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Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

Government

Michigan Latest State To Ban Direct Tesla Sales 118

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-in-my-town dept.
An anonymous reader writes As many expected, Michigan Governor Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed a bill that bans Tesla Motors from selling cars directly to buyers online in the state. When asked what Tesla's next step will be, Diarmuid O'Connell, vice president of business development, said it was unclear if the company would file a lawsuit. "We do take at their word the representations from the governor that he supports a robust debate in the upcoming session," O'Connell said. "We've entered an era where you can buy products and services with much greater value than a car by going online."
The Military

India Successfully Launches Region-Specific Navigation Satellite 85

Posted by timothy
from the gps-for-certain-values-of-g dept.
vasanth writes India has successfully launched IRNSS-1C, the third satellite in the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), early on October 16. This is the 27th consecutively successful mission of the PSLV(Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle). The entire constellation of seven satellites is planned to be completed by 2015. The satellite is designed to provide accurate position information service to users in the country as well as in the region extending up to 1,500 km from its boundary, which is its primary service area. In the Kargil war in 1999, the Indian military sought GPS data for the region from the U.S. The space-based navigation system maintained by the U.S. government would have provided vital information, but the U.S. denied it to India. A need for an indigenous satellite navigation system was felt earlier, but the Kargil experience made India realise its inevitability in building its own navigation system. "Geopolitical needs teach you that some countries can deny you the service in times of conflict. It's also a way of arm twisting and a country should protect itself against that," said S Ramakrishnan, director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram.
Transportation

Michigan About To Ban Tesla Sales 292

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-in-my-neighborhood dept.
cartechboy writes It's a story we've come to see quite often: a state trying to ban Tesla's direct sales model. It seems something sneaky just happened in Michigan where Tesla sales are about to be banned. Bill HB 5606 originally intended to offer added protection to franchised dealers and consumers from price gouging by carmakers, and was passed by the Michigan House in September without any anti-Tesla language. However, once it hit the Senate wording was changed that might imply the legality of a manufacturer-owned dealership was removed. The modified bill was passed unanimously by the Senate on October 2, and then sent back to the House that day where it passed with only a single dissenting vote. The bill was modified without any opportunity for public comment. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has less than a week to sign the bill into law. Of course, Tesla's already fighting this legislation.
Government

Journalists Route Around White House Press Office 110

Posted by samzenpus
from the indirect-route dept.
Tailhook writes Pool reports written by White House correspondents are distributed to news organizations via the White House Press Office. Reporters have alleged that the Obama White House exploits its role as distributor to "demand changes in pool reports" and has used this power to "steer coverage in a more favorable direction." Now a group of 90 print journalists has begun privately distributing their work through Google Groups, independent of the Press Office. Their intent is to "create an independent pool-reporting system for print and online recipients."
EU

Will New European Commission Leaders Welcome Open Source and Open Standards? 21

Posted by timothy
from the who-are-you-people dept.
First time accepted submitter jenwike writes As Neelie Kroes leaves the office of the European Commission's VP of the Digital Agenda, we need to take a look the new, incoming leadership and ask where they stand on open source software and open standards. The Public Policy Director for Red Hat, Paul Brownell, gives thoughts on the two politicians that President-Elect Junker has named to lead on ICT for the new Commission: former Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip has been named as Vice President for Digital Single Market; and incumbent European Commissioner for Energy Gunther Oettinger (a German politician and lawyer) has been named as Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society.
China

Pro-Democracy Websites In Hong Kong Targeted With and Serving Malware 44

Posted by timothy
from the you'd-like-things-like-this-to-be-shocking dept.
An anonymous reader writes A threat campaign tracking report released by Volexity shows that a number of high profile websites related to the Hong Kong democracy movement have been infected with malware. This malware targets both the web servers themselves as well as website visitors. The sophistication and scope of the malware likely points to government involvement as has been the case in previous campaigns targeting Asian charities and government reform organizations.
China

Core Secrets: NSA Saboteurs In China and Germany 228

Posted by timothy
from the state-vs-man dept.
Advocatus Diaboli writes with this snippet from The Intercept: The National Security Agency has had agents in China, Germany, and South Korea working on programs that use "physical subversion" to infiltrate and compromise networks and devices, according to documents obtained by The Intercept. The documents, leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, also indicate that the agency has used under cover operatives to gain access to sensitive data and systems in the global communications industry, and that these secret agents may have even dealt with American firms. The documents describe a range of clandestine field activities that are among the agency's "core secrets" when it comes to computer network attacks, details of which are apparently shared with only a small number of officials outside the NSA.
Government

NSA To Scientists: We Won't Tell You What We've Told You; That's Classified 106

Posted by timothy
from the can't-fight-in-here-this-is-the-war-room dept.
MojoKid writes One of the downsides to the news cycle is that no matter how big or hot a story is, something else inevitably comes along. The advent of ISIS and Ebola, combined with the passing of time, have pushed national security concerns out of the limelight — until, that is, someone at the NSA helps out by reminding us that yes, the agency still exists and yes, it still has some insane policies and restrictions. Earlier this year, the Federation of American Scientists filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the NSA. The group was seeking information it thought would be relatively low-key — what authorized information had been leaked to the media over the past 12 months? The NSA's response reads as follows: "The document responsive to your request has been reviewed by this Agency as required by the FOIA and has been found to be currently and properly classified in accordance with Executive Order 13526. The document is classified because its disclosure could reasonably be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security." The NSA is insisting that it has the right to keep its lawful compliance and public disclosures secret not because the NSA is made of evil people but because the NSA has a knee-jerk preference and demand for secrecy. In a spy organization, that's understandable and admirable but it's precisely the opposite of what's needed to rebuild American's faith in the institution and its judgment.
The Internet

Eric Schmidt: Anxiety Over US Spying Will "Break the Internet" 179

Posted by samzenpus
from the this-is-why-we-can't-have-nice-things dept.
jfruh writes Oregon Senator Ron Wyden gathered a group of tech luminaries to discuss the implications of U.S. surveillance programs, and Google Chairman Eric Schmidt didn't mince words. He said that worries over U.S. surveillance would result in servers with different sets of data for users from different countries multiplying across the world. "The simplest outcome is that we're going to end up breaking the Internet."
Star Wars Prequels

Darth Vader, Yoda, Chewbacca Aim To Invade Ukraine's Govt. In Upcoming Elections 63

Posted by samzenpus
from the may-the-political-force-be-with-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes The BBC and RT report that 16 men named after the Star Wars character "Darth Vader" are running for parliamentary elections in Ukraine later this month. In addition, a Chewbacca, Palpatin, Padme Amidala and Grand Jedi Master Yoda will stand in the snap October 26 polls. All of them have been nominated for parliament by the Internet Party of Ukraine. "This is not the first time Darth Vader has stood for election in Ukraine. In April, a man going by that name tried running for presidency, but his application was rejected by the Central Electoral Commission. One official suggested that his campaign could be an attempt to make a mockery of elections in Ukraine - possibly by Russia."
NASA

How President Nixon Saved/Wrecked the American Space Program 125

Posted by Soulskill
from the only-nixon-could-go-to-luna dept.
MarkWhittington writes John Callahan posted an accountof a talk given by space historian John Logsdon on the Planetary Society blog in which he described how President Richard Nixon changed space policy. The talk covered the subject of an upcoming book, After Apollo: Richard Nixon and the American Space Program. Logsdon argued that Nixon had a far more lasting effect on NASA and the American space program than did President Kennedy, most famous for starting the Apollo project that landed men on the moon.

Nixon came to office just in time to preside over the Apollo 11 lunar mission. At that time, the space program was a national priority due to the Kennedy goal of landing a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s. However by the time Neil Armstrong made that first footstep, public support for large-scale space projects had diminished. Nixon, therefore, made a number of policy decisions that redound to this very day.
Security

JP Morgan Chase Breach: Shades of a Cyber Cold War? 96

Posted by Soulskill
from the can't-we-all-just-get-cyberalong? dept.
TheRealHocusLocus writes: The New York Times is quoting "people briefed on the matter" who allege that the JP Morgan data thieves "are thought to be operating from Russia and appear to have at least loose connections with officials of the Russian government." The article suggests it could be retaliation for sanctions. Personally, I'm skeptical — I've seen the former Soviet Union evolve into an amazingly diverse culture that is well represented on the Internet. This culture has grown alongside our own and runs the gamut of characters: tirelessly brilliant open source software developers, lots of regular folk, and yes — even groups affiliated with organized crime syndicates. This is no surprise, and these exist in the U.S. too. Are we ready to go full-political on this computer security issue, worrying more about who did it than how to protect against it in the future? How do you Slashdotters feel about these growing "tensions," and what can we do to help bring some reason to the table? The article also notes that the same group responsible for the breach at JP Morgan Chase was responsible for attacks on 9 other financial institutions.
Government

Conservative Groups Accuse FCC of Helping Net Neutrality Advocates File Comments 283

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-cheating dept.
jfruh writes Conservative groups opposed to net neutrality have a beef with the FCC, claiming the commission helped pro-net neutrality advocates file comments on the subject without similarly helping opponents. In other news out of this camp, it turns out American Commitment, an advocacy group with ties to the Republican billionaire Koch brothers, sent out 2.4 million letters to Congress opposing net neutrality but only collected about 814,000 signatures. The group then generated three letters to Congress for each person signing the petition, one letter to each of the signer's two senators and one to each signer's representative.
United Kingdom

David Cameron Says Brits Should Be Taught Imperial Measures 942

Posted by Soulskill
from the cripple-their-minds-while-they're-young dept.
00_NOP writes: Children in the U.K. have been taught in metric measures in school since (at least) 1972, but yesterday British Prime Minister David Cameron suggested that they should actually be taught in Imperial measures (which are still in use officially to measure road distances and speeds, but not really anywhere else). Is this because he hasn't a clue about science or because he is catering to a particular political base?
Communications

Hong Kong Protesters Use Mesh Networks To Organize 85

Posted by Soulskill
from the can't-stop-the-signal dept.
wabrandsma sends this article from New Scientist: Hong Kong's mass protest is networked. Activists are relying on a free app that can send messages without any cellphone connection. Since the pro-democracy protests turned ugly over the weekend, many worry that the Chinese government would block local phone networks. In response, activists have turned to the FireChat app to send supportive messages and share the latest news. On Sunday alone, the app was downloaded more than 100,000 times in Hong Kong, its developers said. FireChat relies on "mesh networking," a technique that allows data to zip directly from one phone to another via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Ordinarily, if two people want to communicate this way, they need to be fairly close together. But as more people join in, the network grows and messages can travel further. Mesh networks can be useful for people who are caught in natural disasters or, like those in Hong Kong, protesting under tricky conditions. FireChat came in handy for protesters in Taiwan and Iraq this year."
Government

California Governor Vetoes Bill Requiring Warrants For Drone Surveillance 115

Posted by Soulskill
from the quis-custodiet-ipsos-drones? dept.
schwit1 sends word that California governor Jerry Brown has vetoed legislation that would have required warrants for surveillance using unmanned drones. In his veto message (PDF), Brown said, "This bill prohibits law enforcement from using a drone without obtaining a search warrant, except in limited circumstances. There are undoubtedly circumstances where a warrant is appropriate. The bill's exceptions, however, appear to be too narrow and could impose requirements beyond what is required by either the 4th Amendment or the privacy provisions in the California Constitution."

The article notes that 10 other states already require a warrant for routine surveillance with a drone (Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Montana, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin). Further, Brown's claims about the bill's exceptions are overstated — according to Slate, "California's drone bill is not draconian. It includes exceptions for emergency situations, search-and-rescue efforts, traffic first responders, and inspection of wildfires. It allows other public agencies to use drones for other purposes — just not law enforcement."
Power

Energy Utilities Trying To Stifle Growth of Solar Power 488

Posted by Soulskill
from the fortunate-sun dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Incremental improvements have been slowly but surely pushing solar power toward mainstream viability for a few decades now. It's getting to the point where the established utilities are worried about the financial hit they're likely to take — and they're working to prevent it. "These solar households are now buying less and less electricity, but the utilities still have to manage the costs of connecting them to the grid. Indeed, a new study from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory argues that this trend could put utilities in dire financial straits. If rooftop solar were to grab 10 percent of the market over the next decade, utility earnings could decline as much as 41 percent." The utilities are throwing their weight behind political groups seeking to end subsidies for solar and make "net metering" policies go away. Studies suggest that if solar adoption continues growing at its current rate, incumbents will be forced to raise their prices, which will only persuade more people to switch to solar (PDF).
The Military

US Strikes ISIL Targets In Syria 478

Posted by timothy
from the 140-characters-at-a-time dept.
Taco Cowboy writes The United States of America has launched airstrikes, along with some of its Arab partners such as Jordan, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Qatar, against ISIL targets in Syria. ... Before the airstrike was officially announced to the press, a Syrian man living in Raqqa, Syria, tweeted about the bombings and the sounds of air drones all over Raqqa. ... Tomahawk missiles were launched from USS Arleigh Burke in the Red Sea. Stealth fighters such as F-22s were also involved in the strike.
The Military

US Revamping Its Nuclear Arsenal 342

Posted by Soulskill
from the guess-they-ran-on-XP dept.
FreedomFirstThenPeac writes: As a former Cold Warrior (both launch officer side and staff analytical mathematician side), I now appreciate the bitterness I saw in former WW2 warriors when they would see a Japanese car. According to the NY Times, a new assembly plant in Kansas is "part of a nationwide wave of atomic revitalization that includes plans for a new generation of weapon carriers. This expansion comes under a president who campaigned for 'a nuclear-free world' and made disarmament a main goal of American defense policy." Mind you, Mutual Assured Destruction is a dangerous path, and one we managed to negotiate only because we were lucky (and we were) and because we were careful (and we were).

As a strategy, it only works with rational people (e.g., world powers with lots to lose) who might have irrational expectations that they will win in the long run. (The rapid fall of imperialist Russia was helpful — I have seen blackboard talks on this as a mathematical result in game theory. This speed minimized the time we spent in the high-risk regions while transiting from MAD to where we were in the 1990s). The Times article says, "The original idea was that modest rebuilding of the nation’s crumbling nuclear complex would speed arms refurbishment, raising confidence in the arsenal’s reliability and paving the way for new treaties that would significantly cut the number of warheads. Instead, because of political deals and geopolitical crises, the Obama administration is engaging in extensive atomic rebuilding while getting only modest arms reductions in return."
United States

Mark Zuckerberg Throws Pal Joe Green Under the Tech Immigration Bus 261

Posted by timothy
from the sorry-pal dept.
theodp (442580) writes "A month after he argued that Executive Action by President Obama on tech immigration was needed lest his billionaire bosses at Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us PAC have to hire 'just sort of OK' U.S. workers, Re/code reports that Joe Green — Zuckerberg's close friend and college roommate — has been pushed out of his role as President of FWD.us for failing to Git-R-Done on an issue critical to the tech community. "Today, we wanted to share an important change with you," begins 'Leadership Change', the announcement from the FWD.us Board that Todd Schulte is the new Green. So what sold FWD.us on Schulte? "His [Schulte's] prior experience as Chief-of-Staff at Priorities USA, the Super PAC supporting President Obama's re-election," assured Zuckerberg in a letter to FWD.us contributors, "will ensure FWD.us continues its momentum for reform." Facebook, reported the Washington Post in 2013, became legally "dependent" on H-1B visas and subject to stricter regulations shortly before Zuckerberg launched FWD.us with Green at the helm."

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