BP found "reckless", grossly negligent in 2010 spill

Not that they'll face significant penalties for it of course, and indeed the whole thing may still be thrown out on appeal.

BP Found Grossly Negligent in 2010 Spill; Fines May Rise (Bloomberg)

BP acted with gross negligence in setting off the biggest offshore oil spill in U.S. history, a federal judge ruled...

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier held a trial without a jury over who was at fault for the environmental catastrophe, which killed 11 people and spewed oil for almost three months into waters that touch the shores of five states. The case also included Transocean Ltd. and Halliburton Co., though the judge didn’t find them as responsible for the spill as BP.

“BP’s conduct was reckless,” Barbier wrote in a decision today in New Orleans federal court. “Transocean’s conduct was negligent. Halliburton’s conduct was negligent.”

Japan ready to invest $5 billion in Baltimore-Washington maglev train

Yes, please. It's past time to have real passenger rail service in the U.S.

Backers of high-speed 'maglev' train to Washington claim $5 billion in funding (baltimoresun.com)

An investor group hoping to build a high-speed train capable of cutting the travel time between Baltimore and Washington to 15 minutes says in a filing to state regulators that it has lined up more than $5 billion in financial backing.

The commitment is from the Japanese government...

...

The details were included in Rapid Rail's filing Wednesday asking Maryland regulators for the old state franchise rights of the former Washington Baltimore & Annapolis Electric Railroad, a once-busy interurban electric rail car system that linked the three cities in the early 20th century.

"In a back-to-the-future type way, you see that there was already a Baltimore-Washington service that previously existed ... sort of sitting on the shelf waiting for people to pull it off and dust it off, for us to get back to providing what they had in 1935," said Wayne Rogers, a major shareholder...

could systemd kerfluffle move people to BSD?

An interesting possibility...

You have your Windows in my Linux (InfoWorld)

I see one common thread in the heated discussions over systemd. The most vocal proponents of systemd seem to be singular desktop users, whereas server admins and architects lean the other way. An exchange on one of my recent posts showcases this. User ZincKidd comments, "BSD is looking better and better...." In reply, Adam Jorgensen notes, "Good luck running it on your laptop :-)".

With all due respect, Adam, I'm not going to run RHEL 7 on my laptop either. I'm going to run it on servers, and that is a vastly different workload. Nobody here is talking about laptops.

In another post, pro-systemd commenter Luya Tshimbalanga disparages runlevels as being "unclear." He later says the basic 0,1,2,3,4,5,6 runlevels that have been part of every Unix derivative are somehow too complex. When asked to whom those runlevels are unclear, he states: "New generation of administrators and users. You asked because you are already familiar with the init numbers term but future administrators won't without documentation. Init numbers are arbitrary and mean nothing on their own."

I don't mean to pick on these few, but they're indicative of a larger trend toward users who appear to believe that reading manuals and learning OS internals is bad, and we should plaster over all of that mumbo-jumbo with a nice, sleek -- and completely opaque -- management layer. For example: systemd.

I believe this thinking is pretty much in line with Microsoft's train of thought back in the early 1990s.

Russia threatening nuclear attack on Ukraine

Welcome to the end of the world, folks. In a surprise upset, it's not going to be runaway climate change, post-peak-oil crisis, or a massive disease epidemic, but a come-from-behind victory for nuclear armageddon.

Russia Has Threatened Nuclear Attack, Says Ukraine Defence Minister (Newsweek)

“The Russian side has threatened on several occasions across unofficial channels that, in the case of continued resistance they are ready to use a tactical nuclear weapon against us,” Heletey’s statement reads.

...

Putin also alluded to potential nuclear conflict when he told Russian youth campers last week: "Thank God, I think no one is thinking of unleashing a large-scale conflict with Russia," he said. "I want to remind you that Russia is one of the leading nuclear powers.”

author arrested(?) for novel about school shooting

Write a novel about kids getting shot, get locked in the psych ward. Actually shoot a kid, and as long as he's black, well, you know.

In Maryland, a Soviet-Style Punishment for a Novelist (The Atlantic)

A 23-year-old teacher at a Cambridge, Md. middle school has been placed on leave and—in the words of a local news report—"taken in for an emergency medical evaluation" for publishing, under a pseudonym, a novel about a school shooting. The novelist, Patrick McLaw, an eighth-grade language-arts teacher at the Mace's Lane Middle School, was placed on leave by the Dorchester County Board of Education, and is being investigated by the Dorchester County Sheriff's Office, according to news reports from Maryland's Eastern Shore. The novel, by the way, is set 900 years in the future.

U.K. parents arrested for seeking advanced cancer treatment for their son

Medical authoritarianism is a growing problem. Under no sane system do you need a hospital's consent to leave. Under no sane system is going to a different hospital grounds for suspicion of neglect. And this isn't just a problem in the UK -- pregant women in the U.S. have been imprisoned in hospitals for failing to be properly subservient. It's almost getting so that I wouldn't advise anyone to check themselves or loved ones into a hospital without an extraction team on standby.

U.K. parents who took son with brain tumour to Spain to fight extradition (CTVNews)

The family had fled to Spain in hopes of selling a property to obtain enough cash for a new treatment in the Czech Republic or the United States they hope will help their child. Police pursued them and issued an arrest warrant on suspicion of neglect after Southampton General Hospital realized their patient -- 5-year-old Ashya King --was gone, without their consent.

British authorities have made no apology for the warrant and travelled to Spain to question the couple.

...

The family has criticized Britain's health care system, saying he has a serious tumour that needs an advanced treatment option called proton beam therapy and that it wasn't being made available to him.

...

In Britain, proton beam therapy is currently only available to treat certain patients with cancer in their eyes. Other countries, including the U.S., Switzerland and Japan, also use proton beam therapy to treat cancers of the spinal cord, brain, prostate, lung and those that affect children.

Americans hate Congress, will vote for them anyway

American hate Congress. Their approval rating is at 13%, and a whopping 69% of likely voters believe that most members of Congress don’t care what their constituents think. But the system is about to send almost all of those same people back into office.

No rational person can look at that and conclude that the system is not broken. Attempts to reform it from within, therefore, are pointless.

Surly 2014 electorate poised to 'keep the bums in' (Yahoo News)

A surly electorate that holds Congress in even lower regard than unpopular President Barack Obama is willing to "keep the bums in," with at least 365 incumbents in the 435-member House and 18 of 28 senators on a glide path to another term when ballots are counted
With less than 10 weeks to the elections, Republicans and Democrats who assess this fall's midterm contests say the power of incumbency....trumps the sour public mood and antipathy toward gridlocked Washington.

useful self-driving cars still far off

Hype antidote. Turns out Google's approach to "self-driving" is to map the hell out of the street ahead of time, rather than the sort of real-time intelligence needed for driving in the real world.

Google’s Self-Driving Cars Still Face Many Obstacles | MIT Technology Review (MIT Technology Review)

Google often leaves the impression that, as a Google executive once wrote, the cars can “drive anywhere a car can legally drive.” However, that’s true only if intricate preparations have been made beforehand, with the car’s exact route, including driveways, extensively mapped. Data from multiple passes by a special sensor vehicle must later be pored over, meter by meter, by both computers and humans. It’s vastly more effort than what’s needed for Google Maps.

a-ok for cops to run over cyclists while e-mailing

From the "unaccountable cops are bad cops" department:

No charges for LASD deputy who fatally struck cyclist while typing on computer

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office declined to press charges against a sheriff’s deputy who was apparently distracted by his mobile digital computer when he fatally struck cyclist Milton Olin Jr. in Calabasas in December, officials announced Wednesday.

...

“Wood entered the bicycle lane as a result of inattention caused by typing into his (Mobile Digital Computer),” according to the declination letter prepared by the Justice System Integrity Division of the District Attorney’s Office and released Wednesday. “He was responding to a deputy who was inquiring whether the fire investigation had been completed. Since Wood was acting within the course and scope of his duties when he began to type his response, under Vehicle Code section 23123.5, he acted lawfully.”

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Mitsubishi plug-in hybrid 4WD SUV off-road in the Outback

"The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is the world’s first plug-in hybrid SUV. " I hope more models will be on the market when it comes time (hopefully not for many years!) to replace Starbug, my Ford Escape hybrid SUV (not plug-in).

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV to enter 2014 Australian Safari | Electric Vehicle News

Mitsubishi’s top selling Outlander PHEV plug-in hybrid electric vehicle is set to tackle a new frontier when it takes on one of the toughest off-road events in outback Australia next month.

With technical support from Mitsubishi Motors Australia (MMAL), Team Mitsubishi Ralliart Australia (TMR Australia) will enter a plug-in hybrid Outlander PHEV in the iconic Australasian Safari, which takes place in Western Australia from 19-27 September.

It will be the first plug-in hybrid four-wheel drive officially entered in an Australian motorsport event – including the Safari, which is considered one of the most demanding off-road endurance rallies in Australia.

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