One of those analyses showed that when a human was behind the wheel, Google’s cars accelerated and braked significantly more sharply than they did when piloting themselves. Another showed that the cars’ software was much better at maintaining a safe distance from the vehicle ahead than the human drivers were.
“We’re spending less time in near-collision states,” said Urmson. “Our car is driving more smoothly and more safely than our trained professional drivers.”
Reporters should be prevented from “selling” National Security Agency documents, Gen. Keith Alexander says in a videotaped interview with Department of Defense blog Armed With Science. In a discussion designed to reassure the American public that its government is not spying on them, the NSA chief calls for an end to the publication of documents leaked by former contractor Edward Snowden. “I think it’s wrong that that newspaper reporters have all these documents, the 50,000-whatever they have and are selling them and giving them out as if these — you know it just doesn’t make sense,” Alexander said. “We ought to come up with a way of stopping it. I don’t know how to do that. That’s more of the courts and the policymakers but, from my perspective, it’s wrong to allow this to go on.”
Previously in the interview, Alexander compares the public’s negative reaction to the necessity of intelligence collection to a child’s refusal to take a bath. “It’s like when you were younger — well, this is for boys,” he said. “You know, when you’re younger, you say, ‘I don’t want to take a bath.’ You say, ‘No, I’d never take a bath. Why would we want to take a bath?’ Well, you’ve got to take a bath, cleanliness, (et cetera). I said, ‘But isn’t there a better way?’ Well we don’t, so we had to take baths, right, or showers. What about here, what’s a better way to stop terrorists?”
A lot of people all over the world are having opinions now about the ostensibly gigantic $13 billion settlement Jamie Dimon and JP Morgan Chase have entered into with the government.
The general consensus from most observers in the finance sector is that this superficially high-dollar settlement – worth about half a year’s profits for Chase – is an unconscionable Marxist appropriation. It’s been called a “robbery” and a “shakedown,” in which red Obama and his evil henchman Eric Holder confiscated cash from a successful bank, as The Wall Street Journal wrote, “for no other reason than because they can and because they want to appease their left-wing populist allies.”
This is Madoff all over again, only on a much huger scale. Ten years from now, bet on it, the Wall Street Journal will be denouncing everyone from Eric Holder to Lanny Breuer to the SEC and DOJ officials in the Bush administration for failing to protect investors from predatory companies like Bear Stearns, Washington Mutual and their parent, JP Morgan Chase.
Right now, however, these papers are still stuck in the denial phase, which is to be expected, I suppose. But it doesn’t mean we have to take these ridiculous editorials about Chase’s victimhood seriously.
A few more notes on the deal. This latest settlement reportedly came about when CEO Jamie Dimon picked up the phone and called a high-ranking lieutenant of Attorney General Holder, who was about to hold a press conference announcing civil charges against the bank. The Justice Department meekly took the call, canceled the presser, and worked out this hideous deal, instead of doing the right thing and blowing off the self-important Wall Street hotshot long used to resolving meddlesome issues with the gift of his personal attention.
Only on Wall Street does the target of a massive federal investigation pick up the telephone and call up the prosecutor expecting to make the thing go away – and only in recent American history would such a tactic actually work.
Considering the scale of the offenses involved (one could make the argument that Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual by themselves did enough damage and cranked out enough toxic loans to cause the 2008 crash) the state could have taken the hardest of hard lines. Instead, they once again took a big fat check to walk away.
The deeper threat that leakers such as Manning and Snowden pose is more subtle than a direct assault on U.S. national security: they undermine Washington’s ability to act hypocritically and get away with it. Their danger lies not in the new information that they reveal but in the documented confirmation they provide of what the United States is actually doing and why. When these deeds turn out to clash with the government’s public rhetoric, as they so often do, it becomes harder for U.S. allies to overlook Washington’s covert behavior and easier for U.S. adversaries to justify their own.
Few U.S. officials think of their ability to act hypocritically as a key strategic resource. Indeed, one of the reasons American hypocrisy is so effective is that it stems from sincerity: most U.S. politicians do not recognize just how two-faced their country is. Yet as the United States finds itself less able to deny the gaps between its actions and its words, it will face increasingly difficult choices — and may ultimately be compelled to start practicing what it preaches.
In his speech on the economy Wednesday in Galesburg, Ill., President Barack Obama vowed to put his platform to use to defray soaring education costs and invest in early childhood education in order to strengthen the middle class.
“If you think education is expensive, wait until you see how much ignorance costs in the 21st century,” Obama said.
But, if you remain ignorant, you’ll never know how much its costing you.
Maryland state police and federal agents used a search warrant in an unrelated criminal investigation to seize the private reporting files of an award-winning former investigative journalist for The Washington Times who had exposed problems in the Homeland Security Department’s Federal Air Marshal Service.
Reporter Audrey Hudson said the investigators, who included an agent for Homeland’s Coast Guard service, took her private notes and government documents that she had obtained under the Freedom of Information Act during a predawn raid of her family home on Aug. 6.
The documents, some which chronicled her sources and her work at the Times about problems inside the Homeland Security Department, were seized under a warrant to search for unregistered firearms and a “potato gun” suspected of belonging to her husband, Paul Flanagan, a Coast Guard employee. Mr. Flanagan has not been charged with any wrongdoing since the raid.
The warrant, obtained by the Times, offered no specific permission to seize reporting notes or files.
The Washington Times said Friday it is preparing legal action to fight what it called an unwarranted intrusion on the First Amendment.
Shortages of anaesthetic drugs usually used in lethal injection, the most common method of execution, are forcing states to find alternative sedatives. Propofol, used up to 50 million times a year in US surgical procedures, has never been used in an execution. If the execution had gone ahead, US hospitals could have lost access to the drug because 90% of the US supply is made and exported by a German company subject to European Union (EU) regulations that restrict the export of medicines and devices that could be used for capital punishment or torture. Fearing a ban on propofol sales to the United States, in 2012 the drug’s manufacturer, Fresenius Kabi in Bad Homburg, ordered its US distributors not to provide the drug to prisons.
This is not the first time that the EU’s anti-death-penalty stance has affected the US supply of anaesthetics. Since 2011, a popular sedative called sodium thiopental has been unavailable in the United States. The manufacturer, US company Hospira, abandoned plans to produce the drug at its plant in Italy after regulators in the country required that the thiopental never be used in executions. The drug, which is difficult and costly to make, was already in short supply because of manufacturing problems.
“There has been a collision of the politics of capital punishment in the United States and Europe, forcing us to hopscotch around looking for suitable methods for anaesthesia,” says Jerry Cohen, a former president of the American Society of Anesthesiology.
Who will watch the watchers? Some guy on a train with a Twitter account, it turns out.
A North Carolina county precinct GOP chair resigned on Thursday after an offensive interview that aired on “The Daily Show” Wednesday, in which he said “lazy black people” want “the government to give them everything.”
“Yes, he has resigned,” said Nathan West, a spokesman for the Buncombe County Republican Party. The party had asked for Don Yelton’s resignation in direct response to the interview, West said.
Security researchers are calling LinkedIn’s new mobile app, Intro, a dream come true for hackers or intelligence agencies.
“I’m flabbergasted by this,” Richard Bejtlich, the chief research officer at the computer security company Mandiant, said in an interview on Wednesday. “I can’t believe someone thought this was a good idea.”
Intro is an e-mail plug-in for iOS users that pulls LinkedIn profile information into e-mails so that the sender’s job title appears front-and-center in e-mails on a user’s iPhone or iPad.
Some bloggers have hailed it as a smart play by LinkedIn to get more mobile action and to get users to stop thinking of the service as a static Web site they go to every couple of years to update their employment status.
But security researchers have taken issue with the way the app works. Intro redirects e-mail traffic to and from users’ iPhones and iPads through LinkedIn’s servers, then analyzes and scrapes those e-mails for relevant data and adds pertinent LinkedIn details.
The National Security Agency monitored the phone conversations of 35 world leaders after being given the numbers by an official in another US government department, according to a classified document provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The confidential memo reveals that the NSA encourages senior officials in its “customer” departments, such the White House, State and the Pentagon, to share their “Rolodexes” so the agency can add the phone numbers of leading foreign politicians to their surveillance systems.
The document notes that one unnamed US official handed over 200 numbers, including those of the 35 world leaders, none of whom is named. These were immediately “tasked” for monitoring by the NSA.
Yet more awkwardness looms at Thursday’s U.S-EU summit. On top of growing anger over Edward Snowden’s NSA revelations, Angela Merkel has reportedly had a strong word with Barack Obama over the likely tapping of her phone.
According to a German-language report in Der Spiegel on Wednesday, research undertaken by the same publication suggested that U.S. intelligence services may have bugged the chancellor’s cell phone. Germany’s own security agencies deemed the information serious enough to warrant confronting the Americans.
Der Spiegel noted that, when it asked the U.S. National Security Council for comment, it was told that — in the present tense — Merkel’s communications were not being monitored. Later, the White House issued a statement that again did not deny past monitoring:
“Today, President Obama and Chancellor Merkel spoke by telephone regarding allegations that the U.S. National Security Agency intercepted the communications of the German Chancellor. The President assured the Chancellor that the United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of Chancellor Merkel.
“The United States greatly values our close cooperation with Germany on a broad range of shared security challenges. As the President has said, the United States is reviewing the way that we gather intelligence to ensure that we properly balance the security concerns of our citizens and allies with the privacy concerns that all people share.
“Both leaders agreed to intensify further the cooperation between our intelligence services with the goal of protecting the security of both countries and of our partners, as well as protecting the privacy of our citizens.”
France is already angry at the U.S. for allegedly recording millions of its citizens’ calls, an accusation that has been denied. Similarly, the Germans have also been heavily targeted and now the Spanish are getting nervous too.
The NSA has been systematically eavesdropping on the Mexican government for years. It hacked into the president’s public email account and gained deep insight into policymaking and the political system. The news is likely to hurt ties between the US and Mexico.
Amongst the thousands of documents extracted from the NSA by its ex-employee there is a graph which describes the extent of telephone monitoring and tapping (DNR – Dial Number Recognition) carried out in France. It can be seen that over a period of thirty days – from 10 December 2012 to 8 January 2013, 70,3 million recordings of French citizens’ telephone data were made by the NSA. This agency has several methods of data collection. According to the elements obtained by Le Monde, when a telephone number is used in France, it activates a signal which automatically triggers the recording of the call. Apparently this surveillance system also picks up SMS messages and their content using key words. Finally, the NSA apparently stores the history of the connections of each target – or the meta-data.
Starbucks has filed a lawsuit against a Bangkok-based coffee stall owner in a dispute over its logo.
The US firm says the green-and-white “Starbung” emblem used by 43-year-old Damrong Maslae – which features a man in a skullcap pouring coffee and holding up a victory sign – infringes on its intellectual property rights. It is suing Maslae and his brother Damras, with whom he operates the stall, for 300,000 baht (£6,000).
Maslae, a father of six who has been serving coffee for 15 years, told the Guardian that his logo was created by a design-savvy friend and inspired not by the US firm but by Maslae’s religion, Islam.
“My logo is halal and has a moon and a star, and is green for the colour of Islam,” said Maslae, better known by customers as Bung. “Starbucks has insisted I take out the green and the words star and coffee. I can’t do that.”
Today the Committee to Protect Journalists unveiled a detailed, sober assessment of press freedom in the United States during President Obama’s tenure. The report concluded that far from fulfilling his campaign promise to improve transparency, the president has instead presided over an unprecedented campaign to contain leaks and to control media coverage of government operations.
The fact that the CPJ issued the report at all underscores how hostile official policy has been to journalists. While the CPJ has reported on press freedoms in countries around the world since the early 1980s, this is its first investigation focused on the United States. Leonard Downie Jr., former executive editor of The Washington Post, wrote the report, with input from several dozen Washington journalists, media advocates and former government officials.
A 41-YEAR-OLD native of Monaco increasingly looks to be to banking what Edward Snowden is to American surveillance. In 2008 Hervé Falciani walked out of the Geneva branch of HSBC where he’d worked for three years, clutching five CD-Roms containing data on tens of thousands of account holders. The theft has lobbed a bomb into Europe’s private-banking market, spawning raids and tax-evasion investigations across the continent. In the latest, 90 Belgian agents swooped on the homes of two dozen HSBC clients this week, including several diamond dealers in Antwerp.Mr Falciani went on the run when the Swiss charged him with data theft. After moving to Spain he was jailed, but freed after a judge denied a Swiss extradition request. At one point, he claims, he was kidnapped by Mossad agents who wanted a peek at the client names. He has now taken refuge in France, where the government has offered him protection in return for assisting in its hunt for tax dodgers.
The new Obamacare website Healthcare.gov has had its fair share of problems over the past weeks, and the trouble continues.
While using open-source software is fine, the makers of Healthcare.gov decided to blatantly remove all references to its owners or the original copyright license.
In other words, they simply took the open-source software and are passing it off as their own, a clear violation of the GPL v2 and BSD (3-point) licenses DataTables uses.
JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) has reached a tentative $4 billion deal with the U.S. Federal Housing Finance Agency to settle claims that the bank misled government-sponsored mortgage agencies about the quality of mortgages it sold them during the housing boom, the Wall Street Journal reported on its website on Friday.
The deal is for less than the $6 billion the agency initially sought, the Journal said, citing people close to the discussions.
Even the full $6b would not have been much of an incentive never to do this again.
The first shot was fired on Monday. Teradata, which sells analytics tools for Big Data, warned that quarterly revenues plunged 21% in Asia and 19% in the Middle East and Africa. Wednesday evening, it was IBM’s turn to confess that its hardware sales in China had simply collapsed.