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Intel Reveals 10th Gen Core Lineup For Laptops and 2-in-1s
Posted by News Fetcher on August 01 '19 at 07:00 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's new-offerings department:
Intel's new generation of processors is nigh upon us, and it promises to be a doozy in several respects. VentureBeat: The Santa Clara chipmaker today launched 11 new 10-nanometer 10th Gen Intel Core processors (code-named Ice Lake) designed for slim laptops, 2-in-1s, and other high-end mobile form factors. In addition to capable new integrated graphics and enhanced connectivity courtesy Wi-Fi 6 and Thunderbolt 3, the chips feature tweaks intended to accelerate task-specific workloads like AI inference and photo editing, as well as gaming. Intel expects the first 35 or so systems sporting Ice Lake-U and Ice Lake-Y chips to ship for the holiday season. Several that passed the chipmaker's Project Athena certification were previewed at Computex in Taiwan, including the Acer Swift 5, Dell XPS 13-inch 2-in 1, HP Envy 13, and Lenovo S940.

No matter which processor in the 10th Gen portfolio your future PC sports, its four cores (eight logical cores) paired with a 6MB or 8MB cache will support up to 32 GB of LP4/x-3733 (or up to 64GB of DDR4-3200), and they'll sip 9W, 15W, or 28W of power while clocking up to 4.1GHz at maximum Turbo Boost frequency. Each chip has 16 PCIe 3.0 lanes for external use, and their memory controllers allow for idle power states for less intensive tasks. With respect to AI and machine learning, every laptop-bound 10th Gen processor -- whether Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 -- boasts Sunny Cove cores with Intel AVX-512-Deep Learning Boost, a new instruction set that speeds up automatic image enhancements, photo indexing, media postprocessing, and other AI-driven tasks.

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The Law Isn't Ready For Psychedelic Medicine
Posted by News Fetcher on August 01 '19 at 03:00 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's ready-or-not-here-it-comes department:
Matt Lamkin reports via Scientific American: In March, the Food and Drug Administration approved esketamine, a drug that produces psychedelic effects, to treat depression -- the first psychedelic ever to clear that bar. Meanwhile the FDA has granted "breakthrough therapy" status -- a designation that enables fast-tracked research -- to study MDMA (also called "ecstasy") as a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and psilocybin as a treatment for major depression. While these and other psychedelic drugs show promise as treatments for specific illnesses, FDA approval means doctors could also prescribe them for other, "off-label" purposes -- including enhancing the quality of life of people who do not suffer from any disorder. Hence if MDMA gains approval as a treatment for PTSD, psychiatrists could prescribe the drug for very different purposes.

< article continued at Slashdot's ready-or-not-here-it-comes department >

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LightSail 2 Spacecraft Successfully Demonstrates Flight By Light
Posted by News Fetcher on August 01 '19 at 12:20 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's rare-spaceflight-achievements department:
According to The Planetary Society, LightSail 2 has successfully raised its orbit using solar sailing, making it the first small spacecraft to demonstrate the concept. From the report: Since unfurling the spacecraft's silver solar sail last week, mission managers have been optimizing the way the spacecraft orients itself during solar sailing. After a few tweaks, LightSail 2 began raising its orbit around the Earth. In the past 4 days, the spacecraft has raised its orbital high point, or apogee, by about 2 kilometers. The perigee, or low point of its orbit, has dropped by a similar amount, which is consistent with pre-flight expectations for the effects of atmospheric drag on the spacecraft. The mission team has confirmed the apogee increase can only be attributed to solar sailing, meaning LightSail 2 has successfully completed its primary goal of demonstrating flight by light for CubeSats.

The milestone makes LightSail 2 the first spacecraft to use solar sailing for propulsion in Earth orbit, the first small spacecraft to demonstrate solar sailing, and just the second-ever solar sail spacecraft to successfully fly, following Japan's IKAROS, which launched in 2010. LightSail 2 is also the first crowdfunded spacecraft to successfully demonstrate a new form of propulsion. The mission team will continue raising LightSail 2's orbit for roughly a month, until the perigee decreases to the point where atmospheric drag overcomes the thrust from solar sailing. During the orbit-raising period, the team will continue optimizing the performance of the solar sail.

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How Sydney Destroyed Its Trams For Love of the Car
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '19 at 08:20 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's history-lessons department:
An anonymous reader shares a report from The Guardian about the questionable decision in the 1950s to get rid of Sydney's trams in favor of private cars. From the report: In the late 1950s Sydney ripped up its tram network, once one of the largest in the world. Nearly 1,000 trams -- some only a few years old -- were rolled to the workshops in the city's eastern suburbs and stripped of anything that could be sold, before being unceremoniously tipped on their sides, doused with sump oil and set ablaze. Barely a decade before its closure, Sydney's tram system had carried 400 million passenger journeys a year on a network of more than 250km, primarily serving the eastern, southern and inner-west suburbs, and stretching as far north as Narrabeen at its peak. But the explosion of car traffic in the postwar years persuaded the New South Wales government that urban freeways were the way of the future (the first in Australia, the Cahill Expressway, opened in 1958), and trams were an impediment to that vision.

< article continued at Slashdot's history-lessons department >

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Researchers Develop Speedy Soft Robot That's More Robust Than a Cockroach
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '19 at 07:00 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's soft-robots department:
Researchers from Tsinghua University in China and University of California, Berkeley, have developed a new kind of soft robot that looks like a bent strip of paper, but is able to move at 20 body lengths per second and survive being stomped on. The robot has been presented in the current issue of Science Robotics. IEEE Spectrum reports: This prototype robot measures just 3 centimeters by 1.5 cm. It takes a scanning electron microscope to actually see what the robot is made of -- a thermoplastic layer is sandwiched by palladium-gold electrodes, bonded with adhesive silicone to a structural plastic at the bottom. When an AC voltage (as low as 8 volts but typically about 60 volts) is run through the electrodes, the thermoplastic extends and contracts, causing the robot's back to flex and the little "foot" to shuffle. A complete step cycle takes just 50 milliseconds, yielding a 200 hertz gait. And technically, the robot "runs," since it does have a brief aerial phase.

The researchers also put together a prototype with two legs instead of one, which was able to demonstrate a potentially faster galloping gait by spending more time in the air. They suggest that robots like these could be used for "environmental exploration, structural inspection, information reconnaissance, and disaster relief," which are the sorts of things that you suggest that your robot could be used for when you really have no idea what it could be used for. But this work is certainly impressive, with speed and robustness that are largely unmatched by other soft robots. An untethered version seems possible due to the relatively low voltages required to drive the robot, and if they can put some peanut-sized sensors on there as well, practical applications might actually be forthcoming sometime soon.

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Cisco To Pay $8.6 Million Fine For Selling Hackable Surveillance Tech
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '19 at 05:40 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's flawed-tech department:
Cisco has agreed to pay $8.6 million to settle a claim that it sold video surveillance software it knew was vulnerable to hackers to hospitals, airports, schools, state governments and federal agencies. SFGate reports: The tech giant continued to sell the software and didn't fix the massive security weakness for about four years after a whistleblower alerted the company about it in 2008, according to a settlement unsealed Wednesday with the Justice Department and 15 states as well as the District of Columbia. Hackers could use the flaw not just to spy on video footage but to turn surveillance cameras on and off, delete footage and even potentially compromise other connected physical security systems such as alarms or locks - all without being detected, according to Hamsa Mahendranathan, an attorney at Constantine Cannon, which represented whistleblower James Glenn. The settlement marks the first time a company has been forced to pay out under a federal whistleblower law for not having adequate cybersecurity protections.

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Spotify Keeps Big Lead Over Apple Music But Disappoints With 108M Subscribers
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '19 at 05:40 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's world's-biggest-subscription-music-service department:
In its second-quarter report, Spotify said its subscribers rose 31% year over year to hit 108 million subscribers at the end of June. "That figure was weaker than Spotify expected but keeps it well above its closest competitor, Apple Music, which had 60 million subscribers as of June," reports CNET. From the report: Spotify also said Wednesday that 232 million people now use its service at least once a month, up 29% from a year earlier. Spotify, unlike Apple, has a free tier that lets anyone listen to music with advertising. Apple has never disclosed a monthly-active-user stat; almost all people who use Apple Music are subscribers. Spotify's growth in monthly active users beat the best-case prediction the company made in April, coming in 4 million above the 228 million high end of guidance. But its subscribers -- who make Spotify way more money than ad-supported free listeners -- were at the low end of its expectations. Its 108 million figure scraped into its guidance range of 107 million to 110 million.

Its subscriber growth was relatively weaker because fewer people signed up for its heavily discounted student plan. Spotify also said it would make up for the latest quarter's shortfall by the end of the year. Looking ahead, Spotify predicted that it will have 110 million to 114 million paid subscribers by the end of September and that its monthly active users will increase to between 240 million and 245 million. By the end of the year, it expects to cross the milestone of a quarter of a billion monthly listeners.

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French Startup Transition-One Plans a $5,600 Electric Makeover For Your Old Diesel Car
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '19 at 04:20 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's electric-future department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: About 5,000 euros ($5,600) are set to buy your 10-year-old combustion clunker an electric makeover -- and offer a cut-price way to avoid driving bans across European cities. French startup Transition-One has developed retrofitting technology that adds an electric engine, batteries and a connected dashboard into older models of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, Volkswagen AG, Renault SA and PSA Group for about 8,500 euros, or 5,000 euros after government subsidies in France.

In the prototype Twingo, three battery packs are fitted in front and two in what used to be the gas tank. The whole pack, bought from a Tesla Inc. parts reseller, weighs 120 kilograms (265 pounds). To compare, Renault's electric Zoe has a 290 kilogram battery for a 210 kilometer driving range. Prices start at around 23,000 euros excluding battery rental battery. The transition takes less than a day, leaving the original stick shift and gear box and installing the plug behind the hatch that drivers usually pop open to refill the tank. Founder Aymeric Libeau, whose previous experiences include co-founding software company Pentalog Group, has worked on retrofitting for two years, and tested the method with a French business school. He is looking to raise 6 million euros to build a factory he says would be capable of churning out as many as 4,000 vehicles next year.

Libeau expects French and European regulator approval by the end of the year and will start pre-orders in September to test demand.

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Cambridge, Massachusetts Moves To Ban Facial Recognition
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '19 at 04:20 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's invasive-surveillance-tech department:
Citing threats to free speech and civil rights, the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts on Tuesday moved to prohibit local government from using facial recognition. Three other cities in the country have already instituted such bans over concerns that the technology is biased and violates basic human rights. Gizmodo reports: In December of last year, the Cambridge City Council passed the Surveillance Technology Ordinance which requires the council's approval prior to the acquisition or deployment of certain surveillance tech, which included facial recognition software. The order was passed on Tuesday by the council and will next be sent to the Public Safety Committee, Mayor Marc McGovern and Councillor Sumbul Siddiqui both confirmed to Gizmodo in an email. This marks one step closer to banning the city's use of the tech altogether.

The amendment, sponsored by Cambridge Mayor Marc McGovern and two city councilmembers, argued that, given recent reports, it's evident this tech can discriminate against women and people of color. They also argued that facial recognition technology violates a person's civil rights and civil liberties. "The use of face recognition technology can have a chilling effect on the exercise of constitutionally protected free speech, with the technology being used in China to target ethnic minorities, and in the United States, it was used by police agencies in Baltimore, Maryland, to target activists in the aftermath of Freddie Gray's death," the amendment states.

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Samsung Won't Let Android Tablets Die, Announces the Galaxy Tab S6
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '19 at 03:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-and-shiny department:
Samsung is one of the only companies still producing tablets to rival Apple's iPad. Today the company announced the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6, its latest high-end tablet, for $649. Pre-orders start August 23, and the device ships September 6. Samsung says there will be an LTE version available later. Ars Technica reports: The Samsung Tab S6 features a 10.5-inch 2560x1600 OLED display, a 2.84GHz Snapdragon 855, and a 7040mAh battery. The base version has 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, with a higher tier of 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. For cameras, there's an 8MP front camera, while the rear gets a 13MP main camera and a 5MP wide-angle lens. The device is down to 5.7mm thick and weighs 420 grams. This is Samsung's first-ever tablet with an in-screen fingerprint reader. Interestingly, it's an optical reader instead of the ultrasonic tech that the Galaxy S10 uses. Somehow, on a 10-inch tablet, Samsung couldn't find room for a headphone jack. Even Apple, which ditched the headphone jack two years ago, still puts a headphone jack on iPads. Samsung is apparently declaring war on the headphone jack with this round of updates -- the Galaxy Note 10, launching next week, is expected to dump the headphone jack, too.

The S-Pen comes with the tablet but doesn't stow away inside the body; instead, a groove on the back of the tablet gives it a spot to magnetically attach to. Of course, don't expect the tablet to sit flat on a table with a big pen attached to the back. As with other newer Samsung devices, the S-Pen now comes with a battery and some Bluetooth functionality, allowing it to do things like work as a remote shutter button for the camera. A new "Air action" gesture system lets you do things like change the camera mode or scroll through pictures with a flick of the pen.

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Everything Cops Say About Amazon's Ring Is Scripted Or Approved By Ring
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '19 at 03:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's control-freaks department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: Amazon's home security company Ring has garnered enormous control over the ways in which its law enforcement partners are allowed to portray its products, going as far as to review and even author statements attributed to police in the press, according to emails and documents obtained by Gizmodo. This summer, Ring even urged a Florida police department to delay announcing its partnership with the company for weeks, telling officials that it preferred to keep the spotlight on a separate initiative launched by the city, designed to incentivize the purchase of its home surveillance products.

< article continued at Slashdot's control-freaks department >

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How Over 25 People Got Scammed Into Working at a Nonexistent Game Company
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '19 at 01:40 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's stranger-things department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: Brooke Holden had all but given up on breaking into the video game business. [...] "Professionally inexperienced but passionate team manager looking for a hobby project to help support and manage," she posted to a subreddit for assembling game dev teams. It was just a lark, yet a half dozen replies accumulated under the post. One in particular stood out, from an account with an active Reddit history on developer recruitment boards. The poster's name was "Kova," and he told Holden that his small team of three developers had recently ballooned into a 48-member operation that needed a manager "on everyone's arse." Holden was exhilarated. On June 22, 2019, she signed a contract with Kova's company Drakore Studios, accepting the position of junior production manager at $13 per hour.

There was just one problem: Drakore Studios didn't actually exist. Over the course of a month and a half, "Kova," real name Rana Mahal, convinced at least 25 people to join a game studio that was not a registered company, and develop a video game to which he did not own the rights, in exchange for no pay. Six of them came forward to tell their story to Kotaku. The story they told was one of deceit, exploitation, incompetence, and hope, and one fuelled by gamers' desperation to participate in an industry that has stoked their imagination, lifted their mood and forged friendships since childhood.

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Facebook Says It Was 'Not Our Role' To Remove Fake News During Australian Election
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '19 at 01:40 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
Facebook has declared it is not "our role to remove content that one side of a political debate considers to be false" in a final, positive, self-assessment of its actions in response to the death tax misinformation circulating on the platform during the May federal election. From a report: In correspondence seen by Guardian Australia, Simon Milner, the Singapore-based vice-president of the social media giant in the Asia-Pacific, tells Labor's outgoing national secretary, Noah Carroll: "I understand that your preference would be for Facebook to remove all content that you believe constitutes misinformation -- which in this instance mean all content that discussed whether or not Labor intends to introduce a death tax -- rather than demote it; however Facebook only removes content that violates our community standards. "We do not agree that is is our role to remove content that one side of a political debate considers to be false," Milner says in the letter sent a month after election day.

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Capital One Breach Said To Also Affect Other Major Companies
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '19 at 12:20 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
The data breach at Capital One may be the "tip of the iceberg" and may affect other major companies, according to security researchers. From a report: Israeli security firm CyberInt said Vodafone, Ford, Michigan State University and the Ohio Department of Transportation may have also fallen victim to the same data breach that saw over 106 million credit applications and files stolen from a cloud server run by Capital One by an alleged hacker, Paige Thompson, a Seattle resident, who was taken into FBI custody earlier this week. Reports from Forbes and security reporter Brian Krebs indicating that Capital One may not have been the only company affected, pointing to "one of the world's biggest telecom providers, an Ohio government body, and a major U.S. university," according to Slack messages sent by the alleged hacker.

Krebs posted a screenshot of a list of files purportedly stolen by the alleged hacker. The stolen data contained filenames including car maker "Ford" and Italian financial services company "Unicredit." The Justice Department said Thompson may face additional charges -- suggesting other companies may have been involved. Further reading: Capital One's Breach Was Inevitable, Because We Did Nothing After Equifax.

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FTC Says 'You Will Be Disappointed' if You Choose $125 For Equifax Payout
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '19 at 12:20 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's topsy-turvy-world department:
The Federal Trade Commission said today there's been "overwhelming" interest in a settlement agreement with Equifax, and that consumers looking for a previously announced payout of up to $125 may be disappointed. From a report: The agency said this month that it had reached a $700 million agreement with the credit reporting agency over a massive breach of private data in 2017. As part of the settlement, consumers whose data was compromised could request up to $125 or free credit monitoring services. The potential for a quick payout generated major interest, but only $31 million of the settlement was set aside for cash payouts, meaning each payout could be far smaller than $125, depending on how many people request one.

In a blog post today, the FTC tempered expectations. "A large number of claims for cash instead of credit monitoring means only one thing: each person who takes the money option will wind up only getting a small amount of money," the agency said. "Nowhere near the $125 they could have gotten if there hadn't been such an enormous number of claims filed."

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Trump Administration Plans To Allow Imports Of Some Prescription Drugs From Canada
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '19 at 11:00 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department:
The Trump administration is outlining two possible ways certain drugs that were intended for foreign markets could be imported to the U.S. -- a move that would clear the way to import some prescription drugs from Canada. From a report: "Today's announcement outlines the pathways the Administration intends to explore to allow safe importation of certain prescription drugs to lower prices and reduce out of pocket costs for American patients," Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement about the plan. "This is the next important step in the Administration's work to end foreign freeloading and put American patients first." The Department of Health and Human Services outlined two "pathways" for importing the drugs to the U.S.

In one initiative, the Food and Drug Administration and HHS will rely on their rulemaking authority to use existing federal law to set up pilot projects from states or wholesalers "outlining how they would import certain drugs from Canada that are versions of FDA-approved drugs that are manufactured consistent with the FDA approval." Separately, the FDA will work on safety guidelines for drug manufacturers who want to import any drugs they sell in foreign countries to the U.S. market.

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Google Brings the Titan Security Key To More Countries
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '19 at 11:00 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's gradual-expansion department:
Google on Wednesday announced it's making its Titan Security Key available via the Google Store in multiple new countries: Canada, France, Japan and the United Kingdom. Google launched the second-factor security key last year, starting with availability in the US. From a report: Google touts the Titan Security Key as one of the best ways to protect Google Accounts from hacking and phishing, especially high-value accounts that are regularly probed and attacked. The key is used as part of Google's Advanced Protection Program. Based on FIDO open standards, the security key comes in both USB and Bluetooth varieties. Back in May, Google had to issue replacements for the Bluetooth keys due to a vulnerability in the pairing process.

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Your Next iPhone Might Be Made in Vietnam. Thank the Trade War.
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '19 at 09:40 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
No country on earth has benefited from President Trump's trade fight with China more than Vietnam. From a report: The country's factories have swelled with orders as American tariffs cause companies to reconsider making their products in China. Now, more big technology firms are looking to bulk up their manufacturing operations in Vietnam, lifting the ambitions of a nation already well on its way to becoming a powerhouse maker of smartphones and other high-end gadgets. First, though, Vietnam needs to get better at making the little plastic casings on your earbuds.

Vu Huu Thang's company in the northern city of Bac Ninh, Bac Viet Technology, produces small plastic parts for Canon printers, Korg musical instruments, and Samsung cellphones and phone accessories, including earbuds. He said it would be hard for his firm to compete against Chinese suppliers as long as he had to buy 70 to 100 tons of imported plastic material every month, most of it made in China. "Vietnam cannot compare with China," Mr. Thang said. "When we buy materials, it's 5, 10 percent more expensive than China already." And the Vietnamese market is too small, he said, to entice plastic producers to set up plants here.

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Major Broadcasters Sue TV Streaming Nonprofit Locast
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '19 at 09:40 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's it-begins department:
Four major broadcast networks have filed a lawsuit against Locast, a New York-based nonprofit that streams local broadcast programming over the internet. From a report: In their lawsuit, ABC, CBS, NBC Universal and Fox allege that Locast violates their copyright by retransmitting their programming without permission, likening it to Aereo, the TV retransmission startup that shut down in 2014 as the result of a similar lawsuit. "Locast is simply Aereo 2.0, a business built on illegally using broadcaster content," the lawsuit reads in part. "While it pretends to be a public service without any commercial purpose, Locast's marketing and deep connections to AT&T and Dish make clear that it exists to serve its pay-tv patrons."

Locast responded to the lawsuit Wednesday morning with the following statement: "Locast is an independent, non-profit organization that provides a public service retransmitting free over-the-air broadcasts. Its activities are expressly permitted under the Copyright Act. The fact that no broadcasters have previously filed suit for more than a year and a half suggests that they recognize this. We look forward to defending the claims -- and the public's right to receive transmissions broadcast over the airwaves -- in the litigation." Further reading: Locast, a Free App Streaming Network TV, Would Love to Get Sued.

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'The White House Blocked My Report on Climate Change and National Security'
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '19 at 08:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
Dr. Rod Schoonover, who until recently served as a senior analyst in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the State Department, writing for The New York Times: Ten years ago, I left my job as a tenured university professor to work as an intelligence analyst for the federal government, primarily in the State Department but with an intervening tour at the National Intelligence Council. My focus was on the impact of environmental and climate change on national security, a growing concern of the military and intelligence communities. It was important work. Two words that national security professionals abhor are uncertainty and surprise, and there's no question that the changing climate promises ample amounts of both. I always appreciated the apolitical nature of the work. Our job in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research was to generate intelligence analysis buttressed by the best information available, without regard to political considerations. And although I was uncomfortable with some policies of the Trump administration, no one had ever tried to influence my work or conclusions.

That changed last month, when the White House blocked the submission of my bureau's written testimony on the national security implications of climate change to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. The stated reason was that the scientific foundation of the analysis did not comport with the administration's position on climate change. After an extended exchange between officials at the White House and the State Department, at the 11th hour I was permitted to appear at the hearing and give a five-minute summary of the 11-page testimony. However, Congress was deprived of the full analysis, including the scientific baseline from which it was drawn. Perhaps most important, this written testimony on a critical topic was never entered into the official record.

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