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The Military

Technocrat James Schlesinger Is Dead At 85 33

Posted by timothy
from the and-so-shall-he-remain dept.
mdsolar (1045926) writes "James Schlesinger, who served as Secretary of Defense under Presidents Nixon and Ford and as the first Secretary of Energy under President Carter, passed away on Thursday in Baltimore at the age of 85. Schlesinger is perhaps the most technocratic person to reach such high office. He had a keen awareness of the connection between energy supply and national defense and as Administrator of the Economic Regulatory Administration, brought our Standby Gasoline Rationing Plan into existence. The existence of such a plan along with our Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which Schlesinger also brought into being, have been a bulwark against further oil embargoes and essentially broke OPEC for a period of more than a decade. The NYT has an obituary that covers more of his career."
Politics

Kim Dotcom Launches Political Party In New Zealand 133

Posted by samzenpus
from the strange-bedfellow dept.
judgecorp (778838) writes "Fugitive entrepreneur Kim Dotcom has launched a political party in New Zealand although he himself cannot stand for election. Dotcom, founder of Megaupload is a German national, not a New Zealand citizen. He is also on bail pending extradition to the US over claims that his Megaupload site infringed copyright. The Internet Party manifesto promises net neutrality, privacy, and faster broadband. Meanwhile, his new venture Mega is now worth NZ$210 million (£108m) thanks to a reverse takeover. He has also had to assure the New Zealand media that owning a signed copy of Mein Kampf doesn't mean he is a Nazi."
Businesses

Some Mozilla Employees Demand New CEO Step Down 824

Posted by timothy
from the why-you-don't-say dept.
_xeno_ (155264) writes "Mozilla recently named a new CEO, Brendan Eich, and as commentators in that article noted, there could be some backlash over his private contributions to political campaigns. Well, it turns out that they were correct, and despite a statement from Brendan Eich pledging to continue Mozilla's inclusiveness, some Mozilla employees are calling for him to step down. Should private beliefs be enough to prevent someone from heading a project they helped found?"
Android

Russian Officials Dump iPads For Samsung Tablets Over Spy Fears 198

Posted by timothy
from the putin-actually-invented-it dept.
wiredmikey writes: "Russian government officials have swapped their iPads for Samsung tablets to ensure tighter security, the telecoms minister told news agencies on Wednesday. Journalists spotted that ministers at a cabinet meeting were no longer using Apple tablets, and minister Nikolai Nikiforov confirmed the changeover "took place not so long ago." He said the ministers' new Samsungs were "specially protected devices that can be used to work with confidential information." This isn't the first time Russian powers have had concerns over mobile. In August 2012, Russia unveiled a prototype tablet with its own "almost Android" mobile OS that has the remarkably familiar feel of an Android but with bolstered encryption. In an even more paranoid move, this past July a Russian state service in charge of safeguarding Kremlin communications was looking to purchase an array of old-fashioned typewriters to prevent leaks from computer hardware."
Businesses

Tesla's Fight With Car Dealers Could Help Decide the Next Presidential Election 282

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the single-issue-electorate dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Marcus Wohlsen writes that the most recent ban against Tesla selling cars directly from the company instead of through third-party dealers was enacted in New Jersey with the support of Gov. Chris Christie, a possible contender for the GOP nomination. That prompted Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a Christie rival, to heartily defend Tesla's direct sales model. 'Customers should be allowed to buy products that fit their need,' says Rubio, 'especially a product that we know is safe and has consumer confidence beneath it.' Perhaps even more surprising is the love shown by Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the once and possibly future presidential hopeful whose oil-rich state bars employees in Tesla's two showrooms from even telling potential customers how much the Model S costs. 'I think it's time for Texans to have an open conversation about this,' says Perry, 'the pros and the cons. I'm gonna think the pros of allowing this to happen outweigh the cons.' The sudden GOP embrace of an electric car company once reviled as a symbol of Northern California enivro-weenies might seem ironic says Wohlsen, but the real irony is that conservative politicians ever opposed Tesla at all.

'The widespread franchise rules giving car dealers virtual monopolies in their territories epitomize the government-controlled marketplace Republicans purportedly despise,' writes Wohlsen adding that possible presidential contenders realize there may be political capital to be gained in supporting Tesla. But the real winner is Tesla. If the company can manage to associate its brand with all the positive qualities Rubio and Perry hope rub off on them, few politicians will want to take the risk to stand against them. Mitt Romney called Tesla Motors a 'loser' company during his 2012 run for president. In 2016 running against Tesla might seem about as smart as running against Apple."
Robotics

Job Automation and the Minimum Wage Debate 870

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-away-or-I-will-replace-you-with-a-very-small-shell-script dept.
An anonymous reader writes "An article at FiveThirtyEight looks at the likelihood of various occupations being replaced by automation. It mentions President Obama's proposed increase to the federal minimum wage, saying big leaps in automation could reshape that debate. '[The wage increase] from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour could make it worthwhile for employers to adopt emerging technologies to do the work of their low-wage workers. But can a robot really do a janitor's job? Can software fully replace a fast-food worker? Economists have long considered these low-skilled, non-routine jobs as less vulnerable to technological replacement, but until now, quantitative estimates of a job's vulnerability have been missing from the debate.' Many minimum-wage jobs are reportedly at high risk, including restaurant workers, cashiers, and telemarketers. A study rated the probability of computerization within 20 years (PDF): 92% for retail salespeople, 97% for cashiers, and 94% for waitstaff. There are other jobs with a high likelihood, but they employ fewer people and generally have a higher pay rate: tax preparers (99%), freight workers (99%), and legal secretaries (98%)."
Censorship

Turkish Finance Minister Defends Twitter Ban 94

Posted by samzenpus
from the I'd-do-it-again dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Turkish Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek has defended his governments ban on Twitter and accused the social networking site of not complying with court orders. Simsek said: 'The Turkish telecommunications watchdog has made a number of statements saying that they have asked Twitter on a number of occasions to remove some content on the back of court orders and Twitter has been refusing to comply. I don’t think any global company, whether it’s a media company, whether it’s an industrial company, it shouldn’t see itself [as being] above the law.'" As a result of the ban, Tor gained over 10,000 new users in Turkey.
Censorship

Turkey Heightens Twitter Censorship with Mandated IP Blocking 102

Posted by timothy
from the until-tomorrow dept.
The Net may have briefly routed around Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoan's DNS-based anti-Twitter censorship, but the minister's next move has been to mandate that Turkish ISPs block Twitter's assigned IP addresses. Reports Ars Technica: " This move essentially erases Twitter from the Internet within Turkey—at least to those people who don’t have access to SMS messaging, a foreign virtual private network or Web proxy service, or the Tor anonymizing network. 'We can confirm that Turkey is now blocking the IP addresses of Twitter after the previous DNS blocking technique proved ineffective,' said Doug Madory, of the Internet monitoring company Renesys, in an e-mail to Ars. A Turkish government webpage shows that there is an IP address block order in effect for 199.16.156.6, the primary IP address for twitter.com."
Earth

IPCC's "Darkest Yet" Climate Report Warns of Food, Water Shortages 703

Posted by timothy
from the c'mon-fellas-lighten-up dept.
The Australian reports that "UN scientists are set to deliver their darkest report yet on the impacts of climate change, pointing to a future stalked by floods, drought, conflict and economic damage if carbon emissions go untamed. A draft of their report, seen by the news organisation AFP, is part of a massive overview by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, likely to shape policies and climate talks for years to come. Scientists and government representatives will meet in Yokohama, Japan, from tomorrow to hammer out a 29-page summary. It will be unveiled with the full report on March 31. 'We have a lot clearer picture of impacts and their consequences ... including the implications for security,' said Chris Field of the US’s Carnegie Institution, who headed the probe.

The work comes six months after the first volume in the long-awaited Fifth Assessment Report declared scientists were more certain than ever that humans caused global warming. It predicted global temperatures would rise 0.3C-4.8C this century, adding to roughly 0.7C since the Industrial Revolution. Seas will creep up by 26cm-82cm by 2100. The draft warns costs will spiral with each additional degree, although it is hard to forecast by how much."
The Military

Iran Builds Mock-up of Nimitz-Class Aircraft Carrier 298

Posted by timothy
from the why-not-an-enterprise-class-a-starship? dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "The NYT reports that US intelligence analysts studying satellite photos of Iranian military installations say that Iran is building a mock-up of an American nuclear-powered aircraft carrier with the same distinctive shape and style of the Navy's Nimitz-class carriers, as well as the Nimitz's number 68 neatly painted in white near the bow. Mock aircraft can be seen on the flight deck. The mock-up, which American officials described as more like a barge than a warship, has no nuclear propulsion system and is only about two-thirds the length of a typical 1,100-foot-long Navy carrier. Intelligence officials do not believe that Iran is capable of building an actual aircraft carrier. "Based on our observations, this is not a functioning aircraft carrier; it's a large barge built to look like an aircraft carrier," says Cmdr. Jason Salata. "We're not sure what Iran hopes to gain by building this. If it is a big propaganda piece, to what end?" Navy intelligence analysts surmise that the vessel, which Fifth Fleet wags have nicknamed the Target Barge, is something that Iran could tow to sea, anchor and blow up — while filming the whole thing to make a propaganda point, if, say, the talks with the Western powers over Iran's nuclear program go south. "It is not surprising that Iranian military forces might use a variety of tactics — including military deception tactics — to strategically communicate and possibly demonstrate their resolve in the region," said an American official who has closely followed the construction of the mock-up. The story has set off chatter about how weird and dumb Iran is for building this giant toy boat but according to Marcy Wheeler if you compare Iran's barge with America's troubled F-35 program you end up with an even bigger propaganda prop. "I'm not all that sure what distinguishes the F-35 except the cost: Surely Iran hasn't spent the equivalent of a trillion dollars — which is what we'll spend on the F-35 when it's all said and done — to build its fake boat," writes Wheeler. "So which country is crazier: Iran, for building a fake boat, or the US for funding a never-ending jet program?""
Businesses

Startup Employees As an Organized Labor Group 107

Posted by timothy
from the crowdsource-my-pension dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Last Friday may turn out to have marked the beginning of Silicon Valley's organized labor movement--startup employees met in Palo Alto 'to share war stories and to start developing what organizers called a 'Startup Employee Equity Bill of Rights'.'" That probably should include the right to work late, for little pay, and to trade less certainty now for greater hoped-for benefits down the road. If you've been a startup employee, or started one of your own, what would you put on the wishlist?
Wireless Networking

Wireless Carriers In Huge Washington Lobby Fight Over Spectrum Auction 51

Posted by timothy
from the rent-seeking-on-display dept.
First time accepted submitter techpolicy (3586897) writes "The big four wireless carriers are spending millions of dollars to hire professors, fund Washington think tanks and to meet with the Federal Communications Commission to try to convince the agency to write rules for an upcoming auction of spectrum that favor them, according to an article posted by the Center for Public Integrity in Washington. The frequencies are needed to bolster or build out their nationwide networks — and this kind of low-band spectrum won't be up for sale for a very long time. The biggest fight is over a rule that would limit how much AT&T and Verizon can get of these valuable frequencies. How it plays out will determine who has control over your smartphone."
Businesses

More On the Disposable Tech Worker 323

Posted by Soulskill
from the always-recycle-them-when-you're-finished-using-them dept.
Jim_Austin writes "At a press conference this week, in response to a question by a Science Careers reporter, Scott Corley, the Executive Director of immigration-reform group Compete America, argued that retraining workers doesn't make sense for IT companies. For the company, he argued, H-1B guest workers are a much better choice. 'It's not easy to retrain people,' Corley said. 'The further you get away from your education the less knowledge you have of the new technologies, and technology is always moving forward.'"
Privacy

Church Committee Members Say New Group Needed To Watch NSA 143

Posted by timothy
from the and-a-committee-to-oversee-the-committee dept.
Trailrunner7 writes "In a letter sent to President Obama and members of Congress, former members and staff of the Church Committee on Intelligence said that the revelations of the NSA activities have caused 'a crisis of public confidence' and encouraged the formation of a new committee to undertake 'significant and public reexamination of intelligence community practices.' In the letter sent Monday to Obama and Congress, several former advisers to and members of the Church committee, including the former chief counsel, said that the current situation involving the NSA bears striking resemblances to the one in 1975 and that the scope of what the NSA is doing today is orders of magnitude larger than what was happening nearly 40 years ago.

'The need for another thorough, independent, and public congressional investigation of intelligence activity practices that affect the rights of Americans is apparent. There is a crisis of public confidence. Misleading statements by agency officials to Congress, the courts, and the public have undermined public trust in the intelligence community and in the capacity for the branches of government to provide meaningful oversight,' the letter says."
The Military

Russian Army Spetsnaz Units Arrested Operating In Ukraine 623

Posted by timothy
from the news-that-matters dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from The Examiner: "The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) confirmed March 16 the arrest of a group of Russians in the Zaporizhzhia (Zaporozhye) region of Ukraine. The men were armed with firearms, explosives and unspecified 'special technical means'. This follows the March 14 arrest ... of several Russians dressed black uniforms with no insignia, armed with AKS-74 assault rifles and in possession of numerous ID cards under various names. One of which was an ID card of Military Intelligence Directorate of the Russian armed forces; commonly known as 'Spetsnaz'. ... Spetsnaz commandos operating in eastern Ukraine would have the missions encompassing general ground reconnaissance of Ukrainian army units ... missions they may perform preparatory to a Russian invasion would be planting explosives at key communications choke points to hinder movement of Ukrainian forces; seizing control of roads, rail heads, bridges and ports for use by arriving Russian combat troops; and possibly capturing or assassinating Ukrainian generals or politicians in key positions ... Spetsnaz also infiltrate themselves into local populations ... Once in place they begin 'stirring the pot' of ethnic and political strife with the goal of creating violent clashes usually involving firearms and destabilizing local authority." The submitter adds links to more at Forbes, The Daily Beast, and The New Republic.
The Almighty Buck

You Can't Kid a Kidder: Comcast's Cohen May Have Met His Match In FCC's Wheeler 56

Posted by Soulskill
from the until-comcast-hires-wheeler-away dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Comcast's top lobbyist, David Cohen, is known to be a savvy political operator, having pushed through the No. 1 U.S. cable operator's landmark acquisition of media giant NBC Universal in 2011. But Alina Selyukh And Liana B. Baker write at Reuters that although Comcast ranks among the top-ten corporate influencers in Washington, having spent $18.8 million on lobbying last year, Cohen may have met his match in Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler. Wheeler headed the cable trade group from 1979 to 1984 and ran the wireless industry association from 1992 to 2004. Since taking over the FCC last November, however, Wheeler has not shied away from stances that have roiled past allies. Wheeler publicly expressed skepticism about a potential merger between wireless carriers Sprint and T-Mobile in one of his most attention-grabbing moves last February.

'You can't kid a kidder. Having been a lobbyist, he knows all their tricks,' says Blair Levin. Comcast will formally request an FCC review of the $45.2 billion Time Warner Cable deal later in March. Opponents say the combined company will have too much power over what Americans can watch on television and do online. As FCC chairman, Wheeler has publicly and repeatedly stated his 'unabashed' support for competition. Wheeler has also hired a heavyweight consumer advocate, Gigi Sohn, as a senior adviser. Colleagues of Wheeler, a published historian, also highlight his subject expertise. 'He knows these issues like the back of his hand,' says one FCC official who works with Wheeler. 'He knows how the business runs. He knows these people, he knows what they think and what policies they want.'"
The Internet

U.S. Aims To Give Up Control Over Internet Administration 279

Posted by timothy
from the at-long-last dept.
schwit1 writes with this excerpt from the Washington Post: "U.S. officials announced plans Friday to relinquish federal government control over the administration of the Internet, a move likely to please international critics but alarm some business leaders and others who rely on smooth functioning of the Web.

Pressure to let go of the final vestiges of U.S. authority over the system of Web addresses and domain names that organize the Internet has been building for more than a decade and was supercharged by the backlash to revelations about National Security Agency surveillance last year."
Reader Midnight_Falcon points out this press release on the move from Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
Education

Is the New "Common Core SAT" Bill Gates' Doing? 273

Posted by timothy
from the secret-machinations dept.
theodp writes "'I want to explain why Common Core is among the most important education ideas in years,' wrote Bill Gates in a USA Today op-ed last month that challenged the "dangerous misconceptions" of those who oppose the initiative (pretty confident for a guy who conceded there wasn't much to show for his earlier $5B education reform effort!). 'The Gates Foundation helped fund this process,' acknowledged Gates in quite an understatement of his influence. Receiving $6.5M in Gates Grants was Student Achievement Partners, whose founder David Coleman was dubbed the 'Architect of the Common Core.' So it's not too surprising that at last week's SXSWedu, Coleman — now President and CEO of The College Board (no stranger to Gates money itself) — announced a dramatic overhaul of the SAT that includes a new emphasis on evidence-based reading and writing and evidence analysis, which the AJC's Maureen Downey calls 'reflective of the approach of the Common Core State Standards.'" (Read more, below.)
Government

Top U.S. Scientific Misconduct Official Quits In Frustration With Bureaucracy 172

Posted by timothy
from the an-exit-interview-I'd-like-to-overhear dept.
sandbagger writes "The director of the U.S. government office that monitors scientific misconduct in biomedical research has resigned after 2 years out of frustration with the 'remarkably dysfunctional' federal bureaucracy. Officials at the Office of Scientific Integrity spent 'exorbitant amounts of time' in meetings and generating data and reports to make their divisions look productive, David Wright writes. He huge amount of time he spent trying to get things done made much of his time at ORI 'the very worst job I have ever had.'"
Businesses

White House: Get ACA Insurance Coverage, Launch Start-Ups 578

Posted by timothy
from the have-your-neighbors-pay-the-rent-too dept.
dcblogs writes that the Obama Administration is urging tech entrepreneurs "to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, and said having the coverage will give them the 'freedom and security' to start their own businesses. 'There is strong evidence that when affordable healthcare isn't exclusively tied to employment, in more instances people choose to start their own companies,' wrote White House CTO Todd Park in a post to launch its #GeeksGetCovered campaign. Bruce Bachenheimer, a professor of management at Pace University and director of its Entrepreneurship Lab, said the effort is part of a broader appeal by the White House to get younger and healthier people to sign-up for Obamacare, and is in the same vein as President Obama's recent appearance on Between Two Ferns." Removing the tax structures that make companies by default intermediaries in the provision of health insurance, and allowing more interstate (and international) competition in health finance options would help on that front, too, aside from who's actually footing the insurance bill.

Nothing is easier than to denounce the evildoer; nothing is more difficult than to understand him. - Fyodor Dostoevski

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