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Democrats

FBI Investigating Possible Hack of Democratic Party Staffer Cell Phones (cnn.com) 103

In what may be part of the original Democratic National Committee hack, the FBI is currently investigating a possible hack involving the cell phones of a small number of Democratic Party staffers. CNN reports: The development comes on the same day Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told lawmakers that 18 states have asked for help in warding off cyberattacks on their electronic voting systems. Law enforcement officials have reached out to the staffers individually about "imaging" their phones to search for evidence of hacking, such as malware. Investigators are still probing whether this attempted hack is part of the original breach of Democratic National Committee emails -- which is widely thought to be the work of the Russian government -- or a new hacking attempt. "Our struggle with the Russian hackers that we announced in June is ongoing -- as we knew it would be -- and we are choosing not to provide general updates unless personal data or other sensitive information has been accessed or stolen," interim DNC Chairwoman Donna Brazile told CNN. Cybersecurity was a major theme at the debate last night between Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. While Clinton blamed the Russians for the "election-related cyberintrusions," Trump said "It could be Russia, but it could also be China. It could also be lots of other people. It could also be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds." We will update this story as it develops.
Republicans

Trump Takes On 'Crooked Hillary' With Snapchat Geofilter (arstechnica.com) 134

In an effort to appeal to more young voters, U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has unveiled a "geofilter" ad campaign for Snapchat that slaps on the banner phrase "Donald J. Trump vs. Crooked Hillary" to a user's photo and video Snaps. Ars Technica reports: "The ad rolled out to American Snapchat users today, just ahead of the 2016 presidential election's first major debate between Trump and Hillary Clinton (the debate starts tonight at 9pm EDT). The ad joins the usual geofilter available to Snapchat users, which usually list the name of a city or a nearby event as determined by GPS and time information. The campaign differs from the deluge of text, photo, and video ads that politicans have relied on in recent years, as it doesn't publish or display to the public without a personal photo or video attached. While other political campaigns have paid for geofilter ad campaigns on Snapchat in the past, including Clinton and Bernie Sanders, those have been timed and targeted for smaller-scale events like political conventions and primary voting periods. In a statement to CNN, the Clinton campaign said that Trump was "throwing his money into a fire pit," and it pointed out the ad's potential for backfiring, since "given Trump's deep unpopularity with young voters, [the ad's phrasing] will be used mainly at [his] own expense."
Earth

Scientists Study How Non-Scientists Deny Climate Change (theguardian.com) 654

A new research paper suggest climate change opponents are "simulating coherence by conspiracism". Slashdot reader Layzej says the paper "examines this behavior at the aggregate level, but gives many examples where contradictory ideas are held by the same individual, and sometimes are presented within a single publication." From the paper: Claims that the globe "is cooling" can coexist with claims that the "observed warming is natural" and that "the human influence does not matter because warming is good for us". Coherence between these mutually contradictory opinions can only be achieved at a highly abstract level, namely that "something must be wrong" with the scientific evidence in order to justify a political position against climate change mitigation...

In a nutshell, the opposition to greenhouse gas emission cuts is the unifying and coherent position underlying all manifestations of climate science denial... Climate science denial is therefore perhaps best understood as a rational activity that replaces a coherent body of science with an incoherent and conspiracist body of pseudo-science for political reasons and with considerable political coherence and effectiveness.

"I think that people who deny basic science will continue to do so, no matter how contradictory their arguments may be," says one of the paper's authors, who suggests that the media should be wary of self-contradicting positions.
United States

US Panel Extends Nuclear Power Tax Credit (thehill.com) 243

Slashdot reader mdsolar quotes The Hill: The House Ways and Means Committee voted Wednesday to remove a key deadline for a nuclear power plant tax credit... The credit was first enacted in 2005 to spur construction of new nuclear plants, but it has gone completely unused because no new plants have come online since then...

It would likely benefit two reactors under construction at Southern Co.'s Vogtle Electric Generating Plant in Georgia and another two at Virgil C. Summer Nuclear Generating Station in South Carolina. Both projects are at risk of missing the 2020 deadline... "When Congress passed the 2005 act, it could not have contemplated the effort it would take to get a nuclear plant designed and licensed," said representative Tom Rice (R-S.C.).

Although one Democrat criticized the extension by arguing that nuclear power "does better in a socialist economy than in a capitalist one, because nuclear energy prefers to have the public do the cleanup, do the insurance, cover all of the losses and it only wants the profits."
Government

Senators Accuse Russia Of Disrupting US Election (washingtonpost.com) 198

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes The Washington Post: Two senior Democratic lawmakers with access to classified intelligence on Thursday accused Russia of "making a serious and concerted effort to influence the U.S. election," a charge that appeared aimed at putting pressure on the Obama administration to confront Moscow... "At the least, this effort is intended to sow doubt about the security of our election and may well be intended to influence the outcomes," the statement said. "We believe that orders for the Russian intelligence agencies to conduct such actions could come only from very senior levels of the Russian government..."

White House officials have repeatedly insisted that they are awaiting the outcome of a formal FBI investigation, even though U.S. intelligence are said to have concluded with "high confidence" that Russia was responsible for the DNC breach and other attacks. The White House hesitation has become a source of frustration to critics, including senior members of Congress.

Meanwhile, U.S. intelligence officials are reportedly investigating whether Donald Trump's foreign policy adviser "opened up private communications with senior Russian officials -- including talks about the possible lifting of economic sanctions if the Republican nominee becomes president."
Social Networks

VR Devs Pull Support For Oculus Rift Until Palmer Luckey Steps Down (vice.com) 637

After it was revealed that Oculus founder Palmer Luckey backed a pro-Trump political organization called Nimble America that is dedicated to "shitposting" and spreading inflammatory memes about Hillary Clinton, several developers of the Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset have announced that they will stop supporting the headset until its founder steps down. One of the biggest developers for Oculus Rift, Insomniac Games, told Motherboard, "Insomniac Games condemns all forms of hate speech. While everyone has a right to express his or her political opinion, the behavior and sentiments reported do not reflect the values of our company. We are also confident that his behavior and sentiment does not reflect the values of the many Oculus employees we work with on a daily basis." Fez and Superhypercube developer Polytron also said in a statement, "In a political climate as fragile and horrifying as this one, we cannot tacitly endorse these actions by supporting Luckey or his platform." Motherboard reports: Motherboard has reached out to several other, more well-known VR developers who work with Oculus including Fantastic Contraption makers Northway Games and Job Simulator makers Owlchemy Labs. Northway Games couldn't be reached immediately for comment but tweeted the following: "What. The. Fuck. [accompanied with a link to the news via Kotaku]" and "Definitely using every fibre of my 'professionalism' to not tweet some tweets right now." Owlchemy Labs, which is currently developing for Job Simulator for the Oculus Touch controls, declined to comment either way. E McNeill, who has developed a couple of games for Oculus Rift and GearVR, suggested that like-minded VR developers raise money for Hillary Clinton's campaign to counter the money Luckey has raised for Trump. [E McNeill tweeted: "Idle Q: Would any Oculus devs join me in a donation drive for HIllary? We could aim to beat Nimble America's $11k. I'd start with $1k myself."] "This backlash is nonsense," said James Green, co-founder of VR developer Carbon Games. "I absolutely support him doing whatever he wants politically if it's legal. To take any other position is against American values."
Government

Senate Panel Authorizes Money For Mission To Mars (usatoday.com) 134

An anonymous reader quotes a report from USA Today: With a new president on the horizon, a key Senate committee moved Wednesday to protect long-standing priorities of the nation's space program from the potential upheaval of an incoming administration. Members of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee passed a bipartisan bill authorizing $19.5 billion to continue work on a Mars mission and efforts to send astronauts on private rockets to the International Space Station from U.S. soil -- regardless of shifting political winds. Under the Senate bill, NASA would have an official goal of sending a crewed mission to Mars within the next 25 years, the first time a trip to the Red Planet would be mandated by law. The legislation would authorize money for different NASA components, including $4.5 billion for exploration, nearly $5 billion for space operations and $5.4 billion for science. Beyond money, the measure would: Direct NASA to continue working on the Space Launch System and Orion multi-purpose vehicle that are the linchpins of a planned mission to send astronauts to Mars by the 2030s. The bill includes specific milestones for an unmanned exploration mission by 2018 and a crewed exploration mission by 2021. Require development of an advanced space suit to protect astronauts on a Mars mission. Continue development of the Commercial Crew Program designed to send astronauts to the space station -- no later than 2018 -- on private rockets launched from U.S. soil. Expand the full use and life of the space station through 2024 while laying the foundation for use through 2028. Allow greater opportunities for aerospace companies to conduct business in Low Earth Orbit. Improve monitoring, diagnosis and treatment of the medical effects astronauts experience from spending time in deep space.
Republicans

Oculus Founder Palmer Luckey Is Secretly Funding Trump's Meme Machine (thedailybeast.com) 851

The founder of Oculus, Palmer Luckey, has backed a pro-Trump political organization called Nimble America that is dedicated to "shitposting" and spreading inflammatory memes about Hillary Clinton. In 2014, Luckey's virtual-reality company, Oculus, was acquired by Facebook for $2 billion. Forbes estimates his current net worth to be $700 million. The Daily Beast reports: "The 24-year-old told The Daily Beast that he had used the pseudonym "NimbleRichMan" on Reddit with a password given to him by the organization's founders. Nimble America says it's dedicated to providing that "shitposting is powerful and meme magic is real," according to the company's introductory statement, and has taken credit for a billboard its founders say was posted outside of Pittsburgh with a cartoonishly large image of Clinton's face alongside the words "Too Big to Jail." "We conquered Reddit and drive narrative on social media, conquered the [mainstream media], now it's time to get our most delicious memes in front of Americans whether they like it or not," a representative for the group wrote in an introductory post on Reddit. Potential donors from Donald Trump's biggest online community -- Reddit's r/The_Donald, where one of the rules is "no dissenters" -- turned on the organization this weekend, refusing to believe "NimbleRichMan" was the anonymous "near-billionaire" he claimed to be and causing a rift on one of the alt-right's most powerful organizational tools. Luckey insists he's just the group's money man -- a wealthy booster who thought the meddlesome idea was funny. But he is also listed as the vice-president of the group on its website. In another post written under Luckey's Reddit pseudonym, Luckey echoes Peter Thiel, the tech billionaire who used his wealth to secretly bankroll Hulk Hogan's lawsuit against Gawker. The Daily Beast adds: "'The American Revolution was funded by wealthy individuals," NimbleRichMan wrote on Saturday. Luckey confirmed to The Daily Beast he penned the posts under his Reddit pseudonym. 'The same has been true of many movements for freedom in history. You can't fight the American elite without serious firepower. They will outspend you and destroy you by any and all means.'"
China

Taiwan Asks Google To Blur Its Military Facilities In South China Sea (nbcnews.com) 51

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Taiwan's defense ministry said on Wednesday it is asking Google to blur satellite images showing what experts say appear to be new military installations on Itu Aba, Taipei's sole holding in the disputed South China Sea. The revelation of new military-related construction could raise tensions in the contested waterway, where China's building of airstrips and other facilities has worried other claimants and the United States. The images seen on Google Earth show four three-pronged structures sitting in a semi-circle just off the northwestern shoreline of Itu Aba, across from an upgraded airstrip and recently constructed port that can dock 3,000-ton frigates. "Under the pre-condition of protecting military secrets and security, we have requested Google blur images of important military facilities," Taiwan Defense Ministry spokesman Chen Chung-chi said on Wednesday, after local media published the images on Itu Aba. The United States has urged against the militarization of the South China Sea, following the rapid land reclamation by China on several disputed reefs through dredging, and building air fields and port facilities. Defense experts in Taiwan said that based on the imagery of the structures and their semi-circular layout, the structures were likely related to defense and could be part of an artillery foundation.
Government

Hacker Leaks Michelle Obama's Passport (nypost.com) 122

The hacker who leaked Colin Powell's private email account last week has struck again. This time they have hacked a low-level White House staffer and released a picture of Michelle Obama's passport, along with detailed schedules for top U.S. officials and private email messages. New York Post reports: The information has been posted online by the group DC Leaks. The White House staffer -- who also apparently does advance work for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign -- is named Ian Mellul. The released documents include a PowerPoint outline of Vice President Joe Biden's recent Cleveland trip, showing his planned route, where he'll meet with individuals and other sensitive information, according to the Daily Mail. In an email to The Post, the hacker writes, "The leaked files show the security level of our government. If terrorists hack emails of White House Office staff and get such sensitive information we will see the fall of our country." The hacker adds, "We hope you will tell the people about this criminal negligence of White House Office staffers."
Democrats

Oversight Orders Reddit To Preserve Deleted Posts In Clinton Investigation (thehill.com) 382

HockeyPuck writes: The House Oversight Committee has ordered Reddit to preserve deleted posts believed to be written by Paul Combetta, an IT technician the committee suspects may have deleted Hillary Clinton emails that were under subpoena. This follows up on an earlier report on reddit users' findings. Reddit users found that Combetta, through the username "StoneTear," requested help in relation to retaining and purging email messages after 60 days, and requested advice on how to remove a "VERY VIP" individual's email address from archived content. The Hill says in its report: "It's unclear what, exactly, the committee will be able to learn from the information Reddit preserves. According to the company's public policy for handling official requests, it maintains basic subscriber information, like IP logs, which identify the computer used to access a site. According to the policy, Reddit can maintain deleted records -- like a user's account -- for 90 days if it receives an official preservation order. Otherwise, the information will be subject to Reddit's 'normal retention or destruction schedules.'"
Republicans

Trump Opposes Plan For US To Hand Over Internet Oversight To a Global Governance (reuters.com) 527

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump opposes a long-planned transition of oversight of the internet's technical management from the U.S. government to a global community of stakeholders, his campaign said in a statement on Wednesday. Congress should block the handover, scheduled to occur on Oct. 1, "or internet freedom will be lost for good, since there will be no way to make it great again once it is lost," Stephen Miller, national policy director for the Trump campaign, said in a statement. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, a former presidential primary foe of Trump's who has refused to endorse the real estate developer, has led a movement in Congress to block the transition, arguing it could cede control of the internet itself to authoritarian regimes like Russia and China and threaten online freedom. Technical experts have said those claims are baseless, and that a delay will backfire by undermining U.S. credibility in future international negotiations over internet standards and security. Publicly proposed in March 2014, the transfer of oversight of the nonprofit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, is expected to go forward unless Congress votes to block the move. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton supports the Obama administration's planned transition to a global community of technologists, civil society groups and internet users, according to policy positions available on her campaign website.
Democrats

Computer Specialist Who Deleted Clinton Emails May Have Asked Reddit For Tips (usnews.com) 610

An anonymous reader quotes a report from U.S. News and World Report: An army of reddit users believes it has found evidence that former Hillary Clinton computer specialist Paul Combetta solicited free advice regarding Clinton's private email server from users of the popular web forum. A collaborative investigation showed a reddit user with the username stonetear requested help in relation to retaining and purging email messages after 60 days, and requested advice on how to remove a "VERY VIP" individual's email address from archived content. The requests match neatly with publicly known dates related to Clinton's use of a private email server while secretary of state. Stonetear has deleted the posts, but before doing so, the pages were archived by other individuals. "ARCHIVE EVERYTHING YOU CAN!!!!" a person wrote on a popular thread on the Donald Trump-supporting subreddit r/The_Donald, as the entries disappeared. There are several reasons to believe the reddit user is indeed Combetta, who was granted immunity by the Justice Department during its investigation of Clinton's private server after he deleted a large number of emails. The evidence connecting Combetta to the account is circumstantial, but also voluminous. The inactive website combetta.com is registered to the email address stonetear@gmail.com, a search of domain registration information using the service whois.com indicates. An account for a person named Paul Combetta on the web bazaar Etsy also has the username stonetear. And, perhaps most damningly, there are the dates. Stonetear posted to reddit on July 24, 2014: "Hello all- I may be facing a very interesting situation where I need to strip out a VIP's (VERY VIP) email address from a bunch of archived email that I have both in a live Exchange mailbox, as well as a PST file. Basically, they don't want the VIP's email address exposed to anyone, and want to be able to either strip out or replace the email address in the to/from fields in all of the emails we want to send out..." U.S. News and World Reports adds: "On July 23, 2014, the House Select Committee on Benghazi had reached an agreement with the State Department on the production of records, according to an FBI report released earlier this month on the bureau's probe of her email use." Stonetear submitted an additional post to reddit on Dec. 10, 2014 that reads: "Hello- I have a client who wants to push out a 60 day email retention policy for certain users. However, they also want these users to have a 'Save Folder' in their Exchange folder list where the users can drop items that they want to hang onto longer than the 60 day window. All email in any other folder in the mailbox should purge anything older than 60 days (should not apply to calendar or contact items of course). How would I go about this? Some combination of retention and managed folder policy?"

UPDATE 9/19/2016: Slashdot reader NotInHere points out that there is a Slashdot user named "StoneTear" as well.
Robotics

Robot Handcuffed and Arrested At Moscow Rally (abc.net.au) 46

Russian police have arrested a robot. Long-time Slashdot reader ferret4 quotes ABC News: A robot has been detained by police at a political rally in Moscow, with authorities attempting to handcuff the machine. Police have not confirmed why they detained the machine named Promobot, but local media was reporting the company behind the robot said police were called because it was 'recording voters' opinions on [a] variety of topics for further processing and analysis by the candidate's team'."
Interestingly, an earlier model of the same robot escaped its research lab in June, traveling 150 feet before its batteries died -- and despite being reprogrammed twice, continued to move towards the exits.
Privacy

Assange Agrees to US Prison If Obama Pardons Chelsea Manning (theverge.com) 396

"If Obama grants Manning clemency, Assange will agree to U.S. prison in exchange -- despite its clear unlawfulness," Wikileaks announced on Twitter Thursday. An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes The Verge: WikiLeaks' statement was released one day before a Swedish appeals court decided to maintain a warrant for Assange's arrest over a 2010 rape charge. Assange has said that extradition to Sweden would lead to his eventual extradition to the US, where he could face charges related to WikiLeaks' publication of secret government documents... Assange has been living in political asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012...

Chelsea Manning, a former US Army private, was convicted in 2013 for providing a trove of documents and videos to WikiLeaks, and is currently serving a 35-year sentence at the US Disciplinary Barracks in Leavenworth, Kansas. She was hospitalized after a reported suicide attempt in July, and this month went on a hunger strike to seek treatment for her gender dysphoria. Manning ended her hunger strike this week after the military agreed to allow her to have gender reassignment surgery. She still faces indefinite solitary confinement due to administrative charges related to her suicide attempt.

The tweet also included a link to a letter from Assange's attorney, Barry Pollack, calling on the Justice Department to be more transparent about its investigation into WikiLeaks -- and citing the FBI's investigation into Hillary Clinton's handling of classified information. "Director Comey made it clear his conclusion was based on the necessity of proving criminal intent [and] noted that responsible prosecutors consider the context of a person's actions... Criminal prosecution is appropriate only when a person...was intending to aid enemies of the United States or was attempting to obstruct justice."

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