Misc: Discovery enters Smithsonian as historic relic
Discovery enters Smithsonian as historic relic of bygone era
BY JUSTIN RAY
The most-flown spaceship in human history, sailing on 39 voyages to deploy and retrieve satellites, open a new window on the universe by launching the Hubble Space Telescope and help to construct the International Space Station, the shuttle orbiter Discovery reached her final resting place today at the Smithsonian.
Former crew members induct their Discovery into the Smithsonian. Credit: Walter Scriptunas II/Spaceflight Now See full image
Having orbited the planet 5,830 times and traveled 148,221,675 miles, Discovery was the fleet-leading vehicle for the space shuttle program, serving the United States in flight from 1984 to 2011.
"Space shuttle Discovery is the star, it has the most extensive record of all the shuttle fleet. It's 39 missions included a whole bunch of things, but it became a science platform for nine flights, a satellite launcher for 12 flights, a telescope repair station. ... And also served as a plain, flat-out truck. It was the first space station delivery truck, 13 flights it made to put together the space station that goes over us even today," said John Glenn, the first American to orbit Earth in 1962 and a payload specialist aboard Discovery in 1998.
"Discovery was truly a heavy hauler in construction of the International Space Station, and that station is now doing continuing research with 15 international partners for us in the most unique scientific laboratory ever conceived."
But with the decision by then-President George W. Bush in 2004 to wind down the shuttle program, Discovery flew into a forced retirement.
"The unfortunate decision made eight-and-a-half years ago to terminate the shuttle fleet in my view prematurely grounded Discovery and delayed our research. But those decisions have been made, we recovered and now we move on with new programs and possibilities unlimited," Glenn said at today's Smithsonian ceremony.
United Space Alliance ground technicians watch the ceremony. Credit: Walter Scriptunas II/Spaceflight Now
Discovery underwent an extensive decommissioning and safing process over the past year that culminated with this morning's ceremony outside the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Northern Virginia to make the spaceplane an artifact in the Smithsonian's national collection of aerospace treasures.
"The hope that we leave with you today is that this magnificent flying machine that carried more people to space than any vehicle ever before will be a testament, not only to overcoming the human and technological obstacles of the day, but a tangible example that our dreams of exploration, of reaching our higher potential are always within reach if we stretch for them," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, a former Discovery mission commander.
"I hope people appreciate the workmanship, the craftsmanship, the expertise that went into making that vehicle over and over again," said Steve Bowen, a spacewalker on last year's final Discovery mission.
Posted by Informant_News on Friday, April 20, 2012 @ 13:12:34 MDT (1230 reads) (Read More... | 4494 bytes more | Misc | Score: 4.33)
U.S. News: Universities Infected by Foreign Spies Detected by FBI
Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon contacted the Central Intelligence Agency in late 2009 with an urgent question.
The school’s campus in Dubai needed a bailout and an unlikely savior had stepped forward: a Dubai-based company that offered to provide money and students.
Frank Figliuzzi, assistant director for counterintelligence with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), sits for a photograph in front of a wall of convicted spy profiles at the FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., on March 29, 2012. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg
Lou Anna K. Simon, president of Michigan State University speaks during a video taping in her office in East Lansig, Michigan on Dec. 17, 2010. Photographer: Kurt Stepnitz/Michigan State University via Bloomberg
Then Penn State University President Graham Spanier. Photographer: Hunter Martin/Getty Images
Sergei Tretyakov, a former Russian intelligence agent. Source: Pete Earley via Bloomberg
Russian spy Lidiya Guryeva was pursuing a master's degree in business at Columbia under the name of Cynthia Murphy. Guryeva was arrested for acting as an agent of a foreign power and deported to Russia. Source: U.S. Department of Justice via Bloomberg
Simon was tempted. She also worried that the company, which had investors from Iran and wanted to recruit students from there, might be a front for the Iranian government, she said. If so, an agreement could violate federal trade sanctions and invite enemy spies.
The CIA couldn’t confirm that the company wasn’t an arm of Iran’s government. Simon rejected the offer and shut down undergraduate programs in Dubai, at a loss of $3.7 million.
Hearkening back to Cold War anxieties, growing signs ofspying on U.S. universities are alarming national security officials. As schools become more global in their locations and student populations, their culture of openness and international collaboration makes them increasingly vulnerable to theft of research conducted for the government and industry.
“We have intelligence and cases indicating that U.S. universities are indeed a target of foreign intelligence services,” Frank Figliuzzi, Federal Bureau of Investigation assistant director for counterintelligence, said in a February interview in the bureau’s Washington headquarters.
While overshadowed by espionage against corporations, efforts by foreign countries to penetrate universities have increased in the past five years, Figliuzzi said. The FBI and academia, which have often been at loggerheads, are working together to combat the threat, he said.
Attempts by countries in East Asia, including China, to obtain classified or proprietary information by “academic solicitation,” such as requests to review academic papers or study with professors, jumped eightfold in 2010 from a year earlier, according to a 2011 U.S. Defense Department report. Such approaches from the Middle East doubled, it said.
“Placing academics at U.S. research institutions under the guise of legitimate research offers access to developing U.S. technologies and cutting-edge research” in such areas as information systems, lasers, aeronautics and underwater robots, the report said.
Welcoming world-class talent to American universities helps the U.S. sustain global supremacy in science and technology, said University of Maryland President Wallace Loh. He chairs the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s academic advisory council, which held its first meeting March 20 and is expected to address such topics as federal tracking of international students.
Foreign countries “can never become competitive by stealing,” he said. “Once you exhaust that technology, you have to start developing the next generation.”
Foreigners on temporary visas made up 46 percent of science and engineering graduate students at Georgia Institute of Technology and Michigan State and 41 percent at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2009, according to a federal survey. China sent 76,830 graduate students to U.S. universities in 2010-2011, more than any other country and up almost 16 percent from the prior year, according to the Institute of International Education in New York.
While most international students, researchers and professors come to the U.S. for legitimate reasons, universities are an “ideal place” for foreign intelligence services “to find recruits, propose and nurture ideas, learn and even steal research data, or place trainees,” according to a 2011 FBI report.
In one instance described in the report, the hosts of an international conference invited a U.S. researcher to submit a paper. When she gave her talk at the conference, they requested a copy, hooked a thumb drive to her laptop and downloaded every file. In another, an Asian graduate student arranged for researchers back home to visit an American university lab and take unauthorized photos of equipment so they could reconstruct it, the report said.
A foreign scientist’s military background or purpose isn’t always apparent. Accustomed to hosting visiting scholars, Professor Daniel J. Scheeres didn’t hesitate to grant a request several years ago by Yu Xiaohong to study with him at the University of Michigan. She expressed a “pretty general interest” in Scheeres’s work on topics such as movement of celestial bodies in space, he said in a telephone interview.
Unaware of Credentials
She cited an affiliation with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a civilian organization, Scheeres said. The Beijing address Yu listed in the Michigan online directory is the same as the Academy of Equipment Command & Technology, where instructors train Chinese military cadets and officers. Scheeres said he wasn’t aware of that military connection, nor that Yu co-wrote a 2004 article on improving the precision of anti- satellite weapons.
Once Yu arrived, her questions made him uncomfortable, said Scheeres, who now teaches at the University of Colorado. As a result, he stopped accepting visiting scholars from China.
“It was pretty clear to me that the stuff she was interested in probably had some military satellite-orbit applications,” he said. “Once I saw that, I didn’t really tell her anything new, or anything that couldn’t be published. I didn’t engage that deeply with her.”
Wrote About NASA
Yu later wrote a paper on the implications for space warfare of the NASA Deep Impact mission, which sent a spacecraft to collide with a comet. She couldn’t be reached for comment.
American universities have also trained Chinese researchers who later committed corporate espionage. Hanjuan Jin, a former software engineer at Motorola Inc., was found guilty in February in federal court of stealing the Schaumburg, Illinois-based company’s trade secrets and acquitted of charges she did so to benefit China’s military. She is scheduled for sentencing in May and has also filed a motion for a new trial.
Jin joined the company, now known as Motorola Solutions Inc. (MOT), after earning a master’s degree from the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. While at Motorola, she received a second master’s, this time in computer science, from the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. IIT’s own research wasn’t compromised, institute spokesman Evan Venie said in an e-mail. A Notre Dame spokesman declined to comment.
Posted by Informant_News on Thursday, April 12, 2012 @ 14:59:22 MDT (1613 reads) (Read More... | 59277 bytes more | U.S. News | Score: 5)
U.S. News: Zimmerman makes court appearance in Fla. shooting
George Zimmerman, center, is directed by a Seminole County Deputy and his attorney Mark O'Mara during a court hearing Thursday April 12, 2012, in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of the 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. (AP Photo/Gary W. Green, Orlando Sentinel, Pool)
By GREG BLUESTEIN, Associated Press
SANFORD, Fla. (AP) — Neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman made his first court appearance Thursday on a second-degree murder charge in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, as a court document provided new details on the prosecution's case.
During the brief appearance, Zimmerman stood up straight, looked straight ahead and wore a gray prison jumpsuit. He spoke only to answer "Yes, sir," twice after he was asked basic questions about the charge against him and his attorney.
His hair was shaved down to stubble and he had a thin goatee, which appeared consistent with his booking photo from the day before. He had resurfaced Wednesday to turn himself in after weeks in hiding.
Judge Mark E. Herr said he found probable cause to move ahead with the case and that an arraignment would be held on May 29 before another judge.
A document prepared by prosecutors shed some light on why they chose to charge Zimmerman. The affidavit says Martin's mother identified screams heard in the background of a 911 call as her son's. There had been some question as to whether Martin or Zimmerman was the one calling for help.
Prosecutors also interviewed a friend of Martin's who was talking to him just before the shooting. The affidavit says Martin told the witness he was being followed and was scared.
Martin tried to run home, the affidavit says, but was followed by Zimmerman: "Zimmerman got out of his vehicle and followed Martin."
The affidavit says that "Zimmerman disregarded the police dispatcher" who told him to stop, and "continued to follow Martin who was trying to return to his home."
The Orlando Sentinel obtained the affidavit of probable cause before it was filed with the courthouse.
Speaking to reporters after the hearing, attorney Mark O'Mara said he was concerned that the case up to now has been handled in the public eye, with details coming out in piecemeal fashion.
"It's really supposed to happen in the courtroom," O'Mara said, deflecting questions about evidence in the case and his client's mental state.
Earlier Thursday on NBC's "Today" show, O'Mara said Zimmerman is stressed and very tired and hoping to get bail.
Meanwhile, Martin's mother raised eyebrows with her own comments on "Today" about the accidental nature of the case, but she clarified what she meant in another interview later in the day. Sybrina Fulton told The Associated Press that she was referring to the chance encounter between Zimmerman and her son.
"Their meeting was the accident," Fulton said. "That was the accident. Not the actual act of him shooting him. That was murder ... They were never supposed to meet."
Zimmerman was charged after a public campaign to make an arrest in the Feb. 26 shooting, which has galvanized the nation for weeks. Some legal experts had expected Zimmerman to face a lesser count of manslaughter and say a prosecutor will face steep hurdles to win a murder conviction.
The prosecutor and her team will have to prove that the 28-year-old Zimmerman intentionally went after Martin instead of shooting him in self-defense, to refute arguments that a Florida law empowered him to use deadly force.
Legal experts said Corey chose a tough route with the murder charge, which could send Zimmerman to prison for life if he's convicted, over manslaughter, which usually carries 15-year prison terms and covers reckless or negligent killings.
The prosecutors must prove Zimmerman's shooting of Martin was rooted in hatred or ill will and counter his claims that he shot Martin to protect himself while patrolling his gated community in the Orlando suburb of Sanford. Zimmerman's lawyers would only have to prove by a preponderance of evidence — a relatively low legal standard — that he acted in self-defense at a pretrial hearing to prevent the case from going to trial.
There's a "high likelihood it could be dismissed by the judge even before the jury gets to hear the case," Florida defense attorney Richard Hornsby said.
Corey announced the charges Wednesday after an extraordinary 45-day campaign for Zimmerman's arrest, led by Martin's parents and civil rights activists, including the Rev. Al Sharpton and the Rev. Jesse Jackson. Protesters wore hooded sweatshirts like the one Martin had on the night of the shooting. The debate reached all the way to the White House, where President Barack Obama observed last month: "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon."
Corey would not discuss how she reconciled conflicting accounts of the shooting by Zimmerman, witnesses and phone recordings that indicated Martin thought Zimmerman was following him.
"We do not prosecute by public pressure or by petition. We prosecute based on the facts on any given case as well as the laws of the state of Florida," Corey said Wednesday. She was also present at Thursday's hearing.
Martin's parents expressed relief over the decision to prosecute the person who shot their son.
"The question I would really like to ask him is, if he could look into Trayvon's eyes and see how innocent he was, would he have then pulled the trigger? Or would he have just let him go on home?" said his father, Tracy Martin.
Many attorneys said they had expected the prosecutor to opt for the lesser charge of manslaughter. The most severe homicide charge, first-degree murder, is subject to the death penalty in Florida and requires premeditation — something all sides agreed was not present in this case.
"I predicted manslaughter, so I'm a little surprised," said Michael Seigel, a former federal prosecutor who now teaches law at the University of Florida. "But she has more facts than I do."
O'Mara, Zimmerman's attorney, said his client would plead not guilty and invoke Florida's so-called "stand your ground" law, which gives people wide latitude to use deadly force rather than retreat during a fight.
The confrontation took place in a gated community where Martin was staying with his father and his father's fiancée. Martin was walking back in the rain from a convenience store when Zimmerman spotted him and called 911. He followed the teenager despite being told not to by a police dispatcher and the two got into a struggle.
Zimmerman told police Martin punched him in the nose, knocking him down, and then began banging the volunteer's head on the sidewalk. Zimmerman said he shot Martin in fear for his life. Sanford police took Zimmerman, whose father is white and whose mother is Hispanic, into custody the night of the shooting but released him without charging him.
Bluestein reported from Atlanta. Associated Press writers Suzanne Gamboa in Washington, Gary Fineout in Jacksonville, Fla.; Mike Schneider in Orlando, Fla.; Curt Anderson in Miami, Kyle Hightower in Sanford, Fla.; and Brendan Farrington in Tallahassee, Fla.; also contributed to this article.
Posted by Informant_News on Thursday, April 12, 2012 @ 14:42:15 MDT (1649 reads) (Read More... | 7992 bytes more | U.S. News | Score: 4.5)
Misc: Iron Sky Trailers 1, 2, and 3 Nazi's on the Moon
Iron Sky Trailers 1, 2, and 3 Nazi's on the Moon
Posted by Informant_News on Tuesday, April 10, 2012 @ 15:43:06 MDT (1364 reads) (Read More... | 758 bytes more | Misc | Score: 4.66)
Misc: Boaters Unaware They are Taunting a Tornado on Water
These boaters think they are looking at an unusual water spout creating wakes. They are unaware until the end of the clip that the little water spout they are playing with, and taunting, is in reality a water to sky tornadoe!
Tornado boaters unaware until very close to the subject tornado.
Posted by Informant_News on Tuesday, April 03, 2012 @ 19:35:06 MDT (1791 reads) (Read More... | 1067 bytes more | Misc | Score: 5)
Global News: Internet activity 'to be monitored' under new laws - U.K.
Internet activity 'to be monitored' under new laws - Telegraph U.K.
Ministers are preparing a major expansion of the Government's powers to monitor the email exchanges and website visits of every person in the UK, it was reported today.
Under legislation expected in next month's Queen's Speech, internet companies will be instructed to install hardware enabling GCHQ – the Government's electronic "listening" agency – to examine "on demand" any phone call made, text message and email sent, and website accessed in "real time", The Sunday Times reported.
A previous attempt to introduce a similar law was abandoned by the former Labour government in 2006 in the face of fierce opposition.
However ministers believe it is essential that the police and security services have access to such communications data in order to tackle terrorism and protect the public.
Although GCHQ would not be able to access the content of such communications without a warrant, the legislation would enable it to trace people individuals or groups are in contact with, and how often and for how long they are in communication.
The Home Office confirmed that ministers were intending to legislate "as soon as parliamentary time allows".
"It is vital that police and security services are able to obtain communications data in certain circumstances to investigate serious crime and terrorism and to protect the public. We need to take action to maintain the continued availability of communications data as technology changes," a spokesman said.
"Communications data includes time, duration and dialling numbers of a phone call, or an email address. It does not include the content of any phone call or email and it is not the intention of Government to make changes to the existing legal basis for the interception of communications."
Nick Pickles, director of the Big Brother Watch campaign group, said: "This is an unprecedented step that will see Britain adopt the same kind of surveillance seen in China and Iran.
"This is an absolute attack on privacy online and it is far from clear this will actually improve public safety, while adding significant costs to internet businesses.
"If this was such a serious security issue why has the Home Office not ensured these powers were in place before the Olympics?"
Shami Chakrabarti, director of the civil rights group Liberty, said that both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats had resisted the plan when they were in opposition.
"There is an element of whoever you vote for the empire strikes back," she told Sky News's Murnaghan programme.
"This is more ambitious than anything that has been done before. It is a pretty drastic step in a democracy.
"It was resisted under the last government. The coalition bound itself together in the language of civil liberties. Do they still mean it?"
Conservative backbencher Margot James said ministers would come under pressure to water down the proposals as the legislation passed through Parliament.
"I am sure there will be considerable pressure brought to bear as the proposals are debated for protections to be built in to protect people's privacy," she told the Murnaghan programme.
Posted by Informant_News on Monday, April 02, 2012 @ 11:42:20 MDT (1305 reads) (Read More... | 4078 bytes more | Global News | Score: 4.66)
Misc: Two dead after blast destroys Brazil's Antarctic base
Handout photo released by the Chilean Navy of Brazil's Antarctica base burning. Two bodies believed to be those of navy personnel reported missing Saturday after an explosion at a Brazilian base in Antarctica have been found, the defense ministry said. (AFP Photo/)
An explosion destroyed a Brazilian research base in Antarctica, killing two navy personnel and injuring a third, according to authorities.
Brazilian Defense Minister Celso Amorim confirmed the deaths of non-commissioned officer Carlos Alberto Vieira Figueiredo and sergeant Roberto Lopes dos Santos, who had earlier been reported missing.
"In an act of heroism, they were precisely in the area of major risk in a bid to extinguish a fire and they did not succeed," Amorim said on Sunday.
Navy sergeant Luciano Gomes Medeiros was also lightly injured in the blast, which occurred after a fire in a room housing energy generators of the Comandante Ferraz research base located in Admiralty Bay, King George Island, near the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula.
He was first treated at a nearby Arctowski Polish Antarctic station and later transferred to the Chilean Eduardo Frei military base.
The Chilean Defense Ministry meanwhile confirmed that a joint Chilean-Brazilian team found the bodies of the two Brazilian personnel who had been reported missing after the fire.
"The bodies were found near the stricken base" and will be transferred to the Eduardo Frei base, it added.
Chilean Defense Minister Andres Allamand told CNN television that the Brazilian base "was completely destroyed" by the explosion.
The blast also forced dozens of researchers to evacuate.
Earlier, Amorim relayed news of the accident to President Dilma Rousseff after being informed by the Brazilian naval chief, Admiral Julio Soares de Moura Neto.
Amorim was also briefed on measures taken to contain the fire and to assist the personnel at the base, his office said.
Military personnel were trying to bring the fire under control, a Brazilian navy statement said earlier.
About 30 researchers, one alpinist and a Brazilian environment ministry representative who were at the base during the explosion were evacuated by helicopter to the Eduardo Frei base. The Argentine Air Force agreed to fly them to the southern Chilean city of Punta Arenas, the Brazilian Navy said.
According to the Chilean Air Force, 42 Brazilians and two Spaniards were evacuated to Punta Arenas.
It added other people affected by the fire had been taken to the Eduardo Frei base, which was providing medical support.
Two Argentine Navy vessels and two others from the Polish Antarctic station were in the area, providing support along with three Chilean helicopters. Brazil's Polar Research Vessel Almirante Maximiano was en route to the area after sailing from Punta Arenas.
The Brazilian Air Force also sent a C-130 Hercules aircraft to Punta Arenas to repatriate the Brazilian evacuees.
The defense ministry said Amorim telephoned his Chilean counterpart Andres Allamand to thank him for his country's assistance.
The Comandante Ferraz base, which was established in 1984, conducts biological science research focused on coastal and shelf marine ecosystems.
Around 30 countries, all signatories to the Antarctic Treaty, operate seasonal and year-round research stations on Antarctica.
The treaty, which entered into force in 1961 and currently has 49 signatory nations, sets aside Antarctica as a scientific preserve, establishes freedom of scientific investigation and bans military activity on the continent.
Posted by Informant_News on Saturday, February 25, 2012 @ 18:52:19 MST (1854 reads) (Read More... | 4454 bytes more | Misc | Score: 4.33)
U.S. News: Congress Gives States the Right to Drug Test the Unemployed
While millions of Americans will continue to enjoy their modest payroll tax cut, many of them will now have to submit to drug testing as part of the deal struck between the two parties in Congress. As part of the compromise reached to extend the tax cut, Democrats agreed to a Republican provision giving states the right to require those seeking unemployment benefits who were fired for drug use to undergo testing administered by the state. What’s strange about this concession is that workers who are fired for drug use are not eligible for unemployment benefits anyway.
However, a second section of the bill is likely to impact hundreds of thousands of individuals. This section applies to workers applying for jobs in industries where drug testing is prevalent even if the workers have never been laid off because of drug use. Any state that chooses to apply this rule will shift the financial burden of drug testing from employers to state taxpayers. The Department of Labor has not yet announced which industries will qualify for the drug testing provision.
Some opponents of the bill have proposed that members of state legislatures who approve drug testing applicants for unemployment benefits should themselves be tested for drugs since they too receive government benefits.
Archaeologists have found a 1,000-year-old coin minted under King Henry III on a royal farm in Avaldsnes.
University of Oslo archaeologists were looking for the farm rumoured to be on the island of Karmøy in Rogaland when they made their discovery.
The silver coin dates back to 1050. One side (left) has the face of King Henry, the Holy Roman Emperor (1046-56) wearing his crown. The other end (right) shows a glimpse of two saints, believed to be Simon and Judas with curly hair, beards and halos.
Professor Dagfinn Skre from the University brands the search as “the most exciting I have been involved in”.
“This German silvercoin is extremely rare. In fact, foreign coinswere illegal in Norway from the mid and to late 1000s. Only two similar archeological finds have been made previously,” he told NRK.
Professor Skre is also manager for the Iron Age and Viking collections at the university’s Museum of Cultural History, and has shown great enthusiasm for the coins, which weigh 0.84 grams and are 1.7 centimetres in diameter, according to the broadcaster.
This coin, found by a member of Rygene Detektorklubb, is believed to be part of a foreign currency exchange, transacted when King Harald Hårdrade and his son Olav Kyrre, later known as King Olav III, established a Royal mint.
The professor believes “It was probably lost in one of the houses or outside,” and found near ruins of a building from the late Viking to early Medieval period discovered in 2006.
Posted by Informant_News on Thursday, February 23, 2012 @ 18:32:27 MST (568 reads) (Read More... | 5883 bytes more | Misc | Score: 4.25)
U.S. News: 5 Reasons You Should Never Agree to a Police Search
5 Reasons You Should Never Agree to a Police Search (Even if You Have Nothing to Hide)
From the streets of the Bronx to the suburbs of the Nation's Capital, you never have to look hard to find victims of the bias and corruption delivered by the drug war.
Do you know what your rights are when a police officer asks to search you? If you're like most people I've met in my eight years working to educate the public on this topic, then you probably don't.
It's a subject that a lot of people think they understand, but too often our perception of police power is distorted by fictional TV dramas, sensational media stories, silly urban myths, and the unfortunate fact that police themselves are legally allowed to lie to us.
It wouldn't even be such a big deal, I suppose, if our laws all made sense and our public servants always treated us as citizens first and suspects second. But thanks to the War on Drugs, nothing is ever that easy. When something as stupid as stopping people from possessing marijuana came to be considered a critical law enforcement function, innocence ceased to protect people against police harassment. From the streets of the Bronx to the suburbs of the Nation's Capital, you never have to look hard to find victims of the bias, incompetence, andcorruption that the drug war delivers on a daily basis.
Whether or not you ever break the law, you should be prepared to protect yourself and your property just in case police become suspicious of you. Let's take a look at one of the most commonly misunderstood legal situations a citizen can encounter: a police officer asking to search your belongings. Most people automatically give consent when police ask to perform a search. However, I recommend saying "no" to police searches, and here are some reasons why:
1. It's your constitutional right.
The 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects us against unreasonable searches and seizures. Unless police have strong evidence (probable cause) to believe you're involved in criminal activity, they need your permission to perform a search of you or your property.
You have the right to refuse random police searches anywhere and anytime, so long as you aren't crossing a border checkpoint or entering a secure facility like an airport. Don't be shy about standing up for your own privacy rights, especially when police are looking for evidence that could put you behind bars.
2. Refusing a search protects you if you end up in court.
It's always possible that police might search you anyway when you refuse to give consent, but that's no reason to say "yes" to the search. Basically, if there's any chance of evidence being found, agreeing to a search is like committing legal suicide, because it kills your case before you even get to court.
If you refuse a search, however, the officer will have to prove in court that there was probable cause to do a warrantless search. This will give your lawyer a good chance to win your case, but this only works if you said "no" to the search.
3. Saying "no" can prevent a search altogether.
Data on police searches are interesting, but they don't show how many searches didn't happen becausea citizen said no. A non-search is a non-event that goes unrecorded, giving rise to a widespread misconception that police will always search with or without permission.
I know refusing searches works because I've been collecting stories from real police encounters. The reality is that police routinely ask for permission to search when they have absolutely no evidence of an actual crime. If you remain calm and say no, there's a good chance they'll back down, because it's a waste of time to do searches that won't hold up in court anyway.
4. Searches can waste your time and damage your property.
Do you have time to sit around while police rifle through your belongings? Police often spend 30 minutes or more on vehicle searches and even longer searching homes. You certainly can't count on officers to be careful with valuables or to put everything back where they found it. If you waive your 4th Amendment rights by agreeing to be searched, you will have few legal options if any property is damaged or missing after the search.
5. You never know what they'll find.
Are you 100 percent certain there's nothing illegal in your home or vehicle? You can never be too sure. A joint roach could stick to your shoe on the street and wind up on the floorboard. A careless acquaintance could have dropped a baggie behind the seat. Try telling a cop it isn't yours, and they'll just laugh and tell you to put your hands behind your back. If you agreed to the search, you can't challenge the evidence. But if you're innocent and you refused the search, your lawyer has a winnable case.
Remember that knowing your rights will help you protect yourself, but no amount of preparation can guarantee a good outcome in a bad situation. Your attitude and your choices before, during, and after the encounter will usually matter more than your knowledge of the law. Stay calm no matter what happens, and remember that you can always report misconduct after things settle down.
Finally, please don't be shy about sharing this information with your friends and family. Understanding and asserting your rights isn't about getting away with anything, and it isn't about disrespecting police either. These rights are the foundation of freedom in America, and they get weaker whenever we fail to exercise them.
Posted by Informant_News on Thursday, February 23, 2012 @ 16:12:16 MST (2219 reads) (Read More... | 6182 bytes more | U.S. News | Score: 4)
U.S. News: Homeland Security Tells Congress Why it Spies of Facebook, Twitter
Department Of Homeland Security Tells Congress Why It's Monitoring Facebook, Twitter, Blogs
The House of Representatives' Subcommittee on Counterintelligence and Intelligence was not pleased. (Insert "angry" emoticon here.)
At a Congressional hearing this morning that veered into contentious arguments and cringe-worthy moments, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spilled the beans on their social media monitoring project.
DHS Chief Privacy Office Mary Ellen Callahan and Director of Operations Coordination and Planning Richard Chavez appeared to be deliberately stonewalling Congress on the depth, ubiquity, goals, and technical capabilities of the agency's social media surveillance. At other times, they appeared to be themselves unsure about their own project's ultimate goals and uses. But one thing is for sure: If you're the first person to tweet about a news story, or if you're a community activist who makes public Facebook posts--DHS will have your personal information.
The hearing, which was held by the Subcommittee on Counterintelligence and Intelligence headed by Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA), was highly unusual. Hacktivist collective Anonymous (or at least the @AnonyOps Twitter feed) sent a sympathizer to the visitor gallery to liveblog the proceedings under the #spyback hashtag.
Interactions between the DHS officials and representatives were often strained--both Chavez and Callahan were scolded and chastised by Representatives from both parties. Reps. Billy Long (R-MO), Meehan, Jackie Speier (D-CA), and Bennie Thompson (D-MS) all pointed out issues relating to what they variously saw as potential First Amendment violations, surveillance of citizens engaged in protected political speech, the fact that an outside contractor handles DHS' social media monitoring, DHS' seeming inability to separate news monitoring from disaster preparedness, and a massively unclear social media monitoring mandate on the DHS' part.
Video footage of the hearing has already been made available on YouTube, and the written testimony of both DHS experts has been made publicly available. Privacy watchdog group EPIC also filed a formal disclosure to Congress on the results of a FOIA lawsuit. DHS appears to have also stonewalled EPIC regarding their social media monitoring project. The results are staggering.
According to testimony, the Homeland Security Department has outsourced their own social media monitoring program to an outside contractor, defense giant General Dynamics. General Dynamics was the sole party to the original DHS contract, which was not offered to any outside parties--and Chavez was caught misleading the Committee about General Dyamics' sole status.
General Dynamics employees responsible for the DHS social media monitoring contract are required to attend a training course in DHS privacy practices several times a year. If General Dynamics employees misuse the personal information of journalists, public figures or the general public (to include Twitter or Facebook users) in any way, their punishment is restricted to additional training classes or dismissal from the project.
General Dynamics and the Department of Homeland Security are primarily engaging in keyword monitoring of social media. Callahan admitted in sworn testimony that the bulk of the keywords used by DHS were chosen as the result of being included in commercially available, off-the-shelf bulk packages. These bulk keyword packages were later customized according to DHS specifications.
The DHS, meanwhile, is truly interested in breaking news tweets. The Twitter handles, Facebook names and blog urls of first witnesses to news events (the attempted assassination of Gabrielle Giffords and a January 2012 bomb threat at an Austin, Texas, school were specifically cited) are being recorded. Homeland Security claims this information is only used to verify reports, and that dossiers are not being assembled on private citizens and that personally identifying information is regularly scrubbed from their servers.
Another worrying tendency is the fact that DHS appears to be keeping tabs on individual American citizens engaged in community activism and hot-button political issues. EPIC's evidence package to congress included FOIA-obtained data on community reaction to the housing of Guantanamo detainees in a Standish, MI prison. Against the DHS' own guidelines, the agency compiled a report titled Residents Voice Opposition Over Possible Plan to Bring Guantanamo Detainees to Local Prison-Standish MI. This report contained sentiment gathered from newspaper comment talkbacks, local blogs, Twitter posts, and publicly available Facebook posts--something expressly forbidden by the DHS' own policies. Chavez and Callahan claimed that the report was not disseminated and that privacy policies forbid similar things from occuring; nonetheless the report was made and not obtained by EPIC until they sued the DHS.
In testimony, the DHS representatives appeared unclear on what the collected data would actually be used for and which agencies would be using it. Hurricane Katrina was constantly bought up as a talking point, but Committee members were constantly blocked when they asked how Homeland Security would be using their social media findings. In addition, barriers preventing other government agencies from obtaining sentiment information from DHS on individual journalists or private citizens is extremely flimsy; when Rep. Chip Cravvack (R-MN) asked Chavez what he would do if, say, the Attorney General was asking for information, Chavez simply answered that his agency's mandate forbid him from doing that. While that answer is fine and good, it also infers that the DHS has not put proper inter-agency data security safeguards in place.
The hearing was less Big Brother then sloppy-kid-down-the-block... only with a big fat government contract. When numerous Committee members, including Long, questioned Chavez about the existence of similar social media monitoring projects at other government agencies, Chavez said he didn't know of any. Meanwhile, the Associated Press--in a major story--reported on Monday about the FBI putting out a contract for an almost identical project. As a mid-ranking official responsible for analysis operations, it is assumed that Chavez would have a vested interest in knowing what other government agencies were up to in the same field.
At other times, neither Chavez nor Callahan could answer to the Committee's satisfaction why a contractor was hired for the job nor why the federal government was misled on the duration of General Dynamics' social media monitoring contract.
According to testimony, a second, classified, Committee meeting on the subject of DHS social media monitoring was held on February 15 as well.
Posted by Informant_News on Saturday, February 18, 2012 @ 09:00:00 MST (566 reads) (Read More... | 8587 bytes more | U.S. News | Score: 4.5)
U.S. News: Democratic Women Boycott House Contraception Hearing
Democratic Women Boycott House Contraception Hearing After Republicans Prevent Women from Testifying
by: Igor Volsky
This morning, Democrats tore into House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) for preventing women from testifying before a hearing examining the Obama administration’s new regulation requiring employers and insurers to provide contraception coverage to their employees. Republicans oppose the administration’s rule and have sponsored legislation that would allow employers to limit the availability of birth control to women.
Ranking committee member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) had asked Issa to include a female witness at the hearing, but the Chairman refused, arguing that “As the hearing is not about reproductive rights and contraception but instead about the Administration’s actions as they relate to freedom of religion and conscience, he believes that Ms. Fluke is not an appropriate witness.”
And so Cummings, along with the Democratic women on the panel, took their request to the hearing room, demanding that Issa consider the testimony of a female college student. But the California congressman insisted that the hearing should focus on the rules’ alleged infringement on “religious liberty,” not contraception coverage, and denied the request. Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) walked out of the hearing in protest of his decision, citing frustration over the fact that the first panel of witnesses consisted only of male religious leaders against the rule. Holmes Norton said she will not return, calling Issa’s chairmanship an “autocratic regime.”
Watch a compilation of the heated exchange:
A picture of the witness table:
Issa also dismissed the Democrats’ woman witness as a “college student’ who does not “have the appropriate credentials” to testify before his committee.
Originally published on ThinkProgress
Posted by Informant_News on Thursday, February 16, 2012 @ 10:12:35 MST (1720 reads) (Read More... | 3216 bytes more | U.S. News | Score: 5)
U.S. News: Arsenal found in home of "Facebook Friending"murder suspect
By Tim Ghianni
NASHVILLE, Tennessee | Tue Feb 14, 2012 3:40pm EST
(Reuters) - Authorities investigating a double murder in Tennessee believed to have been sparked by a Facebook "defriending" have discovered an arsenal of handguns in the home of one of the two suspects.
Investigators had recovered "like 80-some handguns" from the home of Marvin Enoch Potter Jr., who is scheduled to be arraigned on Wednesday on suspicion of playing a role in the killings, Johnson County Sheriff Mike Reece said on Tuesday.
"It looks like we've not found the actual murder weapon yet," Reece said.
Authorities in the rural community in northeast Tennessee say Billy Clay Payne Jr. and Billie Jean Hayworth were killed last month after they deleted Jenelle Potter, Potter's daughter, from their "friends" list on the popular social network site.
Both victims were shot in the head and Payne had his throat cut. The couple's 8-month-old baby was in found in Hayworth's arms, unharmed.
Potter, 60, Jamie Lynn Curd, 38, appeared last Wednesday in court, charged with two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the killings.
Potter's arraignment was postponed until this Wednesday because he wanted to hire his own attorney, said Assistant District Attorney Matthew Roark.
Attorney H. Randolph Fallin said on Tuesday he had been retained to represent Potter and that he planned to enter a not guilty plea at Wednesday's arraignment before General Sessions Judge William Bliss Hawkins.
No charges have been filed against Jenelle Potter, the sheriff said. She could not be reached for comment.
County Mayor Larry Potter - no relation to the suspect - said people were "just devastated" by the case.
"It makes you plum sick that things like this can happen," said Potter, who has spent all 56 of his years in Mountain City and Johnson County, with combined population of around 18,000.
R.O. Smith, of the public defender's office, was appointed to defend Curd, who is being held on $1.5 million bond, awaiting the March 21 preliminary hearing set for both men.
The sheriff said Jenelle Potter was constantly on Facebook and had in the past feuded with other friends on the site.
"Once you've crossed her, you've crossed her father too," Reece said.
Last year in Iowa, a woman was arrested on accusations of setting fire to a friend's garage after she was defriended on Facebook, local media reported.
In Texas, a man was accused of hitting his wife after she failed to "like" a Facebook post he wrote about the anniversary of his mother's death, according to media reports.
Little did Willie Nelson know when he recorded “Crazy” years ago just how crazy it would become for our cherished family farmers in America. Nelson, President of Farm Aid, has recently called for the national Occupy movement to declare an “Occupy the Food System” action.
Nelson states, “Corporate control of our food system has led to the loss of millions of family farmers, destruction of our soil…”
Hundreds of citizens, (even including NYC chefs in their white chef hats) joined Occupy the Food System groups, ie Food Democracy Now, gathered outside the Federal Courts in Manhattan on January 31st, to support organic family farmers in their landmark lawsuit against Big Agribusiness giant Monsanto. (Organic Seed Growers & Trade Association v. Monsanto) Oral arguments were heard that day concerning the lawsuit by 83 plaintiffs representing over 300,000 organic farmers, organic seed growers, and organic seed businesses.
The lawsuit addresses the bizarre and shocking issue of Monsanto harassing and threatening organic farmers with lawsuits of “patent infringement” if any organic farmer ends up with any trace amount of GM seeds on their organic farmland.
Judge Naomi Buckwald heard the oral arguments on Monsanto’s Motion to Dismiss, and the legal team from Public Patent Foundation represented the rights of American organic farmers against Monsanto, maker of GM seeds, [and additionally, Agent Orange, dioxin, etc.]
After hearing the arguments, Judge Buckwald stated that on March 31st she will hand down her decision on whether the lawsuit will move forward to trial.
Not only does this lawsuit debate the issue of Monsanto potentially ruining the organic farmers’ pure seeds and crops with the introduction of Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) seeds anywhere near the organic farms, but additionally any nearby GM fields can withstand Monsanto’s Roundup herbicides, thus possibly further contaminating the organic farms nearby if Roundup is used.
Of course, the organic farmers don’t want anything to do with that ole contaminated GM seed in the first place. In fact, that is why they are certified organic farmers. Hello? But now they have to worry about getting sued by the very monster they abhor, and even have to spend extra money and land (for buffers which only sometimes deter the contaminated seed from being swept by the wind into their crop land). At this point, they are even having to resort to not growing at all the following organic plants: soybeans, corn, cotton, sugar beets, and canola, …just to protect themselves from having any (unwanted) plant that Monsanto could possibly sue them over.
The farmers are suffering the threat of possible loss of Right Livelihood. They are creating good jobs for Americans, and supplying our purest foods. These organic farmers are bringing Americans healthy food so we can be a healthy Nation, instead of the undernourished and obese kids and adults that President Obama worries so much about us becoming.
So what was President Obama doing when he appointed Michael Taylor, a former VP of Monsanto, as Sr. Advisor to the Commissioner at the FDA? The FDA is responsible for “label requirements” and recently ruled under Michael Taylor’s time as FDA Food Czar that GMO products did not need to be labeled as such, even though national consumer groups loudly professed the public’s right to know what is genetically modified in the food system. Sadly to remember: President Obama promised in campaign speeches that he would “let folks know what foods are genetically modified.” These are the conflict of interests that lead to the 99% movement standing up for the family farmers.
Just look at the confusing headlines lately that revealed that mid-western farms of GM corn will be sprayed with 2,4-D toxins found in the deadly Agent Orange. Just refer to the previous lawsuits taken all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court by U.S. Veterans who tried to argue the dangers of Monsanto’s Agent Orange, and high rates of cancers in our soldiers who had to suffer the side effects from their wartime exposures in Vietnam.
In 1980 alone, when all this mess started with corporations wiping out the livelihoods of family farmers, the National Farm Medicine Center reported that 900 male farmers in the Upper Midwest committed suicide. That was nearly double the national average for white men. Even sadder is the fact that some of the farmers’ children also committed suicide. Studies show that when one generation of family farmers lose their farms, then the next generation usually can’t revive the family business and traditions later.
Jim Gerritsen, President of the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, has pointed out that there are 5th and 6th generation family farmers being pushed off their farms today, and because of a “climate of fear” (from possible lawsuits from Monsanto), they can’t grow some of the food they want to grow.
These farmers are the ones who have been able to survive the changes over the past twenty years by choosing to go into the budding niche of organic farming. Now look at what they have to deal with while trying to grow successful businesses: Monsanto’s threats.
Even organic dairy farmers have had to suffer lawsuits ( from Monsanto) when they labeled their organic milk “non-BGH” referring to Monsanto’s bovine growth hormone used by conventional dairies.
Consumers want organic food, and they want America’s pure food source to stay protected in America. Made in America, organically, is the way of the future, and family farmers and seed businesses should be free to maintain their high standards for organic foods. They deserve protection from Big Agribusiness’ dangerous seeds trespassing on their croplands, not to mention the use of pesticides and herbicides on GM crops. The organic industry has an “organic seal” which is also important to the success of family businesses, and even that stamp of quality is threatened by the spread of Monsanto’s GM seed contaminating their pure seed banks.
The Banking industry is also partly to blame. Years before the mortgages and home fiasco we have now, the farmers were the first to feel the squeeze. I interviewed Willie Nelson in the 1980’s, and he mentioned even then the high rates of farmer suicides, and that Farm Aid was receiving letters from family farmers saying the banks had “called in their loans”, even though “we had never missed a payment”. Was this just a veiled land grab for fertile lands, or to intentionally bankrupt independent family farmers?
It was so inspiring years ago when Michelle Obama planted an organic garden at the White House. It was a great precedent for the future, but what happened? It was ruined when they discovered sewer sludge from previous Administrations had contaminated their beautiful soil where the organic vegetables were planted. Just one small upset but it was remedied for future plantings. What about our whole country’s organic food supply being contaminated by previous Adminstrations’ bad choices? Why did they ever allow Monsanto to introduce genetically engineered seeds into our pure, organic, and heirloom stockpiles across America in the first place?
Recently, the Obama Administration, in an effort to boost food exports, signed joint agreements with agricultural biotechnology industry giants, including Monsanto, to remove the last barriers for the spread of more genetically modified crops.
But in this recent lawsuit filed by the Organic Seed Growers & Trade Association, it was argued that a previous contamination of a “genetically engineered variety of rice”, named Liberty Link 601, in 2006, before it was approved for human consumption, “extensively contaminated the commercial rice supply, resulting in multiple countries banning the import of U.S. rice.” The worldwide economic loss was “upward to $1.285 billion dollars” due to the presence of GMOs…
What are everyday Americans going to do to turn it around, to get rid of Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds and its dangerous threat to America’s heirloom and organic seed caches?
There is high rate of cancer in America, and eating healthier, especially organic foods, has been shown to have great benefits in beating cancer and other diseases. When we have Agribusiness threatening independent family farmers, which leads to the farmers feeling so scared that they don’t even plant their organic crops that Americans need, then perhaps we can all see what the 99% Occupy Movement is trying to say about their conflict of interest and seemingly abuse of powers.
Willie Nelson just released a new poem on You Tube: “We stand with Humanity, against the Insanity, We’re the ones we’ve been waiting for… We’re the Seeds and we’re the Core, We’re the ones we’ve been waiting for; We’re the ones with the 99%.”
Monsanto’s practices are a clear example of the wrong direction that the 99% want our country to go in. How about shining some light on Monsanto, and before it is too late, realize the dangers of genetically modified seeds which are contaminating the world’s food supply.
“Crazy, crazy for feeling so…… 99% .
Posted by Informant_News on Monday, February 13, 2012 @ 11:23:48 MST (2198 reads) (Read More... | 14726 bytes more | U.S. News | Score: 4.66)
U.S. News: Cop makes case for Marijuana Legalization at CPAC
By Dan Amira
Wearing a giant fat suit or a Captain America costume is one way to get attention at CPAC. Wearing a cowboy hat and a T-shirt that reads "COPS SAY LEGALIZE POT. ASK ME WHY" is another.
Howard Wooldridge is a retired police detective who now lobbies Capitol Hill for his group "Citizens Opposing Prohibition" — the prohibition on marijuana. He made the New York Times in October of 2005 for riding a horse for seven months from Los Angeles to Times Square as a way to bring publicity to the absurdity of anti-marijuana laws. This weekend he's pleading his case at CPAC, and it's going better than you might expect.
"The reactions have been almost 100 pecent in favor of what I'm doing," Wooldridge, who claims he hasn't smoked marijuana in thirty years, tells me. "I've had about three people in the last two days out of about 200 who do not like it." Particularly with this conservative crowd, Wooldridge debates his naysayers in terms of conservative principles. "Personal freedom, personal responsibility, and limited government are what conservatives believe in," he says. "And that's what I believe in. And thats what we should do with marijuana policy. I say, 'Give me a conservative reason to keep it going,' and they dont have any."
Progress is slow for Wooldridge, but rewarding. He's been coming to CPAC for the past six years, and says that four or five people have approached him over the past couple of days to tell them that, after mulling over his arguments from past CPACs, they now oppose marijuana prohibition as well. "I know from the feedback I'm getting that I'm making small gains every time I come here," he says. "If nothing else, I create a bone that people chew on after they leave."
I vastly underestimate Wooldridge's optimism when I ask the 60-year-old whether he thinks he'll see marijuana legalized in his lifetime. "I have medium confidence, if the economics stay roughly the same, five-to-eight years." And "if the economy gets worse," he suggests, and people start to realize how much revenue could be generated from regulating and taxing marijuana, "we might reduce that to three-to-five."
Not that Wooldridge wants the economy to get worse. But the end of Pot Prohibition wouldn't be a bad silver lining.
Anonymous's release of Met and FBI call puts hacker group back centre stage
Activist collective's leak of 18-minute discussion embarrasses authorities and raises questions over how security was breached
Anonymous' release of a phone call between the Met police and the FBI has embarrassed the
authorities. Photograph: Simon Webster/Rex Features
The hacking collective Anonymous has struck deep into the heart of one of its sworn enemies – the police – with the release of the recording of a conference call between the Metropolitan police and the FBI. In it, they discuss ongoing investigations and court cases against alleged British hackers; and now, courtesy of Anonymous, the world can listen in too.
For Anonymous, the posting on YouTube of the 18-minute audio from the call was a particular triumph, indicating that it can worm its way even into the most powerful organisations in the land. "The FBI might be curious how we're able to continuously read their internal comms for some time now," said one account controlled by the group on Twitter.
The call reveals British police and the FBI discussing the delay of court proceedings against two alleged members of the LulzSec hacking group, which attacked a number of sites in 2011 including the US Congress and UK Serious Organised Crime Agency.
It's worrying for anyone to discover that their email has been hacked – but when it happens to the police in not one but two countries, and to the two most sensitive arms of those forces, dealing with hackers, it becomes a source for deep concern.
For Anonymous, though, it is a return to prominence after it burst into worldwide attention with its attacks on PayPal and Visa in January 2011 after those sites stopped allowing payments to WikiLeaks. Anonymous has no leaders and no clear membership, and forms decisions collectively. Its general ethos is to defend what members see as the "free" internet from repression and restriction of freedom of speech.
After a series of arrests in spring 2011, and a number of arrests relating to other hacking attacks through the year, the group seemed to have lost direction. But the rise of the "Occupy Wall Street" movement, and now its attacks on far-right and authority figures, appears to have revitalised it.
The police call, recorded on 17 January ahead of arraignment hearings for two Britons accused of a number of offences related to hacking, includes two British and two FBI police officers discussing the members of the groups and another British hacker who they describe as a "wannabe", and who is alleged to have leaked details of 32,000 users of the online game platform Steam.
"He's doing it for attention," one of the Met officers says. "He got arrested for DDOSing [knocking out the computers at] his school and then he hacked a credit union in Jamaica." The hacker, whose identity is known to the Guardian, denies having been arrested, and says he attended a police interview voluntarily.
For Anonymous, though, it is the latest in a run of triumphs over those it sees as its enemies. Early in January, the group targeted the leader of Gemany's far-right NPD party. Then they hit websites belonging to the US Department of Justice, Universal Music and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) as part of a protest over the closure on criminal charges of the MegaUpload filesharing site.
The latest embarrassment for the authorities was recorded after someone hacked the email of at least one of the 44 recipients on an email headed "Anon-Lulz International Coordination Call" sent on 13 January by Timothy Lauster of the FBI. It detailed the conference call number and dial-in code to "discuss the on-going [sic] investigation related to Anonymous, LulzSec, Antisec and other associated splinter groups".
With the message having gone to police forces in the UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Sweden and the US, tracking down the hacked account – or accounts – will be a serious headache. Security experts said the interception is unlikely to have required a highly complex operation.
"Clearly looks like someone on that list has had their email compromised. It's very serious," a security expert, Graham Cluley, told the Guardian. "It is one thing taking down a website but to actually be listening in on the conference call where police are discussing charges ... there must be a lot of questions being asked right now."
Cluley said it was unlikely that the hacker collective had interfered with the systems of the company that hosted the conference call. The FBI said that its computer systems were not breached as part of the incident.
The solicitor for Ryan Cleary, who is charged with five offences of hacking websites, told the Guardian that the recording raises concerns that US authorities are seeking to extradite the Essex teenager. "My concern is whether the co-operation between officers [in the US and UK] was to assist them in an extradition request," said Karen Todner, the managing director of solicitors' firm Kaim Todner.
She warned that future breaches of security on this scale have the potential to "blow apart" criminal charges against those arrested in connection with previous hacks. "This is the FBI and the Met's e-crime unit [that have been breached] and the Crown Prosecution Service are in April about to go completely digital and the whole cases could be blown apart on it."
In the call the detectives can be heard discussing various members of the LulzSec group, and the progress of cases against Ryan Cleary, who has been charged with five offences relating to hacking websites, and Jake Davis, who has been charged over the hacking of the Soca website. Two people who are alleged to be members of LulzSec, who have previously been arrested and bailed by UK police, are also discussed in the call. Their names have been bleeped out by the person who uploaded the call to YouTube.
Posted by Informant_News on Friday, February 03, 2012 @ 10:02:50 MST (971 reads) (Read More... | 18948 bytes more | Global News | Score: 4.66)
Global News: As Anonymous protests, Internet drowns in inaccurate anti-ACTA arguments
After the Internet's decisive victory over the Stop Online Piracy Act earlier this month, online activists have been looking for their next target, and a growing number of them have chosen the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which was signed by the EU last week. Indeed, the renewed focus on ACTA even led a group of Polish politicians to hold paper Guy Fawkes masks—the symbol of Anonymous—over their faces in protest at the way ACTA has been pushed through. In the US, over 35,000 people have signed a petition urging the White House to "end ACTA," despite the fact that it has already been signed by the US.
At Ars Technica, we're as committed as anyone to defending free speech, fair use, and the open Internet against draconian new copyright laws. But it's important for the debate to be informed by accurate information. Unfortunately, many of the claims about ACTA that are circulating among the treaty's opponents are highly misleading or outright inaccurate. We've been covering ACTA for over four years, and hopefully we can shed some light on a tricky subject.
Much of the misinformation seems to come from the fact that the final text proved to be much less dangerous to Internet freedom than early drafts had suggested. Any number of controversial proposals were included, or rumored to be included, in early drafts of the treaty. But thanks in part to an intense public backlash, most of these provisions were stripped out, or at least watered down, in the final version of ACTA.
That final version has been publicly available for months, but many ACTA opponents continue to focus on these deleted provisions in their arguments against the treaty. We'll examine four of the most trenchant claims about ACTA that have been circulating on the Internet in the last week, then compare them to what ACTA actually says.
Reality: This is the most-repeated claim, and it's simply inaccurate. Nothing in the treaty appears to require ISPs to monitor their customers' traffic. While earlier versions of the treaty had proposed French-style "three strikes" measures, these proposals were dropped from the final version of the treaty. The closest ACTA comes to mandating ISP surveillance is section 27.3, which requires participating nations to "promote cooperative efforts within the business community to effectively address trademark and copyright or related rights infringement while preserving legitimate competition and, consistent with that Party's law, preserving fundamental principles such as freedom of expression, fair process, and privacy."
Forcing ISPs to actively monitoring their customers' traffic might be one way to comply with this requirement. Implementing a "three strikes" regime might be another. But there are also innocuous ways a country could comply, like holding conferences on copyright enforcement, sending literature to businesses encouraging them to respect copyright, and setting up an anonymous tipline for suspected copyright or trademark infringement.
Claim: "Can you imagine generic drugs that could save lives being banned? Can you imagine seeds that could feed thousands being controlled and withheld in the name of patents? This will become a reality with ACTA."
Reality: Section 3 of ACTA deals with the flow of infringing products across borders. It requires countries to allow customs officials to seize goods suspected of infringement. Such seizures would be allowed not only in the origin and destination nations, but also while the goods are in transit through third countries.
Critics argue that drug companies could use this provision to get generic drugs seized as they pass through third countries, even if the drugs would be legal under the patent system of the destination country. Similarly, they worry that genetically-modified, and patent-encumbered, seeds would be seized as they were shipped across borders. But footnote 6 of the treaty states that "patents and protection of undisclosed information do not fall within the scope" of section 3.
There have been isolated cases of generics being seized on trademark grounds because they too closely mimicked the appearance of the corresponding name-brand drug. (Think of Nexium, for example, which is marketed as the "purple pill.") But at worst that would require the manufacturers of generics to tweak the appearance of their drugs to avoid infringing on trademarks.
An in-depth report on the impact of ACTA on generic medicines found that the treaty "makes enforcement of intellectual property rights in courts, at borders, by the government and by private parties easier, less costly, and more 'deterrent' in the level of penalties. In doing so, it increases the risks and consequences of wrongful searches, seizures, lawsuits and other enforcement actions against legitimate suppliers of generic medicines." So at the margin, ACTA might be bad for the flow of generic drugs to poor countries, but it's a huge exaggeration to say that generic drugs would be "banned."
Reality: The provisions of SOPA and PIPA that generated the most outrage were those that would have blacklisted sites from DNS, search engines, payment networks, and ad networks. None of these proposals were included in ACTA. Perhaps this is a reference to the provisions requiring signatories to "promote cooperative efforts within the business community," but as we've seen, there are any number of ways to comply with this requirement that are less draconian than the SOPA provisions that generated so much controversy.
As respected Canadian copyright scholar (and longtime ACTA critic) Michael Geist has put it, "from a substantive perspective, ACTA's Internet provisions are plainly not as bad as those contemplated by SOPA. Over the course of several years of public protest and pressure, the Internet provisions were gradually watered down with the removal of three strikes and you're out language. Other controversial provisions on statutory damages and anti-camcording rules were made optional rather than mandatory."
Claim: "ISPs will be required to constantly check that no copyrighted material, or links to copyrighted material, are found on their servers... Even parts of sentences could be protected and made prescripted by copyright."
Reality: These claims come from a video that was produced by Anonymous; while the group's many "members" are concerned about censorship and copyright maximalism, the video itself is full of erroneous claims. The video has been embedded by outlets that should know better, like The Atlantic, and it has been viewed half a million times.
For the record, nothing in ACTA appears to require sites to constantly monitor user-generated material for infringing material. And we have no idea how ACTA could be interpreted as bringing "parts of sentences" under copyright protection.
ACTA is a bad agreement
None of this is to say ACTA is positive. It isn't. It has both procedural and substantive problems—and critics need to attack it on the right grounds.
ACTA was negotiated in extreme secrecy by a small group of wealthy nations. As leaked documents make clear, the explicit goal of this approach was to bypass existing international instituions like WIPO where other countries might object to even stricter IP enforcement. Instead, ACTA was a "coalition of the willing" which "would aim to set a 'gold standard' for IPR [intellectual property rights] enforcement among a small number of like-minded countries, and which other countries might aspire to join."
As for the secrecy, even some participants found it unsettling. The EU's top negotiator on ACTA even told US embassy official in Sweden that "the secrecy issue has been very damaging to the negotiating climate in Sweden… The secrecy around the negotiations has led to the legitimacy of the whole process being questioned."
In the US, ACTA was dubbed an "executive agreement" rather than a "treaty," which allowed negotiators to skip the ordinary Senate ratification process. If ACTA becomes a binding part of international law, it will create a precedent for future treaties that avoid basic principles of transparency and democratic accountability.
On the merits, the problem with ACTA is less that it would require changes to American or European law as that it would become another mechanism for Western governments to force poorer countries to adopt bad copyright policies. For example, the treaty requires signatories to adopt anti-circumvention rules similar to those in the American DMCA, and a regime of statutory damages like the one that produced a $1.5 million judgment against Jammie Thomas-Rasset for infringing 24 songs. Once ACTA is adopted by wealthy countries, the US government is likely to make its adoption a factor in its Special 301 report, which lists countries Washington regards as having insufficiently strong copyright laws. Thanks to this kind of arm-twisting, copyright treaties that are adopted in the US and Europe are eventually foisted on the rest of the world.
More generally, the treaty continues the one-way ratchet toward ever-stronger copyright protections. ACTA establishes a new, higher minimum of copyright protections and enforcement that countries must provide, but it doesn't require countries to preserve mechanisms like fair use and intermediary immunity that protect intellectual freedom.
If Congress ever decides that IP rights have swung too far in one direction, it can always rebalance them by changing the law, right? Not exactly. International agreements like ACTA bind the hands of legislators unless the US is willing to withdraw from them first.
That's why Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) last week called ACTA "more dangerous than SOPA." He added, "It’s not coming to me for a vote. It purports that it does not change existing laws. But once implemented, it creates a whole new enforcement system and will virtually tie the hands of Congress to undo it."
Unfortunately, these arguments are hard to explain to the general public. So too many ACTA opponents are, perhaps unknowingly, attacking ACTA for provisions that aren't in the treaty. We're not going to shed too many tears if this misinformation helps to kill a bad treaty, but we'd rather win the debate honestly—and prepare people for the upcoming ACTA sequel.
Posted by Informant_News on Monday, January 30, 2012 @ 15:22:36 MST (1558 reads) (Read More... | 19276 bytes more | Global News | Score: 4.33)
Misc: Nearly 3 Million New Yorkers With College Degrees Can Barely Afford Food
So much for ditching ramen. Nearly 3 million college-educated New Yorkers report having difficulty affording food, according to a new report by the Food Bank For New York City.
One in three expressed concerns that they might need assistance, a stat that's increased 6 points for those with bachelor's degrees and from 2 points for those with graduate degrees.
The number of affected residents making between $50,000 and $75,000—and therefore not eligible for food assistance programs—increased by 6 percent.
To cope, they're cutting back on spending by purchasing fewer essential items like dairy, meat and fresh fruits and turning to soup kitchens and food stamps, the Food Bank says.
It's a strategy the organization calls "sacrifice and support," which speaks to the growing concern about rising food prices. The cost of staple foods like eggs, milk and meat shot up by 11 percent in 2011 alone.
Campus food banks for struggling college students exist in states like Georgia, California and Michigan, but New York schools have fewer programs that are geared to college students.
If you're a student in this predicament, check out the Food Bank For New York City's Food Program Locator. Outside of New York? Call their information hotline at 212-894-8060 to see if you're eligible for the federal food stamp assistance program.
The tricorder that was used by Spock and Bones inspires a vision of what healthcare will be like in the future”
Peter DiamandisX Prize Foundation chairman
While the tricorder is obviously the stuff of science fiction, other X Prizes have become science fact.
In 2004, the Ansari X Prize for a privately funded reusable spacecraft was awarded to the team behind SpaceShipOne.
Much of the technology they developed was subsequently utilised byVirgin Galactic.
Prof Jeremy Nicholson, head of the department of surgery and cancer at Imperial College London, told the BBC there are already medical devices which detect chemical signs of illness to assist diagnosis.
However, he warned that bringing this technology together into one tricorder-sized piece of equipment would be a very daunting challenge.
"The most likely sort of technology would be something that detects metabolites," Prof Nicholson said.
"What we use in our laboratory is big - the size of a Mini. The challenge is sticking it all into one device."
Prof Nicholson thought "grand challenges" like the tricorder prize helped stimulate innovation, and are "good fun".
But he doubted the Qualcomm Foundation would be awarding the prize any time soon.
"The challenges are: What is it you detect, what are the samples you can get and how do you put it all together in one gizmo?
"I don't think there'll be many people getting that prize in the near future."
Even if the device could be made, he continued, testing and obtaining approval for medical use might take much longer.
However, for Mr Diamandis the mere fact the prize exists could transform healthcare.
"It's not a single point solution. What we're looking for is to launch a new industry," he said.
"The tricorder that was used by Spock and Bones inspires a vision of what healthcare will be like in the future.
"It will be wireless, mobile and minimally- or non-invasive.
"It may use digital imaging, it may be sequencing your DNA on the spot to tell you if you are allergic to something you just ate."
That may seem like an impossibly ambitious set of goals, but fortunately, for those trying to win the prize, one feature of the Star Trek tricorder is not needed.
"We don't have a requirement that it makes the same noise," Mr Diamandis said.
A Star Trek fan shows off a model version of the Tricorder used in "The Next Generation". This is more to scale and scope the minds behind this contest are most likely hoping for.
"The tricorder that was used by Spock and Bones inspires a vision of what healthcare will be like in the future”