Yes – there’s still the risk of Big Money court battles ahead
Senior Republicans have conceded…that the grueling fight with President Obama over the regulation of Internet service appears over, with the president and an army of Internet activists victorious.
The Federal Communications Commission is expected on Thursday to approve regulating Internet service like a public utility, prohibiting companies from paying for faster lanes on the Internet. While the two Democratic commissioners are negotiating over technical details, they are widely expected to side with the Democratic chairman, Tom Wheeler, against the two Republican commissioners.
And Republicans on Capitol Hill, who once criticized the plan as “Obamacare for the Internet,” now say they are unlikely to pass a legislative response that would undo perhaps the biggest policy shift since the Internet became a reality…
The new F.C.C. rules are still likely to be tied up in a protracted court fight with the cable companies and Internet service providers that oppose it, and they could be overturned in the future by a Republican-leaning commission. But for now, Congress’s hands appear to be tied.
The F.C.C. plan would let the agency regulate Internet access as if it is a public good. It would follow the concept known as net neutrality or an open Internet, banning so-called paid prioritization — or fast lanes — for willing Internet content providers.
In addition, it would ban the intentional slowing of the Internet for companies that refuse to pay broadband providers. The plan would also give the F.C.C. the power to step in if unforeseen impediments are thrown up by the handful of giant companies that run many of the country’s broadband and wireless networks…
“We’ve been outspent, outlobbied. We were going up against the second-biggest corporate lobby in D.C., and it looks like we’ve won,” said Dave Steer, director of advocacy for the Mozilla Foundation, the nonprofit technology foundation that runs Firefox, a popular Web browser, referring to the cable companies. “A year ago today, we did not think we would be in this spot.”
The net neutrality movement pitted new media against old and may well have revolutionized notions of corporate social responsibility and activism. Top-down decisions by executives investing in or divesting themselves of resources, paying lobbyists and buying advertisements were upended by the mobilization of Internet customers and users.
Our beneficent Telecom rulers and their Republican flunkies will not stop pimping their case, of course. The lies they constructed as part of their agitprop during the campaign to influence the FCC will become a plank in the Republican campaign for the White House in 2016.
Should they win full control of the United States government – those of us who stay behind in the GOUSA to fight a rear-guard action against the building of a Brave New World of Corporatism [Mussolini felt that sounds better than fascism] will no doubt be relegated by law to dial-up, standard def and B&W TV. And flip phones.
The annual North American International Auto Show will showcase the state of the art in big pickups. The public will get its first look at General Motors Co.’s new Chevrolet Silverado, as well as Ford Motor Co.’s concept for the next Ford F-150. No wonder stocks of both companies are trading near 18-month highs. Cars will make big news, too: Toyota Motor Corp. is unveiling a model that hints at the look of its next Corolla, one of the world’s best-selling vehicles, while GM will unveil the much-anticipated seventh-generation Corvette
I’ve been a car nut all my life. That’s carried me through more experience than most in a range of vehicles – from wheels that are competitive and fun to race like Corvette and Morgan to mid-size luxury like the Cressida and Jaguar – and smartly-styled econo-wheels like the new Fiesta and every year’s latest Prius.
Can’t pass up several looks at the newest of the new. And I recommend CNET’s car geek podcasts, as well. I have them automagially downloaded along with the other IPTV shows I watch via iTunes and AppleTV.
Nokia has confirmed reports that its Xpress Browser decrypts data that flows through HTTPS connections – that includes the connections set up for banking sessions, encrypted email and more. However, it insists that there’s no need for users to panic because it would never access customers’ encrypted data.
The confirmation-slash-denial comes after security researcher Gaurang Pandya, who works for Unisys Global Services in India, detailed on his personal blog how browser traffic from his Series 40 ‘Asha’ phone was getting routed via Nokia’s servers…
However, it was Pandya’s second post on the subject that caused some alarm. Unlike the first, which looked at general traffic, the Wednesday post specifically examined Nokia’s treatment of HTTPS traffic. It found that such traffic was indeed also getting routed via Nokia’s servers. Crucially, Pandya said that Nokia had access to this data in unencrypted form:
“From the tests that were preformed, it is evident that Nokia is performing Man In The Middle Attack for sensitive HTTPS traffic originated from their phone and hence they do have access to clear text information which could include user credentials to various sites such as social networking, banking, credit card information or anything that is sensitive in nature…”
In a statement – “Nokia has implemented appropriate organizational and technical measures to prevent access to private information. Claims that we would access complete unencrypted information are inaccurate.”
To paraphrase: we decrypt your data, but trust us, we don’t peek. Which is, in a way, fair enough. After all, they need to decrypt the data in order to de-bulk it…
UPDATE: A kind soul has reminded me that, unlike Xpress Browser and Opera Mini, two other services that also do the compression thing leave HTTPS traffic unperturbed, namely Amazon with its Silk browser and Skyfire. This is arguably how things should be done, although it does of course mean that users don’t get speedier loading…on HTTPS pages.
If you live on the same planet with the United States government, the NSA and Congress – trust no one!
Two Democratic lawmakers said Congress should examine whether major wireless carriers and cable companies are stifling the growth of online video services like Netflix Inc and Hulu by limiting the amount of content Internet subscribers can download each month…
“When you couple limited broadband competition with a strong desire to protect a legacy video distribution business, you have both the means and motivation to engage in anticompetitive behavior,” David Hyman, Netflix’s general counsel, told the House Commerce subcommittee on communications and technology…The Justice Department is investigating whether cable operators are improperly suppressing competition from Internet companies and online video services…
Cable operators are also the leading Internet service providers, prompting worry that they could be trying to discourage their video product subscribers from jumping ship for cheaper, Internet-based viewing options.
Michael Powell, head of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, argued that data caps and tiered, usage-based pricing were simply about fairness, blah, blah, blah.
It ain’t like Comcast is going to starve – even after it finishes shelling out the billions they just spent on buying NBC-Universal. CableCo/TelCo ISP’s launch upgrades at higher prices all the time. Verizon just started offering 200mbps in the Bay Area for $210 a month. Locally-owned ISP’s like WebPass of San Francisco matched them without even raising their usual charge for 100mbps price – which is less than $50 a month.
That doesn’t get me a tenth of the horsepower from Comcast. And I have only one other choice – ADSL from CenturyLink which putters along barely fast enough to load the graphics from the average news site.
Justin Meyer, right, with Devin Dobias
Viruses regularly evolve new ways of making people sick, but scientists usually do not become aware of these new strategies until years or centuries after they have evolved. In a new study…however, a team of scientists at Michigan State University describes how viruses evolved a new way of infecting cells in little more than two weeks.
The report is being published in the midst of a controversy over a deadly bird flu virus that researchers manipulated to spread from mammal to mammal. Some critics have questioned whether such a change could have happened on its own. The new research suggests that new traits based on multiple mutations can indeed occur with frightening speed.
The Michigan researchers studied a virus known as lambda. It is harmless to humans, infecting only the gut bacterium Escherichia coli. Justin Meyer, a graduate student in the biology laboratory of Richard Lenski, wondered whether lambda might be able to evolve an entirely new way of getting into its host…
Mr. Meyer set up an experiment in which E. coli made almost none of the molecules that the virus grabs onto. Now few of the viruses could get into the bacteria. Any mutations that allowed a virus to use a different surface molecule to get in would make it much more successful than its fellow viruses. “It would have a feast of E. coli,” Dr. Lenski said.
The scientists found that in just 15 days, there were viruses using a new molecule — a channel in E. coli known as OmpF. Lambda viruses had never been reported to use OmpF before…
To see if this result was just a fluke, Mr. Meyer ran his experiment again, this time with 96 separate lines. The viruses in 24 of the lines evolved to use OmpF…
The new experiment provides a surprising glimpse at how easily viruses can evolve entirely new traits — and thus give rise to new diseases…
…The chances that a single virus would acquire so many mutations at once are certainly small. In the case of lambda viruses, Mr. Meyer estimates the chance of all four mutations arising at once is roughly one in a thousand trillion trillion.
Yet the lambda viruses repeatedly acquired all four mutations in a matter of weeks. “There’s this thinking that it all has to come together at once,” Dr. Lenski said. “But that’s just not how evolution works.”
Ready for a remake of The Andromeda Strain? Only this time it will be a documentary.
The historic seizure of 15 tons of pure methamphetamine in western Mexico, equal to half of all meth seizures worldwide in 2009, feeds growing speculation that the country could become a world platform for meth production, not just a supplier to the United States.
The sheer size of the bust announced late Wednesday in Jalisco state suggests involvement of the powerful Sinaloa cartel, a major international trafficker of cocaine and marijuana that has moved into meth production and manufacturing on an industrial scale…
Jalisco has long been considered the hub of the Sinaloa cartel’s meth production and trafficking. Meanwhile, meth use is growing in the United States, already the world’s biggest market for illicit drugs.
The haul could have supplied 13 million doses worth over $4 billion on U.S. streets.
The Sinaloa cartel, headed by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, is equipped to produce and distribute drugs “for the global village,” said Antonio Mazzitelli, the regional representative of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime.
“Such large-scale production could suggest an expansion … into Latin American and Asian markets,” Mazzitelli said…
Golly. There’s a surprise.
A shortage of Adderall, which is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, shows little sign of easing as manufacturers struggle to get enough active ingredient to make the drug and demand climbs.
Adderall, a stimulant, is a controlled substance, meaning it is addictive and has the potential to be abused. The Drug Enforcement Administration tightly regulates how much of the drug’s active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) can be distributed to manufacturers each year…
Increasingly that estimate is coming into conflict with what companies themselves say they need to meet demand for the drug, which is reaching all-time highs. In 2010, more than 18 million prescriptions were written for Adderall, up 13.4 percent from 2009, according to IMS Health, which tracks prescription data…
‘All-time highs” – A deliberate choice of words?
ADHD is one of the most common childhood disorders. An average of 9 percent of children between the ages of five and 17 are diagnosed with ADHD per year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms include difficulty staying focused, hyperactivity and difficulty controlling behavior. If they are not properly medicated, children with ADHD may act out and be held back in class; adolescents might engage in impulsive, risky behavior; adults are at greater risk of being fired from their jobs…
And living in a nation that chooses symptomatic treatment over any other, we are all required to nod our bobbleheads and worry about a shortage of drugs for the next generation of junkies.
Traditional playgrounds which teach children about risk and danger are being reintroduced after research found that they aid development.
Climbing frames, monkey bars, sand and water features have been replaced with sterile play areas in recent years amid overzealous health and safety fears.
Councils removed features such as paddling pools sand pits and fitted rubber mats in a bid to avoid costly litigation. But experts believe that the opportunity to assess potential danger and react to risk in the playground helps children make decisions in later life.
South Somerset district council has revised its play strategy and has granted approval for more traditional playgrounds which including stepping logs and wooden forts.
Adrian Moore, the council’s play and youth facilities officer, told the Sunday Times: “Playgrounds are the nursery slopes for real life. If we don’t help children differentiate between acceptable and unacceptable risk, we are failing them.
“Instead of eliminating it, let’s embrace it. In a playground, learning to judge speed, movement and distance stands you in good stead when you master other vital but dangerous skills, such as riding a bike or crossing the road.”
Ellen Sandseter, a professor of psychology at Queen Maud University in Norway, wrote in the journal Evolutionary Psychology: “Children must encounter risks and overcome playground fears, monkey bars and tall slides are great.
“They approach thrills and risks in a progressive manner. Let them encounter these challenges from an early age and they will master them through play over the years.”
Good grief. I don’t think the kids ever worry about danger.
Mommies and daddies are always ready to rush out in overprotective mode. The best thing they can do is ban parents from anywhere they can watch their children playing.
Scientists have produced what they say is the first complete map of how the ice moves across Antarctica.
Built from images acquired by radar satellites, the visualisation details all the great glaciers and the smaller ice streams that feed them…
It should aid the understanding of how the White Continent might evolve in the warmer world being forecast by climatologists.
“This is like seeing a map of all the oceans’ currents for the first time. It’s a game changer for glaciology,” said lead author Dr Eric Rignot. “We are seeing amazing flows from the heart of the continent that had never been described before”…
The map incorporates billions of radar data points collected between 1996 and 2009 by satellites belonging to Europe, Canada and Japan.
Ice drains from the interior via huge glaciers that calve icebergs into the sea…Ice velocities on the new map range from just few cm/year near places where the ice divides into different paths, to km/year on fast-moving glaciers and the ice shelves that float out from the edges of the continent.
RTFA for history and details. Interesting stuff.