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Businesses

Trump Targets the Abuse of H-1B Visas 492

An anonymous reader writes: As part of Trump's comprehensive immigration overhaul, his plan not only addresses immigrants who enter or stay in the country illegally, but also the H-1B visa program and its well-documented abuses. Parts of the proposal include requirements to offer positions to U.S. STEM graduates and effectively requiring a minimum wage for hiring out of the country that would make it prohibitive to do so.
Government

Virginia Ditches 'America's Worst Voting Machines' 393

Geoffrey.landis writes: Computerized voting machines are bad news in general, but the WINVote machines used in Virginia might just have earned their reputation as the most insecure voting machine in America. They feature Wi-Fi that can't be turned off (protected, however, with a WEP password of "abcde"), an unencrypted database, and administrative access with a hardcoded password of "admin." According to security researcher Jeremy Epstein, if the machines weren't hacked in past elections, "it was because nobody tried." But with no paper trail, we'll never know.

Well, after ignoring the well-documented problems for over a decade, Virginia finally decided to decommission the machines... after the governor had problems with the machines last election and demanded an investigation. Quoting: "In total, the vulnerabilities investigators found were so severe and so trivial to exploit, Epstein noted that 'anyone with even a modicum of training could have succeeded' in hacking them. An attacker wouldn't have needed to be inside a polling place either to subvert an election... someone 'within a half mile with a rudimentary antenna built using a Pringles can could also have attacked them.'"
Mars

Donald Trump Thinks Going To Mars Would Be "Wonderful" But There Is a Catch 442

MarkWhittington writes: Donald Trump, the mercurial real estate tycoon and media personality who, much to the surprise of one and all, has become the front-runner for the Republican nomination for president opened his mind just a little about his attitude toward space exploration, according to a story in Forbes. In an answer to a question put to him about sending humans to Mars, the current focus at NASA, Trump said, "Honestly, I think it's wonderful; I want to rebuild our infrastructure first, ok? I think it's wonderful." In other words, dreams of going to Mars must take a back seat to more Earthly concerns. It is not an answer many space exploration supporters want to hear.
Democrats

Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales Is Now Chairing Lessig's Presidential Bid 119

Funksaw sends a followup to Tuesday's news that Lawrence Lessig is pondering a presidential campaign: Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is now chairing the committee for Lessig's campaign. Wales said, "Larry's run for President is different. He's crowdfunding his campaign instead of seeking out rich donors. He's showing people that we can change the rigged political system. ... The Internet community came together to fight back against SOPA and we were successful. Now we’re behind Lessig to fight for citizen equality." Lessig's goal is to raise a million dollars by September 7, and they're already at roughly $300,000. Relatedly, Newsweek had a brief interview with Lessig over his potential campaign, and Eric Posner wrote an insightful piece about it at Slate.
Education

Federal Judge Calls BS On Homeland Security's 2008 STEM 'Emergency' 142

theodp writes: In 2008, the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security enacted 'emergency' changes to Optional Practical Training (OPT) to extend the amount of time foreign STEM graduates of US colleges could stay in the country and work ("to alleviate the crisis employers are facing due to the current H-1B visa shortage", as Bill Gates explained it in 2007). More than seven years later, U.S. District Court Judge Ellen Huvelle has found that the government erred by not seeking public comment when it extended the program, and issued a ruling that could force tens of thousands of foreign workers on OPT STEM extensions to return to their home countries early next year. Huvelle has given the government six months to submit the OPT extension rule for proper notice and comment lest it be revoked. From the ruling (pdf): "By failing to engage in notice-and-comment rulemaking, the record is largely one-sided, with input only from technology companies that stand to benefit from additional F-1 student employees, who are exempted from various wage taxes. Indeed, the 17-month duration of the STEM extension appears to have been adopted directly from the unanimous suggestions by Microsoft and similar industry groups." Microsoft declared a new crisis in 2012, this time designed to link tech's need for H-1B visas to U.S. children's lack of CS savvy.
Communications

Can Cuba Skip Cell Phone Connectivity? 138

lpress writes: Cuba has a second generation cellular network and Internet access is limited to about 5% of the population via work and school accounts and (mostly dial up) access in a few homes, so it was big news when they rolled out 35 public WiFi hotspots. Can they expand this public WiFi and skip 3G and 4G cell infrastructure until 5G equipment is available in about five years? By then, the US trade embargo will be gone, the Cuban economy will be improved and 5G and other wireless technologies will be available. Will they even need cell phone capability by then? The linked post has some interesting musings that apply to places other than Cuba, as well.
Censorship

The UK's War On Porn: Turning ISPs Into Parents 231

New submitter SMABSA writes: With British Prime Minister David Cameron announcing plans for porn users to be required to register their bank account/debit card as a means of age verification, Spiked-Online writer Stephen Beard explores the privacy implications, technical feasibility and motivations of such a plan. Here's an excerpt that gives a feel for Beard's take: Not only are the plans to regulate porn sites intrusive, they are also technically infeasible (as are many bright ideas that come from central government). In the amount of time, for example, it would take to identify a site not complying with the new rules, that site could be mirrored multiple times. Such ineffectiveness has been evident in the government’s futile attempts to censor torrent tracker Pirate Bay. The posturing about protecting children is irksome, too. To pretend that children in decades past haven’t been sneaking a look at mucky images, albeit in magazines and newspapers, is naive at best.
The Courts

Time Runs Out On Sweden's Sexual Assault Charges Against Julian Assange 226

As the Guardian and many other sources report, the clock has run out on the three 2010 charges of sexual assault on which Swedish authorities had hoped try Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Assange has been waiting out those charges since 2012 in London, inside the Ecuadorian embassy, claiming that he feared extradition to the U.S. in connection to this Wikileaks work if he were first extradicted to Sweden. He was recently rebuffed after suggesting that he'd be interested in living in France as a political refugee. The linked Guardian story notes that the expiry of the Swedish prosecutors' time doesn't mean that Assange is no longer under scrutiny, as does CNN.
Communications

Clinton Surrendering Email Server/Data To Feds After Top Secret Mail Found 676

An anonymous reader writes: Hillary Clinton's lawyer has surrendered three thumb drives with copies of emails from her server to the Justice Department, which is also where the controversial Clinton personal email server is destined as well. The FBI determined that Clinton's lawyer could no longer retain the thumb drives after two emails from a small sample were found to contain information classified as "Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information," which would also taint the server. There is no evidence that encryption was used to protect the emails. From the limited reviews to date, Secretary Clinton and her aides exchanged emails containing classified information with at least six people with private email addresses. So far four of Clinton's top aides have turned over emails to the State Department, and there are demands that six more do so. The State Department's inspector general has stated that his office is reviewing "the use of personal communications hardware and software by five secretaries of state and their immediate staffs." Current U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has stated, "it is very likely" that China and Russia are reading his emails.
Democrats

Lawrence Lessig Wants To Run For President So He Can Resign 458

An anonymous reader writes: Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig has announced his intention to explore a bid for the U.S. presidency. By Labor Day, he will decide whether he has the support necessary to enter the Democratic primary. His goals are rather unusual — he says, "I want to run to be a different kind of president. 'Different' not in the traditional political puffery sense of that term. 'Different,' quite literally. I want to run to build a mandate for the fundamental change that our democracy desperately needs. Once that is passed, I would resign, and the elected Vice President would become President."

His top picks for a running mate include Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Lessig calls it a "Presidency as referendum," a hack for the U.S. Constitution to give more power back to the citizens. "In no plausible sense do we have a representative democracy in America today." In an interview with the Washington Post, Lessig added, "Until we find a way to fix the rigged system, none of the other things that people talk about doing are going to be possible."
The Internet

Cuba Uses Big Data To Help Tourism, But Their Networks Lack Capacity 60

dkatana writes: The Cuban government is very active in reshaping the country's industry, not only focusing on leisure and cultural tourism. The biggest challenge, however, is the quality of Internet connections. Cuba's global ranking for Internet speed is 196 out of 200, averaging 1.6 Mbps, just ahead of Guinea, Gambia, Equatorial Guinea, and Niger. Another thing that Cuba lacks: free movement of currency, as reader lpress points out: Cuba has two paper currencies — the Peso and the Convertible Peso or CUC. CUCs are worth about $1 and Pesos, which are used for government salaries, are worth about $.04. But, what about Bitcoin? The first Cuban Bitcoin transaction is history. Will Bitcoin be used by Cubans and Americans to sell goods and services without the knowledge of their governments? Cuban offshore developers might be the first to use Bitcoin.
Government

Congressional Black Caucus Begs Apple For Its 'Trade Secret' Racial Data 337

theodp writes: In Silicon Valley this week, Rep. Barbara Lee called on Apple and other holdouts among the nation's tech companies to release federal data on the diversity of their work forces. She was with other members of the Congressional Black Caucus to turn up the heat on the tech industry to hire more African Americans. "If they believe in inclusion," said Lee, "they have to release the data so the public knows that they are being transparent and that they are committed to doing the right thing." Apple has refused to make public the EEO-1 data that it routinely supplies to the U.S. Dept. of Labor on the demographics of their workers. In the absence of the race and gender data, which Apple and others historically argued were 'trade secrets' and thus not subject to release Freedom of Information requests, tech companies were free to make unchecked claims about their Black employee ranks (Google's 2007 Congressional testimony) until recent disclosures revealed otherwise. The National Science Foundation was even convinced to redirect NSF grant money specifically earmarked for getting African American boys into the computer science pipeline to a PR campaign for high school girls of all colors and economic backgrounds.
Google

Internet Search Engines May Be Influencing Elections 67

sciencehabit writes: Thomas Epstein, a research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research in Vista, California, has found that the higher a politician ranks on a page of Internet search results, the more likely you are to vote for them — 80% more likely in some cases. The story also suggests that the folks at Google may already be influencing elections. "Google's algorithm has been determining the outcome of close elections around the world," says Epstein. As predicted, subjects spent far more time reading Web pages near the top of the list (abstract). But what surprised researchers was the difference those rankings made: Biased search results increased the number of undecided voters choosing the favored candidate by 48% compared with a control group that saw an equal mix of both candidates throughout the list.
Social Networks

Reddit Updates Content Policy, Bans More Subreddits 410

AmiMoJo writes: Reddit's new CEO, Steve Huffman, announced new a content policy and the banning of a small number of subreddits today. Additionally, some subreddits will be "quarantined", so users can't see their content unless they explicitly opt in. "Our most important policy over the last ten years has been to allow just about anything so long as it does not prevent others from enjoying Reddit for what it is: the best place online to have truly authentic conversations.I believe these policies strike the right balance." The names of the nixed subreddits make clear that they're not exactly neighbors exchanging pleasantries.
Canada

TPP Copyright Chapter Leaks: Website Blocking, New Criminal Rules On the Way 258

An anonymous reader writes: Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) [Wednesday] morning released the May 2015 draft of the copyright provisions in the Trans Pacific Partnership (copyright, ISP annex, enforcement). The leak appears to be the same version that was covered by the EFF and other media outlets earlier this summer. Michael Geist unpacks the leaked documents, noting the treaty includes anti-circumvention rules that extend beyond the WIPO Internet treaties, new criminal rules, the extension of copyright term for countries like Canada and Japan, increased border measures, mandatory statutory damages in all countries, and expanding ISP liability rules, including the prospect of website blocking for Canada.