Monday, September 30, 2013

Heroin, Cocaine, and Weed Are Stronger, Cheaper, and Easier to Get Than They've Ever Been

Source: Vice

Heroin, cocaine, and marijuana are just as available, far cheaper, and more potent than they were at the start of the War on Drugs, according to a new study.

...

Between 1990 and 2010, the street price, adjusting for inflation, of heroin, cocaine, and marijuana fell roughly 80 percent. At the same time, the street drugs became much more potent: The average purity of heroin increased by 60 percent, the purity of cocaine increased by 11 percent, and the potency of cannabis increased 161 percent. The story is much the same in Europe and Australia, with street prices dropping and supply remaining stable, despite a huge increase in drug seizures.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

California signs state's first fracking rules

Source: Al Jazeera America

Law requires oil companies to disclose chemicals used, notify;
... state to study risks of hydraulic fracturing
... require oil companies to test ground water and notify neighboring landowners before drilling.
... The law "could create conditions that will make it difficult to continue to provide a reliable supply of domestic petroleum energy for California," said Catherine Reheis-Boyd, president of the Western State Petroleum Association, which represents oil companies in California.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Oil spills in flood-hit Colorado raise concerns over industry regulation

Source: Al Jazeera

"We've met all the state requirements … and we've worked diligently with air and water groups that have brought forth concerns."

"Everyone has a different level of tolerance … but we feel like we can coexist with municipal operations, and we're working hard to show that. We've got hundreds of wells within municipalities, and we don't have any issues."

Monday, September 16, 2013

Spotty coverage for La Niña as plausible reason surface global warming hit the brakes

Source: MIT Tracker Blog

    The data and model-backed hypothesis, not exactly new, got prominent attention in Nature this week via a letter from a research team based at the University of California's Scripps Institution of Oceanography near San Diego. ...

    The gist is that ENSO, the El Niño Southern Oscillation, has been persistently in its La Niña phase for more than a decade. And that phase has vigorous trade winds firing from South America toward the western Pacific north of Australia. They push an overturning of the sea, lifting cold, deep water from the abysss off South America to mix with surface waters.

... Data, and runs of models ... indicate that this ... compensate for the growing overall energy tilt due to greenhouse gases. So the Scripps team reports.

Historic child abuse inquiry opens in Australia

Source: FOX News

"It is now well known that the sexual abuse of children has been widespread in the Australian community, however the full range of institutions in which it has occurred is not generally understood," McClellan said in an address.

"Many of the stories we are hearing will shock many people."

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Need To Avoid Nearby Gunfire? There's an App For That

Source: Vice Motherboard

"Within 30 seconds after a shot is fired, the application will determine the source location of the shooter, the direction he was aiming at, the type and caliber of the weapon used and the number of bullets fired. This data will be sent to the nearby residents for free and we will also send it to the army, paramedics, press."

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Apple's Fingerprint ID May Mean You Can't 'Take The Fifth'

Source: Wired Threat Level

...the constitutional protection of the Fifth Amendment, which guarantees that “no person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself,” may not apply when it comes to biometric-based fingerprints (things that reflect who we are) as opposed to memory-based passwords and PINs (things we need to know and remember).

6 Whopping Misstatements By The Government About The NSA

Source: Wired Threat Level

“… NSA takes significant care to prevent any abuses and that there is a substantial oversight system in place.” -- Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California), August 23.

“The ongoing national dialogue is not about your performance. The NSA/CSS work force has executed its national security responsibilities with equal and full respect for civil liberties and privacy.” -- NSA chief Keith Alexander, June 25.

“The government cannot target anyone under the court-approved procedures for this program unless there is an appropriate and documented foreign intelligence purpose for the acquisition, such as for the prevention of terrorism, hostile cyber activities or nuclear proliferation” --  Attorney General Eric Holder, June 15

“Now part of the reason [NSA spy powers] are not abused is because they’re — these checks are in place, and those abuses would be against the law and would be against the orders of the FISC,”  -- President Barack Obama, August 9.

“The administration is obeying the law, but the fact is we want more oversight.” -- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California), June 6

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) asked “So what I wanted to see is if you could give me a yes or no answer to the question: Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”

“Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect, but not wittingly.” --  James Clapper, director of national intelligence, March 12

Reporter’s note: Government officials have uttered plenty of other untruths in the wake of Snowden’s revelations.

FBI Admits It Controlled Tor Servers Behind Mass Malware Attack

Source: Wired Threat Level

It wasn’t ever seriously in doubt, but the FBI yesterday acknowledged that it secretly took control of Freedom Hosting last July, days before the servers of the largest provider of ultra-anonymous hosting were found to be serving custom malware designed to identify visitors.

Freedom Hosting was a provider of turnkey “Tor hidden service” sites — special sites, with addresses ending in .onion, that hide their geographic location behind layers of routing, and can be reached only over the Tor anonymity network. Tor hidden services are used by sites that need to evade surveillance or protect users’ privacy to an extraordinary degree – including human rights groups and journalists.

...the FBI took over the servers in late July...

On August 4, all the sites hosted by Freedom Hosting ... began serving an error message with hidden code embedded in the page. ... it exploited a security hole in Firefox to identify users of the Tor Browser Bundle ...

... It looked up the victim’s MAC address — a unique hardware identifier for the computer’s network or Wi-Fi card — and the victim’s Windows hostname. Then it sent it to a server in Northern Virginia server, bypassing Tor, to expose the user’s real IP address, coding the transmission as a standard HTTP web request.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Colorado lawmakers ousted in recall election over strict gun

Source: LA Times

In an unprecedented backlash, two state lawmakers who helped stiffen Colorado's gun laws were ousted Tuesday in a recall that turned into a nationally watched referendum on gun control.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Secrets Airline Pilots Won't Tell You

Source: ABC News

"I'm constantly under pressure to carry less fuel than I'm comfortable with. Airlines are always looking at the bottom line, and you burn fuel carrying fuel. Sometimes if you carry just enough fuel and you hit thunderstorms or delays, then suddenly you're running out of gas and you have to go to an alternate airport." -Captain at a major airline

"The truth is, we're exhausted. Our work rules allow us to be on duty 16 hours without a break. That's many more hours than a truck driver. And unlike a truck driver, who can pull over at the next rest stop, we can't pull over at the next cloud." -Captain at a major airline

John Kerry-US to "uphold the norms of international behavior as a country"


Source: CBS News

Face the Nation transcripts September 1, 2013

Secretary of State John Kerry:

The president has decided to take military action. Now, he also decided that it would be much stronger for our country and have much greater impact and allow us much greater latitude going forward in terms of how we address Syria if we have the congress of the United States backing it. He also felt that that was a very important message, if you will, to Iran, to North Korea, and to others not only about our Democratic process but most importantly that we are prepared to uphold the norms of international behavior as a country, and that we are united behind that, and that that gives greater impact to whatever choices we might face in other places in the future.

NSA spied on Brazil, Mexico leaders: report

Source: AL JAZEERA ENGLISH (AJE)

The US National Security Agency's spy program targeted the communications of the Brazilian and Mexican presidents, and in the case of Mexico's leader accessed the content of emails before he was elected, the journalist who obtained secret documents from NSA leaker Edward Snowden has said.

Journalist Glenn Greenwald, who lives in Rio de Janeiro, told Globo's news program "Fantastico'' that a document dated June 2012 shows that Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto's emails were being read. The document is dated a month before Pena Nieto was elected.
...
Before news of the NSA program broke, the White House announced that Rousseff would be honored with a state dinner in October during a trip to the US, the only such full state dinner scheduled this year for a foreign
leader.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Fukushima Ice Barrier Will Block Radioactive Groundwater

Source: MIT Technology Review

Japanese officials desperate to contain an ever-growing crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power station are looking to use artificial permafrost to stop radioactive water from leaking. The idea is to build a mile-long wall of frozen earth around Fukushima’s toxic reactor buildings to stem the groundwater contamination; the most experienced specialists in the field say the plan should work