You know those FBI warning messages that appear at the beginning of DVDs and Blu-ray discs? They’re getting an upgrade—and they’re multiplying.
The US government yesterday rolled out not one but two copyright notices, one to “warn” and one to “educate.” Six major movie studios will begin using the new notices this week.
Will the two screens be shown back to back? Will each screen last for 10 seconds each? Will each screen be unskippable? Yes, yes, and yes.
The idea isn’t to deter current pirates, apparently (the new scheme requires all legal purchasers to sit through 20 seconds of warnings each time they pop in a film, but will be totally absent from pirated downloads and bootlegs). It’s to educate everyone else.
And the lesson learned in this “education”? Piracy gives you a better product.
Well done, ICE!
As long as the Air Force pinky-swears it didn’t mean to, its drone fleet can keep tabs on the movements of Americans, far from the battlefields of Afghanistan, Pakistan or Yemen. And it can hold data on them for 90 days — studying it to see if the people it accidentally spied upon are actually legitimate targets of domestic surveillance.
The Air Force, like the rest of the military and the CIA, isn’t supposed to conduct “nonconsensual surveillance” on Americans domestically, according to an Apr. 23 instruction from the flying service. But should the drones taking off over American soil accidentally keep their cameras rolling and their sensors engaged, well … that’s a different story.
“Collected imagery may incidentally include US persons or private property without consent,” reads the instruction (.pdf), unearthed by the secrecy scholar Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists. That kind of “incidental” spying won’t be immediately purged, however. The Air Force has “a period not to exceed 90 days” to get rid of it — while it determines “whether that information may be collected under the provisions” of a Pentagon directive that authorizes limited domestic spying.
In other words, if an Air Force drone accidentally spies on an American citizen, the Air Force will have three months to figure out if it was legally allowed to put that person under surveillance in the first place.
A Texas-based defense contractor is selling drones overseas to foreign governments for use in combating narcotics trafficking and terrorism. Which countries are buying them and exactly how they are being used, however, is largely unknown. This uncertainty has led to calls from human rights activists for greater transparency and accountability for drone proliferation.
As sales of drones increase worldwide, human rights activists are concerned about the potential for such technology to be used by oppressive governments against citizen uprisings. This past weekend, human rights organizations and those affected by drone warfare met for the first international drone summit.
Vanguard Defense Industries, is among the companies at the forefront of the emerging drone market. As The Texas Independent reported, Vanguard projects its domestic sales for next year at between $35 million and $40 million, which would represent a 25 percent increase. However, despite the increase in the domestic market, the majority of Vanguard’s sales will be overseas.
While the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, otherwise known as drones, is expanding from the military to domestic law enforcement, the global market for drones is also expanding. The United States government sells drones to other countries through Foreign Military Sales. U.S. corporations also sell defense equipment and technologies, including drones, directly to foreign governments.
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, a tea party activist that’s appeared several times on Fox News, and founder of an organization where Sean Hannity serves as an advisory board member, said in a sermon recently published to YouTube that America’s greatest mistake was allowing women the right to vote, adding that back in “the good old days, men knew that women are crazy and they knew how to deal with them.”
In the video, published to YouTube in March, Peterson explains that he believes women simply can’t handle “anything,” and that in his experience, “You walk up to them with a issue, they freak out right away. They go nuts. They get mad. They get upset, just like that. They have no patience because it’s not in their nature. They don’t have love. They don’t have love.”
Despite his statements being online for more than a month, Hannity welcomed Peterson on his show last Tuesday to castigate the Obama administration over “taking credit” for the Osama bin Laden assassination — but the segment didn’t exactly go as planned.
In his March sermon, Peterson adds that Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown Law student who recently spoke to a House Democratic hearing on contraception coverage, was actually revealing “all the sex” college students are having. “It’s really all about maintaining the freedom to kill babies in the womb,” he says. “Women are now degraded. Women have no shame.”
At roughly 8:30 into his 12-minute sermon, he doubles down, amazingly, saying that he believes America went wrong when it gave women the right to vote.
“I think that one of the greatest mistakes America made was to allow women the opportunity to vote,” Peterson says. “We should’ve never turned this over to women. And these women are voting in the wrong people. They’re voting in people who are evil who agrees with them who’re gonna take us down this pathway of destruction.”
The House Oversight Committee has come out with a report slamming the TSA for tremendous amounts of waste, specifically in the “deployment and storage” of its scanning equipment. Basically, it sounds like the TSA likes to go on giant spending sprees, buying up security equipment and then never, ever using it. A few data points
- As of February 15, 2012, the total value of TSA’s equipment in storage was, according to TSA officials, estimated at $184 million. However, when questioned by Committee staff, TSA’s warehouse staff and procurement officials were unable to provide the total value of equipment in storage.
- Committee staff discovered that 85% of the approximately 5,700 major transportation security equipment currently warehoused at the TLC had been stored for longer than six months; 35% of the equipment had been stored for more than one year. One piece of equipment had been in storage more than six years – 60% of its useful life.
- As of February 2012, Committee staff discovered that TSA had 472 Advanced Technology 2 (AT2) carry-on baggage screening machines at the TLC and that more than 99% have remained in storage for more than nine months; 34% of AT2s have been stored for longer than one year.
- TSA knowingly purchased more Explosive Trace Detectors (ETDs) than were necessary in order to receive a bulk discount under an incorrect and baseless assumption that demand would increase. TSA management stated: “[w]e purchased more than we needed in order to get a discount.”
Lenses are a part of everyday life—they help us focus words on a page, the light from stars, and the tiniest details of microorganisms. But making a lens for highly energetic light known as gamma rays had been thought impossible. Now, physicists have created such a lens, and they believe it will open up a new field of gamma-ray optics for medical imaging, detecting illicit nuclear material, and getting rid of nuclear waste.
Glass is the material of choice for conventional lenses, and like other materials, it contains atoms which are orbited by electrons. In an opaque material, these electrons would absorb or reflect light. But in glass, the electrons respond to incoming light by shaking about, pushing away the light in a different direction. Physicists describe the amount of bending as the glass’s “refractive index”: A refractive index equal to one results in no bending, while anything more or less results in bending one way or the other.
Refraction works well with visible light, a small part of the electromagnetic spectrum, because the light waves have a frequency that chimes well with the oscillations of orbiting electrons. But for higher energy electromagnetic radiation—ultraviolet and beyond—the frequencies are too high for the electrons to respond, and lenses become less and less effective. It was only toward the end of last century that physicists found they could create lenses for x-rays, the part of the electromagnetic spectrum just beyond the ultraviolet, by stacking together numerous layers of patterned material. Such lenses opened up the field of x-ray optics, which, with x-rays’ short wavelengths, allowed imaging at a nanoscale resolution.
There the story should have ended. Theory says that gamma rays, being even more energetic than x-rays, ought to bypass orbiting electrons altogether; materials should not bend them at all and the refractive index for gamma rays should be almost equal to one. Yet this is not what a team of physicists led by Dietrich Habs at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich in Germany and Michael Jentschel at the Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL) in Grenoble, France, has discovered.
WASHINGTON — The CIA takedown of an Al Qaeda plot to blow up a U.S.-bound airliner involved an international sting operation with a double agent tricking terrorists into handing over a prized possession: a new bomb purportedly designed to slip through airport security.
U.S. officials Tuesday described an operation in which Saudi Arabia’s intelligence agency, working closely with the CIA, used an informant to pose as a would-be suicide bomber. His job was to persuade Al Qaeda bomb makers in Yemen to give him the bomb.
After weeks operating undercover in Yemen, the double agent arranged to deliver the device and a trove of vital intelligence to U.S. and other authorities waiting in another country, officials said. He is now safely out of Yemen.
At first he wasn’t sure how he could help. But he recalled something else Obama had said to the Googlers: “I am a big believer in reason and facts and evidence and science and feedback—everything that allows you to do what you do. That’s what we should be doing in our government.” And so Siroker decided he would introduce Obama’s campaign to a crucial technique—almost a governing ethos—that Google relies on in developing and refining its products. He showed them how to A/B test.
Over the past decade, the power of A/B testing has become an open secret of high-stakes web development. It’s now the standard (but seldom advertised) means through which Silicon Valley improves its online products. Using A/B, new ideas can be essentially focus-group tested in real time: Without being told, a fraction of users are diverted to a slightly different version of a given web page and their behavior compared against the mass of users on the standard site. If the new version proves superior—gaining more clicks, longer visits, more purchases—it will displace the original; if the new version is inferior, it’s quietly phased out without most users ever seeing it. A/B allows seemingly subjective questions of design—color, layout, image selection, text—to become incontrovertible matters of data-driven social science.
After joining the Obama campaign, Siroker used A/B to rethink the basic elements of the campaign website.
Of course we get scientific methods applied to the problem of political campaigning. Of course we will never get a scientific approach to policy.
What better way to celebrate Europe Day, than with the official anthem, as sung by Beaker?
Indeed, on the very same day that CNN and the other cable news networks devoted so much coverage to a failed, un-serious attempt to bring violence to the U.S. — one that never moved beyond the early planning stages and “never posed a threat to public safety” — it was revealed that the U.S. just killed multiple civilians, including a family of 5 children, in Afghanistan. But that got no mention. That event simply does not exist in the world of CNN and its viewers (I’d be shocked if it has been mentioned on MSNBC or Fox either). Nascent, failed non-threats directed at the U.S. merit all-hands-on-deck, five-alarm media coverage, but the actual extinguishing of the lives of children by the U.S. is steadfastly ignored (even though the latter is so causally related to the former).
This is the message sent over and over by the U.S. media: we are the victims of heinous, frightening violence; our government must do more, must bomb more, must surveil more, to Keep Us Safe; we do nothing similar to this kind of violence because we are Good and Civilized. This is how our Objective, Viewpoint-Free journalistic outlets continuously propagandize: by fixating on the violence done by others while justifying — or, more often, ignoring — the more far-reaching and substantial violence perpetrated by the U.S.
(3) If one of the relatives of the children just killed in Afghanistan decided to attack the U.S. — or if one of the people involved in this Yemen-originating plot were a relative of one of the dozens of civilians killed by Obama’s 2009 cluster bomb strike — what would they be called by the U.S. media? Terrorists. Primitive, irrational, religious fanatics beyond human decency.
Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes four years ago, the Colorado teenager says TSA screeners forced her to go through a full-body scanner in Salt Lake City last week, breaking her $10,000 insulin pump in the process.
According to Sandra Barry, Savannah’s mother, her daughter was coming home from a school trip when screeners required to her to go through a full-body scanner despite the fact that the girl had a doctor’s note describing her condition and stating that she should be given a pat-down rather than subjected to screening machines.
But I’m sure she feels a lot safer now!