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Member since: Tue Nov 9, 2004, 11:55 PM
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Thiel company helped support NSA spy program: report

Source: The Hill

Billionaire Peter Thiel’s company Palantir helped support the National Security Agency’s controversial spy program XKeyscore, according to a report in The Intercept citing previously undisclosed documents from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Palantir helped build software to accelerate and increase the NSA’s use of XKeyscore, according to the documents.


Thiel is an adviser to President Trump who has reportedly spearheaded the search for chair of the Federal Trade Commission and the antitrust head at the Justice Department.


According to the new disclosures, Palantir has also been employed by at least three members of the intelligence alliance called “Five Eyes” that connects the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada with the United States.


Read more: http://thehill.com/policy/cybersecurity/320592-palantir-helped-support-nsa-spy-program-xkeyscore-report

Robot probes show Japan reactor cleanup worse than expected

Source: Associated Press

Robot probes sent to one of Japan’s wrecked Fukushima nuclear reactors have suggested worse-than-anticipated challenges for the plant’s ongoing cleanup.

The plant’s operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said the remote-controlled “scorpion” robot was sent into the Unit 2 reactor’s containment vessel Thursday to investigate the area around the core that had melted six years ago, but its crawling function failed while climbing over highly radioactive debris.

The robot, carrying a dosimeter, thermometer and two small cameras, transmitted some data and visuals but could not locate melted fuel - key information to determine how to remove debris out of the reactor. The robot was abandoned inside the vessel at a location where it won’t block a future probe.

Preliminary examinations over the past few weeks have detected structural damage to planned robot routes and higher-than-expected radiation inside the Unit 2 containment chamber, suggesting the need to revise robot designs and probes.


Read more: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/bad-news-from-japans-wrecked-fukushima-nuclear-reactor/

Pentagon Papers whistleblower: Leaks 'can make a difference'

Source: The Hill

Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg suggested that the leaking of certain information might be justified in the Trump administration.

Following President Donald Trump’s recent statements threatening harsh penalties for those who leak privileged government information — including that leakers would “pay a big price” — Daniel Ellsberg encouraged further public disclosure of certain types of government secrets.

“I’m saying I want people to put out the truth as they see it, their version of the facts, as they see it, yes,” Ellsberg said to a crowd of around 200 during a public dialogue at Georgetown University. “There is a chance it can make a difference, and I think it will make a difference in various ways.”

Specifically, Ellsberg said government information should be released when it is crucial to the public interest and that of Congress, when lives depend on the information and when it reveals that the U.S. Constitution is being violated.


Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/320046-pentagon-papers-whistleblower-leaks-can-make-a-difference

WikiLeaks Latest Documents: CIA Spied On French Presidents, Political Parties In 2012

Source: International Business Times

Seven documents allegedly show the Central Intelligence Agency spied on all of France’s major political parties in the months leading up to the country’s 2012 presidential election, WikiLeaks revealed Wednesday.

That the United States spied on French and other world leaders is nothing new, but WikiLeaks latest document dump asserts the CIA employed three “tasking orders” to target France’s Union for a Popular Movement, the Socialist Party and the National Front parties.

The report also said current President Francois Hollande, ex-President Nicholas Sarkozy, leading candidate Marine Le Pen, and former candidates Dominique Strauss-Khan and Martine Aubry were each targeted by one of the main U.S. intelligence arms.

The alleged operation took place from November 2011 to September 2012, or 10 months.


Read more: http://www.ibtimes.com/wikileaks-latest-documents-cia-spied-french-presidents-political-parties-2012-2493301

Toshiba's Chairman Resigns as Its Nuclear Power Losses Mount

Source: New York Times

Toshiba, the embattled technology conglomerate, said it planned to write off more than $6 billion and withdraw from the business of building nuclear power plants as the impact of a disastrous bet on American nuclear energy continued to rock a mainstay of corporate Japan.

The company also said on Tuesday that its chairman, Shigenori Shiga, would resign, ending weeks of speculation.

Its executives have come under intense scrutiny because of the financial mess and the years of flawed business decisions that led to it. The company said it was examining whether managers had acted inappropriately when they struck a deal to buy a company at the center of the problems.


Reactors that the company is building in the United States at the Virgil C. Summer nuclear station in South Carolina and the Alvin W. Vogtle nuclear plant in Georgia are about three years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget. Plants in China are also taking longer than planned to complete.


Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/14/business/toshiba-chairman-nuclear-loss.html

Those projects should be canceled immediately, they are a waste of money.

Thank you fo the heart; Heart - The Rain Song

This song pulls on my heart strings.
Thank you.

Cleaner Robot Pulled From Fukushima Reactor Due to Radiation

Source: Associated Press

A remote-controlled "cleaning" robot that entered one of three wrecked Fukushima reactor containment chambers Thursday had to be pulled out before completing its mission due to camera glitches most likely caused by high radiation.


The robot went only partway on a narrow bridge into a space under the core that TEPCO wants to inspect closely. It crawled down the passage while blowing off some debris with a water spray and peeling them with a scraper on its head, and about two hours later, the two cameras on the robot suddenly developed a lot of noise and its image quickly darkened — a sign of a mechanical glitch from high radiation.


The robot is designed to withstand up to 1,000 Sieverts of radiation, and its two-hour endurance roughly matched the estimated radiation level of 650 Sieverts based on noise analysis of the images transmitted by the robot-mounted cameras. That's less than 1 percent of radiation levels inside a running reactor, but still would kill a person almost instantly.


Read more: http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/cleaner-robot-pulled-fukushima-reactor-due-radiation-45369788

Trump rule chills Energy Dept. nuclear whistleblowers

Source: Washington Post

Like a stinging winter wind, Trump administration action gives a chill to Energy Department whistleblowers.

The department has temporarily halted an Obama administration regulation permitting civil penalties against federal nuclear contractors that retaliate against whistleblowers who report waste, fraud and dangerous conditions.


“There is already a chilled atmosphere for DOE whistleblowers, and the rule that has now been stayed was meant to help address that problem,” said Lydia Dennett, an investigator with the Project on Government Oversight. “Halting the regulation from going forward does nothing to help the department and certainly will not encourage whistleblowers to come forward with legitimate safety concerns.”

Added Louis Clark, executive director and chief executive of the whistleblower advocacy Government Accountability Project: “We have had to engage in pitched litigation against contractors who routinely fire any whistleblower who dares to expose contract fraud, extraordinary public health and safety dangers, and massive contamination of the environment and the workforce — 80 percent of the DOE’s entire budget goes to these contractors.”


Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/pb/news/powerpost/wp/2017/02/09/trump-rules-suspend-penalties-for-retaliation-against-energy-whistleblowers/?outputType=accessibility&nid=menu_nav_accessibilityforscreenreader

China urges Japan to explain its Fukushima plan amid reports of lethal levels of radiation

Source: Global Times

China on Monday urged the Japanese government to give a responsible explanation of how it will offset the impact of the Fukushima nuclear leakage amid reports the radiation at one Fukushima reactor has reached levels that are reportedly able to kill humans within seconds.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a press briefing on Monday that China has been closely watching the repercussions of the Fukushima nuclear accident and the ministry had issued the relevant safety alerts.


Lu added that this is the Japanese government's obligation to not only the Japanese people, but also to people from the rest of the world, its neighbors included.

The radiation level in the containment vessel of Reactor 2 at the crippled Fukushima power plant has reached a maximum of 530 sieverts per hour, the highest since the triple core meltdown in March 2011, The Japan Times reported on Friday, citing Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc. (Tepco).


Read more: http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1031742.shtml

Vizio smart TVs tracked viewers around the clock without consent

Source: Ars Technica

Vizio, one of the world's biggest makers of Smart TVs, is paying $2.2 million to settle charges that it collected viewing habits from 11 million devices without the knowledge or consent of the people watching them.

According to a complaint filed Monday by the US Federal Trade Commission, Internet-connected TVs from Vizio contained ACR—short for automated content recognition—software. Without asking for permission, the ACR code captured second-by-second information about the video the TVs displayed. The software collected other personal information and transmitted it, along with the viewing data, to servers controlled by the manufacturer. Vizio then sold the data to unnamed third-parties for purposes of audience measurement, analysis, and tracking.

"For all of these uses, Defendants provide highly specific, second-by-second information about television viewing," FTC lawyers wrote in Monday's complaint. "Each line of a report provides viewing information about a single television. In a securities filing, Vizio states that its data analytics program, for example, 'provides highly specific viewing behavior data on a massive scale with great accuracy, which can be used to generate intelligent insights for advertisers and media content providers.'"


The tracking started in February 2014 on both new TVs and previously sold devices that didn't originally ship with ACR software installed. The software periodically appended IP addresses to the collected data and also made it possible for more detailed personal information—including age, sex, income, marital status, household size, education level, home ownership, and home values—to be associated. The collection occurred under a setting that was described as a "Smart Interactivity" feature that "enables program offers and suggestions." The menu never informed users that the feature also transmitted viewing habits or other personal information. The complaint offered these additional technical details:

Through the ACR software, Vizio's televisions transmit information about what a consumer is watching on a second-by-second basis. Defendants’ ACR software captures information about a selection of pixels on the screen and sends that data to Vizio servers, where it is uniquely matched to a database of publicly available television, movie, and commercial content. Defendants collect viewing data from cable or broadband service providers, set-top boxes, external streaming devices, DVD players, and over-the-air broadcasts. Defendants have stated that the ACR software captures up to 100 billion data points each day from more than 10 million VIZIO televisions. Defendants store this data indefinitely.

Defendants’ ACR software also periodically collects other information about the television, including IP address, wired and wireless MAC addresses, WiFi signal strength, nearby WiFi access points, and other items.


Read more: https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2017/02/vizio-smart-tvs-tracked-viewers-around-the-clock-without-consent/
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