Bandwidth on Navy ships is a scarce, expensive commodity. For sailors using non-essential systems, like recreational computers? Dial-up speeds — if they’re lucky. But by the end of the year, for the first time, the Navy will put a 4G LTE wireless network aboard some of its ships, giving a whole new communications tool to sailors and Marines: their smartphones.
By the end of 2012, the Navy confirms, three ships will receive a brand-new microwave-based wireless wide area network (WWAN): the amphibious assault ship U.S.S. Kearsarge, the amphibious transport dock U.S.S. San Antonio and the dock landing ship U.S.S. Whidbey Island. The ships’ communications systems won’t operate on the network — their connectivity will continue to come from satellites. Instead, Android smartphones operated by individual sailors would run on the network, something currently impossible out at sea.
But the mobile devices won’t be aboard ships so sailors can play Words With Friends (or won’t just be aboard for that purpose). The idea is to allow sailors and Marines with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit to take part in what the Navy calls the network’s first at-sea “planning vignette” — that is, boarding an ersatz vessel hijacked by “pirates” to send real-time data — including videos — back to the mothership.
“What we’ve collectively developed is a ruggedized, ocean-going LTE network similar to what you’d find with telecom providers like Verizon or AT&T,” says Phillip Cramer, a vice president at Indiana-based BATS Wireless, which built the network for the Navy along with partner companies Oceus and Cambium. “The biggest difference being that it can expand, contract, and move seamlessly; delivering critical data and communications to the soldiers who need it most.”
The FBI has recently formed a secretive surveillance unit with an ambitious goal: to invent technology that will let police more readily eavesdrop on Internet and wireless communications.
The establishment of the Quantico, Va.-based unit, which is also staffed by agents from the U.S. Marshals Service and the Drug Enforcement Agency, is a response to technological developments that FBI officials believe outpace law enforcement’s ability to listen in on private communications.
While the FBI has been tight-lipped about the creation of its Domestic Communications Assistance Center, or DCAC — it declined to respond to requests made two days ago about who’s running it, for instance — CNET has pieced together information about its operations through interviews and a review of internal government documents.
The center represents the technological component of the bureau’s “Going Dark” Internet wiretapping push, which was allocated $54 million by a Senate committee last month. The legal component is no less important: as CNET reported on May 4, the FBI wants Internet companies not to oppose a proposed law that would require social-networks and providers of VoIP, instant messaging, and Web e-mail to build in backdoors for government surveillance.
During an appearance last year on Capitol Hill, then-FBI general counsel Valerie Caproni referredin passing, without elaboration, to “individually tailored” surveillance solutions and “very sophisticated criminals.” Caproni said that new laws targeting social networks and voice over Internet Protocol conversations were required because “individually tailored solutions have to be the exception and not the rule.”
Caproni was referring to the DCAC’s charge of creating customized surveillance technologies aimed at a specific individual or company, according to a person familiar with the FBI’s efforts in this area.
Last weekend, a depressing irony flew under the cultural radar.
At Camp David, President Obama met up with fellow NATO leaders to discuss the road ahead in Afghanistan. Although no one there used the language of defeat, the implicit message was clear: the war has gone nowhere in the past few years and it’s time to start packing up. Meanwhile, what raked in $25.5 million at the box office?Battleship. And who provided director Peter Berg with the war technology that beats the aliens? The U.S. military.
He’s not the only one: the past few years have seen an explosion of high-profile cooperation between the armed forces and the movie industry. If the most powerful armed force in history isn’t winning in reality, it certainly is on the big screen. And like so many problematic aspects of late capitalism, the military-Hollywood complex has a grimly understandable logic.
For example, consider the thought process of Philip Strub. He’s the Pentagon’s Director of Entertainment Media. If you’re a director looking to use real jets, ships, SEALs, and the like, his D.C. office is the place to send your script.
“Our goal, initially, is to give [filmmakers] news as quickly as possible as to whether the script is something we can support,” Strub told me. And that support, as you might predict, is less than unconditional. “There’s no question: I will plead guilty to bias in favor of the military. I wouldn’t be able to look myself in the mirror and go to work every day if I didn’t believe the military is a force for good,” Strub said. “If a script comes to us portraying the military as a malign force, we won’t provide support.”
Predictably, war-doubting pictures like Apocalypse Now, The Thin Red Line, and The Hurt Locker didn’t get production help. But you might be surprised by some of the other movies that failed this acid test.
Independence Day is one seemingly unlikely case. Despite the movie’s American-led intergalactic victory, the real-life armed forces refused to participate. An internal Pentagon memo gave the rationale: “The military appears impotent and/or inept; all advances in stopping aliens are the result of actions by civilians.” The film’s battle equipment was either purchased elsewhere or made with CGI.
Forrest Gump, too, couldn’t pass muster. A memo cited the movie’s “generalized impression that the army of the 1960s was staffed by the guileless or by soldiers of limited intelligence” as one impasse. It also took issue with the title character showing a buttocks scar to LBJ: “The ‘mooning’ of a president by a uniformed solider is not acceptable cinematic license.”
Father Gabriele Amorth, who was appointed by the late John Paul II as the Vatican’s chief exorcist and claims to have performed thousands of exorcisms, said Emanuela Orlandi was later murdered and her body disposed of.
In the latest twist in one of the Holy See’s most enduring mysteries, he said the 15-year-old schoolgirl was snatched from the streets of central Rome in the summer of 1983 and forced to take part in sex parties.
“This was a crime with a sexual motive. Parties were organised, with a Vatican gendarme acting as the ‘recruiter’ of the girls.
“The network involved diplomatic personnel from a foreign embassy to the Holy See. I believe Emanuela ended up a victim of this circle,” Father Amorth, the honorary president of the International Association of Exorcists, told La Stampa newspaper.
The debate over who kidnapped Emanuela and what became of her has raged in Italy for three decades.
The poll asked questions about international news (Iran, Egypt, Syria and Greece were included) and domestic affairs (Republican primaries, Congress, unemployment and the Keystone XL pipeline.)
The pollsters found that people were usually able to answer 1.8 out of 4 questions on foreign news, and 1.6 of 5 questions on domestic news, and that people who don’t watch any news were able to get 1.22 of the questions on domestic policy right.
As the study explained, though, people who watched only Fox News fared worse:
The largest effect is that of Fox News: all else being equal, someone who watched only Fox News would be expected to answer just 1.04 domestic questions correctly — a figure which is significantly worse than if they had reported watching no media at all. On the other hand, if they listened only to NPR, they would be expected to answer 1.51 questions correctly; viewers of Sunday morning talk shows fare similarly well. And people watching only The Daily Show with Jon Stewart could answer about 1.42 questions correctly.
Other networks also did badly in some sections; MSNBC viewers and Fox News viewers both fared worse in answering international questions than people who watched no news.
People who only listened to NPR or watched Sunday morning talk shows or “The Daily Show” did the best in the study.
Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has sold 30.2 million shares and director Peter Thiel has sold 16.8 million shares of the social-networking company, according to securities filings published late Tuesday. The sales confirm plans detailed in a prospectus before Friday’s $16 billion IPO. Zuckerberg sold 30.2 million shares at a price of $37.58 for gross proceeds of $1.13 billion; Thiel sold 16.8 million shares for gross proceeds of $633 million. Facebook insiders had told prospective shareholders of their plans in an S-1 filing last week.
Current price around $31.50
JPMorgan Chase has spent upward of $20 million on lobbying and campaign contributions in the past three years. On Tuesday, the bank received a healthy dividend on that investment.
Its chairman, Jamie Dimon, has admitted that the firm was “sloppy” and “stupid” in making trading bets that lost $2 billion. But Republicans on the Senate Banking Committee wouldn’t hear of it; they preferred to blame government.
Jonathan Ive – the British designer responsible for Apple’s iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad – has been knighted at Buckingham Palace.
He was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) in the New Year Honours list for services to design and enterprise.
If he was to be remembered for just one of his Apple designs, I ask, which one would he pick?
There is the long pause. “It’s a really tough one. A lot does seem to come back to the fact that what we’re working on now feels like the most important and the best work we’ve done, and so it would be what we’re working on right now, which of course I can’t tell you about.”
When the State Department granted the head of Cuba’s National Center for Sex Education, Mariela Castro Espín, a visa to chair a panel on LGBT issues at the Latin American Studies Association in San Francisco later this week, the Republican response was as obvious as the Cuban LGBT activist’s relations to the Caribbean island’s Communist dictators. Her father is Cuban President Raúl Castro, her uncle is revolutionary leader and longtime dictator Fidel Castro, and the Republicans were “appalled.”
Ros-Lehtinen and Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), David Rivera (R-FL) and Albio Sires (R-NJ) wrote a strongly-worded letter to the State Department saying:
The administration’s appalling decision to allow regime agents into the U.S. directly contradicts Congressional intent and longstanding U.S. foreign policy.
If it’s “longstanding U.S. foreign policy” to deny Mariela Castro a visa to enter the U.S., someone forgot to tell President George W. Bush. The Bush administration granted Castro not one but three visas to enter the U.S. in 2001 and 2002.
Facebook is not only on course to go bust, but will take the rest of the ad-supported Web with it.
On a related note, Marco has come out with a second app: Nursing Clock, a breastfeeding stopwatch.
The Ferrari races through a small Italian town, accelerating around cobbled street corners. A police officer stops the car that does 0-60 in 3.5 seconds. The officer asks the driver for his license, registration – and tax registration ID.
Across Italy police are cracking down on Ferrari and Lamborghini drivers, but not because they are driving too fast. Italy, like so much of southern Europe, is drowning in debt, so police are pursuing drivers to make sure they are declaring – and therefore paying taxes on – earnings that would allow them to afford cars worth as much as half a million dollars.
The targeting is part of an ongoing war on tax cheats, an attempt to shore up $2.5 trillion of the country’s public debt and change a culture that has often prided itself on avoiding taxes. Tax authorities have long carried out much-publicized checks on owners of luxury cars, yachts, even nightclubs that don’t issue proper receipts. But since the unelected, technocratic government took power in November, it has made enforcing tax collections a priority.
The crackdown seems to be working and — some say – slowly changing the tax culture. Italian officials say they have discovered more than $12 billion in unpaid taxes already this year, and have identified more than 2,000 luxury car owners who underpaid taxes.
Martha Payne had some sad-ass lunches at her school in Scotland — unsatisfying food that sometimes had more hair than vegetables. So the 9-year-old decided to start a blog with photos and vital statistics about her meals. Almost immediately, the blog got international attention, including from prominent school lunch busybody Jamie Oliver. Result? Martha’s dad just met with the local council, and it announced that kids could have unlimited salad, fruit, and bread.
“Hi! We’re here to invite you to come kiss Hank’s ass with us.”