Archive for the 'News' Category
Check out how Snowden’s email provider ‘did the right thing’ while being bullied into sharing private emails of an American citizen:
Right before Edward Snowden told the world it was he who had leaked information about some of the government’s most secret surveillance programs, the FBI was hot on his trail.
One of the places they looked was Lavabit, the company that hosted Snowden’s email account. , Lavabit shuttered its service, saying it could not say why, because a government gag order was issued.
The insinuation was clear: Lavabit had been served with a so-called , in which the FBI demands information about a user, but the service provider isn’t allowed to tell the user or anyone else that it was even asked about this.
Last night, (pdf) with the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia were unsealed. Even though Snowden’s name is redacted, we can surmise this concerns him, because of the charges against the person and the timing of the investigation. Perhaps more importantly, however, the documents give us detail of what’s usually a secret process. And it illuminates how Ladar Levison, Lavabit’s owner, tried to fight the government’s request for information on one of his users and then a subsequent request for an encryption key that would allow them to read the communication of all its users.
, which began with a June 28 “pen register” order, demanding so-called metadata for one user. After a few back and forths with the court — which included the threat of jail time for contempt — Levison finally complied on August 2.
But he took final stand against the government: He sent over five, 2,560 character SSL encryption keys, but he did so on an 11 page printout in pretty much illegible 4-point type.
A scan of the printed SSL key handed over by Lavabit owner Ladar Levison.
“To make use of these keys, the FBI would have to manually input all 2,560 characters, and one incorrect keystroke in this laborious process would render the FBI collection system incapable of collecting decrypted data,” prosecutors complained.
The court ordered a $5,000 a day fine and on Aug. 7, Levison finally relented, handing over digital copies of the keys. That was the same day Levison posted a note on his website saying he was shuttering his business, because he did not want to “become complicit in crimes against the American people.”
A supporter of the illegal file-sharing site Pirate Bay holds up a banner in support. (AFP)
For years, the entertainment industry has argued that online piracy has devastated business for movies, music and gaming.
But a new policy brief from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) says that not only does piracy not hurt the creative industry but it is actually helping.
Millions of people across the globe illegally access copyrighted material on a daily basis. The most common method of digital pirating is through torrent sites, which let an individual download and upload content through a peer-to-peer file-sharing system.
Individuals in the U.S. who are found guilty of violating digital piracy laws can face severe legal penalties, including a felony record, five years in prison and $250,000 in penalties.
In the briefing, authors Bart Cammaerts, Robin Mansell and Bingchun Meng call on governments to re-evaluate their antipiracy laws to include data from studies beyond those directly sponsored by the entertainment industry itself.
“Contrary to the industry claims, the music industry is not in terminal decline, but still holding ground and showing healthy profits. Revenues from digital sales, subscription services, streaming and live performances compensate for the decline in revenues from the sale of CDs or records,” Cammaerts said in report carried by the site TorrrentFreak.
In a separate story, TorrentFreak says that independent data actually suggests that those who pirate content are also more likely to spend their money on film, music and gaming content.
A June 2013 study found that roughly 45 percent of all Americans pirate copyrighted content on a regular basis, including 70 percent of those under 30.
In the LSE report’s key messages, the authors say that evidence does not back up claims that individual cases of copyright infringement are affecting entertainment industry revenues, that antipiracy laws around the world are not achieving their desired impacts and that governments should update their policies to include more evidence from a diverse set of sources.
“Despite the Motion Picture Association of America’s (MPAA) claim that online piracy is devastating the movie industry, Hollywood achieved record-breaking global box office revenues of $35 billion in 2012, a 6% increase over 2011,” the report states.
And while music sales have faced steeper declines in recent years, the authors say those numbers have largely been balanced out by increased sales in live performance and other outlets.
“The music industry may be stagnating, but the drastic decline in revenues warned of by the lobby associations of record labels is not in evidence,” the authors write.
Interestingly, in the same Columbia University study, which found that nearly half of all U.S. Internet users pirate copyrighted material, nearly half of those individuals say they would willingly pay a monthly fee for unlimited access to multimedia content.
And the LSE study authors say that is one possible solution for the entertainment industry going forward as a way to bridge the gap between content providers and consumers.
“Within the creative industries there is a variety of views on the best way to benefit from online sharing practices, and how to innovate to generate revenue streams in ways that do not fit within the existing copyright enforcement regime,” the authors conclude.
“When both [the creative industries and citizens] can exploit the full potential of the Internet, this will maximize innovative content creation for the benefit of all stakeholders.”
An Asian giant hornet. (photo:Terry Prouty)
BEIJING – Authorities in northern China are struggling to control a spate of attacks by aggressive hornets that has now killed 42 people and injured at least 1,640.
Residents in the cities of Ankang, Hanzhong and Shangluo in Shaanxi province have been hardest hit, according to local news reports, with 206 people still in hospitals for treatment. Of those, 37 are said to be in critical condition.
The attacks are blamed on a particularly aggressive species of hornet known as the Asian giant hornet or Vespa mandarinia. At nearly two inches long (4.5 centimeters long) with a quarter-inch (6-millimeter) stinger, the Asian giant hornet is the largest in the world and has a reputation as a relentless hunter that stalks its prey — normally honeybees — in coordinated attacks.
A team of medical experts from Shanghai has also been deployed to oversee and provide treatment to victims.
Health Minister Li Bin said in a statement Thursday that he was “paying close attention to the situation.”
The unseasonably warm and dry weather in the region this fall — traditionally the normal breeding season for hornets — and continued human encroachment into hornet breeding grounds have been suggested as possible reasons for the recent rash of attacks.
Devon Henderson / Addicted2Hymenoptera via Flickr
Asian giant hornet queens can exceed 2 inches (5.5 centimeters) in length.
Five times the size of a regular honey bee, one Asian giant hornet is capable of killing as many as 40 honeybees per minute. In humans, the venom released by this species of hornet is a potent neurotoxin that can cause violent allergic reactions and extreme bruising around the sting area.
State-run media have shown images of bedridden victims suffering from multiple stings that look like small stab wounds.
Shaanxi authorities have also urged citizens to wear long-sleeved clothing while outside and not to aggravate the hornets if they encounter them.
A new academic study confirms that front groups with longstanding ties to the tobacco industry and the billionaire Koch brothers planned the formation of the Tea Party movement more than a decade before it exploded onto the U.S. political scene.
Far from a genuine grassroots uprising, this astroturf effort was curated by wealthy industrialists years in advance. Many of the anti-science operatives who defended cigarettes are currently deploying their tobacco-inspired playbook internationally to evade accountability for the fossil fuel industry’s role in driving climate disruption.
The study, funded by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institute of Health, traces the roots of the Tea Party’s anti-tax movement back to the early 1980s when tobacco companies began to invest in third party groups to fight excise taxes on cigarettes, as well as health studies finding a link between cancer and secondhand cigarette smoke.
Published in the peer-reviewed academic journal, Tobacco Control, the study titled, ‘To quarterback behind the scenes, third party efforts’: the tobacco industry and the Tea Party, is not just an historical account of activities in a bygone era. As senior author, Stanton Glantz, a University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) professor of medicine, writes:
Read more: HuffPost
The junk food industry is getting sneakier in its tactics to entice people into consuming its concoctions.
June 18, 2013 | With the exposure of troubling obesity rates, outrage over undisclosed genetically engineered wheat (and other) crops, the successful worldwide March Against Monsanto effort in May and statewide bans of GE crops that followed, the US citizenry is expanding its awareness and concern about food health. The junk food industry is responding by getting sneakier in its tactics to entice, exploit and beguile people into consuming its concoctions.
Here are a few of the most disturbing deceptions the industry is using to keep Americans hooked on its junk.
1. Branding Processed Foods to Look “Natural”
Those grill marks on your burger? Not real. They were put there by the factory, just like a pre-torn blue jean purchased at a name-brand store. Junk food companies are branding their foods to have a more natural, homemade appearance—and the painful, Orwellian doublespeak-style irony is that to do so actually requires more processing than ever.
Rather than switch to ingredients that are actually healthier and less processed, food engineers at companies with notoriously processed products—namely Kraft, Wendy’s, McDonald’s and Domino’s, among others—are responding to concerns surrounding overly processed foods with an unhealthy and deceiving facade of healthy looking foods.
Kraft Foods engineers spent two years manufacturing a Carving Board line process that would create uneven turkey slabs, and Wendy’s intentionally created curvier “natural squares” out of perfectly square beef chunks so the squares would appear less processed. Read More at Alternet.org
Workers in the nation’s largest brewery have transformed their operations and no longer send any garbage to dumps.
After nearly two years of developing ways to divert 135 tons of trash each month, MillerCoors leaders on Monday announced that all waste now is recycled.
Two years ago, brewery managers were paying Waste Management to haul those tons of glass, spent grain and hops, plastics and metals for burial in metro landfills. MillerCoors now projects a $1 million a year revenue boost from the sale of recycled materials at the Golden plant alone.
Hops and barley, prime ingredients in the annual production of 346 million gallons of beer, is trucked away daily and used to feed cattle.
Discarded glass is sent to a nearby plant that makes new bottles.
Cardboard moves to mills. Plastic wrapping becomes grist for composite decking at homes. Metals are hauled to scrap yards for re-sale into global commodities markets.
Making this shift “is important,” said Phil Savastano, MillerCoors’ vice president in charge of the brewery. “We feel that, in order to compete long into the future, we need to protect our resources and maintain our environment.”
Jon Stewart breaking down the bullshit that surrounds us (prepare to be angered/disturbed/frustrated):
From TheAtlanticWire.com: Last night on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart explained that the Department of Justice is going after people whose crimes seem minor—especially when you look at them in comparison to what Wall Street executives did to create the financial crisis. To which Stewart asked: “What, none of them bought pot?”
In addition to recently monitoring journalists (Stewart defended Fox’s James Rosen) and whistleblowers (“They believe in freedom of the press, just not freedom of speech for people who might talk to the press”), the DOJ is cracking down on hackers and potheads: “Basically, if you could played on a movie by Kevin Smith,” Stewart said, “the feds would like a word with you.”
But how about banks? Well, Eric Holder and Co. don’t seem too eager to prosecute them.