Communications

US Gov't Confirms Clinton Emails Contained Top-Secret Information (thenextweb.com) 572

An anonymous reader writes: Just days before candidates begin primary season with caucuses in Iowa and New Hampshire, the Obama administration confirmed for the first time that Hillary Clinton's emails did contain sensitive information. The Associated Press reports that seven of these email chains, are being withheld from the press because they contain information deemed to be "top secret" and that 37 pages included messages described by intelligence officials as "special access programs" — meaning, highly restricted and closely guarded government secrets.
Government

Canadian Government Lobbies Europe To Pass CETA (freezenet.ca) 69

Dangerous_Minds writes: The Canadian government isn't just siding with the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Justin Trudeau is also actively lobbying Europe to try and pass the Comprehensive economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Freezenet points out that the agreement contains many provisions including a three strikes law and website blocking.
Communications

The Widely Reported ISIS Encrypted Messaging App Is Not Real 113

blottsie writes: Despite widespread reports to the contrary, an app created for Islamic State militants to send private encrypted messages does not exist, a week-long Daily Dot investigation found. All of the media articles on the Alrawi app showed screenshots of a different app entirely, one that is a glorified RSS reader with a totally different name. The Defense One journalist who first reported on GSG's claims about the app told the Daily Dot that he hadn't seen any version of Alrawi at all, and the subsequent reports on the app largely relied on Defense One's reporting. The Daily Dot was the first media outlet to receive, on Jan. 18, what GSG claimed was the Alrawi encryption app. The app, called "Alrawi.apk," contained no ability to send or encrypt messages. It was created using MIT's App Inventor, a plug-and-play tool meant primarily for children.
Crime

12 Years Later, Warrantless Wiretaps Whistleblower Facing Misconduct Charges (usnews.com) 96

cold fjord writes: Former Justice Department attorney Thomas Tamm sparked an intense public debate about warrantless surveillance nearly a decade before Edward Snowden. Tamm tipped reporters in 2004 about the use of nonstandard warrantless procedures under the Bush administration for intercepting international phone calls and emails of Americans. New York Times reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau used Tamm's revelations to help them win a Pulitzer Prize. Barack Obama criticized the program and the Obama administration Justice Department announced in 2011 that it would not bring criminal charges against him. Unfortunately Tamm is now facing disciplinary hearings before the D.C. Office of Disciplinary Counsel which prosecutes the D.C. Bar's disciplinary cases. Tamm is facing ethics charges that could result is his disbarment, revoking his law license. Tamm is alleged to have "failed to refer information in his possession that persons within the Department of Justice were violating their legal obligations to higher authority within the Department" and "revealed to a newspaper reporter confidences or secrets of his client, the Department of Justice." Tamm currently resides in Maryland where he is a public defender. The effect of the D.C. case on him there is unclear. Tamm's attorney, Georgetown University law professor Michael Frisch, says the delays seen in this case are not unusual in D.C., it can take years for matters to play out. Another of Frisch's clients, who exposed the interrogation of "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh, believes the prosecution is political persecution.
Communications

OSINT Analysis of Militia Communications, Equipment and Frequencies (wordpress.com) 336

An anonymous reader writes: On January 2, 2016, the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, United States, were occupied by armed members of rump militias in one of the longest-running law enforcement standoff in American history. The Radiomasterreport blog, using publicly available information, wrote an OSINT Analysis of Militia Communications, Radio Equipment and Frequencies. The research results has astonishing conclusions: far-right patriot militas openly carrying +3000$ AR15 rifles and US military body armour also use cheap 30$ unsecure chinese Baofeng walkie talkie radios with no encryption whatsoever. Any simple ham radio operator , police scanner owner, or even some folks with a Software Defined Radio can receive those militia communications.
Businesses

Disney IT Workers Allege Conspiracy In Layoffs, File Lawsuits (computerworld.com) 243

dcblogs writes with the latest in the laid off Disney IT worker saga. According to ComputerWorld: "Disney IT workers laid off a year ago this month are now accusing the company and the outsourcing firms it hired of engaging in a 'conspiracy to displace U.S. workers.' The allegations are part of two lawsuits filed in federal court in Florida on Monday. Between 200 and 300 Disney IT workers were laid off in January 2015. Some of the workers had to train their foreign replacements — workers on H-1B visas — as a condition of severance. The lawsuits represent what may be a new approach in the attack on the use of H-1B workers to replace U.S. workers. They allege violations of the Federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), claiming that the nature of the employment of the H-1B workers was misrepresented, and that Disney and the contractors knew the ultimate intent was to replace U.S. workers with lower paid H-1B workers."
The Almighty Buck

SaxoBank Predicts Universal Basic Income For Europe 412

jones_supa writes: Saxo Bank, an investment bank based in Denmark, has released a list of its outrageous predictions for 2016. Among these predictions, economist Christopher Dembik claims that Europe will consider the introduction of a universal basic income to ensure that all citizens can meet their basic needs in the face of rising inequality and unemployment. This will come on the back of increased interest in basic income from Spain, Finland, Switzerland, and France.
Youtube

Why I'm a Defender of YouTube (vortex.com) 138

Lauren Weinstein writes: In a time of fascist politicians spouting simplistic slogans about race, religion, terrorism, and censorship, along with whatever other pandering platitudes they believe will win them votes, prestige, power, and control — it's worth remembering how much good the Internet brings us, and how much poorer we'd all be in so many ways for the shackling of Internet services like YouTube, in the name of such self-serving proclamations and damaging false solutions.
Power

Gambling State Says the Solar Gamble Is Over 298

New submitter mdnuclear writes: In a strange echo of the depressed oil economy SolarCity recently announced a layoff of a quarter of its workforce as the apparent result of the Nevada PUC's decision to phase solar net-metering customers down from retail to wholesale per kWh. A scathing editorial in the WSJ last December took both solar leasing companies and their financial underwriters to task, calling net metering a "regressive political income redistribution in support of a putatively progressive cause."

Wednesday the PUC fronted a possible compromise, 'grandfathering' existing net metering customers to their current rates to create a third caste of energy consumers, those who had been in the right place at the right time — for awhile. One who had paid $22k into solar lamented, "I'm not happy; my wife isn't happy, we could have done something else with that money." Like many who leave Vegas, perhaps they should have. But this begs the real question... are net-metering schemes ultimately 'right' or 'wrong' for the grid?
Education

How Have Large Donations Affected Education Policy In New York City? 37

theodp writes: According to Chalkbeat, the expansion of charter schools, the movement to break New York City's large schools into smaller ones, and the push to teach computer science have something in common: the influence of philanthropy. Though contributions from big donors amount to only a fraction of New York City's education spending, they still have a real impact on public school policy, said Jeffrey Henig, the co-author of The New Education Philanthropy: Politics, Policy and Reform, which details how powerful individuals and organizations increasingly use donations to advance policies they support. Increasingly, Henig adds, some of those donors are paying more attention to advocacy, creating at least the appearance, if not the reality, of grassroots support.
Government

Backdoor Account Found On Devices Used By White House, US Military (sec-consult.com) 166

An anonymous reader writes: A hidden backdoor account was discovered embedded in the firmware of devices deployed at the White House and in various US Military strategic centers, more precisely in AMX conference room equipment. The first account was named Black Widow, and after security researchers reported its presence to AMX, the company's employees simply renamed it to Batman thinking nobody will notice. AMX did remove the backdoor after three months. In its firmware's official release notes, AMX claimed that the two accounts were only used for debugging, just like Fortinet claimed that its FortiOS SSH backdoor was used only internally by a management protocol.
Space

Russia Forming Space Alliance With Iran, May Fly Iranian Astronaut (examiner.com) 107

MarkWhittington writes: Quietly, the Russians appear to be forming a space alliance with the Islamic Republic of Iran, according to a story in Sputnik. Not only is Russia in talks to launch Iranian satellites on Russian rockets but also to include an Iranian astronaut on a future space mission. What that space mission might be is open to question. A visit by an Iranian astronaut to the International Space Station would likely kick up a political firestorm with the United States, even though the Obama administration is attempting to develop a rapprochement with the Islamic Republic.
Businesses

Trump Says He'd Make Apple Build Computers In the US (businessinsider.com) 875

mrspoonsi writes with Business Insider's report that presidential candidate Donald Trump says he'd like to make Apple "start building their damn computers and things in this country instead of other countries." From the article: Trump's ultimatum to the most valuable company in the world was made towards the end of a 45-minute speech he gave at Liberty University in Virginia on Monday. The most popular candidate in the Republican party said he would impose a 35% business tax on American businesses manufacturing outside of the United States. Apple has manufactured its Mac Pro at a factory in Texas since 2013, but the vast majority of its products (including the iPhone) are largely made and assembled in China. How Trump would force Apple's supply chain, which relies heavily on a vast network of suppliers and large factories throughout Asia, to be brought stateside remains unknown. Apple CEO Tim Cook recently called the U.S. tax code "awful for America." If Trump (or anyone) thinks this is a good idea, why start or stop with Apple?
Biotech

Fraud Detected In Science Research That Suggested GMO Crops Were Harmful (nature.com) 357

An anonymous reader writes: Three science papers that had suggested that genetically modified crops were harmful to animals and have been used by activist groups to argue for their ban have been found to contain manipulated and possibly falsified data. Nature reports: "Papers that describe harmful effects to animals fed genetically modified (GM) crops are under scrutiny for alleged data manipulation. The leaked findings of an ongoing investigation at the University of Naples in Italy suggest that images in the papers may have been intentionally altered. The leader of the lab that carried out the work there says that there is no substance to this claim. The papers' findings run counter to those of numerous safety tests carried out by food and drug agencies around the world, which indicate that there are no dangers associated with eating GM food. But the work has been widely cited on anti-GM websites — and results of the experiments that the papers describe were referenced in an Italian Senate hearing last July on whether the country should allow cultivation of safety-approved GM crops. 'The case is very important also because these papers have been used politically in the debate on GM crops,' says Italian senator Elena Cattaneo, a neuroscientist at the University of Milan whose concerns about the work triggered the investigation.
Encryption

Clinton Hints At Tech Industry Compromise Over Encryption (huffingtonpost.co.uk) 345

An anonymous reader writes: At the Democratic presidential debate last night, Marques Brownlee asked the candidates a pointed question about whether the government should require tech companies to implement backdoors in their encryption, and how we should balance privacy with security. The responses were not ideal for those who recognize the problems with backdoors. Martin O'Malley said the government should have to get a warrant, but skirted the rest of the issue. Bernie Sanders said government must "have Silicon Valley help us" to discover information transmitted across the internet by ISIS and other terrorist organizations. He thinks we can do that without violating privacy, but didn't say how. But the most interesting comment came from Hillary Clinton. After mentioning that Obama Administration officials had "started the conversation" with tech companies on the encryption issue, one of the moderators noted that the government "got nowhere" with its requests. Clinton replied, "That is not what I've heard. Let me leave it at that." The implications of that small comment are troubling.
EU

Iran Complies With Nuclear Deal; Sanctions Lifted (nytimes.com) 229

An anonymous reader writes: Iran has shipped most of its nuclear fuel out of the country, destroyed the innards of a plutonium-producing reactor and mothballed more than 12,000 centrifuges. This compliance with the nuclear accord struck in July has caused the U.S. and Europe to lift financial sanctions on Iran, releasing ~$100 billion in assets. "Under the new rules put in place, the United States will no longer sanction foreign individuals or firms for buying oil and gas from Iran. The American trade embargo remains in place, but the government will permit certain limited business activities with Iran, such as selling or purchasing Iranian food and carpets and American commercial aircraft and parts. It is an opening to Iran that represents a huge roll of the dice, one that will be debated long after Mr. Obama he has built his presidential library. It is unclear what will happen after the passing of Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has protected and often fueled the hardliners — but permitted these talks to go ahead."
China

The FBI Feared Communist Infiltration of EPCOT (muckrock.com) 112

v3rgEz writes: In 1981, Walt Disney World was getting ready to unveil a new gem in its crown of amusement parks, the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, or EPCOT. Revolving around a massive sphere called "Spaceship Earth" and a lagoon that initially called for cultural installations from nine countries, EPCOT was intended to be the ultimate harmonious international village, a shining example of global unity. Naturally the FBI had a problem with it. FOIA'd documents recently released to MuckRock show that as early as December 1979, almost three full years before the October 1, 1982 opening of EPCOT, the bureau was concerned with possible Soviet involvement in the endeavor. And even after Soviet involvement was ruled out, the FBI began to worry about Chinese influences.
Movies

Geoblocking, Licensing, and Piracy Make For Tough Choices at Netflix (thestack.com) 106

An anonymous reader writes: If Netflix's promise to invigilate users' IP addresses and block VPNs is more than a placatory sop to the lawyers, and if the studios would rather return to fighting piracy by lobbying governments to play whack-a-mole with torrent sites, the streaming company's long-term efforts to abolish or reduce regional licensing blockades could falter this year. This article examines the possible hard choices Netflix must make in appeasing major studios without destroying the user-base that got their attention in the first place. I wonder how long VPN vendors will keep bragging that their services provide worldwide streaming availability, and whether some of them will actually do a decent job of it.
EU

More People In Europe Are Dying Than Are Being Born (phys.org) 547

jones_supa writes: More people in Europe are dying than are being born, according to a new report co-authored by a Texas A&M University demographer. In contrast, births exceed deaths, by significant margins, in Texas and elsewhere in the United States, with few exceptions. The researchers find that in Europe, deaths exceeded births in most of the counties of Germany, Hungary, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic, as well as in Sweden and the Baltic States. Further south, natural decrease is found occurring in the majority of the counties of Greece, Portugal and Italy. More births than deaths (natural increase) is widespread in Ireland, Cyprus, Iceland, Lichtenstein and Luxembourg. "Natural decrease is much more common in Europe than in the U.S because its population is older, fertility rates are lower and there are fewer women of child-bearing age," the researchers explain. "Natural decrease is a major policy concern because it drains the demographic resilience from a region diminishing its economic viability and competitiveness."
Crime

Sweden Makes Another Request To Ecuador For Permission To Question Assange (thelocal.se) 133

cold fjord writes: Thelocal.se reports that Sweden's state prosecutor's office said today that it has formally asked Ecuador in writing for permission to interrogate Julian Assange. They don't know when Ecuador will reply. The request follows the signing of an agreement in December on general legal cooperation between the two countries. Ecuador required the agreement before it would consent to an interview of Assange. The Swedish prosecutors want to question Assange regarding rape allegations that have a statute of limitations that run till 2020. The statue of limitations for other sex crimes Assange has been accused of have expired while Assange has been in hiding. Sweden had previously asked to question Assange in the embassy, but Ecuador declined permission. In another peculiar twist to the case, RTE.ie is reporting that Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino has stated that the exact procedures that will be used are not known, but that Ecuadorian prosecutors will be the ones actually questioning Assange although Swedish officials can be present. Sweden's view on this is unclear.

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