Government

House Science Committee Approves Changes To Space Law 103

Posted by timothy
from the wildcat-days dept.
schwit1 writes: In a series of party line votes, the House Science Committee has approved a number of changes to the laws that govern the private commercial space industry. Almost all of the changes were advocated by the industry itself, so in general they move to ease the regulatory and liability burdens that have been hampering the industry since the 2004 revisions to space law. While it is very unlikely commercial space can ever get free of strong federal regulation, these changes indicate that they can eventually get some of the worst regulations eased.
Privacy

House Votes To End Spy Agencies' Bulk Collection of Phone Data 142

Posted by timothy
from the big-brother-has-his-eye-on-you-just-the-same dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from a story at Reuters that gives a rare bit of good news for the Fourth Amendment: The U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill on Wednesday that would end spy agencies' bulk collection of Americans' telephone data, setting up a potential showdown with the U.S. Senate over the program, which expires on June 1. The House voted 338-88 for the USA Freedom Act, which would end the bulk collection and instead give intelligence agencies access to telephone data and other records only when a court finds there is reasonable suspicion about a link to international terrorism.
Transportation

British Pilots: Poll Data Says Public Wants Strict Rules For Drones 110

Posted by timothy
from the are-new-rules-actually-needed? dept.
According to the Guardian, a survey of members of the British public conducted on behalf of the British Airline Pilots Association reveals support among those surveyed for strict rules governing drone flights in urban areas, and (probably less surprising) calling for serious consquences in the form of jail sentences for those who endanger passenger aircraft with drone flights. A slice: The study, which will be presented on Monday at a drone safety summit organised by UK pilots, revealed that about a third of those polled think no one should be able to fly drones over urban areas.
Businesses

FWD.us To Laid-Off Southern California Edison Workers: Boo-Hoo 612

Posted by timothy
from the versus-what-alternative-exactly? dept.
theodp writes: Speaking at a National Journal LIVE event that was sponsored by Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us and Laurene Powell Jobs' Emerson Collective, FWD.us "Major Contributor" Lars Dalgaard was asked about the fate of 500 laid-off Southern California Edison IT workers, whose forced training of their H-1B worker replacements from offshore outsourcing companies sparked a bipartisan Senate investigation. "If you want the job, make yourself able to get the job," quipped an unsympathetic Dalgaard (YouTube). "Nobody's going to hold you up and carry you around...If you're not going to work hard enough to be qualified to get the job...well then, you don't deserve the job." "That might be harsh," remarked interviewer Niharika Acharya. Turning to co-interviewee Pierre-Jean Cobut, FWD.us's poster child for increasing the H-1B visa cap, Acharya asked, "Do you agree with him?" "Actually, I do," replied PJ, drawing laughs from the crowd.
Facebook

Is Facebook Keeping You In a Political Bubble? 179

Posted by samzenpus
from the tell-me-what-I-want-to-hear dept.
sciencehabit writes: Does Facebook make it harder for people with different political views to get along? Political scientists have long wondered whether the social network's news feed selectively serves up ideologically charged news while filtering out content from different camps. Now, a study by Facebook's in-house social scientists finds that this does happen, though the effect seems to be very small. "There's a growing concern that social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter allow us to more precisely engineer our informational environments than ever before, so we only get info that's consistent with our prior beliefs," says David Lazer, a political and computer scientist who authored a commentary on the paper.
Social Networks

Export Ban Drives Cuba To Non-US Analytics Software To Boost Tourism 84

Posted by timothy
from the keepin'-it-hostile dept.
dkatana writes with some crucial lines from an article at InformationWeek: Currently Cuba receives around 2.8 million visitors every year, half of them from Canada. Mintur, the Cuban Tourist Ministry, estimates that if Americans were free to travel to Cuba today, the number of visitors would increase by two million the first year. Last year the Cuban government was interested in getting its hands on analytics software to process the data generated by visitors on social networks. ... Because of the existing ban on American companies supplying technology to Cuba, Havana had to look somewhere else and found SocialVane, a small Spanish company on the island of Menorca, which has been working with the local tourist sector to analyze issues, trends, and potentials of the tourism industry.
Government

Voting With Dollars: Politicians and Their Staffers Roll With Uber 132

Posted by timothy
from the al-franken's-demonstrated-preferences dept.
The Center for Public Integrity, an anonymous reader writes, has conducted an analysis of the relationship between one interesting group of riders (275 federal politicians and political committees) and ride-sharing services like Uber. From their report, it seems this group "together spent more than $278,000 on at least 7,625 Uber rides during the 2013-2014 election cycle." That's a roughly 18-fold spending increase from the previous election cycle, when federal committees together spent about $15,000 on Uber services. It represents a veritable monopoly, too: Almost no political committee used Uber's direct competitors, Lyft and Sidecar, according to the analysis, and traditional taxi use declined precipitously. Bipartisan love of Uber abounds, with politicos of all stripes composing a de facto Uber caucus, voting with their money for a wildly popular but controversial company.
Government

Extreme Secrecy Eroding Support For Trans-Pacific Partnership 169

Posted by Soulskill
from the gee-that's-a-shame dept.
schwit1 writes with news that political support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership is drying up because of the secrecy involved in developing it. Members of Congress can read the bill if they want, but they need to be located in a single room within the basement of the Capitol Visitor Center, and they can't have their staff with them. They can't have a copy, they can't take notes, and they can only view one section at a time. And they're monitored while they read it. Unsurprisingly, this is souring many members of Congress on the controversial trade agreement.

"Administration aides say they can’t make the details public because the negotiations are still going on with multiple countries at once; if for example, Vietnam knew what the American bottom line was with Japan, that might drive them to change their own terms. Trade might not seem like a national security issue, they say, but it is (and foreign governments regularly try to hack their way in to American trade deliberations)."
United States

House Panel Holds Hearing On "Politically Driven Science" - Without Scientists 347

Posted by samzenpus
from the you-got-politics-in-my-science dept.
sciencehabit writes: Representative Louie Gohmert (R–TX) is worried that scientists employed by the U.S. government have been running roughshod over the rights of Americans in pursuit of their personal political goals. So this week Gohmert, the chair of the oversight and investigations subpanel of the U.S. House of Representatives' Natural Resources Committee, held a hearing to explore "the consequences of politically driven science." Notably absent, however, were any scientists, including those alleged to have gone astray.
Republicans

Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina Announces Bid For White House 553

Posted by Soulskill
from the good-luck-with-that dept.
seven of five writes: According to Reuters, "Former Hewlett-Packard Co Chief Executive Carly Fiorina announced on Monday she is running for president, becoming the only woman in the pack of Republican candidates for the White House in 2016. ... Fiorina registers near the bottom of polls of the dozen or so Republican hopefuls and has never held public office. But she has already attracted warm receptions at events in the early voting state of Iowa where she is positioning herself as a conservative, pro-business Republican highly critical of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Fiorina was forced by HP to resign in 2005 as the tech company struggled to digest Compaq after a $19 billion merger."

As part of her announcement, she said, "I think I'm the best person for the job because I understand how the economy actually works. I understand the world, who's in it, how the world works." I'm sure we'll soon begin hearing from all the HP employees, current and former, who have nothing but love for Carly F.
China

Uber Office Raided By Police In China, Accused of Running 'Illegal' Car Business 176

Posted by timothy
from the didn't-ask-enough-permission dept.
albert555 writes: Uber's curse keeps on striking after Uber's office in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou was raided by authorities on the 30th of April 2015. Uber is accused of running an 'illegal' transport service, according to the Guangzhou Daily. Uber has been implanted in China since August 2013 and is suspected of not having the proper qualifications to run a private car business in the city. Following the recent German court ban two weeks ago, who will win the fight for private transportation? Long-term, established transportation companies with powerful lobbying arms or the newcomer making use of disruptive technology? Does Schumpeter's creative destruction also apply to the transportation sector?
Space

NASA Gets Its Marching Orders: Look Up! Look Out! 179

Posted by timothy
from the well-those-might-be-more-like-suggestions dept.
TheRealHocusLocus writes: HR 2039: the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act for 2016 and 2017 (press release, full text, and as a pretty RGB bitmap) is in the House. In $18B of goodies we see things that actually resemble a space program. The ~20,000 word document is even a good read, especially the parts about decadal cadence. There is more focus on launch systems and manned exploration, also to "expand the Administration's Near-Earth Object Program to include the detection, tracking, cataloguing, and characterization of potentially hazardous near-Earth objects less than 140 meters in diameter." I find it awesome that the fate of the dinosaurs is explicitly mentioned in this bill. If it passes we will have a law with dinosaurs in it. Someone read the T-shirt. There is also a very specific six month review of NASA's "Earth science global datasets for the purpose of identifying those datasets that are useful for understanding regional changes and variability, and for informing applied science research." Could this be an emerging Earth Sciences turf war between NOAA and NASA? Lately it seems more of a National Atmospheric Space Administration. Mission creep, much?
Government

Bernie Sanders, Presidential Candidate and H-1B Skeptic 395

Posted by timothy
from the never-eat-or-hire-or-grow-fruit-outside-your-zipcode dept.
Presto Vivace writes: The H-1B visa issue rarely surfaces during presidential races, and that's what makes the entrance by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) into the 2016 presidential race so interesting. ... ...Sanders is very skeptical of the H-1B program, and has lambasted tech firms for hiring visa workers at the same time they're cutting staff. He's especially critical of the visa's use in offshore outsourcing.
Space

Native Hawaiian Panel Withdraws Support For World's Largest Telescope 286

Posted by timothy
from the not-in-their-backyard dept.
sciencehabit writes: Trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) – a state agency established to advocate for native Hawaiins — voted Thursday to withdraw their support for construction of the Thirty-Meter Telescope (TMT) on the summit of the Mauna Kea volcano. The vote follows weeks of protests by Native Hawaiians who say the massive structure would desecrate one of their most holy places. The protests have shut down construction of the telescope, which would be the world's largest optical telescope if completed. The vote, which reverses a 2009 decision to endorse the project, strikes a powerful if symbolic blow against a project that, for many native Hawaiians, has come to symbolize more than a century of assaults against their land, culture and sovereignty.