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The Almighty Buck

Where the Tech Industry's Political Donations Are Going 7

An anonymous reader writes: Early estimates suggest the 2016 U.S. presidential election will result in $5-10 billion in spending by candidates and organizations — much more than ever before. To support this, they need lots of contributions, and the tech industry is becoming a significant player. (Not as much as the financial industry, of course, but tech's influence is growing.) Re/Code breaks down which candidates are getting the most money from the tech sector so far. Right now, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) has gotten the most tech money by far — more than the rest of the field combined, thanks in large part to Larry Ellison. Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida, is a distant second, followed closely by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). New Jersey governor Chris Christie and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) are the only other candidates with significant tech contributions so far. Carly Fiorina, a tech industry veteran, has only managed about $13,000 in donations.
Earth

"McKinley" Since 1917, Alaska's Highest Peak Is Redesignated "Denali" 165

NPR reports that the Alaskan mountain which has for nearly a century been known officially as Mt. McKinley will revert to the name under which it's been known for a much longer time: Denali. President Obama is to "make a public announcement of the name change in Anchorage Monday, during a three-day visit to Alaska." Interior Secretary Sally Jewell's secretarial order of August 28th declares the name change to be immediately effective, and directs the United States Board on Geographic Names "to immediately implement this name change, including changing the mountain's name in the Board's Geographic Names Information System and notifying all interested parties of the name change."
The Military

F-35 To Face Off Against A-10 In CAS Test 296

An anonymous reader writes: Lara Seligman from Defense News reports that the capabilities of the Joint Strike Fighter are to be evaluated for close-air support (CAS) missions. She writes, "To gauge the joint strike fighter's ability to perform in a close-air support role, the Pentagon's top weapons tester has declared the sleek new fighter jet must face off against the lumbering A-10. The Pentagon's Office of Operational Test and Evaluation plans to pit the full-up F-35 against the legacy A-10 Warthog and potentially other fighter jets to evaluate the next-generation aircraft's ability to protect soldiers on the ground."
Censorship

Assange Says Harrods Assisting Metro Police in 'Round-the-Clock Vigil' 205

The Daily Mail reports that Julian Assange seems to have yet another foe (or at least friend of a foe) watching persistently while he stays put in the Ecuadorean embassy in London: Harrod's Department Store. The Metro Police, according to Assange, have developed a relationship with the store, and are using that relationship to facilitate their full-time observation of his roosting place in the embassy. When the founder of Wikileaks says, "We have obtained documents from Harrods [saying that] police have people stationed 24 hours a day in some of the opposing buildings Harrods controls," it seems likely that those documents actually exist.
Government

Chris Christie Proposes Tracking Immigrants the Way FedEx Tracks Packages 478

PolygamousRanchKid submits the news that New Jersey governor (and Republican presidential candidate) Chris Christie said yesterday that he would, if elected president, create a system to track foreign visitors the way FedEx tracks packages. The NYT writes: Mr. Christie, who is far back in the pack of candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, said at a campaign event in New Hampshire that he would ask the chief executive of FedEx, Frederick W. Smith, to devise the tracking system."At any moment, FedEx can tell you where that package is. It's on the truck. It's at the station. It's on the airplane," Mr. Christie told the crowd in Laconia, N.H. "Yet we let people come to this country with visas, and the minute they come in, we lose track of them." He added: "We need to have a system that tracks you from the moment you come in." Adds the submitter: "I'm sure foreign tourist will be amused when getting a bar code sticker slapped on their arm."
Cellphones

Ask Slashdot: Best Data Provider When Traveling In the US? 136

An anonymous reader writes: I am visiting USA 3-4 times a year and I need a data service. I also need to keep my cell phone number, so swapping the SIM card in my phone is not an option. I have bought those 19.95$ phones in Best-Buy to get a local number, but those were voice only. So I have been thinking about getting a MiFi hotspot.

I have been looking at pre-paid plans from Verizon(only 700 LTE band for their pre-paid hotspot), AT&T, T-Mobile etc. perhaps to put in a MiFi hotspot or buy a hotspot from a provider, but have no idea which one to use, their reputation, real life coverage etc. It is clear that all data plans in the USA are really expensive, I get 100GB monthly traffic with my Scandinavian provider for the same price as 6-8 GB monthly in the US, which I guess could be a problem with our Apple phones as they do not recognize a metered WiFi hotspot. But that is another issue. I travel all over but most of the time outside the big cities -- and my experience from roaming with my own phone and the cheap local phone so far tells me that coverage fluctuates wildly depending on the operator.
The Courts

Federal Court Overturns Ruling That NSA Metadata Collection Was Illegal 146

New submitter captnjohnny1618 writes: NPR is reporting that an appeals court has overturned the decision that found the NSA's bulk data collection to be illegal. "Judges for the District of Columbia court of appeals found that the man who brought the case, conservative lawyer Larry Klayman, could not prove that his particular cellphone records had been swept up in NSA dragnets." The article clarifies that due to the recent passage of new laws governing how metadata is collected, this is of less significance than it would have otherwise been: "If you remember, after a fierce battle, both houses of Congress voted in favor of a law that lets phone companies keep that database, but still allows the government to query it for specific data. The three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia still decided to take on the case, because that new program doesn't begin until 180 days after the date that law was enacted (June 2, 2015.)" On top of that, the injunction from the earlier ruling never actually went into effect. Still, it seems like an important ruling to me: a government agency was willfully and directly violating the rights of the Americans (and international citizens as well) and now it's just going to get shrugged off?
Communications

Docs: Responding To Katrina, FBI Made Cell Phone Surveillance Its Priority 84

v3rgEz writes: There's a lot of lessons that the federal government should have learned in the aftermath of Katrina. Increased domestic surveillance, however, appears to be the one the FBI took to heart, using the natural disaster as a justification for ramping up its use of Stingray cell phone tracking throughout Louisiana after the storm, according to documents released under FOIA to MuckRock.
Government

Kansas Secretary of State Blocks Release of Voting Machine Tapes 279

PvtVoid writes: Wichita State University statistician Beth Clarkson has filed a lawsuit under Kansas' open records law to force the state to release paper tape records from voting machines, to be used as data in her research on statistical anomalies in voting patterns in the state. Clarkson, a certified quality engineer with a Ph.D. in statistics, has analyzed election returns in Kansas and elsewhere over several elections that indicate 'a statistically significant' pattern where the percentage of Republican votes increase the larger the size of the precinct. The pattern could be voter fraud or a demographic trend that has not been picked up by extensive polling. Secretary of State Kris Kobach argued that the records sought by Clarkson are not subject to the Kansas open records act, and that their disclosure is prohibited by Kansas statute.
Government

North Dakota Legalizes "Less Than Lethal" Weapon-Equipped Police Drones 179

According to the Daily Beast, writes reader schwit1, North Dakota police will be free to fire 'less than lethal' weapons from the air thanks to the influence of a pro-police lobbyist. That means beanbags, tear-gas, and Tasers, at the very least, can be brought to bear by remote. It's worth noting that "non-lethal" isn't purely true, even if that's the intent behind such technologies. From the article, based partly on FOIA requests made by MuckRock into drone use by government agencies: The bill’s stated intent was to require police to obtain a search warrant from a judge in order to use a drone to search for criminal evidence. In fact, the original draft of Representative Rick Becker’s bill would have banned all weapons on police drones. Then Bruce Burkett of the North Dakota Peace Officer’s Association was allowed by the state house committee to amend HB 1328 and limit the prohibition only to lethal weapons. “Less than lethal” weapons like rubber bullets, pepper spray, tear gas, sound cannons, and Tasers are therefore permitted on police drones.
NASA

Calls For Funding NASA Commercial Crew Grow 71

MarkWhittington writes: As summer starts to give way to fall and the end of the current fiscal year draws nigh, demands that NASA's commercial crew program be fully funded are being heard with greater frequency and urgency. Astronaut Scott Kelly took time off from his year-long sojourn on the International Space Station to entreat Congress to pony up. IO9 was a little more caustic, stating "Dammit, Congress: Just Buy NASA its Own Space Taxi, Already." Monday, Slate became the latest media outlet to take up the cause

The situation is depressingly familiar to those who have followed the fortunes of the space program since the Apollo moon landings. When President Obama started the commercial crew program in 2010, NASA estimated that it would take a certain amount of money to get government funded and commercially operated spacecraft running by 2015. Then the space agency would no longer be dependent on Russia for rides to the International Space Station.

Congress has decided to allocate less money than NASA feels it needed for commercial crew. This situation is not unusual, as Congress often does this to space projects. However, the politics surrounding the creation of the commercial crew program, which featured the abrupt cancellation of the Constellation space exploration program, has exacerbated the conflict between NASA's will and Congress' won't. President Obama did not consult Congress when he cancelled President Bush's return to the moon program. Congress has displeased ever since.
Stats

Mostly Theater? Taking Aim At White House 'We the People' Petitions 68

theodp writes: "Since we launched We the People in 2011," wrote the White House last month, "millions of Americans have engaged with their government on the issues that matter to them. This groundbreaking online platform has made petitioning the government, a First Amendment right, more accessible than ever. Over the past few years, the Obama administration has taken a stance on a number of causes that citizens really care about and used the We the People petition platform to voice their concerns." Sounds good, but even if the White House is listening to We the People petitions, as it assured skeptics, one wonders what — and who — exactly they are listening to. Petitions suffer from being aye-only, lack identity and location verification, and appear to have other data quality issues. One attempting to explore the petition data for the 67,022-and-counting signers of a new petition urging a quick response to a court decision that could cut the time international STEM students can work in the U.S. on student visas after graduation, for example, would be stymied by thousands of missing and non-U.S. postal codes. Plotting what location info is available does show that the petitioners are clustered around tech and university hubs, hardly a surprise, but it sheds no context on whether these represent corporate, university, and/or international student interests.
Democrats

Judge Orders State Dept, FBI To Expand Clinton Email Server Probe 303

An anonymous reader writes: In a hearing over Freedom of Information Act requests to the State Department, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan said that former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton didn't comply with government policies. He ordered the State Department to reach out to the FBI to see if any relevant emails exist on Hillary Clinton's email server. Judge Sullivan was surprised that the State Department and FBI were not already communicating on the issue following the FBI's seizure of Clinton's email server and three thumb drives of emails. More than 300 emails are being examined for containing classified information, and dozens of the emails were "born classified" based on content. Some of those emails were forwarded outside the government. There are also clues emerging about how some of the classified information made its way onto Clinton's server. The email controversy is beginning to show up on the campaign trail, an unwelcome development for Secretary Clinton. Reporter Bob Woodward, who helped bring down President Nixon, said the scandal reminds him of the Nixon tapes. It is interesting to note that the post-Watergate reforms have helped move the investigation forward.
Cellphones

In Baltimore and Elsewhere, Police Use Stingrays For Petty Crimes 211

USA Today reports on the widespread use of stingray technology by police to track down even petty criminals and witnesses, as well as their equally widespread reluctance to disclose that use. The article focuses mostly on the city of Baltimore; by cross-checking court records against a surveillance log from the city’s Advanced Technical Team, the USA Today reporters were able to determine at least several hundred cases in which phony ("simulated") cell phone towers were used to snoop traffic. In court, though, and even in the information that the police department provides to the city's prosecutors, the use of these devices is rarely disclosed, thanks to a non-disclosure agreement with the FBI and probably a general reluctance to make public how much the department is using them, especially without bothering to obtain search warrants. From the article: In at least one case, police and prosecutors appear to have gone further to hide the use of a stingray. After Kerron Andrews was charged with attempted murder last year, Baltimore's State's Attorney's Office said it had no information about whether a phone tracker had been used in the case, according to court filings. In May, prosecutors reversed course and said the police had used one to locate him. "It seems clear that misrepresentations and omissions pertaining to the government's use of stingrays are intentional," Andrews' attorney, Assistant Public Defender Deborah Levi, charged in a court filing.

Judge Kendra Ausby ruled last week that the police should not have used a stingray to track Andrews without a search warrant, and she said prosecutors could not use any of the evidence found at the time of his arrest.
Crime

Two US Marines Foil Terrorist Attack On Train In France 467

hcs_$reboot writes: A heavily armed gunman opened fire aboard a packed high-speed train traveling from Amsterdam to Paris late Friday afternoon, wounding several passengers before he was tackled and subdued by two Americans Marines. The assault was described as a terrorist attack. President Barack Obama has expressed his gratitude for the "courage and quick thinking" of the passengers on a high-speed train in France, including U.S. service members, who overpowered the gunman. Bernard Cazeneuve, the French interior minister, paid tribute to the Marines as he arrived at the scene, and said "Thanks to them we have averted a drama. The Americans were particularly courageous and showed extreme bravery in extremely difficult circumstances."
The Courts

Do You Have a Right To Use Electrical Weapons? 688

An anonymous reader writes: David Cravets points out a growing debate in U.S. constitutional law: does the second amendment grant the same rights regarding electrical weapons as it does for traditional firearms? A Massachusetts ban on private ownership of stun-guns is being considered by the Supreme Court, and it's unclear whether such ownership has constitutional protection. The state's top court didn't think so: "... although modern handguns were not in common use at the time of enactment of the Second Amendment, their basic function has not changed: many are readily adaptable to military use in the same way that their predecessors were used prior to the enactment. A stun gun, by contrast, is a thoroughly modern invention (PDF). Even were we to view stun guns through a contemporary lens for purposes of our analysis, there is nothing in the record to suggest that they are readily adaptable to use in the military." The petitioner is asking the court (PDF) to clarify that the Second Amendment covers non-lethal weapons used for self-defense. Constitutional law expert Eugene Volokh agrees: "Some people have religious or ethical compunctions about killing. ... Some adherents to these beliefs may therefore conclude that fairly effective non-deadly defensive tools are preferable to deadly tools."
Encryption

Jeb Bush Comes Out Against Encryption 494

An anonymous reader writes: Presidential candidate Jeb Bush has called on tech companies to form a more "cooperative" arrangement with intelligence agencies. During a speech in South Carolina, Bush made clear his opinion on encryption: "If you create encryption, it makes it harder for the American government to do its job — while protecting civil liberties — to make sure that evildoers aren't in our midst." He also indicated he felt the recent scaling back of the Patriot Act went too far. Bush says he hasn't seen any indication the bulk collection of phone metadata violated anyone's civil liberties.
Businesses

Evidence That H-1B Holders Don't Replace US Workers 414

Okian Warrior writes: In response to Donald Trump's allegations that H1B visas drive Americans out of jobs, The Huffington Post points to this study which refutes that claim. From the study: "But the data show that over the last decade, as businesses have requested more H-1Bs, they also expanded jobs for Americans." This seems to fly in the face of reason, consensus opinion, and numerous anecdotal reports. Is this report accurate? Have we been concerned over nothing these past few years? Remember, this is about aggregates, rather than whether some specific job has been replaced.
Books

Jason Scott of Textfiles.com Is Trying To Save a Huge Storage Room of Manuals 48

martiniturbide writes: Remember Jason Scott of Textfiles.com, who wanted your AOL & Shovelware CDs earlier this year? Right now -- at this moment! -- he trying to save the manuals in a huge storage room that was going to be dumped. It is a big storage room and some of these manuals date back to the thirties. On Monday a team of volunteers helped him to pack some manuals to save them. Today he needs more volunteers at "2002 Bethel Road, Finksburg, MD, USA" to try to save them all. He is also accepting Paypal donations for the package material, transportation and storage room payment. You can also check his progress on his twitter account.
Crime

US No-Fly List Uses 'Predictive Judgement' Instead of Hard Evidence 264

HughPickens.com writes: The Guardian reports that in a little-noticed filing before an Oregon federal judge, the US Justice Department and the FBI conceded that stopping U.S. and other citizens from traveling on airplanes is a matter of "predictive assessments about potential threats." "By its very nature, identifying individuals who 'may be a threat to civil aviation or national security' is a predictive judgment intended to prevent future acts of terrorism in an uncertain context," Justice Department officials Benjamin C Mizer and Anthony J Coppolino told the court. It is believed to be the government's most direct acknowledgment to date that people are not allowed to fly because of what the government believes they might do and not what they have already done. The ACLU has asked Judge Anna Brown to conduct her own review of the error rate in the government's predictions modeling – a process the ACLU likens to the "pre-crime" of Philip K Dick's science fiction. "It has been nearly five years since plaintiffs on the no-fly list filed this case seeking a fair process by which to clear their names and regain a right that most other Americans take for granted," say ACLU lawyers.

The Obama administration is seeking to block the release of further information about how the predictions are made, as damaging to national security. "If the Government were required to provide full notice of its reasons for placing an individual on the No Fly List and to turn over all evidence (both incriminating and exculpatory) supporting the No Fly determination, the No Fly redress process would place highly sensitive national security information directly in the hands of terrorist organizations and other adversaries," says the assistant director of the FBI's counterterrorism division, Michael Steinbach.