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Court Rejects Massive Torrent Damages Claim, Admin Avoids Jail
Posted by News Fetcher on October 11 '16 at 03:58 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's trouble-case-of-piracy-and-law department:
A former torrent site operator has largely avoided the goals of an aggressive movie industry prosecution in Sweden. Against a backdrop of demands for years in prison and millions in damages, the 25-year-old owner of private tracker SwePiracy was handed 100 hours community service and told to pay $194,000, TorrentFreak reported Tuesday. The torrent website in question is SwePiracy, and it has existed since 2006. Naturally, it became the target of many anti-piracy outfits. In 2012, the website was shut down in a coordinated effort with anti-piracy group Antipiratbyran. The report adds: Earlier this year its now 25-year-old operator appeared in court to answer charges relating to the unlawful distribution of a sample 27 movies between March 2011 and February 2012. The prosecution demanded several years in prison and nearly $3 million (25k kronor) in damages. During the trial last month, SwePiracy defense lawyer Per E. Samuelsson, who also represents Julian Assange and previously took part in The Pirate Bay trial, said the claims against his client were the most unreasonable he'd seen in his 35 years as a lawyer. After deliberating for three weeks, the Norrkoping District Court handed down its decision today. SwePiracy's former operator was found guilty of copyright infringement but it appears the prosecution's demands for extremely harsh punishment were largely dismissed. The torrent site operator avoided a lengthy jail sentence and was sentenced to probation and 100 hours community service instead.

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White House Vows 'Proportional' Response For Russian DNC Hack
Posted by News Fetcher on October 11 '16 at 02:24 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's back-to-you department:
After the Director of National Intelligence and Department of Homeland Security publicly blamed Russia for stealing and publishing archived emails from the Democratic National Committee on Friday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said today that President Obama will consider a "proportional" response. ABC News reports: "We obviously will ensure that a U.S. response is proportional. It is unlikely that our response would be announced in advanced. It's certainly possible that the president could choose response options that we never announce," Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force One. "The president has talked before about the significant capabilities that the U.S. government has to both defend our systems in the United States but also carry out offensive operations in other countries," he added. "There are a range of responses that are available to the president and he will consider a response that's proportional." The Wall Street Journal report mentions several different ways to response to Russia. The U.S. could impose economic sanctions against Moscow, punish Russia diplomatically, opt to allow the Justice Department to simply prosecute the hacks as a criminal case, and/or launch a U.S. cyberattack targeting Russia's election process. Of course, each response has its pros and cons. "They could escalate into a more adversarial conflict between both countries," writes Carol E. Lee for the Wall Street Journal. "But the absence of a response could signal that such behavior will be tolerated in the future."

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Mobile VR Is 'Coasting On Novelty', Says John Carmack
Posted by News Fetcher on October 11 '16 at 02:24 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's pushing-the-limits department:
John Carmack, chief technology officer at Oculus, says mobile VR is currently "coasting on novelty." Speaking during the Oculus Connect event, Carmack urged developers to "be harder" on themselves and create experiences on par with non-VR applications and games. "We are coasting on novelty, and the initial wonder of being something people have never seen before," he said. From a CNET report:"But we need to start judging ourselves. Not on a curve, but in an absolute sense. Can you do something in VR that has the same value, or more value, than what these other [non-VR] things have done?" During his speech, Carmack highlighted loading times in mobile VR games as a key area in need of improvement, saying that making users sit through 30-seconds of loading is too long, given the brevity of most currently available VR experiences. "That's acceptable if you're going to sit down and play for an hour ... but [in VR] initial startup time really is poisonous. An analogy I like to say is, imagine if your phone took 30 seconds to unlock every time you wanted to use it. You'd use it a lot less." He continued: "There are apps that I wanted to play, that I thought looked great, that I stopped playing because they had too long of a load time. I would say 20 seconds should be an absolute limit on load times, and even then I'm pushing people to get it much, much lower."

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How a Video Game About Sheep Exposes the FBI's Broken FOIA System
Posted by News Fetcher on October 11 '16 at 01:02 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's behind-the-scenes department:
blottsie writes from a report via Daily Dot: Earlier this year, the FBI released a free, online video game featuring sheep in its attempts to fight terrorism recruitment efforts. The game is called The Slippery Slope of Violent Extremism, and it is a real thing that exists. You can play it here. After journalists filed a FOIA request to find out more about the game, the FBI said it would take two years to respond -- a staggeringly long wait that helps expose how the Bureau actively avoids responding to open-records requests. The information requested asked for "all documents -- specifically memos, email correspondence, and budgets -- around the development, release, and public reception of the FBI's Slippery Slope game. It's the one with the sheep." There are several reasons why it would take two years to respond. One reason is because of the lack of requests. "If 500 people want to have the FBI file on a famous dead person, that's going to be available, and it's going to be available quickly," J. Pat Brown, an employee at MuckRock, a nonprofit that helps journalists, researchers, good government groups, and interested members of the public make FOIA requests of government agencies, said. "But basic requests about agency activities are pushed into their own pile," adds Daily Dot. Another part of the problem has to do with the outdated technology used by government agencies. "Many of the computers the FBI is using to search for this material are from the 1980s and lack graphical interfaces. Outdated technology being a hurdle to government transparency is common across many federal agencies. The CIA only accepts FOIA request by fax machine, for example," reports Daily Dot. "In 2013, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, which oversees the NSA among other agencies, was unable to accept FOIA requests for months because its fax machine broke and it had to wait until the next fiscal year to get it replaced." What's more is that government agencies are often not required to disclose information after long wait times for processing FOIAs. "As Ginger McCall of the Electronic Privacy Information Center told the Daily Dot in 2014, she once waited four years with near total silence on a FOIA request about the TSA's airport body-scanner technology only to get a note out of the blue from TSA saying she had to respond with 30 days if she wanted them to continue processing her request," reports Daily Dot. "When McCall reached out to others who had made FOIA requests to agencies under the Department of Homeland Security umbrella, they reported similar experiences."

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Sprint To Provide 1 Million Students With Free Internet, Mobile Devices
Posted by News Fetcher on October 11 '16 at 01:02 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's free-for-all department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Wireless carrier Sprint Corp on Tuesday pledged to provide 1 million U.S. high school students with free mobile devices and internet access as part of a White House initiative to expand opportunities for lower income kids. Marcelo Claure, chief executive of Sprint, said the plan builds on the company's prior commitment through the White House's ConnectED program to get 50,000 students high speed internet. He said Sprint realized that while providing students with internet at school was helpful, students would still need to be able to use the internet at home. "We are going to equip 1 million kids with the tools they need to reach their full potential and achieve their dreams," Claure told reporters on a White House call. Sprint aims to give cell phones, tablets, laptops or mobile hot spots to students who do not have internet at home. Students would be able to choose the type of device that might meet their needs and it would be coupled with four years of free data plans. The company hopes to reach its goal of a million students in five years. Manufacturers have agreed to provide the mobile devices at no cost, Claure said. He also said the company would encourage customers to donate their old devices to the program and that it would not cost Sprint much to allow the free use of its network.

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'StrongPity' Malware Infects Users Through Legitimate WinRAR and TrueCrypt Installers
Posted by News Fetcher on October 11 '16 at 11:42 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's security-blues department:
Kaspersky Labs has revealed a new strain of malware -- named 'StrongPity' which targets users looking for two popular applications - WinRaR and TrueCrypt. The malware contains components that not only has the ability to give attackers complete control on the victim's computer, but also steal disk contents and download other software that the cybercriminals need. From a Neowin report: To be able to gather victims, the attackers have built special fake websites that supposedly host the two programs. One instance that was discovered by the researchers is that the criminals transposed two letters in a domain name, in order to fool the potential victim into thinking that the program was a legitimate WinRAR installer website.

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Comcast Fined $2.3 Million by FCC For 'Negative Option Billing' Practices
Posted by News Fetcher on October 11 '16 at 10:23 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's payback department:
The FCC announced a $2.3 million fine against Comcast on Tuesday after confirming that the company had been billing customers for products and services they had never ordered. After calling the fine "the largest civil penalty assessed from a cable operator by the FCC," the federal agency's announcement detailed exactly how Comcast bilked customers -- and new company practices that must be put into place as a result. According to the FCC's Office of Media Relations, the agency had received "numerous complaints from consumers" about the issue of "negative option billing" -- meaning, receiving charges for items that the customers had never affirmatively requested. (The FCC reminds readers that in the telecom world, this practice is known as "cramming.") The listed complaints revolve specifically around items related to cable TV service, including "premium channels, set-top boxes, and DVRs."

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Facebook, Instagram, Twitter Block Tool For Cops To Surveil You On Social Media
Posted by News Fetcher on October 11 '16 at 10:23 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's privacy-woes department:
On Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of California announced that, after the organization obtained revealing documents through public records access requests, Facebook and Instagram have cut off data access to a company that sells surveillance products for law enforcement. Twitter has also curbed the surveillance product's access. Motherboard reports: The product, called Geofeedia, is used by law enforcement to monitor social media on a large scale, and relies on social media sites' APIs or other means of access. According to one internal email between a Geofeedia representative and police, the company claimed their product "covered Ferguson/Mike Brown nationally with great success," in reference to the fatal police shooting of a black teenager in Missouri in 2014, and subsequent protests. "Our location-based intelligence platform enables hundreds of organizations around the world to predict, analyze, and act based on real-time social media signals," the company's website reads. According to the ACLU, Instagram provided Geofeedia access to its API; Facebook gave access to a data feed called the Topic Feed API, which presents users with a ranked list of public posts; and Twitter provided Geofeedia, through an intermediary, with searchable access to its database of public tweets. Instagram and Facebook terminated Geofeedia's access on September 19, and Twitter announced on Tuesday that it had suspended Geofeedia's commercial access to Twitter data.

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Google Research Promotes Equality In Machine Learning, Doesn't Mention Age
Posted by News Fetcher on October 11 '16 at 09:03 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's machine-learning-push department:
An anonymous reader writes: New research from Google Brain examines the problem of 'prejudice by inference' in supervised learning -- the syndrome by which 'fairness through unawareness' can fail; for example, when the information that a loan applicant is female is not included in the data set, but gender can be inferred from other data factors which are included, such as whether the applicant is a single parent. Since 82% of single parents are female, there is a high probability that the applicant is female. The proposed framework shifts the cost of poor predictions to the decision-maker, who is responsible for investing in the accuracy of their prediction systems. Though Google Brain's proposals aim to reduce or eliminate inadvertent prejudice on the basis of race, religion or gender, it is interesting to note that it makes no mention of age prejudice -- currently a subject of some interest to Google.

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Amazon Eyes Its Own Convenience Stores In Addition To Drive-Up Grocery Sites
Posted by News Fetcher on October 11 '16 at 09:03 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's convenient-expansion department:
Amazon's next push into the grocery business could be convenience stores as well as curbside pickup locations, reports WSJ. The Seattle-based company aims to build small brick and mortar stores that would sell things like milk, meat and other perishable items (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled;
alternate source). GeekWire adds: But the convenience stores are a new twist. The WSJ says Amazon "aims to build small brick-and-mortar stores that would sell produce, milk, meats and other perishable items that customers can take home," according to its sources. "Primarily using their mobile phones or, possibly, touch screens around the store, customers could also order peanut butter, cereal and other goods with longer shelf lives for same-day delivery." However, the report cautions, the convenience stores "may take a year or more to open while Amazon scouts locations, and may be shelved because of financial or operational concerns, the people said."

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Second Hacker Group Targets SWIFT Users, Symantec Warns
Posted by News Fetcher on October 11 '16 at 07:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department:
A second hacking group has sought to rob banks using fraudulent SWIFT messages, cyber security firm Symantec said on Tuesday. The group is said to be using the same approach that resulted in $81 million in the high-profile February attack on Bangladesh's central bank. From a Reuters report: Symantec said that a group dubbed Odinaff has infected 10 to 20 Symantec customers with malware that can be used to hide fraudulent transfer requests made over SWIFT, the messaging system that is a lynchpin of the global financial system. Symantec's research provided new insight into ongoing hacking that has previously been disclosed by SWIFT. SWIFT Chief Executive Gottfried Leibbrandt last month told customers about three hacks and warned that cyber attacks on banks are poised to rise. SWIFT and Symantec have not identified specific victims beyond Bangladesh Bank. Symantec said that most Odinaff attacks occurred in the United States, Hong Kong, Australia, the United Kingdom and Ukraine.

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Barack Obama: America Will Take the Giant Leap To Mars, To Send People There by the 2030s
Posted by News Fetcher on October 11 '16 at 07:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's giant-leap department:
The United States President Barack Obama said Tuesday the country will send Americans to Mars by the 2030s and return them "safely to Earth." This is all part of a longer-term goal of making it possible to "one day remain there for an extended time," he added in an op-ed published on CNN. The effort will require cooperation between public and private space interests in meeting that goal, the president added. As a sign of forward progress, private space companies will send astronauts to the International Space Station within the next two years. "Someday, I hope to hoist my own grandchildren onto my shoulders. We'll still look to the stars in wonder, as humans have since the beginning of time," Obama wrote. "But instead of eagerly awaiting the return of our intrepid explorers, we'll know that because of the choices we make now, they've gone to space not just to visit, but to stay -- and in doing so, to make our lives better here on Earth." The White House in a joint blog post with NASA said that seven companies have received awards to develop habitation systems. And this fall, NASA will provide companies with the opportunity to add modules and other capabilities to the International Space Station.

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Fedora 25 Beta Released With GNOME 3.22 and Linux Kernel 4.8.1
Posted by News Fetcher on October 11 '16 at 07:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's linux-delights department:
Reader prisoninmate writes: Fedora Project released of the Beta milestone of the upcoming Fedora 25 Linux operating system, due for release in mid-November. Powered by Linux kernel 4.8.1, the Fedora 25 Beta is shipping with the recently released GNOME 3.22 desktop environment, which is enabled by default on top of a Wayland 1.12 session for the Workstation Edition). Of course, you'll also find the latest software versions, including the LibreOffice 5.2.2 office suite, Flatpak 0.6.12, Mozilla Firefox 49.0 web browser, and LibVirt 2.2.0. Additionally, users will find the Mesa 12.0.3 3D Graphics Library for better and faster graphics support, OpenSSH 7.3p1 and OpenSSL 1.0.2j for improved security, Python 3.5.2, Samba 4.5.0, systemd 231, TigerVNC 1.7.0, and the latest Git snapshot of the upcoming X.Org Server 1.19.0 display server. Fedora 25 Beta Workstation is available for download now.

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Nokia Crawls Towards Comeback With New Phones Announcement
Posted by News Fetcher on October 11 '16 at 06:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's prepping-return department:
An anonymous reader shares a report on The Register: The "new Nokia" appears going for volume rather than margins as it makes a comeback into phones. A new venture called HMD Global has licensed the rights to the Nokia brand for use in phones, which will be made by Foxconn. Three or four new Nokia-branded devices will be launched, Nokia's China chief suggested in August, with the first to be announced before Christmas. Benchmarks for one device, named in the benchmarks as the "D1C" have been spotted, indicating a solid midrange device, with 3GB of RAM, and Android Nougat 7. The CPU is identified as a Qualcomm Snapdragon 430 octa core running at 1.4Ghz. In 2013, Microsoft bought the exclusive right to use the Nokia brand for phones, for a limited period. That exclusivity period expires at the end of this year.

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Dozens of Suspicious Court Cases Aim At Getting Web Pages Taken Down Or Deindexed
Posted by News Fetcher on October 11 '16 at 06:21 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's online-censorship department:
schwit1 quotes a report written by Eugene Volokh via Washington Post: There are about 25 court cases throughout the country that have a suspicious profile: All involve allegedly self-represented plaintiffs, yet they have similar snippets of legalese that suggest a common organization behind them. (A few others, having a slightly different profile, involve actual lawyers.) All the ostensible defendants ostensibly agreed to injunctions being issued against them, which often leads to a very quick court order (in some cases, less than a week).Of these 25-odd cases, 15 give the addresses of the defendants -- but a private investigator (Giles Miller of Lynx Insights and Investigations) couldn't find a single one of the ostensible defendants at the ostensible address.Now, you might ask, what's the point of suing a fake defendant (to the extent that some of these defendants are indeed fake)? How can anyone get any real money from a fake defendant? How can anyone order a fake defendant to obey a real injunction? The answer is that Google and various other Internet platforms have a policy: They won't take down material (or, in Google's case, remove it from Google indexes) just because someone says it's defamatory. Understandable -- why would these companies want to adjudicate such factual disputes? But if they see a court order that declares that some material is defamatory, they tend to take down or deindex the material, relying on the court's decision. Yet the trouble is that these Internet platforms can't really know if the injunction was issued against the actual author of the supposed defamation -- or against a real person at all.

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WikiLeaks Publishes Cryptic UFO Emails Sent To Clinton Campaign From Former Blink 182 Singer
Posted by News Fetcher on October 11 '16 at 04:51 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's what-does-it-mean department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: The former lead singer of Blink 182, Tom DeLonge, has publicly admitted to his obsession with UFOs -- but that still doesn't explain why he was sending two cryptic messages about alien spacecrafts to Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman John Podesta, as the Wall Street Journal reported earlier today. The former rockstar's UFO emails became public in the latest Wikleaks dump, published earlier this month. DeLonge, who is best known for his shitty guitar riffs and vocals in songs like "What's My Age Again," emailed Podesta at least twice from his personal account, urging him to meet in person so he could introduce Podesta to high-level officials (presumably with info about UFOs). Here's a small taste of one of the messages: "I would like to bring two very 'important' people out to meet you in DC. I think you will find them very interesting, as they were principal leadership relating to our sensitive topic. Both were in charge of most fragile divisions, as it relates to Classified Science and DOD topics. Other words, these are A-Level officials. Worth our time, and as well the investment to bring all the way out to you. I just need 2 hours from you." In another email, DeLonge said he's been working with someone named General McCasland, and explained some of the General's public comments. The email is rather strange, given that there's no specific request made or really any context at all for the message: "He mentioned he's a 'skeptic,' he's not.... He just has to say that out loud, but he is very, very aware -- as he was in charge of all of the stuff. When Roswell crashed, they shipped it to the laboratory at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. General McCasland was in charge of that exact laboratory up to a couple years ago." It's unclear if Podesta ever responded to the messages, but he has shown interest in UFOs in the past. When he stepped down from his role as a senior advisor to President Barack Obama, Podesta tweeted, "Finally, my biggest failure of 2014: Once again not securing the #disclosure of the UFO files. #thetruthisstilloutthere cc: @NYTimesDowd." The famous tweet now appears under the name of Obama's new senior advisor Brian Deese.

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Samsung Permanently Discontinues Galaxy Note 7
Posted by News Fetcher on October 11 '16 at 02:12 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's fail-whale department:
After the replacement units of Galaxy Note 7 also started to catch fire, Samsung is now permanently discontinuing its latest flagship smartphone (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; alternate source), the company said today. The news comes a day after Samsung halted sales of Note 7 once again and began asking users to return the device. So far nearly 50 incidents of Note 7 causing fires have been reported. More importantly, many people have been physically injured with their new Galaxy phone catching fire. WSJ reports: Samsung said in a filing with South Korean regulators on Tuesday that it would permanently cease sales of the device, a day after it announced a temporary halt to production of the smartphones. "Taking our customer's safety as our highest priority, we have decided to halt sales and production of the Galaxy Note 7," the company said. The move comes on a day when Samsung shares tumbled 8%, its biggest one-day decline in eight years, amid increasing pressure after a new string of reported smartphone fires in the U.S.

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'Space Brain': Mars Explorers May Risk Neural Damage, Study Finds
Posted by News Fetcher on October 10 '16 at 11:22 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's space-is-a-dangerous-place department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from NBC News: Astronauts making a years-long voyage to Mars may get bombarded with enough cosmic radiation to seriously damage their brains, researchers reported Monday. The damage might be bad enough to affect memory and, worse, might heighten anxiety, the team at the University of California Irvine said. It's the second study the team has done to show that cosmic radiation causes permanent, and likely untreatable, brain damage. While their experiments involve mice, the brain structures that are damaged are similar, they write in the Nature journal Scientific Reports. NASA knows that astronauts risk physical damage from the radiation encountered in space. Earth is enveloped in a large, protective sheath called the magnetosphere, which deflects a lot of the ionizing radioactive particles that speed through space. Teams aboard the International Space Station are inside that envelope. But moon travelers were not, and this summer a study showed the cosmic radiation may have damaged the hearts of many of the Apollo program astronauts. A trip to Mars would expose astronauts to even more radiation -- enough to cause cancer, for sure, and now this research suggests brain damage, as well. They bombarded mice with the same type of radiation that would be encountered in space, and then looked at what happened to their brains. It did not look good. The changes were seen in the connections between brain cells and in the cells, as well. "Exposure to these particles can lead to a range of potential central nervous system complications that can occur during and persist long after actual space travel -- such as various performance decrements, memory deficits, anxiety, depression and impaired decision-making. Many of these adverse consequences to cognition may continue and progress throughout life."

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Climate Change Doubled the Size of Forest Fires In Western US, Says Study
Posted by News Fetcher on October 10 '16 at 08:30 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's it's-getting-hot-in-here department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TIME: Man-made climate change has doubled the total area burned by forest fires in the Western U.S. in the past three decades, according to new research. Damage from forest fires has risen dramatically in recent decades, with the total acres burned in the U.S. rising from 2.9 million in 1985 to 10.1 million in 2015, according to National Interagency Fire Center data. Suppression costs paid by the federal government now top $2 billion. Now a new study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has found that a significant portion of the increase in land burned by forest fires can be attributed to man-made climate change. Other factors are also at play, including natural climate shifts and a change in how humans use land, but man-made climate change has had the biggest impact. That trend will likely continue as temperatures keep rising, researchers said. Climate change contributes to forest fires in a number of ways. Fires kill off trees and other plants that eventually dry and act as the fuel to feed massive wildfires. Global warming also increases the likelihood of the dry, warm weather in which wildfires can thrive. Average temperatures in the Western U.S. rose by 2.5 degree Fahrenheit since 1970, outpacing temperature rise elsewhere on the globe, according to the research.

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Yahoo Disables Automatic Email Forwarding Feature, Making It Difficult For Users To Leave
Posted by News Fetcher on October 10 '16 at 05:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's good-timing department:
After it was revealed that Yahoo secretly scanned customer emails for U.S. intelligence agencies, now's as good of time as any to leave Yahoo Mail. However, the company has made it more difficult to leave by disabling the automatic email forwarding feature. Reuters reports: While those who have set up forwarding in the past are unaffected, users who would want to leave following recent hacking and surveillance revelations are struggling to shift to rival services, the AP reported on Monday. The company has been under scrutiny from investors after disclosing last month that at least 500 million user accounts were stolen from its network in 2014. The AP said that several users were leaving or had already left the service because of the negative headlines. The company's website says that the "automatic email forwarding" feature is under development and has been temporarily disabled.

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