By EditorDavid from Slashdot's making-bank department
An anonymous reader quotes CNN:
The Federal Reserve has dropped the hammer on Wells Fargo, [handing] down unprecedented punishment late Friday for what it called the bank's "widespread consumer abuses," including its notorious creation of millions of fake customer accounts. Wells Fargo won't be allowed to get any bigger than it was at the end of last year -- $2 trillion in assets -- until the Fed is satisfied that it has cleaned up its act. Under pressure from the Fed, the bank agreed to remove three people from the board of directors by April and a fourth by the end of the year. It is the first time the Federal Reserve has imposed a cap on the entire assets of a financial institution, according to a Fed official. "We cannot tolerate pervasive and persistent misconduct at any bank," outgoing Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen said in a statement. Friday was her last day on the job....
Wells Fargo admitted that its workers responded to wildly unrealistic sales goals by creating as many as 3.5 million fake accounts. The bank has also said it forced up to 570,000 customers into unneeded auto insurance... About 20,000 of those customers had their cars wrongfully repossessed in part due to these unwanted insurance charges. In August, Wells Fargo was sued by small business owners who say the bank used deceptive language to dupe mom-and-pop businesses into paying "massive early termination fees." The company was in the headlines again in October for charging about 110,000 mortgage borrowers undue fees.
One U.S. congressman argued that the harsh penalty "demonstrates that we have the tools to rein in Wall Street -- if our regulators have the guts to use them."
Wells Fargo has also spent $3.3 billion on legal bills in just the last three months of 2017.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's how-low-can-you-go department
More drama is unfolding in the ultra-competitive retro arcade gaming scene... Billy Mitchell, the arcade legend who appeared as a central character opposite Steve Wiebe in the documentary The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, has been accused of cheating his way into the record books for high scores in Donkey Kong. As a result, he's now been stripped of his 1.062 million score on the Donkey Kong Forums...
The legitimacy of his score was called into question by Donkey Kong high score judge Jeremy "Xelnia" Young laid out a body of evidence that seems to prove Mitchell recorded several of his high scores on the open source arcade emulator MAME, though he claimed his scores were obtained on an original arcade cabinet, and therefore were not subject to same strict authentication requirements. "It's possible they were recorded in one shot," Young says, but "Given the play style in Billy's videos, it's more likely that vanilla MAME's INP recording feature was abused."
Twin Galaxies recently threw out the 35-year-old record for the Atari 2600 game Dragster, and has now said they're "in the process of fully reviewing the compelling evidence provided by Jeremy Young."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's wrong-numbers department
An anonymous reader brings more updates about the 'Swat' call that led to a fatal police shooting:
The gamer who dared another gamer to send police officers to his home had offered the address where he used to live, until his family was evicted in 2016. While he may also be charged for the fatal shooting that followed, the victim's family has now sued the city of Wichita as well as its police officers, with their attorney saying the city "is trying to put all the blame on the young man in California who placed the swatting call. But let's be clear: the swatter did not shoot the bullet that killed Andy Finch. That was an officer working under the direction of the Wichita Police Department."
The attorney points out that the 911 caller in California provided a description of the house which didn't match the actual house in Kansas, adding "How can Wichita police department officers not be trained to deal with this type of situation...? Prank calls are not new," according to CBS News. "The lawsuit cites FBI crime statistics showing Wichita has a ratio of one shooting death for every 120 officers -- a number that is 11 times greater than the national ratio and 12 times greater than the ratio in Chicago."
Meanwhle, Kansas lawmakers have introduced a new bill proposing a penalty of 10 to 40 years in prison if a swatting call ends in a person's death, which would also cause the offense to be prosecuted as murder.
One lawmaker argues that the bill is necessary because under the current system if a person phones in a swat call, "there's really no consequence for his actions."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's I-see-what-you-did-there department
A European data privacy law goes into effect in May, but it's already having far reaching consequences, especially when it comes to publicly available WHOIS data. Motherboard spoke to a domain registrar, ICANN and some security researchers about how anticipation of the EU privacy laws implementation has already gutted WHOIS data, why this is dangerous and what the future of WHOIS looks like.
ICANN requires registars to make data on their customers publicly available -- but registrars would be more than happy to stop, according to Tim Chen, the CEO of a WHOIS data analytics firm. Besides hiding their customer lists, it would also address complaints about spammers harvesting email addresses. So registars like GoDaddy "are taking this opportunity to see how far they can push things."
But the article has some sympathy for ICANN. "On the one hand, the organization is under pressure from law enforcement officials and security researchers who depend on WHOIS data to investigate possible crimes or mitigate devastating malware attacks. On the other hand, the organization must also accomodate laws like the GDPR that are the only bulwark against the wholesale of individuals' data by internet giants like Google and Facebook." In 2014 ICANN suggested a "gated" registry that would only authorize access to people who identified themselves and their purpose for accessing the data. But progress has been slow, according to the article, which adds "It's uncertain when ICANN will have a finalized protocol for a next generation version of WHOIS, but an overhaul of this nearly 30-year-old protocol is long overdue.
"The notion that individual data should require a requester to also provide their own data is both equitable and intuitive -- the only remaining question is how to make it work."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's aloha department
This week Hawaii finally fired the employee who issued a false missile alert warning to the entire state, while the head of the state's emergency management agency resigned, another official quit, and a fourth was suspended over the incident. But new details also emerged about the incident:
After alerting workers on the wrong shift, the night supervisor "had started the drill by calling the day shift warning officers, who had not been told there was to be an exercise, and pretending to be U.S. Pacific Command," reports the Guardian, citing the FCC's investigation. The investigation confirmed that his script for the drill included the phrase "this is not a drill" (though it also began and ended with the words "exercise, exercise, exercise.")
The New York Daily News reports that the warning officer missed those words "because someone in the office picked up the receiver instead of hitting the speaker." And he insists that "I'm really not to blame in this. It was a system failure. And I did what I was trained to do. I can't say that I would do anything differently based on what I saw and heard." His lawyer adds that "The place was a circus and they got their scapegoat... All that was missing were clowns and balloons."
The fired worker now plans to sue the state of Hawaii for defamation, and possibly also for libel and slander, according to his lawyer, "because they lied about what happened." He also says that his client has already received numerous death threats.
Washington Post audience editor says the incident happened "because Hawaii rewards incompetence," noting the employee behind the missile alert "had a history of performance problems and had been 'a source of concern,'" adding that the FCC reported that previously the employee "has confused real life events and drills on at least two separate occasions."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's hot-products department
An anonymous reader quotes Reuters:
A handful of tweets and four days later, Silicon Valley billionaire Elon Musk has closed orders for his latest novelty product, after selling 20,000 flamethrowers at $500 a piece. "Guaranteed to liven up any party!" was Musk's tagline for a sale which raised $10 million for his high-speed tunnel venture The Boring Company... "When the zombie apocalypse happens, you'll be glad you bought a flamethrower," he tweeted last Saturday. "Works against hordes of the undead or your money back!"
The fundraising comes as Tesla "struggles" meet its production commitments, notes the article, adding that analysts are wondering if the car manufacturer will eventually need billions more in funding.
By Wednesday Musk had sold out his entire suppy of flamethrowers, though "Apparently, some customs agencies are saying they won't allow shipment of anything called a 'Flamethrower'," Musk tweeted Friday night, adding "To solve this, we are renaming it 'Not a Flamethrower'."
"Or maybe 'Temperature Enhancement Device.'"Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's not-so-cold-cases department
An anonymous reader quotes the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
A private investigative team announced Thursday morning that members now believe D.B. Cooper was a black ops CIA operative possibly even involved with Iran-Contra, and that his identity has been actively hidden by government agents. The 40-member cold-case team comprised of several former FBI agents and led by Thomas and Dawna Colbert made its latest reveal after a code breaker working with the team found connections in each of five letters allegedly sent by Cooper in the days following the famed hijacking in 1971.
What's more, several people who knew Colbert's top suspect, a man named Robert W. Rackstraw, have noted possible connections to the CIA and to top-secret operations, Colbert said. "The new decryptions include a dare to agents, directives to apparent partners, and a startling claim that is followed by Rackstraw's own initials: If captured, he expects a get-out-of-jail card from a federal spy agency," Colbert said in a news release... In a brief phone call last year, Rackstraw only told SeattlePI to verify Colbert's claims; he didn't issue a denial, or comment further on Colbert's investigation...
Late last year, Colbert's team obtained a fifth letter allegedly sent by Cooper that Colbert said supports a possible FBI cover-up, but also included random letters and numbers. A code breaker on Colbert's team was able to decode the letters and numbers and find they pointed to three Army units Rackstraw was connected to during his military service in Vietnam. The code was meant to serve as a signal to his co-conspirators that he was alive and well after the jump, Colbert said... Another letter, in which Cooper claimed to be CIA openly, also had the letters "RWR" at the end -- the initials of Robert W. Rackstraw, according to Colbert.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's more-the-merrier department
_Sharp'r_ writes: According to a new study by Uber's Advanced Technology Group, widespread adoption of self-driving trucks would happen primarily on long-haul routes. The increase in efficiency would lead to more goods being trucked, causing enough additional local delivery routes driven by humans to overall increase the need for truck drivers. Driver contracts may need to be updated to pay for more time spent waiting/delivering instead of physically driving. "Uber does not believe that self-driving trucks will be doing 'dock to dock' runs for a very long time," reports The Atlantic. "They see a future in which self-driving trucks drive highway miles between what they call transfer hubs, where human drivers will take over for the last miles through complex urban and industrial terrain."
As for how Uber came to this conclusion, they created a model of the industry's labor market based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data. "Then, they created scenarios that looked at a range of self-driving-truck adoption rates and how often those autonomous trucks would be on the road in comparison to human-driven vehicles," reports The Atlantic. Uber also calculated the utilization rate of the self-driving trucks. "Basically, if the self-driving trucks are used far more efficiently, it would drive down the cost of freight, which would stimulate demand, leading to more business," reports The Atlantic. "And, if more freight is out on the roads, and humans are required to run it around local areas, then there will be a greater, not lesser, need for truck drivers."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's two-is-better-than-one department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The New York Times (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source): Two types of bacteria commonly found in the gut work together to fuel the growth of colon tumors, researchers reported on Thursday. Their study, published in the journal Science, describes what may be a hidden cause of colon cancer, the third most common cancer in the United States. The research also adds to growing evidence that gut bacteria modify the body's immune system in unexpected and sometimes deadly ways. The findings suggest that certain preventive strategies may be effective in the future, like looking for the bacteria in the colons of people getting colonoscopies. If the microbes are present, the patients might warrant more frequent screening; eventually people at high risk for colon cancer may be vaccinated against at least one of the bacterial strains. Two types of bacteria, Bacteroides fragilis and a strain of E. coli, can pierce a mucus shield that lines the colon and normally blocks invaders from entering, the researchers found. Once past the protective layer, the bacteria grow into a long, thin film, covering the intestinal lining with colonies of the microbes. E. coli then releases a toxin that damages DNA of colon cells, while B. fragilis produces another poison that both damages DNA and inflames the cells. Together they enhance the growth of tumors. Not everyone carries the two types of bacteria in their colon. Those who do seem to pick up microbes in childhood, where they simply become part of the diverse mass of bacteria in the intestinal tract -- the so-called microbiome.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's equivocal-evidence department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: New studies from the National Institutes of Health -- specifically the National Toxicology Program -- find that cell phone radiation is potentially linked with certain forms of cancer, but they're far from conclusive. The results are complex and the studies have yet to be peer-reviewed, but some of the findings are clearly important enough to warrant public discussion. An early, partial version of this study teasing these effects appeared in 2016, but these are the full (draft) reports complete with data. Both papers note that "studies published to date have not demonstrated consistently increased incidences of tumors at any site associate with exposure to cell phone RFR [radio frequency radiation] in rats or mice." But the researchers felt that "based on the designs of the existing studies, it is difficult to definitively conclude that these negative results clearly indicate that cell phone RFR is not carcinogenic."
The studies exposed mice and rats to both 900 MHz and 1900 Mhz wavelength radio waves (each frequency being its own experiment) for about 9 hours per day, at various strengths ranging from 1 to 10 watts per kilogram. For comparison, the general limit the FCC imposes for exposure is 0.08 W/kg; the absolute maximum allowed, for the extremities of people with occupational exposures, is 20 W/kg for no longer than 6 minutes. So they were really blasting these mice. The rodents were examined for various health effects after various durations, from 28 days to 2 years. At 1900 MHz: Equivocal evidence of carcinogenicity in lung, liver and other organ tissues in both male and female mice.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's what-will-they-think-of-next department
After six years with the company, Sony CEO Kaz Hirai will step down from his post on April 1, 2018. He will remain with the company as chairman, and the CEO seat will be filled by current CFO Kenichiro Yoshida. Samuel Axon reports via Ars Technica of the reputation his successor has built for making touch cuts to get back in the black: Hirai is perhaps best known to the general public for his role in the PlayStation business, which is where the majority of his background with the company lies. He was involved in developing the PlayStation's software lineup in the late '90s, and Hirai famously unveiled the PlayStation 3 before he became CEO. That unveiling might better be described as infamous: he announced the console's launch models at the extremely steep prices of $499 and $599, leading to shock and ire in the gaming community. The cheaper of those two was almost a non-starter, lacking Wi-Fi and adequate hard drive storage. That memorable blunder aside, investors in Sony have enjoyed significant gains in the six years since Hirai became CEO -- though the company has only been regaining partial ground since it fell a long way from its peak back in 2000. He has kept Sony's efforts diversified across several markets and products, from computers to Hollywood movies. But much of the company's success under Hirai can be attributed to two things: the PlayStation division (whose profits rose by 70 percent over the holidays) and image sensors that Sony produces and sells to other companies for inclusion in various devices. Other divisions, like mobile, were de-emphasized as Hirai and Yoshida worked together to get Sony's house in order. [...] In other words, Yoshida made his mark on Sony by helping Hirai make tough calls to make major cuts to get the company on the right track. That effort is ongoing, so expect continuing changes with regards to both Sony's tech and entertainment products.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's he-said-she-said department
After dragging Cloudflare to court and accusing the web services company of various types of copyright and trademark infringement, noting that several customers used Cloudflare's servers to distribute pirated content, adult publisher ALS Scan told the California District Court this week that the company should be held liable for copyright infringements committed by its customers. According to TorrentFreak, "The company requests a partial summary judgement, claiming that the CDN provider assists pirates and doesn't qualify for safe harbor protection." From the report: "The evidence is undisputed," ALS writes. "Cloudflare materially assists website operators in reproduction, distribution and display of copyrighted works, including infringing copies of ALS works. Cloudflare also masks information about pirate sites and their hosts." ALS anticipates that Cloudflare may argue that the company or its clients are protected by the DMCA's safe harbor provision, but contests this claim. The publisher notes that none of the customers registered the required paperwork at the U.S. Copyright Office. "Cloudflare may say that the Cloudflare Customer Sites are themselves service providers entitled to DMCA protections, however, none have qualified for safe harbors by submitting the required notices to the U.S. Copyright Office. Cloudflare may say that the Cloudflare Customer Sites are themselves service providers entitled to DMCA protections, however, none have qualified for safe harbors by submitting the required notices to the U.S. Copyright Office."
< article continued at Slashdot's he-said-she-said department
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By BeauHD from Slashdot's out-with-the-old-in-with-the-new department
Several news features rolling out to Chromebooks paint a picture of the future of Chrome OS as the rightful replacement for Android tablet software. Those include a new split-screen feature for multitasking while in tablet mode, and a screenshot feature borrowed from Android. The Verge reports: As it stands now, Chrome OS is very close to taking up the mantle there, and features like this push it ever closer to becoming the hybrid OS for all types of Google-powered screens. This has been in the works for quite a while as Google's Chrome and Android teams have coordinated closely to ensure the influx of low-cost, hybrid computing devices like 2-in-1 Chromebooks get the best of both worlds. There is, of course, Android app compatibility on Chrome OS, an initiative that first arrived somewhat half-baked last year and has taken months to fully jell as Google worked out the kinks. For instance, just last month Google added the ability for Android apps on Chromebooks run in the background. In July of last year, Google also began embarking on a touch-focused redesign of Chrome OS to make the software more functional in tablet mode. We're likely not getting the full-blown merging of the two divisions and their respective platforms anytime soon, or perhaps ever, as Google has played with the idea for years without ever seeming to decide that one platform should supersede the other. In essence, however, Android remains Google's dominant mobile OS, while Chrome OS has been taking on more responsibility as Chromebooks have steadily become more capable and tablet-like.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's entry-level department
Microsoft has begun offering a lower specced Surface laptop running Windows 10 S and an Intel Core m3 processor. It's priced at $799, compared to the standard model's $999 price, and is only available in the platinum color configuration. Windows Central reports: The Intel Core m3 spec is paired with 4GB of RAM and 128GB Storage. This is definitely not a high-end model of the Surface Laptop, but it's still a premium one, with the same Alcantara fabric and high-quality display found on other Surface Laptop SKUs. Microsoft offers an Intel Core m3 model of the Surface Pro priced at $799 also, however that SKU doesn't come bundled with a keyboard or pen. At least with the Surface Laptop, you're getting a keyboard and trackpad in the box, so perhaps the Intel Core m3 Laptop is going to be the better choice for many. If you're looking for a straight laptop by Microsoft, that is. Some other specs include a 2256 x 1504 resolution display, Intel HD graphics 615, 720p webcam with Windows Hello face-authentication, Omnisonic speakers with Dolby Audio Premium, one full-size USB 3.0 port, Mini DisplayPort, headphone jack and Surface Connect port. The device measures in a 12.13 inches x 8.79 inches x 0.57 inches and weighs 2.76 pounds.Read Replies (0)