ananyo writes with a story about more concrete plans for a reduced or nuclear-free energy future for Japan. From the article: "It's official: nuclear power will have a much smaller role in Japan's energy future than was once thought. Since the meltdowns and gas explosions at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station in March 2011, all of Japan's remaining reactors have been shut down for inspections and maintenance. The government offered a glimpse of their future, and that of the country's nuclear power in general, when it published an outline of four ways to satisfy Japan's future energy demands. One scenario recommends using a market mechanism to determine the nuclear contribution. Under the other three, nuclear power would supply at most one-quarter of Japan's energy by 2030 — and in one case, none at all. The scenarios come from a 25-person advisory committee to the industry ministry. The sharp reductions in the nuclear power part of the country's energy mix mean that Japan will struggle to reach the 31% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions that it had planned by 2030 (PDF)."
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An anonymous reader writes "U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Smith estimates in a new paper (PDF) that 30,000 secret surveillance orders are approved each year in U.S. courts. 'Though such orders have judicial oversight, few emerge from any sort of adversarial proceeding and many are never unsealed at all.' Smith writes, 'To put this figure in context, magistrate judges in one year generated a volume of secret electronic surveillance cases more than thirty times the annual number of FISA cases; in fact, this volume of ECPA cases is greater than the combined yearly total of all antitrust, employment discrimination, environmental, copyright, patent, trademark, and securities cases filed in federal court.' He also adds a warning: 'Lack of transparency in judicial proceedings has long been recognized as a threat to the rule of law and roundly condemned in ringing phrases by many Supreme Court opinions.'"
snydeq writes "The NYTimes reports on the San Francisco's shifting socio-economic landscape thanks to a massive influx of tech workers and tax and regulation breaks to big-name startups. 'In a city often regarded as unfriendly to business, Mayor Edwin M. Lee, elected last year with the tech industry's strong backing, has aggressively courted start-ups. But this boom has also raised fears about the tech industry's growing political clout and its spillover economic effects. Apartment rents have soared to record highs as affordable housing advocates warn that a new wave of gentrification will price middle-class residents out of the city. At risk, many say, are the very qualities that have drawn generations of outsiders here, like the city's diversity and creativity. Families, black residents, artists and others will increasingly be forced across the bridge to Oakland, they warn.'"
theodp writes "In mid-May, the Department of Homeland Security quietly expanded a program that allows foreign science, technology, engineering and math grads to work in the U.S. for 29 months without a work visa. 'Attracting the best and brightest international talent to our colleges and universities and enabling them to contribute to their professional growth is an important part of our nation's economic, scientific and technological competitiveness,' explained DHS Chief Janet Napolitano. But last week, Senator Chuck Grassley called on the GAO to 'fully investigate' the student visa program, citing reports of abuse and other concerns in his letter. Now, Computerworld reports that the DHS STEM Visa Extension Program continues to be dominated by Stratford University and the University of Bridgeport (as it was in 2010), prompting some tongues to wag. It is 'obvious to any reasonable person that the schools producing most of the OPT students are not prestigious research universities,' quipped policy analyst Daniel Costa, 'which means that many of the OPT students across the country are not in fact the "best and brightest."' While conceding that top students can come from lesser-known schools, 'those will be the exception to the rule,' argued Costa, who suggested the government should include performance metrics in the OPT program, such as grades and university rankings."
theodp writes "In a move that evokes memories of Steve Ballmer's initial pooh-poohing of the iPhone threat, DirecTV Chairman Michael White downplayed the Apple TV hype, expressing doubts that 'Apple's interface will be so much better than DirecTVs' that people will be willing to pay for an extra box. So, will White's statement — 'It's hard to see (it) obsoleting our technology' — come back to haunt him?"
schliz writes "Australian tech publication iTnews is defining 'patent trolls' as those who claim rights to an invention without commercializing it, and notes that government research organization CSIRO could come under that definition. The CSIRO in April reached a $220 million settlement over three U.S. telcos' usage of WLAN that it invented in the early 1990s. Critics have argued that the CSIRO had failed to contribute to the world's first wifi 802.11 standard, failed to commercialize the wifi chip through its spin-off, Radiata, and chose to wage its campaign in the Eastern District courts of Texas, a location favored by more notorious patent trolls."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Google has sent invitations for a June 6 event in which it will apparently unveil 'The Next Dimension of Google Maps.' Meanwhile, rumor suggests Apple is preparing its own mapping service for iOS devices. The escalating battle over maps demonstrates the importance of cloud apps to tech companies' larger strategies." I only wish my phone would hold by default the X-million data points that my outmoded (but cheap and functional) dedicated GPS device does, without quite so much cloud-centric bottlenecking, and leave all expensive data use for optional overlays and current conditions.
An anonymous reader writes "As Microsoft released the preview of the next version of its Internet Explorer browser, news that in Windows 8 the browser will be sending a 'Do Not Track' signal to Web sites by default must have shaken online advertising giants. 'Consumers can change this default setting if they choose,' Microsoft noted, but added that this decision reflects their commitment to providing Windows customers an experience that is 'private by default' in an era when so much user data is collected online.' This step will make Internet Explorer 10 the first web browser with DNT on by default. And while the websites are not required to comply with the users' do-not-track request, the DNT initiative — started by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission — is making good progress."
Asmodae writes "Judge Alsup in the Oracle vs Google case has finally issued his ruling on the issue of whether or not APIs can be copyrighted. That ruling is resounding no. In some fairly clear language the judge says: 'So long as the specific code used to implement a method is different, anyone is free under the Copyright Act to write his or her own code to carry out exactly the same function or specification of any methods used in the Java API.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Tech industry experts are saying that desktop support jobs will be declining sharply thanks to cloud computing. Why is this happening? A large majority of companies and government agencies will rely on the cloud for more than half of their IT services by 2020, according to Gartner's 2011 CIO Agenda Survey."
Nerval's Lobster writes "In a bid to expand the reach of its cloud services, Microsoft has introduced Office 365 for Government, which features the same cloud-based productivity tools as Office 365 but stores data in a segregated community cloud. Google and Microsoft have been locked in vicious battle over the past few years to score cloud contracts for government agencies. Microsoft hopes its support of standards such as ISO 27001, SAS70 Type II, HIPAA, FERPA, and FISMA will help to give it an edge in winning those contracts."
benfrog writes "Dot-word bidders are in a last-minute dash for domain names as ICANN has revealed its timetable for the controversial new TLDs. The organization will close its TLD Application System (TAS) at a minute before midnight tonight (23.59 GMT, 19.59 ET, 16.59 Pacific). The TAS was originally supposed to close on April 12, but the deadline was extended twice because of a security bug. The winners for domains will be selected (initially) by a 'widely derided mechanism' of 'digital archery' in which every bidder will be assigned a date and time and then be asked to login to a secure website and hit a submit button as close to that time as possible."
sirlark writes with an update on the protracted legal proceedings regarding Julian Assange's extradition to Sweden: "Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has lost his Supreme Court fight against extradition to Sweden to face accusations of sex offenses. The judgement was reached by a majority of five to two, the court's president, Lord Phillips, told the hearing. Mr Assange's legal team was given 14 days to consider the ruling before a final decision is made, leaving the possibility the case could be reheard." This may, however, not be the end. From the article: "Lord Phillips said five of the justices agreed the warrant had been lawful because the Swedish prosecutor behind the warrant could be considered a proper 'judicial authority' even it they were not specifically mentioned in legislation or international agreements. This point of law had not been simple to resolve, said Lord Phillips, and two of the justices, Lady Hale and Lord Mance, had disagreed with the decision. But Ms Rose immediately indicated she could challenge the judgement saying that it relied on a 1969 convention relating to how treaties should be implemented. She said this convention had not been raised during the hearing. " This led to the court staying the order until June 13th to give Assange's lawyers time to argue this avenue.
An anonymous reader writes "A judge in New Zealand has ordered the U.S. government to hand over evidence seized in the Megaupload raid so Kim Dotcom and his co-defendants can use it to prepare a defense for an extradition hearing. The judge wrote, 'Actions by and on behalf of the requesting State have deprived Mr. Dotcom and his associates of access to records and information. ... United States is attempting to utilize concepts from the civil copyright context as a basis for the application of criminal copyright liability [which] necessitates a consideration of principles such as the dual use of technology and what they be described as significant non-infringing uses.' Once the defense attorneys have gathered and presented their evidence, the judge must decide whether the U.S. can make a reasonable case against Dotcom."
An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from ZDNet: "Europeans are a step closer to seeing new net neutrality rules put in place, after the release of an EU regulators' report on how often ISPs and operators throttle their services. On Tuesday, digital agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes said the release of the report from by the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) means she will make recommendations to the EU on preserving net neutrality, which aims to make sure ISPs do not unfairly restrict customers from accessing the service or application or their choice. 'BEREC has today provided the data I was waiting for (PDF). For most Europeans, their internet access works well most of the time. But these findings show the need for more regulatory certainty and that there are enough problems to warrant strong and targeted action to safeguard consumers,' Kroes said in a statement. 'Given that BEREC's findings highlight a problem of effective consumer choice, I will prepare recommendations to generate more real choices and end the net neutrality waiting game in Europe,' she added."