Search results for: government shutdown

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FDA Databases Hacked During Government Shutdown

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HackedEven though the government shutdown is behind us—for the moment anyway—news continues to surface about its implications. A particularly troubling recent revelation is that some Food and Drug Aministration databases were hacked during the shutdown, as the drastic reduction in staff increasee vulnerability. The FDA’s recently admitted to the cyber invasion of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER). If we’re smart, will provide a valuable lesson going forward.

The hack occurred on October 15, the last day of the shutdown, and the FDA says that they disabled the system and executed security measures, such as resetting passwords. CBER reviews and regulates biological products, like vaccines, blood, tissue, and cellular and gene therapies. It also educates the public about these products and how to safely and effectively use them. In other words, this is just the kind of information we want vulnerable to security breaches.

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Government Shutdown Screws Science

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House of RepsSigh… I think that about sums up most people’s feelings about the government shutdown. Oh, did you not hear me smash things against the wall, pretending to nail the heads of our elected leaders who stubbornly refuse to compromise, and at our expense? At least they’re still getting paid. Oh, and they all still have health insurance. Phew! I sure was worried about them.

I actually had a student walk in this morning asking if the shutdown meant class was canceled. Why didn’t I think of that? In my writing classes this semester, we read, analyze, and write about space. It’s pretty awesome. Carl Sagan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, space speeches and goals set forth by presidents — we cover them all. So when another student asked if NASA would be impacted by the shutdown, I had to sigh again, refrain from throwing anything, and say that yep — NASA’s getting screwed, along with a bunch of other science-related agencies. Great job, government!

Spoiler alert: the rest of this post will be depressing. Unless you hate science and technology.

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NASA Gets An Unexpected Budget Increase—Yes, You Read That Right

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nasacrewWhat’s the first thing you think of when someone says NASA? Maybe the Apollo missions, maybe the ISS, maybe the Challenger disaster. Whatever it is, I bet one thing no one thinks of anymore is piles and piles of money. NASA is perennially underfunded to the extent that its spokespeople have said its meager budget puts people at risk for asteroid hits, may jeopardize future Mars missions, and generally spells nothing good for the future of America’s space program. So far, 2014 has been a decent year for the space agency, though, with the successful test flight of the Orion spacecraft and the renewal of seven planetary missions. But 2014—and beyond—just got a whole lot better. When the House of Representatives passed the “CRomnibus” bill last week, thankfully averting another government shutdown, it actually gave NASA more than it asked for, raising the agency’s budget by 2% for next year.

The Senate passed the bill over the weekend, and now all President Obama has to do is sign it. Considering that the bill allocates $550 million more for NASA than Obama requested for 2015 (and that a bunch of other hitches were ironed out over the past week), there’s no reason to think he won’t . What that means is NASA is poised to receive just over $18 billion total next year, which is its highest level of funding in a while—$364 million more than they received last year.

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Urgent Launch Of Air Force Satellites Delays NASA’s Orion Spacecraft Flight Test

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orionNASA’s next manned spacecraft — its first new model in 40 years — is called the Orion, or “Apollo on steroids.” Presuming that it passes the various stages of unmanned flight tests, this may be the spacecraft that brings humans to Mars or to the asteroid belt for mining. To put it mildly, there are a lot of eggs in Orion’s basket, so much so that not even the government shutdown halted work on the craft. Even Universe Today dubbed 2014 “the Year of Orion.” Despite its importance, there are higher-priority matters, such as national security. Orion’s first exploration flight test, due to take place in September, has been pushed back to allow the U.S. Air Force to launch two Space Situational Awareness satellites.

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Black Market Warcraft Traders Sentenced To Prison

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World of WarcraftWorld of Warcraft has certainly, and quite literally, taken on a life of its own. For a while now, building up and selling Warcraft credits for actual money has been a growth industry in China. I haven’t heard of many stories in which anyone answered for that, though, until now. Last week, the leader of a Chinese Warcraft fence and his nine accomplices were fined and sentenced to prison for buying and selling user logins on the black market.

The group didn’t actually hack anyone’s accounts—they just, you know, bought them on the black market. Apparently, they purchased the logins for $1 and sold the money and assets of each of those accounts for $3. Nice. Except for it being illegal and everything. The law they broke prohibits intrusive access of “ordinary computer systems.” At the end of the day, the group flipped 11,500 accounts and made more than $10,000.

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Merry Christmas! Astronauts Conduct Emergency Repairs On ISS Cooling System

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spacewalkUnless his flying reindeer are truly amazing, like Falcor, Santa probably doesn’t make it to space. Or maybe he does, and that’s actually where he is the other 364 days of the Earth year. A galactic sleigh would have come in pretty handy at the ISS this Christmas, as astronauts had to attend to an emergency situation that led to a holiday spacewalk. You know, to take in all the lights.

I mean, they’re not decorating the tree, making a holiday dinner, or getting drunk on eggnog, so why not?

American astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Michael Hopkins have gotten to walk in space twice in the past four days. Today’s was the second Christmas Eve spacewalk ever. Is there a best day for a spacewalk? I think I’d like to do it on New Year’s Day, maybe. I probably wouldn’t enjoy an emergency spacewalk at any time, though, and that’s what these were. NASA helpfully tweeted along the way and provided a video feed.

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