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Apple Reduced Face ID Accuracy To Ease Production, Bloomberg Reports
Posted by News Fetcher on October 25 '17 at 09:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's quality-over-quantity department:
In order to speed up the production of iPhone X, which Apple plans to begin shipping starting November 3, the iPhone-maker told its suppliers that they could reduce the accuracy of the Face ID facial recognition system, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday, citing multiple people familiar with the matter. Earlier reports suggest that suppliers were facing difficulties manufacturing the Face ID system, something that was holding them back from manufacturing enough iPhone X units for the holiday season. From the report: As Wall Street analysts and fan blogs watched for signs that the company would stumble, Apple came up with a solution: It quietly told suppliers they could reduce the accuracy of the face-recognition technology to make it easier to manufacture, according to people familiar with the situation. Apple is famously demanding, leaning on suppliers and contract manufacturers to help it make technological leaps and retain a competitive edge. While a less accurate Face ID will still be far better than the existing Touch ID, the company's decision to downgrade the technology for this model shows how hard it's becoming to create cutting-edge features that consumers are hungry to try. And while Apple has endured delays and supply constraints in the past, those typically have been restricted to certain iPhone colors or less important offerings such as the Apple Watch. This time the production hurdles affected a 10th-anniversary phone expected to generate much of the company's revenue. Apple has denied the claims made in Bloomberg report.

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Microsoft Has Stopped Manufacturing The Kinect
Posted by News Fetcher on October 25 '17 at 09:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's end-of-road department:
Manufacturing of the Kinect has shut down, reports FastMagazine: Originally created for the Xbox 360, Microsoft's watershed depth camera and voice recognition microphone sold about 35 million units since its debut in 2010, but Microsoft will no longer produce it when retailers sell off their existing stock. The company will continue to support Kinect for customers on Xbox, but ongoing developer tools remain unclear. Microsoft shared the news with Co.Design in exclusive interviews with Alex Kipman, creator of the Kinect, and Matthew Lapsen, GM of Xbox Devices Marketing. The Kinect had already been slowly de-emphasized by Microsoft, as the Xbox team anchored back around traditional gaming to counter the PS4, rather than take its more experimental approach to entertainment. Yet while the Kinect as a standalone product is off the market, its core sensor lives on. Kinect v4 -- and soon to be, v5 -- power Microsoft's augmented reality Hololens, which Kipman also created. Meanwhile, Kinect's team of specialists have gone on to build essential Microsoft technologies, including the Cortana voice assistant, the Windows Hello biometric facial ID system, and a context-aware user interface for the future that Microsoft dubs Gaze, Gesture and Voice (GGV).

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North Korea Could Be Secretly Mining Cryptocurrency On Your Computer
Posted by News Fetcher on October 25 '17 at 08:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's take-note department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: North Korea has a cryptocurrency infatuation. Its government has been accused of unleashing a global ransomware attack to raise bitcoin, mining the cryptocurrency within its borders, and hacking South Korean bitcoin exchanges. Now, research firm Recorded Future says there's a strong chance Kim Jong-un's regime is experimenting with malware that secretly mines currency using other people's computers. Malware crypto-mining is a new global trend among hackers, says a new report from Recorded Future, which monitors discussions among "the criminal underground" on the so-called dark web. Starting this year, hackers seem to be shifting away from high-intensity, widespread ransomware attacks, towards "long-term, low velocity" crypto-mining in the background. Recorded Future has not detected specific instances of North Korean malware mining, but believes that the regime has the knowhow, motive, and interest in cryptocurrencies to execute similar attacks. "North Korean threat actors have prior experience in assembling and managing botnets, bitcoin mining, and cryptocurrency theft, as well as in custom altering publicly available malware; three elements that would be key to effectively creating and managing a network of covert cryptocurrency miners," Recorded Future's report reads.

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More Than Half of Emails Worldwide Are Now Opened in a Mobile Environment
Posted by News Fetcher on October 25 '17 at 08:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's where-we-are department:
A reader shares a research report: The world of email marketing has changed pretty significantly over the past five years. Where desktop clients like Outlook were once a more important delivery medium, readers of email are now in the thrall of mobile clients and webmail services like Gmail. In fact, new research from Return Path found that more than half of emails worldwide (55%) are opened in a mobile environment in 2017, significantly more than either webmail (28%) or desktop (16%). Mobile has emerged as the dominant email environment since Return Path last conducted its survey in 2012, when only 29% of emails were opened on a mobile device, and webmail clients were the most popular method of accessing such electronic missives. Return Path also found that Apple's iOS was dominant among mobile email users worldwide, with 79% of mobile emails opened on either an iPhone or iPad this year. While only 20% of emails were opened on a device running Android, that was actually an increase of 6 percentage points from 2012's figure.

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Dell Lost Control of Key Customer Support Domain for a Month in 2017
Posted by News Fetcher on October 25 '17 at 06:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department:
Brian Krebs reports: A web site set up by PC maker Dell to help customers recover from malicious software and other computer maladies may have been hijacked for a few weeks this summer by people who specialize in deploying said malware, KrebsOnSecurity has learned. There is a program installed on virtually all Dell computers called "Dell Backup and Recovery Application." It's designed to help customers restore their data and computers to their pristine, factory default state should a problem occur with the device. That backup and recovery program periodically checks a rather catchy domain name -- DellBackupandRecoveryCloudStorage.com -- which until recently was central to PC maker Dell's customer data backup, recovery and cloud storage solutions. Sometime this summer, DellBackupandRecoveryCloudStorage.com was suddenly snatched away from a longtime Dell contractor for a month and exposed to some questionable content. More worryingly, there are signs the domain may have been pushing malware before Dell's contractor regained control over it.

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Kaspersky Admits To Reaping Hacking Tools From NSA Employee PC
Posted by News Fetcher on October 25 '17 at 06:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's he-said-she-said department:
Kaspersky has acknowledged that code belonging to the US National Security Agency (NSA) was lifted from a PC for analysis but insists the theft was not intentional. From a report: In October, a report from the Wall Street Journal claimed that in 2015, the Russian firm targeted an employee of the NSA known for working on the intelligence agency's hacking tools and software. The story suggested that the unnamed employee took classified materials home and operated on their PC, which was running Kaspersky's antivirus software. Once these secretive files were identified -- through an avenue carved by the antivirus -- the Russian government was then able to obtain this information. Kaspersky has denied any wrongdoing, but the allegation that the firm was working covertly with the Russian government was enough to ensure Kaspersky products were banned on federal networks. There was a number of theories relating to what actually took place -- was Kaspersky deliberately targeting NSA employees on behalf of the Kremlin, did an external threat actor exploit a zero-day vulnerability in Kaspersky's antivirus, or were the files detected and pulled by accident? According to Kaspersky, the latter is true. On Wednesday, the Moscow-based firm said in a statement that the results of a preliminary investigation have produced a rough timeline of how the incident took place. It was actually a year earlier than the WSJ believed, in 2014, that code belonging to the NSA's Equation Group was taken.

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Why We Must Fight For the Right To Repair Our Electronics
Posted by News Fetcher on October 25 '17 at 05:30 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's fight-for-your-right-to-party department:
Kyle Wiens and Gay Gordon-Byrne explain via IEEE Spectrum how people in the United States can preserve their right to repair electronics, and why people must fight for the right in the first place. Here's an excerpt from their report: So how can people in the United States preserve their right to repair electronics? The answer is now apparent: through right-to-repair legislation enacted at the state level. Popular support on this issue has been clear since 2012, when 86 percent of the voters in Massachusetts endorsed a ballot initiative that would "[require] motor vehicle manufacturers to allow vehicle owners and independent repair facilities in Massachusetts to have access to the same vehicle diagnostic and repair information made available to the manufacturers' Massachusetts dealers and authorized repair facilities." Carmakers howled in protest, but after the law passed, they decided not to fight independent repair. Indeed, in January 2014 they entered into a national memorandum of understanding [PDF], voluntarily extending the terms of the Massachusetts law to the entire country. The commercial vehicle industry followed suit in October 2015. Now we need right-to-repair legislation for other kinds of equipment, too, particularly electronic equipment, which is the focus of "digital right to repair" initiatives in many states.

< article continued at Slashdot's fight-for-your-right-to-party department >

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DUHK Crypto Attack Recovers Encryption Keys, Exposes VPN Connections
Posted by News Fetcher on October 25 '17 at 02:50 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's duck-duck-go department:
An anonymous reader writes from a report via Bleeping Computer: After last week we had the KRACK and ROCA cryptographic attacks, this week has gotten off to a similarly "great" start with the publication of a new crypto attack known as DUHK (Don't Use Hard-coded Keys). The issue at the heart of the DUHK attack is a combination of two main factors. The first is the usage of the ANSI X9.31 Random Number Generator (RNG). This is an algorithm that takes random data and generates encryption keys used to secure VPN connections, browsing sessions, and other encrypted traffic/data. The second factor needed for a DUHK attack is when hardware vendors use a hardcoded "seed key" for the ANSI X9.31 RNG algorithm. When these two conditions take place, an attacker can brute-force encrypted data to discover the rest of the encryption parameters and deduce the master encryption key used to encrypt web sessions or VPN connections. In a research paper published today, researchers said they found 12 vendors that sold hardware/software products with hardcoded X9.31 seed keys. This issue is widespread because ANSI X9.31 is very widespread. Up until January 2016, the algorithm was on the list of U.S. government (FIPS) approved RNG algorithms. ANSI X9.31 remained on the list until 2016, even if US NIST deprecated the algorithm in 2011, and scientists warned that the algorithm could be broken if the seed key ever leaked way back in 1998.

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Some Pixel 2 Users Are Complaining About A High-Pitched Whine and Clicking Noises
Posted by News Fetcher on October 25 '17 at 12:11 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's high-pitched department:
After dealing with all sorts of screen issues, another problem with Google's flagship smartphone is popping up. This time it's an audio issue: users on Google's official forums and elsewhere are reporting odd sounds coming from the Pixel 2 speakers. Ars Technica reports: Customers are complaining of "clicking" and a "high-pitched whine" coming from the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. Most reports on the forums say the noises are coming from the top or bottom speaker on the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. Some reports say the sounds come through during calls, while other users say the speaker noises happen any time the screen is on. A user made a recording of the sound, which can be heard here. Most users are being told to return their devices after contacting support, but at least one person claims they were told this issue would be patched in an upcoming update. One possible workaround is to turn off NFC, which some users say stops or lowers the noises.

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New York State Bans E-Cigarettes Everywhere Traditional Cigarettes Are Prohibited
Posted by News Fetcher on October 24 '17 at 08:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's snuffed-out department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from USA Today: New York state is banning electronic cigarettes indoors everywhere that traditional tobacco cigarettes are prohibited, such as restaurants, bars and other workplaces. The ban goes into effect in 30 days, after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Clean Indoor Air Act on Monday. About 70% of the state's cities already ban e-cigarettes, so the statewide policy captures the rest, according to the American Lung Association. Cuomo signed legislation in July that banned e-cigarettes in public and private schools. The industry, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates at $2.5 billion per year, contends that e-cigarettes are safer than traditional tobacco products. Smokers say inhaling the nicotine through a vapor produced by the devices helps them quit traditional cigarettes. But the New York State Health Department warned that vaping carries its own risks because the aerosol emissions can include formaldehyde, cadmium found in batteries, benzene found in gasoline and the industrial solvent toluene.

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Italy Proposes Phasing Out Coal Power Plants By 2025
Posted by News Fetcher on October 24 '17 at 06:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's chopping-block department:
Italy is the next country to phase out coal. According to Reuters, the country has set its sights on phasing out coal power plants by 2025. From the report: Italy's biggest utility Enel has said it will not invest in new coal-fired power plants. The new energy strategy, still under discussion, aims to reach the goal of 27 percent of gross overall energy consumption from renewable sources by 2030, the document showed. The strategy, which should be approved by the government at the beginning of November, is also looking to speed up the introduction of vehicles powered by alternative fuels. It aims to raise the number of electric charging stations to 19,000 by 2020.

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DirecTV to Launch Android TV-Based OTT Set-Top Box
Posted by News Fetcher on October 24 '17 at 05:31 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department:
Janko Roettgers, reporting for Variety: AT&T's DirecTV is getting ready to embrace internet-based content delivery beyond its DirecTV Now service: The company is about to introduce a new TV set-top box that's based on Google's Android TV platform and ditches satellite connectivity for over-the-top streaming, according to a new FCC filing. The new device, which goes by the model number C71KW-400, is being described by these documents as "the new AT&T/DirecTV Wireless 4K OTT Client." A user manual published as part of the filings specifies that the device won't be able to interact with any of DirecTV's existing Genie hardware, and hints at a future hardware product called HS27. Helpfully, the manual also supplies a definition of OTT as "the delivery of video via the internet directly into user-connected devices, allowing access to services anywhere, anytime, on any device." The manual also reveals that the set-top will shop with a voice remote with integrated touch pad, and photos show that it has Ethernet, digital audio, HDMI and USB ports, but no antenna connectivity -- meaning that any and all programming will indeed come over the internet.

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FCC Ends Decades-Old Rule Designed To Keep TV, Radio Under Local Control
Posted by News Fetcher on October 24 '17 at 05:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-and-improved department:
The FCC on Tuesday voted to eliminate a rule that required broadcast station groups to maintain a physical presence in the community of their primary local coverage area, a move that critics say will help media companies further consolidate their operations and even be a boost to the ambitions of Sinclair Broadcast Group. Variety reports: But FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the elimination of the rule has been a long time coming and will produce cost savings for stations. He said the "overwhelming majority" of public input favored the elimination of the rule, citing the support for such an action even from National Public Radio. "Continuing to require a main studio would detract from, rather than promote, a broadcaster's ability and incentive to keep people informed and serve the public interest," Pai said. The National Association of Broadcasters supports the rule's elimination, and has argued that it will free up funds for stations to spend on staff and programming. Commissioner Michael O'Rielly said the elimination reflects how the public currently interacts with local businesses -- not by visiting their facilities, but through telecommunications and social media. The rule dates to 1940. The two Democrats on the commission opposed the change. "There are many broadcasters who do an extraordinary job serving communities during disaster," said FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel. "But let's be honest -- they can only do so when they have a real presence in their area of license. That's not a retrograde notion -- it's a fact."

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Oracle, Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook Blow Even More Cash on Lobbying
Posted by News Fetcher on October 24 '17 at 04:11 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's what's-happening department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: American tech giants have ramped up the amount of cash they spend on lobbying US lawmakers to get their own way, yet again. As congressmen consider regulating organizations from Facebook to Google, and mull antitrust crackdowns against Amazon, said corporations have responded by flinging more dosh at the problem. The money is spent on, ahem, holding meetings between company execs and politicians so that businesses can push their agenda and swing decisions in their favor, which may not be in the interests of the people who elected said politicians. Facebook's $2.85m for the third quarter of the year -- disclosed this week as required by law -- is beaten only by the amount it spent in the first quarter: $3.21m. In its second quarter, it blew $2.38m. Overall, Facebook's lobbying bills for 2017 looks set to smash the $9.85m it spent in 2015 and the $8.7m in 2016. The social network is being investigated by both halves of Congress for its role in the Russian propaganda campaign during the US presidential election, and this month has been on a huge PR campaign in the capital. Likewise Amazon spent its highest ever amount on professional lobbyists -- both individuals and companies that book face time with lawmakers and their staff where they press the company's viewpoints. Amazon spent $3.41m in the third quarter, up from $3.21m for the second quarter -- which was also a record spend for the company. Apple has already blown past the $4.67m in spent in 2016 -- which was then its highest-ever spending. So far in 2017, the iPhone maker has spent $5.46m bending lawmakers' ears. Google spent less in the third quarter of the year to the wallet-busting Q2 spend of $5.93m, but it still spent $4.17m -- higher than its average spend of $4.0m per quarter over the past five years. But perhaps the most notable increase in spending has come from Oracle, which spent a whopping $3.82m on lobbying in the third quarter: double what it normally spends.

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Tech Companies Pledge To Use Artificial Intelligence Responsibly
Posted by News Fetcher on October 24 '17 at 04:11 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's for-the-greater-good department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: The Information Technology Industry Council -- a DC-based group representing the likes of IBM, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple -- is today releasing principles for developing ethical artificial intelligence systems. Why it matters: The tech industry is trying to get ahead of growing anxieties about the societal impact of AI technologies, and this is an acknowledgement on companies' part that their data-hungry products are causing sweeping changes in the way we work and live. The companies hope that pledging to handle this power responsibly will win points with critics in Washington, and that showing they can police themselves will help stave off government regulation on this front. The principles include: Ensure the responsible design and deployment of AI systems, including taking "steps to avoid the reasonably predictable misuse of this technology by committing to ethics by design." Promote the responsible use of data and test for potentially harmful bias in the deployment of AI systems. Commit to mitigating bias, inequity and other potential harms in automated decision-making systems. Commit to finding a "reasonable accountability framework" to address concerns about liability issues created when autonomous decision-making replaces decisions made by humans.

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Anti-Aging Stem Cell Treatment Proves Successful In Early Human Trials
Posted by News Fetcher on October 24 '17 at 02:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's FDA-approved department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from New Atlas: The results of two human clinical trials into a stem cell therapy that can reverse symptoms of age-associated frailty have been published, and the indications are that this landmark treatment is both safe and strikingly effective in tackling key factors in aging. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are a particular type of adult stem cell generating a great deal of interest in the world of science. This new MSC treatment is targeted at reducing the effects of frailty on senior citizens. This is the first anti-aging stem cell treatment directed specifically at the problem of age-associated frailty to move close to a final FDA approval stage. The treatment derives human mesenchymal stem cells from adult donor bone marrow and in these clinical trials involves a single infusion in patients with an average age of 76. Both Phase 1 and Phase 2 human trials have demonstrated the treatment to have no adverse health effects.

< article continued at Slashdot's FDA-approved department >

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Sony Reportedly Announcing New Robot Dog Next Month
Posted by News Fetcher on October 24 '17 at 02:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's pet-project department:
Zorro shares a report from The Wall Street Journal
(Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source): Sony Corp. is planning next spring to roll out a dog-shaped pet robot similar to its discontinued Aibo with updated components that could allow it to control home appliances, people familiar with the matter said. Sony is preparing for a media event in November to show off the product, the people said. It is unclear whether the new product will use the Aibo name and how much it will cost. Sony Chief Executive Kazuo Hirai said last year at a strategy briefing that the company was developing "a robot capable of forming an emotional bond with customers, and able to grow to inspire love and affection." He told The Wall Street Journal at the time that the company might make an Aibo-like dog robot. The Nikkei newspaper reported earlier this month that Sony was targeting spring 2018 for the release of a home robot.

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Astronaut Paul Weitz Dies At 85; Veteran of Skylab and Shuttle Missions
Posted by News Fetcher on October 24 '17 at 02:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's rest-in-peace department:
NPR reports the death of NASA astronaut Paul Weitz, who spent nearly a month in orbit on the first manned Skylab mission in 1973 and flew a decade later as mission commander on the maiden voyage of the Space Shuttle Challenger. He was 85. From the report: Weitz died in Flagstaff, Ariz., on Monday; he had been diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, a type of blood cancer. Weitz was born in Erie, Pa., and graduated from Penn State. He joined the Navy and became an aviator and test pilot, eventually rising to the rank of captain. He was chosen in NASA's fifth round of astronaut selection in 1966, as the agency was ramping up for the Apollo moon program. On his first space flight, he served as pilot on Skylab-2 (SL-2), along with Apollo 12 veteran Charles "Pete" Conrad, Jr., and Joseph Kerwin, also a rookie on SL-2. The mission to fix Skylab, which had suffered significant damage during the space station's launch, is still considered one of the most difficult and dangerous in the annals of spaceflight. The three astronauts had to conduct multiple space walks to repair the damaged craft, deploying a giant reflective parasol to act as a sunshade in place of a damaged thermal shield. Weitz logged two hours and 11 minutes in space walks and the crew of the mission established a new world record for time in space -- 672 hours, 49 minutes.

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Legal Hack Back Lets You Go After Attackers In Your Network
Posted by News Fetcher on October 24 '17 at 01:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's right-back-at-ya department:
itwbennett writes: Security startup Cymmetria has a new offering for customers: "legal hack back." The hack back tools have been added to the company's MazeHunter deception technology and will enable "tracking down the attack servers and wiping data originally stolen from their servers, probing the attack infrastructure for weaknesses to exploit, disabling the systems controlling malware, looking for information about the attackers to use in attribution, and launching distributed denial-of-service attacks to slow down criminal operations," but security teams are restricted to taking these actions on systems within their organizations, writes Fahmida Rashid in CSO Online. "Legal hack back via MazeHunter is more than traditional incident response because the organization can run a payload on the infected machine to engage with the attacker even before the forensics part of the investigation is complete," said Gadi Evron, founder and CEO of Cymmetria.

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Congress Opens Probe Into FBI's Handling of Clinton Email Investigation
Posted by News Fetcher on October 24 '17 at 01:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's never-ending-saga department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Two House committees announced Tuesday that they would conduct a joint probe into the FBI's handling of the Clinton e-mail investigation. The Clinton investigation concluded with no charges being levied against the former secretary of state who was running for president under the Democratic ticket. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said in a joint statement that they are unsatisfied with how the probe into Clinton's private e-mail server concluded. Among other things, the chairmen want to know why the bureau publicly said it was investigating Clinton while keeping silent that it was looking into President Donald Trump's campaign associates and their connections to Russia.

"Our justice system is represented by a blind-folded woman holding a set of scales. Those scales do not tip to the right or the left; they do not recognize wealth, power, or social status," Goodlatte and Gowdy said in a joint statement. "The impartiality of our justice system is the bedrock of our republic, and our fellow citizens must have confidence in its objectivity, independence, and evenhandedness. The law is the most equalizing force in this country. No entity or individual is exempt from oversight."

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