Daily TIPs: Broadband Head Fake?, Hackable Passports, Windy Texas, & More

7/21/08

World Needs Environmental New Deal, Group Says

The world needs a clean energy version of Franklin Roosevelt, says “A New Green Deal,” a report issued by the New Economics Foundation. Reuters reports that the foundation is calling for world leaders to emulate “the scale, boldness, and vision” of Roosevelt’s response to the Great Depression. The report calls for a comprehensive plan to deal with the credit crisis, climate change, and soaring fuel and food prices.

Is ISP Embrace of Broadband Policy a Phony?

Last week several Internet service providers, including AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon, called on lawmakers to support a national policy to accelerate broadband penetration. But a blogger at DSL Reports suggests, in fairly sneering tones, that the companies are actually supporting a fake policy in an attempt to ward off regulation that won’t be to their liking.

Hacker Warns of Wireless Data Attacks

WiFi, Bluetooth headsets, and radio frequency identification tags embedded into building access cards and passports are the new targets for criminals trying to steal your personal data, an audience at the Last HOPE hacker conference in New York was told. CNET News reports that a security expert using the alias RenderMan described how some passports contain RFID tags that are protected by only weak encryption. Default personal identification numbers that don’t get changed make Bluetooth headsets vulnerable, he said.

Little Known Program Takes Big Chunk of U.S. Intelligence Budget

The Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative is President Bush’s single largest funding request in the fiscal 2009 intelligence budget. The program is designed to develop a plan to protect government computers against both foreign and domestic threats. But the Washington Post reports that the highly classified, multiyear, multimillion dollar program is described only vaguely, leaving questions as to what it will actually entail.

Obama Outperforms McCain in Cyberspace, Survey Says

The number of visitors to Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s web site surged by more than 90 percent in June, but didn’t come close to what his Democratic rival got, according to the online tracking service Compete. Wired reports that McCain got 807,518 unique visitors in June, but Barack Obama got 2.5 million in the same month. What’s more, the survey found, visitors spent nine minutes on Obama’s pages for every minute they spent on McCain’s. Maybe the election should be held on Facebook.

Texas Harnessing Wind Power

The wind-power industry in Texas received a big boost when state regulators approved a $4.93 billion wind-power transmission project. The head of the West Texas Wind Energy Consortium told the New York Times that the project will put Texas close to Germany in the amount of installed wind power. The project entails installing transmission lines to carry electricity from turbines in West Texas to large cities such as Dallas and Houston.

Scientists Want Place in U.S. Foreign Policy

Prominent scientists believe there should be an emphasis on science when the United States makes foreign policy, whether the discussion is about energy and global warming or fighting diseases such as AIDS and malaria. Nobel laureates Harold Varmus and David Baltimore, and Nina Fedoroff, science advisor to Condoleezza Rice, voiced their opinions at the World Science Summit in New York City in May. It’s a long time in coming, but Science News offers excerpts of their comments in the current issue.

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