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Blue_Tires

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Gender: Male
Hometown: VA
Home country: USA
Current location: VA
Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 37,262

Journal Archives

NSA top lawyer says tech giants knew about data collection

The top lawyer for the National Security Agency and others from the Obama administration made it clear to the US government's independent oversight board that tech titans knew about government surveillance while it was going on.

NSA general counsel Rajesh De told the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board on Wednesday that tech titans were aware that the NSA was collecting communications and related metadata both for the NSA's "PRISM" program and for "upstream" communications crossing the Internet. PRISM is a surveillance program designed to collect and process "foreign intelligence" that passes through American servers.

The law that authorized the program was 2008's Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act. The Guardian reported that when asked if collection of communications and associated metadata occurred with the "full knowledge and assistance of any company from which information is obtained," De said, "Yes."

De explained to the board that "PRISM was an internal government term that as the result of leaks became the public term." Data collection under PRISM, he said, was a "compulsory legal process, that any recipient company would receive."

http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-57620600-38/nsa-top-lawyer-says-tech-giants-knew-about-data-collection/?Privacy

The other shoe drops...I've said from day one that not only did corporate America know, they were willing partners...

Holder: We're on track to meet NSA reform deadline

The Justice Department and the National Security Agency are on track to meet President Barack Obama's call for officials to come up with plans to revamp or replace an NSA program which gathers massive amounts of data on telephone calls made and received by Americans in order to help investigate possible terroist plots, Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday.

"We will meet the deadline that the president has set," Holder said, referring to the March 28 deadline Obama laid out in a speech in January promising reforms to U.S. intelligence gathering practices.

National Security Agency Director Keith Alexander said in a February 14 speech that "ideas" were headed to the White House the following week, more than a month ahead of the deadline.

In Obama's January speech, he called for an end to the NSA's bulk collection of telephone metadata. He urged replacing the program with one that stored the data with telephone providers, or with a third-party created for that purpose, or that used other capabilities to provide a similar ability to gain insight into terrorist plots.


http://www.politico.com/blogs/under-the-radar/2014/03/holder-were-on-track-to-meet-nsa-reform-deadline-185375.html

Malaysia's Culture Of Secrecy Is A Huge Obstacle In The Plane Search

You almost have to feel bad for the Malaysian government. For years, the world has largely looked the other way from its corrupt and oppressive political system thanks to its impressive economic performance. But now, the search for a missing plane—from an airline that, by the way, has one of the region’s best safety records—has tarnished the country’s reputation in just a week.

While the disappearance is genuinely baffling, and I think it’s far from clear that any country could have done a better job at finding the plane, the search is already being described as an illustrative example of the country’s opaque and dysfunctional political culture.

Then again, you can’t feel too bad for the government. While Malaysia’s lack of transparency isn’t the reason the plane hasn’t been found yet, it’s clearly not helping. Officials have been heavily criticized for waiting four days before publicly disclosing that military radar may have picked up signs that the plane was diverted from its course.

Vietnam says it is scaling back its participation in the search after complaining of “insufficient information” from the Malaysians. China, home to more than two-thirds of the plane’s passengers, has also criticized the “confusion” of the Malaysian response.

http://www.businessinsider.com/culture-of-secrecy-malaysia-2014-3

Robot writes LA Times earthquake breaking news article

The Los Angeles Times was the first newspaper to publish a story about an earthquake on Monday - thanks to a robot writer.

Journalist and programmer Ken Schwencke created an algorithm that automatically generates a short article when an earthquake occurs.

Mr Schwencke told Slate magazine that it took around three minutes for the story to appear online.

The LA Times is a pioneer in the technology which draws on trusted sources - such as the US Geological Survey - and places data into a pre-written template.

As well as the earthquake report, it also uses another algorithm to generate stories about crime in the city - with human editors deciding which ones need greater attention.

Other news organisations have experimented with algorithm-based reporting methods in other areas, particularly sports.

The generated story does not replace the journalist, Mr Schwencke argued, but instead allows available data to be quickly gathered and disseminated.

http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-26614051

What's that word when you're very, very impressed with technological advances, yet scared shitless at the same time??

The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge

“The real enemy is the man who tries to mold the human spirit so that it will not dare to spread its wings.”

In an age obsessed with practicality, productivity, and efficiency, I frequently worry that we are leaving little room for abstract knowledge and for the kind of curiosity that invites just enough serendipity to allow for the discovery of ideas we didn’t know we were interested in until we are, ideas that we may later transform into new combinations with applications both practical and metaphysical.

This concern, it turns out, is hardly new. In The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge (PDF), originally published in the October 1939 issue of Harper’s, American educator Abraham Flexner explores this dangerous tendency to forgo pure curiosity in favor of pragmatism — in science, in education, and in human thought at large — to deliver a poignant critique of the motives encouraged in young minds, contrasting those with the drivers that motivated some of history’s most landmark discoveries.


We hear it said with tiresome iteration that ours is a materialistic age, the main concern of which should be the wider distribution of material goods and worldly opportunities. The justified outcry of those who through no fault of their own are deprived of opportunity and a fair share of worldly goods therefore diverts an increasing number of students from the studies which their fathers pursued to the equally important and no less urgent study of social, economic, and governmental problems. I have no quarrel with this tendency. The world in which we live is the only world about which our senses can testify. Unless it is made a better world, a fairer world, millions will continue to go to their graves silent, saddened, and embittered. I have myself spent many years pleading that our schools should become more acutely aware of the world in which their pupils and students are destined to pass their lives. Now I sometimes wonder whether that current has not become too strong and whether there would be sufficient opportunity for a full life if the world were emptied of some of the useless things that give it spiritual significance; in other words, whether our conception of what .is useful may not have become too narrow to be adequate to the roaming and capricious possibilities of the human spirit.

Flexner goes on to explore the question from two points of view — the scientific and the humanistic, or spiritual — and recounts a conversation with legendary entrepreneur and Kodak founder George Eastman, in which the two debate who “the most useful worker in science in the world” is. Eastman points to radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi, but Flexner stumps Eastman by arguing that, despite his invention, Marconi’s impact on improving human life was “practically negligible.” His explanation bespeaks a familiar subject — combinatorial creativity and the additive nature of invention:

http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/07/27/the-usefulness-of-useless-knowledge/

http://library.ias.edu/files/UsefulnessHarpers.pdf

Vietnam vet to receive long-delayed Medal of Honor

MELBOURNE, Fla. — Melvin Morris, a highly decorated retired Army sergeant first class, will receive another recognition Tuesday — the Medal of Honor.

Morris, 72, is among 24 — only three of whom are living — who will receive the highest honor of bravery from President Barack Obama during a special ceremony at the White House. The veterans being recognized served during World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars.

The Medal of Honor is awarded to members of the Armed Forces who distinguish themselves conspicuously by gallantry above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States.

STORY: Obama to award Medals of Honor to overlooked veterans

The mass awarding of medals has its roots back in 2002 when Congress ordered a review of the war records of Jewish and Hispanic veterans to see whether any might have been passed over for the Medal of Honor because of anti-Semitism or racism. The review was later expanded to include African-Americans.

Slim choices

Career choices were slim for black men in Oklahoma in the 1950s. Morris, born and raised in the farming town of Okmulgee, figured he could work in the fields, maybe in carpentry.

Or join the military.

Morris signed up with the Oklahoma Army National Guard in 1959. Shortly after, he asked to join the active duty Army.
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/03/17/vietnam-vet-to-receive-long-delayed-medal-of-honor/6535693/

Crimean Voters Excited To Exercise Democracy For Last Time

SIMFEROPOL, UKRAINE—Following yesterday’s referendum in which 97 percent of voters cast ballots in favor of seceding from Ukraine and joining the Russian Federation, Crimean citizens expressed their excitement Monday at participating in the democratic process one final time. “It brought me such great personal joy to head to the polls and, for the last time ever, have my vote tallied and actually mean something,” said local businessman Sergei Petrov of his vote in support of annexation by Russia, echoing the enthusiasm of hundreds of thousands of his fellow Crimeans who proudly took part in their final opportunity to assert their collective will at the ballot box. “Yesterday was a historic day for Crimea. Our people had a say in their future, and our voices were heard loud and clear, which is extremely special given that it won’t happen again for who knows how long.” At press time, Crimeans were commemorating the vote to become Russian citizens by eagerly watching and reading coverage of the momentous event in the limited handful of sanctioned media sources they now have available to them.

http://www.theonion.com/articles/crimean-voters-excited-to-exercise-democracy-for-l,35548/

Race Matters: “Afraid Of Dark” Documentary Addresses Damaging Black Men Stereotypes

According to Huffington Post:

Tragedies like the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant and Jordan Davis — and the public outcries that have followed each one — are proof that that there is a sharp awareness in the black community of the unjust targeting of black males, as well as the cultural stereotypes and myths that fuel it. This year, one film will explore the fears that underlie the criticism, marginalization and seemingly systematic incarceration of black men, as well as the violence so often directed toward them.

The upcoming documentary “Afraid Of Dark” will examine racial stereotypes associated with black masculinity and the societal fears that ensue from them. The film will include interviews with rappers, actors and politicians describing their own experiences with prejudice and injustice.

“Afraid of Dark” Filmmaker Mya B explains why now is the right time to put this out to the public…

Via Indiewire Blog:

Sometimes when you’re a filmmaker it takes so long to make a film, that you wonder if it still will be relevant, or if anyone will care about it, once it’s finally finished. Well, according to Brooklyn-based filmmaker Mya B, speaking on her new documentary feature film, Afraid of Dark, she, in fact, wondered just that about her film, or, as she says, when she started the project she had “no idea that it would be more relevant now than ever, and that it would take shape the way it did. I pray that it wakes up the masses not only in our community, but in others as well.”

“I wanted to analyze the damaging stereotypes of black men which has led to them being murdered and criminalized. I also wanted black men to receive their glory outside of all the bad things you hear in the media and profile the amazing black men I know and who are in our communities. More importantly I wanted people to never forget those black youth and men who never got justice in death by honoring them in the film to keep them alive in our memories.”

Watch the trailer below and discuss…

- See more at: http://bossip.com/932006/race-matters-afraid-of-dark-documentary-addresses-damaging-black-men-stereotypes-video/#sthash.6pgR5ClC.dpuf

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/14/afraid-of-dark-trailer_n_4964027.html?ir=Black+Voices

http://blogs.indiewire.com/shadowandact/now-documentary-afraid-of-the-dark-examines-why-is-everyone-afraid-of-black-men

Defense Contractor Pleads Guilty to Sharing State Secrets with His Chinese Girlfriend

U.S. Defense Contractor Pleads Guilty to Sharing State Secrets with His Chinese Girlfriend

Theirs was an unconventional love story. He was a 59-year-old, married defense contractor with a Top Secret security clearance. She was a 27-year-old Chinese national with a student visa. They met at a defense conference in Hawaii, where he lived, and began an illicit, long-distance romance that lasted nearly three years and saw him give her reams of classified U.S. military secrets.

But like all good love stories, this one ends unhappily. On Thursday, Benjamin Bishop pled guilty in federal court to charges of unlawfully transmitting and retaining classified national defense information.

When the couple began the ill-fated love affair, Bishop was working in cyber defense at the U.S. Pacific Command, and the young woman was attending graduate school in the United States on a J-1 visa. Their courtship was unusual from the beginning: According to an FBI affidavit, she repeatedly asked Bishop not to give her classified information, but nevertheless persisted in asking him questions about his work at Pacific Command. At one point, she even asked him to conduct research for her on "what Western nation's know about the operation of a particular naval asset of the People's Republic of China," according to the affidavit. Bishop, who is a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve, managed to obtain the information she wanted by misrepresenting himself as an active-duty officer to U.S. government personnel.

For obvious reasons, various media have branded her a Chinese "honeytrap," fueling speculation that she's actually a spy who seduced Bishop in order to gain access to sensitive military information. Who needs sophisticated hacker groups, after all, when you have 27-year-old co-eds? FBI Special Agent Scott Freeman acknowledged in an affidavit that that the young woman may have attended the conference in Hawaii "in order to target individuals such as Bishop."

But in court, Bishop's attorney, Birney Bervar, characterized the couple's exchange of secret information as an act of love, not espionage.


http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2014/03/13/how_to_set_a_honeytrap_us_defense_contractor_pleads_guilty_to_sharing_state_secrets

http://news.yahoo.com/us-man-plead-guilty-espionage-charges-121024892.html?.tsrc=attmp

Minorities in tech: A vastly under-tapped market

As the economy gets stronger, jobs in the tech sector continue to boom. Every month around 9,600 technology-related jobs are added. Which is why teaching technology — be it MOOCs, code camps, meetups — has become such a popular entrepreneurial endeavor over the past few years.

But not everyone has been catching the wave. Minorities and women represent a tiny fraction of the robust technology economy. The good news, I suppose, is that there are advocates and leaders out there trying to fix this. And, well, they have their work cut out for them. South by Southwest held a fascinating, albeit depressingly under-attended, panel on this issue with a few of these leaders.

To give you a sense of the inequality gap Laura Weidman Powers, co-founder and executive director of the minority engineer advocacy program CODE2040, says the average income of a computer science graduate equals the median income of one black and one latino family combined. That is, one engineer rakes in more cash than two entire families.

That’s why she views her role as so important. “There’s a deep need for technical talent,” she told the audience. “There will be a million jobs in tech unfilled by 2020.”

A great deal of what she does is to seek out universities that have top minority engineers of which most companies aren’t aware. CODE2040 has mapped out and connected with institutions it considers underserved by current recruiters. “ think they’e tapped the talent pool, and what we’re saying is ‘no, you have not,”" Powers said.

http://pando.com/2014/03/10/minorities-in-tech-a-vastly-under-tapped-market/
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