Phrogman writes: UK officials are fearful that China has the capability to shut down businesses, military and critical infrastructure through cyber attacks and spy equipment embedded in computer and telecommunications equipment. A British researcher chose an American military chip that is highly secure with sophisticated encryption standard, manufactured in China, with the aim of seeing if there were any unexpected features on the chip. They discovered a previously unknown backdoor, with a key they extracted, that enabled the chip to be reprogrammed or disabled. The article does not provide specifics on the technology used or details on the backdoor itself.
Phrogman writes: The Conservative government of Steven Harper in Canada has proposed a new bill that would impose a jail term of 10 years for anyone wearing a mask while "participating in a riot or unlawful assembly". The conservative backbencher who proposed the bill makes it clear that he intended it to allow police to arrest anyone wearing a mask "before protests spiral out of control". Since this is the same government that arrested hundreds of protesters during the G8/G20 summit using a law that didn't actually exist, it raises the question as to how they will define "unlawful". This is the latest in a series of "tough on crime" legislation being promulgated by the Conservatives now that they have the power of a majority government. The 10 year penalty is more than double the penalty awarded to a person who murdered someone in a fit of "road-rage" recently.
Phrogman writes: CNN is reporting that "British billionaire Richard Branson's dream of space travel that thousands of people can afford took a leap toward reality with the maiden flight of the world's first commercial spacecraft over California's Mojave Desert", stating that "the VSS Enterprise had successfully completed what it called a captive carry flight attached to a carrier plane."
Phrogman writes: A far-right faction of the Texas State Board of Education succeeded Friday in injecting conservative ideals into social studies, history and economics lessons that will be taught to millions of students for the next decade. The changes will see teachers no longer teaching students about Thomas Jefferson (instead they will learn about religious right icon John Calvin), "Teachers in Texas will be required to cover the Judeo-Christian influences of the nation's Founding Fathers, but not highlight the philosophical rationale for the separation of church and state", Curriculum standards also will describe the U.S. government as a "constitutional republic" rather than "democratic", teachers will not be required to teach students that the Constitution prevents the U.S. government from promoting one religion over all others, there is a heavy focus on teaching about conservative groups and movements (including Phyllis Schlafly, the Contract With America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority and the National Rifle Association) with no corresponding discussion of liberal or minority rights groups, high school sociology courses will no longer discuss differences between sex and gender (board member Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, worried that (discussion) "would lead students into the world of 'transvestites, transsexuals and who knows what else"), gone are discussions on the late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy and new Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, while the late President Ronald Reagan gets elevated to more prominent coverage, Members voted to polish up references to the American 'free enterprise' economic system and removed most mentions of 'capitalism,' a word that board member Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio, said has a negative connotation, plus a variety of other changes all reflecting an ultraconservative viewpoint. Since Texas is one of the biggest clients for textbook publishing, these changes here can affect textbook content nationwide.
Phrogman writes: The BBC is reporting that "Deforestation has revealed what could be a giant impact crater in Central Africa, scientists say. The 36-46km-wide feature, identified in DR Congo, may be one of the largest such structures discovered in the last decade." If you search google maps for "Omeonga Democratic Republic of the Congo" you will be right in the middle of the suspected crater.
Phrogman writes: In this CNN article by Bruce Schneier, he states that the US Government inadvertently enabled Chinese hackers access to Google's Gmail. The article states "Google made headlines when it went public with the fact that Chinese hackers had penetrated some of its services, such as Gmail, in a politically motivated attempt at intelligence gathering. The news here isn't that Chinese hackers engage in these activities or that their attempts are technically sophisticated — we knew that already — it's that the U.S. government inadvertently aided the hackers."
Phrogman writes: "The Co-inventor of Dungeons & Dragons (along with Gary Gygax) has passed away. As this note on his blog mentions "Dave Arneson invented "armor class." He invented "hit points." He invented the "cleric." He invented the "dungeon." He invented "so, last week you cleaned out the dungeon, and now you've heard about another, even scarier dungeon, over the ridge there." He invented "everyone plays one guy, and I play all the monsters." He invented Roleplaying Games. I think a lot of the/. readership will be sad at his passing."
Phrogman writes: From Scott Beale's Laughing Squid blog: "Obama for America campaign photographer David Katz shot some wonderful behind the scenes photos of Barack Obama, Joe Biden and their families watching the election results come in from their hotel room in Chicago." A fascinating look behind the scenes and an excellent set of photographs. Great to see another use of the 'net by the Obama campaign staff.
Phrogman writes: "Jerilea Zempel was detained at the U.S. border this summer because she had a drawing of a sport-utility vehicle in her sketchbook. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers told Zempel they suspected her of copyright infringement. She was released after more than an hour in custody at the Houlton, Maine, port of entry from New Brunswick, Canada. Her release came only after she persuaded border guards she was an artist doing a project that involved a crocheted SUV as a statement against America's dependence on oil and love for big vehicles." What I find interesting in this article is at the end where a Customs official notes "It's a part of a CBP officer's training. Time is set aside for intellectual-property-rights training". Looking at the sketch they stopped her for, they need a bit more training...
Phrogman writes: "CBC News in Canada, is reporting that "An ancient ice shelf the size of 11,000 football fields that broke off Ellesmere Island could be dangerous when it starts to drift in the spring, a scientist says. The collapse of the ice island's northern coast represents the largest breakup of its kind in the Canadian Arctic in 30 years, the head of a new global ice lab at the University of Ottawa said on Thursday."
The article notes "the remains of the Ayles shelf are about 15 kilometres long and five kilometres wide. The fragment is between 30 and 40 metres thick.". I don't think its a good time to be working in the Oilfields off the Grand Banks..."