Feds drop demand for 1.3 million IP addresses that visited anti-Trump site

Enlarge / Police officers wearing tactical gear form a barrier with riot shields to prevent the movement of protestors after the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States on January 20, 2017 in Washington D.C. Hundreds of thousands of people combined to celebrate and protest. (credit: Mark Makela/Getty Images)

The US Department of Justice is backing down on its request to Web hosting service DreamHost to divulge the 1.3 million IP addresses that visited a Trump resistance site. The request was part of the government’s investigation into Inauguration Day rioting, which has already resulted in the indictment of 200 people. More are likely.

“The government has no interest in records relating to the 1.3 million IP addresses that are mentioned in DreamHost’s numerous press releases and Opposition brief,” federal prosecutors said in a new court filing concerning its investigation of the disruptj20.org site.

The government, in the court document, said it did not realize that its original warrant, (PDF) which is part of a federal grand jury investigation into Inauguration Day rioting, was so grand in scope.

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Source: Ars Technica – Feds drop demand for 1.3 million IP addresses that visited anti-Trump site

VR versions of Doom, Fallout 4, Skyrim now have release dates this year

Nice box art.

Nice box art. (credit: id Software)

Bethesda had previously announced that it would release not one, not two, but three VR versions of its biggest franchises by the end of this year. Rather than disappoint headset hopefuls with a last-minute delay, the company has gone ahead and announced firm release dates for all three.

Mark your calendars, real or virtual: Doom VFR will land on both the HTC Vive and PlayStation VR on December 1. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR will launch exclusively on PlayStation VR on November 17. And Fallout 4 VR will round out the company’s 2017 VR schedule by launching exclusively on the HTC Vive on December 12.

Bethesda has not announced plans for any of those games to appear outside of their announced platforms. While it’s likely that at least one of the three games will flutter out to another platform, we at Ars Technica would bet cacodemons to cacodonuts that Bethesda has no intention of releasing a game on an Oculus-branded platform anytime soon. Or ever.

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Source: Ars Technica – VR versions of Doom, Fallout 4, Skyrim now have release dates this year

Another staged body cam leads to 43 more dropped Baltimore prosecutions

Enlarge / Shallow depth of field image taken of yellow law enforcement line with police car and lights in the background. (credit: carlballou/Getty Images)

A Baltimore Police Department officer has “self-reported” a staged body cam vide. This brings the number of fabricated body cam videos rocking the agency to at least three. In this most recent instance alone, 43 cases are being dropped or not prosecuted, the state’s top prosecutor, Marilyn Mosby, said.

In all, more than 100 cases have been dropped or will be. Dozens of additional cases are being investigated because of three body cam videos fabricated by the Baltimore Police Department. The first video was disclosed a month ago. Dozens of closed cases are also being re-examined, state prosecutors said. They said they are examining hundreds of cases involving officers connected to the videos.

“The body-worn camera program was established to fight crime, better protect officers, and foster public trust,” said State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby. “Whether planting evidence, re-enacting the seizure of evidence or prematurely turning off the department-issued body-worn camera, those actions misrepresent the truth and undermine public trust.”

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Source: Ars Technica – Another staged body cam leads to 43 more dropped Baltimore prosecutions

How the feds stopped a Porsche-driving trademark fraudster

Enlarge (credit: eightfivezero)

The mastermind of a years-long fraudulent trademark scam that federal authorities dubbed as “one of the more sophisticated, elaborate, and premeditated operations” they had ever seen has been sentenced to eight years in prison after pleading guilty to fraud.

In addition, on Monday, a federal judge in Los Angeles also sentenced Artashes Darbinyan to pay over $1.5 million in restitution. US District Judge Stephen V. Wilson additionally ordered that Darbinyan’s two co-conspirators serve 18 and 24 months in prison, with restitution orders ranging from $1.04 to $1.2 million each.

Darbinyan’s scheme involved setting up a company that he called the “Trademark Compliance Office” and another called “Trademark Compliance Center.” Beginning in September 2013, he sent out unsolicited, official-looking (but fake) invoices to over 100,000 unsuspecting businesses. The letter, complete with a return envelope, would ask for a $385 “processing fee” promising trademark registration and monitoring services that did not exist. The return address was one of a few cities in and around Washington, DC. This gave the letter the veneer of legitimacy.

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Source: Ars Technica – How the feds stopped a Porsche-driving trademark fraudster

New Godzilla movie promises a radically different direction for the original kaiju

The first trailer for the anime Godzilla: Monster Planet, coming to you on Netflix later this year.

A new Godzilla flick from Toho Studios is always cause for celebration, but Godzilla: Monster Planet is a next-level treat for kaiju and science fiction fans. The first in a planned three-movie anime series, Monster Planet takes the Big G in a bold new direction: the deep future.

The tireless fans at Tokusatsu Network have provided a quick translation of the film’s premise, which reinvents the Godzilla mythos just as much as Shin Godzilla did last year. The series begins with the premise that the kaiju menace has gotten so terrible by the late 20th century that humans have to leave the planet. So, in 2048, an AI “managed under the central government” picks a group of humans to board a generation ship bound for the Tau Ceti system.

Unfortunately, the planets orbiting Tau Ceti turn out to be uninhabitable. Soon, political infighting breaks out on the generation ship. Some humans want to return to Earth, while others think it will be too dangerous. Finally, a group of “Earth Returnists,” led by protagonist Haruo, forces the remnants of the human species to pilot the failing generation ship home.

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Source: Ars Technica – New Godzilla movie promises a radically different direction for the original kaiju

Jury awards $417M to woman who says she got cancer from talc in baby powder

Enlarge / Bottles of Johnson’s baby powder in a London supermarket. (credit: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

A Los Angeles jury awarded a woman a $417 million verdict yesterday. The jury found that Johnson & Johnson failed to adequately warn users of the cancer risks of the talc in its baby powder.

The jury’s 9-3 vote to hold J&J liable for not warning Eva Echeverria about cancer risks is a huge blow to the company, which is facing thousands of such claims across the country. The verdict consists of $70 million in compensatory damages and $347 million in punitive damages, according to Reuters.

No clear link connects talcum powder to ovarian cancer. Some case-control studies, based on asking women who have ovarian cancer about their history, have found a slightly increased risk. But as the American Cancer Society notes, those kinds of studies can be biased because they rely on a person’s memory of talc use years after the fact.

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Source: Ars Technica – Jury awards 7M to woman who says she got cancer from talc in baby powder

Woman: My Uber driver went wrong way, I said something, he pushed me out

Enlarge (credit: Adam Berry / Getty Images News)

A California woman has sued Uber, alleging that her driver pushed her out of the moving car following her demand to be let out when the driver refused to take the most direct route to her destination.

The lawsuit—which was filed in Ventura County Superior Court on Monday—is strikingly similar to other lawsuits that have been filed against the company in recent years. Earlier this month, we reported on a New Jersey case in which unsafe driving apparently led to a car accident that left one woman seriously injured.

In the California case, Katherine Conner hailed an Uber to take her from one part of the city of Ventura to another—a route that she was familiar with. According to her civil complaint, the driver began driving in the wrong direction. When Conner inquired about it, the driver intimated that he was “taking a shortcut.”

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Source: Ars Technica – Woman: My Uber driver went wrong way, I said something, he pushed me out

Dealmaster: Get a Dell Inspiron Core i7 laptop with 512GB SSD for $579

Greetings, Arsians! Courtesy of our friends at TechBargains, we’ve got a number of new deals to share today. You can get a Dell Inspiron 15 5000 notebook, complete with Core i7 processor, 512GB SSD, and 8GB RAM for just $579. That laptop typically starts at $899, so it’s a good price on a great all-purpose machine.

Check out the rest of the deals below, too.

Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.

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Source: Ars Technica – Dealmaster: Get a Dell Inspiron Core i7 laptop with 512GB SSD for 9

Driver’s license facial recognition tech leads to 4,000 New York arrests

Enlarge (credit: zmeel/Getty Images)

The state of New York says its driver’s license facial recognition technology has led to the arrest of 4,000 people in connection to identify theft or fraud crimes. This number is likely to skyrocket in the wake of the state doubling the number of measurement points for photographs.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that, overall, New York has identified more than 21,000 potential identity or fraud cases. As many as 16,000 people face some type of non-criminal administrative action in connection to the state’s facial-recognition program, which was adopted in 2010. Those cases are being handled outside of the judicial system administratively because the criminal statute of limitations has expired and will usually result in the state revoking licenses and transferring tickets and convictions to the identity thief’s true rap sheet.

“The use of this facial recognition technology has allowed law enforcement to crack down on fraud, identity theft, and other offenses—taking criminals and dangerous drivers off our streets and increasing the safety of New York’s roadways,” Cuomo said in a statement. “We will continue to do everything we can to hold fraudsters accountable and protect the safety and security of all New Yorkers.”

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Source: Ars Technica – Driver’s license facial recognition tech leads to 4,000 New York arrests

Unable to get a domain, racist Daily Stormer retreats to the Dark Web

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Source: Ars Technica – Unable to get a domain, racist Daily Stormer retreats to the Dark Web

When it comes to controversial science, a little knowledge is a problem

For a lot of scientific topics, there’s a big gap between what scientists understand and what the public thinks it knows. For a number of these topics—climate change and evolution are prominent examples—this divide develops along cultural lines, typically religious or political identity.

It would be reassuring to think that the gap is simply a matter of a lack of information. Get the people with doubts about science up to speed, and they’d see things the way that scientists do. Reassuring, but wrong. A variety of studies have indicated that the public’s doubts about most scientific topics have nothing to do with how much they understand that topic. And a new study out this week joins a number of earlier ones in indicating that scientific knowledge makes it easier for those who are culturally inclined to reject a scientific consensus.

What’s the consensus?

The new work was done by two social scientists at Carnegie Mellon University, Caitlin Drummond and Baruch Fishchoff. They relied on a large, regular survey called the General Social Survey, which attempts to capture the public’s perspective on a large variety of issues (they used data from the 2006 and 2010 iterations of the survey). The survey included a number of questions on general education and scientific education, as well as a number of questions that determined basic scientific literacy. In addition, it asked for opinions on a number of scientific issues: acceptance of the evidence for the Big Bang, human evolution, and climate change; thoughts on the safety of GMOs and nanotechnology; and the degree to which the government should fund stem cell research.

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Source: Ars Technica – When it comes to controversial science, a little knowledge is a problem

Sony blocks yet another game from cross-console play with Xbox One

Enlarge / Thanks to Sony, these two versions of the same game will not be compatible with each other for online play.

Back in June, Sony told Eurogamer that the company did not have “a profound philosophical stance” against letting PS4 users play games with those on other platforms. That said, the company’s continued refusal to allow for cross-console play between PS4 and Xbox One players has become an absolute and unmistakable trend in recent months.

The latest data point in that trend line is Ark: Survival Evolved, which comes out of a two-year early access period next week on Windows, Mac, PS4, and Xbox One. In a Twitter response posted over the weekend, Ark lead designer and programmer Jeremy Stieglitz said that cross-platform play between PS4 and Xbox One is “working internally, but currently Sony won’t allow it.”

This isn’t a huge surprise, considering that the developers of Rocket League, Minecraft, and Gwent have made similar statements in recent months. Since Microsoft very publicly opened Xbox Live to easy cross-platform play back in March, Sony has said that it’s “happy to have a conversation” about the issue, but it has failed to follow through by allowing any linkage between the two competing consoles (cross-platform play between the PS4 and PC has been available in certain games since the PS4’s launch, though).

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Source: Ars Technica – Sony blocks yet another game from cross-console play with Xbox One

Intel shows off a mysterious and attractive black Surface Book

Intel’s 8th generation Core processors starring, oddly, a black Surface Book.

To coincide with yesterday’s launch of the new 8th-generation processors, which pack four cores and eight threads into the 15W chips found in Ultrabooks, Intel released a sizzle video to give people an idea of what to expect from the new processors.

The star of the video is a little surprising, however. At first glance it looks like a laptop, but MSPoweruser looked a little closer and noticed that it has some very distinctive properties: a vent around the lid and an unusual segmented hinge. The laptop in the video is a Microsoft Surface Book. Only instead of being silver-gray like the current Skylake-based Surface Books, it’s black.

While Microsoft updated the Surface Pro earlier this year to include a dual-core Kaby Lake processor, the Surface Book—launched simultaneously with the previous generation Surface Pro 4—didn’t receive an update. As such, it’s now rather long in the tooth. A new version with a quad-core processor and a smart black finish would certainly be a welcome update to the premium system.

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Source: Ars Technica – Intel shows off a mysterious and attractive black Surface Book

Stop hiding 47,000 net neutrality complaints, advocates tell FCC chair

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Peter Dazeley)

The Federal Communications Commission is being pressured to release the text of 47,000 net neutrality complaints before going through with Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to eliminate net neutrality rules.

The FCC has refused to release the text of most neutrality complaints despite a Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) request that asked for all complaints filed since June 2015. The FCC has provided 1,000 complaints to the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC), which filed the public records request but said last month that it’s too “burdensome” to redact personally identifiable information from all 47,000.

Today, 16 groups wrote a letter urging the FCC to release all the complaints so they can be reviewed by the public before the commission finalizes a plan to dismantle the 2015 net neutrality rules. “The FCC has failed to make critical evidence available for public review and comment,” they wrote to Pai and the other four commissioners.

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Source: Ars Technica – Stop hiding 47,000 net neutrality complaints, advocates tell FCC chair

You missed your first chance to pre-order the Super NES Classic Edition

Enlarge / The Super NES Classic Edition is out standing in its field. (credit: Seb Anthony)

When Nintendo warned in early August that preorders for the Super NES Classic Edition would start “later this month,” we had no idea that two major retailers would sell out of their allotments in the middle of a random Monday night. That’s just what happened late last night, though, with Amazon and Best Buy both selling out while most of the country slept.

Best Buy’s preorders went live at about 1:30am ET this morning while Amazon’s started around 5:00am ET, according to reports. Both sites sold out of their initial supplies within minutes. The quick sell-outs came despite Nintendo’s promise that it will “produce significantly more units of Super NES Classic Edition than we did of NES Classic Edition” (which shipped 2.3 million units) and that “a significant amount of additional systems will be shipped to stores for launch day and throughout the balance of the calendar year.”

With Nintendo unwilling to commit to a production schedule beyond the end of the year, though, early customers seem to be clamoring for what appears to be another limited supply. European preorders that went live in June started showing up for resale at 150 percent markups on sites like eBay.

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Source: Ars Technica – You missed your first chance to pre-order the Super NES Classic Edition

Liveblog: The Galaxy Note 8 launches August 23 at 11am ET

Enlarge / The Note 8 invitation.

It’s about time for Samsung to take the wraps off its latest flagship, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8. On Wednesday, August 23 at 11am ET (8am PT) , the company will hold a massive event in New York City to show off its latest flagship.

We know pretty much all the basics about the Galaxy Note 8. Samsung gave the Galaxy S8 a big redesign with slimmer bezels, on-screen navigation buttons, and a rear fingerprint reader, and we’re expecting that to carry over to the Galaxy Note 8. The main differences will be a slightly bigger screen, the usual addition of an S-Pen, and Samsung’s first dual-camera setup with a 3x optical zoom.

SoCs haven’t changed much since the release of the Galaxy S8, so we’re expecting the Note 8 (in the US, at least) to also pack a Snapdragon 835 SoC. The Note 8 should get a boost to 6GB of RAM, though. With the release of the Note 8, Samsung can also finally put the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco behind it.

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Source: Ars Technica – Liveblog: The Galaxy Note 8 launches August 23 at 11am ET

Danish submarine mystery takes gruesome, bizzare turns

Enlarge / The UV3 Nautilus in early sea trials in 2008. (credit: Frumperino)

On Monday, a Copenhagen Police spokesperson released new information regarding the investigation into the disappearance of Kim Wall, a Swedish journalist who had been last seen aboard the UC3 Nautilus—the crowd-funded, amateur-built diesel-electric submarine designed and piloted by Peter Madsen. Madsen now confirms that Wall died aboard the submarine, and that he dumped her body overboard. But he claimed to police and prosecutors that her death was accidental.

Details of the investigation had been sealed (protected under the “closed doors” provisions of Danish law), as the criminal investigation is still underway. But after a request from both prosecutors and Madsen’s defense attorney, the court allowed the police department to release the following statement:

The defendant has explained to the police and the Court, that there was an accident on board which caused Kim Wall’s death and that he consequently buried her at sea at a non-defined location in the Bay of Køge. Copenhagen Police may additionally disclose that the preliminary charge of manslaughter is upheld. As the investigation of the case is still covered by “closed doors,” no further information can be given.

Madsen continues to be held on charges of involuntary manslaughter, as the investigation continues.

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Source: Ars Technica – Danish submarine mystery takes gruesome, bizzare turns

Facebook’s evolutionary search for crashing software bugs

Enlarge (credit: Adobe Stock)

With 1.3 billion daily users, the Facebook site and its apps are the most-used pieces of software in the world. Only a handful of software companies have ascended to a similar echelon of ubiquity, including Microsoft, Google, and Apple. For better or worse, that is the world we now live in, where a large percentage our waking hours is spent interacting with software—and Facebook leads the pack, with the average user spending 50 minutes per day mostly watching videos and liking photos of babies. Television is the only leisure activity in the world that receives more attention than Facebook. And don’t forget that Facebook now owns Instagram and WhatsApp, too.

It is understandable, then, that Facebook cares a lot about the quality of its software. If Facebook pushes out a new version of its Android app with a crashing bug, millions of users could be affected. Those users might be inclined to switch to another social network, or even worse: put down their phone and interact with the real world. The net effect is the same, either way: Facebook’s share of your attention, and thus potential revenue, decreases.

That’s why Facebook has some advanced bug-finding tools—including a devilishly clever dynamic analysis tool, initially devised by students at University College London and then acquired and further developed by Facebook’s London office. This is the first time they’ve shown the inner workings of this new tool, dubbed Sapienz, to the press.

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Source: Ars Technica – Facebook’s evolutionary search for crashing software bugs

SNES Classic Mini: Quick preview by someone who has never barrel rolled

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Source: Ars Technica – SNES Classic Mini: Quick preview by someone who has never barrel rolled

The solar eclipse produced some fantastic photos—here are our favorites

NASA/Bill Ingalls

On Monday, Ars writers shared some thoughts about the total solar eclipse that spanned the United States with readers and took some backyard photographs of the event. But let’s be honest, none of us are professional photographers, and didn’t possess the right equipment to do the celestial event justice.

Fortunately, there’s a space agency for that. Two, even. And on Monday NASA and the European Space Agency deployed their resources on the ground and in space to capture the eclipse, doing so in stunning fashion. This gallery highlights everything from the International Space Station transiting the Sun during the eclipse, to astronauts on board the station itself taking pictures of the event back on Earth.

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Source: Ars Technica – The solar eclipse produced some fantastic photos—here are our favorites