Tag Archives | Government

French Publishers Think They Can Fix Online Advertising By Suing The Company Behind AdBlockPlus

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via Tech Dirt:

The debate over ad blockers continues, all without gaining much ground in terms of coherence. Most people still find ads annoying, something that plays hell with websites’ attempts to make money by utilizing them. Ad blockers kick these intrusive nuisances to the curb (and block questionable scripts), prompting website owners to make regrettable decisions like blocking users of ad blockers or banning any discussion of ad blocking software, etc. Responses like these seem to emanate from the brainstem rather than from careful consideration, and generally do more to alienate readers than screen-eating splash ads and flash-heavy sidebars that slow systems to a crawl.

So, who’s going to pay for all of this “free” content? That’s the question on many site owners’ minds. Subscriptions, paywalls, data mining, patronage, physical goods tie-ins… all of these are options. Not a single one of these is perfect and none of them have enough pull of their own to completely displace ad revenue.

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The 1918 Flu Pandemic: History In Photos

Historical photo of the 1918 Spanish influenza ward at Camp Funston, Kansas, showing the many patients ill with the flu (: Original source description)

Historical photo of the 1918 Spanish influenza ward at Camp Funston, Kansas, showing the many patients ill with the flu (: Original source description)

via All That is Interesting:

According to the numbers provided by the U.S. Department of Justice, over five million souls died in WWI, excluding prisoners of war or missing persons. This is admittedly an incredibly high number, but it pales in comparison to the estimated 50 to 100 million more people the world over who lost their lives to the especially virulent influenza pandemic of 1918.

With modern medicinal practice still in its infancy, many misunderstood how individuals could contract and spread this illness, and often misdiagnosed it given its similarity to the common cold. It was originally thought that a certain bacteria – Pfeiffer’s bacillus – was the culprit, though no autopsies were able to find it in any of the bodies. The virus was not isolated until 1930 – far after the Spanish Flu would wreak havoc on the world’s population, eventually taking out 3-5% of it.

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“Riddles” Surround 36th Dead Banker Of The Year

via Global Research:

52-year-old Belgian Geert Tack – a private banker for ING who managed portfolios for wealthy individuals – was described as ‘impeccable’, ‘sporty’, ‘cared-for’, and ‘successful’ and so as Vermist reports, after disappearing a month ago, the appearance of his body off the coast of Ostend is surrounded by riddles…

Tack disappeared on November 5th…

 Impeccable. Sporty. Cared for. Successful. Just some qualifications that are attributed to the 52-year-old from the Belgian Geert Tack Haaltert.

Geert Tack worked as a private banker for ING and managed portfolios of wealthy clients. The Belgian was much respected in the financial world and was known as an up and top professional. His sudden disappearance had the effect of a bombshell. “If Tack himself was having trouble he has managed to keep it well hidden”, colleagues say.

Nobody then could have guessed that the man would not return on Wednesday, November 5th to his wife in their villa Vondelen.

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Anyone Can Now Use IBM’s Watson To Crunch Data For Free

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via ZDNet:

IBM has launched the public beta of Watson Analytics, its set of cloud-based predictive and analytics tools.

The move to public beta for Watson Analytics on Thursday follows its private beta launch this September. IBM said at the time of the beta release the service will be made available under a freemium model through iOS, Android mobile devices and the web.

Watson Analytics is a cognitive service that’s meant to bear some of the load executives face when preparing data, while making it easier to run predictive analyses and use “visual storytelling”, such as using graphs, maps and infographics to illustrate a point.

Watson Analytics is one piece of IBM’s $1bn gamble that it can commercialise Watson. The company claims it has 22,000 registrations for Watson Analytics since launching in September.

Read More: http://www.zdnet.com/article/ibm-watson-analytics-enters-public-beta/

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Bush Joins Bid to Block Senate Release of CIA Torture Report

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via Bloomberg:

Current and past U.S. officials, including former President George W. Bush, have mounted a campaign to try to block the release tomorrow of a Senate report detailing harsh interrogation tactics previously used by the CIA on suspected terrorists.

The opposition comes as Democrats on the Senate intelligence committee plan to release an executive summary of the 6,200-page report, which found the CIA used extreme interrogation methods at secret prisons more often than legally authorized and failed to disclose all the activities to lawmakers and other officials.

Despite warnings of retaliation abroad against Americans from those opposed to making the report public, the Obama administration supports its release, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said today.

“The president believes that, on principle, it’s important to release that report, so that people around the world and people here at home understand exactly what transpired,” he said. Earnest said the administration has taken steps to improve security at U.S.

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Senator Jay Rockefeller singlehandedly kills Freedom of Information Act reform

Senator Jay Rockefeller introduces Sylvia Mathews Burwell, a native of Hinton, West Virginia, before her nomination hearing on 9 April 2013 in the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs for the position of Director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV — CC by 2.0.

via Boing Boing:

The House unanimously passed a bill that would bring much-needed improvements to the Freedom of Information Act; the Senate had bi-partisan support for it, too — but outgoing Sen Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) singlehandedly killed the bill in a closed-door committee meeting.

He offered vague, bullshitty excuses for this, citing nonspecific issues with privacy that don’t bear even cursory scrutiny.

For 509 other members of Congress, these concerns were not enough to halt progress of much-needed reforms. It’s not clear which provisions the Senator is referring to, or what experts across the federal government he is referring to, because this short statement, issued at 6:30 PM on Friday after a full day of advocates, journalists and citizens asking for an explanation, doesn’t explain.

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Why Elon Musk’s Batteries Scare the Hell Out of the Electric Company

Robert Scoble (CC BY 2.0)

Robert Scoble (CC BY 2.0)

via Bloomberg:

Climate: Now or Never

Here’s why something as basic as a battery both thrills and terrifies the U.S. utility industry.

At a sagebrush-strewn industrial park outside of Reno, Nevada, bulldozers are clearing dirt for Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA)’s battery factory, projected to be the world’s largest.

Tesla’s founder, Elon Musk, sees the $5 billion facility as a key step toward making electric cars more affordable, while ending reliance on oil and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. At first blush, the push toward more electric cars looks to be positive for utilities struggling with stagnant sales from energy conservation and slow economic growth.

Yet Musk’s so-called gigafactory may soon become an existential threat to the 100-year-old utility business model. The facility will also churn out stationary battery packs that can be paired with rooftop solar panels to store power. Already, a second company led by Musk, SolarCity Corp.

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Rocket Fuel from Human Waste

Matt Biddulph (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Matt Biddulph (CC BY-SA 2.0)

via IEEE Spectrum:

Getting rid of human waste has been a problem for NASA since the earliest days of space exploration. That’s why the U.S. space agency is funding researchers to figure out how to transform such waste into rocket fuel for future space missions.

The human waste of astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station has usually been dumped with other trash in space capsules that burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere, according to SPACE.com. But engineers in Florida have developed a anaerobic digester process that can turn such organic waste into biogas—a mix of methane and carbon dioxide. Additional processing can also create water and oxygen.

“The idea was to see whether we could make enough fuel to launch rockets and not carry all the fuel and its weight from Earth for the return journey,” said Pratap Pullammanappallil, an associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering at the University of Florida in Gainesville, in a press release. “Methane can be used to fuel the rockets.

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I Told a Grand Jury I Saw a Cop Shoot and Kill an Unarmed Man. It Didn’t Indict.

Elvert Barnes (CC BY 2.0)

Elvert Barnes (CC BY 2.0)

via Mother Jones:

Many years ago, during the 1980s, I witnessed a killing: a New York City cop shooting an unarmed homeless man near the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I was later called as a grand jury witness in the case. The grand jury did not indict the officer.

It was a summer evening. I was heading to play softball in Central Park. At the corner of Fifth Avenue and 79th Street, I got off my bicycle to walk toward the Great Lawn. The west side of Fifth was crowded with New Yorkers enjoying the beautiful night. People were streaming in and out of the park. Sidewalk vendors were doing brisk business. The vibe was good. And in the midst of the hubbub, I spotted a fellow wearing dirty and tattered clothing. His hair was filthy, his face worn. It was hard to determine his age.

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Administration’s Review Of Pentagon’s 1033 Program Finds It Has No Rules, No Transparency And No Oversight

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via Tech Dirt:

No sooner had I chastised the executive branch for its half-assery in all things 1033-related than it delivers its findings on the much-criticized program [pdf link]. A little over a week ago, I wrote this.

Others — including President Obama — promised to look into the program. Obama ordered the first top-level review of the Pentagon’s 1033 program in over 20 years, but weeks later, there’s been nothing reported.

The administration is now forcing me to eat my words, having responded fairly quickly to my caustic single-sentence editorial. The pithily-titled “Review: Federal Support for Law Enforcement Equipment Acquisition” has been released, detailing the review’s findings and concerns about the Pentagon’s “An MRAP in every PD” program.

The opening “Background” plays up a few talking points:

Particularly in the years since September 11, 2001, Congress and the Executive Branch have steadily increased spending and support for these programs, in light of legitimate concerns about the growing threat of terrorism, shrinking local budgets, and the relative ease with which some criminals are able to obtain high-powered weapons.

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