cold fjord writes: State level marijuana legalization efforts across the US have been gaining traction driven by the folk wisdom that marijuana is both a harmless recreational drug and a useful medical treatment for many aliments. However some cracks have appeared in that story with indications that marijuana use is associated with the development of mental disorders and the long term blunting of the brain's reward system of dopamine levels. A new study has found that marijuana appears to have a widespread effect on blood flow in the brain: "Published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, researchers using single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), a sophisticated imaging study that evaluates blood flow and activity patterns, demonstrated abnormally low blood flow in virtually every area of the brain studies in nearly 1,000 marijuana users compared to healthy controls, including areas known to be affected by Alzheimer's pathology such as the hippocampus. . . . According to Daniel Amen, M.D.,... "Our research demonstrates that marijuana can have significant negative effects on brain function. The media has given the general impression that marijuana is a safe recreational drug, this research directly challenges that notion. In another new study just released, researchers showed that marijuana use tripled the risk of psychosis. Caution is clearly in order.""
cold fjord writes: James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, resigned last night. Clapper spent 30 years in military intelligence at the National Imagery and Mapping Agency. He was selected to be the Director of National Intelligence in 2010 with responsibility for 17 US intelligence agencies. Clapper was DNI during the monumental Snowden leaks of documents from NSA and various allied intelligence agencies as well as the release by WikiLeaks of the documents provided by (at the time) Private Bradley Manning. Besides the Snowden and Manning leaks, Clapper was engulfed in controversy over testimony to Congress in which he is alleged to have lied about NSA data collection in responding to a question from Senator Wyden. Clapper had previously stated he would leave at the end of the Obama administration. Clapper's resignation clears the way for incoming president-elect Trump to appoint his own Director of National Intelligence.
cold fjord writes: It will soon be a bit more difficult for Britain's Royal Navy to rule the waves as it gives up anti-ship missiles as a result of budget cuts. That will force the Royal Navy to go "old school" and rely upon naval gunfire for ship to ship combat. Cannon fire as the primary means of ship to ship combat has been largely obsolete since the 1950s following the invention of guided missiles in World War 2. Prior to that canon fire had been the primary means of naval combat for hundreds of years, and the Royal Navy had developed it handling of naval guns to a high art. Although Royal Navy cannon once ranged up to 16" guns on battleships the largest gun currently in active service is a 4.5" gun. That will leave the Royal Navy unable to engage targets beyond approximately 17 miles / 27 km whereas Harpoon missiles provide an 80 mile / 130 m range. The loss of anti-ship missile capability will begin in 2018 and may last for 10 years for warships, and 2 years for helicopters. The Sun quotes a naval insider who said: "It’s like Nelson saying, ‘don’t worry, I don’t need canons, we’ve got muskets.’" The loss of missile capability heaps more misfortune upon a naval force that recently has seen its available frontline combat force drop to an unprecedented 24 warships.
cold fjord writes: After years of delays, Julian Assange is scheduled to be interviewed today by Swedish authorities in Ecuador's embassy in London regarding allegations of sexual assault. Julian Assange has repeatedly denied the allegations. Representatives of the Swedish prosecutor's office and the Swedish police will be present while an Ecuadorian official asks Assange the questions provided by the Swedes. Ecuador granted Julian Assange political asylum in 2012. Since then Assange has been trapped in the small Ecuadorian embassy in London. British police have been waiting outside the embassy to take Assange into custody if possible as he jumped bail to take refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy. Ecuador has asked for guarantees that Assange would not be extradited to a third country. It isn't clear what the result would be if the interview with Assange led to the filing of formal charges. Under normal Swedish criminal justice procedures charges wouldn't be filed until after the interview by prosecutors that is occurring today.
Sifting through those messages to determine which, if any, need to be taken seriously is the responsibility of the Secret Service Internet Threat Desk, a group of agents tasked with identifying and assessing online threats to the president and his family. The first part of this mission—finding threats—is in many ways made easier by the Internet: all you have to do is search! Pulling up every tweet which uses the words “Obama” and “assassinate” takes mere seconds, and the Secret Service has tried to make it easier for people to draw threats to its attention by setting up its own Twitter handle, @secretservice, for users to report threatening messages to.
cold fjord writes: In a national referendum of enormous consequence the people of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland have voted to leave the European Union by a margin of 51.8% to 48.2% with 95% of the votes counted in a record turnout of 72.2% of the electorate. The consequences of the U.K. leaving the E.U. will unfold over a period of years and Europeans are left wondering if Britain will be the only country to leave the E.U., or only the first. With this decision comes reports that Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland and the SNP in Scotland will be calling for dissolving their union with the United Kingdom. The future of the current Prime Minister, David Cameron, is uncertain. The British Pound has taken a beating. But Britain is now moving into a very different future from the one it appeared to have just yesterday, able to make choices independent from Brussels. Link to Original Source
cold fjord writes: Steven Hawking, 150 fellows of the Royal Society (three Nobel laureates among them), and the Astronomer Royal, are warning that exit from the EU by the UK could be a disaster for science in the UK. An immediate issue would be restrictions on travel and how that would result in scientists from around the EU no longer coming to the UK to work. That would make the UK less competitive for new talent. It would also mean that scientists in the EU with grant money would be less likely to bring their research and grant money to the UK to perform their work. Switzerland is listed as an example of the resulting harm. The scientists make the point that freedom of travel for scientists is as important for science as free trade is for economies. This point of view is not shared by all.
cold fjord writes: General Michael Hayden (Retired), who served as head of both the NSA and CIA, has taken a position supporting Apple in its conflict with the FBI. Apple is fighting a court order to assist the FBI in breaking into the government owned phone used by one of the two dead terrorists responsible for the recent San Bernardino massacre. General Hayden stated, “You can argue this on constitutional grounds. Does the government have the right to do this? Frankly, I think the government does have a right to do it. You can do balancing privacy and security dead men don’t have a right to privacy. I don’t use those lenses. My lens is the security lens, and frankly, it’s a close but clear call that Apple’s right on just raw security grounds . ..", and, "I get why the FBI wants to get into the phones but this may be a case where we’ve got to give up some things in law enforcement and even counter terrorism in order to preserve this aspect, our cybersecurity.”
cold fjord writes: Discovery News reports, “On Wednesday, a group of prominent scientists published a commentary faulting colleagues who have published papers downplaying or dismissing the significance of a 13-year slowdown in warming rates . . . . “We shouldn’t sweep the early 2000s warming slowdown under the rug,” said Penn State meteorology professor Michael Mann, one of 11 authors of the commentary published in Nature Climate Change. . . . Until 2009, scientists had little explanation for the phenomenon. By 2014, though, it was known that the slowdown was caused primarily by a phase in a slow-moving Pacific Ocean cycle, with fierce trade winds driving more heat than normal into ocean depths. . . . Several recent papers have called into question whether the surface warming slowdown was significant. . . . Wednesday’s commentary lauded the advances in climate science that helped solve the mystery . . . while rebuking other scientists whose research has concluded that the slowdown was insignificant or unimportant. “. . . it has been imperative for scientists to provide a timely explanation of the warming slowdown,” wrote the 11 scientists, who are based in Canada, England, Australia and the U.S. . . . One of the studies singled out . . . was produced by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists led by Thomas Karl . . . Karl’s team believes some historical records of ocean temperatures are flawed, and they corrected them accordingly. The result of that analysis led them to conclude in a paper published last year in Science that warming during the early 2000s was “far more similar” to the longer-term trends “than previously estimated.” That surprise finding prompted Rep. Lamar Smith . . . Smith has argued that the NOAA study was “expedited to fit” the Obama Administration’s “aggressive” climate policies — a claim the agency strongly denies. . . . ”
cold fjord writes: Nick Gillespie at Reason is heading to The Free State Project's annual Liberty Forum. being held this weekend in Manchester, New Hampshire. One of the highlights and a big draw this year is the keynote address by Edward Snowden via the Internet. Nick Gillespie will be interviewing Edward Snowden. Snowden is also scheduled to answer questions from participants submitted ahead of time. There are already reported to be 2,000 Free State Project members in the state, and reports from Brian Doherty indicate they are already effecting change: "Over 1,900 Free Staters already are there and we've reported here at Reason on some of what they're already accomplished, from getting 15 of their brethren in the state House, challenging anti-ridehail laws, fighting in court for outre religious liberty, winning legal battles over taping cops, being mocked by Colbert for heroically paying off people's parking meters, hosting cool anything goes festivals for libertarians, nullifying pot juries, and inducing occasional pants-wetting absurd paranoia in local statists."
cold fjord writes: A recently released security awareness video featuring prominent NSA whistleblowers is making waves during the current security and encryption debates. In the video former NSA contractor Edward Snowden describes the NSA’s ability to gather digital communications anywhere on Earth. Retired NSA Technical Leader for Intelligence, and whistleblower, Bill Binney discusses mass data analysis. Also appearing is journalist and activist Jacob Appelbaum who describes how the NSA uses that information to make determinations about individuals based off of their interactions. The excerpts come from Academy Award winning documentary Citizenfour. Viewers of the video are urged to to adopt good security practices, including the use of strong encryption.. There are also links to web sites with articles, tutorials, and other information on implementing strong digital security and strong encryption, including Tor, cell phone security, USBs, and other topics.. The video has been spreading on social media following its release on Saturday. The video is titled, "The Electronic War And The Negligence Of The Supporters Of Mujahedeen.” It is the product of the Afaq Agency, an ISIS-affiliate focused on hacking and cyber security,” The translated title card at the end of the video states, “This is just a drop in the ocean,” “Our enemies are monitoring us day and night, collecting our information and targeting us. This is very dangerous. Carelessness and negligence in digital security cannot be tolerated.”