he Feds are on Facebook. And MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter, too.
U.S. law enforcement agents are following the rest of the Internet world into popular social-networking services, going undercover with false online profiles to communicate with suspects and gather private information, according to an internal Justice Department document that offers a tantalizing glimpse of issues related to privacy and crime-fighting.
Think you know who’s behind that “friend” request? Think again. Your new “friend” just might be the FBI.
If you expected otherwise, you’ve been pretty naive.
The National Security Archive today filed suit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia against the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), challenging the Agency’s recent practice of charging Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) fees to journalists pursuing news. The FOIA says that “representatives of the news media” can be charged only copying fees since they help to carry out the mission of the law by disseminating government information; but the CIA last year began claiming authority to assess additional fees if the Agency decides any journalist’s request is not newsworthy enough. In adopting this new practice, the CIA reversed its prior 15-year practice of presumptively waiving additional fees for news media representatives, including the National Security Archive.
“The CIA takes the position that it should decide what is ‘news’ instead of the reporters and editors who research and publish the stories,” explained attorney Patrick J. Carome of the law firm Wilmer Hale, who is representing the Archive. “If the CIA succeeds in exercising broad discretion to charge additional fees to journalists, despite the plain language of the law, then too often we will find out only what the government wants us to know.”
Google has sold a mere 135,000 Nexus One phones since the smartphone’s much-ballyhooed launch on 5 January, according to the latest numbers from mobile analytics outfit Flurry.
The estimate covers the handset’s first 74 days of existence. By comparison, the inaugural Apple iPhone reached a million sales in its first 74 days.
And the iPad sold 120,000 on its first day of availability (if you define “available” as “for sale” instead of “people actually getting their hands on them”)
Jediism was officially “recognised” as a religion back in 2001. At the time, no one could have suspected the potential pitfalls of acknowledging this apparently harmless sect, but Jedi hoods may now join burqas on the list of possible threats to national security.
internetlaser Rahm Emanuels brother lobbies for three strikes law against downloadersThe brother of the White House chief of staff is engaged in a campaign to have a “three-strikes” law against illegal file-sharers passed in the United States.
Modeled on a similar law enacted recently in France, a “three strikes” law would force Internet service providers to cut off Internet access to any users accused three times of downloading or sharing copyrighted material without permission.
Ari Emanuel, the brother of Rahm Emanuel, told the Abu Dhabi Media Summit last week that he is engaged in a lobbying effort to have such a law put on the books in the United States.
“We are in the midst of talking to the president and some attorney generals and [we are] trying to implement a three strikes and you’re out rule,” Emanuel said, as quoted at The Guardian.
Ari Emanuel is the CEO of William Morris, the US’s largest and most prominent talent agency.
So the position Obama has taken isn’t based on corruption, it’s based on nepotism. Is that any better?
It is uncanny how much they know about your computer.
When Steve Gibson first became casually involved with an online community of mustard makers, he had no idea his mild interest in the condiment would, within a few short months, spiral dangerously out of control.
But Gibson, unlike so many others, managed to get out before the hobby consumed his entire life.
“I don’t know how I wound up at that point, but thank God I escaped when I did,” Gibson, 41, said Friday. “There I was, a grown man, planning a trip to the Mustard Museum in Wisconsin, when suddenly I heard a voice deep within me say, ‘This is not what you want your life to be about.’”
“It was like waking up from a bad dream,” Gibson added. “A bad yellow and brown dream.”
3d virtual reconstruction of the roman insula in the roman city of Conimbriga (Portugal).
A thought; it’s surprising how much you can learn about computer science from cooking, and cooking from computer science.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about what seemed to be a glaring (and quite typical) scam perpetrated by Congressional Democrats: all year long, they insisted that the White House and a majority of Democratic Senators vigorously supported a public option, but the only thing oh-so-unfortunately preventing its enactment was the filibuster: sadly, we have 50 but not 60 votes for it, they insisted. Democratic pundits used that claim to push for “filibuster reform,” arguing that if only majority rule were required in the Senate, then the noble Democrats would be able to deliver all sorts of wonderful progressive reforms that they were truly eager to enact but which the evil filibuster now prevents. In response, advocates of the public option kept arguing that the public option could be accomplished by reconciliation — where only 50 votes, not 60, would be required — but Obama loyalists scorned that reconciliation proposal, insisting (at least before the Senate passed a bill with 60 votes) that using reconciliation was Unserious, naive, procedurally impossible, and politically disastrous.
But all those claims were put to the test — all those bluffs were called — once the White House decided that it had to use reconciliation to pass a final health care reform bill. That meant that any changes to the Senate bill (which had passed with 60 votes) — including the addition of the public option — would only require 50 votes, which Democrats assured progressives all year long that they had. Great news for the public option, right? Wrong. As soon as it actually became possible to pass it, the 50 votes magically vanished. Senate Democrats (and the White House) were willing to pretend they supported a public option only as long as it was impossible to pass it.
Not satisfied with living in Florida, Jonathon “The Impaler” Sharkey wants to move to Washington, D.C. to become the nation’s first vampire president.
Sharkey, 45, spent Friday on a Greyhound bus with his new fiancee, Audrianna Foster, a 19-year-old girl from Ohio he got to know online. She too believes she is a vampire, or vampyre.
“The Impaler” claims he’s a direct descendent of Vlad II the Impaler, better known as Dracula.
He has scheduled a Monday press conference in Tampa to announce his plans to file paperwork to run for President of the United States in 2012. He recently switched his party affiliation from Independent to Republican so he can run with the G.O.P.
Well, that’s a refreshing change from the current batch of bloodsuckers…
On May 19, 2005, Mike Burry did his first subprime-mortgage deals. He bought $60 million of credit-default swaps from Deutsche Bank—$10 million each on six different bonds. “The reference securities,” these were called. You didn’t buy insurance on the entire subprime-mortgage-bond market but on a particular bond, and Burry had devoted himself to finding exactly the right ones to bet against. He likely became the only investor to do the sort of old-fashioned bank credit analysis on the home loans that should have been done before they were made. He was the opposite of an old-fashioned banker, however. He was looking not for the best loans to make but the worst loans—so that he could bet against them. He analyzed the relative importance of the loan-to-value ratios of the home loans, of second liens on the homes, of the location of the homes, of the absence of loan documentation and proof of income of the borrower, and a dozen or so other factors to determine the likelihood that a home loan made in America circa 2005 would go bad. Then he went looking for the bonds backed by the worst of the loans.
It surprised him that Deutsche Bank didn’t seem to care which bonds he picked to bet against. From their point of view, so far as he could tell, all subprime-mortgage bonds were the same. The price of insurance was driven not by any independent analysis but by the ratings placed on the bond by Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s. If he wanted to buy insurance on the supposedly riskless triple-A-rated tranche, he might pay 20 basis points (0.20 percent); on the riskier, A-rated tranches, he might pay 50 basis points (0.50 percent); and on the even less safe, triple-B-rated tranches, 200 basis points—that is, 2 percent. (A basis point is one-hundredth of one percentage point.) The triple-B-rated tranches—the ones that would be worth zero if the underlying mortgage pool experienced a loss of just 7 percent—were what he was after. He felt this to be a very conservative bet, which he was able, through analysis, to turn into even more of a sure thing. Anyone who even glanced at the prospectuses could see that there were many critical differences between one triple-B bond and the next—the percentage of interest-only loans contained in their underlying pool of mortgages, for example. He set out to cherry-pick the absolute worst ones and was a bit worried that the investment banks would catch on to just how much he knew about specific mortgage bonds, and adjust their prices.
None of the sellers appeared to care very much which bonds they were insuring. He found one mortgage pool that was 100 percent floating-rate negative-amortizing mortgages—where the borrowers could choose the option of not paying any interest at all and simply accumulate a bigger and bigger debt until, presumably, they defaulted on it. Goldman Sachs not only sold him insurance on the pool but sent him a little note congratulating him on being the first person, on Wall Street or off, ever to buy insurance on that particular item. “I’m educating the experts here,” Burry crowed in an e-mail.
The motivation for this project is that cars are a very poor form of transportation for individual people. This has been widely recognized for a long time. We want a smaller, lighter, cleaner, less expensive device for personal, local transportation.
We will call the new invention “Personal Transportation Device 1000″, stating its intended selling price in US Dollars. For individual commuting and errands within 50 miles, we want PTD-1000 to make the current automobile obsolete. We do not want the device to use existing, already congested, roads so PTD-1000 will fly.
Our goals include low fuel cost and no pollution, so the motor will be powered by helium fusion. Fusion is an emerging standard, but we believe that this project will provide synergy to fusion research, both driving the research and serving as a test bed for it.
We want the device to be light, which will contribute to efficiency and allow the single user to pick it up, so we will construct PTD-1000 primarily from Rearden Metal. The design team recognizes that the formulation for this metal is not yet finished, so we will assign our A-team of engineers to finish this work in parallel with the other subsystems.
The final key design criterion is that a person who is physically disabled must be able to enter a building after getting there. So PTD-1000 will convert to a wheelchair for use indoors.
The participants in this project all understand that it is a substantial undertaking, but enthusiasm is high for the benefits that will be realized at its completion. There is buy-in by all stakeholders. The investors and engineers have committed to a budget and a completion date of Q4 2011. Everyone has agreed to forgo their vacations for the next year in order to meet this schedule.
Of course, this fictional invention is absurd. Anyone with common sense can see that it will fail dramatically. But take the above scenario, and substitute software concepts for the physical details, and you have an accurate description of many real software projects.
Almost two years ago to the day, a team of officials from the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York quietly moved into the headquarters of Lehman Brothers. They were provided desks, phones, computers — and access to all of Lehman’s books and records. At any given moment, there were as many as a dozen government officials buzzing around Lehman’s offices.
These officials, whose work was kept under wraps at the time, were assigned by Timothy Geithner, then president of the New York Fed, and Christopher Cox, then the S.E.C. chairman, to monitor Lehman in light of the near collapse of Bear Stearns.
Similar teams from the S.E.C. and the Fed moved into the offices of Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch and others.
Oddly, when the bankruptcy examiner asked Matthew Eichner of the S.E.C., who was involved with supervising firms like Lehman, whether the agency focused on leverage levels, he answered that “knowledge of the volumes of Repo 105 transactions would not have signaled to them ‘that something was terribly wrong,’ ” according to the examiner’s report.
There’s a lot riding on the government’s oversight of these accounting shenanigans. If Lehman Brothers executives are sued civilly or prosecuted criminally, they may actually have a powerful defense: a raft of government officials from the S.E.C. and Fed vetted virtually everything they did.
On top of that, Lehman’s outside auditor, Ernst & Young, and a law firm, Linklaters, signed off on the transactions.
The problems at Lehman raise even larger questions about the vigilance of the S.E.C. and Fed in overseeing the other Wall Street banks as well.
“I’m concerned that the revelations about Lehman Brothers are just the tip of the iceberg,” Senator Ted Kaufman wrote in a speech he was preparing to give Tuesday on the Senate floor. “We have no reason to believe that the conduct detailed last week is somehow isolated or unique. Indeed, this sort of behavior is hardly novel.”
On May 19, 2005, NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Spirit captured this stunning view as the Sun sank below the rim of Gusev crater on Mars. This Panoramic Camera mosaic was taken around 6:07 in the evening of the rover’s 489th Martian day, or sol.
Sunset and twilight images are occasionally acquired by the science team to determine how high into the atmosphere the Martian dust extends, and to look for dust or ice clouds. Other images have shown that the twilight glow remains visible, but increasingly fainter, for up to two hours before sunrise or after sunset. The long Martian twilight (compared to Earth’s) is caused by sunlight scattered around to the night side of the planet by abundant high altitude dust. Similar long twilights or extra-colorful sunrises and sunsets sometimes occur on Earth when tiny dust grains that are erupted from powerful volcanoes scatter light high in the atmosphere.
And what’s Spirit doing right now?
Spirit will spend the coming winter tilted 9 degrees toward the south, an unfavorable attitude for the solar panels to catch rays from the sun in the northern sky. Spirit’s parking positions for its previous three Martian winters tilted northward. Engineers anticipate that, due to the unfavorable tilt for this fourth winter, Spirit will be out of communication with Earth for several months.
Spirit may enter a low-power hibernation mode within a few weeks, shutting down almost all functions except keeping a master clock running and checking its power status periodically until it has enough power to reawaken. It may go in and out of this mode a few times at the beginning and at the end of an extended hibernation period.
Spirit is more than six years into a mission originally planned for three months on Mars. Its twin, Opportunity, is exploring an area halfway around the planet and closer to the equator, where that rover does not need to park for the winter.
Mr. Buffett compiled a data sheet of the men and women who work in his office. He had each of them make a fraction; the numerator was how much they paid in federal income tax and in payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare, and the denominator was their taxable income. The people in his office were mostly secretaries and clerks, though not all.
It turned out that Mr. Buffett, with immense income from dividends and capital gains, paid far, far less as a fraction of his income than the secretaries or the clerks or anyone else in his office. Further, in conversation it came up that Mr. Buffett doesn’t use any tax planning at all. He just pays as the Internal Revenue Code requires. “How can this be fair?” he asked of how little he pays relative to his employees. “How can this be right?”
Even though I agreed with him, I warned that whenever someone tried to raise the issue, he or she was accused of fomenting class warfare.
“There’s class warfare, all right,” Mr. Buffett said, “but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”
For the first time anywhere in the world, biotech agriculture giant Monsanto has admitted that insects have developed resistance to its Bt cotton crop. Field monitoring in parts of Gujarat has discovered that the Bt crop is no longer effective against the pink bollworm pest there.
The company is advocating that Indian farmers switch to its second-generation product to delay resistance further.
Agricultural scientists and activists say Monsanto’s advice is “ridiculous”. The Bollgard II product has no additional toxin to combat pink bollworm, says G.V. Ramanjaneyulu of the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture. It is simply that as a newer product, Bollgard II will take longer for the pest to develop resistance. Anyway, the Bt toxin is only active for 90 days, while pink bollworm is a late season pest, he adds.
“All the hype about the effectiveness of Bt against pests is bogus …This proves that you can’t stay ahead of the pest with … this shortsighted approach,” says Kavitha Kuruganti of the Kheti Virasat Mission
Adding iron to the world’s oceans to capture carbon and fight global warming could do more harm than good, as the mineral appears to boost the growth of a plankton that produces a deadly neurotoxin, a study published Monday shows.
Researchers led by Charles Trick of the University of Western Ontario in Canada found that fertilizing the ocean with iron can boost the growth of Pseudo-nitzschia, a phytoplankton that produces a component of the neurotoxin, domoic acid.
Humans who eat shellfish or crab that have ingested Pseudo-nitzschia could get amnesic shellfish poisoning (ASP), severe cases of which can cause neurological symptoms, including permanent, short-term memory loss, which gives the intoxication its name.
Amnesic shellfish poisoning can also be fatal.
after analysing a five-day working week in the media, across 10 hard-copy papers, ACIJ and Crikey found that nearly 55% of stories analysed were driven by some form of public relations. The Daily Telegraph came out on top of the league ladder with 70% of stories analysed triggered by public relations. The Sydney Morning Herald gets the wooden spoon with (only) 42% PR-driven stories for that week.
Many journalists and editors were defensive when the phone call came. Who’d blame them? They’re busier than ever, under resourced, on deadline and under pressure. Most refused to respond, others who initially granted an interview then asked for their comments to be withdrawn out of fear they’d be reprimanded, or worse, fired.
Pirates ahoyCopyright holders have given up legal efforts to force Norwegian ISP Telenor to block filesharing site The Pirate Bay, one of the parties to the case said.The copyright holders, led by Norway’s performing rights society TONO and by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry Norway IFPI Norge Norway have lost two rounds in the Norwegian court system, and have now decided against appealing the case to Norway’s supreme court, the organisations said.
If the courts don’t give you what you want, what do you do? Exactly:
This, the organisations said, raises the question of whether Norwegian law adequately implements the European Union Copyright Directive, a matter they would like Norwegian legislators look into.
We just got out of a meeting with Microsoft’s Todd Biggs, who dropped a little bombshell on us: the only official way to get apps on a Windows Phone 7 Series device will be to download them from the just-detailed Windows Phone Marketplace. That means developers will have to abide by Microsoft’s technical and content guidelines in order to make it in, with the very real possibility of rejection — sound familiar?
I wonder of the people who refuse to use the iPhone over this will refuse Phone 7 as well..
Google filed an application for the Nexus One trademark back on 10th December 2009 for use in connection with mobile phones. It would appear however that whoever handled the filing didn’t spend a lot of time on the initial conflict search report, as the Trademark Office has recently issued a notice of refusal:
SECTION 2(d) REFUSAL – LIKELIHOOD OF CONFUSION
Registration of the applied-for mark is refused because of a likelihood of confusion with the mark in U.S. Registration No. 3554195.
The refusal has been issued on the grounds that the mark could conflict with an existing NEXUS trademark (3554195) granted on December 30, 2008 to Integra Telecom under the same class with a description which includes the provision of telecommunication services and the transmission of voice and data.
So, how did that Cisco iPhone trademark work out?
“We have received reports from some of our Excel 2003 and Excel 2002 customers that after installing update KB978471 or KB978474, they are seeing non-English text in the ‘Add or Remove Programs’ tool (Win[dows] XP) or the ‘Programs and Features’ –> ‘Installed Updates’ view (Vista, Win[dows] 7),” Microsoft said in an entry published early today on the “Office Sustained Engineering” blog.
According to Microsoft , the patches are displayed in “Add or Remove Programs” in simplified Chinese rather than the intended English.