- Google challenges U.S. gag order, citing First Amendment – The Washington Post
- Smile, You’re in a Criminal Database
- it is still there. don’t bother checking. I will do that for you
- Exclusive clip from “How to Make Money Selling Drugs” – Salon.com
- Herbal extract boosts fruit fly lifespan by nearly 25 percent | ScienceBlog.com
- Majority of Supreme Court members millionaires
- Turkish police arrest dozens in raids on homes, newspapers
Category Archives: Blog
Turns out that driver’s license photos are useful for more than acute embarrassment. States, realizing they have a de-facto visual database of most of their residents, are increasingly plugging those photos into facial-recognition software and Facebook to solve crimes — and worrying privacy advocates in the process.
Erdogan vows to expand police powers as authorities target protesters in Istanbul and Ankara suspected of violence
Jared Cohen foresees a time when states will have two foreign and domestic policies: one for the physical world and one for cyberspace
Cameron Todd Willingham in his cell on death row, in 1994. He insisted upon his innocence in the deaths of his children and refused an offer to plead guilty in return for a life sentence. Photograph by Ken Light.
Cameron Todd Willingham in his cell on death row, in 1994. He insisted upon his innocence in the deaths of his children and refused an offer to plead guilty in return for a life sentence. Photograph by Ken Light.
The fire moved quickly through the house, a one-story wood-frame structure in a working-class neighborhood of Corsicana, in northeast Texas. Flames spread along the walls, bursting through doorways, blistering paint and tiles and furniture. Smoke pressed against the ceiling, then banked downward, seeping into each room and through crevices in the windows, staining the morning sky.
Buffie Barbee, who was eleven years old and lived two houses down, was playing in her back yard when she smelled the smoke. She ran inside and told her mother, Diane, and they hurried up the street; that’s when they saw the smoldering house and Cameron Todd Willingham standing on the front porch, wearing only a pair of jeans, his chest blackened with soot, his hair and eyelids singed. He was screaming, “My babies are burning up!” His children—Karmon and Kameron, who were one-year-old twin girls, and two-year-old Amber—were trapped inside.
Willingham told the Barbees to call the Fire Department, and while Diane raced down the street to get help he found a stick and broke the children’s bedroom window. Fire lashed through the hole. He broke another window; flames burst through it, too, and he retreated into the yard, kneeling in front of the house. A neighbor later told police that Willingham intermittently cried, “My babies!” then fell silent, as if he had “blocked the fire out of his mind.”
Diane Barbee, returning to the scene, could feel intense heat radiating off the house. Moments later, the five windows of the children’s room exploded and flames “blew out,” as Barbee put it. Within minutes, the first firemen had arrived, and Willingham approached them, shouting that his children were in their bedroom, where the flames were thickest. A fireman sent word over his radio for rescue teams to “step on it.”
More men showed up, uncoiling hoses and aiming water at the blaze. One fireman, who had an air tank strapped to his back and a mask covering his face, slipped through a window but was hit by water from a hose and had to retreat. He then charged through the front door, into a swirl of smoke and fire. Heading down the main corridor, he reached the kitchen, where he saw a refrigerator blocking the back door.
[my view: there might be a difference that can be made between cyber spying upon things considered military and those considered business and science. But for those who felt we did not cyber spy and the Chinese did, time to wake up to reality of the world we live in]
The Edward Snowden affair has done many things. One of the most signal is its complete destruction of the US government/national security megaplex’s campaign of cyberwar hype, disinformation and outright lying.
In the weeks preceeding the emergence of Edward Snowden’s information on cyber-spying the US government had been conducting a carefully staged p.r. operation to paint China as the primary sinner in cyberspace. China was a country that was not playing fair, one targeting our networks and “intellectual property” in the cyber equivalent of a clandestine war.
This was said, most notoriously by National Security Agency director Keith Alexander, to constitute “the greatest transfer of wealth in history.” The economic future of the United States was imperiled by Chinese espionage.
Constitution Hall, Washington, D.C.
Monday, January 16 2006
…The result was the Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act (FISA), which was enacted expressly to ensure that foreign intelligence surveillance would be presented to an impartial judge to verify that there is a sufficient cause for the surveillance. I voted for that law during my first term in Congress and for almost thirty years the system has proven a workable and valued means of according a level of protection for private citizens, while permitting foreign surveillance to continue.
Yet, just one month ago, Americans awoke to the shocking news that in spite of this long settled law, the Executive Branch has been secretly spying on large numbers of Americans for the last four years and eavesdropping on “large volumes of telephone calls, e-mail messages, and other Internet traffic inside the United States.” The New York Times reported that the President decided to launch this massive eavesdropping program “without search warrants or any new laws that would permit such domestic intelligence collection.”
During the period when this eavesdropping was still secret, the President went out of his way to reassure the American people on more than one occasion that, of course, judicial permission is required for any government spying on American citizens and that, of course, these constitutional safeguards were still in place.
But surprisingly, the President’s soothing statements turned out to be false. Moreover, as soon as this massive domestic spying program was uncovered by the press, the President not only confirmed that the story was true, but also declared that he has no intention of bringing these wholesale invasions of privacy to an end.
At present, we still have much to learn about the NSA’s domestic surveillance. What we do know about this pervasive wiretapping virtually compels the conclusion that the President of the United States has been breaking the law repeatedly and persistently.
A president who breaks the law is a threat to the very structure of our government. Our Founding Fathers were adamant that they had established a government of laws and not men. Indeed, they recognized that the structure of government they had enshrined in our Constitution – our system of checks and balances – was designed with a central purpose of ensuring that it would govern through the rule of law. As John Adams said: “The executive shall never exercise the legislative and judicial powers, or either of them, to the end that it may be a government of laws and not of men.”
An executive who arrogates to himself the power to ignore the legitimate legislative directives of the Congress or to act free of the check of the judiciary becomes the central threat that the Founders sought to nullify in the Constitution – an all-powerful executive too reminiscent of the King from whom they had broken free. In the words of James Madison, “the accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”…
New York City is doing some serious work on the Second Avenue Subway, the first new line built under the city since 1932. The $4.5 billion project aims to decrease commuter congestion for east Manhattan. Check out these pictures. They are incredible
Horrific abuse. Rampant contamination. And the crime is…exposing it?
Illustration by Tim O’Brien
Shawn Lyons was dead to rights—and he knew it. More than a month had passed since People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals had released a video of savage mistreatment at the MowMar Farms hog confinement facility where he worked as an entry-level herdsman in the breeding room. The three enormous sow barns in rural Greene County, Iowa, were less than five years old and, until recently, had raised few concerns. They seemed well ventilated and well supplied with water from giant holding tanks. Their tightly tacked steel siding always gleamed white in the sun. But the PETA hidden-camera footage shot by two undercover activists over a period of months in the summer of 2008, following up on a tip from a former employee, showed a harsh reality concealed inside.
The trailer for Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street” is out and it features a track from Kanye’s new album.
n the course of exploring the properties of a strange subatomic particle, physicists may have stumbled upon something even stranger: a mysterious and exotic new form of matter.
The intriguing discovery was made more or less simultaneously by two collaborations: the Belle experiment at the Japanese High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK) and BESIII experiment run by the Institute of High Energy Physics (IHEP) in China.
Both teams were looking at a particle called Y(4260) that had been discovered in 2005 but whose nature has mystified researchers since. By smashing together electrons and their antiparticle, positrons, the experiments produced large numbers of Y(4260), which lives for only 10-23 seconds before falling apart into other particles. The teams noticed that their data had a peculiar bump around 3.9 gigaelectronvolts (GeV), an energy corresponding to roughly four times the weight of a proton.
NSA has massive database of Americans’ phone calls
In the mid-nineteenth century, work began on a crucial section of the railway line connecting Boston to the Hudson River. The addition would run from Greenfield, Massachusetts, to Troy, New York, and it required tunnelling through Hoosac Mountain, a massive impediment, nearly five miles thick, that blocked passage between the Deerfield Valley and a tributary of the Hudson.
James Hayward, one of New England’s leading railroad engineers, estimated that penetrating the Hoosac would cost, at most, a very manageable two million dollars. The president of Amherst College, an accomplished geologist, said that the mountain was composed of soft rock and that tunnelling would be fairly easy once the engineers had breached the surface. “The Hoosac . . . is believed to be the only barrier between Boston and the Pacific,” the project’s promoter, Alvah Crocker, declared.
The blue bandana that exonerated Michael Morton of the 1986 murder of his wife Christine. It was found to contain traces of blood and the DNA of Mark Norwood.
Photograph by Adam Voorhes
Michael Morton approached the witness box. It was a bright, clear morning in March, and a few dozen family members, journalists, and curious onlookers had gathered at the Tom Green County courthouse, in San Angelo, a grand, columned monument to justice built in 1928 at the height of an oil boom. Sunlight spilled into the courtroom, which had been meticulously restored to its original splendor, complete with a decorative relief on the ceiling of an enormous sunflower. Michael took his seat, his posture ramrod-straight. He glanced at the jurors on his left, then stared ahead, the crisp white collar of his dress shirt offsetting the rising color in his face.
I watched online as a college classmate went from disgrace to redemption in months. That’s when I found myself deep in the world of black-ops reputation management.
by Graeme Wood…(Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine; Patrick McMullan (Upham))
On November 29, 2010, federal agents in San Francisco arrested a 33-year-old New Yorker named Samuel Phineas Upham, setting in motion the chain of news reports that are responsible for Google’s autocompleting his name in the following ways:
PHINEAS UPHAM TAX
PHINEAS UPHAM ARREST
PHINEAS UPHAM INDICTMENT
The case against Upham, who goes by “Phin,” was laid out by Preet Bharara, the financial-crime-fighting U.S. Attorney. The indictment alleged that Phin tried to cheat the IRS by conspiring to hide over $11 million in Zurich at the Swiss bank UBS, and helped his mother, Sybil Nancy Upham, sneak the money into the United States. It said Nancy Upham, with the aid of UBS advisers, started a sham Liechtenstein nonprofit, the Rivaro Foundation, in 1993, then a sham Hong Kong corporation, Grand Partner International Limited, and, when UBS began cooperating with the IRS, moved the accounts to a bank in Liechtenstein without a U.S. branch. In 2005, Nancy directed Phin to go to Zurich to secretly retrieve some of the money in cash. He went, in 2005 and 2007, bringing back amounts as large as $300,000.
Lion tamer Pablo Noel at Hamburg Circus
My life as an amateur taxidermist, Or, How I ended up in my pyjamas at 3pm awaiting the delivery of two frozen squirrels
Don’t try this at home kids. Seriously.
Taxidermy needn’t be taxing – cutting up birds.
“I don’t want to cause a weird fight or anything,” I said, “But someone’s shoved a frozen pizza on top of my rook. Obviously I can’t bring this up without alerting the house to the presence of dead rook in the freezer.”
“Sweetums. Treacle,” came the reply. “You cannot put a dead rook in the freezer and then not tell people it’s there.”
Prior to this conversation, I had rearranged the frozen pizzas, the ancient half-price steaks and the ice cubes with the breadcrumb dusting, and I had placed in the freezer the following items: two pigeons and one rook (dead). They nestled there wrapped in foil and orange Sainsbury’s bags next to the peas, and would stay there until the day when I would have time to stuff them with woodwool and cotton balls and replace their dead eyes with beads, because shitty amateur taxidermists like me do not actually purchase proper glass eyes. We cut corners. We get tired and rush the bit at the end. We make tiny monsters that we keep in our bedrooms that ensure we will never get laid again.
The Fisht Olympic Stadium and other Olympic venues under construction for the 2014 Winter Olympic games in Sochi on March 7, 2013. (Reuters)
Boris Nemtsov has occupied many roles in post-Soviet Russia, both in government and in the parallel polis that is oppositional politics. He was first elected governor of Nizhny Novgorod, whose successful economic reforms in that region carved a political pathway that would ultimately take him into the deputy premiership under the Yeltsin government. Nemtsov has also been a dogged opponent of Vladimir Putin for the better part of a decade, warning as early as 2004 of a creeping dictatorship. He’s perhaps best recognized by the series of reports or white papers that he has co-authored on the state of Russia’s economy, the corruption at the heart of Gazprom, and Putin’s rumored multi-billion dollar personal fortune, a subject of endless fascination for journalists. Most recently, Nemtsov and Leonid Martynyuk produced a large study of waste and graft that has become the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. My colleague Olga Khvostunova and I had a chance to interview Nemtsov about his report, ” Winter Olympics in the Sub-Tropics: Corruption and Abuse in Sochi .” (An English-language version of the report was put out last week by The Interpreter, an online translation journal I edit under the auspices of the Institute of Modern Russia. Both the report and
As scientists and weather experts continue to be concerned with the major threat of global warming, often associated with higher temperatures than normal that can potentially lead to extreme weather events, researchers quantified how a global cooling event 116-million years ago had severe long-term consequences for marine species.
Researchers based in the UK and Germany show that a link between global cooling and a crash in the marine ecosystem during the mid-Cretaceous greenhouse period could be a cause for concern, even in modern times.
According to this news release from Newcastle University, the research quantifies the amplitude and duration of this global temperature change in Earth’s history for the first time.
Findings based on the geochemistry and micropaleontology analysis of a marine sediment core taken from the North Atlantic Ocean indicate a temperature drop of up to 5 degree Celsius. Major geological events initiated a 2.5 million year period of global cooling and later inversed this phenomenon.
Jane Hilton: “Precious” is a series of intimate portraits of women who work in Nevada brothels (PHOTOS).
An extraordinary fuss about eavesdropping started in the spring of 1844, when Giuseppe Mazzini, an Italian exile in London, became convinced that the British government was opening his mail. Mazzini, a revolutionary who’d been thrown in jail in Genoa, imprisoned in Savona, sentenced to death in absentia, and arrested in Paris, was plotting the unification of the kingdoms of Italy and the founding of an Italian republic. He suspected that, in London, he’d been the victim of what he called “post-office espionage”: he believed that the Home Secretary, Sir James Graham, had ordered his mail to be opened, at the request of the Austrian Ambassador, who, like many people, feared what Mazzini hoped—that an insurrection in Italy would spark a series of revolutions across Europe. Mazzini knew how to find out: he put poppy seeds, strands of hair, and grains of sand into envelopes, sealed the envelopes with wax, and sent them, by post, to himself. When the letters arrived—still sealed—they contained no poppy seeds, no hair, and no grains of sand. Mazzini then had his friend Thomas Duncombe, a Member of Parliament, submit a petition to the House of Commons. Duncombe wanted to know if Graham really had ordered the opening of Mazzini’s mail. Was the British government in the business of prying into people’s private correspondence? Graham said the answer to that question was a secret.
Questions raised this month about surveillance conducted by the National Security Agency have been met, so far, with much the same response that Duncombe got from Graham in 1844: the program is classified. (This, a secret secret, is known as a double secret.) Luckily, old secrets aren’t secret; old secrets are history. The Mazzini affair, as the historian David Vincent argued in “The Culture of Secrecy,” led to “the first modern attack on official secrecy.” It stirred a public uproar, and eventually the House of Commons appointed a Committee of Secrecy “to inquire into the State of the Law in respect of the Detaining and Opening of Letters at the General Post-office, and into the Mode under which the Authority given for such Detaining and Opening has been exercised.” In August of 1844, the committee issued a hundred-and-sixteen-page report on the goings on at the post office. Fascinating to historians, it must have bored Parliament silly. It includes a history of the delivery of the mail, back to the sixteenth century. (The committee members had “showed so much antiquarian research,” Lord John Russell remarked, that he was surprised they hadn’t gone all the way back to “the case of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, who opened the letters which had been committed to his charge, and got Rosencrantz and Guildenstern put to death instead of himself.”)
Europe’s Champions League, but on May 25th more than 360m people around the world watched Bayern Munich score in the 89th minute to beat Borussia Dortmund by two goals to one at London’s Wembley Stadium. The symbolism was powerful. For the first time in its 58-year history, the final of Europe’s most important football contest was a wholly German affair.
From the football pitch to politics to the economy, Germany has become Europe’s most powerful country. Described by this newspaper as the sick man of Europe in 1999, Germany now appears to have the continent’s strongest as well as its biggest economy. It accounts for a fifth of the European Union’s output and a quarter of its exports. From Volkswagen to SAP, Germany’s big companies are world-renowned. Many smaller German firms are global champions in niche markets such as tunnel-boring machines and industrial cleaners.
If our phone records are protected by a “lockbox,” why can the NSA search them without a warrant?
For the past week and a half, U.S. officials have told us that the National Security Agency’s vast collection of phone “metadata”—which numbers have called which other numbers and when—is kept in a “lockbox.” They’ve implied that the data can’t be searched without court approval. That’s false. The records can be searched without a warrant. The “lockbox” has no lock.
On June 6, hours after the Guardian reported details of the phone surveillance program, James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, issued a statement describing oversight of the program by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. “By order of the FISC, the Government is prohibited from indiscriminately sifting through the telephony metadata acquired under the program,” said Clapper. “The court only allows the data to be queried when there is a reasonable suspicion, based on specific facts, that the particular basis for the query is associated with a foreign terrorist organization.”
Largely unavailable for centuries, a new collection of bawdy, naughty, and vivid medieval French tales reminds us that our ancestors were a dirty bunch. Yunte Huang on what they reveal about human nature. Be warned: don’t read this with your mother.
by Yunte Huang
“By trade I am a fucker, miss
so may your heart be filled with bliss”
The European relationship between religion, law and politics is a strange creature. Religious influence over political life is weaker in Europe than in almost any other part of the world. To adapt the phrase first used by Alastair Campbell when he was spokesman for the British prime minister Tony Blair, politicians in Europe generally ‘don’t do God’. The EU’s Eurobarometer surveys of public opinion suggest that religion has a very limited impact on the political values and behaviour of European voters. Europe has no equivalent to the politically powerful religious right in America, nor to the theological debates in the political arena that one sees in many Islamic countries.
Recently, however, this long-standing distance between religion and politics has been threatened. Migration is one factor that has helped religion to return to centre stage in public life. While Muslim minorities have protested over questions of blasphemy and free speech, Catholic leaders have intervened in political debates about gay marriage and abortion, and conservatives have lamented that European societies are losing touch with their Christian past. The political scientist Eric Kaufmann has argued that religious believers have a demographic advantage in birth rates that will see Europe’s secularisation reversed by the end of this century.
Scientists believe they may have discovered a key to developing drugs which could help stop the spread of cancer.
Experiments carried out by a team at University College London has uncovered clues in what causes the disease to migrate from one part of the body to another.
In many cases death is not caused by the primary tumour, but the secondary growth.
The key follows experiments carried out by a team at University College London using frog and zebrafish embryos.
Scientists identified a mechanism which called ‘chase and run’ which showed how diseased and healthy cells follow each other around the body.
“Nobody knew how this happened, and now we believe we have uncovered it. If that is the case it will be relatively easy to develop drugs that interfere with this interaction,” said Prof Roberto Mayor, who led the team.
Photo: Sean Dreilinger
Here’s a weird thing. If you are over, say, 30 years old, you likely remember a time before bottled water.
Bottled water as a concept has been visible for a very long time, of course, and most histories of the phenomenon mark the introduction of Perrier in 1976 as the genesis of modern bottled water. It wasn’t until the mid-‘90s, however, that bottled water became everyday and, you know, for the common folks. Those of us that remember this period are lucky enough to have witnessed one of the most insane events in consumer history, when the soda industry figured out how to sell the same thing in bottles that people already had piped into their houses.
The coup is this: while that bottle of Aquafina goes for $1.79, the same amount from your tap (which, if you are buying bottled water to begin with, is likely of the same quality) spits out water that might go for $.00063 for the same 20 oz. And that is at the upper end of the municipal water price-range.
How has the Chinese Communist Party managed to survive the chaos of the World Wide Web? The Economist correspondent chooses books on the world’s most successful case of authoritarian control of the Internet.
You just did a special report for the Economist on China and the Internet. Is this something you’ve been following for a long time?
The Internet has been something that’s fascinated me in China since I arrived in 2002. At that time there were fewer than 60 million people on the Internet. There was a widespread assumption that as it spread nationwide and to a much larger population, it would be much more difficult for the Communist Party to maintain power, or that it would at least undermine them. Some would argue that it has undermined them, but I think they’ve done much better than people expected.
June 1937. “Child of Texas migrant family who follow the cotton crop from Corpus Christi to the Panhandle.” Photo by Dorothea Lange.