Monthly Archives: August 2016

How WiFi routers can be used to read lips, see through walls, identify people from a group or sniff keys


A WiFi router is as ubiquitous as a toaster nowadays, but while one can ruin your day by serving extra crispy toast, the other has the potential to cause much more mayhem. For one, if your router fails, there’s no internet and we know what that means. Secondly, if there’s a (malevolent) will, a standard router is easily hackable. It can then be used as a gateway to connect to other devices. All of this is conventional network hacking, basically, but by flexing your spying muscles a bit there’s almost no limit to what you can do with a router.

Take this paper published by researchers from the Northwestern Polytechnical University in China which used WiFi signals to identify people. This identification was made based on the shape of people that was read as radio waves bounced back and forth, as well as by the specific way in which people moved. The success ratio was 88.9% to 94.5% in a domestic environment. One potential application is that of having a super custom-made smart home which adjusts lighting, temperature and even music based on the person(s) gait walking through the room. Or you can just use it to spy.


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Why There’s A Media Blackout On The Native American Oil Pipeline Blockade

As the Lakota Sioux continue their peaceful blockade of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline, the story’s absence from the national media narrative is palpable. Considering the corporate media’s chronic quest for controversial stories on government versus public standoffs, you’d think this situation would garner the typical media frenzy invoked during a right-wing militia occupation of a federal building, for example, or a tense standoff between the Black Lives Matter movement and police. But it’s not.

As of late, the media has faced criticism for its selective coverage of certain events — like, say, focusing on single terror attacks in Western Europe that garner thousands of headlines while basically ignoring similar or worse attacks that occur on a constant basis in Muslim-majority countries.

But the confrontation unfolding in North Dakota, in particular, is strikingly similar to the recent standoff at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, which involved a right-wing militia advocating land rights against the federal government. The militia was led by the controversial Bundy family, which previously drew sensationalized coverage during a similar standoff in Nevada in 2014. So why were these stories covered extensively while the other — also centered around land rights — has been mostly ignored?


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Hillary Clinton used BleachBit to wipe emails

The open source disk cleaning application, BleachBit, got quite a decent ad pitch from the world of politics after it was revealed lawyers of the presidential hopeful, Hillary Clinton, used the software to wipe her email servers. Clinton is currently in hot water, being accused of using private servers for storing sensitive emails.

South Carolina Representative, Trey Gowdy, spoke to Fox news about Hillary Clinton’s lawyers using BleachBit to wipe the private servers. He said:

“She and her lawyers had those emails deleted. And they didn’t just push the delete button; they had them deleted where even God can’t read them. They were using something called BleachBit. You don’t use BleachBit for yoga emails or bridesmaids emails. When you’re using BleachBit, it is something you really do not want the world to see.”


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France Passes Copyright Law Demanding Royalties For Every Image Search Engines Index Online

The Disruptive Competition Project is detailing yet another bad copyright law change in Europe — France, in particular, this time. Called the Freedom of Creation Act, it actually passed a few months ago, but people are just beginning to understand and comprehend the full horror of what’s happening. Basically, it will now require any site that indexes images on the internet (i.e., any image search engine) to pay royalties for each image to a collection society.

How would this work? When an image is published online, the reproduction right and the right of communication to the public of this image shall be transferred to one or more collecting societies appointed by the French government. Online communication services “reproducing and communicating to the public images for search and indexing purposes” shall have to obtain a license from those collecting societies to index images legally. The license fee will either be based on the revenue accruing from the exploitation of the service or be a lump sum fee.

Of course, this makes no sense. In the US, thankfully, multiple cases on things like Google Images have found that indexing the images and showing thumbnails is clearly fair use. But that’s not how it’s going to work in France.


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Inside the Misunderstood World of Adult Breastfeeding

Editor’s Note: Some names in this story have been changed at the request of the interview subjects to protect their anonymity.

Elfin* and Gavin* have been together for six years. They have a clear affection for each other, touching each other gently on the shoulder when one says something the other appreciates and often looking at each other lovingly throughout conversation. Their respect and adoration for one another comes through even over a Skype call from their home in Queensland, Australia. Their home appears cozy and comfortable, and Gavin works long hours while Elfin stays home and tends to household needs. They also engage in what they call “feeding” – Elfin induces lactation and produces breast milk for Gavin to consume.

Elfin, 55, and Gavin, 57, are in what’s known as an “adult nursing relationship,” or an “adult breastfeeding relationship.” These arrangements are exactly what they sound like – one partner produces milk to share with the other through breastfeeding. For many, there is a sexual aspect to the nursing part of their relationship, but Adult Nursing Relationships (ANRs) are not strictly sexual. On the social media site FetLife, which serves people interested in BDSM and kink, a few thousand users discuss how they simply enjoy the act of suckling or exchanging milk while cuddling or watching TV on some nights, while on other nights the milk exchange may be part of their foreplay or sex itself. The dynamics of these relationships can be incredibly varied, and they are not limited to heterosexual pairings – there are many women who enjoy the act of suckling a partner, too.


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Sysadmin sticks finger in pipe, saves data centre from flood

On-Call Thank Crom it’s Friday! At the end of today you can get on with what is best in life, which we hope includes reading this instalment of On-Call, our weekly look at legendary tales of IT gone wrong.

This week, meet “George” who tells us he “once worked for a fairly large web hosting company which had a small data centre in the Midlands and a larger one in London.”

George’s story starts with the time his phone rang at 06:00 and the folks on the night shift squawked “THERE’S WATER COMING THROUGH THE CEILING!”

Indeed there was: a pipe joint on the first floor burst when the heating came on and a million-gallon header tank was obeying the laws of gravity.

“Cue panic as water rained from every available light fitting onto hundreds of racked and shelved machines, mostly colocations, on the ground floor.”


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Parents who prefer their cabbage patch son over daughter

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Black Panther Leader Says Trump is RIGHT, Blacks Pimped By Democrats


Blacks Pimped By Democrats

The new Black Panthers leader Quanell X might seem like the last person on the planet to endorse Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for president. But his latest comments sounded awfully close to an endorsement.

His reasoning?

Despite African Americans’ loyalty to the Democractic Party for decades, the black community has seen little in return–especially from the White House. Quanell X believes it is time for blacks to “reexamine” their relationship.

The Independent Journal Review reported that in one of his latest speeches, Quanell X said:

Let me say this to the brothers and sisters who listened and watched that speech. We may not like the vessel that said what he said, but I ask us to truly examine what he said, because it is a fact that for 54 years, we have been voting for the Democratic party like no other race in America.

And they have not given us the same loyalty and love that we have given them. We as black people have to reexamine the relationship — where we are being pimped like prostitutes, and they’re the big pimps pimping us politically, promising us everything and we get nothing in return.”


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Man allegedly added hydrochloric acid to lubricant dispenser in Sydney gay club

A man has been arrested and charged after allegedly putting hydrochloric acid inside what is understood to be a lubricant dispenser at a gay club in Sydney’s north-west.

Police said the 62-year-old man went into the Bridge Street premises in Rydalmere on Saturday, filling a dispenser inside a room with the highly corrosive acid.

The ABC understands the club in question is the Aarows club, which describes itself as “Sydney’s gay and bi social club” with “three levels of adult adventure”.


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SPLC To List White Lives Matter As ‘Hate Group’ But Not Black Lives Matter


By Susan Duclos – All News PipeLine

Huffington Post reports that the Southern Poverty Law Center, a group that once was listed as a “resource” for the FBI, until the 2012 attack at the Family Research Council (FRC) headquarters by Floyd Lee Corkins, who said he “got the idea of killing FRC employees from reading the SPLC hate list and made use of a map of the FRC office found on the SPLC website,” now intends to add “White Lives Matter” to their “hate group” list as well as adding them to their “Hate Map.”

Interesting that White Lives Matter is to be added to their “hate list,” because they conduct armed protests, waving a confederate flag, but Black Lives Matter, whose members have been associated with executing police, threatening to kill cops, blatantly encouraging African Americans to “Kill A White Person, Hang Them From A Tree, Upload A Pic To Social Media,” leaves graffiti saying “kill whitey,” and chant “pigs in a blanket, fry em like bacon,”  are not on SPLC’s hate list or map.


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Moosehead Lager : Suing Moose Whiz Root Beer For Trademark Infringement

Earlier this year, Moosehead Brewery made the wonderful decision to get into a trademark dispute with the makers of a different beer, called Müs Knuckle, I imagine because trademark lawyers now know both that I’m paying attention to these cases and that I have the sense of humor of a high school sophomore. Moosehead essentially asserted that it owned the trademark rights to anything remotely close to “moose”, including made up words that are homonyms but which have delightfully vulgar connotations. Other than the issue of the word “moose”, none of the trade dress in question had anything remotely to do with one another.

Which is slightly different in another trademark suit that Moosehead Brewery has initiated. In the case of Moosehead Brewery v. Moose Wizz Root Beer, the labels are somewhat similar in color and logo, though there is certainly differentiation within them as well. The real issue here, instead, is that one of these is an alcoholic drink while the other is just a soda.

In its claim, Moosehead states: “Moose Wizz root beer products are so similar to Moosehead’s beer sold under the Moosehead Registered Marks as to create a likelihood of confusion.” The Canadian company is seeking damages, including the pulling of all Moose Wizz out of the market and the profits that Adirondack has made on the soda.

Adirondack owner John Carr says no one would confuse Moosehead and Moose Wizz. He points out that one is a beer and the other is a soda.

Which brings us all the way back to a point I’ve been making about trademarks in the alcohol industry for several years now: the USPTO and its Canadian counterpart, CIPO, need to start differentiating between types of beverages. Given the explosion in craft brewing, craft wines, craft spirits, and even craft soda, it simply can’t be enough any longer to get a trademark on “beverages” or something of that sort. It must start being more specific, or we’re going to start to see the trademark dispute carnage currently plaguing the beer industry spilling over into not just other alcohol industries, which has already started, but into other beverage markets as well.

Not to mention the question as to whether or not CIPO should actually be approving trademark registration in Canada that revolve around the word “moose” at all. It certainly feels like a heritage word being carved out of the language of business.  Carr certainly doesn’t seem to think that makes any sense.

“I mean, we’re in the Adirondacks, guys,” he told in a story about the case published in November 2015. “Do you mean we have to take ‘moose’ out of our vocabulary? I don’t like to be bullied,” he said. “I say to them, ‘You don’t own the moose.’ “

Unfortunately, a jury at the trial disagreed and found in favor of Moosehead, awarding the brewer a meager eight thousand dollars.


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Oxford Dictionaries halts search for most disliked word after ‘severe misuse’

The #OneWordMap, an online survey soliciting readers’ least favourite words, is abandoned after site is flooded with offensive choices

An image posted on Twitter of the #OneWordMap
Unusable … an image posted on Twitter of the #OneWordMap after a site visitor attempted to add one of the contentious terms. Photograph: Oxford Dictionaries

It was intended to be a lighthearted quest to find the least popular word in the English language, but only a day after it launched, Oxford Dictionaries has ended its search following “severe misuse” of the feature by visitors to their website.

The dictionary publisher had invited users around the world to name their least favourite English word, intending to highlight differences between countries, genders and ages. When it opened for submissions on Thursday, “moist” was an early contender to top lists in the UK, US and Australia. It was later overtaken by “Brexit”, which went on to head the UK’s list, with “British” in third place.

But the #OneWordMap feature has now been closed, with a notice blaming the shutdown on “severe misuse”.


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Massachusetts Could Swap Time Zones for Later Winter Sunsets

Of all the major cities on America’s eastern seaboard, none is as far north or east as Boston. Which creates a slight problem in winter: The sun sets really early. As in, for most of December, well before happy hour.

The state, it appears, might do something about that. Governor Charles Baker recently signed a bill ordering a study of the wisdom of moving its 10,555 square miles into a time zone that would brighten the end of the day in the months the Northern Hemisphere tilts away from the sun. The idea came from Quincy resident Tom Emswiler, who worries Massachusetts is losing college grads to sunnier climes. On Dec. 9 last year, the sun went down in Boston at 4:11 p.m., only 22 minutes later than in the Yukon.

There is indeed dissatisfaction among young people with a city that can go dark about three hours after lunch. “You look out the window and it shoots your day,” says Sahil Bhaiwala, 21, a Boston University mathematics and economy major headed into his senior year. “All you feel like doing is going home, making dinner and going to bed.”

To keep the likes of Bhaiwala from running off to Silicon Valley, Emswiler says, Massachusetts should throw in with those who live in the Atlantic Time Zone, which covers eastern Canada, the Caribbean and parts of South America, and do away with changing the clocks in spring and summer. From November through March, the sun would set an hour later than it does now, and those brutish winter days would lose some of their sting.


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Leaked Document Shows How The NSA Planned To Hack Your Smartphone

Worried about NSA spying on your phone conversations? Heres a reason to worry even more. The CBC is reporting that the spy agency had a plan that would target your smartphone with spyware.

According to the report, the NSA, and its spying partners in the Five Eyes alliance Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia intended to exploit vulnerabilities in a popular browser in order to hack into smartphones via the Google and Samsung app stores.

A document released by whistleblower Edward Snowden reveals how the plans were discussed at workshops held in Australia in late 2011 through early 2012. The document indicates that the ultimate goal of the spy agencies involved was to install spyware on certain smartphones, and extract data from them.


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FBI Investigating Hacking of Election Boards in Two States

The FBI is investigating hacking attacks on at least two state election boards, one of which resulted in data being stolen, according to an alert from the agency’s cyber division.

“The FBI is requesting that states contact their Board of Elections and determine if any similar activity to their logs, both inbound and outbound, has been detected,” the agency warned in the alert issued on Aug. 18.

The majority of data stolen from one state’s board of elections website occurred in July, while an attempt to hack into the election system of another state was made in August, according to the alert, which didn’t identify the states or what type of data was stolen. While election boards maintain voter registration data, most of that information is public. The Federal Bureau of Investigation memo was first reported Monday by Yahoo News.


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Thefts of unlocked cars with keys inside becoming ‘trend,’ police say


Thefts of unlocked cars with keys inside becoming 'trend,' police say


Elmhurst police are warning residents take their keys out and lock their cars after an uptick in car thefts.

Calling it a “new crime trend,” police say thieves are stealing unlocked vehicles with keys or key fobs left inside. Over 100 vehicles have been stolen and more than 200 vehicles have been burglarized, police said.

In most reported cases, the stolen vehicles have been identified as high-end unlocked cars parked overnight in residential driveways, police said.

“This crime trend has been occurring since May in targeted areas close to major highways.


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This town is tackling education, nutrition, and crime by growing fruits and veggies.

Can you imagine fighting crime with fruits and vegetables?

Not with some sort of make-believe banana gun. I’m talking about the real thing here! It sounds a little out there, but believe it or not, the tactic worked for one particular Texas town.

And that’s not the only thing that changed.

Over on the East Side of San Antonio, one nonprofit has been re-energizing the community with a back-to-basics approach: gardening.

Stephen Lucke started Gardopia Gardens while attending the University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) as a way to educate his peers on the relationship between nutrition and poverty. He felt the best way to address those issues was through a community garden where everyone could get involved and grow amazing produce together.


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Norway man rescued after climbing into public toilet


Firefighters in Norway have pulled a man from the inside of a toilet after he lowered himself in to retrieve a friend’s phone and became stuck in the tank below.

Cato Berntsen Larsen climbed feet-first into the public facility after his friend dropped the phone while urinating.

Mr Berntsen Larsen said he had volunteered to enter the tank, which is not connected to the sewer and which is only emptied once a season.

The 20-year-old became sick as he stood thigh-deep in its contents, and had to spend an hour completely enclosed in the small area.


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Open Source Processor That Can Power A 200,000-core Computer

piton chip princeton

Short Bytes: The researchers at Princeton University have developed an open source chip named Piton. This 25-core chip is highly scalable. The researchers aim to build a 200,000-core computer using 8,000 Piton chips. Piton is made to address data centers’ specific requirements like high speed and low energy consumption.

Data centers, which often look like giant warehouses, store humongous amounts of data and support multiple cloud-based services. However, the computer chips that power these giants don’t differ much from the ones used in your computers.

A group of researchers at Princeton University has developed a new computer chip that claims to boost the performance of data centers. Unarguably, these massive centers power today’s internet. The researchers have built a chip specifically to address the needs of these servers.

Named Piton, after the metal spikes used to easily climb mountains, this chip was presented at Hot Chips, a symposium on high-performance chips, on August 23.

Piton could effectively reduce the energy usage while boosting the processing speed. Thanks to its scalable architecture, designs ranging from a dozen to several thousand cores can be built. The developers of Piton wish to build an insane 200,000-c0re computer powered by 8,000 64-bit Piton chips.

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KFC creates chicken-scented ‘Extra Crispy’ sunscreen

“Colonel Sanders” (George Hamilton) shows off a bottle of KFC Col. Sanders’ Extra Crispy Sunscreen. Photo courtesy of KFC

LOUISVILLE, Ky., Aug. 23 (UPI) — Fried chicken chain KFC is venturing into non-edible goods with its latest product — “Extra Crispy’ sunscreen designed to smell like chicken.

The chain tweeted an announcement Monday offering the KFC Col. Sanders’ Extra Crispy SPF 30 sunscreen for free on a special website, and the run of 3,000 was advertised as available until Sept. 30 or “while supplies last” — which turned out to be a pretty short amount of time.

“This was a limited-time offer and we ran out of the KFC Extra Crispy Sunscreen. Please accept our apologies in the form of this amazing website that you can still look at,” read Tuesday.


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Study Finally Admits Drug Prices Are High Because Govt Grants Big Pharma A Monopoly

In what can only be described as paradigm-shattering research on drug prices, the Journal of the American Medical Association has officially recognized why drug prices skyrocket in America. Big pharma is granted a monopoly by the State which effectively eliminates their competition and allows them to charge any price they want — so they do.

The new paper, published on August 23, “The High Cost of Prescription Drugs in the United States: Origins and Prospects for Reform,” set out to  “review the origins and effects of high drug prices in the US market and to consider policy options that could contain the cost of prescription drugs.”

What the paper’s authors, Harvard Medical School doctors Aaron Kesselheim and Jerry Avorn, and jurist Ameet Sarpatwari, found and subsequently admitted, shatters the very assertion that government regulation in the market is needed to keep medical care costs low. In fact, their findings were quite to the contrary.

According to the paper:

The most important factor that allows manufacturers to set high drug prices is market exclusivity, protected by monopoly rights awarded upon Food and Drug Administration approval and by patents.


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Angler hooks German’s todger at nudist lake

Fish hook in a clear light blue tropical ocean. Photo by Shutterstock

A plucky German nudist out for a swim at a local lake was left in agony after an angler hooked his worm.

Herbert Fendt – an alias the embarrassed man adopted to spare his family’s blushes – was taking a dip in the Kaisersee, near Augsburg in south-eastern Germany, when the tackle-on-tackle action occurred.

Initially the man thought he’d caught his todger on some weeds in the lake – a popular spot for fisherman and nudists – but soon discovered the cause of the pain.

“I cried out to the fisherman ashore shouting ‘do not pull, do not pull’. I was terrified he was going to try to reel me in,” Fendt told the local press.

Back at the lakeside, Fendt was unable to remove the hook – but he cut the fishing line and cycled home before he drove to the hospital where a slightly amused doc was on hand to help.


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Anonymous Not Welcome In Dakota Access Pipeline Protests

The native American Indian population is disavowing any ties and pushing away any help the Anonymous hacker collective is trying to provide as part of protests against the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline.

Several American Indian communities, led by members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, have gathered outside Cannon Ball, a town in North Dakota, near a construction site where preparatory work is being carried out for Dakota Access, a 1,170-mile oil pipeline that links North Dakota oil fields with other Illinois pipelines.

Several parties are involved in the protests, from native American Indian communities that say the pipeline passes through their ancestral grounds, to local farmers unhappy their lands are used against their will, and environmental groups fighting against yet another environmental disaster waiting to happen. A New York Times article provides more details about the legal fights surrounding the pipeline’s construction.

Anonymous gets involved

On Friday, on the same day news was picking up about the protests, a new Twitter account appeared online called @OpNoDapl, as part of a joint Anonymous, AnonGhost, Ghost Squad Hackers (GSH), and MniWiconiSec (Canadian hacking group) operation.

The account claimed to speak for the Native American people and tweeted out a link with targets it wanted other Anonymous members to take down.

The list included websites for the US National Guard, the North Dakota state government, and Keystone XL, another controversial pipeline construction project. Softpedia has also discovered a YouTube video supporting this campaign, published a day earlier.


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America To Hand Off Internet In Under Two Months

Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) enabled President Barack Obama to negotiate the terms of the international agreement without congressional input.

While the TPP has come under increasing scrutiny for its potential to erode the sovereignty of countries, an often overlooked aspect of the treaty is its threat to a free and open Internet.

According to The Washington Examiner ,The Department of Commerce is set to hand off the final vestiges of American control over the Internet to international authorities in less than two months, officials have confirmed.

The department will finalize the transition effective Oct. 1, Assistant Secretary Lawrence Strickling wrote on Tuesday, barring what he called “any significant impediment.”


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Who… — Freedom Is Just Another Word…

via Who… — Freedom Is Just Another Word…

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‘Smart’ Power Outlets Are Now Botnets Thanks To The Internet Of Broken Things

8394460278_eff1295ee0_power-outlets“Making fun of the Internet of Things has become a sort of national pastime, made possible by a laundry list of companies jumping into the space without the remotest idea what they’re actually doing. When said companies aren’t busy promoting some of the dumbest ideas imaginable, they’re making it abundantly clear that the security of their “smart,” connected products is absolutely nowhere to be found. And while this mockery is well-deserved, it’s decidedly less funny once you realize these companies are introducing thousands of new attack vectors in every home and business network the world over.

Overshadowed by the lulz is the width and depth of incompetence on display. Thermostats that fail to heat your home. Door locks that don’t protect you. Refrigerators that leak Gmail credentials. Children’s toys that listen to your kids’ prattle, then (poorly) secure said prattle in the cloud. Cars that could, potentially, result in your death. The list goes on and on, and it grows exponentially by the week.


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“Deadly Heat” in U.S. Prisons Is Killing Inmates and Spawning Lawsuits

In the summer months, 84 inmates at the Price Daniel Unit, a medium-security prison four hours west of Dallas, share a 10-gallon cooler of water that’s kept locked in a common area. An inmate there can expect to receive one 8 oz. cup every four hours, according to Benny Hernandez, a man serving a 10-year sentence at the prison. The National Academy of Medicine recommends that adults drink about twice that amount under normal conditions and even more in hot climates. According to Hernandez, in the summer the temperature in his prison’s housing areas can reach an astonishing 140 degrees.

The prison provides ice for the cooler twice a day, but the ice has long melted before the hottest part of the day, he wrote in a post on Prison Writers, a website where inmates share their experiences behind bars. “Prisoners look upon the summer months in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) with dread and trepidation,” he wrote. “For one is acutely aware that one may not survive another summer. Many do not.”

The TDCJ, which runs Texas prisons and houses more than 146,000 inmates, is currently in the middle of litigation over what inmates and advocates have said is deadly heat in its facilities. But Texas is not the only state facing such lawsuits. Louisiana is defending its refusal to install air conditioning on death row, while prisons and jails across the country have been ordered by courts to address their sweltering temperatures and extend protections to inmates, particularly the ill and elderly.


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Want to know how NSA snoops on you? Here are some tools it uses

Here are some of the NSA snooping tools leaked by Shadow Broke

In what could be the hack of this decade, a hacking group called Shadow Brokers claims to have hacked NSA and has access to some of the most scariest hacking and snooping tools.

Shadow Brokers are willing to sell this tools to the highest bidder according to various news reports. As of now, Shadow Brokers say they dumped 60 percent of all the stolen files, and started an auction, promising to give the winner access to the other 40 percent.

The veracity and authenticity of the NSA hacking tools has been confirmed by multiple sources. Security researchers from Kaspersky have confirmed the leaked data is similar to what they have seen from past Equation Group malware. Another investigative website, The Intercept, with the help of Snowden documents, has tied the leaked malware with actual NSA cyber-weapons.


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Watermelon Plant That Yielded 131 Fruit in a Single Harvest Sets New World Record

Watermelon plants usually yield only 1 to 4 fruit per harvest, but a new variety created by an agricultural technology company in China has recently set a new Guinness Record after yielding no less than 131 massive fruit.

The Chinese seem to be really good at creating super plants. Just weeks after we posted about their impressive “octopus tomato trees” that can yield over 30,000 fruits at a time, we bring you the “watermelon king”, a new breed of watermelon that can set over 100 viable fruits per plant. Created by the Zhengzhou Research Seedling Technology Co., Ltd., the plant has been acknowledged as the most productive watermelon plant in the world after yielding 131 fruit in just 90 days.


While typical watermelon plants may also set dozens of fruit in the beginning, they then abort most of them, with only the strongest of fruit remaining to ripen. But the new super-plant developed by agronomist Zhu Xuegang and his research team didn’t let any of the watermelons shrivel up and die. Planted on April 26, on a 100-square-meter plot in Xizheng, the vine sprouted from the ground on May 1st, started flowering on June 1st and by July 31st, the 131 melons were ready for harvest.


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Do You Rely on GPS? Thank Chuck E. Cheese and William F. Buckley.

Most of us would be lost without GPS. So why do we think it’s hilarious when people drive into the ocean or walk to the Arctic Circle because phone maps told them to? In Pinpoint, author Greg Milner looks at our uneasy relationship with the technology and the ways GPS has reorganized our culture and our brains.On The Spiel, Mike looks at Donald Trump’s latest failed endeavor: public opinion polling.


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Hungary planning ‘massive’ new border fence to keep out refugees


Hungary is planning a new and even “more massive” fence to prevent refugees from crossing its border on their way to western Europe.

The Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, said the construction would stop any surge in asylum seekers if the EU-Turkey deal reducing boat crossings over the Aegean Sea collapses.

“Technical planning is under way to erect a more massive defence system next to the existing line of defence, which was built quickly [last year],” he said.


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Germany Interior Minister Pushing For Deployment Of Facial Recognition Software In Public Areas

Facial recognition software is the wave of the future present. The FBI — acting without a required Privacy Impact Assessment — rolled out its system in 2014, finding that a 20% false hit rate was good enough for government (surveillance) work.

Following in the footsteps of Facebook, governments slanting towards the authoritarian side (that’s you, Russia!) have deployed facial recognition software to help ensure its citizens are stripped of their anonymity.

Other governments not so seemingly bent on obedience to the state have done the same. UK law enforcement has quietly built a huge facial recognition database and Brazil experimented with police equipment that would turn officers into Robocops — providing real-time facial recognition to cops via some sort of Google Glass-ish headgear. If what we know about facial recognition software’s accuracy rates holds true, the goggles will, indeed, do nothing.


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Video: Keep Prying Eyes Off Your Laptop With Built-in Privacy Filter

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No Mans Sky: A Deist Simulated Universe

I don’t play No Man’s Sky (yet?), the pictures here were taken by my friend Extropia DaSilva who is busy exploring the simulated universe. Perhaps I will follow, but perhaps not: I am sure I would love No Man’s Sky and find it addictive, but I prefer to develop visions of hope for everyone to visit, one day, the big No Man’s Sky out there. However, No Man’s Sky is the richest simulation that we have developed so far, and an impressive technological feat.

No Man’s Sky is a simulated universe with more than 18 quintillion planets – players can explore 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 different planets, with unique geography, features, and strange life forms (see one in the picture below). Now, how could the game developers code that much detail? They didn’t: the simulated universe is procedurally generated, with the generation driven by overall design specifications and mathematical templates.

So No Man’s Sky is an example of a Deist universe: the creators set overall laws and parameters the would generate an interesting universe, and let the creation unfold.

God did something like that, too:

And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures… Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.” – Genesis


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Roomba vs Poop: Teaching Robots to Detect Pet Mess

Imagine this: you come home after a day at work. As you open the door, your nose is the first alert that something is very, very wrong. Instead of the usual house smell, your nose is assaulted with the distinctive aroma that means your dog had an accident. The smell is stronger though — as if Fido brought over a few friends and they all had a party. Flipping the lights on, the true horror is revealed to you. This was a team effort, but only one dog was involved.

At some point after the dog’s deed, Roomba, your robot vacuum, took off on its scheduled daily run around the house. The plucky little robot performed its assigned duties until it found the mess. The cleaning robot then became an agent of destruction, smearing a foul smelling mess throughout the space it was assigned to clean. Technology sometimes has unintended consequences. This time, your technology has turned against you.

This scene isn’t a work of fiction. For a select few families, it has become an all too odoriferous reality just begging for a clever fix.

r900iRobot’s Roomba has been around for 14 years now. Over the years Roomba has evolved into a complex robotic vacuum. Current models have the iconic front bump sensor, as well as cliff sensors for stairs. A forward IR sensor allows the robot to slow down before striking furniture. Dirt detectors determine if an area is clean, or needs more attention. The flagship 900 series even includes a camera and computer running the Visual Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (vSLAM) algorithm.


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Dotcom Wants Extradition Hearing Live-Streamed, U.S. Does Not

Kim Dotcom is hoping to have his fight with the U.S. government pushed further into the public consciousness by having his extradition appeal streamed live on the Internet. U.S. authorities are already objecting to Dotcom’s application but they could be up against stiff opposition since New Zealand is proud of its courtroom transparency.

kimfugitiveEarlier this month, Kim Dotcom experienced a setback when the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected his efforts to regain control over millions of dollars in assets seized by the US Government.

Branding the Megaupload founder a fugitive, the Court effectively denied Dotcom the ability to properly defend himself, should he be extradited to the United States from New Zealand.

Together with his former Megaupload colleagues Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk and Finn Batato, Dotcom was found eligible for extradition to the United States last December. His appeal will take place at the High Court in Auckland this month and Dotcom wants the whole world to see.


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Restricted U.S. Army Geospatial Intelligence Handbook

TC 2-22.7 Geospatial Intelligence Handbook

Page Count: 130 pages
Date: February 18, 2011
Restriction: Distribution authorized to U.S. Government agencies only because it requires protection in accordance with AR 380-5 or as specified by DCS G-3 Message DTG 091913Z Mar 04.
Originating Organization: Department of the Army
File Type: pdf
File Size: 32,687,748 bytes
File Hash (SHA-256): 901B2E4FF2EB798C51BBC38BCF5961BA1C9E1E42B32FBCD48E9813174EFFAF0B

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This training circular provides GEOINT guidance for commanders, staffs, trainers, engineers, and military intelligence personnel at all echelons. It forms the foundation for GEOINT doctrine development. It also serves as a reference for personnel who are developing doctrine; tactics, techniques, and procedures; materiel and force structure; and institutional and unit training for intelligence operations.


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Lobster Festival Forced to Eat Hotdogs Instead After Air Canada Loses Lobsters

An Alberta woman tried to share some Newfoundland lobster with her friends and family, but Air Canada got in the way.

Jackie Panuisiak hosts the annual Northern Alberta Lobster Festival in the community of Cotillion. She had ordered some 145 pounds of live lobster to be shipped from this province to Alberta. The problem is that the lobsters didn’t arrive.

When Panuisiak’s sister talked to Air Canada about what happened, she says they were rude and unhelpful. She says they were passed off to Air Canada’s Cargo Relations and were met with more unhelpful behaviour. She says they did not admit any fault in the matter.

It turns out the lobsters were in Toronto, but Air Canada’s tracking system said they had arrived. Panuisiak says it raises concerns about the reliability of Air Canada’s tracking system.


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The Science of Fear-Mongering: How to Protect Your Mind from Demagogues

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Researchers Create Algorithm That Diagnoses Depression From Your Instagram Feed

A psychology graduate student and a professor of mathematical, natural, and technical sciences may have just cracked clinical depression wide open. The answer, they found, may lie in your Instagram feed — if their groundbreaking machine learning algorithm gets a look at your photos.

Harvard University’s Andrew Reece and the University of Vermont’s Chris Danforth crafted an algorithm that can correctly diagnose depression, with up to 70 percent accuracy, based on a patient’s Instagram feed alone.

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