Reddit removes “warrant canary” from its latest transparency report

CEO is staying mum: “I’ve been advised not to say anything one way or the other.”

(credit: Cyrus Farivar)

Reddit has removed the warrant canary posted on its website, suggesting that the company may have been served with some sort of secret court order or document for user information.

At the bottom of its 2014 transparency report, the company wrote: "As of January 29, 2015, reddit has never received a National Security Letter, an order under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or any other classified request for user information. If we ever receive such a request, we would seek to let the public know it existed."

That language was conspicuously missing from the 2015 transparency report that was published Thursday morning. (Disclaimer: Ars and Reddit are owned by the same parent company, Advance Publications.)

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POTUS advisors vote for Superbug Czar but go soft on farm antibiotic use

Critics say experts are not doing enough to curb use of drugs in agriculture.

Hospital-Associated Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) Bacteria (credit: NIAID)

WASHINGTON—The rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that trek between farms and clinics and across international boarders is unquestionably one of the most serious public health threats of our time. They currently sicken around two million people in the US each year, killing at least 23,000. To tackle the issue, the Obama Administration last year released a National Action Plan and established a panel of diverse experts to research and guide the government’s efforts to squash those deadly superbugs.

That 15-person panel, called the Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria or PACCARB, convened this week in Washington, DC to discuss and vote on its first progress report and key recommendations, which now head to the president’s desk. Thursday, the council unanimously voted for six recommendations, which spanned calls for funding and collaboration. But chief among them is the call for the president to establish a White House-level leader that could coordinate all of the government agencies’ efforts to fight drug resistance.

Such a leader would be critical, several panel members as well as panel chair Martin Blaser, told Ars. Currently, efforts to fight off drug resistant germs are scattered among several agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Agriculture, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Department of Defense, and several others—all of which have different priorities and budgets. The piece-meal approaches even made it difficult for the panel to assess what government agencies were up to and how they overlapped.

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Where do the “hobbit” skeletons fit in humanity’s history?

After recently correcting an error, H. floresiensis suddenly makes a bit more sense.

Forget what J.R.R. Tolkien taught you about hobbits for a moment. In real life, Homo floresiensis, affectionately dubbed “the hobbit,” is a diminutive hominin species defined by skeletons discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2004. Since then, its status and identity have been the subject of much speculation, mystery, and controversy. That's partly because the hobbits were thought to have lived startlingly recently—just 12,000 years ago.

The idea of another hominin species living as recently as 12 kya (12 thousand years ago) had been both exciting and incredibly confusing. “We know that modern humans had got to Australia ... probably by 50 kya,” Richard Roberts, one of the researchers involved in the work, told Ars. Modern humans had passed through Southeast Asia on their way there, which means that they must have existed alongside any species living in their path at the time. Flores is not too far off that path.

In fact, many originally argued that the Flores skeletons were those of modern humans. Rather than a new species, some researchers suggested a variety of ailments that could create skeletons with a similar set of features to those of the hobbits. This would have cleared up another mystery—where modern humans go, related species go extinct. “We could never work out how you could have hobbits surviving so long after modern humans had [arrived],” says Roberts.

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FCC votes to help poor people buy broadband and protect privacy online

3-2 votes anger Republicans after last-minute compromise is dropped.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. (credit: FCC)

The Federal Communications Commission today voted for two broadband-related proposals. One is designed to give Internet users more control over how Internet service providers monitor and monetize their Web usage. The second proposal will update the 31-year-old Lifeline phone subsidy program so that it can also be used to buy Internet service.

Both votes were 3-2, with Democrats approving and Republicans dissenting. The Lifeline vote was particularly contentious, as commissioners had worked on a bipartisan compromise last night and early this morning. The compromise fell apart at the last minute, delaying the meeting’s start by three-and-a-half hours.

The Lifeline proposal that was approved today will let poor people use a $9.25 monthly household subsidy to purchase home Internet or mobile broadband, or bundles including both voice and Internet. The vote set the Lifeline budget at $2.25 billion a year, indexed to inflation, while creating an independent entity to verify subscriber eligibility in order to reduce fraud.

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Azure picks up its own AWS Lambda equivalent

And Microsoft is still trying to position Office as a development platform.

SAN FRANCISCO—Yesterday at its Build developer conference, the topic was Microsoft's first major platform: Windows. Today, it was the turn of the other platform, Azure, with Microsoft talking up its cloud service.

Much of the news today was that services that were previously in preview have now gone live. Azure Service Fabric was announced at last year's event, and Microsoft described it as being its second generation platform-as-a-service offering. Service Fabric was already being used to power services such as Cortana and Skype for Business, and it offers useful features such as automatic scaling and phased deployments of new versions with automatic rollback in case of problems. It's designed to allow developers to handle dozens or hundreds of both stateless and stateful microservices. Service Fabric is now in general availability, making it production ready and widely available.

The company did mention one new service: Azure Functions. This is designed to further abstract away the details of the platform. Users of Functions don't need to provision storage or compute resources or anything like that. They just write a function in C# or JavaScript (using node.js) and plumb that function into events or data sources. The resources for that function are provisioned automatically, and scaling is handled by the system. If the event volume goes up, causing the function to be triggered more often, more resources will be allocated; as volume drops, resources will be cut, possibly to zero. Functions are strictly pay-per-use, meaning that if a function isn't called, it costs nothing.

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Father begs Apple CEO to help unlock his dead 13-year-old son’s iPhone

“I think Apple should offer solutions for exceptional cases like mine.”

Enlarge (credit: Megan Geuss)

An Italian father has reportedly written to Apple CEO Tim Cook, pleading for help to unlock his dead 13-year-old son’s iPhone 6 so that he can retrieve the photos stored on it.

"I cannot give up. Having lost my [son] Dama, I will fight to have the last two months of photos, thoughts and words which are held hostage in his phone," Leonardo Fabbretti wrote in the March 21 letter, which was quoted Wednesday by Agence France Presse.

"I think what’s happened should make you think about the privacy policy adopted by your company. Although I share your philosophy in general, I think Apple should offer solutions for exceptional cases like mine," he said.

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Asus C300SA Chromebook with Braswell CPU, 4GB RAM leaked

Asus C300SA Chromebook with Braswell CPU, 4GB RAM leaked

A new Asus Chromebook is on the way, and it’ll probably look a lot like the old Asus Chromebook. But under the hood the new Asus C300SA has a shiny new Intel Celeron N3060 Braswell processor instead of a Celeron N2840 Bay Trail chip. Asus hasn’t officially the new model yet, but a number of […]

Asus C300SA Chromebook with Braswell CPU, 4GB RAM leaked is a post from: Liliputing

Asus C300SA Chromebook with Braswell CPU, 4GB RAM leaked

A new Asus Chromebook is on the way, and it’ll probably look a lot like the old Asus Chromebook. But under the hood the new Asus C300SA has a shiny new Intel Celeron N3060 Braswell processor instead of a Celeron N2840 Bay Trail chip. Asus hasn’t officially the new model yet, but a number of […]

Asus C300SA Chromebook with Braswell CPU, 4GB RAM leaked is a post from: Liliputing

Judge who ordered man to be shocked must take anger management classes

Unruly defendant who was shocked fell to the ground and screamed in pain.

Robert Nalley.

A Maryland judge who pleaded guilty (PDF) to civil rights violations for ordering a deputy to remotely shock a defendant with a 50,000-volt charge was sentenced Thursday to a year of probation and ordered to attend anger management classes.

The shocking, ordered by then-Charles County Circuit Court Judge Robert Nalley, occurred in July 2014 during jury selection for a trial concerning a man accused of carrying a loaded handgun during a police stop. The judge was asking the defendant if he had questions to submit to prospective jurors, who were not yet in the courtroom. Delvon King, the 25-year-old defendant acting as his own attorney, refused to answer several times. After some verbal back and forth between the two, Nalley told the court deputy "Do it. Use it," according to court documents (PDF).

After Nalley's sentencing, Maryland US Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said that "disruptive defendants may be excluded from the courtroom and prosecuted for obstruction of justice and contempt of court, but force may not be used in the absence of danger."

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Intel’s new Broadwell Xeon server CPUs offer up to 22 cores per socket

$4,115 top-end chip is joined by 26 other server CPUs for all kinds of use cases.

Intel's mainstream consumer processors are mostly of the dual- and quad-core varieties, but the server CPUs go much higher than that. Case in point: the most expensive member of the new Broadwell-based Xeon E5-2600 v4 family has a whopping 22 cores running at 2.2GHz—and all of that fits in just one processor socket.

The new 22- and 20-core CPUs offer more processing power for heavily parallelized workloads than the older Haswell-based CPUs, which topped out at a mere 18 cores per socket in the same 145W power envelope (at least, if you can afford to pay $4,115 or $3,226 for them, respectively).

The full lineup, available below, includes 27 CPUs for a variety of different use cases. There are 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, and 18-core versions you can buy for dual-socket servers based on your needs and your budget. There are "frequency optimized" versions with lower core counts but higher clock speeds if you have got a lot of single-threaded workloads that won't benefit from a ton of cores. And there are some low-power versions available if power consumption is more important than raw performance.

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Apple releases iOS 9.3.1 with fix for link bug

Poorly behaved apps unmasked bug that could cause crashes and unresponsive news.

(credit: Andrew Cunningham)

Apple today released iOS 9.3.1 to fix a bug that could cause tapping links to stop working in Safari and other apps. The problems were caused by certain apps with poor implementations of the "Universal Links" feature introduced in iOS 9, as we detailed earlier this week.

If you're using an older iDevice and hadn't already updated to iOS 9.3, version 9.3.1 should also include a fix for an issue where certain devices couldn't be activated and used if the user had forgotten his or her iCloud password. Apple released a new build of iOS 9.3 earlier this week to fix the problem, though it didn't bump up the version number of the operating system.

The update contains no other major changes. It's available for all devices that support iOS 9, including the iPhone 4S and newer; iPad 2 and newer; all iPad Minis and iPad Pros; and the fifth- and sixth-generation iPod Touches.

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