The Media

President Obama Will Kibbitz With YouTube Stars 105

Posted by timothy
from the actual-state-of-the-union dept.
theodp (442580) writes "For better or worse, YouTube stars are a big deal these days. Last December, Microsoft and Code.org turned to YouTube Stars iJustine and The Fine Brothers to help recruit the nation's K-12 schookids for the Hour of Code. And next week, in what the White House is touting as the State of the YOUnion , President Obama will turn to a trio of YouTube Stars for advice on the issues of day following his State of the Union Address. "We're inviting a handful of YouTube creators to the White House to talk with the President in person," explains the White House Blog, "and you can watch it all live on Thursday, January 22. YouTube creators Bethany Mota, GloZell, and Hank Green will interview President Obama about the issues care they most about and what they're hearing from their audiences." Commenting on the choice of the YouTube interviewers, CNN's David Acosta asked (confused) WH Press Secretary Josh Earnest, "I'm just curious, was 'Charlie Bit My Finger' or 'David After Dentist' not available?" So, how long until the U.S. is redistricted into YouTube Channels?"
Government

NSA Prepares For Future Techno-Battles By Plotting Network Takedowns 81

Posted by timothy
from the your-friends-and-mine dept.
Advocatus Diaboli (1627651) writes According to top secret documents from the archive of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden seen exclusively by SPIEGEL, they are planning for wars of the future in which the Internet will play a critical role, with the aim of being able to use the net to paralyze computer networks and, by doing so, potentially all the infrastructure they control, including power and water supplies, factories, airports or the flow of money. Also check out — New Snowden documents show that the NSA and its allies are laughing at the rest of the world.
Censorship

Cuba's Pending Tech Revolution 122

Posted by timothy
from the are-we-supposed-to-be-grateful? dept.
dcblogs writes The White House order last week lifting economic sanctions against Cuba specifically singles out technology, from telecommunication networks to consumer tech. There's much potential and many obstacles. Cuba has an educated population craving technology, but it has little income for new tech. The Cuban government wants to trade with the U.S., but is paranoid about the outside world and has limited Internet access to 5% to 10% of the population, at best. "The government has been very reluctant to have open Internet access," said Harley Shaiken, chairman of the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. But "there is real hunger for technology," and with the easing of the embargo, the government "will be facing new pressures," he said. The country needs a complete technology upgrade, including to its electric grid, and the money to finance these improvements. "Markets like Cuba, which will require a wholesale construction of new infrastructure, don't come along often, if ever," said Todd Thibodeaux, president and CEO of CompTIA, a tech industry trade group. "The flood of companies lining up to get in should be quite substantial," he said. Cuba has a population of about 11 million, about the same size as the Dominican Republic, which spends about $1 billion annually on technology and related services, according to IDC. But capital spending today on IT in Cuba may be no more than $200 million annually.
Stats

Lies, Damn Lies, and Tech Diversity Statistics 335

Posted by timothy
from the facts-are-stubborn-things dept.
theodp writes Some of the world's leading Data Scientists are on the payrolls of Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and Apple. So, it'd be interesting to get their take on the infographics the tech giants have passed off as diversity data disclosures. Microsoft, for example, reported its workforce is 29% female, which isn't great, but if one takes the trouble to run the numbers on a linked EEO-1 filing snippet (PDF), some things look even worse. For example, only 23.35% of its reported white U.S. employee workforce is female (Microsoft, like Google, footnotes that "Gender data are global, ethnicity data are US only"). And while Google and Facebook blame their companies' lack of diversity on the demographics of U.S. computer science grads, CS grad and nationality breakouts were not provided as part of their diversity disclosures. Also, the EEOC notes that EEO-1 numbers reflect "any individual on the payroll of an employer who is an employee for purposes of the employers withholding of Social Security taxes," further muddying the disclosures of companies relying on imported talent, like H-1B visa dependent Facebook. So, were the diversity disclosure mea culpas less about providing meaningful data for analysis, and more about deflecting criticism and convincing lawmakers there's a need for education and immigration legislation (aka Microsoft's National Talent Strategy) that's in tech's interest?
Crime

What Africa Really Needs To Fight Ebola 83

Posted by timothy
from the infrastructure-matters dept.
Lasrick writes Laura Kahn, a physician on the research staff of Princeton University's Program on Science and Global Security, writes that the high tech solutions being promoted to help fight Ebola in Africa will make no difference. What Africa really needs is anti-corruption efforts, now. "A case in point is Liberia, which has received billions of dollars in international aid for over a decade, with little to show for it. The country ranks near the bottom of the United Nation's Human Development Index and near the bottom of Transparency International's Global Corruption Barometer. And while international aid groups and non-governmental organizations such as Doctors Without Borders and the International Medical Corps provide important humanitarian assistance and medical care, they also inadvertently absolve African political leaders from developing medical and public health infrastructures."
Communications

European Countries Seek Sweeping New Powers To Curb Terrorism 219

Posted by timothy
from the pente-glissante dept.
New submitter cooler-than-ice (3981829) writes with this story from the Washington Post: Belgian leaders on Friday sought sweeping new powers to monitor and punish their citizens for involvement with terrorism, joining France in an effort to rewrite laws just hours after dozens of arrests across Europe offered dramatic evidence of the threats security officials say are facing the continent. From the article: Apart from expanding powers to strip citizenship for dual nationals, Belgian leaders on Friday proposed devoting an additional $348 million to counterterrorism efforts. They also said they wanted the ability to take away identity documents to make it more difficult for people to travel to Syria and elsewhere. ... “As a result of the events in Paris, combined with what happened yesterday in Belgium, the political unanimity is quite great,” said Rik Coolsaet, a terrorism expert at Ghent University. “It is a bit of 9/11 syndrome.” France is also charging forward with attempts to expand government powers to monitor threats — and to punish those who praise or do not readily condemn terrorism. Leaders this week called for new legislation to significantly bolster domestic intelligence agencies.
Government

Eric Holder Severely Limits Civil Forfeiture 316

Posted by Soulskill
from the what's-yours-is-mine dept.
gurps_npc writes: As most people know, the US has for quite some time let police seize pretty much anything they wanted to, forcing you to go to court to get back your stuff (at significant expense). Most of the problems came about because the Federal government let the local cops keep most of what they took.

Eric Holder, the U.S. Attorney General, has changed the rules of that program, making it more difficult for the police to do it under the federal program. They can still use local state programs, but that accounts for only about 57% of the cash taken. Holder did not end the program entirely — he left in some exceptions for things like explosives, weapons, and items related to child pornography, which all together amount to about 1% of the current federal program. Still, with this action he will have struck a serious blow to a despicable practice that serious newspapers and comedy TV shows decried as nothing more than legalized theft.
Earth

The Anthropocene Epoch Began With 1945 Atomic Bomb Test, Scientists Say 154

Posted by Soulskill
from the either-that-or-the-day-we-invented-hot-pockets dept.
hypnosec writes: Scientists have proposed July 16, 1945 as the beginning of the Anthropocene Epoch. That was the day of the first nuclear detonation test. They say "the Great Acceleration" — the period when human activities started having a significant impact on Earth – are a good mark of the beginning of the new epoch. Since then, there has been a significant increase in population, environmental upheaval on land and oceans, and global connectivity. The group says in their article (abstract), "The beginning of the nuclear age ... marks the historic turning point when humans first accessed an enormous new energy source – and is also a time level that can be effectively tracked within geological strata, using a variety of geological clues."
News

Belgian Raid Kills 2, Said To Avert "Major Terrorist Attacks" 257

Posted by timothy
from the knock-knock dept.
As reported by CNN, Reuters, and other outlets, a raid in the Belgian city of Verviers -- one of several counter-terrorism actions in the country today -- ended in the death of two men, and the capture of a third, who are said to have been planning imminent acts of violence akin to the ones earlier this month in France. From Reuters' coverage: Coming a week after Islamist gunmen killed 17 people in Paris, the incident heightened fears across Europe of young local Muslims returning radicalised from Syria. But prosecutors' spokesman Eric Van Der Sypt said the Belgian probe had been under way before the Jan. 7 attack on French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. ... Describing events in the quiet provincial town just after dark, he said: "The suspects immediately and for several minutes opened fire with military weaponry and handguns on the special units of the federal police before they were neutralised." ... Earlier in the day, prosecutors said they had detained a man in southern Belgium whom they suspected of supplying weaponry to Amedy Coulibaly, killer of four people at a Paris Jewish grocery after the Charlie Hebdo attack. After the violence in Verviers, La Meuse newspaper quoted an unidentified police officer saying: "We've averted a Belgian Charlie Hebdo."
Earth

Obama Planning New Rules For Oil and Gas Industry's Methane Emissions 202

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-at-all-controversial-nope dept.
mdsolar sends this quote from the NY Times: In President Obama's latest move using executive authority to tackle climate change, administration officials will announce plans this week to impose new regulations on the oil and gas industry's emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, according to a person familiar with Mr. Obama's plans. The administration's goal is to cut methane emissions from oil and gas production by up to 45 percent by 2025 from the levels recorded in 2012.

The Environmental Protection Agency will issue the proposed regulations this summer, and final regulations by 2016, according to the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the administration had asked the person not to speak about the plan. The White House declined to comment on the effort. Methane, which leaks from oil and gas wells, accounts for just 9 percent of the nation's greenhouse gas pollution — but it is over 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, so even small amounts of it can have a big impact on global warming.
The Internet

Obama Unveils Plan To Bring About Faster Internet In the US 417

Posted by Soulskill
from the grease-the-tubes dept.
An anonymous reader writes: President Obama is rolling out a new plan to boost the speed of internet connections throughout the U.S. For one, he'll be asking the FCC for assistance in neutralizing state laws (PDF) that prevent cities from building municipal broadband services. "At speeds of 4 Mbps or less, 75 percent of consumers have a choice between two or more fixed providers, and 15 percent can select among three or more ISPs. However, in the market for Internet service that can deliver 25 Mbps downstream—the speed increasingly recognized as a baseline to get the full benefits of Internet access—three out of four Americans do not have a choice between providers." The state laws laws restrict competition and give the major ISPs no incentive to invest and innovate.

Obama will also be directing other federal agencies to increase the amount of money they grant and loan to ISP-related projects. "Any effort by the FCC to preempt anti-muni-broadband laws will likely focus on a controversial part of the FCC's congressional charter known as "Section 706." That part of the law recognizes the FCC's authority to stimulate broadband deployment, which supporters of preemption argue the tactic would promote. If Section 706 sounds familiar, that's because it's also the legal tool some say should be used to promote net neutrality, or the principle that broadband companies shouldn't speed up or slow down some Web sites over others."
United States

Ted Cruz To Oversee NASA and US Science Programs 496

Posted by Soulskill
from the pi-is-exactly-3 dept.
romanval sends word that U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) will become the new chairman of the subcommittee that oversees NASA and government scientific research. Cruz has both spoken in favor of NASA and attempted to cut its budget, but he's most notable for his opposition to the science supporting climate change. From the article: His vociferous opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and his support of extreme budget cuts could spell trouble for NASA's less prominent programs, such as its own climate research and sophisticated supercomputers. His role on the front lines of the 2013 government shutdown, which critics say had lasting negative effects on public safety, NASA research and EPA scientists' ability to visit contaminated sites, also suggests at best a narrow focus on NASA's largest projects and at worst a disregard for agencies that require science funding.
Security

Obama Proposes 30-Day Deadline For Disclosing Security Breaches 125

Posted by Soulskill
from the assuming-you-discover-it-within-30-days dept.
Following the string of massive data breaches at major corporations, President Obama has called for legislation that would standardize how these incidents are disclosed to the public. "The Personal Data Notification and Protection Act would demand a single, national standard requiring companies to inform their customers within 30 days of discovering their data has been hacked. In a speech Monday at the Federal Trade Commission, Mr. Obama said that the current patchwork of state laws does not protect Americans and is a burden for companies that do business across the country. The president also proposed the Student Data Privacy Act, which would prohibit technology firms from profiting from information collected in schools as teachers adopt tablets, online services and Internet-connected software. And he will announce voluntary agreements by companies to safeguard home energy data and to provide easy access to credit scores as an “early warning system” for identity theft.
Privacy

FBI Access To NSA Surveillance Data Expands In Recent Years 52

Posted by timothy
from the simply-shocked dept.
itwbennett writes The FBI's access to email and other data collected from overseas targets in the NSA's Prism program has been growing since 2008, according to a 2012 U.S. Department of Justice inspector general's report declassified last Friday by the DOJ in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by the New York Times. Here are some of the milestones mentioned in the report: In 2008, the FBI began reviewing email accounts targeted by the NSA through the Prism program. In October 2009, the FBI requested that information collected under the Prism program be 'dual routed' to both the NSA and the FBI so that the FBI 'could retain this data for analysis and dissemination in intelligence reports.' And in April 2012, the FBI began nominating email addresses and phone numbers that the NSA should target in it surveillance program, according to the document.
Government

US Lawmakers Push For a Permanent Ban On Internet Access Taxes 100

Posted by timothy
from the special-exceptions dept.
jfruh (300774) writes Since 1998, U.S. law has forbidden states from taxing Internet access — but the law has an expiration date that's been extended five times now. The new Congress is attempting to make the ban permanent, but some members are objecting to the fact that the proposed bill leaves in place grandfather clauses for states like Texas and Ohio that already had taxes in place in 1998.