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Australia

Australia Moves Toward New Restrictions On Technology Export and Publication 89

Posted by timothy
from the locked-file-cabinet-in-the-basement dept.
An anonymous reader writes Australia is starting a public consultation process for new legislation that further restricts the publication and export of technology on national security grounds. The public consultation starts now (a few days before Christmas) and it is due by Jan 30th while a lot of Australians are on holidays. I don't have the legal expertise to dissect the proposed legislation, but I'd like some more public scrutiny on it. I find particularly disturbing the phrase "The Bill includes defences that reverse the onus of proof which limit the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty" contained in this document, also available on the consultation web site.
Australia

Over 9,000 PCs In Australia Infected By TorrentLocker Ransomware 83

Posted by samzenpus
from the cash-for-corrupted-computers dept.
First time accepted submitter River Tam writes Cybercriminals behind the TorrenLocker malware may have earned as much as $585,000 over several months from 39,000 PC infections worldwide, of which over 9,000 were from Australia. If you're a Windows user in Australia who's had their files encrypted by hackers after visiting a bogus Australia Post website, chances are you were infected by TorrentLocker and may have contributed to the tens of thousands of dollars likely to have come from Australia due to this digital shakedown racket.
Australia

New Cargo Ship Is 488 Meters Long 113

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-big-or-go-home dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The BBC reports on the construction of Prelude, a new ship that will be the world's longest vessel. It is 488 meters long and 74 meters wide, built with 260,000 tons of steel and displacing five times as much water as an aircraft carrier. Its purpose is to carry an entire natural gas processing plant as it sits over a series of wells 100 miles off the coast of Australia. Until now, it hasn't been practical to move gas that comes out of the wells with ships. The gas occupies too much volume, so it is generally piped to a facility on shore where it is processed and then shipped off to energy-hungry markets. But the Prelude can purify and chill the gas, turning it into a liquid and reducing its volume by a factor of 600. It will offload this liquid to smaller (but still enormous) carrier ships for transport.
Australia

Apparent Islamic Terrorism Strikes Sydney 873

Posted by timothy
from the serious-thoughts dept.
An anonymous reader send this link to a developing situation in Sydney, Australia, being reported on via live feed at the Guardian, and covered by various other news outlets as well. According to CNN's coverage, "CNN affiliate Seven Network said that at least 13 people are being held at the Lindt Chocolate Cafe. It published a photograph of people inside the cafe holding a black flag with Arabic writing on it. The flag reads: "There is no God but God and Mohammed is the prophet of God." From The New York Times' coverage: The police have shut down parts of the city’s transport system, and closed off the mall area. They would not confirm how many people were being held hostage inside the cafe, nor whether those inside are armed. Local media reports said that the airspace over Sydney had been closed and the famed Sydney Opera House evacuated. Television images showed heavily armed officers with their weapons trained on the cafe.
Piracy

Australia Pushes Ahead With Website Blocking In Piracy Fight 100

Posted by samzenpus
from the shut-it-down dept.
angry tapir writes As part of its crackdown on unauthorized downloading of copyright material, the Australian government will push ahead with the introduction of a scheme that will allow rights holders to apply for court orders to force ISPs to block websites. (Previously Slashdot noted that the Australian government had raised such a scheme as a possibility).
Power

Utilities Face Billions In Losses From Distributed Renewables 280

Posted by Soulskill
from the reacting-slowly-to-new-technology-is-not-a-business-plan dept.
Lucas123 writes: Over the next 10 years, adoption of distributed power in the form of renewables such as solar power has the potential to reduce revenues to grid utilities by as much as $48 billion in the U.S. and by $75 billion in Europe, according to a new study. The study, by Accenture, revealed that utility executives are more nervous (PDF) about the impact of distributed — or locally generated renewable power — than ever before. 61% of those surveyed this year indicated they expect significant or moderate revenue reductions compared to only 43% last year. The cost of rooftop solar-powered electricity will be on par with prices for common coal or oil-powered generation in two years, and the technology to produce it will only get cheaper, according to a recent report from Deutsche Bank. New technologies, such as more efficient solar cells, are also threatening to increase efficiencies and drive adoption.
Australia

Australian Target Stores Ban GTA V For Depictions of Violence Against Women 310

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-in-my-country dept.
MojoKid writes "There's no such thing as an official Grand Theft Auto game until there's been a bit of controversy leading to its removal from at least one set of store shelves. It's a right of passage for the GTA series, if you will, and GTA V just earned its place among the franchise's previous titles by ruffling feathers in Australia, leading to its ousting from Target stores. At issue this time around is the "game's depictions of violence against women." Jim Cooper, general manager of corporate affairs for Target, explained that customers have voiced a "significant level of concern about the game's content." Separate reports say Target Australia received a petition with nearly 40,000 signatures demanding the game be removed. According to the petition, the game gives players plenty of "incentive is to commit sexual violence against women, then abuse or kill them to proceed or get 'health' points."
Bitcoin

MasterCard Rails Against Bitcoin's (Semi-)Anonymity 111

Posted by Soulskill
from the we're-mad-because-we're-slow dept.
angry tapir writes: MasterCard has used a submission (PDF) to an Australian Senate inquiry to argue for financial regulators to move against the pseudonymity of digital currencies such as Bitcoin. "Any regulation adopted in Australia should address the anonymity that digital currency provides to each party in a transaction," the company's told the inquiry into digital currencies. MasterCard believes that "all participants in the payments system that provide similar services to consumers should be regulated in the same way to achieve a level playing field for all."
Australia

Australia Elaborates On a New Drift Model To Find MH370 154

Posted by samzenpus
from the still-looking dept.
hcs_$reboot writes Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 disappeared on Saturday, 8 March 2014, while flying from Malaysia to Beijing with 239 people on board. And 8 months later, after millions of dollars invested in a gigantic search operation, there is still no sign of the aircraft. Now, Australia is developing a new model to predict where the debris of the missing MH370 could wash up. Authorities had initially predicted that the plane's wreckage could drift and come ashore on Indonesia's West Sumatra island after about 4 months of Flight MH370's disappearance. "We are currently working... to see if we can get an updated drift model for a much wider area where there might be possibilities of debris washing ashore," search co-ordinator Peter Foley told reporters in Perth.
Australia

UNSW Has Collected an Estimated $100,000 In Piracy Fines Since 2008 98

Posted by timothy
from the quasi-private-justice dept.
Jagungal (36053) writes The SMH reports that The University of NSW says it has issued 238 fines estimated to total around $100,000 - to students illicitly downloading copyright infringing material such as movies and TV shows on its Wi-Fi network since 2008. The main issues are that the University is not returning any money to the copyright holders but is instead using the money raised for campus facilities and that it is essentially enforcing a commonwealth law.
Australia

Laser Creates Quantum Whirlpool 59

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-fall-in dept.
Quantus347 writes: Physicists at The Australian National Univ. (ANU) have engineered a spiral laser beam and used it to create a whirlpool of hybrid light-matter particles called polaritons. Polaritons are hybrid particles that have properties of both matter and light. The ability to control polariton flows in this way could aid the development of completely novel technology to link conventional electronics with new laser- and fiber-based technologies. Polaritons form in semiconductors when laser light interacts with electrons and holes (positively charged vacancies) so strongly that it is no longer possible to distinguish light from matter.
Australia

Amazon's Luxembourg Tax Deals 200

Posted by samzenpus
from the pay-less dept.
Presto Vivace writes in with this story of a European Commission investigation into a secret tax agreement between Amazon and Luxembourg. "Leaked tax documents from accounting firm PwC in Luxembourg show how Amazon sidesteps the 30 per cent tax rates local [Australian] players face. The Luxembourg documents, obtained in a review led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, contain some of the first hard numbers and details on how Amazon pays virtually no tax for its non-US earnings, including in Australia. Last month, the European Commission announced an investigation into the secret 2003 advance tax agreement Amazon struck with Luxembourg that is the key to its global tax strategy. The Luxembourg documents show not only the extent of the related-party transactions in Amazon's Luxembourg companies but how Amazon has changed its tax strategy after investigation by French tax authorities and the US Internal Revenue Service. The change is so dramatic it raises questions whether the European Commission is targeting the right transactions."
Australia

Australian Post Office Opens Mail Forwarding Warehouse In the USA 142

Posted by timothy
from the up-over-vs-down-under dept.
Zanadou writes Australians are well used to paying what's called an "Australian Tax": high(er) prices for international products and services simply because they are are being accessed from an Australian IP address and/or being delivered to an Australian mail address. But Australia Post, Australia's national mail service, might have a solution: last week they opened a new warehouse/delivery depot in Oregon, U.S., allowing Australians to use a U.S.-based delivery address for mail items, which can then forwarded onwards to Australia.

However, this service, called "Shopmate", comes at a cost.
Earth

We Are Running Out of Sand 264

Posted by timothy
from the maybe-you-are dept.
HughPickens.com writes John R. Gillis writes in the NYT that to those of us who visit beaches only in summer, beaches seem as permanent a part of our natural heritage as the Rocky Mountains but shore dwellers know that beaches are the most transitory of landscapes, and sand beaches the most vulnerable of all. Today, 75 to 90 percent of the world's natural sand beaches are disappearing, due partly to rising sea levels and increased storm action, but also to massive erosion caused by the human development of shores. The extent of this global crisis is obscured because so-called beach nourishment projects attempt to hold sand in place (PDF) and repair the damage by the time summer people return, creating the illusion of an eternal shore. But the market for mined sand in the U.S. has become a billion-dollar annual business, growing at 10 percent a year since 2008. Interior mining operations use huge machines working in open pits to dig down under the earth's surface to get sand left behind by ancient glaciers.

One might think that desert sand would be a ready substitute, but its grains are finer and smoother; they don't adhere to rougher sand grains, and tend to blow away. As a result, the desert state of Dubai brings sand for its beaches all the way from Australia. Huge sand mining operations are emerging worldwide, many of them illegal, happening out of sight and out of mind, as far as the developed world is concerned. "We need to stop taking sand for granted and think of it as an endangered natural resource," concludes Gillis. "Beach replenishment — the mining and trucking and dredging of sand to meet tourist expectations — must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, with environmental considerations taking top priority. Only this will ensure that the story of the earth will still have subsequent chapters told in grains of sand."
Australia

Australian Courts Will Be Able To See Your Browsing History 182

Posted by timothy
from the remember-that-slippery-slope-we-warned-you-about? dept.
An anonymous reader writes A series of slips by the nation's top cop followed by communications minister Malcolm Turnbull has made Australia's data retention bill even more of a potential horror than it seemed when it was introduced last week, writes Richard Chirgwin in an article about Australia's new legislation. "Lawyers are already gathering, telling the ABC's PM program that metadata could be demanded in family law cases and insurance cases." It continues, with the inevitable result that your internet browsing history will be used against people trying to resist demands during divorce. "What's depressing is that Australians probably won't take to the streets about this issue."
Australia

Australian Gov't Tries To Force Telcos To Store User Metadata For 2 Years 58

Posted by timothy
from the authority-problem dept.
AlbanX writes The Australian Government has introduced a bill that would require telecommunications carriers and service providers to retain the non-content data of Australian citizens for two years so it can be accessed — without a warrant — by local law enforcement agencies. Despite tabling the draft legislation into parliament, the bill doesn't actually specify the types of data the Government wants retained. The proposal has received a huge amount of criticism from the telco industry, other members of parliament and privacy groups. (The Sydney Morning Herald has some audio of discussion about the law.)
Earth

Imagining the Future History of Climate Change 495

Posted by samzenpus
from the it's-getting-hot-in-here dept.
HughPickens.com writes "The NYT reports that Naomi Oreskes, a historian of science at Harvard University, is attracting wide notice these days for a work of science fiction called "The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View From the Future," that takes the point of view of a historian in 2393 explaining how "the Great Collapse of 2093" occurred. "Without spoiling the story," Oreskes said in an interview, "I can tell you that a lot of what happens — floods, droughts, mass migrations, the end of humanity in Africa and Australia — is the result of inaction to very clear warnings" about climate change caused by humans." Dramatizing the science in ways traditional nonfiction cannot, the book reasserts the importance of scientists and the work they do and reveals the self-serving interests of the so called "carbon combustion complex" that have turned the practice of science into political fodder.

Oreskes argues that scientists failed us, and in a very particular way: They failed us by being too conservative. Scientists today know full well that the "95 percent confidence limit" is merely a convention, not a law of the universe. Nonetheless, this convention, the historian suggests, leads scientists to be far too cautious, far too easily disrupted by the doubt-mongering of denialists, and far too unwilling to shout from the rooftops what they all knew was happening. "Western scientists built an intellectual culture based on the premise that it was worse to fool oneself into believing in something that did not exist than not to believe in something that did."

Why target scientists in particular in this book? Simply because a distant future historian would target scientists too, says Oreskes. "If you think about historians who write about the collapse of the Roman Empire, or the collapse of the Mayans or the Incans, it's always about trying to understand all of the factors that contributed," Oreskes says. "So we felt that we had to say something about scientists.""
Privacy

Accessing One's Own Metadata 94

Posted by Soulskill
from the freedom-of-my-own-bloody-information-request dept.
skegg writes: Frustrated journalist Ben Grubb has documented his attempts at gaining access to his own metadata from his carrier. "After more than a year of phone calls and emails and a private mediation session, it still hasn't released the information or answered my one key question satisfactorily: the government can access my Telstra metadata, so why can't I?" Later, he says, "Telstra's one and only valid argument to date has been that identifying who calls me would be in breach of that person's privacy if they called from an unlisted number. I've agreed and said that in providing me with my metadata they should remove unlisted numbers. They argue this would be too difficult to do, which I think is baloney."
The Internet

Analyzing Silk Road 2.0 68

Posted by Soulskill
from the welcome-to-narcoanalytics dept.
An anonymous reader writes: After a recent article about breaking the CAPTCHA on the latest incarnation of Silk Road (the darknet-enabled drug market place), Darryl Lau decided to investigate exactly what narcotics people were buying and selling online. He found roughly 13,000 separate listings. Some sellers identify the country they're in, and the top six are the U.S., Australia, England, Germany, and the Netherlands, and Canada. The site also has a bunch of product reviews. If you assume that each review comes from a sale, and multiply that by the listed prices, reviewed items alone represent $20 million worth of business. Lau also has some interesting charts, graphs, and assorted stats. MDMA is the most listed and reviewed drug, and sellers are offering it in quantities of up to a kilogram at a time. The average price for the top 1000 items is $236. Prescription drugs represent a huge portion of the total listings, though no individual prescription drugs have high volume on their own.

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