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Crime

Al Franken Urges FBI To Prosecute "Revenge Porn" 306

Posted by timothy
from the oughtta-be-a-law dept.
mi contributes this excerpt from National Journal: "Sen. Al Franken is urging the FBI to more quickly and aggressively pursue and respond to reports of revenge porn, marking a rare burst of attention on a controversial topic about which Congress has typically been quiet. In a letter to FBI Director James Comey, the Minnesota Democrat asked for more information about the agency's authority to police against revenge porn, or the act of posting explicit sexual content online without the subject's consent, often for purposes of humiliation and extortion. Its popularity has ballooned in recent years, and victims are disproportionately women." Here's Franken's letter.
The Military

Why the Framework Nuclear Agreement With Iran Is Good For Both Sides 383

Posted by Soulskill
from the no-sending-nukes-via-uber dept.
Lasrick writes: Ariane Tabatabai breaks down the details of the framework agreement between Iran and the P5+1 that was announced Thursday. It appears to be better than most analysts expected, with positive outcomes for both sides. It truly seems historic: "A number of these steps will, in effect, be irreversible. They will not just limit Iran's nuclear capability for 10 to 15 years, but will reshape it entirely and indefinitely. ... [B]oth sides stand to gain from the framework agreement, which should also be considered a victory for the global nonproliferation regime. Ahead of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference that begins in late April, where no major achievements in nonproliferation are likely to be announced, the framework agreement is a very important success."
The Military

Military Caught Training Children To Fight 72

Posted by Soulskill
from the sponsored-by-mormons dept.
Locke writes: Our culture's military might has been unquestioned for years. But a new investigative report from the New England newsnet is casting an unpleasant light on military training efforts. What started out as a simple endeavor to track down a handful of kids for an unrelated story has turned into one of the most shocking scandals of our time, as reporters were unable to find the children literally anywhere on Earth. It's been revealed that a series of rocket launches has been carting classes of children off the planet to undergo intense battle preparations in null gravity. Calls for greater transparency have been met with silence, and several reporters visiting military bases for quotes have not returned. There could even be political ramifications — after ground-based telescopes sought out and found what appears to be an orbital training complex, the New Warsaw Pact has begun demanding answers. This could destabilize the fragile peace that has held far longer than anyone expected. The biggest remaining question is: why kids? There are plenty of adults willing to dedicate their lives to defending against the Bugger threat, so why spend an unfathomable amount of money to train undeveloped, uncoordinated children? Surely even the military understands kids are not mentally equipped to handle the pressures of real combat. More details to follow.
Worms

Coup in Arrakis Capitol Leaves Region in Flux 113

Posted by Soulskill
from the US-attempting-to-negotiate-another-cease-fire dept.
Rube_Goldberg_Mentat writes: The power struggles between rival houses Atreides and Harkonnen have come to a T. It was reported earlier today that a coup led by Baron Vladimir Harkonnen was staged in the capitol of Arrakis. The House Atreides, which had only recently taken command of the planet and of the spice trade, is reported to have no survivors, though this is yet to be confirmed.Naysayers fear a collapse of the spice economy as a result of the violence. A r presentative from House Harkonnen has shared with the press that though times ahead may be rocky, "the spice will still flow."
Government

Apple's Tim Cook Calls Out "Religious Freedom" Laws As Discriminatory 1168

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-sir-I-don't-like-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes It will come as no surprise that Apple's CEO Tim Cook doesn't agree with so-called religious freedom laws. Cook says, "[they] rationalize injustice by pretending to defend something many of us hold dear," and has penned an op-ed piece for The Washington Post which reads in part: "A wave of legislation, introduced in more than two dozen states, would allow people to discriminate against their neighbors. Some, such as the bill enacted in Indiana last week that drew a national outcry and one passed in Arkansas, say individuals can cite their personal religious beliefs to refuse service to a customer or resist a state nondiscrimination law. Others are more transparent in their effort to discriminate. Legislation being considered in Texas would strip the salaries and pensions of clerks who issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples — even if the Supreme Court strikes down Texas' marriage ban later this year. In total, there are nearly 100 bills designed to enshrine discrimination in state law. These bills rationalize injustice by pretending to defend something many of us hold dear. They go against the very principles our nation was founded on, and they have the potential to undo decades of progress toward greater equality."
HP

Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina Near Launching Presidential Bid 353

Posted by samzenpus
from the in-the-hunt dept.
Rambo Tribble writes Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina announced on Fox News Sunday that she stood a 'higher than 90 percent' chance of running as a presidential candidate in 2016. Fiorina's tenure at HP was marked by controversy over her leadership, and it is unclear what level of name recognition she enjoys. Her only previous political experience appears to be a failed U.S. Senate seat effort in 2010, as the Republican candidate challenging sitting Democrat Barbara Boxer, in California. Fiorina lost by 10%.
Government

Taxpayer Subsidies To ULA To End 42

Posted by timothy
from the but-don't-they-know-about-the-multiplier? dept.
schwit1 writes Because it has concluded that they make it impossible to have a fair competition for contracts, the Air Force has decided to phase out taxpayer subsidies to the United Launch Alliance (ULA). The specific amounts of these subsidies have been effectively buried by the Air Force in many different contracts, so we the taxpayers really don't know how much the are. Nonetheless, this decision, combined with the military report released yesterday that criticized the Air Force's over-bearing and restrictive certification process with SpaceX indicates that the political pressure is now pushing them hard to open up bidding to multiple companies, which in turn will help lower cost and save the taxpayer money.
Blackberry

Iowa's Governor Terry Branstad Thinks He Doesn't Use E-mail 306

Posted by timothy
from the bizarro-er-and-bizarro-er dept.
Earthquake Retrofit writes The Washington Post reports the governor of Iowa denying he uses e-mail, but court documents expose his confusion. From the article: "Branstad's apparent confusion over smartphones, apps and e-mail is ironic because he has tried to portray himself as technologically savvy. His Instagram account has pictures of him taking selfies and using Skype... 2010 campaign ads show him tapping away on an iPad. 'Want a brighter future? We've got an app for that.' Earlier this month, the governor's office announced that it had even opened an account on Meerkat, the live video streaming app." Perhaps he's distancing himself from e-mail because it's a Hillary thing.
Canada

Leaked Snowden Docs Show Canada's "False Flag" Operations 202

Posted by samzenpus
from the it-wasn't-us dept.
An anonymous reader writes Documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and The Intercept show the extent to which Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) cooperates with the NSA — and perhaps most interestingly details CSEC's "false flag" operations, whereby cyberattacks are designed and carried out with the intention of attribution to another individual, group or nation state. The revelations come in the midst of Canadian controversy regarding the C-51 anti-terrorism bill.
Earth

How 'Virtual Water' Can Help Ease California's Drought 417

Posted by timothy
from the it's-as-if-prices-conveyed-information dept.
HughPickens.com writes Bill Davidow And Michael S. Malone write in the WSJ that recent rains have barely made a dent in California's enduring drought, now in its fourth year. Thus, it's time to solve the state's water problem with radical solutions, and they can begin with "virtual water." This concept describes water that is used to produce food or other commodities, such as cotton. According to Davidow and Malone, when those commodities are shipped out of state, virtual water is exported. Today California exports about six trillion gallons of virtual water, or about 500 gallons per resident a day. How can this happen amid drought? The problem is mispricing. If water were priced properly, it is a safe bet that farmers would waste far less of it, and the effects of California's drought—its worst in recorded history—would not be so severe. "A free market would raise the price of water, reflecting its scarcity, and lead to a reduction in the export of virtual water," say Davidow and Malone. "A long history of local politics, complicated regulation and seemingly arbitrary controls on distribution have led to gross inefficiency."

For example, producing almonds is highly profitable when water is cheap but almond trees are thirsty, and almond production uses about 10% of California's total water supply. The thing is, nuts use a whole lot of water: it takes about a gallon of water to grow one almond, and nearly five gallons to produce a walnut. "Suppose an almond farmer could sell real water to any buyer, regardless of county boundaries, at market prices—many hundreds of dollars per acre-foot—if he agreed to cut his usage in half, say, by drawing only two acre-feet, instead of four, from his wells," say the authors. "He might have to curtail all or part of his almond orchard and grow more water-efficient crops. But he also might make enough money selling his water to make that decision worthwhile." Using a similar strategy across its agricultural industry, California might be able to reverse the economic logic that has driven farmers to plant more water-intensive crops. "This would take creative thinking, something California is known for, and trust in the power of free markets," conclude the authors adding that "almost anything would be better, and fairer, than the current contradictory and self-defeating regulations."
Earth

Greenpeace Co-Founder Declares Himself a Climate Change Skeptic 573

Posted by timothy
from the but-that's-unpossible dept.
New submitter PensacolaSlick writes that [Patrick Moore a], co-founder of Greenpeace, and seven-year director of Greenpeace International, with other very pro-environmental credentials, has come out with a brief rationale for why he is "skeptical that humans are the main cause of climate change and that it will be catastrophic in the near future." He argues instead that in a historical context, human activity has saved the planet, declaring that "at 400 parts per million, all our food crops, forests, and natural ecosystems are still on a starvation diet for carbon dioxide." (Consider the source, which according to the New York Times is "the primary American organization pushing climate change skepticism.") Moore breaks with what might be expected of a Greenpeace founder as well in that he is currently chair of Allow Golden Rice.
Government

German Vice Chancellor: the US Threatened Us Over Snowden 337

Posted by Soulskill
from the apparently-that-works-pretty-well dept.
siddesu sends this report from The Intercept: German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said this week in Homburg that the U.S. government threatened to cease sharing intelligence with Germany if Berlin offered asylum to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden or otherwise arranged for him to travel to that country. 'They told us they would stop notifying us of plots and other intelligence matters,' Gabriel said.
Crime

Obama: Maybe It's Time For Mandatory Voting In US 1089

Posted by timothy
from the if-there-weren't-all-those-pesky-rights dept.
HughPickens.com writes CNN reports that when asked how to offset the influence of big money in politics, President Barack Obama suggested it's time to make voting a requirement. "Other countries have mandatory voting," said Obama "It would be transformative if everybody voted — that would counteract money more than anything," he said, adding it was the first time he had shared the idea publicly. "The people who tend not to vote are young, they're lower income, they're skewed more heavily towards immigrant groups and minority groups. There's a reason why some folks try to keep them away from the polls." At least 26 countries have compulsory voting, according to the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. Failure to vote is punishable by a fine in countries such as Australia and Belgium; if you fail to pay your fine in Belgium, you could go to prison. Less than 37% of eligible voters actually voted in the 2014 midterm elections, according to The Pew Charitable Trusts. That means about 144 million Americans — more than the population of Russia — skipped out. Critics of mandatory voting have questioned the practicality of passing and enforcing such a requirement; others say that freedom also means the freedom not to do something.
Government

The Pirate Party Now the Biggest Party In Iceland 136

Posted by timothy
from the relative-vs-absolute dept.
jrepin writes The Pirate Party now measures as the largest political party in Iceland, according to a new servey from the Icelandic market and research company MMR which regularly surveyes the support for the political parties in Iceland. Support for political parties and the government was surveyed in the period between the 13thand 18th of March. The results show that The Pirate Party has gained increased support. Now, support for The Pirate Party totals 23.9%, compared to their previous 12.8% in the last MMR survey.
Businesses

New Jersey Removes Legal Impediment To Direct Tesla Sales 85

Posted by timothy
from the beating-back-mob-rule dept.
As reported by The Verge, the rule-makers of New Jersey have relented, and will now allow a slightly freer market for cars. Almost exactly one year after it was banned from selling its cars directly in New Jersey, Tesla will be back in business in the Garden State. Governor Chris Christie signed into law a bill this afternoon that reversed last year's ban. The new legislation comes with some limits. Tesla can only open a total of four direct sale dealerships and has to operate at least one service center. But it's a major win following a heated war of words that saw Tesla CEO Elon Musk compare local dealers to a mafia protection racket subverting the democratic process.
NASA

Politics Is Poisoning NASA's Ability To Do Science 416

Posted by Soulskill
from the pretend-to-be-surprised dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Phil Plait just published an article about how politics is interfering with NASA's ability to perform vital scientific experiments. As expected when we heard that Ted Cruz would be made head of the committee in charge of NASA's funding, the Texas senator is pushing hard for NASA to stop studying Earth itself. Plait writes, "Over the years, NASA has had to beg and scrape to get the relatively small amount of money it gets—less than half a percent of the national budget—and still manages to do great things with it. Cruz is worried NASA's focus needs to be more on space exploration. Fine. Then give them enough money to do everything in their charter: Explore space, send humans there, and study our planet. Whether you think climate change is real or not—and it is— telling NASA they should turn a blind eye to the environment of our own planet is insanity." He concludes, "[T]he politics of funding a government agency is tying NASA in knots and critically endangering its ability to explore."
Earth

UN Backs Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign 190

Posted by Soulskill
from the this-SUV-won't-run-on-unleaded-moral-authority dept.
mdsolar sends this report from The Guardian: The UN organization in charge of global climate change negotiations is backing the fast-growing campaign persuading investors to sell off their fossil fuel assets. It said it was lending its "moral authority" to the divestment campaign because it shared the ambition to get a strong deal to tackle global warming at a crunch UN summit in Paris in December.

The move is likely to be controversial as the economies of many nations at the negotiating table heavily rely on coal, oil and gas. In 2013, coal-reliant Poland hosted the UNFCCC summit and was castigated for arranging a global coal industry summit alongside. Now, the World Coal Association has criticized the UNFCCC's decision to back divestment, saying it threatened investment in cleaner coal technologies.
Privacy

Senator: 'Plenty' of Domestic Surveillance We Still Don't Know About 107

Posted by Soulskill
from the they're-watching-you-right-now dept.
An anonymous reader writes: In a recent interview, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) has complained about the Obama administration's failure to shut down the NSA's bulk collection of phone metadata. This program and most other programs we've heard of were disclosed by Edward Snowden. But Snowden couldn't tell us everything. When asked if there were further domestic surveillance programs about which the public knows nothing, Senator Wyden said, "Yeah, there's plenty of stuff." The ones he knows about are classified, so he couldn't elaborate. "Even in cases where the public has been informed of government practices, Wyden warned the government still collects far too much information on millions of citizens with virtually no accountability."
The Military

US Asks Vietnam To Stop Russian Bomber Refueling Flights From Cam Ranh Air Base 273

Posted by timothy
from the well-it's-not-a-land-war-in-asia dept.
HughPickens.com writes Reuters reports that the United States has asked Vietnam to stop letting Russia use its former US base at Cam Ranh Bay to refuel nuclear-capable bombers engaged in shows of strength over the Asia-Pacific region. General Vincent Brooks, commander of the U.S. Army in the Pacific, says the Russian bombers have conducted "provocative" flights, including around the U.S. Pacific Ocean territory of Guam, home to a major American air base. Brooks said the planes that circled Guam were refueled by Russian tankers flying from the strategic bay, which was transformed by the Americans during the Vietnam War into a massive air and naval base. Russia's Defense Ministry confirmed that the airport at Cam Ranh was first used for staging Il-78 tankers for aerial refueling of Tu-95MS bombers in January 2014. Asked about the Russian flights in the region, the State Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Washington respected Hanoi's right to enter agreements with other countries but added that "we have urged Vietnamese officials to ensure that Russia is not able to use its access to Cam Ranh Bay to conduct activities that could raise tensions in the region."

Cam Ranh is considered the finest deepwater shelter in Southeast Asia. North Vietnamese forces captured Cam Ranh Bay and all of its remaining facilities in 1975. Vietnam's dependence on Russia as the main source of military platforms, equipment, and armaments, has now put Hanoi in a difficult spot. Russia has pressed for special access to Cam Ranh Bay ever since it began delivering enhanced Kilo-class submarines to Vietnam. "Hanoi is invariably cautious and risk adverse in its relations with the major powers," says Carl Thayer. "The current issue of Russian tankers staging out of Cam Ranh pits Russia and China on one side and the United States on the other. There is no easy solution for Vietnam."
Government

Secret Service Testing Drones, and How to Disrupt Them 66

Posted by timothy
from the for-us-but-not-for-you dept.
schwit1 writes with this news from the Associated Press: Mysterious, middle-of-the-night drone flights by the U.S. Secret Service during the next several weeks over parts of Washington — usually off-limits as a strict no-fly zone — are part of secret government testing intended to find ways to interfere with rogue drones or knock them out of the sky, The Associated Press has learned.

A U.S. official briefed on the plans said the Secret Service was testing drones for law enforcement or protection efforts and to look for ways, such as signal jamming, to thwart threats from civilian drones. The drones were being flown between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because this person was not authorized to publicly discuss the plans. The Secret Service has said details were classified. ... The challenge for the Secret Service is quickly detecting a rogue drone flying near the White House or the president's location, then within moments either hacking it to seize control over its flight or jamming its signal to send it off course or make it crash.