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Comment Re:Thanks Obama... (Score 1) 199

NPR ran without follow-up a rail industry spokesperson saying "99.9997% of all rail trips occur without serious incident." Without giant fireballs in the sky? Yes, we knew that already!

The workers on the train managed to unhook some of the cars that had not yet caught fire. No free speech for them though, so we get the shill.


Researcher Allows Sand Flea To Grow Inside Her Foot To Study It 63

sciencehabit writes "Marlene Thielecke came to Madagascar to study the sand flea, an insect that spends part of its life cycle burrowed into the human foot — but she wound up getting more intimate with the critter than she cared for. Months into her project, Thieleckewas bitten by a flea herself. She decided to make the best of it, by taking regular photographs and videos and keeping track of her observations. 'I thought it might be interesting' to watch what happened, she says. As it turns out, her experience may help resolve an question entomologists have debated foor decades: Where, exactly, does the sand flea have sex?"

Comment Re:They didn't know he also... (Score 1) 403

Actually, Geocities sites are better archived than most dead content, due to the uproar. There are at least four projects, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GeoCities#Archiving_GeoCities_Web_sites They are incomplete, since they rely on incoming links, but massive. And if you've used the Wayback Machine, which is one of the stores, you know archived pages in general are not always functional past the first link.

On Wikipedia it became controversial whether to allow Geocities archive mirrors as links and references, since... there is money at stake! Presumably for advertising, one of the archives ran a bot to mass edit change "Geocities.com" to its own domain.

Comment Re:So... (Score 1) 634

Yep, the NSA action on sysadmin rights seems necessary. Not clear what they think they're going to automate though.

A related problem is who watches the watchers. When the Snowden story first broke, the NSA ensured us that only 20 people could(*) access to the top stuff and that all their activity was logged. Well, who reads those logs? Two of the twenty people? Is that exciting work for a top person? All bollocks. Made me wonder if Snowden had passwords via sysadmin keylogging. Until I saw the handy web interface that came out a few weeks ago and realized he didn't need any special access. That is the biggest story in this whole volcano of stories. Anyone with access - and it was surely more than 20 - only had to tell Skynet a reason from a dropdown select box. No human approval was needed to get a full data stream. Workers were encouraged to always get more data, not less. Sure, if you looked up your ex's emails, you might get in trouble some day. But if the bad guys were offering you a hefty sum to pay off the house she took from you, for a one-time breach and ticket to Tahiti - that approval system was a joke.

*But "could" meant "should."

Comment Re:Nicely done (Score 1) 470

1. Gov't security letters now demand the ISP cannot shut down its service.
2. Targets start using GPG, using flower pots for key exchange.
3. Gov't takes over DNS.
4. Obama appoints sleeper North Korean communist agent as Chief Justice.
5. New FISA court judges throw out security letters.
6. NSA sends 300 number theorists into space on a near-light-speed ship, to return in 60 earth-days (40 local-frame years) with a crack to GPG.

Seriously, after another big terrorist attack all bets are off. But Congress may change how FISA court judges are appointed if another Democrat wins the White House.

Still at play - and was mentioned in one of the first hearings - is whether that handy web interface we saw a few weeks ago could be used to get line recordings from inside the Capitol or a high court. Separation of powers is still a big deal in Washington.

Comment Re:Troubling quote from the article (Score 5, Insightful) 432

Even more troubling: '"Parallel construction is a law enforcement technique we use every day," one official said. "It's decades old, a bedrock concept."... Some defense lawyers and former prosecutors said that using "parallel construction" may be legal to establish probable cause for an arrest. But they said employing the practice as a means of disguising how an investigation began may violate pretrial discovery rules by burying evidence that could prove useful to criminal defendants.'

So it's been accepted practice for decades, with or without the NSA, and yet only drug defense lawyers have ever heard of it. A lot of questions reporters could ask: can defense attorneys get the whole meta-data drop for the phone numbers involved? Can civil case parties get any of this stuff?

The defense data dump would seem to be especially on point, since it would allow the defendant to point fingers in other directions.

Choice parts at the end of the article: 'If cases did go to trial, current and former agents said, charges were sometimes dropped to avoid the risk of exposing SOD involvement... Current and former federal agents said SOD tips aren't always helpful - one estimated their accuracy at 60 percent.... "It was an amazing tool," said one recently retired federal agent. "Our big fear was that it wouldn't stay secret."' That last comment is the absolutely most corrupt.

Comment Re:Amazon (Score 1) 187

Amazon is still losing money on books, according to the other bookstores. At one time it would have been considered a monopoly and forced to negotiate a settlement. Probably not now. I think dumping is one factor in a legal determination of monopolistic behavior.

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