posted 6 days ago on ars technica
DHL Tomorrow, German logistics company DHL is expected to launch a small drone which will fly approximately 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) from Norddeich, a village in northern Germany, to the island of Juist, a small island community off the north coast of Germany. DHL has dubbed the drone the “parcelcopter,” and it will be used to regularly deliver medications and other necessities, marking a noted advancement in the commercial use of drones worldwide. DHL says that its parcelcopter is the first drone to fly in Europe outside of the field of vision of the pilot in a real-life mission. The company and two of its research partners worked with the German Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure to establish “a restricted flight area exclusively for this research project,” thus bypassing they kinds of regulations that have made it difficult for commercial drone use to take off elsewhere in the world (pardon the pun). The parcelcopter's flight will also be fully automated. “This means that a pilot does not have to take any action at all during any phase of the flight,” a DHL press release explains. However, for safety reasons, and in order to comply with government requirements, “the DHL parcelcopter will be constantly monitored during the flight by a mobile ground station in Norddeich so that manual action can be immediately taken in real time if a malfunction or emergency occurs. The ground station will also maintain constant contact with air traffic controllers,” the press release says. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The South Carolina incident. A South Carolina highway trooper was charged Wednesday over accusations of assault and battery in connection to the unprovoked shooting of a motorist pulled over for a seatbelt violation—an incident that was videotaped by the officer's dashcam. And on the same day South Carolina patrolman Sean Groubert, 31, was charged with wrongful shooting, California officials agreed to pay a woman $1.5 million after a motorist captured video with a mobile phone of a California highway patrolman repeatedly punching a woman on the side of a Los Angeles freeway. That officer, Daniel Andrew, agreed to resign and could still be charged in connection to the July pummeling of a homeless woman. The video of Andrew repeatedly punching Marlene Pinnock in the face invoked images of the Rodney King beating while garnering millions of hits on YouTube and elsewhere. An off-duty policeman helped subdue the officer. Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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A London-based security researcher made multiple reports to Apple that the company's iCloud service was vulnerable to brute-force password attacks months before the revelations that celebrities' iCloud backups were mined for intimate photos and videos. The Daily Dot reports that Ibrahim Balic sent descriptions of the vulnerability to Apple in March in addition to filing a report that the system leaked user data that could be used to mount such attacks. Balic attempted to reach out both via e-mail and through the company's Web-based bug reporting system. In an e-mail dated March 26, Balic told an Apple employee: I found a new issue regarding on Apple accounts (sic)...By the brute force attack method I can try over 20,000 + times passwords on any accounts. I think account lockout should probably be applied. I'm attaching a screen shot for you. I found the same issue with Google and I have got my response from them. The Apple employee responded, "It's good to hear from you. Thank you for the information." Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 6 days ago on ars technica
Former FCC Chairman Michael Powell with FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn. NCTA FCC commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Mignon Clyburn yesterday called for stronger network neutrality rules than the ones Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler has thus far supported. In a speech yesterday at a congressional forum on net neutrality, Rosenworcel said, "we cannot have a two-tiered Internet with fast lanes that speed the traffic of the privileged and leave the rest of us lagging behind." The FCC's tentative proposal approved in May would not prevent Internet service providers from charging Web services for priority access to consumers over the network's last mile, but it asked the public for comments on whether the commission should impose stricter or weaker rules. A total of 3.7 million comments poured in, mostly in favor of stronger restrictions on how ISPs treat Internet traffic. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 6 days ago on ars technica
Dubbed "Shellshock." the vulnerability is already being exploited by what looks to be a web server botnet. The vulnerability reported in the GNU Bourne Again Shell (Bash) yesterday, dubbed "Shellshock," may already have been exploited in the wild to take over Web servers as part of a botnet. More security experts are now weighing in on the severity of the bug, expressing fears that it could be used for an Internet "worm" to exploit large numbers of public Web servers. And the initial fix for the issue still left Bash vulnerable to attack, according to a new US CERT National Vulnerability Database entry. In a blog post yesterday, Robert Graham of Errata Security noted that someone is already using a massive Internet scan to locate vulnerable servers for attack. In a brief scan, he found over 3,000 servers that were vulnerable "just on port 80"—the Internet Protocol port used for normal Web Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) requests. And his scan broke after a short period, meaning that there could be vast numbers of other servers vulnerable. A Google search by Ars using advanced search parameters yielded over two billion webpages that at least partially fit the profile for the Shellshock exploit. "It's things like CGI scripts that are vulnerable, deep within a website (like CPanel's /cgi-sys/defaultwebpage.cgi)," Graham wrote. CPanel is a Web server control panel system, used by many Web hosting providers. "Getting just the root page is the thing least likely to be vulnerable. Spidering the site and testing well-known CGI scripts (like the CPanel one) would give a lot more results—at least 10x." Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 6 days ago on ars technica
When we talk about greenhouse gas emissions, it’s usually in the form of one big number (bigger every year) representing the global total. There’s also the concentration of CO­2 in the atmosphere, which knows no borders. When it comes time to talk policy (during UN climate negotiations, for example), national totals for the top emitters will enter the conversation—too often to aid an argument that some other country should be the one to start doing all the work. Many researchers need to zoom in much further, though, to really understand what’s going on. It’s a problem you can attack from the top—starting with national totals and spreading them across the country in some detail—or from the bottom, utilizing local measurements and emissions records. A group of researchers led by Arizona State’s Salvi Asefi-Najafabady has produced the highest-resolution map of emissions yet, making the reality of our greenhouse footprint a little more real. It shows exactly where the most work remains to be done as we seek to unshackle ourselves from the fossil fuels that have brought great benefits, for which the bill is finally coming due. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Earlier this month, we reported on the Xbox One's historically weak Japanese launch, which saw under 24,000 units sold in its first four days on the market. Things have gone from bad to worse in the intervening weeks, with the system selling just under 1,500 units in the week ending September 21, according to tracking firm Media Create (as reported by 4Gamer). Only 1,314 people bought a new Xbox One in Japan in the last week of reporting, a performance that follows just over 3,000 sales the week before. That puts the newly launched system well behind the Wii U and PS4, which continue to sell at least 7,000 systems a week in the country. Even the aging PS3 is outselling the Xbox One, with over 6,000 sales per week in the same time period. Microsoft has traditionally struggled for a foothold in the Japanese console market, and there's no reason to think Xbox One sales would pick up after launch without any new exclusive software. Still, even the Xbox 360 managed to sell over 12,000 units in Japan a month after its launch, and it managed to average roughly 4,000 Japanese sales per week through 2010. For the Xbox One to drop this close to triple-digit sales so soon after launch isn't just a slow start, it's an anemic one. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 7 days ago on ars technica
Apple's latest iPhones are vulnerable to the same fingerprint forging attack as the older iPhone 5S, allowing access to the phone via a fingerprint fabricated with some specialized knowledge and materials costing less than a thousand dollars, according to a researcher who reproduced the attack against the latest iPhones. Mark Rogers, principal security researcher for mobile security firm Lookout, used techniques common to law enforcement investigators and prototypers to first lift latent prints from the device and then create a mold from a custom circuit-board kit. Then, using glue, he made a thin rubber print that he placed over his thumb, fooling the Touch ID sensor on the latest iPhones. While his experiments suggested that Apple improved the sensor on the latest iPhones—it rejected slightly fewer legitimate prints and slightly more fake prints—Rogers found that the technique still works on the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Forza Horizon 2 is the latest installment of Microsoft’s console racing franchise, and it brings the driving-meets-MMO concept to the Xbox One. As with its predecessor, Forza Horizon 2 is built from Forza Motorsport DNA, which UK-based Playground Games have combined with experience gleaned from titles like Project Gotham Racing, TOCA, and DiRT. Once again, the result is a driving game with that familiar Forza look and feel, but it's tuned to appeal to a slightly different audience. Forza Horizon 2 swaps its predecessor's open roads of Colorado for digital versions of southern France and northern Italy. The Horizon music festival has crossed the Atlantic, and as the game begins you’re given the job of ferrying the new Lamborghini Huracan to the opening event. From here, you begin the career mode, which has you driving between France and Italy along the coast and through the mountains. You’re guided from event to event by Ben, the festival organizer, imbued by British actor Sean Maguire with just enough charisma to keep him the right side of being horribly annoying. Sights and Sounds A real high point of the first Forza Horizon game was its soundtrack, carefully curated by British DJ Rob Da Bank. He’s back with Forza Horizon 2 and a much larger soundtrack, now with seven different radio stations (although some of these have to be unlocked as you progress through the game). Da Bank is particularly good at curating a good driving soundtrack. These are the kinds of songs you might expect to hear in commercials for the next few years after being first exposed to them here. Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 7 days ago on ars technica
CN.dart.call("xrailTop", {sz:"300x250", kws:["top"], collapse: true});Photographer Alex Wild really knows his bugs. That's because his love of the craft grew out of an appreciation for the insects, "an aesthetic complement to scientific work," as he notes in his bio. Wild is a biologist with a Ph.D. in Entomology from the University of California-Davis, where he focused on ant evolution; he got serious about photography in 2002. Nowadays he's taught both science (entomology and beekeeping at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) and skill (his BugShot insect photography workshops). Wild was kind enough to share with Ars his personal experiences of being a copyright-reliant photographer in the Internet age. His imagery has recently appeared on billboards, YouTube commercials, pesticide spray labels, website banners, exterminator trucks, T-shirts, iPhone cases, stickers, company logos, e-book covers, trading cards, board games, video game graphics, children’s books, novel covers, app graphics, alt-med dietary supplement labels, press releases, pest control advertisements, crowdfunding promo videos, coupons, fliers, newspaper articles, postage stamps, advertisements for pet ants (yes, that’s a thing), canned food packaging, ant bait product labels, stock photography libraries, and greeting cards. And that list includes only the outlets that displayed his work without permission. Read 1 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 7 days ago on ars technica
A worker honey bee covered in pollen. Honey bees add about 20 billion dollars a year to the US economy, mostly through their pollination services. Urbana, Illinois, USA. Alex Wild Here is a true story about how copyright infringement costs my small photography business thousands of dollars every year. Or, maybe it isn’t. It could also be a true story of how copyright infringement earns me thousands of dollars every year. I can’t be sure. Either way, this is definitely the story of how copyright infringement takes up more of my time than I wish to devote to it. Copyright infringement drains my productivity to the point where I create hundreds fewer images each year. And it's why, in part, I am leaving professional photography for an academic position less prone to the frustrations of a floundering copyright system. I have an unusual, and an unusually fun, job: I photograph insects for a living. I love what I do in no small part because the difference between my profession and getting paid to be an overgrown kid, is… not that much, really. I collect ants and beetles, I play with camera gadgets, I run around in the woods. Meanwhile, publishers, museums, and the pest control industry send me enough in licensing fees that I haven’t starved to death. By nature photographer standards, business is booming. I cover a modest mortgage in a working class neighborhood. I even afford a new lens or two every year. Read 41 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 7 days ago on ars technica
Disagreements between company executives and the army of PR people who serve them always raise a smile. Public relations teams work so hard to control corporate messaging, and then execs who should know better ignore it. Next week, Microsoft is having an event in San Francisco. The official purpose of this event is to show off "what's next for Windows and the enterprise." That's a little vague; it could mean a new version of Windows, or a new update, or anything in between. But Alain Crozier, president of Microsoft France, told employees earlier this week that Windows 9 was going to be shown off at the event, as spotted by ZDNet France. But it turns out that wasn't suitably on-message. Microsoft PR got in touch with ZDNet to tell them that the next version of Windows doesn't actually have a name. So it's not Windows 9 at all. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Whoops. Mac OS X's Bash shell is vulnerable to remote execution attacks. Sean Gallagher A security vulnerability in the GNU Bourne Again Shell (Bash), the command-line shell used in many Linux and Unix operating systems, could leave systems running those operating systems open to exploitation by specially crafted attacks. “This issue is especially dangerous as there are many possible ways Bash can be called by an application,” a Red Hat security advisory warned. The bug, discovered by Stephane Schazelas, is related to how Bash processes environmental variables passed by the operating system or by a program calling a Bash-based script. If Bash has been configured as the default system shell, it can be used by network–based attackers against servers and other Unix and Linux devices via Web requests, secure shell, telnet sessions, or other programs that use Bash to execute scripts. Because of its wide distribution, the vulnerability could be as wide-ranging and as potentially dangerous as the Heartbleed bug. The vulnerability affects versions 1.14 through 4.3 of GNU Bash. Patches have been issued by many of the major Linux distribution vendors for affected versions, including: Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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This is one of 12 images recovered from Andreas Meißner's drone that crashed into Yellowstone Lake in July 2014. Andreas Meißner A German man has been sentenced to a year of probation in his home country, a one-year ban from Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, and a $1,600 fine after pleading guilty to illegally flying a drone (and crashing it into a lake) in the park in July 2014. On Wednesday, local media reported that Andreas Meißner of Königswinter, Germany pleaded guilty to violating the ban on drones, filming without a permit, and leaving property unattended. Federal prosecutors dropped one charge—making a false report to a government employee—in exchange for the plea deal. For months now, drone use in national parks has been something of a menace according to NPS authorities. In June 2014, the NPS banned drones in all parks following an initial ban in California’s Yosemite National Park. Other incidents going back to September 2013 have involved buzzing wild sheep in Utah, flying over nesting gulls in Alaska, and flying over visitors at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. Read 25 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 7 days ago on ars technica
This here is Comcast territory—you best be on your way. City Year Comcast has made many arguments in support of its proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable (TWC), but it keeps circling back to one: since the two cable companies don’t compete head-to-head in any city or town, there would be no harm in approving the deal. But why don’t Comcast and TWC, the two largest cable companies in the US, compete against each other? And if the merger was denied, would they invade each other’s territory? Ars asked Comcast Executive VP David Cohen those questions today on a press call held to discuss Comcast’s latest filing with the FCC. In short, Cohen said it’s too expensive to compete against other cable companies and that Comcast and TWC aren’t likely to start doing so if they remain separate. Cohen explained: Read 19 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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iOS 8.0.1 fixes a handful of bugs with the new update. Andrew Cunningham Update: Some users are reporting that the update is disabling cell service and TouchID buttons on some phones. I can confirm that this happened on my AT&T iPhone 6, though a Verizon iPhone 5 still seems to be getting service just fine. For now we recommend holding off—do not download and install this update yet. Original story: Apple has just released iOS 8.0.1, the first update to the new operating system that reached the public last week. The update is available through iTunes or as an over-the-air update for any device that runs iOS 8—the iPhone 4S or newer, iPad 2 or newer, and the fifth-generation iPod Touch. Though it comes just a week after iOS 8's release, the 8.0.1 update fixes a wide-ranging list of problems. Apple has fixed the bug that was keeping HealthKit-compatible apps from working, and it corrected a problem where third-party keyboards could be toggled off after entering a passcode. The company also addressed photo library access for third-party apps, "unexpected cellular data usage when receiving SMS/MMS messages," the Ask To Buy feature of Family Sharing, something keeping ringtones from being restored from iCloud backups, and "a bug that prevented uploading photos and videos from Safari." Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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HAT-P-11b is 4.7 times the size of Earth and has 25 Earth masses. Harvard Center for Astrophysics After a difficult search, scientists have found definitive traces of water on a relatively small exoplanet for the first time. The exoplanet in question, HAT-P-11b, is the size of Neptune and has copious amounts of both water vapor and hydrogen in its atmosphere. Using the Hubble Space Telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope, and the Kepler spacecraft, a team of scientists obtained spectrographic data as HAT-P-11b passed in front of its host star, allowing them to determine the planet’s atmospheric composition. While other exoplanets with water have been discovered, these have mostly been gas giants larger than Jupiter. HAT-P-11b is the first significantly smaller planet with water to be discovered. The discovery paves the way for searches for water, perhaps even on smaller, more Earth-like planets. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Lots of animals choose their mates based on exaggerated features—think of the enormous antlers of moose or the elaborate plumage of many bird species. The explanation for this is what's sometimes termed "honest signaling"—if an animal has the health and metabolic resources to devote to growing these sorts of sex-specific features, then they've probably got the genetic wherewithal to produce healthy offspring. As long as nobody cheats—makes something that just looks like it took a lot of effort—the system works well from an evolutionary perspective. Do humans engage in honest signaling? Clearly, there are features we associate with one or the other sex, and researchers have looked in to whether they might act as signals, feeding in to evolutionary selection. For example, some research has suggested that feminine faces on females act as a signal for fertility, as they're associated with estrogen levels. A masculine appearance, which is linked to testosterone levels, has been suggested to reflect health and disease resistance. And various studies have shown that the opposite sex appreciates faces that are strongly masculine or feminine. So, in a neat and tidy package, we have an evolutionary explanation for both our appearances and our preferences for them. Or so a lot of people have argued. But a new study in PNAS argues that this is all an artifact of who we're asking. Do some studies in pre-industrial societies, and you get a very different answer. Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Dave Toussaint For the first time, black bears at Yosemite National Park are being outfitted with GPS devices that will provide rangers with the ability to track their movements in real time. The National Park Service said Tuesday that the trackers will help protect bears and the public from encroaching danger. And during park programs, rangers will now discuss the bears' movements with visitors. Previously, bears at the California-based national park were being tracked via radio telemetry, but that technology only provided readings in what the park service called the "developed" areas of the 1,190-square-mile park. "This project will expand the park's understanding of Yosemite's black bear population and help to keep bears wild and visitors safe," Yosemite superintendent Don Neubacher said in a statement. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 7 days ago on ars technica
BlackBerry BlackBerry's Passport phone caught our eye when it was announced this summer, mostly because of its odd screen and marketing pitch. It has some vague similarities to last year's BlackBerry Q10, but with a larger 4.5-inch square screen that's meant to show you more horizontal content at once. The self-described "IMAX of productivity" is being released today at a price of $599 unlocked ($249 on-contract). The Passport is named for the thing it is shaped like—it's roughly the same size as a US or Canadian passport. The keyboard underneath its square screen isn't quite a full traditional BlackBerry keyboard. It has all the letters, the spacebar, and a couple of other keys, but for numbers or Shift or any others, you'll need to switch between physical and onscreen buttons. We enjoyed BlackBerry 10's software keyboard quite a bit when we reviewed the Z10 last year, but this hybrid seems potentially awkward. Early reviews for the device have been mixed but generally negative. Most praise the phone's solid construction and the quality of the 1400×1400 display. The Wall Street Journal criticized its 13MP camera and its lack of apps (despite the addition of Amazon's app store to BlackBerry's own), saying that the position of the physical keyboard made the phone feel top-heavy and lopsided to type on. Engadget likewise complained about the lack of apps, while complimenting the keyboard's ability to act as a trackpad in landscape mode. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Comcast Executive VP David Cohen. Comcast Comcast today submitted a 324-page response to critics of its purchase of Time Warner Cable, telling the Federal Communications Commission that there is no reason for people to be concerned about the merger. In an accompanying blog post, Comcast Executive VP David Cohen claimed that “virtually all” people who submitted comments to the FCC support the merger whether they know it or not. “Virtually all commenters recognize and concede—either explicitly or through their silence—that the transaction will deliver substantial consumer welfare and public interest benefits to residential and business customers and in the advertising marketplace,” Cohen wrote. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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ISRO Mars has become the destination of choice for ambitious space agencies and nations, and now India is among that group. After a successful maneuver, the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) has entered an orbit about 420 km above the surface of Mars (MOM is informally called Mangalyaan, which is Hindi for Mars vehicle). It will soon begin to photograph the planet’s surface and analyze the atmospheric composition. (Disclosure: As a member of two previous missions to Mars, I understand the excitement and challenges of landing, or in the case of Mangalyaan, orbital insertion. Waiting for a signal telling the ground staff about the mission’s fate must have been a nerve-wracking time for staff of the Indian Space Research Organization [ISRO].) Attraction of the red planet Ever since the earliest telescopic observations in the 17th and 18th centuries, Mars has shown tantalizing hints of seasons, water, and active geological processes. Over the centuries, our understanding about Mars has changed as the resolution of telescopes and spacecraft cameras and spectrometers has greatly improved. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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posted 8 days ago on ars technica
BTC Keychain Since the beginning of last year, angry customers have filed dozens of formal complaints with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against two embattled Bitcoin miner manufacturers. According to data Ars recently obtained via the Freedom of Information Act, 80 people complained about orders made at CoinTerra and HashFast between January 2013 and July 2014. These orders are collectively worth over $1.2 million spread between the two companies. The complaints come from all over the globe, including Italy, Australia, India, Taiwan, Belgium, and mostly, the United States. The complaints are all very similar: they detail orders that were never fulfilled, refunds that were never issued, and/or e-mails that went unanswered. Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Never officially announced, Blizzard has been talking about an MMO project, codenamed "Project Titan," for the last seven years. The project has had problems, and the company said in 2013 that it was delayed until 2016 at the earliest. Those problems appear to have proven fatal. The company told Polygon that it has been cancelled entirely. The problem? Even with as much MMO experience as Blizzard had, it struggled to make the game fun. In the interview, Blizzard senior vice president of story and franchise development Chris Metzen also suggests that the company has changed the way it views itself. Smaller games such as Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm have enabled the company to step back from "colossal, summer blockbuster-type products." Read on Ars Technica | Comments

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On Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the federal government on behalf of US Army Private Chelsea Manning. The lawsuit asks for treatment for Manning's gender dysphoria, which she was diagnosed with in 2010 while she was stationed in Iraq. Gender dysphoria refers to a condition in which a person's gender identity is different from that which they were assigned at birth. The condition is recognized by the American Psychiatric Association, as well as the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association. Manning was court-martialed last year for handing a cache of classified documents over to Wikileaks, which most famously resulted in the notorious “Collateral Murder” video. She was convicted in July 2013 of espionage, theft, and computer fraud, but she was acquitted of “aiding the enemy,” which was one of the most serious charges. Manning is currently serving 35 years in prison and resides at the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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