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Privacy

Snowden Can Be Asked To Testify In Person In Germany NSA Probe (arstechnica.com) 72

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Whistleblower Edward Snowden can be asked to give evidence in person by a German committee probing the NSA's spying activities, the country's Federal Court of Justice has ruled. Germany's government has been told that it should make suitable arrangements for that to happen. It has been refusing to invite Snowden to give evidence personally since it would need to guarantee that he would not be handed over to the U.S. -- a promise the German authorities say would risk damaging the political relations between the two countries. Instead, it has called for him to give evidence via a video link, or for German officials to interview him in Moscow, both of which Snowden turned down. Following a formal complaint by the greens and left-wing politicians, Germany's Federal Court of Justice has ruled that the German government must provide the necessary guarantees that would allow Snowden to give evidence in person, or explain why it will not do so. Snowden's lawyer, Wolfgang Kaleck, told the Suddeutsche Zeitung that the German government might refuse to provide guarantees, and officially admit that it regards cooperating with the U.S. on intelligence matters in the future as more important than getting to the bottom of past surveillance. In that case, an appeal could be made to Germany's constitutional court, according to an article in Der Spiegel, which would decide whether the German government was allowed to make that trade-off. The committee of inquiry is examining to what extent German citizens and politicians were spied on by the NSA and its so-called Five Eyes partners -- notably GCHQ -- and whether German politicians and intelligence agencies knew about this activity.
Republicans

Trump Says He's Going To 'Get Apple To Build a Big Plant In the United States' (arstechnica.com) 471

In a Tuesday interview with The New York Times, President-elect Donald Trump said that he would incentivize Apple to "build a big plant in the United States, or many big plants in the United States." Ars Technica reports: Trump indicated to columnist Thomas Friedman that he is going to double-down on bringing factory jobs back to America, especially in the Rust Belt from Michigan to Pennsylvania.

FRIEDMAN: Are you worried, though, that those companies will keep their factories here, but the jobs will be replaced by robots?
TRUMP: They will, and we'll make the robots, too. [laughter]
TRUMP: It's a big thing, we'll make the robots, too. Right now we don't make the robots. We don't make anything. But we're going to. I mean, look, robotics is becoming very big and we're going to do that. We're going to have more factories. We can't lose 70,000 factories. Just can't do it. We're going to start making things.

Trump continued, saying that he had received a call from Apple CEO Tim Cook. As the president-elect recounted: "...and I said, 'Tim, you know, one of the things that will be a real achievement for me is when I get Apple to build a big plant in the United States, or many big plants in the United States, where instead of going to China, and going to Vietnam, and going to the places that you go to, you're making your product right here.' He said, 'I understand that.' I said: 'I think we'll create the incentives for you, and I think you're going to do it. We're going for a very large tax cut for corporations, which you'll be happy about.' But we're going for big tax cuts, we have to get rid of regulations, regulations are making it impossible. Whether you're liberal or conservative, I mean, I could sit down and show you regulations that anybody would agree are ridiculous. It's gotten to be a free-for-all. And companies can't, they can't even start up, they can't expand, they're choking."
A report from Nikkei last week said that Apple is exploring the idea of making iPhones in the United States, but the company has realized that it will cost more than double to make the shiny new gadgets at home.
Programming

American Computer Scientists Grace Hopper, Margaret Hamilton Receive Presidential Medals of Freedom (fedscoop.com) 126

An anonymous reader quotes a report from FedScoop: President Barack Obama awarded Presidential Medals of Freedom to two storied women in tech -- one posthumously to Grace Hopper, known as the "first lady of software," and one to programmer Margaret Hamilton. Hopper worked on the Harvard Mark I computer, and invented the first compiler. "At age 37 and a full 15 pounds below military guidelines, the gutsy and colorful Grace joined the Navy and was sent to work on one of the first computers, Harvard's Mark 1," Obama said at the ceremony Tuesday. "She saw beyond the boundaries of the possible and invented the first compiler, which allowed programs to be written in regular language and then translated for computers to understand." Hopper followed her mother into mathematics, and earned a doctoral degree from Yale, Obama said. She retired from the Navy as a rear admiral. "From cell phones to Cyber Command, we can thank Grace Hopper for opening programming up to millions more people, helping to usher in the Information Age and profoundly shaping our digital world," Obama said. Hamilton led the team that created the onboard flight software for NASA's Apollo command modules and lunar modules, according to a White House release. "At this time software engineering wasn't even a field yet," Obama noted at the ceremony. "There were no textbooks to follow, so as Margaret says, 'there was no choice but to be pioneers.'" He added: "Luckily for us, Margaret never stopped pioneering. And she symbolizes that generation of unsung women who helped send humankind into space."
Earth

Trump Admits 'Some Connectivity' Between Climate Change and Human Activity (cnn.com) 559

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNN: President-elect Donald Trump conceded Tuesday there is "some connectivity" between human activity and climate change and wavered on whether he would pull the United States out of international accords aimed at combating the phenomenon, which scientists overwhelmingly agree is caused by human activity. The statements could mark a softening in Trump's position on U.S. involvement in efforts to fight climate change, although he did not commit to specific action in any direction. During the campaign, he vowed to "cancel" the U.S.'s participation in the Paris climate agreement, stop all U.S. payments to UN programs aimed at fighting climate change and continued to cast serious doubt on the role man-made carbon dioxide emissions played in the planet's warming and associated impacts. "I think there is some connectivity. Some, something. It depends on how much," Trump said Tuesday in a meeting with New York Times reporters, columnists and editors. He has previously called climate change a "hoax" invented by the Chinese. Asked if he would withdraw the U.S. from international climate change agreements, Trump said he is "looking at it very closely," according to Times reporters Maggie Haberman and Mike Grynbaum, who were live-tweeting the meeting. He added that he has "an open mind to it," despite explicitly promising to withdraw from at least one climate accord on the campaign trail. The President-elect on the campaign trail repeatedly vowed to slash environmental protection regulations burdening U.S. businesses and said that beyond the consequences to the planet, he is particularly mindful of the economic impact of combating climate change. He said he is considering "how much it will cost our companies" and the effect on American competitiveness in the global market, according to a tweet from Grynbaum.
Democrats

Google Search Results Have Liberal Bias, Study Finds (thedenverchannel.com) 385

According to a new study reported by The Wall Street Journal, Google's search results tend to lean liberal. "An analysis by online-search marketer CanIRank.com found that 50 recent searches for political terms on Google surfaced more liberal-leaning webpages than conservative ones, as rated by a panel of four people." The Denver Channel reports: "Minimum wage" tended to yield more liberal results, while "does gun control reduce crime" resulted in more conservative ones. Searches for "financial regulation" and "federal reserve" found mostly nonpartisan links. CanIRank used the opinions of four people to determine how liberal or conservative each website was. For 16 percent of the political search terms studied, no right-leaning results showed up at all on the first page of results. CanIRank noted this could be a problem for democracy. A different study found most people click on one of the first five search results. Users rarely move on to the second page. A Google spokesperson said in an email to the WSJ: "From the beginning, our approach to search has been to provide the most relevant answers and results to our users, and it would undermine people's trust in our results, and our company, if we were to change course." According to Google, their results are "determined by algorithms using hundreds of factors" and "reflect the content and information that is available on the internet."
The Internet

Trump: I'll Ditch TPP Trade Deal on Day One of My Presidency (arstechnica.com) 600

US President-elect Donald Trump has confirmed that the U.S. will pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) -- a trade deal involving 12 Pacific Rim nations -- "on day one" of his presidency. From a report on ArsTechnica: Trump, in a YouTube video outlining plans for his first 100 days in office, said: "I'm going to issue our notification of intent to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a potential disaster for our country." He added: "Instead, we will negotiate fair, bilateral trade deals that bring jobs and industry back on to American shores." An emphasis on bilateral trade deals may call into question both the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), involving dozens of nations, and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Although the latter is between the US and the European Union, the complex political structure of the EU means that effectively 28 nations are involved and can influence the outcome of the deal. This was demonstrated by the dramatic intervention of the Walloon regional government in the signing of CETA, the bloc's trade deal with Canada.
United States

US Sets Plan To Build Two Exascale Supercomputers (computerworld.com) 59

dcblogs quotes a report from Computerworld: The U.S. believes it will be ready to seek vendor proposals to build two exascale supercomputers -- costing roughly $200 to $300 million each -- by 2019. The two systems will be built at the same time and be ready for use by 2023, although it's possible one of the systems could be ready a year earlier, according to U.S. Department of Energy officials. The U.S. will award the exascale contracts to vendors with two different architectures. But the scientists and vendors developing exascale systems do not yet know whether President-Elect Donald Trump's administration will change directions. The incoming administration is a wild card. Supercomputing wasn't a topic during the campaign, and Trump's dismissal of climate change as a hoax, in particular, has researchers nervous that science funding may suffer. At the annual supercomputing conference SC16 last week in Salt Lake City, a panel of government scientists outlined the exascale strategy developed by President Barack Obama's administration. When the session was opened to questions, the first two were about Trump. One attendee quipped that "pointed-head geeks are not going to be well appreciated."
Republicans

Trump Names Two Opponents of Net Neutrality To Oversee FCC Transition Team (gizmodo.com) 395

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: President-elect Donald Trump has appointed two new advisers to his transition team that will oversee his FCC and telecommunications policy agenda. Both of the new advisers are staunch opponents of net neutrality regulations. Jeff Eisenach, one of the two newly appointed advisers, is an economist who has previously worked as a consultant for Verizon and its trade association. In September 2014, Eisenach testified before a Senate Judiciary Committee and said, "Net neutrality would not improve consumer welfare or protect the public interest." He has also worked for the conservative think-tank American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and in a blog post wrote, "Net neutrality is crony capitalism pure and simple." Mark Jamison, the other newly appointed adviser, also has a long history of battling against net neutrality oversight. Jamison formerly worked on Sprint's lobbying team and now leads the University of Florida's Public Utility Research Center. Both Eisenach and Jamison are considered leading adversaries of net neutrality who worked hard to prevent the rules from being passed last year. For the uninitiated, the rules passed last year prevent companies internet providers from discriminating against any online content or services. For example, without net neutrality rules, internet providers like Comcast and Verizon could charge internet subscribers more for using sites like Netflix. The FCC's net neutrality rules would protect consumers from paying exorbitant fees for internet use.
Social Networks

Snopes.com Editor on Fake News: Social Media Is Not the Problem (backchannel.com) 624

"Honestly, most of the fake news is incredibly easy to debunk because it's such obvious bullshit..." says Brooke Binkowski, the managing editor of the fact-checking at Snopes.com. "It's not social media that's the problem. People are looking for somebody to pick on." mirandakatz shared this article from Backchannel: The problem, Binkowski believes, is that the public has lost faith in the media broadly -- therefore no media outlet is considered credible any longer. The reasons are familiar: as the business of news has grown tougher, many outlets have been stripped of the resources they need for journalists to do their jobs correctly. "When you're on your fifth story of the day and there's no editor because the editor's been fired and there's no fact checker so you have to Google it yourself and you don't have access to any academic journals or anything like that, you will screw stories up," she says.
I found this article confusing. Snopes seemed to be trying to steer the conversation back to erroneous stories from "legitimate publications," which erode the public trust in all mainstream outlets. (Which I guess then over time hypothetically makes people more susceptible to fake news stories on Facebook.) But her earlier remarks suggest it's not really credibility that's lacking there -- it's the absence of someone convenient to pick on. So what is the problem? Is it the news media's lack of credibility? Algorithms that disproportionately reward alarming stories? A human tendency to seek information that confirms our pre-existing biases? What do Slashdot readers think is causing what this article describes as "our epidemic of misinformation"?
Privacy

Should Domain-Name Registrations Require A Verifiable Real Name? (blogspot.com) 241

lpress writes: The Internet was a major source of news -- fake and real -- during the election campaign. The operators of fake sites, whether motivated by politics or greed, are often anonymous. We avoid voter fraud by requiring verification of ones name, age and address. A verifiable real-names domain registration policy would discourage information fraud.
"I understand the wish to protect the privacy of a person or organization registering a domain name," argues the linked-to blog post, "but there is also a public interest." ICANN already requested comments on this back in 2015, but I'm curious what Slashdot's readers think. Should domain name registrations require a verifiable real name?
EU

Dutch Science Academy Plans A Women-Only Election (sciencemag.org) 266

greg65535 writes: In order to reduce its gender imbalance, the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) in Amsterdam will hold special election rounds, one in 2017 and one in 2018, for which only women can be nominated.
The plan "does not come at men's expense," argues the academy's president, Jose van Dijck, because all the regular election rounds for membership will also still continue as planned. Currently 13% of the academy's 556 members are women, a slightly higher percentage than the 10% at Germany's national science academy and the 6% in the U.K. The plan was proposed by two male board members and approved by a 73% majority, though ironically, the first female president of the U.S. National Academy of Science says "I don't think we would do that. Other people might feel that women elected this way somehow did not meet the same standards as their male counterparts, or even other women elected through the regular process."
The Media

Mark Zuckerberg Announces Facebook Will Fight Fake News -- Next To An Ad With Fake News (facebook.com) 149

An anonymous reader writes: "We take misinformation seriously," Facebook's CEO announced in a late-night status update Friday. "Our goal is to connect people with the stories they find most meaningful, and we know people want accurate information. We've been working on this problem for a long time and we take this responsibility seriously. We've made significant progress, but there is more work to be done."

But you know what's funny? The ad to the right of Zuck's post is fake news. It has the headline "Hugh Hefner Says 'Goodbye' at 90" and a quote from his wife saying "I can't believe he is actually gone," even though Hugh Hefner isn't dead. And clicking through, it's just another lame ad for erectile dysfunction -- on a site that's been tricked up to look like Fox News.

I saw it too. (Here's my screenshot... And yes, it did link to an advertising site with a fake "Fox News" banner across the top.) Oh, the irony. "The CEO said that Facebook is working to develop stronger fake news detection, a warning system, easier reporting and technical ways to classify misinformation," reports CNN, adding "Zuckerberg did not say how quickly the measures would be in place." They also quote Zuckerberg as saying "Some of these ideas will work well, and some will not." But apparently it's pretty easy to get fake news onto Facebook. You just have to pay them.
Earth

France To Shut Down All Coal-Fired Power Plants By 2023 (independent.co.uk) 328

French president Francois Hollande announced at an annual UN climate change conference on Wednesday that France will shut down all its coal-fired power plants by 2023. He also "vowed to beat by two years the UK's commitment to stop using fossil fuels to generate power by 2025," reports The Independent: Mr Hollande, a keynote speaker at the event in Marrakech, Morocco, also praised his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama for his work on climate change, and then appeared to snub president-elect Donald Trump. "The role played by Barack Obama was crucial in achieving the Paris agreement," Mr Hollande said, before adding, in what has been perceived as a dig at Mr Trump, that becoming a signatory to the treaty is "irreversible." "We need carbon neutrality by 2050," the French President continued, promising that coal will no longer form part of France's energy mix in six to seven years' time. France is already a world leader in low-carbon energy. The country has invested heavily in nuclear power over the past few decades and now derives more than 75 percent of its electricity from nuclear fission. It produces so much nuclear energy, in fact, that it exports much of it to nearby nations, making around $2.66 billion each year.
Government

NSA Chief: Nation-State Made 'Conscious Effort' To Sway US Presidential Election (aol.com) 667

The head of the US National Security Agency has said that a "nation-state" consciously targeted presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, in order to affect the US election. From an AOL article:Adm. Michael Rogers, who leads both the NSA and US Cyber Command, made the comments in response to a question about Wikileaks' release of nearly 20,000 internal DNC emails during a conference presented by The Wall Street Journal. "There shouldn't be any doubt in anybody's minds," Rogers said. "This was not something that was done casually. This was not something that was done by chance. This was not a target that was selected purely arbitrarily. This was a conscious effort by a nation-state to attempt to achieve a specific effect." Rogers did not specify the nation-state or the specific effect, though US intelligence officials suspect Russia provided the emails to Wikileaks, after hackers stole them from inside DNC servers and the personal email account of Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, John Podesta. At least two different hacker groups associated with the Russian government were found inside the networks of the DNC over the past year, reading emails, chats, and downloading private documents. Many of those files were later released by Wikileaks.Further reading: Quartz and MotherJones.
Government

James Clapper, US Director of National Intelligence, Has Resigned (thehill.com) 170

Reader cold fjord writes: James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, resigned last night. Clapper spent 30 years in military intelligence at the National Imagery and Mapping Agency. He was selected to be the Director of National Intelligence in 2010 with responsibility for 17 US intelligence agencies. Clapper was DNI during the monumental Snowden leaks of documents from NSA and various allied intelligence agencies as well as the release by WikiLeaks of the documents provided by (at the time) Private Bradley Manning. Besides the Snowden and Manning leaks, Clapper was engulfed in controversy over testimony to Congress in which he is alleged to have lied about NSA data collection in responding to a question from Senator Wyden. Clapper had previously stated he would leave at the end of the Obama administration. Clapper's resignation clears the way for incoming president-elect Trump to appoint his own Director of National Intelligence.
Businesses

Steve Bannon Suggests Having Too Many Asian Tech CEOs Undermines 'Civic Society' (theverge.com) 805

In an interview last year with Donald Trump -- that The Washington Post resurfaced yesterday -- Breitbart News Network's executive chairman, Steve Bannon, suggested that there are too many asian CEOs in Silicon Valley. "He alluded to the idea that foreign students should return to their respective countries after attending school in the U.S., instead of sticking around and working at or starting tech companies," writes Ashley Carman via The Verge: Trump voiced concern over these students attending Ivy League schools and then going home: "We have to be careful of that, Steve. You know, we have to keep our talented people in this country," Trump said. When asked if he agreed, Bannon responded: "When two-thirds or three-quarters of the CEOs in Silicon Valley are from South Asia or from Asia, I think [...]" he didn't finish his sentence. "A country is more than an economy. We're a civic society." While Bannon didn't explicitly say anything against immigrants, he seemed to hint at the idea of a white nationalist identity with the phrase "civic society." The Huffington Post makes note of a May 2015 study in its report, which "found that 27 percent of professionals working in Silicon Valley companies were Asian or Asian-American. They represented less than 19 percent of managers and under 14 percent of executives, according to the report."
Government

FCC Abides By GOP Request To Stop What It's Doing, Deletes Everything From Meeting Agenda (arstechnica.com) 119

One day after republicans from the house and senate sent letters to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, urging him to avoid passing regulations before Donald Trump's inauguration as president, Wheeler appears to have complied with the request. The FCC today "announced the deletion of all items that were originally scheduled to be presented and voted on at tomorrow's meeting." Ars Technica reports: Before the change, the agenda included votes on price caps for "special access" business data services; Universal Service funding to expand mobile broadband networks; wireless roaming obligations; and requirements for audio description of TV programming for blind and visually impaired people. The only item not deleted from tomorrow's meeting is part of the "consent agenda," which means it is routine and wasn't going to be presented individually. Of the major items, the business data services proposal had received the most attention. These are dedicated wireline circuits provided by traditional phone companies like AT&T and Verizon; the services supply bandwidth for cellular data networks, indirectly affecting the price consumers pay for wireless service. The business data services are also used by banks and retailers to connect ATM machines and credit card readers, by government and corporate users to connect branch offices and data centers, and to support public safety operations and health care facilities. The now-deleted agenda item would have phased in price cap decreases of 11 percent over three years to account for "over a decade of efficiency gains" since the last price cap adjustment.
Communications

Facebook Users Interacted Most With Articles From Fox News, CNN and Breitbart In Month Leading Up To Nov 10 212

Quartz's charts and visualization service The Atlas, has released an insightful chart that shows the "total reader interactions with articles on Facebook" between October 11, 2016 and November 10, 2016. What's surprising is that Breitbart beat a list of establishment media outlets in total Facebook interactions. By far the source with the most interacted articles was Fox News, as it had more than 44 million people interact with its articles. CNN and Breitbart were neck-and-neck with more than 18 million interactions.
China

China Tells Trump Climate Change Isn't a Hoax it Invented (bloomberg.com) 302

China couldn't have invented global warming as a hoax to harm U.S. competitiveness because it was Donald Trump's Republican predecessors who started climate negotiations in the 1980s, China's Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said, according to a Bloomberg report. From the article:U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush supported the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in initiating global warming talks even before China knew that negotiations to cut pollution were starting, Liu told reporters at United Nations talks on Wednesday in Marrakech, Morocco. Ministers and government officials from almost 200 countries gathered in Marrakech this week are awaiting a decision by President-elect Trump on whether he'll pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement to tackle climate change. The tycoon tweeted in 2012 that the concept of global warming "was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive." China's envoy rejected that view. "If you look at the history of climate change negotiations, actually it was initiated by the IPCC with the support of the Republicans during the Reagan and senior Bush administration during the late 1980s," Liu told reporters during an hour-long briefing.
Communications

Cybersecurity CEO Gets Fired After Threatening To Kill Trump On Facebook (mashable.com) 497

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Mashable: A San Diego CEO was fired after saying on Facebook that he would get a "sniper rifle" and "kill the president-elect." Matt Harrigan, CEO of the cybersecurity firm PacketSled, posted the comments on his personal Facebook page, but they ended up on Reddit where Trump supporters found the comments and mobilized to contact law enforcement. "I'm going to kill the president. Elect," Harrigan wrote. "Bring it Secret Service." PacketSled said in a statement that it had accepted Harrigan's resignation. "The PacketSled Board of Directors accepted the resignation of President and CEO Matthew Harrigan, effective immediately," the company said. "We want to be very clear, PacketSled does not condone the comments made by Mr. Harrigan, which do not reflect the views or opinions of the company, its employees, investors or partners." In a previous statement, the company said it reported the information to the Secret Service and placed Harrigan on administrative leave. According to The Next Web, Harrigan apologized for his remarks and said the threats were meant to be a joke: "My recent Facebook comment was intended to be a joke, in the context of a larger conversation, and only privately shared as such. Anyone who knows me, knows that I do not engage in this form of rhetoric with any level of seriousness and the comment most certainly does not represent my real personal views in any regard. I apologize if anything that I said was either taken seriously, was offensive, or caused any legitimate concern."

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