NSA spy hub in NYC

They called it Project X. It was an unusually audacious, highly sensitive assignment: to build a massive skyscraper, capable of withstanding an atomic blast, in the middle of New York City. It would have no windows, 29 floors with three basement levels, and enough food to last 1,500 people two weeks in the event of a catastrophe.

But the building’s primary purpose would not be to protect humans from toxic radiation amid nuclear war. Rather, the fortified skyscraper would safeguard powerful computers, cables, and switchboards. It would house one of the most important telecommunications hubs in the United States — the world’s largest center for processing long-distance phone calls, operated by the New York Telephone Company, a subsidiary of AT&T…

…33 Thomas Street is different: An investigation by The Intercept indicates that the skyscraper is more than a mere nerve center for long-distance phone calls. It also appears to be one of the most important National Security Agency surveillance sites on U.S. soil — a covert monitoring hub that is used to tap into phone calls, faxes, and internet data.

Your taxpayer dollar$ at work. Who wants better education or healthcare when you can erect an edifice like this – just to snoop?

China VP impressed by Ireland’s hi-tech industries, education


Xi Jinping kicking a Gaelic football at Croke Park in Dublin
Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

Ireland’s reputation as a technology hub is a big draw for China, the Chinese leader-in-waiting Xi Jinping said at the end of a three-day visit, his only European Union stop on a world tour. Speaking at an investment forum Monday with some 350 companies, Xi said Ireland’s history, scenery and culture had impressed the Chinese people.

But he made clear the country’s clout in hi-tech and emerging industries, largely due to a low corporation tax rate that has lured Silicon Valley heavyweights, was a key factor.

“Ireland is strong in software development, ICT and biotech medicines and other hi-tech industries…We give top priority to the new generation of IT and bio-tech,” Xi told delegates via a translator Monday, adding it would be the priority for future trade between the two countries.

“Ireland is a country that is strong in trade and services and this bodes well for our co-operation,” he added…

“They are hungry for technologies, things are changing so fast. Ireland is such a small country but we have lot of small and medium businesses with great technologies,” said Jo Cheng, head of analytics at Dublin-based Idiro Technologies, which she noted, had been approached by two Chinese companies in recent months for the first time.

“Ireland is the (European) headquarters of so many massive technology companies like Google, Facebook, eBay. There is a reason why they’re here,” said Cheng, a Chinese national living in Ireland…

His fascination with Ireland dates back to his first trip to Dublin in 2003 when he was a provincial party secretary…”I recall my first visit to this country in 2003. At that time one Irish person I met said to me an Irish saying that is good things often come in small packages and that person said that is us, that is Ireland. We believe Ireland has so many good things to offer,” said Xi Sunday evening.

Ireland’s Prime Minister Enda Kenny, who will visit China next month with a trade delegation, added that the countries had a lot to offer each other, despite the differences in size…

Xi, who visited the United States last week and moves on to Turkey Tuesday, began his Irish stay at a high tech zone near Shannon airport that inspired the building of a similar zone in Shenzhen, the pilot project of former leader Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms…

Beijing has followed with interest Ireland’s transformation from a developing farming economy to one that attracted international technology and drug companies, and is now showing first signs of rebounding from an economic crash…

Eire closed the loophole style of taxation years ago and has committed to a good education through college level free for its citizens. Two things that don’t stand a chance of getting through our ideologue-governed Congress.

Though specifics didn’t come up, I imagine the likelihood of real investment of Chinese companies in Irish firms won’t have to pass through the sort of Cold war vetting that is inevtiable in the US or the UK.

Sharing Station provides access to USB devices over WiFi

WiFi and USB have both become inexpensive and ubiquitous connectivity solutions, so the idea of exploiting them both at the same time a single device makes sense. IOGEAR’s latest take on the theme is its Wireless 4-Port USB Sharing Station, which allows up to four USB peripherals (external storage, camera, printer, etc.) to be shared over a WiFi network and in the process provides a recipe for an uncluttered desktop environment.

While some devices come WiFi-enabled out of the box (printers especially), most of them rely on cords. Resembling an ordinary WiFi router, the IOGEAR Wireless Sharing Station in fact requires a WiFi router to establish a WLAN within the station’s range. After plugging USB gadgets into its four ports, they become accessible to PCs, smartphones, tablets and other devices.

An office environment with shareable multi-function printers, or external hard drives, seems to be the most obvious application of IOGEAR’s device. Another likely application is a simple surveillance system, made up of a USB-powered video recording device accessible via WiFi when plugged into the station. Other USB devices that could be shared include speakers, flash memories, memory card readers, MP3 players, or even USB toys.

I can’t wait to play with one of these. This may replace the gaming switch I use as a wireless hub for my entertainment center.

Make Spain the air hub for Europe and avoid volcanic ash?


Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

The dispersal of large ash plumes from the Eyjafjallajökull eruption in Iceland has generated widespread interest due largely to the impact on air transport and reports of ash-fall throughout the British Isles. Some reports allude to this as a unique event, which may be true as far as living memory is concerned, but there is ample evidence for such events occurring many times before in recent human history.

The RHOXTOR research group, a joint initiative between Royal Holloway, University of London and Oxford University, is dedicated to the study of past volcanic ash falls in Europe, and holds records of their sources, distributions and ages spanning the past 50,000 years and more. This provides information on recurrence intervals of volcanic activity and patterns of dispersal at the continental scale.

Dr Simon Blockley…says: “One interesting point that emerges from our database is the common transport patterns of the Icelandic ash falls and, more importantly, the apparent absence of volcanic ash from sites in Spain. Recent investigations…found that volcanic ash is absent from sediments spanning the last 40,000 years.”

He adds, “So far the number of sites investigated in Spain for these tiny volcanic glass particles is relatively low, and there is therefore urgent need for further research, but the evidence uncovered thus far lends support to the proposal to view Spain as a potential emergency international air travel hub during times of Icelandic ash dispersal over Europe…”

The President of Iceland and scientific sources have made a significant point which everyone seems afraid to address. The history of volcanic eruptions in Iceland is consistent and frequent enough to be a problem for the whole travel infrastructure built-up in the last 100 years.

Someone should start paying attention to solutions.

US role as internet hub starts to diminish

A survey by communications analysts TeleGeography Research, based in Washington DC, shows a rapid growth in internet capacity around the rest of the world over the past year – particularly in Latin America and Asia.

As a result, America’s traditional role as the internet’s traffic policeman is drifting away as other parts of the world become less reliant on it.

The US used to be a primary hub for many regions,” said Eric Schoonover, a senior analyst at TeleGeography. “A lot of data still comes through the US, and a lot of content there is served out to other countries … but its importance is declining, though it has by no means gone away.”

The survey…found that dramatic shifts have led to a decline in America’s involvement in overall internet traffic. In 1999, 91% of data from Asia passed through the United States at some point on its journey. By this year that number had fallen to just 54%.

The change was even more pronounced in Africa. Nine years ago the US was involved in 70% of internet traffic coming from the continent, but that number has decreased to just 6% as more can be directed internally, or through Europe and the Middle East.

Of course, geeks in America, pundits and politicians alike, still think the cybersun rises and sets in their own backyard. The rest of the world should stand up and salute.