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If ICANN's motion fails, the plaintiffs would seize all .IR domains, including President.ir, as shown here. President.ir The global body in charge of domain names, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), has asked a federal court to prevent the handover of the country code top-level domain names (ccTLD) of North Korea, Syria, and Iran as part of a terrorism lawsuit dating back over a decade. Those would include the .KP, .SY and .IR names. The case, formally known as Rubin et al v. Islamic Republic of Iran et al, goes back to a 1997 suicide bombing that took place in Jerusalem. Four Americans were injured in the attack, for which Hamas claimed responsibility. Given that Iran has supported, and continues to support, Hamas in its resistance against Israel, the plaintiffs sued the Islamic Republic, arguing that the Iranian government actually was liable. It’s unclear why exactly the plaintiffs also seek the Syrian and North Korean ccTLDs as part of this lawsuit. Neither ICANN’s attorneys nor the plaintiffs' attorneys immediately responded to Ars’ request for comment. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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A northeaster—a common type of storm on the East Coast—causes severe flooding in Virginia. Virginia Sea Grant The warming of the planet is driving ocean levels upward through two processes: the melting of land-based ice and the thermal expansion of the water in the oceans. Due to the vast energies involved, both of these processes are slow, so the ocean levels have only been creeping up a few millimeters a year. That slow pace makes it difficult for anyone to perceive the changes. But it's clear that those changes are taking place. In the latest indication, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has compiled data on what it calls "nuisance floods," cases where coastal communities have to deal with flooding as a result of high tides or minor storms. Over the last 50 years, instances of these floods along the East Coast have gone up by anywhere from 300 to 900 percent. On the rare occasions where sea level rise reaches the public's consciousness, it's typically as a result of a catastrophic event like Hurricane Sandy. Sea level rise does exacerbate these events, as the flooding reaches higher levels and extends over a wider area than it would have a century earlier. But the rarity and magnitude of catastrophes like these make it difficult for people to associate them with a gradual process. At the same time, the immediate effect of the process itself—high tides being about an inch higher every decade—is difficult for humans to perceive. As NOAA's new report puts it, "neither changes in tidal datum elevations nor rare-event probabilities are readily apparent to the casual observer." Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Julienning Officials with the Tor privacy service have uncovered an attack that may have revealed identifying information or other clues of people operating or accessing anonymous websites and other services over a five-month span beginning in February. The campaign exploited a previously unknown vulnerability in the Tor protocol to carry out two classes of attack that together may have been enough to uncloak people using Tor Hidden Services, an advisory published Wednesday warned. Tor officials said the characteristics of the attack resembled those discussed by a team of Carnegie Mellon University researchers who recently canceled a presentation at next week's Black Hat security conference on a low-cost way to deanonymize Tor users. But the officials also speculated that an intelligence agency from a global adversary might have been able to capitalize on the exploit. Either way, users who operated or accessed hidden services from early February through July 4 should assume they are affected. Tor hidden services are popular among political dissidents who want to host websites or other online services anonymously so their real IP address can't be discovered by repressive governments. Hidden services are also favored by many illegal services, including the Silk Road online drug emporium that was shut down earlier this year. Tor officials have released a software update designed to prevent the technique from working in the future. Hidden service operators should also consider changing the location of their services. Tor officials went on to say: Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies—a nonprofit group—has initiated a federal copyright infringement lawsuit against Ford and General Motors targeting the automakers’ in-car hard drive-based CD ripping technology. The lawsuit (full text) alleges that Ford and GM’s devices fail to comply with the terms of the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992 and that the AARC is due "injunctive relief and damages" because of that alleged noncompliance. The problem with the suit, as outlined in a scathing response from TechDirt, is that the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992 was specifically written to allow exactly the kind of personal copying that in-car CD-ripping audio units perform. This was further cemented in 1999 with the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeal’s RIAA v. Diamond Multimedia Systems decision, which threw the weight of judicial precedent behind the notion that devices designed to make copies of copyrighted audio for personal use (as opposed to serial copies for distribution) are legal and exempt from licensing fees. With its July 25 suit, the AARC alleges that Ford’s in-car "Jukebox" feature and GM’s in-car "Hard Drive Device" are purpose-built "Digital Audio Recording Devices" and therefore are subject to lots of additional regulation. Specifically, the suit states that both Ford’s Jukebox and GM’s Hard Drive Device fail to implement the Serial Copy Management System copy protection scheme and that both Ford and GM have failed to pay the appropriate AHRA-mandated royalties on their devices. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The Modbook Pro X would be an expensive entry in a crowded niche. Modbook Inc. Before the iPad, people who wanted an Apple tablet could buy something called the "Modbook" from a company named Axiotron. For $2,279, the company would take a regular white plastic MacBook, take it apart, and reassemble it inside a purpose-built tablet case with a Wacom digitizer and stylus installed. After some financial trouble and the launch of an actual Apple tablet, Axiotron became Modbook Inc., and the company launched the Modbook Pro, which did for the 13-inch MacBook Pro what the Modbook did for the standard Macbook. Today the company is ready to announce the third iteration of the Modbook, kind of. The Modbook Pro X takes the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro (including the refreshed models introduced yesterday), makes some modifications to its specs, and puts it into a tablet case. Like past Modbooks, the Modbook Pro X is designed to appeal to artists and other creative professionals who would like to draw directly on their tablet screens without having to use a separate drawing tablet. The catch? This project currently exists only as a Kickstarter project, with no guarantee the product will see the light of day if it doesn't hit its $150,000 funding goal. The Modbook as a tablet. Modbook Inc. The Modbook Pro X will preserve all of the original ports and the CPU, GPU, and screen specs of the 2013 Retina MacBook Pro, crammed into a black tablet of indeterminate thickness and weight. The screen will be covered by a digitizer that supports 2,048 different pressure levels, and the Modbook will come with software installed to take advantage of the digitizer hardware. Optional "keybars," small rows of keys mounted to the back of the tablet, will provide keyboard hotkey shortcuts that users can press without interrupting whatever they're sketching onscreen. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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On this heat map, scholars plotted each justice serving since the '50s and for each year added a shaded box. The more green the cell, the more predictable the justice was that year. The method performed well at predicting certain justices and not as well on others, with a 70.9 percent accuracy rating overall. Josh Blackman's Blog A legal scholar says he and colleagues have developed an algorithm that can predict, with 70 percent accuracy, whether the US Supreme Court will uphold or reverse the lower-court decision before it. "Using only data available prior to the date of decision, our model correctly identifies 69.7 percent of the Court’s overall affirm and reverse decisions and correctly forecasts 70.9% of the votes of individual justices across 7,700 cases and more than 68,000 justice votes," Josh Blackman, a South Texas College of Law scholar, wrote on his blog Tuesday. While other models have achieved comparable accuracy rates, they were only designed to work at a single point in time with a single set of nine justices. Our model has proven consistently accurate at predicting six decades of behavior of thirty Justices appointed by thirteen Presidents. It works for the Roberts Court as well as it does for the Rehnquist, Burger, and Warren Courts. It works for Scalia, Thomas, and Alito as well as it does for Douglas, Brennan, and Marshall. Plus, we can predict Harlan, Powell, O’Connor, and Kennedy. Given that there isn't much wagering action out there for Supreme Court decisions, Blackman says there's other real-world applications, like helping high court litigators develop strategies to overcome the model. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Yesterday's announcement of Electronic Arts' EA Access program was notable for being the first such subscription-based game download plan from a third-party publisher on this generation of consoles. But it was also notable for the fact that the subscription is only available on the Xbox One and not the PlayStation 4 (or on PC via Origin, for that matter). Today, Sony is suggesting that it doesn't think EA's subscription plan is as good a value as its own PlayStation Plus offerings. “We evaluated the EA Access subscription offering and decided that it does not bring the kind of value PlayStation customers have come to expect,” a Sony representative told Game Informer. "PlayStation Plus memberships are up more than 200% since the launch of PlayStation 4, which shows that gamers are looking for memberships that offer a multitude of services, across various devices, for one low price. We don’t think asking our fans to pay an additional $5 a month for this EA-specific program represents good value to the PlayStation gamer." It's true that PlayStation Plus is an incredible value as far as these kinds of subscriptions go. Players who have subscribed since the service was first rolled out in 2010 would today have access to hundreds of downloadable games across all of Sony's hardware, at a total cost of around $200 so far and with the promise of multiple new games every single month going forward (Microsoft's more recent Games With Gold has been a little less generous). EA Access, on the other hand, currently only gives access to four of EA's older games for $30 a year, with no guarantees about which titles will be added in the future or how long after release those titles will be available via the "Vault." Since the program is limited to EA titles, it seems unlikely that its selection will ever be nearly as extensive as something like PlayStation Plus. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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A 3D duck in the latest version of LibreOffice Impress. Document Foundation LibreOffice's latest release provides easier ways of working with spreadsheets and the ability to insert 3D models into presentations, along with dozens of other changes. LibreOffice was created as a fork from OpenOffice in September 2010 because of concerns over Oracle's management of the open source project. LibreOffice has now had eight major releases and is powered by "thousands of volunteers and hundreds of developers," the Document Foundation, which was formed to oversee its development, said in an announcement today. (OpenOffice survived the Oracle turmoil by being transferred to the Apache Software Foundation and continues to be updated.) In LibreOffice 4.3, spreadsheet program Calc "now allows the performing of several tasks more intuitively, thanks to the smarter highlighting of formulas in cells, the display of the number of selected rows and columns in the status bar, the ability to start editing a cell with the content of the cell above it, and being able to fully select text conversion models by the user," the Document Foundation said. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Last month, when Nintendo announced it had quickly sold more than two million copies of Mario Kart 8, we noted that we'd have to wait to see if those sales were coming primarily from existing Wii U owners or if the game was driving new console sales on its own. Nintendo's latest quarterly earnings report shows that while Mario Kart 8 has led to an increase in Wii U hardware sales, it wasn't nearly enough of a boost to return the company to profitability. Worldwide, Nintendo sold 510,000 units of the Wii U in the three months from April to June. That's a substantial improvement from the tepid 160,000 it sold during the same period last year and a smaller bump from the 310,000 it sold during the January to March quarter of 2014. But those kinds of numbers aren't going to help the Wii U look like a real contender with competition like the PlayStation 4, which was selling a million consoles a month as recently as April, or even the Xbox One, which shipped just over one million consoles in the first quarter of 2014 (though, to be fair, neither competitor has broken out current console sales numbers for the second quarter of the year). The improved console hardware sales weren't enough to bump Nintendo back to the profitability it has been seeking to reclaim for years now, either. The company reported a ¥9.4 billion operating loss for the quarter (about $92 million), even worse than the ¥4.9 billion (about $47 million) quarterly loss from a year prior. Nintendo attributes that loss partly to the lack of new Wii U software to go along with the success of Mario Kart 8. Indeed, in North America, the Wii U saw just five new games released during the three-month period, and Mario Kart 8's 2.82 million sales represented a full 64 percent of the total Wii U software sales for the quarter. That's even more striking when you consider that Mario Kart was only out for a month during the reporting period. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Brook Dain Earlier this year, the San Jose Police Department (SJPD) became one of the first local law enforcement agencies in California—and one of the few in the country—to acquire a drone. According to new documents acquired and published Tuesday by MuckRock and Vice, the SJPD acquired a Hexacopter called the Century Neo 660 along with a GoPro video camera, live video transmitter, and more. The nearly $7,000 January purchase was funded through a grant from the Bay Area Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI), a regional arm of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The Century Neo 660, and others like it, typically have a flight time of less than 30 minutes depending on motor and battery configuration. However, the drone doesn't appear to be in use for the time being, according to a July 25, 2014 letter from the SJPD to MuckRock, stating “the program relating to drones has not been implemented yet.” San Jose is the third-largest city in the Golden State, and it's the tenth-largest in the United States. Read 19 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Iowa State Drugs interact with our brain in profound ways, even when their target is a completely different part of the body. The brain is essential for making sure that placebos work, as well as generating the nocebo effect, where harmful side effects appear in cases where no drug has been taken. It's probably not much of a reach to expect that the brain will also influence how long people think the effects of a drug will last. The unexpected twist is that researchers have now shown that we think drugs will wear off faster when we're working harder. And, given the chance to self-medicate, we'll keep popping pills as long as things are stressful or difficult. Researchers at the Baruch College and the London School of Economics were inspired in part by a question someone asked on a medical advice site as to whether the exertion experienced during yoga might reduce the effectiveness of botox injections. The researchers suspected that this sort of reasoning might derive from daily experience—after all, people see that driving faster uses up gas more quickly. So they decided to test the theory. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Don Hankins Last month, a Facebook social experiment from 2012 came to light, drawing equal parts ire and intrigue as users discussed whether the social network site had crossed too many ethical lines. The internal research study concluded that users' emotional states could reflect the content they saw in their news feed, and it confirmed that hypothesis by manually manipulating what appeared in people's feeds—to the tune of hundreds of thousands—to coerce happier or sadder states. On Monday, dating site OKCupid responded to the Facebook story. "Guess what, everybody: If you use the Internet, you’re the subject of hundreds of experiments at any given time, on every site," site co-founder Christian Rudder wrote before unveiling three so-called experiments that he had recently conducted unbeknownst to the general public. OKCupid has spent years advertising its expert accumulation and analysis of data, so the mere hint of such experiments sent shivers up my spine, and not just because I'm a tin-foil-wearing paranoia sufferer. I had a stake in this one. I used OKCupid over the years and I immediately imagined a dating site puppeteer having some sick role in a part of my life. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Chinese Cortana in action. Joe Belfiore was in China today to officially unveil the next update to Windows Phone 8.1. While details were leaked in the last few days, Belfiore had a range of new features to discuss. Among them was the virtual personal assistant Cortana—star of the Windows Phone 8.1 ads—that will be available beyond US borders with the update. The next two countries to get Cortana will be China and the UK. In both cases, Microsoft has customized its virtual personal assistant to be a better fit for the new markets. In the UK, this means she'll speak with an English accent, use British English spellings, and know about things such as the London Stock Exchange and Premier League football. Her Chinese incarnation, named Xiao Na, includes more customization. Most significantly, she has an alternative appearance for China. We were told by Microsoft that the eyes have a particular importance in China for reflecting emotion, and that this motivated the virtual assistant's appearance and features. Xiao Na speaks Mandarin Chinese, and can provide certain China-specific pieces of information. For example, her weather reports include air quality information and she understands the alternative day driving restrictions used when smog is particularly bad. Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Scott Beale Twitter announced the financial results for its second quarter today, showing strong growth in average monthly active users. Although by Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), Twitter posted a loss this quarter, non-GAAP numbers reflected a small profit that beat analyst expectations enough to send Twitter stock rising in after-hours trading. Revenue for the social media company was up 124 percent year-over-year to $312 million. Twitter lost $145 million according to GAAP numbers, but made a non-GAAP net income of $15 million. (Companies are required to used the stricter GAAP rules when perparing financial statements in order to ensure consistency across an industry.) The company reported an average of 271 million twitter users as of the end of June, which constituted a 24 percent increase year-over-year. Of those users, a staggering 78 percent accessed Twitter through their mobile devices. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Netflix has agreed to pay AT&T for a direct connection to the Internet service provider's network, a move that will improve streaming video quality. The deal is no surprise—it was widely expected after Netflix reached similar agreements with Comcast and Verizon. What is surprising is that AT&T customers might see their Netflix quality problems resolved before Verizon customers. "We reached an interconnect agreement with AT&T in May and since then have been working together to provision additional interconnect capacity to improve the viewing experience of our mutual subscribers," a Netflix spokesperson told Ars. "We're now beginning to turn up the connections, a process that should be complete in the coming days." Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Nicholas Eckhart Just one month after announcing a loss of $98.4 million in a single quarter, RadioShack risks falling apart. Late last year, Ars named it as one of five companies that we’re monitoring under “deathwatch” for 2014. Bloomberg reported that RadioShack is in desperate need of cash, citing a report issued by Moody’s on Tuesday. The company's stock lost nearly 12 percent as the result of the news. “Barring an improvement in the top line and margins, we think they will continue to burn cash and their liquidity position will continue to deteriorate,” Mickey Chadha, a Moody’s analyst in New York, said in an interview with the news outlet. In short, time is running out. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Hoboken High School students won't be using district-issued laptops anymore. Wally Gobetz One school district in Hoboken, New Jersey has decided to abandon its one-to-one laptop program for 7th, 8th, and 9th graders. Ultimately, the Hoboken School District decided the scheme was more trouble than it was worth—even when supported by federal grants. “We had the money to buy them, but maybe not the best implementation,” said Mark Toback, the current superintendent of the Hoboken School District, told The Hechinger Report. “It became unsustainable.” The district is now going through the process of identifying the remaining laptops and seeking a bid for their destruction. District officials did not immediately respond to an Ars request for comment (Ars has filed a public records request to learn more). Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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wasim muklashy Personal Audio LLC is an East Texas shell company that gleaned national attention when it claimed it had the right to demand cash from every podcaster. The company was wielding a patent on "episodic content," which it said included anyone doing a podcast, as well as many types of online video. Now the company is trying to walk away from its highest-profile lawsuit against comedian Adam Carolla—but Carolla won't let the case drop. In a statement released today, Personal Audio says that Carolla, who has raised more than $450,000 from fans to fight the case, is wasting their money on an unnecessary lawsuit. The company, which is a "patent troll" with no business other than lawsuits, has said Carolla just doesn't care since his fans are paying his lawyers' bills. Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Army General Keith Alexander. DOD/NSA In an interview Monday with former National Security Agency Director General Keith Alexander, Foreign Policy's Shane Harris learned that Alexander plans to file “at least” nine patent applications—“and possibly more"—pertaining to technology for detecting network intruders. Alexander left his government post in early 2014 and went on to co-found a private company, IronNet Cybersecurity Inc., with unnamed business partners. Alexander said that these business partners helped him create the “unique” method for detecting hackers that he plans to patent. Of course, Alexander himself had unparalleled access to classified security operations from 2005, when he took charge of the NSA, to 2014, when he retired. Since starting IronNet, Alexander has been peddling his consulting services to major corporations, especially those in the financial industry, and has quoted fees of up to $1 million per month. That astronomical number drew at least one federal representative to suggest that Alexander might be disclosing or misusing classified information. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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MTSOfan After consulting focus groups of Internet customers, government researchers have come to a conclusion that should surprise no one: people don't want data caps on home Internet service. But customers are getting caps anyway, even though ISPs admit that congestion isn't a problem. The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) today released preliminary findings of research involving surveys of cellular carriers, home Internet providers, and customers. The majority of top wireline ISPs are at least experimenting with data caps. But while cellular carriers say they impose usage-based pricing (UBP) to manage congestion on wireless networks, that's not the case with cable, fiber, and DSL. "Some wireless ISPs told us they use UBP to manage congestion," the GAO wrote. On the other hand, "wireline ISPs said that congestion is not currently a problem." Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Proof of a new Mac Mini or simple misprint? Apple's not saying. Andrew Cunningham An interesting development today for people watching for an update to Apple's Mac Mini desktop: Apple's support document for its Boot Camp drivers and software for Windows briefly listed a heretofore unannounced "Mac Mini (Mid 2014)." 9to5Mac first spotted the entry after it was added to the page yesterday, and we were able to grab our own screenshot to confirm before it was removed earlier today. If the entry points to a real system and is not simply mistyped, we could see a new Mac Mini any day between now and the end of August—Apple reserves the "mid" label for systems released in the late spring or in the summer. Macs released in September or later normally get the "late" label instead. The Mac Mini is the only computer in Apple's lineup, vestigial non-Retina MacBook Pro aside, that hasn't gotten an upgrade to Intel's Haswell CPUs. Any mid-2014 refresh would be a significant upgrade, since new CPUs would give the Mini better CPU and GPU performance and reduced power consumption. Adding a better GPU and a Thunderbolt 2.0 port to the Mini could even make it a capable little 4K workstation, a useful capability given that OS X Yosemite has been "optimized" for high-density displays (Apple's words, backed up by our own observations). The 10.9.3 update improved OS X's support for 4K displays, but the 15-inch 2013 Retina MacBook Pro and Mac Pro are the only systems that benefit from it as of this writing. So far this year, the only Mac hardware updates have involved minor CPU changes and price cuts. The MacBook Air and iMac lines were both shuffled around earlier this year, and the Retina MacBook Pro lineup just got a minor bump this morning. As we discussed in each of those articles, the lack of next-generation Broadwell CPUs from Intel is probably holding up more significant makeovers for those products, which all transitioned to Haswell last year. We've contacted Apple to see whether the new Mac Mini entry was a misprint, but as of this writing we have received no response. Apple rarely comments on things like this, but we'll update the article if it does. When (and if) Apple releases a new Mac Mini, we'll give it the full review treatment. Read on Ars Technica | Comments

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Angela Merkel is now using a BlackBerry with crypto from Secusmart—acquired today by BlackBerry—so that her good friend can't listen to her phone calls. Lawrence Jackson, White House photographer BlackBerry executives announced today that the company had entered into an agreement to acquire Secusmart GmbH, a German voice and data encryption firm that specializes in “anti-eavesdropping” services for government agencies, corporate customers, and telecommunications providers. The two companies already collaborated to produce Secusmart-equipped BlackBerry phones for German government agencies and leadership, including Chancellor Angela Merkel—who had previously been the target of NSA eavesdropping. Secusmart’s technology meets NATO standards for “NATO restricted” communications—the equivalent of sensitive but unclassified communications or “for official use only” classification in the US government and military. The German government, however, has certified the technology for classified communications. The company has used its “Made in Germany” nature to its advantage in recent post-Snowden revelations marketing, proclaiming on its website, “If you’re looking for the right response to recent spying affairs and wire-tapping scandals, you’ve come to the right place.” The acquisition is part of BlackBerry CEO John Chen’s effort to reposition BlackBerry as a company focused on customers with hardcore security concerns, such as the government, military, and financial services sector companies that remain its most loyal customers. And by acquiring Secusmart, BlackBerry will likely be more able to convince customers that it is taking a course independent from the influences of the US government and NSA, despite the company’s long relationship with both. Read on Ars Technica | Comments

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National Security Agency headquarters Wikimedia Commons A prominent senator unveiled legislation Tuesday that would end the National Security Agency's bulk collection of all telephone metadata—a package that still provides the nation's spooks limited access to the data of every phone call made to and from the US. And the probable-cause standard under the Fourth Amendment is not present. Conceding the realpolitik, civil rights groups and others are backing the proposal from Patrick Leahy, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, even though the NSA may acquire the data absent constitutional protections. The American Civil Liberties Union supported the legislation—called the USA Freedom Act—while admitting that it's "not perfect." The ACLU said: Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Andreas Beer When people talk about reducing their “carbon footprint,” transportation and energy use in the home usually get all the attention. Diet deserves to be a part of that conversation, too, however. The global agricultural system is complex, and not all food choices are created equal in terms of their impact on climate and their use of resources. Agriculture accounts for roughly 12 percent of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. Population growth obviously increases the demand for agricultural production, but there’s another important trend as well—the rising consumption of meat. People in many developing nations are eating more meat as they gain the means to afford it. This is significant, as meat is a sort of demand multiplier because of the crops needed to feed livestock. A field of corn, for example, may be able to feed x number of people, but it can feed far fewer if it’s used to raise cattle. The animal part of our diet is a significant portion of the agricultural system. Animal feed requires the output of 40 percent of US cropland—and if you include pastureland for grazing, it accounts for 40 percent of all US land. Feed also uses 27 percent of total irrigation and half of the nitrogen fertilizer used, and it contributes about five percent of total greenhouse gas emissions in the US. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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EA For all the ways that digital distribution has revolutionized how we get games, the actual process of buying those games in the console space has mostly changed very little—it's still a matter of paying up front and downloading a game that you can play "forever." EA announced today that it is throwing that model on its head by offering an "EA Access" subscription to Xbox One owners. The program gives access to some of the publisher's older titles and a discount on future purchases. For $5 a month, or the much more economical price of $30 a year, EA Access will let subscribers download four titles from what the publisher is calling the "EA Vault": FIFA 14, Madden 25, Peggle 2, and Battlefield 4. Subscribers will also get 10 percent off all digital content from EA, including full game downloads and DLC content like Battlefield 4 Premium and FIFA Ultimate Team (though Titanfall is explicitly excluded in the fine print). EA Access also grants trial access to upcoming games "up to five days before the release date," with progress that will carry over to the full release if and when you purchase it. It's an interesting bundling move, and it's one that could be a good deal for players that don't already own any of the offered legacy titles. But a lot of the long-term value will depend on the specific implementation going forward. It's currently unclear when EA will add new games to the Vault, for instance, and it seems unlikely that brand new releases will be given away for "free" until they stop generating significant sales to standard purchasers (EA just says that the Vault will see "more titles being added soon"). Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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