United States

Obama Unveils Major Climate Change Proposal 164 164

An anonymous reader writes: Two years in the making, President Obama formally unveiled his plan to cut power plant emissions today, calling it the "single most important step that America has ever made in the fight against global climate change." The "Clean Power Plan" includes the first ever EPA standards on carbon pollution from power plants. CNN reports: "Under the plan, the administration will require states to meet specific carbon emission reduction standards, based on their individual energy consumption. The plan also includes an incentive program for states to get a head start on meeting standards on early deployment of renewable energy and low-income energy efficiency."
Earth

Soylent 2.0 Comes Bottled and Ready To Drink 294 294

An anonymous reader writes: Soylent has announced today their latest product, Soylent 2.0. It comes premixed and ready to drink in recyclable bottles. Each bottle is one fifth of a scientifically balanced daily meal plan, will last up to a year unrefrigerated, and will cost you $2.42. A Soylent blog post reads in part: "Not only are its ingredients vegan, Soylent 2.0 reaches an unprecedented level of environmental sustainability with half of its fat energy coming from farm-free, algae sources. This next generation agricultural technology has the potential to reduce the ecological impact of food production by orders of magnitude, signifying a major step towards a future of abundance, a world where optimal nutrition is the new normal."
Earth

Clinton Plan To Power Every US Home With Renewables By 2027 Is Achievable 349 349

Lucas123 writes: As part of her campaign pledge, Hillary Clinton has said she would make it a priority in her first term to increase the number of solar panels by 500M and U.S. installed solar capacity from 21 gigawatts (GW) today to 140GW by the end of 2020. Her plan, is to increase solar, wind and other renewables so that they'd provide 33% of America's electricity by 2027, enough to power every home. While the plan may sound overly ambitious, experts say, it's not. Today, renewables provide about 15% of America's power. Shayle Kann, senior vice president at GTM Research, said the Clinton's renewable energy goal is doable, but with caveats. In order to achieve the goal, current programs, such as federal tax breaks for solar installations (set to expire next year), must continue and future initiatives, such as Obama's Clean Power Plan that will begin in 2018, must not be curtailed. Considering that if elected, Clinton wouldn't take office until 2017, the her campaign goals could be more bravado than reality. Clinton, however, is not alone. While most candidates have yet to announce their clean energy plans, Clinton's Democratic contender, Martin O'Malley, also came out with strong support for the end of fossil fuel use and a full clean energy economy by 2050, and creating a national goal of doubling energy efficiency within 15 years.
Hardware Hacking

Leading the Computer Revolution In a Totalitarian State 60 60

szczys writes: How do you enter the information age when computers, and the components that go into them, are embargoed by other countries and imports of any value are restricted by your own? This and a myriad of other barriers didn't stop Voja Antonic from building his own computers and teaching others how to do so during the 70s, 80s, 90s, and beyond.

He managed to get a TRS-80 into Yugoslavia by having a friend cut the cables between the two boards and send them separately to avoid getting caught in customs. He bootstrapped his own personal computer and published the plans in the country's first computer magazine. It was built by over 8000 people. Check out these stories and his experience of living in the Eastern Bloc and through the war in '90s, all while continuing to build and promote computers in what is now Serbia.
The Internet

The Web We Have To Save 96 96

An anonymous reader writes: Hossein Derakhshan endured a six-year prison term in Iran for doing something most of us would take for granted: running a blog. He has a unique perspective — he was heavily involved in internet culture, becoming known as Iran's "blogfather," before suddenly being completely shut off from the online world in 2008. Seven months ago, he was released. When he got settled, he took up his old work of blogging, but was surprised by how much the web has changed in just a few years. Now he decries our reliance on monolithic social streams that prioritize image and meme sharing over the thing that makes the web the web: links.

"The hyperlink represented the open, interconnected spirit of the world wide web—a vision that started with its inventor, Tim Berners-Lee. The hyperlink was a way to abandon centralization—all the links, lines and hierarchies—and replace them with something more distributed, a system of nodes and networks. Blogs gave form to that spirit of decentralization: They were windows into lives you'd rarely know much about; bridges that connected different lives to each other and thereby changed them. ... Since I got out of jail, though, I've realized how much the hyperlink has been devalued, almost made obsolete."
Businesses

Nokia's HERE Maps Sold For $3.2 Billion To Audi, BMW and Daimler 53 53

vivaoporto writes: Nokia announced an agreement to sell its HERE digital mapping and location services business to a consortium of leading automotive companies, comprising AUDI AG, BMW Group and Daimler AG (Mercedes brand owner). The transaction values HERE at €2.8 billion ($3.2 billion) with a normalized level of working capital, and is expected to close in the first quarter of 2016, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals. Once the mapping unit is sold, Nokia will consist of two businesses: Nokia Networks and Nokia Technologies. The first will continue to provide broadband services and infrastructure while the second will work on "advanced technology development and licensing." Reader jppiiroinen notes that Nokia originally acquired digital mapping provider Navteq in 2007 for $8.1 billion. Once it merged with Nokia, it became the foundation of Nokia's HERE unit.
Education

CollegeBoard: Analyses of CS Study Benefits Shouldn't Be Interpreted As Causal 101 101

theodp writes: Code.org, backed by some of tech's wealthiest individuals and their companies, is this close to getting computer science declared a 'core subject' in K-12 public schools. So, when the non-profit recently asked CollegeBoard for more evidence that learning computer science is linked to improved learning in other subjects, it must have been disheartened by the study results. "The purpose of this brief note," wrote the CollegeBoard, "is to document some exploratory analyses linking participation in AP Computer Science to subsequent performance in SAT Mathematics and AP Calculus and Statistics. None of these analyses should be interpreted as causal. Although there appears to be a relationship between AP CS participation and subsequent outcomes, it is highly likely that this is the result of one or more omitted and confounding characteristics of students that are not able to be controlled for given this research design."
Social Networks

Girls Catfish ISIS On Social Media For Travel Money 224 224

MarkWhittington writes: Yahoo Travel reported that three women in Chechnya took ISIS for $3,300 before getting caught. They are now under investigation for Internet fraud, which seems to be illegal even when committed against the most fearsome terrorist army in modern times. The scam seems to be a combination of the Nigerian Prince con, in which a mark is fooled into giving the con artist large sums of money and catfishing, in which the mark strikes up an online romance with someone he thinks is an attractive woman (or man depending on the gender and preference of the mark.)
Businesses

Sociologist: Job Insecurity Is the New Normal 536 536

Mr.Intel writes: Allison Pugh, professor of Sociology at University of Virginia, and author of The Tumbleweed Society: Working and Caring in an Age of Insecurity, says workers in the U.S. are caught up in a "one-way honor system," in which workers are beholden to employers. She says that the golden era when Americans could get a job, keep it, and expect to retire with an adequate pension are over. JP Morgan Chase has cut 20,000 from its workforce in the past 5 years, last year HP cut 34,000 jobs, and many others have announced layoffs. In this interview Pugh talks about the social effects of this "insecurity culture."
United States

DoD Ditches Open Source Medical Records System In $4.3B Contract 177 177

dmr001 writes: The US Department of Defense opted not to use the Department of Veterans Affairs' open source VistA electronic health record system in its project to overhaul its legacy systems, instead opting for a consortium of Cerner, Leidos and Accenture. The initial $4.3 billion implementation is expected to be the first part of a $9 billion dollar project. The Under Secretary for Acquisition stated they wanted a system with minimum modifications and interoperability with private sector systems, though much of what passes for inter-vendor operability in the marketplace is more aspirational than operable. The DoD aims to start implementation at 8 sites in the Pacific Northwest by the end of 2016, noting that "legacy systems are eating us alive in terms of support and maintenance," consuming 95% of the Military Health Systems IT budget.
China

China To Impose Export Control On High Tech Drones and Supercomputers 66 66

hackingbear writes: Following similar hi-tech export restriction policies in the U.S. (or perhaps in response to the U.S. ban on China,) China will impose export control on some drones and high performance computers starting on August 15th, according to an announcement published on Friday by China's Ministry of Commerce and the General Administration of Customs. The ban includes (official documents in Chinese) drone that can take off in wind speed exceeding 46.4km/hour or can continuously fly for over 1 hour as well as electronic components specifically designed or modified for supercomputers with speed over 8 petaflops. Companies must acquire specific permits before exporting such items. Drones and supercomputers are the two areas where China is the leader or among the top players. China is using its rapidly expanding defense budget to make impressive advances in (military) drone technology, prompting some to worry that the United States' global dominance in the market could soon be challenged. The tightening of regulations comes two weeks after an incident in disputed Kashmir in which the Pakistani army claimed to have shot down an Indian "spy drone", reportedly Chinese-made. China's 33-petaflops Tianhe-2, currently the fastest supercomputer in the world, while still using Intel Xeon processors, makes use of the home-grown interconnect, arguably the most important component of modern supercomputers.
Businesses

Uber Invests $1 Billion In Indian Market 52 52

New submitter keithlynpitts writes: Uber is looking to expand its services in India, and will invest $1 billion there in the next nine months. India is the second biggest market for Uber after the U.S. The company hopes their investment will help speed growth in the country, which is already at a staggering 40% every month. "We expect to hit over 1 million trips per day," said Amit Jain, president at Uber India.
Transportation

Epic Mega Bridge To Connect America With Russia Gets Closer To Reality 411 411

Sepa Blackforesta writes: A plan for an epic bridge connecting Russia's easternmost border with Alaska's westernmost border could soon be a reality, as Russia seeks to partner with China. Sijutech reports: "If this mega bridge come to reality, it would be Planet Earth’s most epic mega-road trip ever. The plans have not been officially accepted since specific details of the highway still need to be discussed, including the large budget. Allegedly the plan will cost upwards in the trillions of dollars range."
Biotech

Want To Fight Climate Change? Stop Cows From Burping 281 281

sciencehabit writes: A simple supplement to a cow's feed could substantially decrease a major source of methane, a planet-warming greenhouse gas, a new study suggests. Each year worldwide, the methane produced by cud-chewing livestock warms Earth's climate by the same amount as 2.1 billion tons of carbon dioxide, a little more than 4% of the greenhouse gas emissions related to human activity. That makes cows tempting targets for methane reduction efforts. In a new study, researchers added the chemical 3-nitrooxypropanol, also known as 3NOP, to the corn-and-alfalfa-based feed of 84 milk-producing Holsteins and monitored their methane production for 12 weeks—the largest and longest such trial of its type in lactating cows, the scientists say. For cows whose feed included 3NOP, methane emissions dropped, on average, by 30%.
Earth

Researchers Find That Queen Bees Vaccinate Their Offspring 26 26

The Washington Post reports that a team of researchers has discovered a previously unrecognized behavior in bees which gives the insects an extra layer of protection against certain diseases. Though the analogy to human-style vaccination is not perfect, it's close enough to make sense. Queen bees, the group found, break down some disease-causing pathogens found in the pollen and nectar brought to them by worker bees, but do not simply destroy them. Instead, after they are partly broken down, Bits of the pathogens are then transferred to the queen's "fat body," an organ similar to a liver, where they are packaged onto a protein called vitellogenin and delivered to eggs through the queen's blood stream. The result: newly hatched bee larvae that are already immune to the nasty germs that could have plagued the colony. The article notes that "the discovery could extend to other species throughout the animal kingdom," because all egg-laying animals have the same protein.
Microsoft

Microsoft Taps PBS To Advance Its National Talent Strategy With 'Code Trip' 42 42

theodp writes: You don't have to be Mitt Romney to question PBS's announcement that it will air the Microsoft-funded 'reality' show Code Trip, in which Roadtrip Nation and Microsoft YouthSpark will send students across the U.S. for a "transformative journey into computer science." Of the partnership, Roadtrip Nation co-founder Mike Marriner said, "Roadtrip Nation is proud to partner with Microsoft's YouthSpark initiative not only to inform others of the many career routes one can take with a computer science background, but also to engage in the much-needed conversation of diversifying the tech field with more pluralistic perspectives." YouthSpark is part of Microsoft's National Talent Strategy (pdf), which the company describes as "a two-pronged approach that will couple long-term improvements in STEM education in the United States with targeted, short-term, high-skilled immigration reforms." The Official Microsoft Blog reports that filming of Code Trip began this week, with the three students traveling around the country to speak with leaders including Hadi Partovi, the co-founder of Code.org and 'major supporter' of FWD.us, who coincidentally once reported to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, and is the next door neighbor of Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith and a jogging partner of Steve Ballmer.
Bitcoin

Japanese Police Arrest Mount Gox CEO Mark Karpeles 102 102

McGruber writes with the news as carried (paywalled) by the Wall Street Journal that Mark Karpeles, who headed bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox, has been arrested by Japanese police: In February 2014, Mount Gox filed for bankruptcy, saying it had lost 750,000 of its customers' bitcoins as well as 100,000 of its own, worth some $500 million at the time. A police spokesman said Mr. Karpelès is suspected of manipulating his own account at the company by making it appear that $1 million was added to it. The BBC reports the arrest as well, and notes that the coins missing from Mt. Gox represent 7% of all Bitcoins in circulation.
Businesses

Silicon Valley's Big Lie 129 129

HughPickens.com writes: Danny Crichton writes at TechCrunch that startups in Silicon Valley run on an alchemy of ignorance and amnesia and that lying is a requisite and daily part of being a founder, the grease that keeps the startup flywheel running. Most startups fail. The vast, vast majority of startup employees will never exercise their options, let alone become millionaires while doing it. But founders have little choice as they sell their company to everyone, whether investors, employees, potential employees, or clients. "Founders have to tell the lie – that everything is fine, that a feature is going to launch even though the engineer for that feature hasn't been hired yet, that payroll will run even though the VC dollars are still nowhere on the horizon," writes Crichton. "For one of the most hyper-rational populations in the world, Silicon Valley runs off a myth about startup success, of the lowly founder conquering the world."
China

China's Island-Building In Pictures 139 139

An anonymous reader writes: The South China Sea is just small enough to have high strategic value for military operations and just large enough to make territorial claims difficult. For over a year now, the world has been aware that China is using its vast resources to try and change that. Instead of fighting for claims on existing islands or arguing about how far their sovereignty should extend, they simply decided to build new islands. "The islands are too small to support large military units but will enable sustained Chinese air and sea patrols of the area. The United States has reported spotting Chinese mobile artillery vehicles in the region, and the islands could allow China to exercise more control over fishing in the region." The NY Times has a fascinating piece showing clear satellite imagery of the new islands, illustrating how a fleet a dredgers have dumped enormous amounts of sand on top of existing reefs. "Several reefs have been destroyed outright to serve as a foundation for new islands, and the process also causes extensive damage to the surrounding marine ecosystem." We can also see clear evidence of airstrips, cement plants, and other structures as the islands become capable of supporting them.
The Almighty Buck

Will Autonomous Cars Be the Insurance Industry's Napster Moment? 231 231

An anonymous reader writes: Most of us are looking forward to the advent of autonomous vehicles. Not only will they free up a lot of time previously spent staring at the bumper of the car in front of you, they'll also presumably make commuting a lot safer. While that's great news for the 30,000+ people who die in traffic accidents every year in the U.S. alone, it may not be great news for insurance companies. Granted, they'll have to pay out a lot less money with the lower number of claims, but premiums will necessarily drop as well and the overall amount of money within the car insurance system will dwindle.

Analysts are warning these companies that their business is going to shrink. It will be interesting to see if they adapt to the change, or cling desperately to an outdated business model like the entertainment industry did. "One opportunity for the industry could be selling more coverage to carmakers and other companies developing the automated features for cars. ... When the technology fails, manufacturers could get stuck with big liabilities that they will want to cover by buying more insurance. There's also a potential for cars to get hacked as they become more networked."