Germ Warfare experiments return under our fake president

” Research at a secretive Army germ warfare lab about 50 miles from Washington, D.C. that works with tularemia, which spreads more easily than anthrax, has been partially restarted after a federal inspection found two failures in containing unnamed germs or toxins.

No one was exposed to any germs or toxins at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick in Maryland, according to the institute commander…

” “Our concept is to start with a small group of people, secure approval for a limited number of studies, and then gradually expand,” said Col. E. Darrin Cox, the new commander of the institute…

” In 2009, research was suspended after the discovery that more than 9,200 vials, about one-eighth of its stock, wasn’t listed in the institute’s database.

They’re back! Of course, a sinister creep like Trump would OK resumption of this slimy research. Warms the cockles of every heartless rightwing fanatic, acquiring another illegal means to kill lots of people.

Exactly, the sort of war crime potential that makes Trump voters giggle and fart.

Japanese electric utility admits to coverup during Fukushima nuclear meltdown


Warning sign on the road to Fukushima

The utility that ran the Fukushima nuclear plant acknowledged Tuesday its delayed disclosure of the meltdowns at three reactors was tantamount to a coverup and apologized for it.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) president Naomi Hirose’s apology followed the revelation last week that an investigation had found Hirose’s predecessor instructed officials during the 2011 disaster to avoid using the word “meltdown.”

I would say it was a coverup,” Hirose told a news conference. “It’s extremely regrettable.”…

And it only took five years and information released in an investigation to prompt a moment of honesty.

TEPCO instead described the reactors’ condition as less serious “core damage” for two months after the earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, wrecked the plant, even though utility officials knew and computer simulations suggested meltdowns had occurred.

An investigative report released last Thursday by three company-appointed lawyers said TEPCO’s then-President Masataka Shimizu instructed officials not to use the specific description under alleged pressure from the Prime Minister’s Office, though the investigators found no proof of such pressure.

The report said TEPCO officials, who had suggested possible meltdowns, stopped using the description after March 14, 2011…Shimizu had a company official show Muto his memo and tell him the Prime Minister’s Office has banned the specific words.

Government officials also softened their language on the reactor conditions around the same time, the report said…Former officials at the Prime Minister’s Office have denied the allegation…

Deny, deny, deny. Political hacks, corporate hacks, still rely on the Big Lie to cover their tracks. If you do a crappy job at preserving the safety of ordinary citizens, you lie and deny – unless you can find someone else to blame.

Pic of the day

Black Spring
Click to enlargeReuters/Eric Thayer

Demonstrators march in Baltimore, Maryland May 2, 2015. Thousands of people took to the streets of Baltimore on Saturday as anger over the death of young black man Freddie Gray turned to hopes for change following swift criminal charges against six police officers.

All of which points out the contradiction of American politicians and newspaper flunkies celebrating uprisings during the Arab Spring – but, when the same violence is visited upon communities in the United States controlled by racist police departments – shock and amazement fill the newspace.

No one recommends crime and arson as an antidote to racism, political and social repression. It still takes a special hypocrite to act surprised when violence is part of the response to decades of violence imposed by government.

Breaking News in LA TIMES — written by a Robot

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.

“It’s supplemental,” he told the magazine.

“It saves people a lot of time, and for certain types of stories, it gets the information out there in usually about as good a way as anybody else would.

Maybe so. It’s as elemental as the sparse data served up by some wire services. At worst, probably not as useless as the crap offered up by so-called local TV. Which is generally the property of some amorphous conglomerate hundreds of miles away with no “local” ownership.

At its best, this could be as useful as an up-to-the-minute neighborhood weather report. Especially if there actually is a follow-up article written by a sentient being.

Thanks, Mike

Cybercrime firm uncovers six more attacks on U.S. chainstores


BlackPOS reported, last March

A cybercrime firm says it has uncovered at least six ongoing attacks at U.S. merchants whose credit card processing systems are infected with the same type of malicious software used to steal data from Target.

Andrew Komarov, chief executive of the cybersecurity firm IntelCrawler, told Reuters that his company has alerted law enforcement, Visa and intelligence teams at several large banks about the findings. He said payment card data was stolen in the attacks, though he didn’t know how much…

On Thursday, the U.S. government and the private security intelligence firm iSIGHT Partners warned merchants and financial services firms that the BlackPOS software used against No. 3 U.S. retailer Target had been used in a string of other breaches at retailers – but did not say how many or identify the victims.

Credit card companies, banks and retailers say that victims of any fraud resulting from the theft of their payment card data bear “zero liability” and will be credited for fraudulent purchases made on their accounts.

“Our rules say five days, but most consumers get (their money) back within 24 hours,” Visa spokeswoman Rosetta Jones said…

Komarov, an expert on cybercrime who has helped law enforcement investigate previous attacks, told Reuters on Friday that retailers in California and New York were among those compromised by BlackPOS…

Komarov said he has not directly contacted those merchants. Security experts typically report cybercrimes through law enforcement rather than going directly to victims because the process can be time-consuming and victims are often suspicious when they first learn of attacks.

BlackPOS was developed by a hacker whose nickname is “Ree4” and who is now about 17 years old and living in St. Petersburg, Russia, according to Los Angeles-based IntelCrawler.

The teenager sold the malicious software to cybercriminals who then launched attacks on merchants, said Komarov, who has been monitoring Ree4’s activities since March.

Komarov declined to specifically identify the sources of his intelligence, though he said he has been monitoring criminal forums where Ree4 sells his software and posted an excerpt of a chat with a client on the IntelCrawler website…

Officials with the Secret Service could not immediately be reached for comment.

If you’re of the geek persuasion, RTFA for details of the hack. Interesting stuff.

Once again, defeating Windows Security seems to be profitable for criminals.

Computer pioneer Alan Turing pardoned posthumously

Queen Elizabeth II has pardoned Alan Turing, the father of modern computing, who was convicted of “gross indecency” for being gay, 61 years after he poisoned himself.

The Queen granted Turing, whose theories laid the foundation for the computer age and who broke the code which helped the Allies outfox the Nazis, an official pardon on Tuesday.

Turing, whose work on artificial intelligence still informs the debate over whether machines can think, was punished by Britain in the 1950s, when homosexuality was still a criminal offence.

“Turing was an exceptional man with a brilliant mind,” Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said in a prepared statement released on Tuesday.

Describing Turing’s treatment as unjust, Grayling said the code breaker “deserves to be remembered and recognised for his fantastic contribution to the war effort and his legacy to science.”

Turing’s contributions to science spanned several disciplines, but he is perhaps best remembered as the architect of the effort to crack the Enigma code, the cypher used by Nazi Germany to secure its military communications…

Even before the war, Turing was formulating ideas that would underpin modern computing, ideas which matured into a fascination with artificial intelligence and the notion that machines would someday challenge the minds of man…

Turing made no secret of his sexuality, and being gay could easily lead to prosecution in post-war Britain.

In 1952, Turing was convicted of “gross indecency” over his relationship with another man, and he was stripped of his security clearance, subjected to monitoring by British authorities, and forced to take estrogen to neutralise his sex drive – a process described by some as chemical castration…

Turing committed suicide in 1954.

Overdue doesn’t begin to describe reversing the crimes the UK committed against one of the best scientific minds that ever lived. Of course, there still are some — here in the US as well as in Britain — who would repeat those contemptible crimes given the opportunity.

Which would probably get them a “reality” TV series.

Batman called upon to save Marseille from crime

MARSEILLE-BATMAN

Residents in Marseille, France have officially asked for a Batman to come help them with skyrocketing crime.

The mock petition, titled “Will it take Batman to save Marseille?” has thousands of signatures and a Facebook page for the group has more than 4,000 fans.

Europe’s current “Capital of Culture” is also considered “Europe’s most dangerous place to be young.”

More than a quarter of the 800,000 population is living below the poverty line, and there have been 13 gang-related killings so far this year. In 2012, authorities intercepted around 300 Kalashnikovs.

The French city’s quest for Batman comes following the death of pensioner Jacques Blondel, 61, who was shot dead trying to stop a robbery by first knocking the thieves over with his car then confronting them with a baseball bat.

The petition says increased police presence in the city hasn’t been effective at curbing crime rates, and accuses politicians of empty rhetoric and sound bites.

A Batman for Marseille aims to encourage Marseille residents to take their own security and not simply outbid opportunistic communication and political meningitis,” the petition says.

Holy maquisards, Batman!

Israeli coppers arrest 10 women for wearing prayer shawls

Israeli police detained 10 women at one of Judaism’s most sacred sites on Monday for wearing prayer shawls, which Orthodox tradition sees as solely for men, a spokesman said.

The incident at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City highlighted the divisions between the more liberal streams of Judaism and politically powerful Orthodox groups that traditionally limit the role of women in prayer.

Also a graphic illustration of Israel’s fealty to theocracy.

The Western Wall is administered under strict Orthodox ritual law, which bars women from wearing prayer shawls or publicly reading from the holy scriptures.

Among those held was Susan Silverman, a reform rabbi who is a sister of U.S. comedian Sarah Silverman. Two other American citizens and Israeli members of “Women of the Wall”, a group that campaigns for gender equality in religious practice, were also detained.

The group routinely convenes for monthly prayer sessions at the Western Wall, revered by Jews as a perimeter wall of the Biblical Temple in Jerusalem. Some of its members have been detained by police in the past for wearing prayer shawls at the site and released without charge.

Susan Silverman…the rabbi said in a telephone interview from the police station where the group was held that they had been among more than 100 women attending the hour-long prayer session…

Micky Rosenfeld, a spokesman for national police, said the women had acted “against regulations set by the High Court”, citing a decision of a decade ago upholding Orthodox rules at the site to avoid friction between worshippers.

‘Nuff said. Avoiding friction by placing the most backwards sects in the nation in charge of law and order is all that can be expected from a court constituted to rubber stamp reactionary politics.

The future of gun control after the Newtown massacre

The brutal murder of 20 children and seven adults in Newtown, Connecticut, shakes us to the core as individuals and requires a response as citizens. The United States seems to reel from one mass gun killing to another – roughly one a month this year alone. Easy access to guns in the US leads to horrific murder rates relative to other highly educated and wealthy societies. America needs to find a better way.

Other countries have done so. Between the mid-1970’s and the mid-1990’s, Australia had several mass shootings. After a particularly horrible massacre in 1996, a new prime minister, John Howard, declared that enough was enough. He instituted a severe crackdown on gun ownership, and forced would-be gun owners to submit to a rigorous application process, and to document why they would need a gun.

Conditions for gun ownership in Australia are now very strict, and the registration and approval process can take a year or more. Howard’s government also implemented a rigorous “buyback” policy, to enable the government to purchase guns already owned by the public.

The policy worked. While violent crime has not ended in Australia, murders are down, and, even more dramatically, there has not been a single mass shooting since 1996 in which three or more people died (the definition used in many studies of mass shootings). Before the crackdown, there had been 13 such massacres in 18 years…

Yet the US still refuses to act, even after this year’s string of shocking incidents: the massacre in a movie theatre in Colorado, an attack on a Sikh community in Milwaukee, another on a shopping mall in Oregon, and many more before the ruthless slaughter of first graders and school staff in Newtown. The gun lobby in the US remains powerful, and politicians are afraid to counter it. Given the shooting of then-Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in 2011, perhaps they even fear that they, too, might be targeted…

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