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Trump Promises No First Nuclear Strike, Sort of; New Bill Would Make it Illegal

The Intercept -

Donald Trump tried to ease fears about his finger being on the nuclear button during Monday night’s presidential debate, declaring that “I would certainly not do first strike.” He added: “Once the nuclear alternative happens, it’s over.”

But moments later, the Republican presidential nominee seemed to backpedal, claiming that he “can’t take anything off the table.”

Two members of Congress don’t want Trump to have the option.

Responding to the majority of Americans who say they would not trust Trump with the nuclear arsenal, Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass, and Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., introduced legislation Tuesday that would bar the president from conducting a nuclear strike unless Congress had issued a formal declaration of war.

“Our Founding Fathers would be rolling over in their graves if they knew the President could launch a massive, potentially civilization-ending military strike without authorization from Congress,” Lieu said in a statement. “The current nuclear launch approval process, which gives the decision to potentially end civilization as we know it to a single individual, is flatly unconstitutional.”

Whatever Trump actually believes about nuclear weapons, neither Clinton nor President Obama nor any former president has ever adopted a firm “no first use” policy.

Although the Obama administration’s 2010 Nuclear Posture Review says that “the fundamental role of U.S. nuclear weapons… is to deter nuclear attack on the United States,” it leaves open the option of a preemptive strike, saying that the U.S. could use nuclear weapons to “defend the vital interests of the United States” when facing “extreme circumstances.”

In the closing months of Obama’s presidency, some media outlets have speculated that the Obama administration might revise its policy and issue a “no first use” pledge. But the New York Times reported in September that such a proclamation was unlikely, given strong opposition from Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Secretary of State John Kerry.

Opponents of a “no first use” policy argue that nuclear weapons not only deter other nuclear strikes but are required to deter non-nuclear aggression by Russia or China.

But supporters argue that the U.S. military is strong enough to deter those threats without the threat of a mushroom cloud. The U.S. spends more money on its military than its next six rivals combined, it has more military aircraft than Russia and China combined, and more aircraft carriers and military bases than the rest of the world put together.

In a statement of support for Markey and Lieu’s bill on Tuesday, William Perry, former Secretary of Defense under Bill Clinton, said “During my period as Secretary of Defense, I never confronted a situation, or could even imagine a situation, in which I would recommend that the President make a first strike with nuclear weapons.”

A 2007 report by the National Security Advisory Group, including current Defense Secretary Ash Carter and current White House National Security Adviser Susan Rice, argued that nuclear weapons are such an extreme (and therefore unlikely) response that they not even a credible deterrent to conventional military aggression:

Nuclear weapons are much less credible in deterring conventional, biological, or chemical weapon attacks. A more effective way of deterring and defending against such non-nuclear attacks… would be to rely on a robust array of conventional strike capabilities and strong declaratory policies.

Obama entered office intending to scale back the U.S. nuclear arsenal, vowing in a 2009 address to seek “the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” He got off to a strong start, negotiating a treaty with Russia that set new limits on the number of deployed warheads each country had. This year Obama also became the first U.S. president to visit Hiroshima, where he called for a “moral awakening.”

But his legacy is being called into question by arms control groups, who have criticized his trillion-dollar plan to modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal. The plan — which involves buying a whole new generation of land-based missiles, nuclear submarines, bombers, and cruise missiles over the next decade – would be a massive handout for defense contractors.

When asked about the modernization plan at a campaign rally in January, Hillary Clinton responded “Yeah, I’ve heard about that. I’m going to look into that. It doesn’t make sense to me.”

In May, the Pentagon published updated numbers showing that Obama had reduced the nuclear stockpile less than any other post-Cold War president.

Top Photo: A deactivated Titan II nuclear ICMB at the Titan Missile Museum, in Green Valley, Arizona.

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The post Trump Promises No First Nuclear Strike, Sort of; New Bill Would Make it Illegal appeared first on The Intercept.

FCC Official Asks Agency To Investigate Ban On Journalists' Wi-Fi Personal Hotspots At Debate

Slashdot -

Yesterday, it was reported that journalists attending the presidential debate at Hofstra University were banned from using personal hotspots and were told they had to pay $200 to access the event's Wi-Fi. The journalists were reportedly offered the option to either turn off their personal hotspots or leave the debate. Cyrus Farivar via Ars Technica is now reporting that "one of the members of the Federal Communications Commission, Jessica Rosenworcel, has asked the agency to investigate the Monday evening ban." Ars Technica reports: Earlier, Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel tweeted, saying that something was "not right" with what Hofstra did. She cited an August 2015 order from the FCC, forcing a company called SmartCity to no longer engage in Wi-Fi blocking and to pay $750,000. Ars has since updated their report with a statement from Karla Schuster, a spokeswoman for Hofstra University: The Commission on Presidential Debates sets the criteria for services and requires that a completely separate network from the University's network be built to support the media and journalists. This is necessary due to the volume of Wi-Fi activity and the need to avoid interference. The Rate Card fee of $200 for Wi-Fi access is to help defray the costs and the charge for the service does not cover the cost of the buildout. For Wi-Fi to perform optimally the system must be tuned with each access point and antenna. When other Wi-Fi access points are placed within the environment the result is poorer service for all. To avoid unauthorized access points that could interfere, anyone who has a device that emits RF frequency must register the device. Whenever a RF-emitting device was located, the technician notified the individual to visit the RF desk located in the Hall. The CPD RF engineer would determine if the device could broadcast without interference.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

OVH Hosting Suffers From Record 1Tbps DDoS Attack Driven By 150K Devices

Slashdot -

MojoKid writes: If you thought that the massive DDoS attack earlier this month on Brian Krebs' security blog was record-breaking, take a look at what just happened to France-based hosting provider OVH. OVH was the victim of a wide-scale DDoS attack that was carried via a network of over 152,000 IoT devices. According to OVH founder and CTO Octave Klaba, the DDoS attack reached nearly 1 Tbps at its peak. Of those IoT devices participating in the DDoS attack, they were primarily comprised of CCTV cameras and DVRs. Many of these devices have improperly configured network settings, which leaves them ripe for the picking for hackers that would love to use them to carry out destructive attacks.The DDoS peaked at 990 Gbps on September 20th thanks to two concurrent attacks, and according to Klaba, the original botnet was capable of a 1.5 Tbps DDoS attack if each IP topped out at 30 Mbps. This massive DDoS campaign was directed at Minecraft servers that OHV was hosting. Octave Klaba / Oles tweeted: "Last days, we got lot of huge DDoS. Here, the list of 'bigger that 100Gbps' only. You can the simultaneous DDoS are close to 1Tbps!"

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Google's New Translation Software Powered By Brainlike Artificial Intelligence

Slashdot -

sciencehabit quotes a report from Science Magazine: Today, Google rolled out a new translation system that uses massive amounts of data and increased processing power to build more accurate translations. The new system, a deep learning model known as neural machine translation, effectively trains itself -- and reduces translation errors by up to 87%. When compared with Google's previous system, the neural machine translation system scores well with human reviewers. It was 58% more accurate at translating English into Chinese, and 87% more accurate at translating English into Spanish. As a result, the company is planning to slowly replace the system underlying all of its translation work -- one language at a time. The report adds: "The new method, reported today on the preprint server arXiv, uses a total of 16 processors to first transform words into a value known as a vector. What is a vector? 'We don't know exactly,' [Quoc Le, a Google research scientist in Mountain View, California, says.] But it represents how related one word is to every other word in the vast dictionary of training materials (2.5 billion sentence pairs for English and French; 500 million for English and Chinese). For example, 'dog' is more closely related to 'cat' than 'car,' and the name 'Barack Obama' is more closely related to 'Hillary Clinton' than the name for the country 'Vietnam.' The system uses vectors from the input language to come up with a list of possible translations that are ranked based on their probability of occurrence. Other features include a system of cross-checks that further increases accuracy and a special set of computations that speeds up processing time."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


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