DHS serves only one clear purpose: to provide unimaginable bonanzas for favored congressional districts around the United States, most of which face no statistically significant security threat at all. One thinks of the $436,504 that the Blackfeet Nation of Montana received in fiscal 2010 “to help strengthen the nation against risks associated with potential terrorist attacks”; the $1,000,000 that the village of Poynette, Wisconsin (pop. 2,266) received in fiscal 2009 for an “emergency operations center”; or the $67,000 worth of surveillance equipment purchased by Marin County, California, and discovered, still in its original packaging, four years later.
And indeed, every U.S. state, no matter how landlocked or underpopulated, receives, by law, a fixed percentage of homeland security spending every year.
As for the TSA, I am not aware of a single bomber or bomb plot stopped by its time-wasting procedures. In fact, TSA screeners consistently fail to spot the majority of fake “bombs” and bomb parts the agency periodically plants to test their skills. In Los Angeles, whose airport was targeted by the “millennium plot” on New Year’s 2000, screeners failed some 75 percent of these tests.
Terrorists have been stopped since 2001 and plots prevented, but always by other means. After the Nigerian “underwear bomber” of Christmas Day 2009 was foiled, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano claimed “the system worked” — but the bomber was caught by a passenger, not the feds. Richard Reid, the 2001 shoe bomber, was undone by an alert stewardess who smelled something funny. The 2006 Heathrow Airport plot was uncovered by an intelligence tip. Al Qaeda’s recent attempt to explode cargo planes was caught by a human intelligence source, not an X-ray machine. Yet the TSA responds to these events by placing restrictions on shoes, liquids, and now perhaps printer cartridges.
Inspired and perplexed by our image-saturated culture, French artist Leo Caillard has cast the Louvre as a larger than life playlist of masterpieces.
In Caillard’s digitally rendered images, paintings display navigation elements from iTunes, iOS and Mac OS X. Museum goers flip through famous works like they would the albums of their music collection. Is it bad that we wish the Louvre really worked like this?
“We see thousands of different pictures every day in news, art, fashion, internet ads, Facebook,” says Caillard. “Everything is together without any organization. People start to lose the ability to reflect on what they are looking at.”
Just when it seems the scandal can’t get any worse, it does.
According to new research published in today’s BMJ, Wakefield’s motive for the fraud was money — and lots of it. Wakefield “planned secret businesses intended to make huge sums of money, in Britain and America, from his now-discredited allegations,” according to a BMJ press release.
Conspiracy theorists are fond of saying “follow the money,” and that’s exactly what investigative journalist Brian Deer did.
Attorney Mark Stephens told German newspaper Die Zeit that he believed Swedish officials were cooperating with US authorities with an eye to extraditing Assange as soon as the Americans have built a criminal case against him.
"We are hearing that the Swedish are prepared to drop the rape charges against Julian as soon as the Americans demand his extradition," he said, citing sources in Washington and Stockholm.
An influential group of European politicians is protesting the U.S. government’s attempt to pry Wikileaks-related information out of Twitter, saying that EU privacy rules may have been violated.
The parliamentary maneuver expected tomorrow comes as London-based lawyers for Wikileaks editor Julian Assange warned that their client could face illegal rendition to the United States, execution, or indefinite detention “at Guantanamo Bay or elsewhere,” and a U.K. judge set a two-day extradition hearing to start on February.
Tomorrow’s parliamentary protest, calling on the EU to “ask the U.S. authorities for clarifications on the subpoenas imposed on Twitter,” is being organized by a group called the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe. It boasts 85 members, making it the third largest group in the European Parliament, and claims it holds the balance of power between the left and the right.
Bird said the U.S. government has sent her a seven-page letter asking her to formally authorize the destruction of her seized Kinder egg.
Do I understand this correctly?
In the US, anyone can legally buy and walk around with a gun, but you’ll be fined if you carry a Kinder egg around?
Because they are so DEADLY?
"It feels a lot like East Germany did when I visited in 1980."
In late December 2010, fail0verflow, a team of European hackers, demonstrated that the Playstation 3′s security was fundamentally flawed and managed to obtain the encryption key used by the device (see previous discussion). Utilizing the techniques developed by the fail0verflow team, iPhone hacker George Hotz released the encryption key publically, which enables the execution of arbitrary code on the console. Now Sony is suing both George Hotz and members of the fail0verflow team.
Both George Hotz and fail0verflow have updated their websites with the legal papers they’ve received. fail0verflow maintains their innocence, stating that they have never published any keys or code that could be used to breach the PS3, and that their only motivation was to get the OtherOS functionality back on the device.
There’s no way to get the genie back in the bottle, because all PS3s everywhere are absolutely, irrevocably compromised. And so are blu-ray keys, as a consequence.
This is just because they are pissed, and want to burn down the house and salt the ground, to prevent a future PS4 from the same fate. Both the 360 and the Wii have been cracked for a long time, and both seem to be doing just fine, and Blu-Ray was independently cracked years ago. In terms of actual fiscal impact on Sony, it probably wouldn’t matter that much; the real customers will keep buying software. But Sony will be much more dependent on the goodwill of its customers, rather than being able to make them subservient through technical means, and it strikes me that these lawsuits are perhaps not the best way to generate goodwill.
I’m just glad my decision following the Sony rootkit exposure back in 2005 to never, ever buy a Sony product again keeps getting validated.
As Hungary takes over the Presidency of the European Union, a new media law also comes into effect that centralizes control of the media in ways many consider is anti-democratic. The central media authority can issue decrees and apply financial penalties to those media, including internet portals and blogs who for “politically unbalanced reporting”. The first test for the new Authority is Ice T following the broadcast of his songs, “Warning” and “It’s On”. Local media responded with blank pages by way of protest.
Many see this as the latest example in the increasing authoritarian and anti-democratic nature of the Orban-led FIDESZ government. They point to the privatization of pensions, the diminution of the powers of the Constitutional Court and the imposition of wind-fall taxes on multi-national companies, as examples of this trend. The Washington Post calls it the “Putinizantion of Hungary“, while The Guardian laments “One-party rule” in Hungary. The German newspaper, Spiegel describes it as a “A Slow Poison Attacking Democracy” while quoting those who refer to Hungary as a “Führer state”. Local critics include the prominent economist János Kornai.
On the hand, some see Hungary as a World of Potentials
Who is happy about this?
ROME – Silvio Berlusconi’s lawyers insisted Tuesday that a law shielding the Italian premier from two ongoing trials complies with the constitution, speaking before a top court that must decide whether to overturn the legislation.
The premier is a defendant in two trials in Milan on corruption and tax fraud charges. Both proceedings have been suspended thanks to the legislation, but will resume if the law is overturned by the Constitutional Court.
Berlusconi has always denied wrongdoing.
The law has drawn accusations it was tailor-made to protect Berlusconi from his trials.
‘The link between my experience as an entrepreneur and that of a politician is all in one word: freedom.”
~Silvio Berlusconi ( Time Magazine 2003 )