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Earth

US Scientists Scramble To Protect Research On Climate Change (cnn.com) 534

Long-time Slashdot reader ClickOnThis quotes CNN: Some scientists and academics are embarking on a frenzied mission to archive reams of scientific data on climate change, energized by a concern that a Trump administration could seek to wipe government websites of hard-earned research... The chief concern: publicly available climate change data and research found on government websites would be wiped clean or made otherwise inaccessible to the public. Some worry the information could only be retrieved with a taxing Freedom of Information Act request.
One associate professor at the University of Texas tells CNN, "There is a very short window for when the new administration will come in and that's why there's a lot of anxiety. There's a lot of information to save."
United States

President Obama Threatens Retaliatory Actions Against Russia Over Hacks (nytimes.com) 531

An anonymous reader quotes the New York Times: [President Obama] said he was weighing a mix of public and covert actions against the Russians in his last 34 days in office, actions that would increase "the costs for them." Mr. Obama said he was committed to sending the Kremlin a message that "we can do stuff to you," but without setting off an escalating cyberconflict... "Some of it we will do in a way that they will know, but not everybody will," he said...

[T]he president was clearly wrestling with what he said the hacking affair and the reaction to it revealed about the state of American politics. Citing a recent poll that showed more than a third of Trump voters saying they approved of Mr. Putin...the president appealed to Americans not to allow partisan hatred and feuds to blind them to manipulation by foreign powers. "Unless that changes," Mr. Obama said, "we're going to continue to be vulnerable to foreign influence because we've lost track of what it is that we're about and what we stand for."

President Obama pulled Putin aside at a September meeting of the G20 to discuss Russian hacking, according to the article, telling Putin "to cut it out, there were going to be serious consequences if he did not."
Government

White House Supports Claim Putin Directed US Election Hack (bbc.com) 715

The White House is suggesting that Russian President Vladimir Putin was directly involved in a hacking operation aimed at interfering with the U.S. presidential election. BBC reports: Ben Rhodes, adviser to President Barack Obama, said that Mr Putin maintains tight control on government operations, which suggests that he was aware. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest added that it was "pretty obvious" that Mr Putin was involved. "Everything we know about how Russia operates and how Putin controls that government would suggest that, again, when you're talking about a significant cyber intrusion like this, we're talking about the highest levels of government," Mr Rhodes said. "And ultimately, Vladimir Putin is the official responsible for the actions of the Russian government." NBC reported that the U.S. had evidence that Mr Putin personally directed how information hacked by Russian intelligence was leaked. The Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence also released a statement asserting Russia had orchestrated the hack, including breaches on the Democratic National Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The contents of those hacks, passed to Wikileaks and posted online, were embarrassing to the Democrats and shook up the presidential campaign. The NBC report, which cited two unnamed senior officials, said the hacking campaign began as a "vendetta" against Mrs Clinton before becoming "an effort to show corruption in American politics and split off key American allies." Mr Putin is said to have been furious when Mrs Clinton, as secretary of state, questioned the integrity of 2011 parliamentary elections in Russia. He publicly accused her of encouraging street protests.
Businesses

Businesses May No Longer Sue Customers Over Negative Reviews (thenextweb.com) 98

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Next Web: A few months I wrote about the Consumer Review Fairness Act. In a nutshell, this offers legal protections to consumers who leave negative reviews on sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor. You can now call out the restaurant who gave you food poisoning, or a bed-bug infested hotel without the risk of being dragged into a civil court. The long-overdue bill explicitly bans non-disparagement clauses in contracts between businesses and patrons. Over the years, there's been a rash of people getting sued after speaking their mind online. Today, President Obama signed off on the Consumer Review Fairness Act. It's now law. As great as this is for consumers, it's even better for the likes of TripAdvisor and Yelp, whose business model relies on people being able to speak their minds.
Social Networks

Facebook Is Clamping Down On Fake News, Partners With Fact Checkers To Flag Stories (slate.com) 415

After weeks of criticism over its role in spreading fake news during and after the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, Facebook said today it is taking concrete steps to halt the sharing of hoaxes on its platform. From a report on Slate: The company announced on Thursday several new features designed to identify, flag, and slow the spread of false news stories on its platform, including a partnership with third-party fact-checkers such as Snopes and PolitiFact. It is also taking steps to prevent spammers and publishers from profiting from fake news. The new features are relatively cautious and somewhat experimental, which means they may not immediately have the intended effects. But they signal a new direction for a company that has been extremely reticent to take on any editorial oversight of the content posted on its platform. And they are likely to evolve over time as the company tests and refines them. First, it's trying to make it easier for users to report fake news stories. The drop-down menu at the top right of each post in your feed will now include an explicit option to report it as a "fake news story," after which you'll be prompted to choose among multiple options, which include notifying Facebook and messaging the person who shared it.
United States

Donald Trump To Tech Leaders: 'No Formal Chain Of Command' Here (cnbc.com) 488

A confab of tech titans had a "productive" meeting with President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower on Wednesday, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos told CNBC, as Trump moved to mend fences with Silicon Valley before taking office in January. Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Intel, Oracle, IBM, Cisco and Tesla were among the C-suite executives in attendance, with Apple CEO Tim Cook and Tesla CEO Elon Musk expected to get private briefings, according to transition staff. From the report: "We want you to keep going with the incredible innovation," Trump said. "There's no one like you in the world. ... anything we can do to help this go along, we're going to be there for you. You can call my people, call me -- it makes no difference -- we have no formal chain of command around here." At the meeting, Trump introduced billionaire Wilbur Ross, his Commerce secretary pick, and Goldman Sachs executive Gary Cohn, his choice for director of the National Economic Council. "They're going to do fair trade deals," Trump said. "They're going to make it easier for you to trade across borders, because there are a lot of restrictions, a lot of problems. If you have any ideas on that, that would be great."
Republicans

Twitter Cut Out of Trump Tech Meeting Over Failed Emoji Deal, Says Report (politico.com) 551

According to Politico, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was "bounced" from Wednesday's meeting between tech executives and President-elect Donald Trump in retribution for refusing during the campaign to allow an emoji version of the hashtag #CrookedHillary. Trump's adviser Sean Spicer denied the report, saying "the conference table was only so big." Politico reports: Twitter was one of the few major U.S. tech companies not represented at Wednesday afternoon's Trump Tower meeting attended by, among others, Apple's Tim Cook, Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg, and Tesla's Elon Musk -- an omission all the more striking because of Trump's heavy dependence on the Twitter platform. Trump's campaign also made a $5 million deal with Twitter before the election, in which the campaign committed "to spending a certain amount on advertising and in exchange receive discounts, perks, and custom solutions," the campaign's director of digital advertising and fund raising, Gary Coby, wrote in a Medium post last month. So the campaign objected when the company refused to allow the anti-Clinton emoji. Coby wrote that Dorsey personally intervened to block the Trump operation from deploying the emoji, which would have shown, in various renderings, small bags of money being given away or stolen. That emoji would have been offered to users as a replacement for the hashtag #CrookedHillary, a preferred Trump insult for his Democratic opponent. Spicer also objected to the company's refusal, telling the Washington Examiner in October that "while Twitter claims to be a venue that promotes the free exchange of ideas, it's clear that it's leadership's left wing ideology literally trumps that." POLITICO's source said Spicer, who's also the Republican National Committee spokesman, was the one who made the call to refuse an invitation to Dorsey or other Twitter executives to Wednesday's meeting.
Government

Elon Musk and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick Will Advise Trump On Business Issues (theverge.com) 244

SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick have joined President-elect Trump's Strategic and Policy Forum, which will regularly meet with the soon-president to advise on business issues, the Trump transition team said in a statement. From a report on The Verge: The now 19-member council, established earlier this month, also includes Disney CEO Bob Iger and IBM CEO Ginni Rometty. Members will "share their specific experience and knowledge as the President implements his economic agenda," according to the transition statement. PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi also joins today. The announcement suggests a new link between the president-elect and Silicon Valley, which has been generally wary of the Trump presidency, with the notable exception of Facebook board member and Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, who supported Trump despite controversy and has been working as an adviser for the transition team.
Businesses

IBM Promises To Hire 25,000 Americans As Tech Executives Set To Meet Trump (reuters.com) 244

IBM Chief Executive Ginni Rometty has pledged to "hire about 25,000 professionals in the next four years in the United States" as she and other technology executives prepared to meet with President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday. Reuters reports: IBM had nearly 378,000 employees at the end of 2015, according to the company's annual report. While the firm does not break out staff numbers by country, a review of government filings suggests IBM's U.S. workforce declined in each of the five years through 2015. When asked why IBM planned to increase its U.S. workforce after those job cuts, company spokesman Ian Colley said in an email that Rometty had laid out the reasons in her USA Today piece. Her article did not acknowledge that IBM had cut its U.S. workforce, although it called on Congress to quickly update the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act that governs federal support for vocational education. "We are hiring because the nature of work is evolving," she said. "As industries from manufacturing to agriculture are reshaped by data science and cloud computing, jobs are being created that demand new skills -- which in turn requires new approaches to education, training and recruiting." She said IBM intended to invest $1 billion in the training and development of U.S. employees over the next four years. Pratt declined to say if that represented an increase over spending in the prior four years.
Communications

Feds Unveil Rule Requiring Cars To 'Talk' To Each Other (thehill.com) 292

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Hill: The Obama administration released a long-awaited rule on Tuesday requiring all new vehicles to have communication technology that allows them to "talk" to each another, which officials say could prevent tens of thousands of crashes each year. The proposal calls for all new light-duty cars and trucks to eventually be equipped with vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technology, a safety system that enables cars to send wireless signals to each other, anticipate each other's moves and thus avoid crashes. The rule would require 100 percent of new vehicle fleets to have V2V technology within four years of the final rule's enactment. The proposal will be open for public comment for 90 days. The connected vehicle rule builds on previous work by the outgoing administration to accelerate the deployment of innovative safety technology. The Department of Transportation released the first-ever federal guidelines for driverless cars in September. "We are carrying the ball as far as we can to realize the potential of transportation technology to save lives," said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "This long-promised V2V rule is the next step in that progression. Once deployed, V2V will provide 360-degree situational awareness on the road and will help us enhance vehicle safety." Officials say V2V has the potential to mitigate 80 percent of non-impaired crashes and can interact with other crash avoidance systems, like automatic braking. V2V uses dedicated short-range radio communications to exchange messages about a car's speed, direction and location. The system uses that information from other vehicles to identify potentials risks and warn its driver. A pair of Democratic senators called on the agency to ensure that vehicles have "robust" cybersecurity and privacy protections in place before automakers deploy V2V.
Government

Energy Department Refuses To Give Trump Team Names of People Who Worked On Climate Change (businessinsider.com) 858

The Department of Energy said Tuesday it will reject the request by President-elect Donald Trump's transition team to name staffers who worked on climate change programs. Energy spokesman Eben Burnhan-Snyder said the agency received "significant feedback" from workers regarding a questionnaire from the transition team that leaked last week. From a Reuters story, syndicated on BusinessInsider: The response from the Energy Department could signal a rocky transition for the president-elect's energy team and potential friction between the new leadership and the staffers who remain in place. The memo sent to the Energy Department on Tuesday and reviewed by Reuters last week contains 74 questions including a request for a list of all department employees and contractors who attended the annual global climate talks hosted by the United Nations within the last five years. "Our career workforce, including our contractors and employees at our labs, comprise the backbone of (the Energy Department) and the important work our department does to benefit the American people," Eben Burnham-Snyder, Energy Department spokesman said. "We are going to respect the professional and scientific integrity and independence of our employees at our labs and across our department," he added. "We will be forthcoming with all publicly available information with the transition team. We will not be providing any individual names to the transition team."
Twitter

Twitter Reinstates White Nationalist Leader's Account (buzzfeed.com) 470

An anonymous reader quotes BuzzFeed: On Saturday evening, Twitter reinstated -- with verification -- the account of Richard Spencer, a leading figure of the so-called alt-right movement, and the head of the white nationalist think tank, The National Policy Institute. Spencer's account was suspended mid-November as part of a larger cull of prominent alt-right accounts... However, according to Twitter, Spencer was banned on a technicality: creating multiple accounts with overlapping uses. Twitter's multiple account policy was put in place as a safeguard to help curb dog piling and targeted harassment. [Twitter] offered to reinstate one of Spencer's accounts if he agreed to follow the company's protocols.
Vox says the move "raises the question of to what extent Twitter intends to enforce the 'hateful conduct' policy." But the suspension had also been criticized by David Frum, a senior editor at the Atlantic, who wrote that "The culture of offense-taking, platform-denying, and heckler-vetoing...lets loudmouths and thugs present themselves as heroes of free thought. They do not deserve this opportunity... today, a neo-Nazi has more right to build an arsenal of weapons and drill a militia than to speak on Twitter." But BuzzFeed points out that though the account's been reinstated, Spencer "is now tip-toeing around the company's three strike policy, which carries a permanent suspension."
Government

DHS Tried To Breach Our Firewall, Says Georgia's Secretary of State (cyberscoop.com) 146

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CyberScoop: Georgia's secretary of state has claimed the Department of Homeland Security tried to breach his office's firewall and has issued a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson asking for an explanation. Brian Kemp issued a letter to Johnson on Thursday after the state's third-party cybersecurity provider detected an IP address from the agency's Southwest D.C. office trying to penetrate the state's firewall. According to the letter, the attempt was unsuccessful. The attempt took place on Nov. 15, a few days after the presidential election. The office of the Georgia Secretary of State is responsible for overseeing the state's elections. "At no time has my office agreed to or permitted DHS to conduct penetration testing or security scans of our network," Kemp wrote in the letter, which was also sent to the state's federal representatives and senators. "Moreover, your department has not contacted my office since this unsuccessful incident to alert us of any security event that would require testing or scanning of our network. This is especially odd and concerning since I serve on the Election Cyber Security Working Group that your office created." "The Department of Homeland Security has received Secretary Kemp's letter," a DHS spokesperson told CyberScoop. "We are looking into the matter. DHS takes the trust of our public and private sector partners seriously, and we will respond to Secretary Kemp directly." Georgia was one of two states that refused cyber-hygiene support and penetration testing from DHS in the leadup to the presidential election. The department had made a significant push for it after hackers spent months exposing the Democratic National Committee's internal communications and data.
United States

President Obama Orders Review of Cyber Attacks On 2016 Election (reuters.com) 557

President Barack Obama has ordered a full review of hacking activities aimed at disrupting last month's presidential election, media outlets reported Friday citing a top White House official. The results are to be delivered to Obama before he leaves the office. From a report on Reuters: "The president has directed the intelligence community to conduct a full review of what happened during the 2016 election process ... and to capture lessons learned from that and to report to a range of stakeholders, to include the Congress," homeland security adviser Lisa Monaco said during an event hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.
China

White House Voices Concerns About China Cyber Law (reuters.com) 48

The White House said on Thursday that it raised concerns about China's new cyber security law during a meeting with a Chinese official after the latest round of talks between the two countries on cyber crime. From a report on Reuters: U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice met with Chinese State Councilor Guo Shengkun to discuss the importance "of fully adhering" to an anti-hacking accord signed last year between the China and the United States, National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said. The deal, brokered during Chinese President Xi Jinping's state visit to Washington in 2015, included a pledge that neither country would knowingly carry out hacking for commercial advantages. Rice told Guo that the United States was concerned "about the potential impacts" of a law that China adopted in November aimed at combating hacking and terrorism.
Communications

US Presidential Election Was Most 'Talked About' Topic In 2016, Says Facebook (phys.org) 88

What may come as no surprise to Facebook users, the social media company announced in a blog post that the U.S. presidential election was the most "talked about" topic on Facebook in 2016. Phys.Org highlights the other most-discussed topics in its report: The bitterly contested election in which Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton was ranked as the leading issue, followed by Brazil's political developments which included the impeachment of president Dilma Rousseff, Facebook said in a blog post. On the lighter side at number three was the runaway success of Pokemon Go, the location-based augmented reality game for smartphone users. Other subject matters shared among Facebook's 1.79 billion users were more sober, with the fourth leading topic the "Black Lives Matter" movement, followed by the election in the Philippines of Rodrigo Duterte. Number six on the list was the Olympic games, followed by Brexit, the Super Bowl and the deaths of rock star David Bowie and boxing icon Muhammad Ali. Facebook said it measured leading topics by how frequently an issue was mentioned in posts made between January 1 and November 27.
Bitcoin

Bitcoin Could Rise By 165% To $2,000 in 2017 Driven by Trump's 'Spending Binge' and Dollar Rally (cnbc.com) 255

The price of Bitcoin could hit more than $2,000 in 2017 driven by expectations that U.S. President-elect Donald Trump may introduce economic stimulus policies, which could send inflation soaring and propel the dollar to record highs, a report from Saxo Bank claims. An anonymous reader shares a CNBC report: Bitcoin is currently trading around $754.51, according to CoinDesk data. A handle of over $2,000 would represent 165 percent appreciation. During his election campaign Trump has talked about an increase in fiscal spending. Saxo Bank's note said that this could increase the roughly $20 trillion of U.S. national debt and triple the current budget deficit from approximately $600 billion to $1.2-1.8 trillion, or some 6-10 percent of the country's current $18.6 trillion economy. As a result, the economy will grow and inflation will "sky rocket," forcing the U.S. Federal Reserve to hike interest rates at a faster pace and causing the U.S. dollar "to hit the moon." When inflation rises the Federal Reserve may raise interest rates to bring it under control. This causes the dollar to appreciate because it would be seen as an attractive currency for foreign investors.
Communications

Weather Channel To Breitbart: Stop Citing Us To Spread Climate Skepticism (weather.com) 588

Breitbart.com published an article last week that erroneously claims global warming is coming to an end, claiming "global land temperatures have plummeted by 1 degree Celsius since the middle of the year -- the biggest and steepest fall on record." The Weather Channel finds this report especially upsetting as it's not only inaccurate but it features a video from weather.com at the top of the article. The Weather Channel reports: Breitbart had the legal right to use this clip as part of a content-sharing agreement with another company, but there should be no assumption that The Weather Company endorses the article associated with it. The Breitbart article -- a prime example of cherry picking, or pulling a single item out of context to build a misleading case -- includes this statement: "The last three years may eventually come to be seen as the final death rattle of the global warming scare." In fact, thousands of researchers and scientific societies are in agreement that greenhouse gases produced by human activity are warming the planet's climate and will keep doing so. Along with its presence on the high-profile Breitbart site, the article drew even more attention after a link to it was retweeted by the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. The Breitbart article heavily references a piece that first appeared on U.K. Daily Mail's site. The Weather Channel went on to refute the Breitbart article's hypothesis: This number comes from one satellite-based estimate of temperatures above land areas in the lower atmosphere. Data from the other two groups that regularly publish satellite-based temperature estimates show smaller drops, more typical of the decline one would expect after a strong El Nino event. Temperatures over land give an incomplete picture of global-scale temperature. Most of the planet -- about 70 percent -- is covered by water, and the land surface warms and cools more quickly than the ocean. Land-plus-ocean data from the other two satellite groups, released after the Breitbart article, show that Earth's lower atmosphere actually set a record high in November 2016.
Businesses

T-Mobile CFO: Less Regulation, Repeal of Net Neutrality By Trump Would Be 'Positive For My Industry' (tmonews.com) 158

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TmoNews: T-Mobile CFO Braxton Carter spoke at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in New York City, and he touched a bit on President-elect Donald Trump and what his election could mean for the mobile industry. Carter expects that a Trump presidency will foster an environment that'll be more positive for wireless. "It's hard to imagine, with the way the election turned out, that we're not going to have an environment, from several aspects, that is not going to be more positive for my industry," the CFO said. He went on to explain that there will likely be less regulation, something that he feels "destroys innovation and value creation." Speaking of innovation, Carter also feels that a reversal of net neutrality and the FCC's Open Internet rules would be good for innovation in the industry, saying that it "would provide opportunity for significant innovation and differentiation" and that it'd enable you to "do some very interesting things."
Education

White House Silence Seems To Confirm $4 Billion 'Computer Science For All' K-12 Initiative Is No More 280

theodp writes: "2016 as a year of action builds on a decade of national, state, and grassroots activity to revitalize K-12 computer science education," reads the upbeat White House blog post kicking off Computer Science Education Week. But conspicuous by its absence in the accompanying fact sheet for A Year of Action Supporting Computer Science for All is any mention of the status of President Obama's proposed $4 billion Computer Science For All initiative, which enjoyed support from the likes of Microsoft, Facebook, and Google. On Friday, tech-backed Code.org posted An Update on Computer Science Education and Federal Funding, which explained that Congress's passage of a 'continuing resolution' extending the current budget into 2017 spelled curtains for federal funding for the program in 2016 and beyond. "We don't have any direct feedback yet about the next administration's support for K-12 CS," wrote CEO Hadi Partovi and Govt. Affairs VP Cameron Wilson, "other than a promise to expand 'vocational and technical education' as part of Trump's 100-day plan which was published in late October. I am hopeful that this language may translate into support for funding K-12 computer science at a federal level. However, we should assume that it will not."

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