for Samsung, but the judge "also approved several workarounds suggested by Samsung that might permit the company to continue selling the implicated products (which include the Transform, Acclaim, Indulge and Intercept smartphones, according to Computerworld). These workarounds would sidestep infringing on Apple's four patents—which include one design patent and three technology patents." Ruling and remedy have yet to be approved by the panel whose word would make them final.
theodp writes "Rudy Giuliani had John Gotti to worry about; Mike Bloomberg has Steve Jobs. Despite all-time lows for the city in homicides and shootings, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg said overall crime in New York City was up 3.3% in 2012 due to iPhone, iPad and other Apple device thefts, which have increased by 3,890 this year. 'If you just took away the jump in Apple, we'd be down for the year,' explained Marc La Vorgna, the mayor's press secretary. 'The proliferation of people carrying expensive devices around is so great,' La Vorgna added. 'It's something that's never had to be dealt with before.' Bloomberg also took to the radio, urging New Yorkers who didn't want to become a crime statistic to keep their iDevices in an interior, hard-to-reach pocket: 'Put it in a pocket in sort of a more body-fitting, tighter clothes, that you can feel if it was — if somebody put their hand in your pocket, not just an outside coat pocket.' But it seems the best way to fight the iCrime Wave might be to slash the $699 price of an iPhone (unactivated), which costs an estimated $207 to make. The U.S. phone subsidy model reportedly adds $400+ to the price of an iPhone. So, is offering unlocked alternatives at much more reasonable prices than an iPhone — like the $299 Nexus 4, for starters — the real key to taking a bite out of cellphone crime? After all, didn't dramatic price cuts pretty much kill car stereo theft?"
New submitter FreaKBeaNie writes "Earlier this month, the FTC issued 9 orders to data brokerage companies to learn more about their privacy practices. Data brokers are skilled at connecting quasi-private data with publicly available data, like voter rolls, housing sales, and now gun ownership records. Unlike merchants or business partners, these data brokers may or may not have had any interaction with the 'subjects' of their data collection."
An anonymous reader writes "Prenda Law — one of the most notorious copyright trolls — has sued hundreds of thousands of John Doe defendants, often receiving settlements of thousands of dollars from each. Prenda Law principal John Steele has reportedly made a few million dollars suing BitTorrent file-sharers. Prenda Law has been accused in federal court of creating sham offshore corporations using the identity of his gardener. In other words, it is alleged that the law firm and their client are the same entity, and that Prenda law has committed identity theft and fraud. Now, a judge in California has granted a John Doe defendant's motion to further explore the connection between the offshore entity and the law firm."
Dupple writes "According to the Dow Jones News Wires, LG has filed an injunction in its home territory of South Korea, seeking to ban the sale of the Galaxy Note 10.1, alleging the panels inside the tablet infringe LG patents. The injunction follows a lawsuit filed by Samsung on 7 December, which alleged that LG infringed seven of Samsung's liquid crystal display patents. LG, which filed the injunction with the Seoul District Court on Wednesday, is aiming to block the sales of the Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet computer."
The Washington Post reports on a development that may push Internet access on commercial aircraft from a pleasant luxury (but missing on most U.S. domestic flights) to commonplace. Writes the Post: "The Federal Communications Commission on Friday approved an application process for airlines to obtain broadband Internet licenses aboard their planes. Previously, airlines were granted permission on an ad hoc basis. Airlines need the FCC’s permission to tap into satellite airwaves while in flight that enable passengers to access the Internet. They also need permission from the Federal Aviation Administration, which oversees the safety of inflight Internet systems." I hope that on-board Internet not only becomes the default, but that free advertising-backed access does, too; especially for short flights, the "24-hour pass" paid access I've seen on United and Delta is tempting, but too pricey.
In January of this year, we posted news of a major pollution site in Texas that was the subject of some anonymous amateur sleuths with drones, who used their UAVs to document the release of a "river of blood" (pig blood, that is) into the Trinity River as it flows through Dallas. Now, garymortimer writes, that documentation has resulted in legal action in the form of an indictment from a Dallas grand jury. "The story went viral and continues to receive hits nearly a year later. I believe this is the first environmental crime to be prosecuted on the basis of UA evidence. Authorities had to act because of the attention the story was receiving."