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.
Transportation

Tesla vs. Car Dealers: the Lobbyist Went Down To Georgia 190

Posted by timothy
from the which-interest-is-the-most-special? dept.
McGruber writes The Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC) newspaper's Jim Galloway has an update on the behind-the-scenes battles over who can sell you a new car: "Traditional car dealers are in the midst of a legal fight to push Tesla, the fledgling California electric car company, out of Georgia. Never mind that metro Atlanta is one of the hottest markets for electric vehicles in the nation. Signs point to a parallel battle in the General Assembly. Last week, the National Automobile Dealers Association began trolling for sympathetic lawmakers. While Georgia dealers say they have "no plans" to revisit an anti-Tesla bill that failed last year, Tesla is preparing a defense. It has already hired one of the top lobbying firms in Atlanta."

The Georgia Automobile Dealers Association wields considerable influence in the state Capitol; the AJC determined that the Georgia Auto Dealers Association (GADA) had made over $600,000 in recent campaign contributions to state lawmakers. Despite those contributions, a bill to boot Tesla from Georgia mysteriously died during last year's legislative session. While no legislator would claim credit for killing the bill, Galloway noted that Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who presides over the Senate, drives a Nissan Leaf.
Crime

Google Fund To Pay For 1 Million Copies of Charlie Hebdo 311

Posted by timothy
from the anti-intimidation dept.
BarbaraHudson writes The Register is reporting that money set aside from a deal with France's publishers is going to pay for the printing of 1 million copies of next weeks' Charlie Hebdo, "Eight of the 12 people killed were journalists attending an editorial meeting, however, a senior editor and the magazine's chief executive were in London at the time of the attack. They have vowed to do a massive 1 million copy print run next week – Charlie Hebdo's circulation is normally around 60k. The cash will come from €60m fund (€20m per year over three years) that supports digital publishing innovation. The fund was set up in 2013 following negotiations between Google and the French government as a remedy to demands from European publishers that Google pay for displaying news snippets in its search results.
Politics

Michael Mann: Swiftboating Comes To Science 786

Posted by Soulskill
from the because-who-didn't-want-the-worst-parts-of-politics-in-science dept.
Lasrick writes: Michael Mann writes about the ad hominem attacks on scientists, especially climate scientists, that have become much more frequent over the last few decades. Mann should know: his work as a postdoc on the famed "hockey stick" graph led him to be vilified by Fox News and in the Wall Street Journal. Wealthy interests such as the Scaife Foundation and Koch Industries pressured Penn State University to fire him (they didn't). Right-wing elected officials attempted to have Mann's personal records and emails (and those of other climate scientists) subpoenaed and tried to have the "hockey stick" discredited in the media, despite the fact that the National Academy of Sciences reaffirmed the work, and that subsequent reports of the IPCC and the most recent peerreviewed research corroborates it.

Even worse, Mann and his family were targets of death threats. Despite (or perhaps because of) the well-funded and ubiquitous attacks, Mann believes that flat-out climate change denialism is losing favor with the public, and he lays out how and why scientists should engage and not retreat to their labs to conduct research far from the public eye. "We scientists must hold ourselves to a higher standard than the deniers-for-hire. We must be honest as we convey the threat posed by climate change to the public. But we must also be effective. The stakes are simply too great for us to fail to communicate the risks of inaction. The good news is that scientists have truth on their side, and truth will ultimately win out."
The Media

Gunmen Kill 12, Wound 7 At French Magazine HQ 1350

Posted by Soulskill
from the rest-in-peace dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A pair of gunmen have stormed the office of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 people and wounding seven more. The magazine had recently published a cartoon of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and witnesses say the gunmen shouted, "we have avenged the Prophet Muhammad," before leaving. "Four of the magazine's well-known cartoonists, including its editor-in-chief Stephane Charbonnier were reported among those killed, as well as at least two police officers. Mr Charbonnier, 47, had received death threats in the past and was living under police protection." The attackers engaged police in a gunfire outside the building, then fled in a car. At the time of this writing, they are still at large. Currently, the BBC has the most information out of English news outlets. French speakers can consult the headline at Le Monde for more current news.
Businesses

If the Programmer Won't Go To Silicon Valley, Should SV Go To the Programmer? 294

Posted by Soulskill
from the can't-always-get-what-you-want dept.
theodp writes: "If 95% of great programmers aren't in the U.S.," Matt Mullenweg advises in How Paul Graham Is Wrong (a rejoinder to Graham's Let the Other 95% of Great Programmers In), "and an even higher percentage not in the Bay Area, set up your company to take advantage of that fact as a strength, not a weakness. Use WordPress and P2, use Slack, use G+ Hangouts, use Skype, use any of the amazing technology that allows us to collaborate as effectively online as previous generations of company did offline. Let people live someplace remarkable instead of paying $2,800 a month for a mediocre one bedroom rental in San Francisco. Or don't, and let companies like Automattic and Github hire the best and brightest and let them live and work wherever they like." Microsoft and Google — which hawk the very tools to facilitate remote work that Mullenweg cites — have shuttered remote offices filled with top talent even as they cry the talent sky is falling. So, is "being stubborn on keeping a company culture that requires people to be physically co-located," as Mullenweg puts it, a big part of tech's 'talent shortage' problem?" Chris Pepper also recently posted another reasoned rebuttal to Graham's post.
Security

2015 Could Be the Year of the Hospital Hack 130

Posted by samzenpus
from the protect-ya-neck dept.
schwit1 writes After Obamacare required hospitals to convert all health records into electronic files, those records are now very vulnerable, and experts expect hackers to target them in the coming years. From the article: "Along with vast troves of credit card information and celebrity snapshots, hackers stole a record number of medical records from U.S. health-care facilities this year. In 2015, attacks targeting health data will become even more common, according to security researchers....The cause of the uptick isn't hard to diagnose. Medical organizations across the world are switching to electronic medical records, and computer security is not always a high enough priority during the process, says Leonard. Besides that, he says, easy and fast access to medical information often trumps security."
Censorship

The Interview Bombs In US, Kills In China, Threatens N. Korea 288

Posted by timothy
from the spoiler-alert dept.
First time accepted submitter twitnutttt (2958183) writes "While it has been broadly panned in the U.S. as not very funny, The Interview is surprisingly getting good reviews in China. And the North Korean government's fears of the threat posed by this movie are apparently merited: "It is powerful because it depicts Kim Jong-un as a vain, buffoonish despot, alternating between threats and weeping that he's been misunderstood. The people around him have all the signs of fear you might expect with a despot — they second-guess his likes and dislikes. Maybe he — and they — were right to fear the film. North Korean defectors sometimes smuggle USB sticks with films and soaps into the closed-off country, and there is a view in the south that these are a particularly powerful means of undermining the regime in Pyongyang. If that's so, The Interview might be a good candidate for inclusion." If you've seen the movie, and have your own reactions, please label any real spoilers out of courtesy.
Government

N. Korea Blames US For Internet Outage, Compares Obama to "a Monkey" 206

Posted by timothy
from the he-doesn't-have-a-monkey-dot-org-address dept.
Reuters reports that North Korea's government has publicly blamed the U.S. for the widespread internet outages that the country has recently experienced (including today), and taken the opportunity to lambaste President Obama, as well. From the article: The National Defence Commission, the North's ruling body, chaired by state leader Kim Jong Un, said Obama was responsible for Sony's belated decision to release the action comedy "The Interview", which depicts a plot to assassinate Kim. "Obama always goes reckless in words and deeds like a monkey in a tropical forest," an unnamed spokesman for the commission said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency, using a term seemingly designed to cause racial offence that North Korea has used before.
Programming

Paul Graham: Let the Other 95% of Great Programmers In 552

Posted by Soulskill
from the giveme-your-tired,-your-poor,-your-huddled-hackers dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Y Combinator's Paul Graham has posted an essay arguing in favor of relaxed immigration rules. His argument is straight-forward: with only 5% of the world's population, the U.S. can only expect about 5% of great programmers to be born here. He says, "What the anti-immigration people don't understand is that there is a huge variation in ability between competent programmers and exceptional ones, and while you can train people to be competent, you can't train them to be exceptional. Exceptional programmers have an aptitude for and interest in programming that is not merely the product of training."

Graham says even a dramatic boost to the training of programmers within the U.S. can't hope to match the resources available elsewhere. "We have the potential to ensure that the U.S. remains a technology superpower just by letting in a few thousand great programmers a year. What a colossal mistake it would be to let that opportunity slip. It could easily be the defining mistake this generation of American politicians later become famous for."
Government

North Korean Defector Spills Details On the Country's Elite Hacking Force 166

Posted by timothy
from the can't-hack-in-here-this-is-the-hacking-room dept.
mattydread23 writes Business Insider interviewed Jang Se-yul, a North Korean defector who trained in the country's Mirim University alongside some of the hackers who make up its elite Bureau 121 hacking squad. He explains how they train: 'They take six 90-minute classes every day, learning different coding languages and operating systems, from C to Linux. Jang says a lot of time was spent dissecting Microsoft programs, like the Windows operating system, and how to attack the overall computer IT systems of enemy countries like the U.S. or South Korea.' He also explains that these hackers are among the elite in North Korea, and even though they have unfiltered information about the outside world that their countrymen lack, most of them would never dream of leaving. (See also this story from earlier this month about the life of North Korea's elite hackers.)
Sony

Sony To Release the Interview Online Today; Apple Won't Play Ball 227

Posted by samzenpus
from the watch-it-now dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The BBC reports: "Sony Pictures is to distribute its film The Interview online, after a cyber-attack and a row over its release. The film will be offered on a dedicated website — seetheinterview.com — as well as via Google and Microsoft services." Notably absent among the services to provide The Interview is Apple. The New York Times reports: "According to people briefed on the matter, Sony had in recent days asked the White House for help in lining up a single technology partner — Apple, which operates iTunes — but the tech company was not interested, at least not on a speedy time table. An Apple spokesman declined to comment. "
Censorship

"Team America" Gets Post-Hack Yanking At Alamo Drafthouse, Too 230

Posted by timothy
from the meet-your-new-program-director dept.
Slate reports that even old movies are enough to trigger a pretty strong knee jerk: Team America, World Police, selected as a tongue-in-cheek replacement by Dallas's Alamo Drafthouse Theater for the Sony-yanked The Interview after that film drew too much heat following the recent Sony hack, has also been pulled. The theater's tweet, as reprinted by Slate: "due to circumstances beyond our control,” their Dec. 27 Team America screening has also been canceled." If only I had a copy, I'd like to host a viewing party here in Austin for The Interview, which I want to see now more than ever. (And it would be a fitting venue.)
Transportation

Who's To Blame For Rules That Block Tesla Sales In Most US States? 141

Posted by timothy
from the did-you-get-a-look-at-the-license-plate? dept.
cartechboy writes The common assumption among Tesla fans seems to be that state auto-dealer lobbyists are working with Republican legislators to enact laws banning direct sales of Tesla's electric cars to retail buyers. Is it true? The New York Times published an article with some data points that assesses the supposition. While the article mainly focuses on the conflict between Uber and the Republican party, some quotes could be easily applied to Tesla. For instance, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Preibus said, "It should be consumers, not government bureaucrats or legislators, that deicde what companies get our business." The author of the article, Josh Barro, wrote that 22 states permit direct sales of automobiles by Tesla to retail buyers, and of those the majority--14 of them-- voted for President Obama. He suggested that Democratic California, Illinois, and New York "have freer markets in auto retailing than Texas," which is presently Republican. When looking at a five-year-old article by Nate Silver that looked at political donations by car dealers, fully 88 percent of those donations went to Republican candidates, and just 12 percent to Democrats. That possibly suggests a propensity among Republican state legislators to support the interests for car dealers over those of electric-car buyers. Is the small bit of evidence enough to make a case? Good background on the current system of dealership sinecure can be found in this short 2009 Competition Advocacy Paper from the U.S. Department of Justice, which delves into the history and effects of the dealers-only system which still prevails.
Crime

Councilmen Introduce Bills Strongly Regulating UAV Use in NYC 68

Posted by timothy
from the man-vs-the-state dept.
SternisheFan passes on this excerpt from an Ars Technica article: On Wednesday Councilman Dan Garodnick introduced a bill to the New York City council seeking to ban all use of drones except those operated by police officers who obtain warrants. A second, parallel bill introduced by councilman Paul Vallone would place more stringent restrictions on drone use but stop short of banning drones for hobbyists and companies altogether. Both bills have been passed to the city's committee on public safety. An all-out ban on drones within the metropolis would be a quite wide-reaching step, especially as the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) seems poised to adopt more permissive rules, with respect to commercial interests in particular. Earlier this year, the FAA formally granted six Hollywood companies exemptions to drone ban rules. A couple of months later, the FAA granted similar exemptions for construction site monitoring and oil rig flare stack inspections. The article explains that Vallone's bill is less restrictive, and rather than propose an outright ban "lists 10 instances where operating a UAV would be illegal, including at night, out of the operator's eyesight, or above 400 ft high. Outside of those conditions, hobbyists and commercial interests would be free to fly drones."