Thursday, June 28, 2012

The internet is part of the global information community - not the private realm of the United States...

Prison for linking to a website; you would have to be joking? But you are not joking!

  • Jimmy Wales created Wikipedia. Now he's created a petition to stop the U.K. from sending a 24-year-old Internet entrepreneur to the US to be prosecuted for linking to TV shows on his website.
    Two years ago, Richard O'Dwyer was in his second year of college in the U.K. In his spare time he ran a website that acted as a search engine for users to find links to watch TV and movies online.
    He respected the rules -- deleting content when he received requests to remove it. But despite this, he’s now been accused of copyright violation and could face 10 years in a U.S. prison, after the British Home Secretary, Theresa May, signed an extradition order in March.
    Richard is not a U.S. citizen, he's lived in the U.K. all his life, his site was not hosted there, and most of his users were not from the U.S. The U.S. is trying to prosecute a U.K. citizen for an alleged crime which took place on U.K. soil.
    Given the thin case against him, it is an outrage that he is being extradited to the U.S. to face charges. That's why I've just launched a petition on to stop his extradition -- and why I hope you will sign it today. Click here to sign the petition.
    When I met Richard, he struck me as a clean-cut, geeky kid. Still a student, he reminds me of many great entrepreneurs and the kind of person I can imagine launching the next Wikipedia or YouTube.
    Copyright matters but from the beginning of the internet, we have seen a struggle between the interests of the "content industry" and the general public.
    Richard is the human face of that battle, and if he's extradited and convicted, he will bear the very real human cost.
    The internet as a whole must not tolerate censorship as a response to mere allegations of copyright infringement. As citizens we must stand up for our rights online.
    Together, the public won the battle against SOPA and PIPA. We proved that when we work together we can protect freedom on the internet. Together, I know we can win this battle too.
    Join me and sign my petition to stop the extradition of UK citizen Richard O'Dwyer.
    - Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia Founder (Link below)

  • This story has so many similarities to the Kim Dotcom controversy in New New Zealand. Mr Dotcom has to face an extradition order hearing in August. Like Richard O'Dwyer, Mr Dotcom is not an American citizen and does not have an American based website. Just in recent days the New Zealand High court has come out in favour of Kim Dotcom - declaring the charges against him invalid and the police raid and confiscation of his property illegal. One would get the impression that the United States thinks it owns the internet - they don't, it is a global source of information. It is important that the global community sends a message to the United States. Their censorship of the internet must be stopped.

  • Peter Petterson
    New Zealand

  • Kiwipete

NZ Judge declares Kim Dotcom FBI initiated police raid and searches illegal and invalid...

Kim Dotcom outside court earlier this year. Photo / File

Kim Dotcom outside court earlier this year. Photo / File

The High Court has ruled the police raid on internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom's Auckland mansion was illegal and the removal from New Zealand of cloned copies of hard drives seized was unlawful.
Justice Helen Winkelmann found the warrants used did not adequately describe the offences to which they were related.
"Indeed they fell well short of that. They were general warrants, and as such, are invalid.''
Police said they were considering the judgement and are in discussions with Crown Law to determine what further action might be required.
They would not make any comment until that process was complete.
Justice Winkelmann's judgement released a short time ago found the warrants were far too wide in terms of the scope of the search and the amount of items they gave police authority to seize.
"These categories of items were defined in such a way that they would inevitably capture within them both relevant and irrelevant material. The police acted on this authorisation. The warrants could not authorise seizure of irrelevant material, and are therefore invalid.''
The cloning of Dotcom's hard drives by the FBI, who took the copied disks back to the US was also ruled as invalid because Dotcom had never given consent.
The court ordered an independent lawyer to review everything seized in the raid to determine what is relevant to the investigation and what is not.
Relevant material is to be released to US authorities and everything else is be returned to Dotcom "forthwith''.
The decision followed a hearing at the High Court in Auckland last month.
Kim Dotcom cried in court as his lawyer spoke of how he was ``ripped from his family'' during a dawn raid by police at the request of US authorities.
Dotcom, who was arrested alongside three associates, had argued for copies of the data on 135 computers and hard drives seized when police raided his $30 million home in Coatesville.
His lawyer Paul Davison QC said his client's rights had been "subverted'' after cloned copies of the hard drives were taken overseas by the FBI without his lawyers knowing.
Mr Davison told the court he wrote to Crown lawyers in February to ask that none of the data from Dotcom's computers leave New Zealand.
Mr Davison said Crown lawyers responded, saying: "The evidence is required in its original form to be sent to the US. That has not happened and will not happen without prior warning.''
He said he was told the FBI had been in New Zealand and made clones of the data on the computers and one copy would be made available to him.

Mr Davison said he had yet to receive that copy and was only told today that copies had been sent to the US.
"There has been no approval for removal.''
Mr Davison also said there had been an "excess of authority''.
"Here is an example of what I would submit at the most moderate was high-handed and at the worst misleading.''
He said the process was "off the rails'' and his client's rights had been "subverted''.
Dotcom wiped tears from his eyes and left court as Mr Davison said his client had been "ripped from his family'' and was now before the court asking for the legitimacy of the police actions to be looked at.
Justice Helen Winkelmann said she wanted an affidavit from Crown lawyers that would clarify whether or not the Solicitor General gave police permission to allow copies of the data on Dotcom's computers to be taken to the US.
Crown lawyer Mike Ruffin said the original police search warrant, signed by a district court judge, made it clear that the computers and hard drives would be taken to the US.
He said a proposal by Dotcom to have a judicial review of the information was "not practical because of the volume of the data''.
Mr Ruffin said copies of Dotcom's computers and hard drives could not be handed over because investigators were not yet able to determine what is relevant to the case and what is not.
Dotcom faces an extradition hearing in August which will determine whether or not he is to fly to the US to face charges including copyright infringement and wire fraud relating to the file-sharing website Megaupload.
Prosecutors allege a "mega conspiracy''; Dotcom denies the charges and says his website was legitimate.
Acknowledgements:  - APNZ
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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Great way to spend a thousand bucks - hack into a US Goverment drone aircraft...


  • hawk-drone-photo_n
    B)So you have a spare thousand bucks, eh? There are certainly a lot of cool things you could spend it on. But scientists at a Texas college came up with a real cool idea - hacking into a US Government drone aircraft. A group of researchers led by Professor Todd Humphreys from the University of Texas at the Austin Radionavigation Laboratory, recently succeeded in raising the eyebrows of the US Government - by spending a thousand dollars on parts and actually controlling one of the Department of Homeland Defence's unmanned drone aircraft. Read about it here:
  • Kiwipete 
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Google gearing for battle with its major show-and-tell

The leaked images of the Nexus 7 first reported by Gizmodo Australia.
SAN FRANCISCO: Google’s annual developer conference, Google I/O, opens overnight Australian time with a raft of expected announcements including the much-anticipated launch of a cut-price, 7-inch tablet, the Nexus 7.
While the hardware may grab the headlines, Google is mostly about software. So expect to see a bunch of new stuff around core Google areas including the cloud, maps, the Android and Chrome operating systems and Google TV.
One definite no-show, however, is Google chief executive Larry Page. Page, who turns 40 next March, and has been sidelined since earlier this month with an unexplained ailment which caused him to lose his voice.
Read more:

Monday, June 25, 2012

Jokes, taxes, and Cameron's double standards - how to rip off the Exchequer...


Just a short piece this week, kids.

Sit down, cross your legs – we’re going to talk about taxes.

Semi-hilarious and reasonably controversial British comedian Jimmy Carr has been unveiled by The Times newspaper as a rife tax-avoider.

Carr is one of those one-liner comics who seem to walk the same libel suit tightropes as Frankie ‘Visible Eczema’ Boyle with cracks about anyone and anything within hollering distance including - funnily enough – the UK Tory-led Government: more on which later.

Apparently, Carr has sent more than £3.3m to the tax-haven Island Jersey to a company called K2, which then sends that same coinage back in the form of a personal loan which is not subject to income tax.

All up, he pays roughly 1% tax of what he should.

The once-pudgy Carr was recently heckled about the sniveling scheme during a live show to which he responded “I pay what I have to and not a penny more”.

Some might look upon Carr’s actions as surprising given his regular slot as regular host of 10 O’clock Live, alongside David Mitchell and Charlie Brooker. To say that the show leans to the left would be an understatement. Yet that surprise blow to Carr’s reputation really ought to be lessened owing to his history as an exec at oil company Shell during the early part of his career.

The buffoonish Tory Prime Minister David Cameron has waded wondrously in to the debate, insisting that “people work hard, they pay their taxes, they save up to go to one of [Carr’s] shows. They buy the tickets. He is taking the money from those tickets and he, as far as I can see, is putting all of that into some very dodgy tax avoiding schemes. That is wrong.”

This is coming from the man who rushed to look up the word “pasty” in the Oxford Dictionary during the ‘Pastygate’ scandal of March this year and the subsequent U-turn. Also from the man who has never had to ‘save up’ for anything in his life.

But this is also coming from the man who allowed the news of’s zero corporate tax bill to drift in to the ether. More than £7bn was transferred to a Luxembourg holding company over three years.

This is the same man who fell silent after members of his Customs and Revenues department made an allegedly illegal deal with Vodafone to cull their £4.8bn tax bill.

It’s a blunt slap to the face laced with hypocrisy that he berates an individual for being “morally wrong” whilst encouraging groups of people whose consequences have further reaching implications than Carr’s.

Think of all the police, health service, and education jobs could have been saved by the collection of both Vodafone and Amazon’s tax bills. Go after them Mr. Cameron! They are the ones who are morally reprehensible.

Vodafone UK once said on their website that “the maximisation of shareholder value will generally involve the minimisation of taxation” but if we’re to apply that ethos to Mr Carr, does that mean we’ll get better comedy out of him if he earns more and refuses to pay his fair share?

Probably not: he’ll always be an offensive and desperate comedian.

Now, he’s an offensive and desperate human being too.

Acknowledgements:  James A. Robins


Sunday, June 24, 2012

NuStar launches 'black hole' seeking telescope...

June 13, 2012 9:30 AM Text Size: A . A . A
UPDATE: NuStar's launch was a success. "NuSTAR spread its solar panels to charge the spacecraft battery andthen reported back to Earth of its good health," Yunjin Kim, the mission's project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a release. "We are checking out the spacecraft now and are excited to tune into the high-energy X-ray sky."

At the center of our galaxy lies a supermassive black hole, and that black hole spews forth high-energy X-rays. Yet astronomers who study such powerful phenomena with current space telescopes often compare it to a farsighted person trying to read a book without glasses.

"The view of the center of our galaxy ... is a rather fuzzy image. We think it's much more complicated," physicist William Craig of the University of California, Berkeley, said during a NASA press conference Monday.

To bring an unprecedented view of the X-ray sky, NASA engineers built a new space telescope called NuSTAR, short for nuclear spectroscopic telescope array. This morning around 11:30 am EDT, NASA plans to launch it into space from the belly of an airplane. (Watch NASA's live coverage on the web starting at 10 am EDT.)

Ultimate X-ray Vision

High-energy X-rays come from a variety of astronomical objects and processes. Black holes, for example, emit X-rays while feeding on captured matter from stars, planets, and other celestial objects. As the celestial debris builds up in a disk around the black hole, it travels progressively faster and gets progressively hotter. Before it passes the event horizon—the point of no return, even for light—that matter gets hot enough to glow in the X-ray part of the spectrum.

Other X-ray sources include the cooling remnants of supernovas and particles traveling between galaxies. NuSTAR's team members say that studying these is crucial to understanding how galaxies, stars, and solar systems form.

"One of NuSTAR's primary science goals is to study ... the extreme physics near black holes, where spacetime is very distorted and particles are accelerated close to the speed of light," Fiona Harrison, an astrophysicist at Caltech and another NuSTAR team member, said during the press conference. "It will also help us understand how black holes are distributed throughout the universe."

Thankfully for life on Earth, our atmosphere blocks out X-rays. So researchers must launch space-based observatories to see them. Several X-ray observatories already exist, including NASA's Chandra and the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton. However, these spacecraft record X-rays at relatively low-energy wavelengths (imagine if an optical telescope couldn't see in blue or green). NuStar will be able to observe higher-energy X-rays, and in better resolution.

"It opens up a new window into the high-energy universe," Craig says. "For the first time, [we'll be able to] look at the energies of these exotic objects."

Clever Engineering

NASA's budget is tight and getting tighter, and so NuStar won't be riding into space aboard a big, fiery rocket blasting off from Cape Canaveral. "We couldn't have afforded a rocket ... to launch something the size of a school bus," Craig says.

Instead, the telescope will be launched from the air. NuStar is currently tucked into the nose cone of a smaller 58-foot-long Pegasus XL rocket, which itself is strapped to the bottom of Stargazer airplane. When the aircraft reaches an altitude of about 40,000 feet above Kwajalein Atoll, near Earth's equator, the rocket will fall away and launch into orbit. (Here's a video simulation.) Several commercial space companies, most notably the Paul Allen-backed mega jet called Stratolaunch, are trying to use this piggyback method of launching a rocket because it drastically cuts down launch costs—NuStar will tally a relatively cheap $170 million.

The problem is making the telescope compact enough. Focusing fuzzy X-ray light sources into crisp images on its sensors requires NuStar to have two "light buckets," or lenses, about 33 feet from the camera. The Pegasus XL rocket's nose cone, however, fits something only as tall as 7 feet. So the engineers designed a new collapsible mast for NuSTAR's light buckets. A week after the spacecraft settles into orbit, the spacecraft will unfurl its mast and open up for business.

If all goes well, the telescope will rival the capabilities of Chandra and XMM-Newton in imaging distant, high-energy objects. Harrison noted that combining data with those from other X-ray telescopes will provide a complete look at the mysterious objects.

"Together they can study the entire X-ray spectrum, breaking the X-ray light into its colors," Harrison says. "We can watch matter circulate near a black hole, observe how spacetime distorts our view of these objects and even tell how fast the black hole is spinning."

Read more: Black Hole-Hunting Space Telescope Launches From Airplane - Popular Mechanics