GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba –A judge expressed frustration on Monday that an unknown U.S. government entity censored his courtroom audiovisual feed, cutting public access to pretrial hearings for five accused Sept. 11 plotters.
“If some external body is turning the commission on or off based on their own views of what things ought to be, with no reasonable explanation … then we’re going to have a little meeting about who turns that light on and off,” said the judge, Col. James Pohl.
Pohl’s comments came after an unknown censor cut off a live media feed to the court proceedings as David Nevin, a lawyer defending Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, began discussing his request for information on his client’s case.
Proceedings at Guantanamo’s maximum-security court are broadcast over closed-circuit television to journalists observing from an adjacent room. Additional reporters monitor the feed from a nearby media center, and at Fort Meade, Md.
A red light resembling a police emergency beacon goes off in the courtroom when the censorship button has been activated. A court security officer positioned next to the judge has the ability to dump the feed if anything secret arises. That officer didn’t activate the censorship button on Monday.
Defense attorneys said they didn’t previously know that someone outside the courtroom could cut off the feed.
“I would like to know who has the permission to turn that light on and off, who is listening to this, who is controlling these proceedings, or controlling that aspect of these proceedings,” Nevin said.
The censorship light has come on before, but always when activated by the court security officer, James G. Connell III, a lawyer for Abul Aziz Ali, said at an evening press conference. “I thought that there was one button and it was under the control of the court security officer,” he said.
Justice Department counterterrorism lawyer Joanna Baltes said in court on Monday that the government would provide information on the censorship during a closed court session. The judge will address the matter on Tuesday, lawyers said.
Col. Mark Martins, the chief prosecutor at Guantanamo, declined to classify the activation of the censorship light as a mistake. Martins said the defense lawyers should have known about censors outside the courtroom.
Controversy is brewing in Fort Collins, Colo., after a Rocky Mountain High School decided to allow a multicultural student group to recite the Pledge of Allegiance over the loudspeaker in Arabic, among other languages. The situation landed Principal Tom Lopez in hot water, with a slew of angry statements and threats being phoned into the school.
See if you can stomach the comments section on that…
While she does admit leaving the note at a St. Louis Applebee’s displayed poor judgement on her part, the pastor, who has only identified herself as Pastor Bell, came forward to KTVI to clear up the matter, saying she did actually end up leaving a tip.
“What (the photo) doesn’t show is the money that I left and that we all left on the table,” Bell told the T.V. station.
Bell claims she left $6.29 on the table — the same amount that was scribbled out on the receipt — and that her credit card was also charged with an additional $6.29. Bell said everyone else at her table also left tips in cash.
I don’t believe a word of it. Here’s why:
Some time on Wednesday, Chelsea says the customer who had left the receipt contacted her Applebee’s location, demanding that everyone be fired, from the servers involved to the managers.
“But because this person got embarrassed that their selfishness was made public, Applebee’s has made it clear that they would rather lose a dedicated employee than lose an angry customer. That’s a policy I can’t understand.”
“If this person wrote the note, obviously they wanted it seen by someone,” she points out. “It’s strange to me that now that the audience is wider than just the server, the person is now ashamed.”
Jack Andraka’s breakthrough pancreatic cancer test would have never come about were it not for access to online journals — what Internet guru Aaron Swartz was promoting before his death. Andraka “religiously” used free online academic journals in the research because “in most online databases, articles cost about $35, and there are only about 10 pages.”
Jack Andraka, the 15-year-old whiz kid behind a revolutionary new tool in cancer research, has many things in common with Aaron Swartz, the phenomenon at the center of a continuing online freedom debate in the US.
Swartz was also just 15 when he helped co-develop RSS, a form of Web publication, that has enabled dissidents in China and the Middle East, North Africa region to circumvent censors. Andraka is on his way to revolutionizing the medical profession with a cost-effective, much less invasive test for early-stage pancreatic cancer and a number of other diseases (detailed in the video below).
“It’ll be three to five years before it’s on the market, both as a take home test and in doctor’s offices,” the well-spoken high school student told The Vancouver Observer.
But Swartz and Andraka aren’t only connected by their teenage prodigy.
Andraka used free online academic journals in the research that resulted in his invention.
“I used them religiously,” Andraka said, “Just because, in most online databases, articles cost about [US]$35, and there are only about 10 pages.”
“The public funds a lot of this research. Shouldn’t the public have access to it?”
An online digital activist and developer, Aaron Swartz committed suicide earlier this month, weeks before the start of his trial, where he would face three decades in prison for allegedly “stealing” millions of pay-walled articles from Online academic service JSTOR to make them available to the public for free.
“I believe [Swartz’s] actions were mostly justified,” Andraka said, “The public funded a lot of that research. It shouldn’t be held inaccessible to the public.”
“You may find my actions extreme, but for a crew of sufficient numbers, if a suitable destination could be found, no return destination would be needed. Therefore, I have had to improvise, with our ship, with our crew.” The goal was to make a short sci-fi film, but without CGI, greenscreens, or other digital trickery, instead relying on camera tricks, miniature photography, and stop-animation. And now it is done: C 299,792 km/s
The film cost $40,000, collected from two Kickstarter fundraisers. The movie website has some information, and Wired has more details of the making of the film, including an interview with one of the two brains behind the film.
Former CIA agent John Kiriakou speaks out just days after he was sentenced to 30 months in prison, becoming the first CIA official to face jail time for any reason relating to the U.S. torture program. Under a plea deal, Kiriakou admitted to a single count of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act by revealing the identity of a covert officer to a freelance reporter, who did not publish it. Supporters say Kiriakou is being unfairly targeted for having been the first CIA official to publicly confirm and detail the Bush administration’s use of waterboarding. Kiriakou joins us to discuss his story from Washington, D.C., along with his attorney, Jesselyn Radack, director of National Security & Human Rights at the Government Accountability Project. “This … was not a case about leaking; this was a case about torture. And I believe I’m going to prison because I blew the whistle on torture,” Kiriakou says. “My oath was to the Constitution. … And to me, torture is unconstitutional.” [inlcudes rush transcript]
PBS‘ Frontline program on Tuesday night broadcast a new one-hour report on one of the greatest and most shameful failings of the Obama administration: the lack of even a single arrest or prosecution of any senior Wall Street banker for the systemic fraud that precipitated the 2008 financial crisis: a crisis from which millions of people around the world are still suffering. What this program particularly demonstrated was that the Obama justice department, in particular the Chief of its Criminal Division, Lanny Breuer, never even tried to hold the high-level criminals accountable.
What Obama justice officials did instead is exactly what they did in the face of high-level Bush era crimes of torture and warrantless eavesdropping: namely, acted to protect the most powerful factions in the society in the face of overwhelming evidence of serious criminality. Indeed, financial elites were not only vested with immunity for their fraud, but thrived as a result of it, even as ordinary Americans continue to suffer the effects of that crisis.
Worst of all, Obama justice officials both shielded and feted these Wall Street oligarchs (who, just by the way, overwhelmingly supported Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign) as they simultaneously prosecuted and imprisoned powerless Americans for far more trivial transgressions. As Harvard law professor Larry Lessig put it two weeks ago when expressing anger over the DOJ’s persecution of Aaron Swartz: “we live in a world where the architects of the financial crisis regularly dine at the White House.” (Indeed, as “The Untouchables” put it: while no senior Wall Street executives have been prosecuted, “many small mortgage brokers, loan appraisers and even home buyers” have been).
Comment from reader:
Marx’s description of the French finance aristocracy of the 1840’s in The Class Struggles In France could not be more appropriate in describing the 21st Century Wall Street masters of the universe:
“Since the finance aristocracy made the laws, was at the head of the administration of the state, had command of all the organized public authorities, dominated public opinion through the actual state of affairs and through the press, the same prostitution, the same shameless cheating, the same mania to get rich was repeated in every sphere, from the court to the Cafe Borgne to get rich not by production, but by pocketing the already available wealth of others, Clashing every moment with the bourgeois laws themselves, an unbridled assertion of unhealthy and dissolute appetites manifested itself, particularly at the top of bourgeois society- lusts wherein wealth derived from gambling naturally seeks its satisfaction, where pleasure becomes debauched, where money, filth, and blood commingle. The finance aristocracy, in its mode of acquisition as well as in its pleasures, is nothing but the rebirth of the lumpenproletariat on the heights of bourgeois society”.
You would have thought by now that people would understand that DRM is not only a bad idea, but totally unnecessary: Apple dropped DRM from music downloads in 2009 and seems to bemaking ends meet. Despite these obvious truths, the stupidity that is DRM continues to spread. Here, for example, is a particularly stupid example of DRM stupidity, as revealed by Manu Sporny:
A few days ago, a new proposal was put forward in the HTML Working Group (HTML WG) by Microsoft, Netflix, and Google to take DRM in HTML5 to the next stage of standardization at W3C.
After all, this is exactly what Web users have been crying out for: “just give us DRM for the Web, and our lives will be complete….”
Sporny runs through some technical reasons why this is doomed to failure — little things like sending decryption keys in the clear — and points out the awful re-balkanization of the Web that it would cause:
The EME [Encrypted Media Extensions] specification does not specify a DRM scheme in the specification, rather it explains the architecture for a DRM plug-in mechanism. This will lead to plug-in proliferation on the Web. Plugins are something that are detrimental to inter-operability because it is inevitable that the DRM plugin vendors will not be able to support all platforms at all times. So, some people will be able to view content, others will not.
He also notes a fundamental problem with the following Use Case for the proposed technology:
What use cases does this support?
Everything from user-generated content to be shared with family (user is not an adversary) to online radio to feature-length movies.
That clearly implies that when people are not sharing their own content with family and friends, then they are indeed adversaries:
This “user is not an adversary” text can be found in the first question about use cases. It insinuates that people that listen to radio and watch movies online are potential adversaries. As a business owner, I think that’s a terrible way to frame your customers.
Thinking of the people that are using the technology that you’re specifying as “adversaries” is also largely wrong. 99.999% of people using DRM-based systems to view content are doing it legally. The folks that are pirating content are not sitting down and viewing the DRM stream, they have acquired a non-DRM stream from somewhere else, like Mega or The Pirate Bay, and are watching that.
This is the fundamental reason why DRM is doomed and should be discarded: the only people it annoys are the ones who have tried to support creators by acquiring legal copies. How stupid is that?
A senior British rabbi has been filmed telling an alleged victim of child sexual abuse not to go to the police.
Rabbi Ephraim Padwa, who is leader of the UK’s Strictly Orthodox Jewish community, told the alleged victim that it was “mesira”, or forbidden, to report a suspected Jewish sex offender to a non-Jewish authority.
Meet the HTC Mini. Though you might mistake it for the phone you had in 2006, it’s an accessory for the HTC Butterfly (known as the Droid DNA in the U.S.). Chinese Butterfly owners can use the Mini to make and take calls without removing their super-sized phones from their pockets.
Interestingly, the skiers and riders who were the most likely, in general, to don a helmet were the most expert, the men and women with the most talent and hours on the slopes. Experience seemed to have taught them the value of a helmet.
If you ever connected to the Internet before the 2000s, you probably remember that it made a peculiar sound. But despite becoming so familiar, it remained a mystery for most of us. What do these sounds mean?
As many already know, what you’re hearing is often called a handshake, the start of a telephone conversation between two modems. The modems are trying to find a common language and determine the weaknesses of the telephone channel originally meant for human speech.
Below is a spectrogram of the handshake audio. I’ve labeled some signals according to which party transmitted them, and also put a concise explanation below.
(The audio is on Wikimedia Commons)
As the data show, China is now burning almost as much coal as the rest of the world — combined. And despite impressive support from Beijing for renewable energy and a dawning understanding about the dangers of air pollution, coal use in China is poised to continue rising, if slower than it has in recent years. That’s deadly for the Chinese people — see the truly horrific air pollution in Beijing this past month — and it’s dangerous for the rest of the world. Coal already accounts for 20% of global greenhouse-gas emissions, making it one of the biggest causes of man-made climate change. Combine that with the direct damage that air pollution from coal combustion does to human health, and there’s a reason why some have called coal the enemy of the human race.
Of course, there’s a reason why coal is so popular in China and in much of the rest of the world: it’s very, very cheap. And that’s why, despite the danger coal poses to health and the environment, neither China nor many other rapidly growing developing nations are likely to turn away from it. (If you really want to get scared, see this report from the International Energy Agency — hat tip to Ed Crooks of the Financial Times — which notes that by 2017, India could be burning more coal than China.) That’s likely to remain the case in poor nations until clean energy can compete with coal on price — and that day hasn’t come yet.
We’ve all been there: you need a portentous motto for your new liberal arts college, crack military unit, or world-encompassing secret society, but you just don’t speak Latin. No problēma! If the grand list of Latin phrases doesn’t have what you’re looking for, there’s always the Latin Motto Generator.
And for those dreams in which you’re a viking: the Old Norse Motto Generator.
Many would assume that BP””the company responsible for the Gulf Coast disaster””will cover the entire cost of cleanup. But we learned from the Exxon Valdez spill that the reality is very different:
The Exxon Valdez tanker spilled more than 11 million gallons of crude oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound, which eventually contaminated approximately 1,300 miles of shoreline. The total costs of Exxon Valdez, including both cleanup and also “fines, penalties and claims settlements,” ran as much as $7 billion. Cleanup of the affected region alone cost at least $2.5 billion, and much oil remains.
Yet Exxon made high profits even in the aftermath of the most expensive oil spill in history. They made $3.8 billion profit in 1989 and $5 billion in 1990. And this occurred while Exxon disputed cleanup costs nearly every step of the way.
Exxon fought paying damages and appealed court decisions multiple times, and they have still not paid in full. Years of fighting and court appeals on Exxon’s part finally concluded with a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2008 that found that Exxon only had to pay $507.5 million of the original 1994 court decree for $5 billion in punitive damages. And as of 2009, Exxon had paid only $383 million of this $507.5 million to those who sued, stalling on the rest and fighting the $500 million in interest owed to fishermen and other small businesses from more than 12 years of litigation.
Twenty years later, some of the original plaintiffs are no longer alive to receive, or continue fighting for, their damages. An estimated 8,000 of the original Exxon Valdez plaintiffs have died since the spill while waiting for their compensation as Exxon fought them in court.
Coastal regions and coastlines of the Prince William Sound are still contaminated. The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council’s 2009 status report finds that as much as 16,000 gallons of oil remains in the sound’s intertidal zones today. A 2001 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration study surveyed 96 sites along 8,000 miles of coastline and found that “a total area of approximately 20 acres of shoreline in Prince William Sound is still contaminated with oil. Oil was found at 58 percent of the 91 sites assessed and is estimated to have the linear equivalent of 5.8 km of contaminated shoreline.”
Confidential letters between Los Angeles Catholic church officials that had been withheld for decades–despite long efforts by victims to obtain them and stonewalling by the Church–were released Monday after becoming part of a civil court case against a priest accused of molesting 26 Los Angeles children in the 1980s.
The notes from then-Archbishop Roger M. Mahony and Monsignor Thomas J. Curry, published by the Los Angeles Times, have provided even more insight as to how sexual- abuse accusations against priests have been covered up for years. The notes detail plans by the two men to keep police from discovering that children were being molested in Los Angeles parishes, with Curry suggesting the predator priests not see therapists who could then alert authorities; instead, he wanted to give priests out-of-state assignments to avoid criminal charges. Curry was the chief advisor to the Archbishop on sex-abuse cases at the time.
This video from the Glenn Research Center highlights in stunning, behind-the-scenes imagery the launches of three space shuttle missions: STS-114, STS-117, and STS-124. NASA engineers provide commentary as footage from the ground and from the orbiters themselves document in detail the first phase of a mission.
You may recall that in its quixotic attempt to go after Wikileaks, the US government has been snooping through the private communications of a bunch of folks they’re trying to connect to the organization, including Icelandic politician Birgitta Jonsdottir and Jacob Appelbaum, who gets detained and harassed every time he re-enters the country. All of this came to light only because Twitter actually stood up to the US government and refused to just hand over info that was requested using the obscure 2703(d) process. Twitter also got the court to allow it to reveal the existence of the order (something that every other company which has received one has kept secret). A court eventually ruled that Twitter had to hand over the requested info.
Following this, Jonsdottir, Appelbaum and one other person, Rop Gonggrijp, (represented by the ACLU and the EFF), chose not to challenge that ruling, but did appeal concerning the secrecy around the order — asking the court to have the specific 2703(d) order unsealed — arguing that they have the right to access judicial documents about themselves. However, last week, an appeals court rejected that appeal, and basically said that the feds can sniff through your digital data without your knowledge, and, well, too bad if you don’t like it.
Even though the court did find that 2703(d) orders are “judicial records,” which could make them subject to a right to access, they then claimed that, well, when the government investigates things, it should be able to do so in absolute secrecy, and who really cares about pesky little things like oversight or a right to know about it.
The USA urgently needs an amendment to the Constitution that forbids unreasonable, dragnet searches like this. Let me suggest some language:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Star Wars creator George Lucas has given the thumbs-up to the appointment of JJ Abrams as director of the seventh outing for the sci-fi franchise.
Lucas said the Star Trek helmsman is the “ideal choice” to take the reins of the movie, which will be the first Walt Disney Co foray into the Star Wars universe since it swallowed Lucasfilm in October.
When Disney inked the deal, the company promised to deliver the final three episodes of Lucas’s original nine-film vision, while the man himself declared: “It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers.”
What started out as a few EVE Online alliances forming up PvP fleets last night rapidly evolved into one of the largest PvP battles in the game’s history. Reports indicate that a total of over 3,000 players may have been involved in the colossal battle. The video is insane. More on Reddit.
I feel old…
Programmers often talk about writing “beautiful code,” but computer scientist Ramsey Nasser has taken that idea to new lengths by developing the first programming language that uses Arabic script for its source code.
The language is called قلب – roughly pronounced “alb,” after the Arabic word for “heart” – and as Nasser explained to AnimalNewYork, he developed it as much for its aesthetic appeal as for its effectiveness at computation.
If people see this and respond, well no one is really going to get those types of penalties, my response is: Why is that acceptable? While people’s worst fears may be a bit unfounded, why do we accept a system where we allow such discretionary authority? If you or your child were arrested for this, would it comfort you to know that the prosecutor and judge could technically throw the book at you? Would you relax assuming that they probably wouldn’t make an example out of you or your kid? When as a society did we learn to accept the federal government having such Orwellian power? And is this the same country that used jury nullification against laws that it found to be unjust as an additional check upon excessive government power?
When did we decide that we wanted a law that could make unlocking your smartphone a criminal offense?