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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 152797 times)
WingsofCrystal
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« Reply #8625 on: Jun 9th, 2013, 09:28am »






Published on Jun 8, 2013

Date: June 4, 2013
Location: Tennessee

~

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« Reply #8626 on: Jun 9th, 2013, 7:07pm »

Science News

Light breaks up to cloak gaps in time

Method could hide messages without sender's knowledge

By Andrew Grant
Web edition: June 5, 2013

A device that manipulates light to open up small gaps in time has crept toward implementation outside the lab. Detailed June 5 in Nature, it could soon improve security over fiber-optic lines or improve data streaming rates.

“It’s exciting to see this exotic manipulation of light and its applications for communications and data processing,” says Alexander Gaeta, a Cornell University physicist who demonstrated the first time cloak two years ago (SN: 8/13/11, p. 12).

The term “cloak” can bring to mind Harry Potter-esque materials that hide an object at a specific point in space. These cloaks, a hot area of research since they were proposed in 2006, manipulate light so that an observer cannot see a stationary object.

Often in physics, what goes for space also holds for time. Last year Gaeta’s team showcased that truism by developing a cloak that hides events during a fixed time interval. A specially designed lens split light beams passing through a fiber into two segments. The trailing segment of light lagged behind the leading one by up to 50 trillionths of a second, creating a gap of total darkness between them. When Gaeta fired a laser at the fiber, the laser shot was undetectable because it had passed through the 50-picosecond interval of invisibility. Finally, Gaeta set up another lens to stitch the light segments back together, ensuring that the light beam emerged from the fiber looking exactly as it did at the start.

After reading Gaeta’s study, Joseph Lukens at Purdue University realized he could improve the technique. He designed an apparatus using off-the-shelf equipment that forced light to interfere and create repeating gaps of darkness at fixed temporal intervals. Each 40-picosecond gap was sandwiched between about 40 picoseconds of light, meaning that the time cloak was on roughly half the time.

Lukens’ study demonstrates how a time-cloaking device could eventually allow law enforcement or the military to prevent a nefarious person from communicating without the person’s realizing it. Just as the time gap in Gaeta’s experiment made the laser undetectable, the gaps created by Lukens’ cloak can conceal digital data. Lukens’ team tried to inject an electrical signal of 1s and 0s into the fiber, a task that would be no problem without a cloak, but the message never got encoded into the light beam. The receiver would assume that no message had been sent.

http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/350852/description/Light_breaks_up_to_cloak_gaps_in_time

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« Reply #8627 on: Jun 10th, 2013, 09:19am »

Popular Mechanics

3D Printing Can Now Re-create an Entire Classic Car

The emergence of 3D printing allowed those who could afford such a machine the power to craft custom replacement parts for car. Now that printers are growing cheaper and more sophisticated—and can handle materials such as metal—the possibilities are limitless.

June 10, 2013 6:30 AM

Maybe you watched one of those Star Trek episodes in which the replicator produces a piping-hot cup of Earl Grey tea out of thin air and thought, I could devise far better uses for that thing—like creating an entire 1964 Ferrari 250 GTO SWB. That capability is a lot closer to reality than the show's faster-than-light travel. Thanks to the rapid advancement of 3D printing tech, crafting new car parts through additive manufacturing is becoming routine, and companies are even starting to consider 3D printing complete re-creations of classic cars.

In 2009, when uberenthusiast Jay Leno wrote in PopMech about using a 3D printer to replace rusted old parts, this trend was just getting off the ground. Today GM uses 3D printing to quickly build and test prototype parts for even mass-market cars like the Malibu. And now shops can scan entire irreplaceable cars for reference and use that information to print identical replacement parts in case of catastrophe. This ability means that they could also choose to print all the parts to create an exact clone of a priceless gem. In some cases they can print complete functioning assemblies, provided the printer can handle all of the materials used in the part.

"We have had customers who basically have what would be considered a priceless vehicle," says David Kettner of Fused Innovation, the 3D printing subsidiary of famed classic restoration shop Motion Products Inc., in Neenah, Wis. "We can laser scan their entire vehicle as an insurance policy in case of damage."

And if the car is crashed subsequently? "We can bring it back to its original construction," said Kettner. "We've had to do it already."

Yes, a shop like Kettner's could build an accurate GTO replica today without 3D printing tech. But it would be a modern car, given away by the condition of the sheet metal and the perfection of the castings. It would be like a GTO—it wouldn't be a GTO.

A scanned car reproduced by 3D printing techniques, on the other hand, would reproduce all of the original's idiosyncrasies and imperfections. "We can re-create the actual component with all the flaws that were built into it the first time," Kettner says.

Piece by Piece

A common example is the plastic windshield-washer fluid bottle found on priceless classics like the aforementioned Ferrari GTO. The bottles were made without much thought, given that cheap plastic gets brittle with age and exposure to heat until it collapses in a pile of dust. Before that happens, Kettner can scan the bottle and reproduce an exact duplicate from a better, modern plastic using one of Fused Innovation's four different 3D printers.

Sure, any container of similar volume would work, and for most restorations providing water to the washer nozzles is all that matters. But for special cars the replacement must be exactly the same, and 3D printing permits that.

It is such plastic parts that have given restorers headaches as they contemplated the shift from brass-era cars circa World War I to cars containing plastic starting in the 1930s. "The fear has always been as soon as we get into these plastic cars, it is going to become completely impossible because of the cost of making molds," says Garrick Green, associate professor of automotive technology at McPherson College, a school that trains students to work for top restoration shops.

The 3D printers aren't limited to creating plastic parts, either. Some machines can now build metal parts, which will be a boon to the auto restoration industry. Furthermore, the machines that can produce only plastic ones can be used to craft plastic models that will help to create the molds for metal parts.

Green cites the DeSoto grille that is a popular hot-rod modification for 1950s Mercurys as a place where the new tech will come in handy. The grille's teeth are die-cast zinc parts that deteriorate over time. Worse, none of the nine teeth are identical. By scanning the teeth individually, a shop can precisely re-create each of them.

Recently, Kettner had a more complex challenge with a shattered cast housing for a privacy-curtain motor drive in a classic Rolls-Royce. His team reassembled the part from the pieces, gluing them together so they could be scanned. Then irregularities in the scan were manually cleaned up, resulting in a perfect CAD model of the original cast housing. From this, the 3D printer was able to create a wax form for investment casting of a new part that was a perfect replacement.

For exotic cars, even mundane parts like rubber boots on wiring connections are candidates for 3D re-creation. When originality is crucial, Fused Innovation can make an exact duplicate for about $1200. "Would you make a $1200 rubber boot for a '73 Nova?" Kettner says. Probably not. "For a multimillion-dollar Ferrari, you just do it." And that $1200 might even be a bargain compared with the cost of finding an original—an original that would be as fragile as the one it's replacing.

more after the jump:
http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/news/vintage-speed/3d-printing-can-now-re-create-an-entire-classic-car-15566080?src=spr_TWITTER&spr_id=1457_9351602

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« Reply #8628 on: Jun 10th, 2013, 09:23am »

Der Spiegel

Intelligence Report: Number of Islamists in Germany Grows

In its annual report on extremist activity in Germany, the country's domestic intelligence agency has identified a surge in support for Islamists and growth in the number of influential neo-Nazi music groups.

June 10, 2013 – 11:10 AM

During the past year, Islamist organizations experienced a surge in support in Germany according to an annual report from the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution obtained by SPIEGEL in advance of its planned public release on Tuesday.

The report states that the number of members and supporters of groups like Milli Görüs, the largest Islamist organization in the country, or Hezbollah in Germany rose from 38,080 in 2011 to 42,550 last year.

The largest growth was seen among members and supporters of Salafists, which increased from 3,800 to 4,500, the government agency stated. Last year, German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich of the conservative Christian Social Union moved to ban three Salafist groups.

The Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the domestic intelligence agency responsible for monitoring extremism, observed varying trends among far-right groups in the country. The National Democratic Party (NPD), a political party that holds seats in parliament in the states of Saxony and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and is identified by the intelligence agency as a far-right and xenophobic group, saw its membership decline to 6,000 members.

The regional governments of Germany's 16 federal states are planning a legal motion to get the party banned. But the complexity of the case, which would be heard by the Federal Constitutional Court, has delayed the process. The motion may not be filed before the September general election.

The agency found that neo-Nazi bands still play an important role in the far-right scene. In 2012, the agency identified 182 active right-wing extremist music groups, four more than in the previous year. However, the agency found that they had held significantly fewer concerts than in the previous year.

dsl/SPIEGEL

http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/intelligence-report-number-of-islamists-in-germany-increases-a-904742.html

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« Reply #8629 on: Jun 10th, 2013, 09:26am »

Scientific American

Infants Are Born to Talk

Premature infants reveal how our brain is primed for language

By Daisy Yuhas
June 10 2013

Newborn babies can recognize the sound of their mother's voice at birth. But scientists are unsure which aspects of language are built into our brain through genetics and which are learned by listening in the womb. To investigate this question, a group of researchers in France studied 12 preterm infants, who were born two to three months' premature. At this stage brain connections are just beginning to form, meaning the infants' brain activity reflects the brain's initial organization rather than connections strengthened by learning, according to the researchers.

In the study, the scientists placed functional optical-imaging bands on the babies' heads to noninvasively monitor brain activity by passing infrared light through the infants' thin skulls. The light is absorbed or scattered depending on oxygen levels in the blood, which is a proxy for brain activity. The infants listened to male or female voices speaking simple sounds, such as “ga” or “ba.” The optical imaging revealed that the premature baby's brain could distinguish not only a speaker's gender but also the similar syllables. “What's really interesting is that the baby's brain can use the same sound networks we use later as an adult,” says neuroscientist Fabrice Wallois of INSERM at the University of Picardy Jules Verne in France.

This finding suggests that the neural connections used in adult language processing are present from very early in development, supporting the hypothesis that we are hardwired to understand some aspects of speech.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=infants-born-to-talk

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« Reply #8630 on: Jun 10th, 2013, 9:55pm »

And then they wonder why so many are demonizing Muslims.....


2 children beheaded by militants, Afghan authorities say sad

By Masoud Popalzai and Joe Sterling, CNN
June 10, 2013

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Taliban militants beheaded two children in southern Afghanistan, a provincial governor's office said.

The beheadings occurred in Kandahar province, the provincial governor's office said Monday.

One of those slain was a 10-year-old boy. The other was age 16.

A press release issued by the office said the militants caught and beheaded the 10-year-old Sunday after he had collected food waste from a trash bin in the area of a security checkpoint.

There were no immediate details about the 16-year-old.

The Taliban has not commented on the report.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/10/world/asia/afghanistan-violence/index.html?hpt=hp_t2
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« Reply #8631 on: Jun 11th, 2013, 03:00am »

I cannot think of words that could condone attacking a child let alone decapitating one let alone two, if this is religion then shove it where the sun don’t shine. There is one word but even that does not come close to my thoughts on the animal that did this and that’s EVIL
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« Reply #8632 on: Jun 11th, 2013, 09:05am »

Good morning Hyundisonata and Swamprat,

Last August (2012) they beheaded two children, a boy and a girl. Then they had those riots but it wasn't about beheading children, nope! Evidently that is just fine.

Sickening!


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« Reply #8633 on: Jun 11th, 2013, 09:10am »

Guardian

NSA leaks: Russia 'would consider' Edward Snowden asylum claim

by Paul Owen
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 11 June 2013 09.56 EDT

Russia has offered to consider an asylum request from US whistleblower Edward Snowden in the Kremlin's latest move to woo critics of the west, reports Miriam Elder in Moscow.

Fearing US retaliation, Snowden said at the weekend that “my predisposition is to seek asylum in a country with shared values”, citing Iceland as an example. He also defended his decision to flee to Hong Kong by citing its relative freedom compared to mainland China.

Snowden is not known to have made any asylum requests, including to Russia. Yet speaking to the Russian newspaper Kommersant, Dmitry Peskov, Vladimir Putin's spokesman said: “If such an appeal is given, it will be considered. We'll act according to facts."

Peskov's comments were widely carried by the Russian media, who have largely ignored Snowden's revelations that the National Security Agency (NSA) was secretly empowered with wide-reaching authority to collect information from US mobile provider Verizon and to snoop on emails and Internet communications via a data-mining programme called Prism. Russia's feared security services are widely believed to maintain similar powers.

Peskov's comments on potential asylum opened the floodgates on support for Snowden. Robert Shlegel, an influential MP with the ruling United Russia party, said: “That would be a good idea.”

Alexey Pushkov, the head of the Duma's international affairs committee and a vocal US critic, took to Twitter to say: “By promising asylum to Snowden, Moscow has taken upon itself the protection of those persecuted for political reasons. There will be hysterics in the US. They only recognise this right for themselves.”

He continued: “Listening to telephones and tracking the Internet, the US special services broke the laws of their country. In this case, Snowden, like [Wikileaks founder Julian] Assange, is a human rights activist.”

Russia has a roundly poor reputation for human rights and freedom of speech, with people regularly persecuted for their political beliefs, Miriam points out. The country's own whistleblowers suffer harrowing fates.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/blog/2013/jun/11/nsa-prism-scandal-russia-would-consider-edward-snowden-asylum-claim-live-coverage?guni=Network

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« Reply #8634 on: Jun 11th, 2013, 09:13am »

Reuters

South, North Korea talks called off after row over delegates

By Ju-min Park

SEOUL
Tue Jun 11, 2013 9:34am EDT

(Reuters) - Planned high-level talks between South and North Korean after a six-year hiatus and threats of war were scrapped on Tuesday, South Korean government officials said, over a seemingly minor disagreement over the diplomatic ranks of chief delegates.

The talks were due to be held on Wednesday. North Korea's earlier offer to hold them came as a surprise after weeks of threats to attack the South and the United States in March and April.

The talks offer came as the North was apparently seeking to reopen lucrative business deals and the South was trying to mend ties with its unpredictable and heavily armed neighbor.

Kim Hyung-suk, a spokesman for the South's Unification Ministry, told reporters that North Korea had told South Korea that the South's choice for its chief delegate for the talks, the deputy unification minister, was not appropriate.

North Korea had said the South's choice was a "grave provocation", Kim said.

For its part, South Korea had hoped that the North would send a senior ruling Workers' Party secretary known to be a close adviser to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as an indication that the North was serious about the meeting.

But North Korea sent notice that it would be a relatively unknown bureaucrat who would be leading the delegation, the South Korean ministry spokesman said.

The spokesman said the North's decision on its delegate was "abnormal" and the person chosen was not fit to be a genuine representative of North Korea's leadership.

"Our government regrets North Korea's position," the South Korean spokesman said.

The disagreement over the negotiators was reminiscent of seemingly minor details that in previous meetings became sticking points that derailed or delayed progress.

It was not clear if North Korea was withdrawing its offer of talks altogether and returning to hostile tactics but South Korea said it remained open for dialogue when the North was ready.

SEEKING DIALOGUE

North Korea may also have been prodded into the offer to hold talks by China, its sole major diplomatic ally and economic backer. The North's overture came as U.S. President Barack Obama met Chinese President Xi Jinping for talks in California.

The talks would have been their first high-level meeting between the two Koreas in nearly six years. The North is seeking to reopen business links and the South is trying to mend ties with its unpredictable and heavily armed neighbor.

South Korea had hoped the talks would lead to the reopening of the Kaesong industrial zone and a suspended tours program to Mount Kumgang, a scenic area near the rivals' border, just inside North Korea.

The North closed its money-spinning Kaesong venture with South Korean companies, that earned $90 million a year in foreign exchange, in April amid spiraling tension on the Korean peninsula.

The Mount Kumgang tourist zone was closed in 2008 when a North Korean guard shot a South Korean tourist and then refused to apologize.

In 2010, the North was blamed for killing 50 South Koreans with the sinking of a naval ship and the shelling of a South Korean island after the then South Korean president, Lee Myung-bak, cut aid as North Korea pushed ahead with its nuclear program.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye, who is the daughter of the former military ruler Park Chung-hee, and whose mother was assassinated by a North Korea-backed assailant, came to office in February pledging to rebuild trust with the North.

As she prepared to take office, the North carried out its third nuclear weapons test and then mounted a two-month long verbal offensive, threatening both Park and South Korea.

While seeking to reopen dialogue, Park had said she should not give in to unreasonable tactics by North Korea.

(Editing by Robert Birsel and Jack Kim)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/06/11/us-korea-north-idUSBRE95A0HS20130611

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« Reply #8635 on: Jun 11th, 2013, 09:21am »

Scientific American

11 June 2013

Your Hidden Censor: What Your Mind Will Not Let You See

Scientists probe the biases of “unconscious selective attention.”

By Keith Payne

It was a summer evening when Tony Cornell tried to make the residents of Cambridge, England see a ghost. He got dressed up in a sheet and walked through a public park waving his arms about. Meanwhile his assistants observed the bystanders for any hint that they noticed something strange. No, this wasn’t Candid Camera. Cornell was a researcher interested in the paranormal. The idea was first to get people to notice the spectacle, and then see how they understood what their eyes were telling them. Would they see the apparition as a genuine ghost or as something more mundane, like a bloke in a bed sheet?

The plan was foiled when not a single bystander so much as raised an eye brow. Several cows did notice, however, and they followed Cornell on his ghostly rambles. Was it just a fluke, or did people “not want to see” the besheeted man, as Cornell concluded in his 1959 report?

Okay, that stunt was not a very good experiment, but twenty years later the eminent psychologist Ulric Neisser did a better job. He filmed a video of two teams of students passing a basketball back and forth, and superimposed another video of a girl with an umbrella walking right through the center of the screen. When he asked subjects in his study to count the number of times the ball was passed, an astonishing 79 percent failed to notice the girl with the umbrella. In the years since, hundreds of studies have backed up the idea that when attention is occupied with one thing, people often fail to notice other things right before their eyes.

When you first learn about these studies they seem deeply strange. Is it really possible that we are constantly failing to notice things right in front of us? Is there some mysterious force screening what we see and what remains hidden? According to Neisser the answer is yes, we are constantly overlooking much of the world around us and no, there is nothing mysterious about it. The key is to realize that this is just what attention is: selectivity. For a brain with finite computing power, zooming in to focus on one thing always means picking up less information about everything else. That’s how we are able to concentrate on anything at all and leave behind the blooming, buzzing bundle of distraction that is the rest of the world. It is also why being absorbed in a basketball game renders us blissfully oblivious to all requests to take out the garbage. Prioritizing one thing and neglecting everything else are two sides of the same coin.

Simple selectivity cannot be the end of the story, though, because recent research suggests that we miss some unattended things more than others. That’s right – the brain is selectively selective. In new research my colleagues Jazmin Brown-Iannuzzi, Sophie Trawalter, Kelly Hoffman and I pushed the idea of selective selectivity further by asking whether the unconscious screener might have priorities of its own. Scads of studies have suggested that the unconscious mind is riddled with stereotypes and biases, even among people who are consciously well intentioned. We asked whether the unconscious screener is prejudiced.

We started with a video of two teams passing basketballs around, as in Neisser’s early study. Then we superimposed a video of a young black man or a young white man walking across the screen. Would there be a racial disparity in which man gets noticed? We predicted that it would depend on the kind of goals the study’s participants had in mind. For decades, social scientists have known that prejudices show a social distance effect: people are more approving of stereotyped groups at a cold, impersonal distance than when they are up close and personal. For instance, polls show that whites are more likely to support equality for black Americans at a distance (such as saying that they support integrated neighborhoods and workplaces) than to support close personal ties (such as saying that they approve of someone in their family having an inter-racial marriage). Although attitudes toward all of these topics have become steadily less prejudiced since the 1960’s, the gap between close and far social distances has remained remarkably constant.

more after the jump:
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=your-hidden-censor-what-your-mind-will-not-let-you-see

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« Reply #8636 on: Jun 11th, 2013, 09:33am »

This article from Wired is from 2008.

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2008 National Fusion Center Conference

Feds Tout New Domestic Intelligence Centers

By Ryan Singel
03.20.08
6:02 PM

Federal, state and local cops are huddling together in domestic intelligence dens around the nation to fuse anti-terror information and tips in ways they never have before, and they want the American people to know about it — sort of.

Some of the nation’s top law enforcement and anti-terror officials got together to hold press briefings Tuesday and Wednesday mornings at the second annual National Fusion Center conference held in San Francisco.

Homeland Security Under Secretary Charlie Allen, formerly of the
CIA, described how sharing threat assessments, and even the occasional raw intel, with the new fusion centers marks a cultural shift from the Cold War era. Back then, spies treated everyone, other departments and agencies included, as suspicious.

"Things have changed remarkably in Washington. We are talking to each other," Allen said Tuesday. "I am from the shadows of the CIA
where in the Cold War, we followed a different model. That model does not apply for the kinds of threats we have today that are borderless.
The threats are so different and so remarkably dangerous for our citizens."

The fifty or so U.S. fusion centers are where the federal, state and local cops share intelligence, sift data for clues, run down reports of suspicious packages and connect dots in an effort to detect and thwart terrorism attacks, drug smuggling and gang fighting.

Privacy and civil liberties groups are increasingly suspicious of the fusion centers, but state and local officials have complained for years that the feds don’t share any useful information. The 9/11 Commission agreed, blaming the CIA and FBI’s lack of information-sharing for wasted chances to stop the airline hijackings. The commission strongly urged they change their ways and put holes in so-called "stove pipes." And in 2007, the Democrats boosted fusion centers’ stature and funding in the first bill they passed after taking control of Congress.

More than $130 million federal dollars have fed the development of the fusion centers in locations as diverse as Kansas and Northern California.

On Tuesday, San Francisco police chief Heather Fong said the information flow was getting better, especially around big events being held in the city.

"When we get information, it’s not how much can we amass and keep to ourselves," Fong said. "It’s how much information can we obtain but appropriately share so that it positively assists others in doing their jobs around the country and the world."

The dominant catchphrase from the officials was that the centers need to focus on "all threats, all hazards." That means that the fusion centers would be working on immigration, radicalization, demographic changes, hurricanes, biological and chemical threats, as well as common criminal activity. Officials say the centers must look at even the most mundane crimes, since they can be used to fund terrorism.

By way of example, Los Angeles police chief Bratton cites the investigation of a string of gas station stick-ups in L.A. in 2005. The robbery investigation led to the prosecution of militant Muslim convicts who were planning attacks on synagogues. That, Bratton said, illustrates why these intelligence centers need to be analyzing run-of-the-mill crimes.

"Information that might seem innocuous may have some connection to terrorism," Bratton said.

But critics say that "all hazards, all threats" approach sounds suspiciously like the government is building a distributed domestic intelligence service that could easily begin keeping tabs on Americans exercising their First Amendment rights. The scope also seems at odds with the federal government’s Information Sharing Environment guidelines, which say these centers are supposed to focus on terrorism.

California’s Anti-Terrorism Information Center admitted to spying on anti-war groups in 2003. And Denver’s police department built their own secret spy files on Quakers and 200 other organizations.

Earlier this year, the ACLU issued a warning report about Fusion Centers, complete with an interactive fusion center map, earlier this year. The report, entitled What’s Wrong With Fusion Centers, cited concerns about military units operating in the centers, as well as the potential for scope creep and data mining. How, the group asked, can citizens contest information about themselves, given the patchwork of state, local and federal sunshine laws that may or may not apply.

But in a conference keynote Tuesday, Congresswoman Jane Harman (D-California), a powerful force in intelligence matters and funding, pooh-poohed the ACLU’s concerns, and said she supported both fusion centers, and civil liberties.

"I was frustrated when I met with the [ACLU] report authors and they could not point to a single instance of a fusion center violating someone’s civil rights or liberties," Harman said. "In fact, state and local laws and protections in place at many fusion centers are more rigorous than their federal counterparts."

Tim Sparapani, the ACLU’s top legislative lawyer in D.C., bristled at Harman’s remakrs. "Our prognosticating track record in identifying programs ripe for abuse of privacy and civil liberties is pretty solid," Sparapani wrote in an e-mail that listed several other programs that the ACLU correctly raised warning flags on.

"That’s not luck," he wrote. "It’s a trend based on seeing the surveillance industrial complex being built bit-by-bit and terabyte by terabyte. As sure as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, if Fusion Centers aren’t built with rigid controls they will be privacy-invading monsters.

The ACLU points to Virginia, where legislators are moving to exempt their fusion center from government sunshine laws and give legal immunity to companies that report information — such as the name of a person accosted by a private security guard for taking pictures of a skyscraper.

On Wednesday, a trio of federal privacy and civil liberties officers, including the Department of Homeland Security’s chief privacy officer Hugo Teufel, promised they were working to make sure the centers respect citizens’ civil liberties and privacy.

David Gersten, the director of the civil rights and civil liberties programs at DHS, said he was working to expand their training course for Fusion Center employees to "include an examination of the history of privacy and civil liberties as they relate to intelligence and criminal investigations."

That history includes the famous 1976 Church Committee report on the FBI’s notorious COINTELPRO spying program. The report warned in the introduction "Unless new and tighter controls are established by legislation, domestic intelligence activities threaten to undermine our democratic society and fundamentally alter its nature.

THREAT LEVEL asked conference attendees about the concerns over expanding the dissemination of intelligence given the continuing trouble innocent Americans have trying to get off the nation’s unified terrorist watch list.

Just this week, the Justice Department’s inspector general issued a watch list audit (http://www.usdoj.gov/oig/reports/plus/a0816/final.pdf), finding that FBI agents were watch-listing people who they weren’t even investigating. Moreover, since those names were added through a back channel, there was no scheduled review or follow-up to take them off the watch list.

Leonard Boyle, who runs the Terrorist Screening Center that curates and runs the watch list, said those problems are being fixed.

"We have streamlined our processes so [...] we avoid delays in amending nominations or removing people who ought to be removed because they are no longer suspected of having a nexus to terrorism," Boyle said.

Also present at the conference was Ambassador Thomas McNamara who now works at the Director of National Intelligence Office. McNamara’s group is working on custom-built XML schemes, such as a standard for Suspicious Activity Reports. The idea is have all fusion centers and intelligence agencies using the same data format, to more easily share, search, sort and store intelligence data.

Surprisingly, a total of only three reporters showed up over two days of the conference to hear from the officials. THREAT LEVEL was the only media outlet to show up both days.

Despite journalists taking up only two of the fifty or so chairs, officials stuck with the formality of a press conference. Each day six to eight officials stood in a semicircle flanking the lectern and took turns issuing short remarks. After each set of speeches, the director of the Iowa fusion center and designated emcee Russell Porter allowed for a handful of questions from the two-reporter audience.

And as for information sharing, the conference’s openness extended only so far, and the press was not allowed into sensitive sessions such as "How to Generate Suspicious Activity Reporting" and "Commanders and Analysts: Sharing Perspectives."

Government employees manning an informational booth for the Director of National Intelligence’s OpenSource.gov website refused to even describe the program, saying they would need to call in a press minder.

The website seems to indicate that the program is a way for the government to share intel reports composed by analysts who read international newspapers and watch TV stations from around the world.

THREAT LEVEL guessed we would not be able to sign up for the email blasts, due to our propensity to share information with the public. The taciturn DNI employees confirmed that fact, adding that they also couldn’t share the information from OpenSource.gov due to copyright issues.

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2008/03/feds-tout-new-d/

~

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« Reply #8637 on: Jun 12th, 2013, 09:16am »

Reuters

Insight: In Washington, lawmakers' routines shaped by fundraising

By Andy Sullivan

WASHINGTON
Wed Jun 12, 2013 7:27am EDT

(Reuters) - For lawmakers in Washington, the daily chase for money can begin with a breakfast fundraiser in the side room of a Washington restaurant.

At noon, there might be a $500-per-plate lunch with lobbyists in a Capitol Hill town house. The day might wrap up in an arena sky box in downtown Washington, watching a basketball game with donors.

In between, there is "call time" - up to four or five hours a day for lawmakers in tough re-election campaigns - in telemarketing-style cubicles a few hundred yards from the Capitol. The call centers, set up by the Democratic and Republican parties, allow lawmakers to chase the checks that fuel campaigns without violating rules that ban fundraising from their offices.

For many lawmakers, the daily routine in Washington involves fundraising as much as legislating. The culture of nonstop political campaigning shapes the rhythms of daily life in Congress, as well as the landscape around the Capitol.

It also means that lawmakers often spend more time listening to the concerns of the wealthy than anyone else.

"People who are being cold-called by members of Congress are people who have a lot of money to give," said Lee Drutman, a senior fellow at the Sunlight Foundation, a watchdog group. "Their concerns are not, 'Can I find a job,' their concerns are, 'How much am I going to be taxed?'"

Few lawmakers are willing to talk about the amount of time they devote to raising money, largely out of concern they might alienate voters or donors.

Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut is a rare exception. He's won four House and Senate elections since 2006, but he isn't happy with the amount of time he has had to devote to fundraising.

"It's important for us to expose the ugliness of political fundraising, because people are not going to care about this issue if we continue to pretend like it isn't a big part of our lives," Murphy told Reuters.

The drive to raise money never lets up in the House of Representatives, where lawmakers face re-election every two years. House incumbents raised a record average of $1.7 million in the 2012 election, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. That is an average of $2,400 per day in the two-year election cycle.

The pressure is less constant in the Senate, where lawmakers stand for re-election every six years. But the stakes are higher because they represent entire states. Senate incumbents who were up for re-election last year raised an average of $10.3 million, or more than $4,700 per day over six years.

For some, the cramped call centers are a symbol of the problem.

"It smells like a gymnasium locker room after a few hours. It's awful, it's like a sweatshop," said former Representative Dennis Cardoza, a California Democrat who said the persistent need to raise money was one of the reasons he resigned from Congress last year.

HIGH-END FUNDRAISING

Other fundraising methods can be more pleasant.

On the day Murphy was interviewed, South Dakota Senator John Thune, a Republican, hosted a breakfast at Bistro Bis, a nearby French restaurant. The price of admission was $1,000 per person.

Around the corner, Democratic Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii held a $500-per-person breakfast fundraiser at Johnny's Half Shell, a popular seafood restaurant and lobbying den on Capitol Hill.

Hours later, Republican Senator John Boozman of Arkansas held a $1,000-per-plate lunch event at Johnny's Half Shell. Republican Senator Jim Risch of Idaho held a $500-per-person lunch at Sonoma, which specializes in California cuisine. And Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe, a Republican, held a $500-per-person event at Art & Soul, a Southern-style restaurant.

Lawmakers and fundraisers looking for a little more privacy often hold their fundraisers in one of the several nearby town houses that are owned by lobbying firms or trade associations.

A group of town houses on just one tree-lined block across a parking lot from the House of Representatives wing of the Capitol has hosted at least 700 fundraising events since 2008, according to the Sunlight Foundation.

Several lobbyists who declined to speak publicly said that such events give them and their clients a chance to build relationships with policymakers in a relaxed setting.

Although some candidates such as President Barack Obama have been able to raise substantial amounts of money from small donations via the Internet, many office-holders focus their fundraising efforts on those who have the means to write checks up to the legal maximum of $2,600 per election.

House and Senate candidates last year raised more than half of their campaign funds from donors who gave $1,000 or more, according to the left-leaning research group Demos. That money came from a pool of donors who accounted for less than 1 percent of the population.

To reach deep-pocketed donors, candidates hire fundraising consultants to set up prospect lists and monitor their calls to ensure that the lawmakers or their staff members don't linger too long on the phone, lawmakers and aides say.

That doesn't make the process any more appealing, many lawmakers say. Some even try to dodge their own staff.

"Members will 'lose' their (phones) in the gym, they'll 'lose' their cells in the bathroom, they'll do just about anything they can do to get away from their folks who are pestering them to raise money," Cardoza said.

Murphy, the Connecticut senator, said he nearly dropped out of his first race for Congress in 2005 when he realized how much time he would have to spend on the phone asking for money.

He has been through four costly campaigns since then. Last year he raised $10.4 million for his Senate run - far less than the $49.5 million spent by Republican rival Linda McMahon, the professional-wrestling magnate whose campaign was largely self-financed.

Newly elected lawmakers face extra pressure because they have yet to build up the donor networks and name recognition to help them fend off challengers.

For example, freshman Republican Representative David Joyce, who represents a competitive district in northeast Ohio, may need to raise $4 million to stay in office next year now that Democrats have identified him as one of their top targets, said his predecessor Steve LaTourette, a Republican who held the seat for 18 years.

Joyce declined to comment for this story.

"I think he's focused on serving his constituents," said Joyce's spokeswoman, Christyn Keyes.

ASK THE SPOUSE, TOO

Lawmakers with established careers and relatively safe seats are expected to help out vulnerable colleagues in their party.

LaTourette says he was expected to raise $250,000 a year for the National Republican Congressional Committee, his party's political arm. He reached that goal by asking donors to "max out" with a $2,500 check, last year's legal limit. Then he'd ask whether their spouse could give that amount as well.

"It's just very, very time-consuming," he said of fundraising's impact on a lawmaker's routine. "Let's say you've got a competitive race and you've got to raise 3 or 4 million dollars for your re-election. That's a lot of phone calls."

Big-dollar donors typically have different concerns from the population as a whole, especially on economic matters.

According to Reuters/Ipsos opinion polls, Americans who earn more than $250,000 per year are more likely than the overall population to support spending cuts rather than tax increases as a way to reduce budget deficits. They also are more likely to believe that the government should have no role in providing health insurance, and less likely to blame climate change on human activity.

In Connecticut, Murphy said that wealthy donors who work in the financial industry often have urged him to keep regulations to a minimum and keep tax rates low for investment income.

Murphy hasn't followed their advice on some key votes: He supported the 2010 Dodd-Frank overhaul of financial regulations that Wall Street fought against, and this year he voted to raise taxes on the nation's wealthiest households.

Murphy says he tries to set aside time to talk with voters outside of the context of fundraising to ensure that he is not only hearing the concerns of the wealthy.

"You're talking a lot more about arcane tax provisions in financial services policy on fundraising calls then when you go to the supermarket," he said.

Still, the wealthy appear to be getting results in Washington.

According to research by Princeton politics professor Martin Gilens, the U.S. government during the past 40 years has pursued an economic agenda that reflects the concerns of the wealthy - deregulation, free-trade pacts, lower taxes, for example - over the wishes of most middle-class and lower-income voters.

"The role of money in politics, particularly in campaign contributions ... is the most likely explanation for that greater responsiveness," Gilens said.

Congress isn't likely to change that any time soon.

Top Republicans such as Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner oppose further limits on campaign fundraising, arguing that they would violate the constitutional right to free speech.

"Money is essential in politics, and not something that we should feel squeamish about," McConnell said last year in a speech at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

Murphy and others who want changes in the system acknowledge that their preferred solutions, such as robust public funding of campaigns, aren't likely anytime soon - especially since Obama has not made the issue a priority.

more after the jump:
http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/06/12/us-usa-congress-fundraising-insight-idUSBRE95B05520130612

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« Reply #8638 on: Jun 12th, 2013, 09:20am »

Der Spiegel

World From Berlin: Turks 'Have Simply Had Enough'

12 June 2013

With his efforts to quash the protest movement on Taksim Square in Istanbul on Tuesday, German editorialists fear Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan has become an "autocrat." Some argue he is threatening his country's very future.

Istanbul's most important square was clouded in tear gas and drenched by water cannons as police moved to clear it of protesters on Tuesday, escalating tensions that have been brewing since demonstrators began camping out at the site two weeks ago. Dozens of injuries have been reported by demonstrators.

By Wednesday morning, only police and bulldozers could be seen on Taksim Square, and barricades and debris from the protests had already been cleared away. Although local officials had assured they didn't want to clear the protest camp at Gezi Park, activists claimed police surrounded it and pelted it with tear gas canisters during the night. Hundreds remain camped out in the park.

Hours earlier, in a televised speech before members of parliament with his Justice and Development Party (AKP), Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for an end to the protests at Taksim Square and elsewhere across Turkey. "For those who want to continue, it is over," he warned. Starting immediately, there would be "no tolerance," he said. Erdogan has also said he would meet on Wednesday with protest leaders.

Hüseyin Avni Multu, the governor of Istanbul, accused protesters of attacking police and said the police deployment would continue for as long as necessary. Officials also accused protesters of violence, saying they threw Molotov cocktails and rocks at police.

Tuesday's crackdown has drawn criticism from the international community. "With its reaction to the protests so far, the Turkish government is sending the wrong signal -- both within the country and to Europe," German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in Berlin on Wednesday. The foreign minister described freedom of speech and assembly as "inalienable" basic rights in every democracy. "We expect Prime Minister Erdogan to de-escalate the situation in the spirit of European values and to seek a constructive exchange and peaceful dialogue," he said.

The developments come at an awkward time for the European Union, which is considering steps later this month to move forward accession talks with Turkey that have been largely stalled since 2005. The rotating Irish EU presidency has been pushing for at least one more of the 35 negotiating chapters to be opened. So far, only one has been completed, with accession talks largely hindered by a failure to reach a deal over divided Cyprus.

Editorialists at leading German newspapers and across the political spectrum are roundly critical of Erdogan's heavy-handed response to the protests, with a number ridiculing the Turkish leader as an "autocrat."

Center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes:

"Ever since he became prime minister, an air of distrust has surrounded Ergodan. How democratic is this man? Initially, it was Erdogan's religious roots that fueled this distrust, especially the religious character of his moderate Islamist AKP. Fears of an Islamization of Turkey dominated the first phase of a reign that has already lasted a decade. During this time, he used brutal means to subjugate the military stronghold of the generals to the primacy of politicians. He played with Turkey's Islamic character, particularly in terms of foreign policy. He wanted to make Turkey an example for a secular but still Islamically molded society. It was to take on a leadership role in the region."

more after the jump:
http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/german-press-review-police-crackdown-on-turkish-protesters-a-905309.html

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« Reply #8639 on: Jun 12th, 2013, 09:27am »

Fox News

Photo shows 'UFO' above medieval castle

By Marc Lallanilla
Published June 12, 2013

What started out as a casual sightseeing trip to a historic castle in the Netherlands took a bizarre turn for one Dutch woman, who claims she may have spotted some kind of UFO.

Corrine Federer, 43, a business manager and amateur photographer, was visiting medieval Muiderslot Castle outside Amsterdam last month when she started taking pictures using her camera's high-dynamic range, or HDR, feature.

"In order to create HDR images, you take three or more exposures at the same time, because you then overlap the images and it gives you the full spectrum of light," Federer told The Huffington Post.

Federer took dozens of photos that day, but it wasn't until sometime later that she reviewed her HDR photos and saw a startling airborne shape in some of the images.

"It was a tubular-shaped object that had an S-shaped fin on it," Federer said. "If it had been any type of missile, it would've had multiple fins, but facing the same direction. We heard nothing. It was completely quiet out. The more I flipped through the frames, it was kind of creepy."

In HDR photography, several images are captured within a second, with each image using a different exposure level. The images are then combined to create a composite picture with a higher degree of clarity, depth and detail than would be possible with a single image.

Using photographic software, Federer was able to enhance the contrast in one of her images to reveal the object seen in the photo above.

Federer's images were analyzed by Ben Hansen, a former FBI special agent and host of the Syfy Channel's program "Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files." He believes the images were not faked or manipulated.

"Having reviewed the raw files, there's no overt indication that the photos have been manipulated with post-editing software," Hansen told the Post. "The object's appearance is internally consistent with the rest of the photo."

Hansen, however, isn't convinced that the photographs show an aircraft of any kind.

"If I had to place my money on it, I would say that we're looking at insects," he said. "We typically see many wing protrusions on insect rod cases, but they do come in the single pair variety, too. It all depends on the shutter speeds and motion of the insects."

Indeed, insects are often the real culprit behind alleged UFO sightings, according to experts like Larry Engel, associate director of American University's Center for Environmental Filmmaking.

Insects are a consistent problem for filmmakers and photographers, Engel told LiveScience, "especially with wide-angle cameras or small-format cameras, as each emphasizes or records objects, including dust and bugs, close to the lens."

Other possibile explanations for the strange image captured in Federer's photographs include an airplane, a missile test or a weather balloon.

Federer, however, believes it's possible that the object she photographed could be some kind of UFO, even an extraterrestrial one. "I don't find it unreasonable to believe that there's another habitable planet somewhere that has started exploring space," Federer told the Post. "Maybe they're more advanced than we are and they've come by to see what's going on here."

http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/06/12/spooky-photo-shows-ufo-above-medieval-castle/

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