Research

Your weather app began in 1950s at Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland

beSpacific - Sun, 06/18/2017 - 17:21

Women scientists were key members of groundbreaking team using ENIAC computer developed during WWII. Via Smithsonian – “A weather app is a nifty tool that predicts your meteorological future, calculated with the strength of radar, algorithms and satellites around the world. Today, computerized weather prediction—like moving pictures or flying by plane—is so commonplace that smartphone-users don’t give it a second thought. But at mid-century, the idea that you might be able to forecast the weather days or even weeks ahead was a tantalizing prospect. One of the most important breakthroughs in weather forecasting took place in the spring of 1950, during an experiment at the U.S. Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. For over a month straight, a team of scientists and computer operators worked tirelessly to do something meteorologists had been working toward for nearly a century: predict the weather mathematically…The original ENIAC programmers—Jean Bartik, Betty Holberton, Kathleen Antonelli, Marlyn Meltzer, Ruth Teitelbaum, and Frances Spence—were all women who taught themselves how to program the vast machine. Most if not all of the computer operators working on the 1950 weather experiment (who were merely thanked in the paper’s acknowledgements for their “help in coding the problem for the ENIAC and for running the computations”) were also women…”

Categories: Research

Books Analyzes How America’s Top 20 Percent Perpetuates Inequality

beSpacific - Sun, 06/18/2017 - 17:15

Boston Review – This essay is excerpted with permission from Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class Is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That Is a Problem, and What to Do About It by Richard Reeves, Brookings Institution Press, 2017.

“In January 2015, Barack Obama suffered an acute political embarrassment. A proposal from the budget he’d sent to Congress was dead on arrival—but it was the president himself who killed it. The idea was sensible, simple, and progressive. Remove the tax benefits from 529 college saving plans, which disproportionately help affluent families, and use the money to help fund a broader, fairer system of tax credits. It was, in policy terms, a no-brainer. You can easily see how the professorial president would have proposed it. But he had underestimated the wrath of the American upper middle class. As the 2016 election helped us see, the real class divide is between the upper middle class and everyone else. As soon as the administration unveiled the plan, Democrats started to quietly mobilize against it. Representative Chris Van Hollen from Maryland (now a senator) called his colleague, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi happened to be traveling with Obama from India to Saudi Arabia on Air Force One. As they flew across the Arabian Sea, she persuaded the president to drop the reform. The next day, White House spokesman Eric Schultz declared that the 529 plan had become “a distraction” from the president’s ambitious plans to reform college financing. The episode was a brutal reminder that sensible policy is not always easy politics, particularly when almost every person writing about, analyzing, or commenting on a proposal is a beneficiary of the current system. Pelosi and Van Hollen both represent liberal, affluent, well-educated districts. Almost half of their constituents are in households with six-figure incomes. I should know: Van Hollen was my congressman at the time. My neighbors and I are the very people saving into our 529 plans. More than 90 percent of the tax advantage goes to families with incomes in the top quarter of the distribution…”

Categories: Research

Five Thirty Eight project visualizes 35 years of American deaths from various causes

beSpacific - Sun, 06/18/2017 - 17:04

Search data on 35 Years Of American Death Mortality rates for leading causes of death in every U.S. county from 1980 to 2014. “Researchers have long argued that where we live can help predict how we die. But how much our location affects our health is harder to say, because death certificates, the primary source for mortality data, are not always complete. They frequently contain what public health experts call “garbage codes”: vague or generic causes of death that are listed when the specific cause is unknown. Garbage codes make it difficult to track the toll of a disease over time or to look for geographical patterns in how people die. The data shown in the map above represents one research group’s effort to fill in these gaps. See our related article on patterns of death in the U.S. Black Belt. That group — the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation — designed a statistical model that uses demographic and epidemiological data to assign more specific causes of death to the records containing garbage codes in the National Vital Statistics System, which gathers death records (and other information such as births) from state and local jurisdictions into a national database. The institute also age-standardized the data so that places with larger populations of older people, who die at higher rates, do not have inflated numbers. The result is a set of more complete estimates of mortality across the country, one revealing regional and local variations in causes of death…”

Categories: Research

President Donald Trump’s financial disclosure

beSpacific - Sun, 06/18/2017 - 16:59

Politico: “The U.S. Office of Government Ethics on [June 16, 2017] released President Donald Trump’s financial disclosure, a 98-page document that details his sprawling hotel and real estate empire. The White House said last month that Trump would voluntarily release his financial disclosure from the 2016 calendar year. The document shows Trump’s assets, debts and transactions, but does not provide an exact picture of his net worth.  The report also doesn’t reveal how much Trump paid in taxes last year or his total business debt, but it still provides a snapshot into his range of investments. Trump has taken steps to reduce his conflicts of interest, stepping back from the Trump Organization and turning over daily control to his adult sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump. However, he has maintained his financial interest, and his sons give him updates on the financial condition of the company…Trump reported assets of at least $1.4 billion and income of at least $596.3 million in the 2016 calendar year and the early months of 2017. He reported owing at least $310 million to various financial institutions, including at least $130 million to Deutsche Bank…”

Categories: Research

Louisville's Fiber Internet Expansion Opposed By Koch Brothers Group

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Sun, 06/18/2017 - 14:34
Slashdot reader simkel shared an article from the Courier-Journal: A group affiliated with the Koch brothers' powerful political network is leading an online campaign against Mayor Greg Fischer's $5.4 million proposal to expand Louisville's ultra-fast internet access... Critics argue that building roughly 96 miles of fiber optic cabling is an unnecessary taxpayer giveaway to internet service providers, such as Google Fiber, which recently announced plans to begin building its high-speed network in the city. "Fundamentally, we don't believe that taxpayers should be funding broadband or internet systems," said David Williams, president of the taxpayers alliance, which is part of industrialists Charles and David Koch's political donor network... The group says $5.4 million is a misuse of taxpayer funds when the city has other needs, such as infrastructure and public safety. To shore up public support, the mayor has begun arguing that high-speed connectivity would make it cheaper to install crime-monitoring cameras in violent neighborhoods.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

This week at the court

SCOTUS Blog - Sun, 06/18/2017 - 12:02

We expect orders from the June 15 conference on Monday at 9:30 a.m. There is also a possibility of opinions on Monday. On Thursday the justices will meet for their June 22 conference; our list of “petitions to watch” for that conference will be available soon.

The post This week at the court appeared first on SCOTUSblog.

Categories: Research

LIBER and OCLC Research Launch Collaborative Information Management Study

beSpacific - Sun, 06/18/2017 - 10:42

LIBER, the Association of European Research Libraries, and OCLC Research are launching a collaborative project to explore the adoption and integration of persistent identifiers (PIDs) in European research information management (RIM) infrastructures. The project will complement and extend previous research institution-scale implementations of RIM in European institutions. It will provide university and research library leaders with useful insights on emerging practices and challenges in research management at institutional, group, national and even transnational scales…A presentation about this project is planned for the 46th LIBER Annual Conference in Patras, Greece, July 5-7 2017.”

Categories: Research

European Parliament Committee Endorses End-To-End Encryption

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Sun, 06/18/2017 - 07:21
The civil liberties committee of the European Parliament has released a draft proposal "in direct contrast to the increasingly loud voices around the world to introduce regulations or weaken encryption," according to an anonymous Slashdot reader. Tom's Hardware reports: The draft recommends a regulation that will enforce end-to-end encryption on all communications to protect European Union citizens' fundamental privacy rights. The committee also recommended a ban on backdoors. Article 7 of the E.U.'s Charter of Fundamental Rights says that E.U. citizens have a right to personal privacy, as well as privacy in their family life and at home. According to the EP committee, the privacy of communications between individuals is also an important dimension of this right... We've lately seen some EU member states push for increased surveillance and even backdoors in encrypted communications, so there seems to be some conflict here between what the European Parliament institutional bodies may want and what some member states do. However, if this proposal for the new Regulation on Privacy and Electronic Communications passes, it should significantly increase the privacy of E.U. citizens' communications, and it won't be so easy to roll back the changes to add backdoors in the future. Security researcher Lukasz Olejnik says "the fact that policy is seriously considering these kind of aspects is unprecedented."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

Ask Slashdot: How Do You Prepare For The Theft Of Your PC?

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Sun, 06/18/2017 - 03:18
A security-conscious Slashdot reader has theft insurance -- but worries whether it covers PC theft. And besides the hassles of recreating every customization after restoring from backups, there's also the issue of keeping personal data private. I currently keep important information on a hidden, encrypted partition so an ordinary thief won't get much off of it, but that is about the extent of my preparation... What would you do? Some sort of beacon to let you know where your stuff is? Remote wipe? Online backup? There's a couple of issues here -- including privacy, data recovery, deterrence, compensation -- each leading to different ways to answer the question: what can you actually do to prepare for the possibility? So use the comments to share your own experiences. How have you prepared for the theft of your PC?

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

What Happens When Software Companies Are Liable For Security Vulnerabilities?

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Sat, 06/17/2017 - 19:06
mikeatTB shares an article from TechRepublic: Software engineers have largely failed at security. Even with the move toward more agile development and DevOps, vulnerabilities continue to take off... Things have been this way for decades, but the status quo might soon be rocked as software takes an increasingly starring role in an expanding range of products whose failure could result in bodily harm and even death. Anything less than such a threat might not be able to budge software engineers into taking greater security precautions. While agile and DevOps are belatedly taking on the problems of creating secure software, the original Agile Manifesto did not acknowledge the threat of vulnerabilities as a problem, but focused on "working software [as] the primary measure of progress..." "People are doing exactly what they are being incentivized to do," says Joshua Corman, director of the Cyber Statecraft Initiative for the Atlantic Council and a founder of the Rugged Manifesto, a riff on the original Agile Manifesto with a skew toward security. "There is no software liability and there is no standard of care or 'building code' for software, so as a result, there are security holes in your [products] that are allowing attackers to compromise you over and over." Instead, almost every software program comes with a disclaimer to dodge liability for issues caused by the software. End-User License Agreements (EULAs) have been the primary way that software makers have escaped liability for vulnerabilities for the past three decades. Experts see that changing, however. The article suggests incentives for security should be built into the development process -- with one security professional warning that in the future, "legal precedent will likely result in companies absorbing the risk of open source code."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

Pentagon Cyberweapons 'Disappointing' Against ISIS

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Sat, 06/17/2017 - 11:38
An anonymous reader quotes the New York Times: It has been more than a year since the Pentagon announced that it was opening a new line of combat against the Islamic State, directing Cyber Command, then six years old, to mount computer-network attacks... "In general, there was some sense of disappointment in the overall ability for cyberoperations to land a major blow against ISIS," or the Islamic State, said Joshua Geltzer, who was the senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council until March. "This is just much harder in practice than people think..." Even one of the rare successes against the Islamic State belongs at least in part to Israel, which was America's partner in the attacks against Iran's nuclear facilities. Top Israeli cyberoperators penetrated a small cell of extremist bombmakers in Syria months ago, the officials said. That was how the United States learned that the terrorist group was working to make explosives that fooled airport X-ray machines and other screening by looking exactly like batteries for laptop computers... The information helped prompt a ban in March on large electronic devices in carry-on luggage on flights from 10 airports in eight Muslim-majority countries to the United States and Britain. Citing military officials, the Times also reports that "locking Islamic State propaganda specialists out of their accounts -- or using the coordinates of their phones and computers to target them for a drone attack -- is now standard operating procedure."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

Snowden's Former Employer Under Criminal Investigation For Fraudulent Billing

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Sat, 06/17/2017 - 10:34
McGruber writes: Booz Allen Hamilton, the contracting firm that was Edward Snowden's employer when he leaked classified information from the NSA has announced that it is under a federal civil and criminal investigation of its billing practices. The disclosure in a regulatory filing sent shares of parent company Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corp. tumbling $7.33, or 18.6 percent, to $32 in Friday trading.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

Air Force Budget Reveals How Much SpaceX Undercuts Launch Prices

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Sat, 06/17/2017 - 06:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: In 2014, the U.S. Government Accountability Office issued a report on cost estimates for the U.S. Air Force's program to launch national security payloads, which at the time consisted of a fleet of rockets maintained and flown entirely by United Launch Alliance (ULA). The report was critical of the non-transparent nature of ULA's launch prices and noted that the government "lacked sufficient knowledge to negotiate fair and reasonable launch prices" with the monopoly. At around the same time, the new space rocket company SpaceX began to aggressively pursue the opportunity to launch national security payloads for the government. SpaceX claimed to offer a substantially lower price for delivering satellites into various orbits around Earth. But because of the lack of transparency, comparing prices was difficult. The Air Force recently released budget estimates for fiscal year 2018, and these include a run out into the early 2020s. For these years, the budget combines the fixed price rocket and ELC contract costs into a single budget line. (See page 109 of this document). They are strikingly high. According to the Air Force estimate, the "unit cost" of a single rocket launch in fiscal year 2020 is $422 million, and $424 million for a year later. SpaceX sells basic commercial launches of its Falcon 9 rocket for about $65 million. But, for military launches, there are additional range costs and service contracts that add tens of millions of dollars to the total price. It therefore seems possible that SpaceX is taking a loss or launching at little or no profit to undercut its rival and gain market share in the high-volume military launch market. Elon Musk retweeted the article, adding "$300M cost diff between SpaceX and Boeing/Lockheed exceeds avg value of satellite, so flying with SpaceX means satellite is basically free."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

Petition of the day

SCOTUS Blog - Fri, 06/16/2017 - 22:33

The petition of the day is:

Bellant v. Snyder 16-1207

Issue: Whether a law that removes all governmental authority from locally-elected officials in municipalities that have disproportionately large minority populations, and thereby denies the residents of those municipalities the ability to elect representatives of their choice to govern them, is subject to scrutiny under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, 52 U.S.C. § 10301.

The post Petition of the day appeared first on SCOTUSblog.

Categories: Research

Firm Responsible For Mirai-Infected Webcams Hires Software Firm To Make Its Products More Secure

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Fri, 06/16/2017 - 20:30
chicksdaddy writes from a report via The Security Ledger: After seeding the globe with hackable DVRs and webcams, Zhejiang Dahua Technology Co., Ltd. of Hangzhou, China will be working with the U.S. firm Synopsys to "enhance the security of its Internet of Things (IoT) devices and solutions." Dahua, based in Hangzhou, China said it will with Mountain View based Synopsys to "enhance the security of its Internet of Things (IoT) devices and solutions." In a joint statement, the companies said Dahua will be adopting secure "software development life cycle (SDLC) and supply chain" practices using Synopsys technologies in an effort to reduce the number of "vulnerabilities that can jeopardize our products," according to a statement attributed to Fu Liquan, Dahua's Chairman, The Security Ledger reports. Dahua's cameras and digital video recorders (DVRs) figured prominently in the Mirai botnet, which launched massive denial of service attacks against websites in Europe and the U.S., including the French web hosting firm OVH, security news site Krebsonsecurity.com and the New Hampshire based managed DNS provider Dyn. Cybercriminals behind the botnet apparently exploited an overflow vulnerability in the web interface for cameras and DVRs to gain access to the underlying Linux operating system and install the Mirai software, according to research by the firm Level3. In March, Dahua was called out for another, serious vulnerability in eleven models of video recorders and IP cameras. Namely: a back door account that gave remote attackers full control of vulnerable devices without the need to authenticate to the device. The flaw was first disclosed on the Full Disclosure mailing list and described as "like a damn Hollywood hack, click on one button and you are in."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

Alleged KickassTorrents Owner Considers 'Voluntary Surrender' To the US

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Fri, 06/16/2017 - 20:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TorrentFreak: Earlier this year a Polish court ruled that Artem Vaulin, the alleged owner of the defunct torrent site KickassTorrents, can be extradited to the United States. The decision came as a disappointment to the defense team, which quickly announced an appeal. Vaulin has since been released on bail and currently resides in a Warsaw apartment. His release has made it easier to communicate with his attorneys in the United States, who have started negotiations with the U.S. Government. While the extradition appeal is still ongoing, it now appears that under the right conditions Vaulin might consider traveling to the United States voluntarily, so he can "resolve" the pending charges. This is what the defense team states in a motion for a status conference (pdf), which was submitted earlier this week.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

Limits Placed on Congressional Oversight

Project On Government Oversight - Fri, 06/16/2017 - 16:22
A new memo released by the executive branch’s Office of Legal Counsel attempts to establish a more restrictive policy regarding federal agencies responses to Congressional oversight inquiries. POGO, Members of Congress, and others are strongly criticizing this executive overreach.
Categories: Research

Movie Piracy Cost Australian Network 'Hundreds of Millions of Dollars'

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Fri, 06/16/2017 - 16:10
Film television piracy and illegal downloads are partly to blame for Australian broadcaster Ten Network's woes, according to Village Roadshow co-chief executive Graham Burke. From a report: He said piracy had cost Ten "hundreds of millions of dollars" in potential advertising revenue because of lower ratings resulting from pirated versions of films supplied by 21st Century Fox under an onerous output deal with the Hollywood studio. He said copies of Fox's Leonardo DiCaprio movie The Revenant and The Peanuts Movie were stolen last year and shared illegally via a piracy website. "Piracy is a much bigger channel and an illicit economy than the three main commercial networks combined. It is ripping off viewers from legitimate, taxpaying enterprises," Mr Burke said. "The product that Ten is buying from 21st Century Fox and is now arriving have been pirated out of sight."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

Federal government files brief in travel-ban litigation

SCOTUS Blog - Fri, 06/16/2017 - 14:12

Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall was at the Supreme Court yesterday for the formal investiture of Justice Neil Gorsuch, but that was only part of Wall’s busy day. Shortly after the investiture ceremony, the Trump administration filed the next installment in the series of briefs supporting its request to allow President Donald Trump’s March 6 executive order, which bans entry into the United States by residents of six Muslim-majority countries, to go into effect until the justices can review the lower courts’ rulings blocking the implementation of the order. The federal government urged the court to reinstate the order, warning that leaving the freeze of the so-called “travel ban” in place “will continue to cause irreparable harm to the government and the public” by “preventing the President from effectuating his national-security judgment.”

In its original round of filings, submitted on June 1, the federal government asked the Supreme Court to step into two different challenges to the travel ban. The first challenge came to the justices from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, which had upheld a Maryland judge’s order blocking implementation of the ban. And the second came to the justices via Hawaii, where another federal judge had put the ban on hold. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit had not yet weighed in on the merits of the Hawaii judge’s ruling when the government first went to the Supreme Court earlier this month. The 9th Circuit’s decision came last week, prompting the government to seek (and the Supreme Court to grant) a new round of briefing.

In its decision keeping the travel ban on hold, the 4th Circuit pointed to the Constitution’s bar against favoring one religion over another, known as the establishment clause: Although the president’s order indicates that it was intended to protect the United States from foreign terrorists, the court reasoned, some of the president’s statements suggest that the order was actually intended to exclude Muslims from the country. The 9th Circuit’s ruling rested on a different ground: that court’s conclusion that the president’s executive order went beyond the power that Congress gave him under federal immigration laws. In yesterday’s brief, the government complained that the 9th Circuit’s ruling – which the government described as “novel and extraordinary,” and not in a complimentary way – reflected “an unprecedented view of the President’s authority over the Nation’s borders and on the court of appeals’ overt disagreement with his assessment of national-security risks.”

The government repeats its argument, made throughout the litigation in the travel-ban cases, that, as a general rule, courts should not review decisions to bar noncitizens from entering the United States. To the extent that the Supreme Court has made an exception to that rule, it has done so only when a U.S. citizen argued that the decision violated the citizen’s own constitutional rights.

But even if the 9th Circuit has the power to review the order, the government contends, there is an equally fundamental problem: The court of appeals simply got federal immigration laws wrong. These laws give the president “exceedingly broad discretion” on immigration matters, the government asserts. There is no need for him to show that the country would be harmed if the people covered by the executive order were allowed to enter the United States.

The court of appeals also misunderstood the rationale for the order itself, the government contends. The order does not rest on the assumption that nationality, standing alone, can indicate whether someone is likely to be a terrorist. Rather, the government explains, the president’s “concern was the willingness and ability of certain foreign governments to provide information about their own nationals.”

Hawaii is scheduled to file its response to yesterday’s brief by noon on June 20.

The post Federal government files brief in travel-ban litigation appeared first on SCOTUSblog.

Categories: Research

Facebook Exposes Employee Data To Terrorists

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Fri, 06/16/2017 - 14:10
An anonymous reader writes: The Guardian is reporting that Facebook accidentally exposed the personal information of the moderators that remove terrorist content to the groups that posted that very content. From the article it looks like 6 of them actually had their profiles viewed. From the article, "The security lapse affected more than 1,000 workers across 22 departments at Facebook who used the company's moderation software to review and remove inappropriate content from the platform, including sexual material, hate speech and terrorist propaganda." What are Facebook's responsibilities here?

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

Pages