Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Resistance is Futile: The Violent Cost of Challenging the American Police State

Source: Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity

... what exactly constitutes resisting an arrest?
...
Do Americans really have any recourse at all when it comes to obeying an order from a police officer, even if it’s just to ask a question or assert one’s rights, or should we just “surrender quietly”?
...
The short answer is that anything short of compliance will get you arrested and jailed.
...
The key word, of course, is comply meaning to obey, submit or conform ...

Monday, August 11, 2014

Sovereign citizens seen as top terrorist threat by US law enforcement

Source: RT

The sovereign citizen movement is considered the top threat for domestic terrorism, according to a survey of state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies.

Islamist extremists and militia/patriot groups round out the top three threats to communities in the United States considered most serious by 364 officers of 175 state, local, and tribal law enforcement entities, according to a survey conducted by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START).
...

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Cash, Weapons and Surveillance: the U.S. is a Key Party to Every Israeli Attack

Source: The Intercept

The U.S. government has long lavished overwhelming aid on Israel, providing cash, weapons and surveillance technology that play a crucial role in Israel’s attacks on its neighbors. But top secret documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden shed substantial new light on how the U.S. and its partners directly enable Israel’s military assaults – such as the one on Gaza.

Over the last decade, the NSA has significantly increased the surveillance assistance it provides to its Israeli counterpart, the Israeli SIGINT National Unit (ISNU; also known as Unit 8200), including data used to monitor and target Palestinians. In many cases, the NSA and ISNU work cooperatively with the British and Canadian spy agencies, the GCHQ and CSEC.
...
The new documents underscore the indispensable, direct involvement of the U.S. government and its key allies in Israeli aggression against its neighbors.
...
The new Snowden documents illustrate a crucial fact: Israeli aggression would be impossible without the constant, lavish support and protection of the U.S. government, which is anything but a neutral, peace-brokering party in these attacks. And the relationship between the NSA and its partners on the one hand, and the Israeli spying agency on the other, is at the center of that enabling.
...
But even as the NSA and its partners are directed by political branches to feed the Israelis surveillance data and technology, they constantly characterize Israel as a threat – both to their own national security and more generally to regional peace. In stark contrast to the public statements about Israel made by American and British officials, the Snowden archive is replete with discussions of the Israelis as a menace rather than an ally.

NSA documents previously published by the Guardian stated that “one of NSA’s biggest threats is actually from friendly intelligence services, like Israel.” Another notes that the National Intelligence Estimate ranked Israel as “the third most aggressive intelligence service against the U.S.”

British officials have a similar view of the Israelis, describing them as a “very real threat to regional stability.” One top secret GCHQ planning document from 2008 notes that “policy makers remain deeply concerned over the potential threat that Israel poses to a peaceful resolution of the Iran problem, and to some of Israel’s less desirable activities in the region.” Moreover, “Israel’s thinking on the long-term threat offered by Iran to its fundamental foreign policy strategy of armed deterrence may create very real threats to regional stability in 2009.”
...

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Scientists warn time to stop drilling in the dark

Image Credit: Simon Fraser University Public Affairs and Media Relations. Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Source: Simon Fraser University

One of the greatest threats to animal and plant-life is the cumulative impact of rapid, widespread shale development, with each individual well contributing collectively to air, water, noise and light pollution
...
Determining the environmental impact of chemical contamination from spills, well-casing failure and other accidents associated with shale gas production must become a top priority.
...
The lack of accessible and reliable information on spills, wastewater disposal and fracturing fluids is greatly impeding improved understanding.
...
This study identifies that only five of 24 American states with active shale gas reservoirs maintain public records of spills and accidents.
...
... two out of three wells were fractured with at least one undisclosed chemical.
...
... fracturing fluid and wastewater, which can include carcinogens and radioactive substances, is often unknown.
...
...development that outpaces our understanding of ecological impacts can have dire unintended consequences,” notes Ryan. She is a research fellow in the University of Washington’s School of Environmental and Forest Sciences.

Friday, August 1, 2014

It’s About the Lying

Source: The Intercept

I don’t want to understate how seriously wrong it is that the CIA searched Senate computers. ...
... CIA Director John Brennan lied to everyone about it.

“As far as the allegations of the CIA hacking into Senate computers, nothing could be further from the truth,” Brennan told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell in March. “We wouldn’t do that. I mean, that’s just beyond the, you know, the scope of reason in terms of what we do.”
...
... what compelled Senate intelligence committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein to make a dramatic floor speech ... was that Brennan had responded to her initial concerns ... by firing back with an allegation of criminal activity by her own staff. ...
...
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, famously lied when he assured the Senate intelligence committee that the government wasn’t collecting data on Americans in bulk when, as it turns out, it was.
...

The Secret Government Rulebook For Labeling You a Terrorist

Source: The Intercept

The Obama administration has quietly approved a substantial expansion of the terrorist watchlist system, authorizing a secret process that requires neither “concrete facts” nor “irrefutable evidence” to designate an American or foreigner as a terrorist, according to a key government document obtained by The Intercept.
...
The “March 2013 Watchlisting Guidance,” a166-page document issued last year by the National Counterterrorism Center,
... was developed behind closed doors by representatives of the nation’s intelligence, military, and law-enforcement establishment, including the Pentagon, CIA, NSA, and FBI.
...
Because the government tracks “suspected terrorists” as well as “known terrorists,” individuals can be watchlisted if they are suspected of being a suspected terrorist, or if they are suspected of associating with people who are suspected of terrorism activity.
... When resources are devoted to tracking people who are not genuine risks to national security, the actual threats get fewer resources—and might go unnoticed. Once the U.S. government secretly labels you a terrorist or terrorist suspect, other institutions tend to treat you as one. It can become difficult to get a job (or simply to stay out of jail). It can become burdensome—or impossible—to travel. And routine encounters with law enforcement can turn into ordeals.
...

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

U.S., Europe hit Russia with new sanctions

Source: USA Today

President Obama and the European Union imposed new sanctions on Russia Tuesday that they said will further cripple its economy, hopefully forcing President Vladimir Putin to end his support of armed rebels in Ukraine and to seek peace.

While previous sanctions have focused on specific businesses and individuals, the new set is designed to hit major pillars of the Russian economy, including oil and gas supplies and technology, banking and finance, and arms sales. 
...
The new sanctions also come as the Obama administration accuses the Russians of violating a 1987 arms control treaty by testing new long-range missiles.

Friday, July 25, 2014

What if our democracy is a fraud?

Source: Washington Times

...
What if democracy as it has come to exist in America today is dangerous to personal freedom? What if our so-called democracy erodes the people’s understanding of natural rights and the reasons for government and, instead, turns political campaigns into beauty contests? What if American democracy allows the government to do anything it wants, as long as more people bother to show up at the voting booth to support the government than show up to say no?

Mystery Congressional Staffer Edits Wikipedia to Push Conspiracy Theories?

Wikipedia articles have been edited anonymously from the US House of Representatives. This and other articles imply that these edits are being made by one House staffer, but I don't believe it's possible to tell if many staffers are involved.

Source: Mediaite

... tried to claim Cubans were behind the attempt to discredit the Apollo 11 moon landing, but that they also edited posts about the following:

Bohemian Grove
COINTELPRO
The Freemason temple in Washington DC
“Lizard People” theorist David Icke
Lyndon LaRouche and his staffers
Alex Jones (who may be, according to this staffer, a Russian agent)
RT reporter Abby Martin (who is apparently “not a real journalist”)
The New World Information Communication Order

'Extreme solar storm' could have pulled the plug on Earth

Source: The Guardian

The date of 23 July 2012 could have been the day the lights went out, along with suddenly not-so-smart phones, computers, satellite transmissions, GPS navigation systems, televisions, radio broadcasts, hospital equipment, electric pumps and water supplies.
...
"If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces," said Daniel Baker, of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado. "I have come away from our recent studies more convinced than ever that Earth and its inhabitants were incredibly fortunate that the 2012 eruption happened when it did. If the eruption had occurred only one week earlier, Earth would have been in the line of fire."
...
"In my view the July 2012 storm was in all respects at least as strong as the 1859 Carrington event," Baker said. "The only difference is, it missed."
...

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

POLITICO poll: Stay out of Ukraine, Middle East

Source: Politico
...
... Americans are profoundly wary of getting entangled overseas and seem to be skeptical of the value of projecting U.S. power on foreign conflicts.
...
In the big picture, two-thirds of respondents agreed with the statement that U.S. military actions should be “limited to direct threats to our national security.” Only 22 percent agreed with the statement that as a “moral leader,” the United States “has a responsibility to use its military to protect democracy around the globe.”
...
The POLITICO poll, designed by SocialSphere Inc. and conducted by the research firm GfK, tested 834 likely voters in competitive U.S. House and Senate races.
...

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Desist Orders to Drone Pilots Are Bogus, Appeals Court Rules

Source: VICE Motherboard

...
... Texas Equusearch, a volunteer, nonprofit search-and-rescue ... the FAA sent the organization's drone pilot, Gene Robinson, a cease-and-desist email ... Three judges with the Washington DC Court of Appeals ruled that the FAA's email is a bogus order. 

"The email at issue is not a formal cease-and-desist letter representing the agency's final conclusion that an entity has violated the law," the judges wrote.
...
the FAA has never formally created any regulations banning the practice. Instead, it has relied on a few "policy statements" that the agency has suggested are legally enforceable in cease-and-desist letters like the one it sent to Texas Equusearch. 
...

Monday, July 14, 2014

Is the U.S. Fracking Boom a Bubble?

Source: Newsweek ... some wonder how long the shale revolution will last. Energy analysts like Arthur Berman, a Texas-based geologist and energy consultant, and David Hughes, a Canadian geoscientist, have suggested that the shale revolution may be just a bubble. ... ... a shale well has a limited lifespan of around seven or eight years. Its output plummets after the first three years, then deteriorates steadily thereafter. By contrast a conventional oil field produces crude at a level that wanes slowly over the course of decades. Saudi’s massive Ghawar field, for example, began production in 1951 and is still pumping out around 5 million barrels a day. ... Observers like Berman and Hughes believe the U.S. needs to prepare for a time when the shale tide starts to ebb. ...

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The ultimate goal of the NSA is total population control

Source: The Guardian

William Binney is one of the highest-level whistleblowers to ever emerge from the NSA. 
...
On 5 July he spoke at a conference in London organised by the Centre for Investigative Journalism and revealed the extent of the surveillance programs unleashed by the Bush and Obama administrations.
...
“At least 80% of fibre-optic cables globally go via the US”, Binney said. “This is no accident and allows the US to view all communication coming in. At least 80% of all audio calls, not just metadata, are recorded and stored in the US. The NSA lies about what it stores.”
...
“The ultimate goal of the NSA is total population control”, Binney said, “but I’m a little optimistic with some recent Supreme Court decisions, such as law enforcement mostly now needing a warrant before searching a smartphone.”

Maher Blasts ‘Useless Obama Hacks without a Shred of Intellectual Honesty’

Source: Mediaite

Bill Maher went after the left over NSA spying on Friday night; specifically, liberals who have refused to criticize surveillance under President Obama as opposed to, you know, when George Bush did it. Maher said, “If this was happening under Bush, liberals would be apoplectic. I’m sorry, but liberals are just sometimes useless Obama hacks without a shred of intellectual honesty.”

Congresswoman Donna Edwards jumped in to make clear she’s very apoplectic, saying Congress needs to set more limits on the NSA’s dragnet and arguing for more privacy advocates who can take on the government in the name of individual liberties.

Ron Suskind added that for years, the government kept sneering at critics and asking where their proof is, and so the one great thing Snowden did was provide the proof.

Watch the video.

Drivers Get Screwed Over Constantly in America

Source: VICE

... fundamentally corrupt traffic enforcement regimes across the US ... threaten the privacy of virtually every driver on the road. Most anyone with even limited driving experience can attest, with at least a half-dozen personal anecdotes, to the absurdity of police traffic enforcement tactics. This perception of unfairness ultimately feeds into the broad-based cynicism toward and alienation from government that modern (especially young) Americans frequently exhibit.
...
Traffic stops may generally be initiated for any reason at any time, regardless of whether the suspect has committed any ticketable moving violations.
...
... for many, penalties incurred for vehicular offenses have a ruinous financial impact. Aggressive traffic enforcement tactics inevitably bear down disparately on the poor and marginal ...
...
As municipalities across the country struggle with continual budget shortfalls, jacking up fines is a tempting way for local officials plug the gaps.

Friday, July 11, 2014

But wait — there’s more! The NSA scandal goes even deeper says Edward Snowden

Source: Rare.us

We now know that the government has failed effectively to refute the Snowden claims that it has collected and maintained for future access massive amounts of personal materials about nearly all people in America since 2009. This includes the metadata and content of nearly every telephone call, email and text message made, sent or received in the U.S., as well as nearly every credit-card bill, utility bill and monthly bank statement of nearly every person in the U.S.

This was accomplished through the issuance of general warrants by FISA court judges. General warrants do not particularly describe the place to be searched or the person or thing to be seized as the Constitution requires. General warrants authorize the bearer to use the power of government to search wherever he wishes. The use by British troops of general warrants was a principal motivation for the American Revolution, and the very purpose and literal wording of the Fourth Amendment was to outlaw and prohibit them.
...
How could that happen? It happened because the FISA court meets in secret, where the NSA has no opposition and the court has no transparency. This volatile mix has resulted in that court’s granting well over 99 percent of NSA applications, including the “hop” rule implicated in the scrutiny of innocent Americans. In NSA-speak, a hop is a jump from one telephone conversation to another using a common phone.
...

UK rushes law to retain telephone and Internet records

Source: AL Jazeera

Cameron said that without the emergency law, it would be harder to defend against pedophiles, gangsters and terrorists.
...
The European Court of Justice ruled in April that a European Union directive requiring companies to store communications data for up to two years was too broad and a threat to privacy rights.
...
Prime Minister David Cameron said Thursday that without the emergency law governments would be less able to protect the country from pedophiles, gangsters and terrorists.
...
"Sometimes, in the dangerous world in which we live, we need our security services to listen to someone's phone and read their emails to identify and disrupt a terrorist plot," Cameron told reporters. "As prime minister, I know of examples where doing this has stopped a terrorist attack."
...
The European court was concerned about the lack of restrictions on how, why and when the metadata could be used. It asked for a directive with more specificity on what type of crimes could be covered and how long the material would be retained.
...
Shami Chakrabarti, director of the human rights organization Liberty, expressed doubt that there was really critical need for Cameron's measures now.

"We are told this is a pedophile and jihadi 'emergency', but the court judgment they seek to ignore was handed down over three months ago and this isn't snooping on suspects but on everyone," she said. "We are promised greater scrutiny and debate but not until 2016, as it seems that all three party leaders have done a deal in private. No privacy for us and no scrutiny for them."
...

US drone flights hit technical & military turbulence

Source: Russia Today

Presently, air traffic controllers, who guide hundreds of aircraft across US airspace each day, are not equipped to work with unmanned aircraft. At the same, no standards have been put in place to train ‘pilots’ of the vehicles. 
...
The FAA forecasts there will be around 7,500 active Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) hovering above US skies in five years, with over $89 billion invested in drone technologies worldwide over the next decade. Drones range from radio-controlled model airplanes to those with the wingspan of a commercial airliner. 

Marine Corps tests massive new amphibious assault vehicle

Source: Russia Today

​The Marine Corps is testing a new amphibious landing vehicle which dwarfs its current hydrofoil lander and will be able to land multiple battle tanks at once.

The UHAC looks to be significantly different ... huge runners made up of low pressure captive air cells contained within foam casings. ... should also be able to move across difficult terrains, including marshes, mud flats, and even sea walls up to 10 feet high. ... speed to 20 knots –

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Dennis Kucinich on America's Dangerous, Anti-Democratic Path

Source: Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity

What has happened is that under the guise of security, our government has annihilated each individual American's sphere of privacy. I warned of this when, as a member of Congress, I led opposition to the Patriot Act as well as opposing FISA legislation.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

It is time for the Supreme Court to STFU

Regarding the Hobby Lobby case, federal Judge Richard George Kopf told the five male Catholic Supreme Court Justices to STFU.

Source: Hercules and the umpire via Disinformation

... The decision looks misogynistic because the majority were all men. It looks partisan because all were appointed by a Republican. The decision looks religiously motivated because each member of the majority belongs to the Catholic church, and that religious organization is opposed to contraception.

... this term and several past terms have proven that the Court is now causing more harm (division) to our democracy than good by deciding hot button cases that the Court has the power to avoid. As the kids say, it is time for the Court to stfu.***

The NSA Is Targeting Users of Privacy Services, Leaked Code Shows

Source: Wired Threat Level

If you use Tor or any of a number of other privacy services online or even visit their web sites to read about the services, there’s a good chance your IP address has been collected and stored by the NSA, according to top-secret source code for a program the NSA uses to conduct internet surveillance.

There’s also a good chance you’ve been tagged for simply reading news articles about these services published by Wired and other sites.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

In NSA-intercepted data, those not targeted far outnumber the foreigners who are

Source: Washington Post via Glenn Greenwald

Ordinary Internet users, American and non-American alike, far outnumber legally targeted foreigners in the communications intercepted by the National Security Agency from U.S. digital networks, according to a four-month investigation by The Washington Post.
...
Nine of 10 account holders found in a large cache of intercepted conversations, which former NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided in full to The Post, were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else.
...
Many of them were Americans. Nearly half of the surveillance files, a strikingly high proportion, contained names, e-mail addresses or other details that the NSA marked as belonging to U.S. citizens or residents. 
...
The surveillance files highlight a policy dilemma that has been aired only abstractly in public.
...
Many other files, described as useless by the analysts but nonetheless retained, have a startlingly intimate, even voyeuristic quality. 
...
The cache Snowden provided came from domestic NSA operations under the broad authority granted by Congress in 2008 with amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
...

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Controversial US scientist creates deadly new flu strain for pandemic research

Source: The Independent

Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin-Madison has genetically manipulated the 2009 strain of pandemic flu in order for it to “escape” the control of the immune system’s neutralising antibodies, effectively making the human population defenceless against its reemergence.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Can a State Withhold Water From the NSA? California Is About to Find Out

Source: VICE Motherboard

... it's appearing increasingly likely that we'll see what happens when a state votes to withhold resources directly from the federal government. The measure flew through California's senate and appears to have a lot of support in its assembly. It still seems like a stunt, but it might be one that the two sides will have to litigate in court.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Yosemite Looks To Ban Drones By Relying On An Absurd Legal Argument

Source: Forbes

... the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (Drones) are prohibited within park boundaries due to regulations outlined in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Specifically, the use of drones within the park boundaries is illegal under all circumstances. Thirty Six CFR 2.17(a)(3) states, “delivering or retrieving a person or object by parachute, helicopter, or other airborne means, except in emergencies involving public safety or serious property loss, or pursuant to the terms and conditions of a permit” is illegal. This applies to drones of all shapes and sizes.

That is an expansive interpretation of the regulation, especially when 36 CFR 2.17(a)(3) is read in context.
...
... National Park Service itself has provided a definition of aircraft in 36 CFR 1.4, it states:

 "Aircraft means a device that is used or intended to be used for human flight in the air, including powerless flight."

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Longer flights 'could curb impact of vapour trails'

Source: BBC

Scientists have been arguing about the climate impact of contrails for many years, as the clouds that they form impact both cooling and warming.

Contrails reflect sunlight back into space and cool the Earth but they also trap infrared energy in the atmosphere, adding to warming. Researchers believe that the warming effect is more significant than the cooling.

Now scientists at the University of Reading have tried to work out how this impact could be reduced by altering the flight paths of long and short haul aircraft.
...
"You think that you have to do some really huge distance to avoid these contrails," lead author Dr Emma Irvine told BBC News.

"But because of the way the Earth curves you can actually have quite small extra distances added onto the flight to avoid some really large contrails."

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Bitcoin Could Change Voting the Way It's Changed Money

Source: VICE Motherboard
...
Political groups and tech startups are beginning to experiment with digital voting systems based on the bitcoin and blockchain protocol. 
...
"Just replace a coin in your head with a vote, and run it the exact same dynamic," said Maximiliaan van Kuyk, cofounder of the V initiative, based in New York. The V initiative and V mobile voting app is one of the leading bitcoin-based e-voting efforts here in the US
...
Each registered voter gets a Votecoin through the election organizer—say, the US government. The government also sets up what's effectively "yes" and "no,” or maybe it’s "candidate A" and "candidate B” wallets. When it comes time to vote, you send your Votecoin to the wallet of your choice, just like a bitcoin transaction.
... instead of placing your trust in a central authority like, say, the ballot counters tallying up hanging chads in Florida, the network is anonymous but transparent, and audited by the crowd.
...
Crypto voting is has been used in elections in Norway, Denmark, Europe’s Pirate Party, and the Spanish Congress.
...
On the privacy point, the V platform would need to be 100 percent anonymous, notably unlike bitcoin. As a last line of defense, the protocol would run on an IP-masking software like Tor to protect users against mass data scraping that can reveal identities by putting together enough clues, as we learned from the NSA leaks.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

A tiny technical change in iOS 8 could stop marketers spying on you

The original source of this report appears to be WWDC session 715, "User Privacy on iOS and OS X," presented by Apple Product Security and Privacy representatives David Stites and Katie Skinner.

Source: Quartz

Whenever you walk around a major Western city with your phone’s Wi-Fi turned on, you are broadcasting your location to government agencies, marketing companies and location analytics firms. At the core of such tracking is the MAC address, a unique identification number tied to each device. Devices looking for a Wi-Fi network send out their MAC address to identify themselves. Apple’s solution, as discovered by a programmer, is for iOS 8, the new operating system for iPhones which will be out later this year, to generate a random MAC addresses while scanning for networks. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

All Our Patent Are Belong To You

Source: Tesla Motors

By Elon Musk, CEO

Yesterday, there was a wall of Tesla patents in the lobby of our Palo Alto headquarters. That is no longer the case. They have been removed, in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology.

Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport. If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal. Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.

When I started out with my first company, Zip2, I thought patents were a good thing and worked hard to obtain them. And maybe they were good long ago, but too often these days they serve merely to stifle progress, entrench the positions of giant corporations and enrich those in the legal profession, rather than the actual inventors. After Zip2, when I realized that receiving a patent really just meant that you bought a lottery ticket to a lawsuit, I avoided them whenever possible.

At Tesla, however, we felt compelled to create patents out of concern that the big car companies would copy our technology and then use their massive manufacturing, sales and marketing power to overwhelm Tesla. We couldn’t have been more wrong. The unfortunate reality is the opposite: electric car programs (or programs for any vehicle that doesn’t burn hydrocarbons) at the major manufacturers are small to non-existent, constituting an average of far less than 1% of their total vehicle sales.

At best, the large automakers are producing electric cars with limited range in limited volume. Some produce no zero emission cars at all.

Given that annual new vehicle production is approaching 100 million per year and the global fleet is approximately 2 billion cars, it is impossible for Tesla to build electric cars fast enough to address the carbon crisis. By the same token, it means the market is enormous. Our true competition is not the small trickle of non-Tesla electric cars being produced, but rather the enormous flood of gasoline cars pouring out of the world’s factories every day.

We believe that Tesla, other companies making electric cars, and the world would all benefit from a common, rapidly-evolving technology platform.

Technology leadership is not defined by patents, which history has repeatedly shown to be small protection indeed against a determined competitor, but rather by the ability of a company to attract and motivate the world’s most talented engineers. We believe that applying the open source philosophy to our patents will strengthen rather than diminish Tesla’s position in this regard.

Facebook to Let Users Alter Their Ad Profiles

Facebook notified customers in the U.S. about how they target ads to users.

Source: New York Times
...
Detailed tracking of people’s digital activities has become commonplace.
...
Consumers are largely unaware of the monitoring and often don’t know how to limit it.
...
... “The thing that we have heard from people is that they want more targeted advertising,” said Brian Boland, Facebook’s vice president in charge of ads product marketing. “The goal is to make it clear to people why they saw the ad.”
...
You will also be able to click through to your full marketing dossier, or what Facebook calls your ad preferences, and see all of the attributes that Facebook believes describe you. Users can change, delete or add to the information in their files.
...
Facebook executives hope that people will choose to improve the accuracy of the information, although people concerned about their privacy could just as easily fill their profiles with fake information.
...
Joseph Turow, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication, said that Facebook’s users would be tempted to share even more about themselves with the company. “Who in his right mind wouldn’t want relevant ads over irrelevant ads?” he said.

And that will make Facebook, already one of the fastest-growing advertising companies on the Internet, more powerful than ever. “It’s more likely to help Facebook than you,” Mr. Turow said.

About Facebook Ads

U.S. Customers got a notification from Facebook today.

Source: Facebook

About Facebook Ads

How Ads Work on Facebook

A business creates an ad. They choose the type of audience they’d like to reach. If you’re in that audience, Facebook shows you the ad.

Your ad preferences are based on information you've shared with Facebook, Pages you like or engage with, ads you click on, apps and websites you use, and information from our data providers and advertisers.

See more interesting and useful ads on Facebook by updating your ad preferences to reflect the things you care about. Managing your ad preferences is only possible in some areas right now.

How can I use the DAA opt out to adjust how ads are targeted to me based on my activity off of Facebook?

When we ask people about our ads, one of the top things they tell us is that they want to see ads that are more relevant to their interests. Today, we learn about your interests primarily from the things you do on Facebook, such as Pages you like. Starting soon in the US, we will also include information from some of the websites and apps you use. This is a type of interest-based advertising, and many companies already do this.

How does this work?

Let’s say that you’re thinking about buying a new TV, and you start researching TVs on the web and in mobile apps. We may show you ads for deals on a TV to help you get the best price or other brands to consider. And because we think you’re interested in electronics, we may show you ads for other electronics in the future, like speakers or a game console to go with your new TV.

If you don’t want us to use the websites and apps you use to show you more relevant ads, we won’t. You can opt out of this type of ad targeting in your web browser using the industry-standard Digital Advertising Alliance opt out, and on your mobile devices using the controls that iOS and Android provide.

How do I manage the ads I see?

People also tell us they want more control over the ads they see. That’s why we’re introducing ad preferences, a new tool accessible from every ad on Facebook that explains why you’re seeing a specific ad and lets you add and remove interests that we use to show you ads. So if you’re not interested in electronics, you can remove electronics from your ad interests.

If you live in the US, you’ll be able to use ad preferences in the next few weeks, and we are working hard to expand globally in the coming months.

To learn more, visit About Facebook Ads or read ourCookies policy.

How does Facebook decide which ads to show me and how can I control the ads I see?

We want the ads you see on Facebook to be as interesting and useful to you as possible. To decide which ads to show you, we use:

Information you share on Facebook (ex: Pages you like).Other information about you from your Facebook account (ex: your age, gender, your location, the devices you use to access Facebook).Information advertisers and our marketing partners share with us that they already have, like your email address.Your activity on websites and apps off of Facebook, if you live in the US.

For more information on the information Facebook receives and how we use it, visit our Data Use Policyand Cookies Policy.

You have several ways to control which ads we show you:

Visit the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA). Facebook partners with the DAA to help you understand which companies are customizing ads for your browser, and opt out with participating companies. To opt out of seeing Facebook ads based on the sites you visit on this browser, visit the DAA.Adjust your ad preferences. Click  or  near the top-right corner of any ad on Facebook, and select Why am I seeing this? You’ll see an explanation of why you’re seeing it, and you can add or remove yourself from audiences who are shown that ad. Select View and manage your ad preferences to see more audiences you’re a part of that influence which ads you see on Facebook, and adjust which audiences you're a part of. Ad preferences is only available in some areas right now.Use mobile device opt outs. For ads based on the apps you use on your mobile device, go to your device settings to opt out. On Android the setting is called Opt out of interest-based adsand on iOS it’s Limit Ad Tracking

What are my ad preferences?

Your ad preferences are a way to learn why you’re seeing a particular ad, and control how we use information about you on and off Facebook to decide which ads to show you.

Learn more about how to view and adjust your ad preferences and how Facebook decides which ads to show you. You can also give feedback on the ads you see.

Ad preferences are only available in some areas right now.

Does Facebook use my name or photo in ads?

Posts or activity that include your profile photo or name – like a story about you liking Starbucks – may be paired with an ad. Your name and photo will only appear to the people who have permission to view your Page likes.

Learn more about ads and privacy as well as howadvertising works on Facebook.

How does Facebook work with data providers?

Facebook’s data providers specialize in helping advertisers find the right people to share their ads with. For example, data providers create groups of people on Facebook who they think advertisers will want to reach, based on things those people might be interested in. Our data providers include Acxiom, Datalogix and Epsilon.

Learn more about how we use information about you in our Data Use Policy.

How can I give feedback about the ads I see?

There are a few ways to give us feedback about the ads you see on Facebook. Giving us feedback will impact which ads we show you in the future. To give us feedback:

Tell us more about what you like. Liking Pages and adding interests to your Timeline (ex: movies, bands, sports teams) will help us show you more relevant ads.Tell us when you see an ad you like. Click theor  near the top-right corner of any ad on Facebook, and then select This ad is useful. We’ll do our best to show you more ads like that one in the future.Hide ads you don’t like. Click the or  in the top right corner of any ad, and then select I don’t want to see this. We’ll do our best not to show you more ads like that one in the future.Adjust your ad preferences. To learn about the information Facebook is using to show you ads and choose which interests influence the ads you see, visit the ad preferences tool and adjust your ad preferences. Ad preferences are only available in some areas right now.Visit the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA). Ads that show the DAA AdChoices icon  indicate that the ad is being tailored to your interests based on your activity on websites and apps off of Facebook. Click  to opt out of having ads tailored to your interests based on your activity on websites and apps off of Facebook. Learn more about using the DAA opt outAdjust your device settings. You also may be able to limit ad targeting using the controls on your specific mobile device. For example, if you are using an Apple iPhone, you can select theLimit Ad Tracking setting to limit the ways that Facebook and other companies use information about how you use your iPhone to show you ads.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

FAA approves first commercial drone over land

Source: USA Today

The Federal Aviation Administration announced Tuesday that permission for the first commercial drone to fly over U.S. land has gone to oil company BP and drone manufacturer AeroVironment to fly aerial surveys over Alaska's North Slope.
...
Until now, the FAA has approved drones for public safety, such as police or firefighters, or for academic research, on a case-by-case basis.
...
"The FAA is essentially using the military's prior experience with this specific drone platform in place of the agency's airworthiness certification requirements, so it is not an option for people hoping to use the newer drones being designed by high-tech startups that are not involved in military applications," ...
...
The FAA issued restricted permission last summer over Arctic waters for the Puma and Insitu's Scan Eagle, another small drone. Insitu, working with oil company ConocoPhillips, got FAA permission to fly over Arctic waters from Aug. 7 to Oct. 31, and has requested to extend that certificate.
...

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

NASA strategy can’t get humans to Mars, says National Research Council spaceflight report

Source: Washington Post

...
The 286-page National Research Council report, the culmination of an 18-month, $3.2 million investigation mandated by Congress, says that to continue on the present course under budgets that don’t keep pace with inflation “is to invite failure, disillusionment, and the loss of the longstanding international perception that human spaceflight is something the United States does best.”
...
“Absent a very fundamental change in the nation’s way of doing business, it is not realistic to believe that we can achieve the consensus goal of reaching Mars,” Mitch Daniels, the former Indiana governor and co-chair of the committee, said Wednesday morning in an interview.
...
The committee did not delve deeply into what the private sector, operating commercially, might accomplish independently of the government. There are many space buffs, including SpaceX founder Elon Musk, who have said they want to land on Mars. But committee member John Sommerer said Wednesday that it is unrealistic to expect a commercial company to spend the money and take on the risk necessary to achieve human exploration on the Martian surface.
...

Monday, June 2, 2014

Proved the US Government Is Making Up Drone Rules On the Fly

Source: VICE Motherboard

The video the church put together for the canonization of former Pope John Paul II is slick and features some nice footage of the National Shrine in Washington, DC. 
...
That last bit should give you pause though: You’re not allowed to fly anything, not even toy airplanes, in Washington DC.
...
the FAA told the Washington Post that the drone flight sounded like “an unusual situation.
...
They’re not really a commercial entity per se, but neither are they a private entity.” the FAA appears not to care that this happened. And that’s the problem, kind of.
...
It is picking and choosing cases, seemingly at random, to make a big fuss about. It is completely ignoring others.
...
Until you make actual rules about what people can and cannot do, they can do anything.
...

Drone Pilots Ignore Its Own Cease-And-Desist Orders

Source: VICE Motherboard

The agency refused a request from Texas EquuSearch, a nonprofit search-and-rescue group, to stay an order demanding that the group not use drones, based entirely on the idea that its first cease-and-desist order was not an "order."

But, as appears to increasingly be the case, the agency's latest actions have far-reaching ramifications. With the move, the agency just suggested that most, if not all, of the cease-and-desist notices it has sent to commercial drone operators are not actually orders.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Absurd Creature of the Week: The Parasitic Worm That Turns Crickets Into Suicidal Maniacs

Source: Wired Motherboard

More commonly known as the horsehair worms, because folks with a limited understanding of reality once thought they were horsehairs that animated upon hitting water, the 350 or so known species invade insects like the luckless cricket above. After developing for several months, the worms mind-control their hosts to make a kamikaze dive into water, then escape through holes bored in the insect’s exoskeleton. The parasites end up in a tangled knot that can be as heavy as the tattered—and oftentimes very much alive—host they leave behind.
...
“I always tell students this way to think about it,” said Hanelt. “Imagine if I told you to walk over to your car and remove half of its weight, but still have the car be able to get you to the airport. And somehow these worms have figured out how to do that within the cricket host, that they’re able to take half of everything that’s within that cricket but still make it tick. It’s kind of amazing.”

Friday, May 30, 2014

Encryption software TrueCrypt closes doors in odd circumstances

Source: The Guardian

Encryption tool TrueCrypt has closed its doors, removed its downloads and advised users to switch to a competitor, citing only the end of life of Windows XP as a reason.
...
The TrueCrypt development team has always remained anonymous, and isn't speaking about the software's death beyondthe sparse advice left on its download page – leaving users who don't believe the rationale ample room to speculate about other possibilities.

One of the more popular suggestions is that the act is a version of what's known as a "warrant canary". Warrant canaries are legal tricks employed by conscientious organisations to get around the fact that certain demands from the US government cannot be disclosed publicly. For instance, a company which has received a national security letter, commanding it to turn over user data, may not tell its users that fact.

Read Snowden’s comments on 9/11 that NBC didn’t broadcast

Source: Russia Today

“You know, and this is a key question that the 9/11 Commission considered. And what they found, in the post-mortem, when they looked at all of the classified intelligence from all of the different intelligence agencies, they found that we had all of the information we needed as an intelligence community, as a classified sector, as the national defense of the United States to detect this plot,”Snowden said. “We actually had records of the phone calls from the United States and out. The CIA knew who these guys were. The problem was not that we weren’t collecting information, it wasn’t that we didn’t have enough dots, it wasn’t that we didn’t have a haystack, it was that we did not understand the haystack that we have.”

“The problem with mass surveillance is that we’re piling more hay on a haystack we already don’t understand, and this is the haystack of the human lives of every American citizen in our country,”Snowden continued. “If these programs aren’t keeping us safe, and they’re making us miss connections — vital connections — on information we already have, if we’re taking resources away from traditional methods of investigation, from law enforcement operations that we know work, if we’re missing things like the Boston Marathon bombings where all of these mass surveillance systems, every domestic dragnet in the world didn’t reveal guys that the Russian intelligence service told us about by name, is that really the best way to protect our country? Or are we — are we trying to throw money at a magic solution that’s actually not just costing us our safety, but our rights and our way of life?"

Thursday, May 29, 2014

We Are Now In Command of the ISEE-3 Spacecraft

Hooray for the nerds who made contact with a NASA probe that has survived well beyond its planned mission!
The International Sun-Earth Explorer (ISEE-3) is a spacecraft that was launched in 1978 to study Earth's magnetosphere and repurposed in 1983 to study two comets. Since 1983 the ICEE-3 probe has been traveling in a heliocentric orbit slightly faster than Earth and it will return close to Earth in August.  NASA has insufficient funding to communicate with ICEE-3 and therefore gave a private project team permission to communicate and control the probe.
Donations helped fund the project and the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico was updated with a Software Defined Radio and a custom-made amplifier. Today the team was successful in communicating with the probe and they believe that they can order the probe to burn a thruster and move into orbit near earth until it can later be directed to observe a comet.

Source: Space College

By Keith Cowing on May 29, 2014 4:07 PM

The ISEE-3 Reboot Project is pleased to announce that our team has established two-way communication with the ISEE-3 spacecraft and has begun commanding it to perform specific functions. Over the coming days and weeks our team will make an assessment of the spacecraft's overall health and refine the techniques required to fire its engines and bring it back to an orbit near Earth.

First Contact with ISEE-3 was achieved at the Arecibo Radio Observatory in Puerto Rico. We would not have been able to achieve this effort without the gracious assistance provided by the entire staff at Arecibo. In addition to the staff at Arecibo, our team included simultaneous listening and analysis support by AMSAT-DL at the Bochum Observatory in Germany, the Space Science Center at Morehead State University in Kentucky, and the SETI Institute's Allen Telescope Array in California.

Of course this effort would not have been possible without the assistance of NASA and the Space Act Agreement crafted by NASA Headquarters, NASA Ames Research center, and the System Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI).

Monday, May 26, 2014

Melting Ice Sheets Are Dumping Nutritious Iron into Earth's Oceans

Source: VICE Motherboard

... large volumes of dissolved iron currently being released into the oceans from melting ice sheets might help take some of the hit out of global warming. This is according to a study ... describing a feedback mechanism in which melting ice releases bioavailable iron, promoting the growth of phytoplankton ... which in turn act to capture atmospheric carbon while serving as a food source for seagoing animals.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

U.S. TO RELEASE MEMO THAT SANCTIONED KILLING OF AMERICAN CITIZEN

Source: AL Jazeera

The Obama administration intends to publicly reveal a secret memo outlining its legal justification for using drones to kill U.S. citizens it accuses of terrorism overseas, it emerged Tuesday.
...
The decision to release the document came a day before the Senate is to vote on advancing President Barack Obama's nomination of the memo's author, Harvard professor and former Justice Department official David Barron, to sit on the First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., had vowed to attempt to block Barron's confirmation with a filibuster if the document was not made public. Paul issued a statement Tuesday saying he still opposes Barron's nomination.

Top Donor for House Education Chair is For-Profit College Facing Federal and State Fraud Probes

Source: Republic Report

As reported yesterday by OpenSecrets, Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC) has no serious opposition in her bid for reelection, yet has received more than $800,000 in campaign contributions. More than half of that money has come from outside North Carolina, much of it from corporate special interests.

...the for-profit colleges have cash to spend, because their industry has been getting as much as $33 billion per year from taxpayers.
...
The single biggest donor group to Foxx, by almost a factor of two, is Santa Ana, California-based, for-profit Corinthian Colleges.
...
the for-profit colleges have cash to spend, because their industry has been getting as much as $33 billion per year from taxpayers.
...
Corinthian, which operates Everest, Heald and WyoTech colleges, has a troubling record. The company faces a major lawsuit from California attorney general Kamala Harris, who has charged that Corinthian has engaged in “false and predatory advertising, intentional misrepresentations to students, securities fraud and unlawful use of military seals in advertisements.”

Ending Pain Could Make Us Live Longer

Source: VICE Motherboard

...Knocking out a pain receptor that goes wild in older people seems to extend the lives of mice by roughly 15 percent.

Assuming an average age of 80 years or so, you're looking at a good half decade or more of high-quality life, if the results of the study can be translated to humans.

After bin Laden backlash, CIA promises: No more vaccination campaigns for spyinng

Source: Yahoo News

“I wanted to inform you that the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) directed in August 2013 that the agency make no operational use of vaccination programs, which includes vaccination workers,” President Obama’s top counterterrorism and homeland security advisor, Lisa Monaco, wrote to the deans of 12 public health schools. Yahoo News obtained a copy of the May 16 letter (below).

“Similarly, the Agency will not seek to obtain or exploit DNA or other genetic material acquired through such programs,” Monaco wrote. “This CIA policy applies worldwide and to U.S. and non-U.S. persons alike.”

The Central Intelligence Agency had enlisted a Pakistani doctor, Shakil Afridi, to collect intelligence under the guise of an immunization effort in the city of Abbottabad as part of planning for the high-risk May 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound there.

Data Pirates of the Caribbean: The NSA Is Recording Every Cell Phone Call in the Bahamas

Source: The Intercept

By Ryan Devereaux, Glenn Greenwald andLaura Poitras

The Intercept has confirmed that as of 2013, the NSA was actively using MYSTIC to gather cell-phone metadata in five countries, and was intercepting voice data in two of them. Documents show that the NSA has been generating intelligence reports from MYSTIC surveillance in the Bahamas, Mexico, Kenya, the Philippines, and one other country, whichThe Intercept is not naming in response to specific, credible concerns that doing so could lead to increased violence. The more expansive full-take recording capability has been deployed in both the Bahamas and the unnamed country.
...
The Bahamas’ Listening Devices Act requires all wiretaps to be authorized in writing either by the minister of national security or the police commissioner in consultation with the attorney general. ... The office of the Bahamian data protection commissioner, which administers the act, said in a statement that it “was not aware of the matter you raise.”
...
The NSA documents don’t reflect a concerted focus on the money launderers and powerful financial institutions – including numerous Western banks – that underpin the black market for narcotics in the Bahamas. Instead, an internal NSA presentation from 2013 recounts with pride how analysts used SOMALGET to locate an individual who “arranged Mexico-to-United States marijuana shipments” through the U.S. Postal Service.
...
The presentation doesn’t say whether the NSA shared the information with the DEA. But the drug agency’s Special Operations Divison has come under fire for improperly using classified information obtained by the NSA to launch criminal investigations – and then creating false narratives to mislead courts about how the investigations began.
The tactic – known as parallel construction – was first reported by Reuters last year, and is now under investigation by the Justice Department’s inspector general.
...
SOMALGET operates under Executive Order 12333, a Reagan-era rule establishing wide latitude for the NSA and other intelligence agencies to spy on other countries, as long as the attorney general is convinced the efforts are aimed at gathering foreign intelligence.

In 2000, the NSA assured Congress that all electronic surveillance performed under 12333 “must be conducted in a manner that minimizes the acquisition, retention, and dissemination of information about unconsenting U.S. persons.” In reality, many legal experts point out, the lack of judicial oversight or criminal penalties for violating the order render the guidelines meaningless.
...

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Afghanistan Corruption Fostered by U.S., Pentagon Finds

Source: Bloomberg

...the initial U.S. focus in late 2001 on defeating the Taliban and al-Qaeda “created mutually dependent relationships” that “empowered” warlords, “expanded their opportunities for financial gain and impeded later” efforts to counter corruption.
...
“Once ensconced within ministries and other government posts,” Northern Alliance warlords that the Central Intelligence Agency and U.S. military special forces teams came to depend on often “used their positions to divert” government resources, sometimes “transforming them into what came to be known as ‘criminal patronage networks.’”
...
“The deluge of military and aid money into Afghanistan” contributed to a “culture of impunity” that overwhelmed the government’s capacity to adsorb the cash. “Coupled with weak oversight” by the coalition, it “created ample opportunities for corruption,” the assessment found.

The U.S. Congress since 2002 has appropriated $103 billion for Afghanistan reconstruction, including $64 billion since 2010, according to figures compiled by Sopko’s office.

OBJECT OF INTEREST: THE TWICE-FORBIDDEN FRUIT

Source: The New Yorker

Joe Davis, the artist in residence at George Church’s genetics lab, at Harvard Medical School, ... plans to use synthetic biology to insert a DNA-encoded version of Wikipedia into the apple and create a living, literal tree of knowledge.
...
The first step, translating English words into the letters of DNA, is easy, as long as one maintains a code. By analogy, Morse code does a similar thing with only two symbols, a dot and a dash. “Malus ecclesia” can, for example, be compressed using common English letter pairings and written in DNA as agtgtagcccaatcgcagaccctcaa.
...
To get the DNA into the apple, Davis will use a type of bacteria uniquely evolved to insert its genome through plant cell walls. ... Because the changes to the fruit are biologically inert, the final apples will look like normal apples hanging from normal apple trees. Wikipedia will not fit into a single apple, bits and pieces of it will instead be spread across many apples and many trees.
...
“To some extent, if [our data] is out there in the wild, it increases the possibility that it will survive through any kind of disaster,” said George Church, a longtime collaborator of Davis’ and the head of a Harvard research lab studying DNA data storage.

“The advantage of DNA is that it has a record of longevity,” Church told me in an interview.  “You could store it, left in optimal conditions, for seven hundred thousand years. There’s no disk drive that has anything close to that record.”

Friday, May 16, 2014

Local Protesters Are Killing Big Oil and Mining Projects Worldwide

Source: VICE Motherboard

The researchers, led by Daniel Franks, took a look at 50 planned major extractive projects (oil drilling, new mine construction, that sort of thing) and found that in fully half of them, local people launched some sort of “project blockade.” In 40 percent of the projects, someone died as a result of a physical protest, and 15 of the projects were suspended or abandoned altogether, according to Franks' study, published inProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
...
The reason these projects, such as the Minas Conga gold mine in northern Peru and Lanjigarh bauxite mining project in Orissa, India, were abandoned wasn’t borne out of some sense of social responsibility to not pollute the environment or to not push people off their land. It was because the protests and resulting government backlash was so great that it became financially unviable to move forward.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Elon Musk’s SpaceX granted injunction in rocket launch suit against government

Source: Washington Post

U.S. Court of Federal Claims judge issued an injunction late Wednesdayprohibiting a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing from proceeding with plans to buy Russian-made rocket engines.

Judge Susan G. Braden’s ruling came after SpaceX, a California-based rocket company, sued the federal government Monday, protesting the Air Force’s award of a lucrative space contract, saying itshould have been competitively bid.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Last Chance to Stop the NDAA

This week the US Supreme Court refused
Hedges v. Obama. Below is an excerpt of Hedges' article on the topic.

Source: Truth Out

Monday, 02 September 2013 11:29

By Chris Hedges

I and my fellow plaintiffs have begun the third and final round of our battle to get the courts to strike down a section of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that permits the military to seize U.S. citizens, strip them of due process and hold them indefinitely in military facilities. Carl Mayer and Bruce Afran, the lawyers who with me in January 2012 brought a lawsuit against President Barack Obama (Hedges v. Obama), are about to file papers asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear our appeal of a 2013 ruling on the act’s Section 1021.

“First the terrorism-industrial complex assured Americans that they were only spying on foreigners, not U.S. citizens,” Mayer said to me recently. “Then they assured us that they were only spying on phone calls, not electronic communications. Then they assured us that they were not spying on American journalists. And now both [major political] parties and the Obama administration have assured us that they will not detain journalists, citizens and activists. Well, they detained journalist Chris Hedges without a lawyer, they detained journalist Laura Poitras without due process and if allowed to stand this law will permit the military to target activists, journalists and citizens in an unprecedented assault on freedom in America.”

Automatic Collision Avoidance Technology (ACAT)

Source: NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center

Youtube

... flight tests of an Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System (Auto-GCAS) ... adapted ... into a smartphone application that at a minimum could warn the pilot of an impending ground collision, or in an advanced version be tied into an aircraft's autopilot and actually take control of and command evasive maneuvers to recover the aircraft. That developmental software application was installed on a smartphone using the Android operating system linked to a small Piccolo autopilot, and flight-tested on a small Dryden Remotely Operated Integrated Drone, or DROID, aircraft in 2011-2012. The system consistently initiated evasive maneuvers or recoveries when it sensed that the aircraft was in danger of imminent collision with the ground or mountainous terrain.

Another NYPD Officer Got Drunk and Shot Someone

Source: New York Magazine

April was a banner month for drunk NYPD officers embarrassing themselves and endangering others. ... three different off-duty cops managed to wind up with DWIs ... one of the men accidentally shooting the other ... an NYPD officer is being questioned for "shooting and critically wounding" a civilian in Westchester while off-duty...
...
NYPD chief Bill Bratton acknowledged that the drunken shooting was on trend. "We are always concerned about any of our officers in off-duty activities that result in criminal activity," he told reporters. "At the same time, we’re very concerned with a number of reports. I, personally, am very disturbed about the number of incidents in recent weeks that are part of a longer term problem of inappropriate use of alcohol by members of our department." 

The New Abolitionism

Source: The Nation

By Christopher Hayes
...
In 2012, the writer and activist Bill McKibben published a heart-stopping essay in Rolling Stone titled "Global Warming's Terrifying New Math." ...

... human civilization cannot survive in any recognizable form a temperature increase this century more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Given that we've already warmed the earth about 0.8 degrees Celsius, that means we have 1.2 degrees left ... we can release about 565 gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere by mid-century. Total. ...

... the total amount of known, proven extractable fossil fuel in the ground at this very moment is almost five times the amount we can safely burn.

... the work of the climate movement is to find a way to force the powers that be, from the government of Saudi Arabia to the board and shareholders of ExxonMobil, to leave 80 percent of the carbon they have claims on in the ground.
... one financial analyst puts the price at somewhere in the ballpark of $20 trillion. So in order to preserve a roughly habitable planet, we somehow need to convince or coerce the world's most profitable corporations and the nations that partner with them to walk away from $20 trillion of wealth. ...

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Trampoline to Space? Russian Official Tells NASA to Take a Flying Leap

Source: NBC News

"After analyzing the sanctions against our space industry, I suggest to the USA to bring their astronauts to the International Space Station using a trampoline"

--Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin

Sunday, April 27, 2014

FLAMING WATER: TEXAS HOMEOWNER TAKES ON A GAS COMPANY

Source: Al Jazeera America

Since Steve Lipsky found methane in his well, he's battled the company he blames for his flammable water

WEATHERFORD, Texas — Steve Lipsky, an entrepreneur and businessman, ... found methane contaminating his water well, he has waged a legal battle against the gas company Range Resources.

... methane levels in his well have risen to concentrations nearly three times higher than what’s considered explosive,

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Mysterious bio-duck sound attributed to the Antarctic minke whale (Balaenoptera bonaerensis

Source: Royal Society Biology Letters

For decades, the bio-duck sound has been recorded in the Southern Ocean, but the animal producing it has remained a mystery. Heard mainly during austral winter in the Southern Ocean, this ubiquitous sound has been recorded in Antarctic waters and contemporaneously off the Australian west coast. Here, we present conclusive evidence that the bio-duck sound is produced by Antarctic minke whales (Balaenoptera bonaerensis). We analysed data from multi-sensor acoustic recording tags that included intense bio-duck sounds as well as singular downsweeps that have previously been attributed to this species. This finding allows the interpretation of a wealth of long-term acoustic recordings for this previously acoustically concealed species, which will improve our understanding of the distribution, abundance and behaviour of Antarctic minke whales. This is critical information for a species that inhabits a difficult to access sea-ice environment that is changing rapidly in some regions and has been the subject of contentious lethal sampling efforts and ongoing international legal action.

How to Drink All Night Without Getting Drunk

Source: Esquire

Jim Koch knows beer. He also knows a beer trick that may change your life.

... co-founder and chairman of the Boston Beer Company, ... Jim Koch...
...
Joseph Owades was a flat-out genius. With a PhD in biochemistry ... and an early job in the fermentation sciences department at Fleischmann’s...
... Owades knew ... that active dry yeast has an enzyme in it called alcohol dehydrogenases (ADH) ... if you also have that enzyme in your stomach when the alcohol first hits it, the ADH will begin breaking it down before it gets into your bloodstream and, thus, your brain. 

“And it will mitigate – not eliminate – but mitigate the effects of alcohol!” Koch told me.

In his final years Owades even patented a product called Prequel, an all-natural pill similarly designed to limit drunkenness. No companies wanted to deal with the potential liabilities of the product, and Owades died in 2005 at the age of 86.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Sen. Harry Reid’s baseless ‘domestic terror’ accusations

Source: Washington Post  

Harry Reid did it again.

The Senate majority leader ... called Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and his supporters “domestic terrorists.”
...
First, Reid is defending the Obama administration from the charge that it used excessive force to try to seize the land.
...
Second, Reid is defending his former staffer, Neil Kornze, who presided over this debacle as the newly installed head of the Bureau of Land Management.
...
Third, Reid is trying to discredit the critics of the federal government’s actions as extremists — and by extension all those who complain about the excesses of federal power. He wants to paint supporters of limited government as radicals so out of the mainstream that they are now even defending “domestic terrorists.”

But instead of painting conservatives as extremists, Reid is only painting Democrats as enemies of the Western way of life. ...

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Study: US is an oligarchy, not a democracy

Source: BBC

... Princeton University Prof Martin Gilens and Northwestern University Prof Benjamin I Page ... have conducted exhaustive research to try to present data-driven support for this conclusion. Here's how they explain it:

"Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organised groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence."

In English: the wealthy few move policy, while the average American has little power.

The two professors came to this conclusion after reviewing answers to 1,779 survey questions asked between 1981 and 2002 on public policy issues. They broke the responses down by income level, and then determined how often certain income levels and organised interest groups saw their policy preferences enacted.

"A proposed policy change with low support among economically elite Americans (one-out-of-five in favour) is adopted only about 18% of the time," they write, "while a proposed change with high support (four-out-of-five in favour) is adopted about 45% of the time."

On the other hand:

"When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organised interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the US political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favour policy change, they generally do not get it."

They conclude:

"Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But we believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organisations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America's claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened."

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

US land use and ownership disputes: From Shoshone to Bundy

Regardless of what you believe about these disputes, I strongly encourage peaceful resolution! We the People have rights in Article V to amend the Constitution. If indeed the Federal government is the problem as Cliven Bundy and his supporters claim then amendments should be adopted by a national convention assembled at the request of the legislatures of at least two-thirds (at present 34) of the states and ratified by state ratifying conventions in three-fourths (at present 38) of the states.

Below is a sampling of history to help you put things into context as you make your own decisions about who you support in these disputes.

Source: LA Times

The Western Shoshone ancestral lands ranged from the Snake River Valley in Idaho to Salt Lake Valley in Utah, across most of eastern and central Nevada, and into Death Valley and the Mojave Desert in California.

1946 The Indian Claims Commission determined that Western Shoshone lands had been taken through "gradual encroachment" during settlement of the West. It awarded $27 million to the tribe -- the 1872 value of the 24 million acres.

1985 Tribal members unwilling to relinquish their claim to the land took the case to the Supreme Court, where they lost.

2004 Western Shoshone Claims Distribution Act ... gave final approval to paying more than $145 million
... Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.)
"For years, members of the Western Shoshone tribe have been asking us to pass this legislation," Reid said in a statement. "Today, their efforts and hopes have become a reality ... and now the money can finally be distributed."

Source: U.S. News and World Report

Controversy between the West and the federal government is nothing new. The region has depended on, but resented, Washington involvement in its activities since the first settlers arrived more than 150 years ago. Problems, however, have intensified under Carter...

At the heart of the controversy is the land. The federal government owns more than half the land in the West, 700 million acres ...

"This vast federal holding means we are not our own landlords," says Colorado Governor Richard D. Lamm. "We cannot control our own destiny."

Adds Arizona State Senator Anne Lindeman of Phoenix: "Everybody thinks that the Sagebrush Rebellion is just for the benefit of cattlemen. The basic concern is that people here have nothing to say about the large hunks of federally owned and managed lands."

 The spark that ignited the revolt was the 1976 Federal Land Policy and Management Act, which says that public land must be kept in perpetual trust by the federal government. ...
... "We've been robbed blind for 100 years by mismanagement of federal lands," declares Huey Johnson, director of California's Resources Agency.

Source: University of Texas

Executive Order 12548 -- Grazing Fees
February 14, 1986

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, and in order to provide for establishment of appropriate fees for the grazing of domestic livestock on public rangelands, it is ordered as follows:

Section 1. Determination of Fees. The Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior are directed to exercise their authority, to the extent permitted by law under the various statutes they administer, to establish fees for domestic livestock grazing on the public rangelands...

Ronald Reagan
The White House,
February 14, 1986

Source: Washington Post THE FIX blog
...
1989: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service lists the desert tortoise as an endangered species. A year later, its designation was changed to "threatened."

March 1993: The Washington Post publishes a story about the federal government's efforts to protect the desert tortoise in Nevada.
...
April 1995: ... a small bomb went off in the U.S. Forest Service office in Carson City, Nev.
...
1998: A federal judge issues a permanent injunction against Bundy, ordering him to remove his cattle from the federal lands. He lost an appeal to the San Francisco 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. He represented himself.

March 2002: Cliff Gardner is sentenced to a month in a Reno halfway house, along with a $5,000 fine and a year of probation. ... more than 50 states' rights protesters were in the courtroom with him.
... "This court has tried to intimidate the citizens of Nevada by attempting to make an example of Cliff Gardner," said Cliven Bundy, a Clark County rancher.

July 2009: The federal government is still fighting with local ranchers. They have signs posted all over the public land, stating that it is off-limits for grazing.
... Bundy says that his family has grazed here since the nineteenth century and that he doesn't recognize the authority of the federal government. He has threatened resistance if anyone enforces the court order to remove his cattle from the wilderness.

April 2012: The BLM plans to round up Bundy's cattle. After several threats, these plans are abandoned. The Center for Biological Diversity files an intent to sue against the BLM for canceling their plans.

May 2012: BLM files a complain in a federal Las Vegas court seeking an injunction against Bundy.

February 2013: After endless complaints from ranchers and hunters, Nevada Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval demands the resignation of Kenneth Mayer, director of the Nevada Department of Wildlife. One of Mayer's biggest projects was deciding whether to add another Nevada animal to the endangered species list, the sage grouse.
...
August 2013: A court order says Bundy has 45 days to remove his cattle from federal land.

October 2013: A federal district judge court tells Bundy not to "physically interfere with any seizure or impoundment operation."

March 15, 2014: After nearly 20 years, the Bureau of Land Management sends Bundy a letter informing him that they plan to impound his "trespass cattle," which have been roaming on 90 miles of federal land. BLM averages four livestock impoundments a year, usually involving a few dozen animals.

March 27, 2014 The BLM has closed off 322,000 acres of public land, and is preparing to collect Bundy's cattle. ... Bundy also says he has a virtual army of supporters from all over the country ready to protect him.
...
Clark County Commissioner Tom Collinsalso supports Bundy. "The U.S. government has perpetrated a bigger fraud on people over those tortoises than Al Capone did selling swampland in Miami."

April 1, 2014: ... BLM has set up two "First Amendment areas" in nearby Bunkerville.

April 2, 2014: Around 30 protesters line up outside the Livestock auction house to protest the sale of Bundy's cattle.
... Bundy's cousin, Terri Robertson. They've only met a few times, and only at meetings about the federal lands. "He's just in a world of his own. I don't think he's working on all four cylinders," Robertson said. Bundy retorts that his city slicker cousin doesn't know what she is talking about. "My cattle are the kind of cattle people look for at Whole Foods."

April 5, 2014: federal officials and cowboys start rounding up what they think are Cliven Bundy's hundreds of cows. The operation was going to cost $1 million, and reportedly last until May.
...[Bundy said,] "The tortoises eat the cow manure, too. It's filled with protein."

April 6, 2014: Cliven Bundy's 37-year-old son is arrested for "refusing to disperse" and resisting arrest. He was released the following day. ...
The Nevada Cattlemen's Association distances itself from protests over Bundy's cattle. "Nevada Cattlemen's Association does not feel it is in our best interest to interfere in the process of adjudication in this matter."

April 9, 2014: Two of Bundy's family members are injured in a confrontation with federal officials. One of them was Bundy's son, tasered after he kicked a police dog. "I'm almost getting mad enough to swear," Bundy says. "The one thing we're going to do is stay cool and we're gonna fight."

April 10, 2014: A protest camp has formed. There is a sign at the entrance that reads, "MILITA SIGHN IN."
... Jack Faught, Bundy's first cousin, drove his forest green 1929 Chevy truck from Mesquite loaded with water and Gatorade.

"It's not about the cows," he said. "It's about the freedom to make our own choices close to home."
...
One protester, a former Arizona sheriff named Richard Mack, told Fox News about the militia's plans if violence broke out in Bunkerville. "We were actually strategizing to put all the women up at the front. If they are going to start shooting, it's going to be women that are going to be televised all across the world getting shot by these rogue federal officers."
...
April 12, 2014: BLM decides not to enforce their court order: "Based on information about conditions on the ground, and in consultation with law enforcement, we have made a decision to conclude the cattle gather because of our serious concern about the safety of employees and members of the public."

The Bundy son who was tasered said, "We won the battle." He told another outlet, "The people have the power when they unite. The war has just begun."

April 14, 2014: BLM also pledges that this isn't done. A spokesperson for the bureau said this Sunday, "The door isn't closed. We'll figure out how to move forward with this."
...
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid tells a local news outlet, "It's not over. We can't have an American people that violate the law and then just walk away from it. So it's not over."

Rory Reid: Rancher Cliven Bundy "Should Be Prosecuted"

Source: KSVN-TV via realclearpolitics.com

RORY REID, SON OF SEN. HARRY REID: We believe in a country in which we are subject to laws and you can’t just ignore the laws we don’t like. I think clearly if state and local prosecutors look at this more closely, they’re going to find that he broke the law and he should be prosecuted.

###

REID: He is not a victim and he’s not a hero. He’s been using that he doesn’t own for over 20 years and he didn’t pay. He broke the law. There are hundreds of ranchers throughout Nevada that conduct their profession honorably. There’s thousands of them throughout the country and when they have a dispute with the BLM they try to work it out. (source: KSVN-TV)

Monday, April 14, 2014

More Evidence that Ocean Acidification Turns Fish Into Bait

Source: Motherboard.VICE.com

Between the acidic reef and the normal reef, species abundance, richness, and composition seemed to be unchanged. "The fish are metabolically the same between the control reef and the CO2 reef," Dixson says. "At this point, we have only seen effects on their behavior." What's more, acidic reefs tend to be safer places for fish, with fewer concentrations of predators in the first place. So, there's a possibility the projected acidification could be a wash, at least in terms of fish mortality. 

The Great Decoupling: How the West is Engineering its Own Downfall

Source: Corbett Report

...the BRICS association that economists were wringing their hands over in previous years as a major threat to American-led western economic neoliberalism? It was actually created by Goldman Sachs, an outgrowth of a research paper that was convincing enough that it actually caused the four nations (of the then-”BRIC” grouping) to start a political process that made the paper into reality.

Bundy: “The citizens of America” got my cattle back

Source: CBS News

Bureau of Land Management Chief Neil Kornze announced an abrupt halt to the weeklong roundup just hours before the release.

"Based on information about conditions on the ground and in consultation with law enforcement, we have made a decision to conclude the cattle gather because of our serious concerns about the safety of employees and members of the public," Kornze said in a statement.

Hundreds of states' rights protesters, including militia members, showed up at corrals outside Mesquite to demand the animals' return to rancher Cliven Bundy. Some protesters were armed with handguns and rifles at the corrals and at an earlier nearby rally.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Collins manages to insult Utahns with comments on Bundy roundup

...Darin Bushman, a Piute County, Utah, commissioner, called [Clark County Nevada Commissioner] Tom Collins about the Bureau of Land Management roundup of Bundy’s cattle in the Gold Butte area, about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas. The cattle are being seized after Bundy failed to pay grazing fees over 20 years. When the conversation ended, Bushman posted on Facebook that Collins said Utahns are “inbred bastards” and if they come to Clark County to support Bundy they “better have funeral plans.” Collins also told Bushman that they should mind their “own (expletive) business.”

Collins’ statement draws scrutiny

Source: Las Vegas Sun

Update: The Las Vegas Sun Appears to have taken down their report of this incident. You may be able to view a Google cache version here.

Commissioner Tom Collins’ profanity-laced statement last week to supporters of embattled rancher Cliven Bundy have landed him in hot water.
During a phone call with a county commissioner from Utah, Collins warned that any Utahns coming with guns to help Bundy “better have funeral plans.” Collins also referred to Utahns as inbred and used several expletives, according to a Facebook post made by Darin Bushman, the commissioner from Piute County.
Collins has tried to clarify the remarks, saying that he was only trying to discourage violence by telling armed Bundy supporters to stay away.
But his efforts haven’t been enough to quell the controversy.
Although Collins’ behavior is not listed on the agenda, Commission Chair Steve Sisolak plans to lead a discussion about the decorum of board members. It's not clear whether Collins will face any sort of formal reprimand.

PhoneSat 2.5 is scheduled to launch on the next SpaceX commercial cargo flight to the International Space Station.  

The SpaceX-3 mission should hopefully launch tomorrow (Monday, April 14) and will deploy the latest SmallSat. PhoneSat 2.5 is built from mostly consumer off the shelf products such as the Samsung Galaxy S platform smartphone and Android OS that provides most of the satellite control systems.

Source: NASA
 
In addition to the large memory, fast processors, GPS receivers, gyroscope and magnetometer sensors and high-resolution cameras commonly found in smartphones, the PhoneSat 2.5 also houses a low-cost commercial attitude determination and control system that contains reaction wheels that by slowing down or speeding up, can rotate the satellite. Engineers hope to determine if this control system can orient PhoneSat in space, a critical capability for satellites that may need to point towards a specific object of scientific interest like an asteroid, star or features on Earth. The missions also gather further information about the orbital lifespan of the smartphone components.
 
"By advancing the price performance of nanosatellites using consumer electronics, we can make some of the more radical ideas become economically viable," said Jasper Wolfe, PhoneSat Control System lead at NASA Ames.

NATO pics 'show Russia buildup' near Ukraine

Source: CNN

The photos of tanks, artillery battalions, and infantry brigades near Novocherkassk -- just 50 kilometers from the Ukrainian border -- show Russia's preparation for a potential invasion, says Igor Sutyagin, a research fellow for Russian studies at RUSI, a defense and security think tank.
...
Sutyagin says the recent build-up of these jets in what appear to be sparsely resourced air fields doesn't make much sense from a strategic standpoint.

"The planes seem to be more about parade than about preparation," he says. "Firstly, they're designed to fly hundreds of kilometers anyway, so moving them another 90 kilometers closer to the border won't make much difference."

He added: "If the Russians do not have installations to service the planes, or utilize weapons storages, and if they're far from their permanent bases where their rear-support units are concentrated, they cannot be operationally effective for an invasion."