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Study Links Human Actions To Specific Arctic Ice Melt
Posted by News Fetcher on November 03 '16 at 06:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cause-and-effect department:
sciencehabit writes from a report via Science Magazine: Since at least the 1960s, the shrinkage of the ice cap over the Arctic Ocean has advanced in lockstep with the amount of greenhouse gases humans have sent into the atmosphere, according to a study published this week in Science. Every additional metric ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) puffed into the atmosphere appears to cost the Arctic another 3 square meters of summer sea ice -- a simple and direct observational link that has been sitting under scientists' noses. If current emission trends hold, the study suggests the Arctic will be ice free by 2045 -- far sooner than some climate models predict. The study suggests that those models are underestimating how warm the Arctic has already become and how fast that melting will proceed. And it gives the public and policymakers a concrete illustration of the consequences of burning fossil fuels. For instance, a U.S. family of four would claim nearly 200 square meters of sea ice, based on U.S. emissions in 2013. Over 3 decades, that family would be responsible for destroying more than an American football field's worth of ice.

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The Secretive $4.5 Billion Startup 'Magic Leap' Is Gearing Up To Release A Consumer Version of Its Tech
Posted by News Fetcher on November 03 '16 at 06:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's shrouded-in-secrecy department:
Magic Leap is an incredibly secretive company based in Florida that develops "mixed reality" technology. While the company was valued at $4.5 billion in its latest round of financing, Magic Leap has never released a product. "It has never given a public demonstration of a product, never announced a product, and never explained the proprietary 'lightfield' technology that powers its products," writes David M. Ewalt for Forbes. That may be about to change, however, as the CEO Rony Abovitz said in a rare interview that the company has spent a billion dollars perfecting a prototype and has begun constructing manufacturing lines in Florida (Editor's note: may be paywalled, alternate source), gearing up for a release of a consumer version of its technology. "We are building a new kind of contextual computer," Abovitz says. "We're doing something really, really different." The final product of theirs is expected to fit into a pair of glasses when everything is said and done. "When you're wearing the device, it doesn't block your view of the world; the hardware projects an image directly onto your retina through an optics system built into a piece of semitransparent glass (the product won't fry your eyeballs; it's replicating the way we naturally observe the world instead of forcing you to stare at a screen)." Forbes adds: The hardware also constantly gathers information, scanning the room for obstacles, listening for voices, tracking eye movements and watching hands. As a result, mixed-reality objects are aware of their environment and have the ability to interact with the real world. On Magic Leap's hardware a Pokemon might escape capture by ducking behind your couch or, assuming you live in a "smart" home, turning off your lights and hiding in the dark. In one of its demos the Magic Leap team shows off a computer-generated "virtual interactive human," life-size and surprisingly realistic. Abovitz and his team imagine virtual people (or animals or anything else) as digital assistants -- think Siri on steroids, except with a physical presence that makes her easier to work with and harder to ignore. Ask your virtual assistant to deliver a message to a coworker and it might walk out of your office, reappear beside your colleague's desk via his or her own MR headset and deliver the message in person. Ewalt goes on to write about Abovitz's life growing up and the past companies he has founded, which have ultimately helped lead him to Magic Leap.

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Every Year of Smoking Causes About 150 New DNA Mutations That Can Make Cancer More Likely, Says Study
Posted by News Fetcher on November 03 '16 at 05:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's smoking-is-bad department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Los Angeles Times: For every year that you continue your pack-a-day habit, the DNA in every cell in your lungs acquires about 150 new mutations. Some of those mutations may be harmless, but the more there are, the greater the risk that one or more of them will wind up causing cancer. The threat doesn't stop there, according to a study in Friday's edition of the journal Science. After a year of smoking a pack of cigarettes each day, the cells in the larynx pick up roughly 97 new mutations, those in the pharynx accumulate 39 new mutations, and cells in the oral cavity gain 23 new mutations. Even organs with no direct exposure to tobacco smoke appear to be affected. The researchers counted about 18 new mutations in every bladder cell and six new mutations in every liver cell for each "pack-year" that smokers smoked. The findings are based on a genetic analysis of 5,243 cancers, including 2,490 from smokers and 1,063 from patients who said they had never smoked tobacco cigarettes. The researchers used powerful supercomputers to compare thousands of cancer genome sequences. The computers grouped the sequences into about 20 distinct categories, or "mutational signatures." Mutations tied to five of these signatures were more common in tumors from smokers than in tumors from nonsmokers. One of the signatures involves a specific DNA nucleobase change -- instead of a C for cytosine, there was an A for adenine -- that "is very similar" to the change that occurs in the lab when cells are exposed to benzo[a]pyrene, a compound that the International Agency for Research on Cancer says is carcinogenic to humans. Most of the lung and larynx cancers obtained from smokers had this type of mutation, the researchers reported. They also found that the signature was more common among smokers than nonsmokers. Another mutational signature was characterized by Cs that should have been Ts (thymine) and vice versa. Although these changes can be found in all kinds of cancers, the signature was 1.3 to 5.1 times more common in tumors from smokers than in tumors from nonsmokers, according to the study.

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Judge Refuses To Block New York 'Ballot Selfie' Law
Posted by News Fetcher on November 03 '16 at 05:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's wanna-take-a-selfie department:
Last week, we wrote about a federal lawsuit that is challenging a New York state law that makes it a misdemeanor to show a marked election ballot to others. Today, we learn that a federal judge has refused to block enforcement of the law. Reuters reports: U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel in Manhattan said it would "wreak havoc on election-day logistics" to issue a preliminary injunction against the law, which prohibits the display of "ballot selfies." Three voters sued on Oct. 26 to block enforcement of the law, saying that sharing ballot selfies was a form of speech protected by the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment. But the judge said that because of the imminence of next Tuesday's election, the voters needed to show a "clear or substantial likelihood" that their lawsuit would succeed before he could issue an injunction, and that they had not done so. "The public's interest in orderly elections outweighs the plaintiffs' interest in taking and posting ballot selfies," though they remained free to express their political message through "other powerful means," Castel wrote. Leo Glickman, a lawyer for the voters, said in an interview his clients were disappointed by the ruling and do not plan to appeal it, but will keep pressing their case ahead of the 2017 election cycle. "People should be able to express themselves freely by photographing their marked ballots and putting them on social media feeds," he said, adding that state legislators have expressed interest in having the law repealed.

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Microsoft Extends EMET End of Life Date
Posted by News Fetcher on November 03 '16 at 03:41 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's some-relaxation department:
An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft will continue to support and provide security patches for its Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit security software for Windows until July 31 2018, after taking customer feedback into account. EMET is a security utility software popular with enterprise customers running supported versions of Windows. It uses mitigation techniques to block attackers from exploiting vulnerabilities in software. The company's lead program manager for operating system security, Jeffrey Sutherland, said while EMET 5.5x will continue to be supported for another 18 months after the original end of life date of January next year, Microsoft recommended customers migrate to Windows 10 for improved security.

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White House, 35 States To Boost Electric Vehicle Charging Stations
Posted by News Fetcher on November 03 '16 at 03:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's green-energy department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: The White House said on Thursday it will establish 48 national electric-vehicle (EV) charging networks on nearly 25,000 miles of highways in 35 U.S. states. The Obama administration said 28 states, utilities and vehicle manufactures, including General Motors, BMW and Nissan Motor, and EV charging firms have agreed to work together to jump-start the additional charging stations. The corridors were required to be established by December under a 2015 highway law. The White House said 24 state and local governments have agreed to buy hundreds of additional electric vehicles for government fleets and add new EV charging stations. California will buy at least 150 zero-emission vehicles and provide EV charging at a minimum of 5 percent of state-owned parking spaces by 2020. The city of Atlanta will add 300 charging stations at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport by the end of 2017. Los Angeles agreed to nearly triple the city's current plug-in electric fleet to 555 vehicles from about 200 by the end of 2017. Of those, 200 will be for the police department. The city is also adding another 500 stations by 2017. One hurdle to the mass adoption of EVs has been the difficulty in finding places to recharge vehicles. In July, the White House said it was expanding a federal loan guarantee program to include companies building EV charging stations. The U.S. Energy Department said in July that charging facilities are now an eligible technology for the program that can provide up to $4.5 billion in loan guarantees.

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Future iPhones Could Fold In Half
Posted by News Fetcher on November 03 '16 at 02:13 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's clamshell-design department:
Apple has just received a patent, titled "electronic devices with carbon nanotube printing circuits," that suggests future iPhones may be foldable -- at least to some degree. Geek reports: Based on the language in the patent, it doesn't sound like Apple is specifically talking about a device that has a fully bendable display. It mentions one that can bend "along edges of touch sensors or displays." The carbon nanotube PCBs provide flexibility for some of the phone's internals, but not all of them. Those other parts will likely be covered by other patents if Apple is genuinely working on a seamless foldable device. The usual caveats apply here. For now, this is simply yet another patent padding Apple's already massive portfolio. Could they be planning to release an iPhone that folds in half? Definitely.

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Ukraine's Military Wants To Use the HoloLens For Its Tanks
Posted by News Fetcher on November 03 '16 at 02:13 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's next-gen-military-technology department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ubergizmo: Microsoft's HoloLens has so far been positioned as a device for gaming. However it seems that over in the Ukraine, they believe that the technology has use in the military as well, particularly by tank commanders. Given that a tank is more or less fully sealed, it means that looking around isn't quite as easy. Usually this is achieved by mounting cameras on the vehicle with the images projected inside the tank, but with the HoloLens, it will make it easier. Created by Limpid Armor, the HoloLens-enabled helmet will be dubbed the Circular Review System. The video feeds that are gathered from the cameras outside of the tank will then be stitched together and sent to the headset, thus allowing the wearer to see around the vehicle. Not only will this allow them to have a better view, but apparently the helmet will also let the wearer tag enemy and friendly soldiers, and also designate targets and send information back to the commander.

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Windows 10 Updates Are About To Get a Lot Smaller To Download as Microsoft Switches To Differential Patching
Posted by News Fetcher on November 03 '16 at 12:53 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's differential-patching department:
Microsoft currently distributes major Windows 10 updates -- Anniversary Update, for instance -- as essentially full operating system installs, going as much 4GB in size. But that is changing starting today (for some users). From an article on The Verge: Microsoft has been promising smaller updates to Windows 10, through various methods, for what feels like years, but the company is now starting to test a new Unified Update Platform (UUP) that will make a big difference. "One of the biggest community and customer benefits of UUP is the reduction you'll see in download size on PCs," explains Bill Karagounis, a Windows program manager. "We have converged technologies in our build and publishing systems to enable differential downloads for all devices built on the Mobile and PC OS." Differential downloads only include the changes that have been pushed out since you last updated a Windows 10 PC. This new change will debut with the Windows 10 Creators Update that's expected to arrive in March, but Windows Insiders can start testing the technology in today's latest build update for mobile devices. Microsoft will start rolling this out to PC builds later this year, alongside HoloLens devices. Xbox One devices running Windows 10 won't benefit from UUP as Microsoft distributes operating system updates to consoles using different methods.

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App Developers Spend Too Much Time Debugging Errors in Production Systems
Posted by News Fetcher on November 03 '16 at 12:53 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's not-sure-if-bad-thing department:
According to a new study, 43 percent of app developers spend between 10 and 25 percent of their time debugging application errors discovered in production. BetaNews adds: The survey carried out by ClusterHQ found that a quarter of respondents report encountering bugs discovered in production one or more times per week. Respondents were also asked to identify the most common causes of bugs. These were, inability to fully recreate production environments in testing (33 percent), interdependence on external systems that makes integration testing difficult (27 percent) and testing against unrealistic data before moving into production (26 percent). When asked to identify the environment in which bugs are most costly to fix, 62 percent selected production as the most expensive stage of app development to fix errors, followed by development (18 percent), staging (seven percent), QA (seven percent) and testing (six percent).

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Mirai Botnet Attackers Are Trying To Knock Liberia Offline
Posted by News Fetcher on November 03 '16 at 12:53 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's botnets department:
Zack Whittaker, reporting for ZDNet: One of the largest distributed denial-of-service attacks happened this week and almost nobody noticed. Since the cyberattack on Dyn two weeks ago, the internet has been on edge, fearing another massive attack that would throw millions off the face of the web. The attack was said to be upwards of 1.1 Tbps -- more than double the attack a few weeks earlier on security reporter Brian Krebs' website, which was about 620 Gbps in size, said to be one of the largest at the time. The attack was made possible by the Mirai botnet, an open-source botnet that anyone can use, which harnesses the power of insecure Internet of Things devices. This week, another Mirai botnet, known as Botnet 14, began targeting a small, little-known African country Liberia, sending it almost entirely offline each time. Security researcher Kevin Beaumont, who was one of the first to notice the attacks and wrote about what he found, said that the attack was one of the largest capacity botnets ever seen. One transit provider said the attacks were over 500 Gbps in size. Beaumont said that given the volume of traffic, it "appears to be the owned by the actor which attacked Dyn." An attack of that size is enough to flatten even a large network -- or as was seen this week, a small country. Update: 11/03 19:37 GMT: The title of the story (same as the ZDNet's story) was updated to mention the name of the country. The summary was updated to reflect the same, as well.

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Mirai Botnet Attackers Are Trying To Knock an Entire Country Offline
Posted by News Fetcher on November 03 '16 at 11:30 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's botnets department:
Zack Whittaker, reporting for ZDNet: One of the largest distributed denial-of-service attacks happened this week and almost nobody noticed. Since the cyberattack on Dyn two weeks ago, the internet has been on edge, fearing another massive attack that would throw millions off the face of the web. The attack was said to be upwards of 1.1 Tbps -- more than double the attack a few weeks earlier on security reporter Brian Krebs' website, which was about 620 Gbps in size, said to be one of the largest at the time. The attack was made possible by the Mirai botnet, an open-source botnet that anyone can use, which harnesses the power of insecure Internet of Things devices. This week, another Mirai botnet, known as Botnet 14, began targeting a small, little-known African country, sending it almost entirely offline each time. Security researcher Kevin Beaumont, who was one of the first to notice the attacks and wrote about what he found, said that the attack was one of the largest capacity botnets ever seen. One transit provider said the attacks were over 500 Gbps in size. Beaumont said that given the volume of traffic, it "appears to be the owned by the actor which attacked Dyn." An attack of that size is enough to flatten even a large network -- or as was seen this week, a small country.

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Why America Needs India's Rockets
Posted by News Fetcher on November 03 '16 at 11:30 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's moral-dilemma department:
Since 2005, U.S. satellite manufacturers have been prohibited from hiring India's space agency to launch their equipment. Private American launch companies, such as SpaceX, are quite happy with this arrangement, which was intended to protect them. But the ban is not only wrong in principle -- it's actually impeding an exciting new American industry, according to Bloomberg. From the article: Last month, under pressure from satellite operators and manufacturers, U.S. trade officials began reviewing the decade-old policy. They should heed the pressure and overturn it. Emerging India may seem like an unlikely competitor for Silicon Valley rocket companies. Yet since 1969, the Indian Space Research Organization has consistently punched above its modest weight class, racking up a series of cheap and practical achievements. One of its most important feats was the development of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, which was designed to carry satellites for monitoring agriculture and water resources, among other things. What made the PSLV unique was that it was designed to launch small satellites. And that's a good niche to occupy at the moment. Over the past few years, the small-satellite market has boomed as advances in miniaturization made space accessible to governments and companies that might never have considered it. The uses for such gear seem almost limitless, from shoebox-sized climate-monitoring devices to Samsung's plan to use thousands of micro-satellites to provide global internet access. Some $2.5 billion has been invested in the industry over the past decade. But getting all those satellites into space is now proving to be a problem, and U.S. policy is partly to blame.The article adds that apart from SpaceX, no other U.S. company has offered a rocket for small satellite launches, even though the demand has surged. This in turn, has resulted in American satellite companies with few choices. Though the U.S. Trade Representatives has offered occasional waivers from the moratorium, India continues to offer a far cheaper reliable option, and it's not even being considered. To offer more context, India's Mars mission has a budget of $73 million -- making it far cheaper than comparable missions including NASA's $671 million Maven satellite. Further reading on Vox.com, "India's mission to Mars cost less than the movie Gravity."

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Google Moves To Upgrade App Store, Aims To Help Developers Bolster Revenue
Posted by News Fetcher on November 03 '16 at 11:30 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's app-developers department:
Google plans to double down on its efforts to help developers of Android apps build their businesses as concerns mount that the app economy has reached saturation. The company is sharpening Google Play store recommendations with AI and expanding support for various payment platforms, among other initiatives, reports Reuters, citing company's top executive. From the article:Many smartphone users, meanwhile, appear to have tired of downloading apps altogether, especially as messaging services like Snapchat perform more of the functions that once required a separate app. Games remain a focus of the Google Play store, and Nintendo is building a version of its popular Super Mario Run game for Android, said Sameer Samat, who leads product management for the Google Play store. The store is also expanding to new platforms, including wearable devices, virtual reality headsets and Google's Chromebook laptops. "What we are excited about is giving developers that single entry point for more and more of the computing ecosystem," said Samat. Google has eased the once-complicated process of developing apps for the Play store, said James Knight, a former Google employee who launched Pembroke, a consultancy that helps developers convert Apple-compatible iOS apps to Android. A big part of Google's new effort involves emerging markets, where Android is stronger relative to the iPhone. To improve app recommendations for users, the Play store has also made extensive use of machine learning, a branch of artificial intelligence that gleans insights from vast troves of data.

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UK Government Wants Prisons Geoblocked By Drone Manufacturers
Posted by News Fetcher on November 03 '16 at 11:30 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's taking-a-stand department:
An anonymous reader writes: A new report from the UK's Ministry of Justice promises to work with drone manufacturers to get prison locations geoblocked as a native feature of the drone, in the face of rising incidents of drone incursion into prison space. The report, which outlines many proposed reforms to the UK's prison system, says that the MoJ will "trial, together with industry, the inclusion of prison coordinates in no-fly zones which have the potential to be programmed into the majority of drones on the market (although we must think carefully about how much information we are willing to put into the public domain and therefore make available to the criminal community)." The last few years have seen increased pressure on government to enforce geoblock zones on drone manufacturers, who have responded to controversial drone incursion incidents with permanent or temporary geoblock software updates.

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FBI Launches Internal Investigation Into Its Own Twitter Account
Posted by News Fetcher on November 03 '16 at 11:30 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's topsy-turvy-world department:
An anonymous reader shares a report on ThinkProgress: The FBI has launched an internal investigation into one of its own Twitter accounts. The account at issue, @FBIRecordsVault, had been dormant for more than a year. Then on October 30 at 4 a.m., the account released a flood of documents, including one describing Donald Trump's father Fred Trump as a "philanthropist." But it wasn't until two days later, when the account tweeted documents regarding President Clinton's controversial pardon of Marc Rich that the account began to attract significant attention. The account has not been active since that tweet. ThinkProgress has learned that the FBI's Inspection Division will undertake an investigation of the account. Candice Will, Assistant Director for the FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility, said she was referring the matter to the FBI's Inspection Division for an "investigation." Upon completion of the investigation, the Office of Professional Responsibility will be referred back to the Office of Professional Responsibility for "adjudication."

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Design For the Present
Posted by News Fetcher on November 03 '16 at 11:30 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-things-should-be department:
Technology critic Marco Arment, who co-hosts an Apple-centric podcast called ATP with John Siracusa and Casey Liss, has shared his take on the design of the recently launched MacBook Pro models. Apple's decision to get rid of USB Type-A ports has irked many, with some saying that the company should have left at least a few USB Type-A ports on the computer, even if what it strives to do is lead the industry in how a computer should look like. Arment shares the sentiment. From a blog post: The new MacBook Pro is probably great, and most of the initial skepticism probably won't age well. But I want to pick on one aspect today. Having four USB-C ports is awesome. Having only four USB-C ports is going to hurt the versatility requirement of pro gear, because there's a very real chance that you won't have the right dongle when you need it. This is going to happen a lot, because even though USB-C is the future, it's definitely not the present. We've had the standard USB plug (USB-A) in widespread use for 18 years, and it's going to take a few more years for USB-C to become so ubiquitous that we can get away without USB-A ports most of the time. A pro laptop released today should definitely have USB-C ports -- mostly USB-C ports, even -- but it should also have at least one USB-A port. Including a port that's still in extremely widespread use isn't an admission of failure or holding onto the past -- it's making a pragmatic tradeoff for customers' real-world needs. I worry when Apple falls on the wrong side of decisions like that, because it's putting form (and profitability) over function."Design for the future, but accommodate the reality of the present," he adds.

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Google Rejects EU Antitrust Charges, Says Evidence is Lacking
Posted by News Fetcher on November 03 '16 at 08:50 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's hit-back department:
Google said Thursday it is rejecting accusations made by European Union that it abuses its dominant position with its shopping and advertising services, ramping up its fight back against the bloc's regulators. "The Commission's revised case still rests on a theory that doesn't fit the reality of how most people shop online," said Kent Walker, Google's general counsel, in a blog post. From a report on Reuters: "We never compromised the quality or relevance of the information we received. On the contrary, we improved it. That isn't 'favoring' -- that's listening to our customers," Walker said. His comments came as the company formally replied to the two charges, one of which it received in April last year and the other in July this year, earlier on Thursday.The official blog post here. Further reporting on Bloomberg.

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LinkedIn, Glassdoor Add Tools To Reveal Your Pay Potential
Posted by News Fetcher on November 03 '16 at 08:50 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's know-your-rights department:
Money isn't everything, but it counts for a lot at work. That's why work-related websites like LinkedIn and Glassdoor are adding new online tools to help professionals understand their salary potential (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; alternate source.) From a report on the Seattle Times: LinkedIn, which calls itself the social network for professionals, is adding a service that provides members with pay information for a variety of jobs, including a break-down by such factors as location, industry, education and experience. It's based on anonymized data submitted by LinkedIn members, including details about base pay and other compensation, such as bonuses and stock grants. The new service comes two weeks after Glassdoor, a competing online job site, introduced a feature that promises to help workers determine their "personal market value" by comparing their current job title, salary and related information with data from other workers and current hiring trends. Glassdoor's site already showed information about median salaries and perks, along with employees' reviews of what it's like to work at various companies. It says the new feature can be useful for job-seekers as well as workers who might want to negotiate a raise from their current employer.

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UK's Brexit Cannot Pass Without Parliament Approval
Posted by News Fetcher on November 03 '16 at 08:50 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's not-a-done-deal department:
Parliament must vote on whether the UK can start the process of leaving the EU, the High Court ruled on Thursday. This means the government cannot trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty -- beginning formal exit-negotiations with the EU on its own. An anonymous reader shares a report on AlJazeera: The UK's High Court has ruled that Theresa May's administration is not allowed to trigger the country's exit from the European Union, or Brexit, without approval from parliament. Three senior judges ruled on Thursday that "the government does not have the power under the Crown's prerogative" to start EU exit talks. The case is considered the most important constitutional matter in a generation. The government plans to appeal the ruling before the Supreme Court. Plans for Brexit are being challenged in a case with major constitutional implications, hinging on the balance of power between parliament and the government. May has said she will launch exit negotiations with the EU by March 31.

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