Jah-Wren Ryel writes: FORT MEADE, MD – The National Security Agency routinely intercepts children’s letters to Santa, internal agency documents have revealed.
The documents describe an operation known as MILK COOKIES, based out of Fort Meade and run in conjunction with the U.S. Postal Service. COOKIES is the interception of the letters while MILK feeds them through a complex series of algorithms to spot any hidden messages.
Agency director Gen. Keith Alexander had previously testified to Congress in 2011 that the NSA would occasionally collect letters addressed to Santa, but insisted that it was totally accidental and that no one was actually reading or storing them.
Jah-Wren Ryel writes: Looks like the copyright cartel have raided the public domain yet again — the US DoD has signed an exclusive contract with T3 Media to digitize their media archive in exchange for T3 having complete licensing control for 10 years. Considering that all output from the US government is, by law, ineligible for copyright, this deal seems borderline illegal at best. To make matters worse, it appears that there is no provision to make the digitized content freely accessible after the 10 years are up — which means we risk having all that content disappear into T3.
Jah-Wren Ryel writes: Do you think that facebook tracks the stuff that people type and then erase before hitting (or the “post” button)? Turns out the answer is yes. If you start writing a message, and then think better of it and decide not to post it, Facebook still adds it to the dossier they keep on you.
Jah-Wren Ryel writes: IBM Corp has been sued by the Louisiana Sheriffs' Pension & Relief Fund which accused it of concealing how its ties to what became a major U.S. spying scandal reduced business in China and ultimately caused its market value to plunge more than $12 billion.
Jah-Wren Ryel writes: We've cured cancer a million different ways in mice, but human cancers have been a lot harder to cure. This new procedure has been tested with success on humans, both children and adults.
In the therapy, doctors first remove the patient's T-cells, which play a crucial role in the immune system. They then reprogram the cells by transferring in new genes. Once infused back into the body, each modified cell multiplies to 10,000 cells. These "hunter" cells then track down and kill the cancer in a patient's body.
Jah-Wren Ryel writes: Computer scientists have discovered a way to number-crunch an individual’s own preferences to recommend content from others with opposing views. The goal? To burst the “filter bubble” that surrounds us with people we like and content that we agree with.
A recent example of the filter bubble at work: Two people who googled the term “BP.” One received links to investment news about BP while the other received links to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, presumably as a result of some recommendation algorithm.
Jah-Wren Ryel writes: J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5, Thor, He-Man) reports that US Customs now requires a Video Declaration Form be completed for any imported DVDs. The form requires that you "declare the the films/videos contain no obscene or immoral matter, nor any matter advocating or urging treason or insurrection against the United States, nor any threat to take the life of or inflict bodily harm upon any person in the United States."
Jah-Wren Ryel writes: The latest from the front lines in the War on Dignity:
In 2012, Canadian Ellen Richardson was hospitalized for clinical depression. This past Monday she tried to board a plane to New York for a $6,000 Caribbean cruise. DHS denied her entry, citing supposedly private medical records listing her hospitalization.
Jah-Wren Ryel writes: The National Security Agency has been gathering records of online sexual activity and evidence of visits to pornographic websites as part of a proposed plan to harm the reputations of those whom the agency believes are radicalizing others through incendiary speeches, according to a top-secret NSA document.
Jah-Wren Ryel writes: Newegg, an online retailer that has made a name for itself fighting the non-practicing patent holders sometimes called "patent trolls," sits on the losing end of a lawsuit tonight. An eight-person jury came back shortly after 7:00pm and found that the company infringed all four asserted claims of a patent owned by TQP Development
Jah-Wren Ryel writes: In the wake of the trial of Jeremy Hammond, an Anonymous activist who received a 10-year sentence after pleading guilty to hacking the company, WikiLeaks released its final batch of Stratfor files—and it’s potentially scandalous.
According to leaked files, Walmart tasked Stratfor with investigating the alleged extramarital affairs of a CEO who worked for one of the corporation’s global competitors. It’s presented in the context of job recruitment, but, given the competitive nature of the businesses involved, the effort could be construed as an attempt at corporate espionage.
Jah-Wren Ryel writes: Yes, there’s yet another company out there with an inscrutable system making decisions about you that will effect the kinds of services you’re offered.
Based out of L.A.’s “Silicon Beach,” Telesign helps companies verify that a mobile number belongs to a user (sending those oh-so-familiar “verify that you received this code” texts) and takes care of the mobile part of two-factor authenticating or password changes. Among their over 300 clients are nine of the ten largest websites. Now Telesign wants to leverage the data — and billions of phone numbers — it deals with daily to provide a new service: a PhoneID Score, a reputation-based score for every number in the world that looks at the metadata Telesign has on those numbers to weed out the burner phones from the high-quality ones.
Jah-Wren Ryel writes: In early-2013, independent security researcher, Evan “treefort” Booth, began working to answer one simple question: Can common items sold in airports after the security screening be used to build lethal weapons? As it turns out, even a marginally “MacGyver-esque” attacker can breeze through terminal gift shops, restaurants, magazine stands and duty-free shops to find everything needed to wage war on an airplane.
Jah-Wren Ryel writes: Every smartphone or other device with mobile communications capability (e.g. 3G or LTE) actually runs not one, but two operating systems. Aside from the operating system that we as end-users see (Android, iOS, PalmOS), it also runs a small operating system that manages everything related to radio. So, we have a complete operating system, running on an ARM processor, without any exploit mitigation (or only very little of it), which automatically trusts every instruction, piece of code, or data it receives from the base station you're connected to. What could possibly go wrong?