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Australia

UNSW Has Collected an Estimated $100,000 In Piracy Fines Since 2008 91

Posted by timothy
from the quasi-private-justice dept.
Jagungal (36053) writes The SMH reports that The University of NSW says it has issued 238 fines estimated to total around $100,000 - to students illicitly downloading copyright infringing material such as movies and TV shows on its Wi-Fi network since 2008. The main issues are that the University is not returning any money to the copyright holders but is instead using the money raised for campus facilities and that it is essentially enforcing a commonwealth law.
Australia

Laser Creates Quantum Whirlpool 57

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-fall-in dept.
Quantus347 writes: Physicists at The Australian National Univ. (ANU) have engineered a spiral laser beam and used it to create a whirlpool of hybrid light-matter particles called polaritons. Polaritons are hybrid particles that have properties of both matter and light. The ability to control polariton flows in this way could aid the development of completely novel technology to link conventional electronics with new laser- and fiber-based technologies. Polaritons form in semiconductors when laser light interacts with electrons and holes (positively charged vacancies) so strongly that it is no longer possible to distinguish light from matter.
Australia

Amazon's Luxembourg Tax Deals 200

Posted by samzenpus
from the pay-less dept.
Presto Vivace writes in with this story of a European Commission investigation into a secret tax agreement between Amazon and Luxembourg. "Leaked tax documents from accounting firm PwC in Luxembourg show how Amazon sidesteps the 30 per cent tax rates local [Australian] players face. The Luxembourg documents, obtained in a review led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, contain some of the first hard numbers and details on how Amazon pays virtually no tax for its non-US earnings, including in Australia. Last month, the European Commission announced an investigation into the secret 2003 advance tax agreement Amazon struck with Luxembourg that is the key to its global tax strategy. The Luxembourg documents show not only the extent of the related-party transactions in Amazon's Luxembourg companies but how Amazon has changed its tax strategy after investigation by French tax authorities and the US Internal Revenue Service. The change is so dramatic it raises questions whether the European Commission is targeting the right transactions."
Australia

Australian Post Office Opens Mail Forwarding Warehouse In the USA 142

Posted by timothy
from the up-over-vs-down-under dept.
Zanadou writes Australians are well used to paying what's called an "Australian Tax": high(er) prices for international products and services simply because they are are being accessed from an Australian IP address and/or being delivered to an Australian mail address. But Australia Post, Australia's national mail service, might have a solution: last week they opened a new warehouse/delivery depot in Oregon, U.S., allowing Australians to use a U.S.-based delivery address for mail items, which can then forwarded onwards to Australia.

However, this service, called "Shopmate", comes at a cost.
Earth

We Are Running Out of Sand 264

Posted by timothy
from the maybe-you-are dept.
HughPickens.com writes John R. Gillis writes in the NYT that to those of us who visit beaches only in summer, beaches seem as permanent a part of our natural heritage as the Rocky Mountains but shore dwellers know that beaches are the most transitory of landscapes, and sand beaches the most vulnerable of all. Today, 75 to 90 percent of the world's natural sand beaches are disappearing, due partly to rising sea levels and increased storm action, but also to massive erosion caused by the human development of shores. The extent of this global crisis is obscured because so-called beach nourishment projects attempt to hold sand in place (PDF) and repair the damage by the time summer people return, creating the illusion of an eternal shore. But the market for mined sand in the U.S. has become a billion-dollar annual business, growing at 10 percent a year since 2008. Interior mining operations use huge machines working in open pits to dig down under the earth's surface to get sand left behind by ancient glaciers.

One might think that desert sand would be a ready substitute, but its grains are finer and smoother; they don't adhere to rougher sand grains, and tend to blow away. As a result, the desert state of Dubai brings sand for its beaches all the way from Australia. Huge sand mining operations are emerging worldwide, many of them illegal, happening out of sight and out of mind, as far as the developed world is concerned. "We need to stop taking sand for granted and think of it as an endangered natural resource," concludes Gillis. "Beach replenishment — the mining and trucking and dredging of sand to meet tourist expectations — must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, with environmental considerations taking top priority. Only this will ensure that the story of the earth will still have subsequent chapters told in grains of sand."
Australia

Australian Courts Will Be Able To See Your Browsing History 182

Posted by timothy
from the remember-that-slippery-slope-we-warned-you-about? dept.
An anonymous reader writes A series of slips by the nation's top cop followed by communications minister Malcolm Turnbull has made Australia's data retention bill even more of a potential horror than it seemed when it was introduced last week, writes Richard Chirgwin in an article about Australia's new legislation. "Lawyers are already gathering, telling the ABC's PM program that metadata could be demanded in family law cases and insurance cases." It continues, with the inevitable result that your internet browsing history will be used against people trying to resist demands during divorce. "What's depressing is that Australians probably won't take to the streets about this issue."
Australia

Australian Gov't Tries To Force Telcos To Store User Metadata For 2 Years 58

Posted by timothy
from the authority-problem dept.
AlbanX writes The Australian Government has introduced a bill that would require telecommunications carriers and service providers to retain the non-content data of Australian citizens for two years so it can be accessed — without a warrant — by local law enforcement agencies. Despite tabling the draft legislation into parliament, the bill doesn't actually specify the types of data the Government wants retained. The proposal has received a huge amount of criticism from the telco industry, other members of parliament and privacy groups. (The Sydney Morning Herald has some audio of discussion about the law.)
Earth

Imagining the Future History of Climate Change 495

Posted by samzenpus
from the it's-getting-hot-in-here dept.
HughPickens.com writes "The NYT reports that Naomi Oreskes, a historian of science at Harvard University, is attracting wide notice these days for a work of science fiction called "The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View From the Future," that takes the point of view of a historian in 2393 explaining how "the Great Collapse of 2093" occurred. "Without spoiling the story," Oreskes said in an interview, "I can tell you that a lot of what happens — floods, droughts, mass migrations, the end of humanity in Africa and Australia — is the result of inaction to very clear warnings" about climate change caused by humans." Dramatizing the science in ways traditional nonfiction cannot, the book reasserts the importance of scientists and the work they do and reveals the self-serving interests of the so called "carbon combustion complex" that have turned the practice of science into political fodder.

Oreskes argues that scientists failed us, and in a very particular way: They failed us by being too conservative. Scientists today know full well that the "95 percent confidence limit" is merely a convention, not a law of the universe. Nonetheless, this convention, the historian suggests, leads scientists to be far too cautious, far too easily disrupted by the doubt-mongering of denialists, and far too unwilling to shout from the rooftops what they all knew was happening. "Western scientists built an intellectual culture based on the premise that it was worse to fool oneself into believing in something that did not exist than not to believe in something that did."

Why target scientists in particular in this book? Simply because a distant future historian would target scientists too, says Oreskes. "If you think about historians who write about the collapse of the Roman Empire, or the collapse of the Mayans or the Incans, it's always about trying to understand all of the factors that contributed," Oreskes says. "So we felt that we had to say something about scientists.""
Privacy

Accessing One's Own Metadata 94

Posted by Soulskill
from the freedom-of-my-own-bloody-information-request dept.
skegg writes: Frustrated journalist Ben Grubb has documented his attempts at gaining access to his own metadata from his carrier. "After more than a year of phone calls and emails and a private mediation session, it still hasn't released the information or answered my one key question satisfactorily: the government can access my Telstra metadata, so why can't I?" Later, he says, "Telstra's one and only valid argument to date has been that identifying who calls me would be in breach of that person's privacy if they called from an unlisted number. I've agreed and said that in providing me with my metadata they should remove unlisted numbers. They argue this would be too difficult to do, which I think is baloney."
The Internet

Analyzing Silk Road 2.0 68

Posted by Soulskill
from the welcome-to-narcoanalytics dept.
An anonymous reader writes: After a recent article about breaking the CAPTCHA on the latest incarnation of Silk Road (the darknet-enabled drug market place), Darryl Lau decided to investigate exactly what narcotics people were buying and selling online. He found roughly 13,000 separate listings. Some sellers identify the country they're in, and the top six are the U.S., Australia, England, Germany, and the Netherlands, and Canada. The site also has a bunch of product reviews. If you assume that each review comes from a sale, and multiply that by the listed prices, reviewed items alone represent $20 million worth of business. Lau also has some interesting charts, graphs, and assorted stats. MDMA is the most listed and reviewed drug, and sellers are offering it in quantities of up to a kilogram at a time. The average price for the top 1000 items is $236. Prescription drugs represent a huge portion of the total listings, though no individual prescription drugs have high volume on their own.
Australia

Man Walks Past Security Screening Staring At iPad, Causing Airport Evacuation 217

Posted by samzenpus
from the paying-attention dept.
First time accepted submitter chentiangemalc writes While Australia is on "high alert" for terror threats a man walked past a Sydney Airport security screening while engrossed in his iPad and delayed flights for an hour. From the article: "This event was captured on CCTV and unnerved officials so much that they evacuated passengers. As the Sydney Morning Herald reported, the man found himself (or, perhaps, didn't) going into the terminal through an exit passage that clearly was convenient for him, but less convenient for the hordes of passengers who not only had to be removed from Terminal 3, but also re-screened. A spokeswoman for Qantas told the Morning Herald: 'The man disembarked a flight and left. It appears he wasn't paying attention, was looking at his iPad, forgot something and walked back past (the security area).'"
Privacy

Australian Senate Introduces Laws To Allow Total Internet Surveillance 212

Posted by samzenpus
from the watching-you dept.
First time accepted submitter Marquis231 writes New laws due to be passed in Australia allow intelligence agency ASIO to spy on domestic internet traffic like never before. The Sydney Morning Herald reports: "Spy agency ASIO will be given the power to monitor the entire Australian internet and journalists' ability to write about national security will be curtailed when new legislation – expected to pass in the Senate as early as Wednesday – becomes law, academics, media organisations, lawyers, the Greens party and rights groups fear."
Power

South Australia Hits 33% Renewal Energy Target 6 Years Early 169

Posted by Soulskill
from the kangaroo-on-a-treadmill dept.
ferrisoxide.com writes: South Australia has hit its target of 33% renewable energy by 2020, 6 years earlier than expected, delivering clean power to the state through investment in wind, solar and geothermal energy — mothballing one coal-fired power station in the process. Not content to rest on their laurels, the SA government has now announced a new "stretch" target of 50% by 2025. South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill declared that despite initial upfront costs to renewable energy generators such as wind farms, the 50 per cent target will not add one extra dollar to energy prices.
Australia

Australian Police Arrest 15, Charge 2, For Alleged Islamic State Beheading Plot 165

Posted by timothy
from the even-in-the-nicest-places dept.
The Washington Post reports (building on a short AP report they're also carrying) that "[Australian] police have arrested 15 people allegedly linked to the Islamic State, some who plotted a public beheading." According to the Sydney Morning Herald, of the arrestees, only two have been charged. From the Washington Post story: “Police said the planned attack was to be “random.” The killers were to behead a victim and then drape the body in the black Islamic State flag, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. ... Direct exhortations were coming from an Australian who is apparently quite senior in [the Islamic State] to networks of support back in Australia to conduct demonstration killings here in this country,” Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said at a press conference, as the BBC reported. “So this is not just suspicion, this is intent and that’s why the police and security agencies decided to act in the way they have.”
Security

Tinba Trojan Targets Major US Banks 61

Posted by samzenpus
from the protect-ya-neck dept.
An anonymous reader writes Tinba, the tiny (20 KB) banking malware with man-in-the-browser and network traffic sniffing capabilities, is back. After initially being made to target users of a small number of banks, that list has been amplified and now includes 26 financial institutions mostly in the US and Canada, but some in Australia and Europe as well. Tinba has been modified over the years, in an attempt to bypass new security protections set up by banks, and its source code has been leaked on underground forums a few months ago. In this new campaign, the Trojan gets delivered to users via the Rig exploit kit, which uses Flash and Silverlight exploits. The victims get saddled with the malware when they unknowingly visit a website hosting the exploit kit."
Power

Wave Power Fails To Live Up To Promise 198

Posted by Soulskill
from the water-under-the-bridge dept.
the_newsbeagle writes: One of the leading companies developing wave power devices, Ocean Power Technologies, has dramatically scaled down its ambitions. The company had planned to install the world's first commercial-scale wave farms off the coast of Australia and Oregon, but has now announced that it's ending those projects. Instead it will focus on developing next-gen devices. Apparently the economics of wave power just don't make sense yet.
Australia

Quickflix Wants Netflix To Drop Australian VPN Users 172

Posted by timothy
from the all-we-want-is-a-captive-audience dept.
ashshy writes 200,000 Australian residents reportedly use Netflix today, tunneling their video traffic to the US, UK, and other Netflix markets via VPN connections. A proper Netflix Down Under service isn't expected to launch until 2015. Last week, Aussie video streaming company Quickflix told Netflix to stop this practice, so Australian viewers can return to Quickflix and other local alternatives. But Quickflix CEO Stephen Langsford didn't explain how Netflix could restrict Australian VPN users, beyond the IP geolocating and credit card billing address checks it already runs. Today, ZDNet's Josh Taylor ripped into the absurdity of Quickflix's demands. From the article: "If Netflix cuts those people off, they're going to know that it was at the behest of Foxtel and Quickflix, and would likely boycott those services instead of flocking to them. If nothing else, it would encourage those who have tried to do the right thing by subscribing and paying for content on Netflix to return to copyright infringement."
Australia

NSW Police Named as FinFisher Spyware Users 73

Posted by samzenpus
from the oh-watching-the-places-you'll-go dept.
Bismillah writes Wikileaks' latest release of documents shows that the Australian New South Wales police force has spent millions on licenses for the FinFisher set of law enforcement spy- and malware tools — and still has active licenses. What it uses FinFisher, which has been deployed against dissidents by oppressive regimes, for is yet to be revealed. NSW Police spokesperson John Thompson said it would not be appropriate to comment "given this technology relates to operational capability".
United States

Treasure Map: NSA, GCHQ Work On Real-Time "Google Earth" Internet Observation 267

Posted by samzenpus
from the lets-see-what-you're-doing dept.
wabrandsma) writes with the latest accusations about NSA spying activity in Germany. According to top-secret documents from the NSA and the British agency GCHQ, the intelligence agencies are seeking to map the entire Internet.
Furthermore, every single end device that is connected to the Internet somewhere in the world — every smartphone, tablet and computer — is to be made visible. Such a map doesn't just reveal one treasure. There are millions of them. The breathtaking mission is described in a Treasure Map presentation from the documents of the former intelligence service employee Edward Snowden which SPIEGEL has seen. It instructs analysts to "map the entire Internet — Any device, anywhere, all the time." Treasure Map allows for the creation of an "interactive map of the global Internet" in "near real-time," the document notes. Employees of the so-called "FiveEyes" intelligence agencies from Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, which cooperate closely with the American agency NSA, can install and use the program on their own computers. One can imagine it as a kind of Google Earth for global data traffic, a bird's eye view of the planet's digital arteries.

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