Monarch butterflies rebounding but population still well off highs

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) – North America’s monarch butterflies are on a rebound and the number of the plucky orange and black creatures, which gather in Mexico before flying north to Canada, could…

The Power Glove reborn? Sony patent points to finger-tracking controller

As someone who has tried a lot of virtual reality demos, trust me when I say that the ability to see your hands—and to use them to reach out and interact with the virtual world—makes all the difference. So perhaps it should come as no surprise that Sony Computer Entertainment has filed a patent application for a “glove interface object” that could help provide accurate virtual reality hand tracking without the need to actually hold a controller.

PlayStation VR already has a hand-tracking solution, of course, in the form of the PlayStation Move controllers that were first released for the PlayStation 3 in 2010. But this glove offers a bit more functionality than those handheld wands, including sensors that can “identify a flex of at least one finger portion,” contact sensors that can detect when you touch a thumb to another fingertip, and sensors that measure the user’s “finger position pose” (which can then be rendered on the screen).

The end goal is to “simply provide a way of touching, holding, playing, interfacing or contacting virtual objects shown on a display screen or objects associated with documents, text, images, and the like,” according to the patent application.

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Virginia governor signs gun law compromise measures

(Reuters) – Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe on Friday signed compromise gun legislation that recognizes concealed-carry permits from all states while making it illegal for someone under a permanent protective order to possess a firearm.

Obama administration closing in on rules to let NSA share more freely with FBI, CIA

The New York Times is reporting that Obama administration officials are close to agreeing on new rules that would allow the National Security Agency (NSA) to share surveillance information more freely with other federal agencies, including the FBI and the CIA, without scrubbing Americans’ identifying information first.

In 2008, President George W. Bush put forth an executive order that said such a change to the rules governing sharing between agencies could occur when procedures had been put in place. When the Obama administration took over, it started “quietly developing a framework” to carry out the proposed change in 2009, according to the Times.

For the past decade, the NSA has collected massive amounts of phone metadata, e-mail, and other information from a variety of sources—sometimes directly from the companies that make such communication possible, sometimes through overseas taps on lines that connect to data centers outside of the US. Currently when an agency wants information on a foreign citizen, it requests that data from the NSA, and the NSA theoretically scrubs it of any incidental references to American citizens who are not being targeted. This process is known as “minimization.”

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Obama, at battery plant, jabs Republicans on economic ‘snake oil’

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Reuters) – President Barack Obama used a trip to a lithium-ion battery factory on Friday to defend his economic record against arguments made by Republicans in the race to succeed him after the Nov. 8 presidential election.

Police chief: There’s a “reasonably good chance” not much is on seized iPhone

In a short interview on NPR’s Morning Edition on Friday, San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said there is a “reasonably good chance that there is nothing of any value on the phone.”

Last week, Apple CEO Tim Cook reiterated the company’s firm commitment to privacy and its resolve to fight a new court order issued earlier this month. If the order stands up to legal challenges, Apple would be forced to create a new customized iOS firmware that would remove the passcode lockout on a seized iPhone as part of the ongoing San Bernardino terrorism investigation. On Thursday, Apple filed its formal legal response and set the stage for an important court hearing in nearby Riverside next month.

However, this morning Burguan articulated the general law enforcement perspective that it is “not fair to the victims and their families,” and the government should “leave no stone unturned in the investigation.”

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IRS identifies more cyberattacks to access tax data

(Reuters) – The Internal Revenue Service said on Friday an investigation into a hacking attack revealed in May found that cyber criminals had made attempts to gain access to about 390,000 additional taxpayer accounts.


Drone flies within 30 feet of passenger jet landing at Heathrow

File this under the category of “drone pilots trying to ruin it for everybody.” According to a safety incident report published by the United Kingdom’s Airprox air safety board, an Airbus A319 landing at Heathrow International Airport last September narrowly avoided a collision with a drone flying at an altitude of 500 feet as the jet was on its final approach. The pilots reported the small hovering helicopter-style drone passed about 25 yards to the left of the cockpit and just 20 feet above the aircraft.

The A319’s wingspan is 112 feet, so that would mean the drone missed the airliner by as little as 30 feet. The pilot reported that there was no time once the drone was sighted to take evasive action. The pilot reported the drone to air traffic controllers, and the police were dispatched. However, the drone pilot was not found. The incident was classified as meeting risk category A—the highest level incident covered by the reporting system short of an actual collision.

The drone was not detected by air traffic control radar, so the only details of the event and how close the aircraft came to striking the drone are the pilot’s estimate of distance. In the UK, drones are limited to flight below 400 feet and are banned from flying in controlled airspace (like that around Heathrow) without permission from air traffic controllers. As the report noted, UK Civil Aviation Authority rules require a drone to stay within visual line of sight of the pilot—a maximum of 500 meters (1,640 feet) horizontally and 400 feet vertically from the operator.

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