Tuesday 30 July 2013

#WhistleBlowers and how their life has changed

The former high-ranking National Security Agency analyst now sells iPhones. 
The top intelligence officer at the CIA lives in a motor home outside Yellowstone National Park and spends his days fly-fishing for trout. The FBI translator fled Washington for the West Coast.
This is what life looks like for some after revealing government secrets. Blowing the whistle on wrongdoing, according to those who did it. Jeopardizing national security, according to the government.
Heroes. Scofflaws. They’re all people who had to get on with their lives.

Monday 29 July 2013

#NSA used 9/11 to collect YOUR telephone metadata

Americans were aghast to learn on June 5 that the National Security Agency (NSA) was tracking every phone call made on every major carrier in the country. What's more shocking, though, is that the agency has been able to keep that practice alive for almost a dozen years.
Just a month after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the NSA began compiling vast amounts of Americans' metadata—timestamps and records of who called, texted, or emailed whom.
That's according to a candid NSA memo, written in 2009, that was leaked by the Guardian on June 27. Presumably, it's part of the massive trove of such documents whistleblower Edward Snowdenpassed to the paper. It's marked Top Secret and comes from the desk of the NSA's Office of the Inspector General. It provides a fascinating, explicit timeline for how the agency's leader, then-Director General Michael Hayden, got rapid legal authorization, with little oversight, for the NSA to broaden its abilities. Unlike the NSA's stilted public statements, the memo is written clearly and linearly, almost as a narrative.
According to the memo, it took just three days after the terrorist attacks of September 11 for the NSA to get involved. On September 14, Gen. Hayden, at the time director of the NSA, approved an order for U.S. intelligence agencies to target phone numbers that came from countries associated with terrorism. Only specific, approved numbers could be tracked for calls that came from the U.S., but there appeared to be no such restrictions on calls to the country.
The NSA's General Council deemed Hayden's actions to be legal in accordance with Executive Order 12333, passed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981, which broadened scope of the NSA's powers and responsibilities.
Twelve days later, on Sept. 26, 2012, Hayden declared that any call between Afghanistan and the U.S. was "presumed to be of foreign intelligence value" and could be sent to the FBI. The NSA memo says, bluntly, that Hayden was "aggressive" in his reading of the order:
"[T]he targeting of communication links with one end in the United States was a more aggressive use of E.O. 12333 authority than that exercised by former Directors. General Hayden was operating in a unique environment in which it was a widely held belief that additional terrorist attacks on U.S. soil were imminent."
However, on Oct. 2, Hayden told the House Intelligence Committee about this plan to start exploiting Reagan's executive order. He also told his boss, CIA Director George Tenet, who oversaw all U.S. intelligence agencies acted as a liaison between Hayden and Vice President Dick Cheney. According to the memo:
"Mr. Tenet relayed that the Vice President wanted to know if NSA could be doing more. General Hayden replied that nothing else could be done within existing NSA authorities."
So Hayden began focusing in on a specific role for the NSA to play: Tracking communications between the U.S. and the rest of the world. The memo quotes an unnamed technical director explaining the agency's thinking:
"Here is NSA standing at the U.S. border looking outward for foreign threats. There is the FBI looking within the United States for domestic threats. But no one was looking at the foreign threats coming into the United States. That was a huge gap that NSA wanted to cover."
The NSA aimed to use the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), created to track foreign powers, was authored in 1978, and signed into law by President Jimmy Carter. Being written so long ago, FISA didn't explicitly authorize anyone to track Internet communications.
The NSA determined that FISA "did not allow sufficient flexibility to counter the new terrorist threat," noting that the language of the law would require them "to obtain court orders to target email accounts used by non-U.S. persons outside the United States."
The agency decided that such a process—going to a court for each target—didn't allow the agency to track terrorists at a reasonable speed and that even getting emergency orders wouldn't be sufficient.
They needed another way.
Sometime before October 2001—the memo doesn't provide specific dates here—Hayden began talks with White House officials. He wanted to know how he could start getting Americans' communications—whether actual content or metadata (meaning the details of communications but not their content)—without a court order. It was Hayden, according to the memo, who suggested to Cheney that:
"[C]ommunications metadata did not have the same level of constitutional protection as content and that access to metadata of communications with one end in the United States would significantly enhance NSA's analytic capabilities."
On Oct.4, President Bush signed his first of many authorizations for the NSA to, without a warrant or court order, search the content of any international target's phone and Internet communications, as well as related metadata. It lasted for a 30-day period and gave broad parameters for whom the NSA could target: Not only was the NSA authorized to track anyone it thought was in Afghanistan or was preparing for an act of terrorism, but also any communications between two non-U.S. citizens, as long as both parties weren't within U.S. borders.
Why a secret authorization? The House Intelligence Committee proposed amending FISA to the NSA's request. The NSA wrote to Bush's counsel asking if they could negotiate an emergency bill, but there's no record of a response.
There is, however, this admission by the NSA: "Anecdotal evidence suggests that government officials feared the public debate surrounding any changes to FISA would compromise intelligence sources and methods."
Bush's authorization opened Pandora's box.
On Friday, Oct. 5, Hayden took "immediate steps" to implement it. That meant creating a 24-hour Metadata Analysis Center (MAC), complete with 50 servers and a $25 million operating budget
Over the weekend, the NSA called a group of about 90 personnel to report to work. On Monday, Hayden told those operatives a few select details about their new mission. They knew it came from the president, that it was a temporary job, and that they would create an early warning system to prevent terrorism. They would do what Bush's authorization allowed, Hayden told them, "and not electron or photon more."
Hayden later said he never actually asked the NSA counsel for help in interpreting Bush's order, as he thought it was confidential legal advice to Bush. The NSA's inspector general called that legal situation "odd," adding it was "strange the NSA was told to execute a secret program that everyone knew presented legal questions, without being told the underpinning legal theory."
It took 30 days for the MAC to become fully operational. Before the end of the month, American companies began sending their users' communications to the agency. By November, after Bush's second authorization, they were sending metadata, too. 
By June of 2013, that process had become fully formalized. TheGuardian released leaked documents that showed that every day, Verizon sends the metadata of phone calls to the NSA. TheWashington Post followed up with the revelation that, at least since 2006, the agency has been getting that information from other phone companies, too. That's thanks to FISA getting revamped in the PATRIOT Act to allow metadata collection from all American companies, including Bell South and AT&T.
Once they were public, President Obama admitted the U.S. engages in those practices and even defended them. He told Charlie Rose that if "you are a U.S. person, the NSA cannot listen to your telephone calls and the NSA cannot target your emails" without a warrant. 
He continued:
"There are two programs that were revealed by Mr. Snowden—allegedly, since there’s a criminal investigation taking place and that caused all the ruckus. Program number one is called the 215 program. What that does is it gets data from the service providers—like a Verizon—in bulk. And basically you have call pairs. You have my telephone number connecting with your telephone number. There are no names, there’s no content in that database. All it is, is the number pairs, when those calls took place, how long they took place. So that database is sitting there."
On Friday, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper admitted the metadata collection program has been renewed for another three months. "[T]he DNI has decided to declassify and disclose publicly that the Government filed an application with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court seeking renewal of the authority to collect telephony metadata in bulk, and that the Court renewed that authority," Clapper's office announced.
Your telephone data is still, to this day, being collected. It's just sitting there.

Anti #NSA protests planned for 39 #German cities

Thousands of Germans are expected to join together Saturday in a massive, multi-city protest against U.S. spying.
Germans, in particular, have been on edge since former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden leaked a host of classified agency documents in June. Among his revelations are that German citizens are more scrutinized than any other nationality, and that the NSA is "in bed with the Germans."
Chancellor Angela Merkel has defended the alliance between the two countries' intelligence-gathering operations, telling the German paper Der Zeit that "For decades, intelligence services have been working together under certain conditions that are tightly regulated in our country, and this serves our security."
In the aftermath of Snowden's revelations, U.S President Barack Obama and numerous high-ranking intelligence officials went on the record with the American public to say that they weren't collecting the actual content of Americans' communications, at least without a warrant.
But that did little to assure the rest of the world’s citizens that their communications that passed through American companies weren't fair game for the NSA. That's especially the case in light of Snowden offering proof of a program called PRISM, which taps companies like Google and Facebook for their users' information.
The protest is united under the banner of sites calledstopwatchingus.org and stop-watching-hamburg.de, not to be confused with the American site stopwatching.us. It proclaims in German that "now is the time for us to make our inner rebellion also externally visible," and calls for "Worldwide protests against PRISM, [British program] TEMPORA, and the [NSA's] Utah Data Center!"
Protests are scheduled for 39 different German cities. Some, likeBerlin's, have more than a thousand who have pledged to attend.
"Do something, or you'll wake up in a fascist system as your grandparents once did!" implored Michael Gleich.

#Bitcoin just became illegal in #Thailand

In a country where Bitcoin is illegal, only criminals will use Bitcoin.
The world’s most popular peer-to-peer electronic currency ran afoul of Thailand’s Foreign Exchange Administration and Policy Department following a presentation on what Bitcoin is and how it works. In light of what representatives from the Bank of Thailand heard there, they’ve ruled the following activities illegal, according a statement from Thailand’s  Bitcoin Co. Ltd.
  • Buying Bitcoins
  • Selling Bitcoins
  • Buying any goods or services in exchange for Bitcoins
  • Selling any goods or services for Bitcoins
  • Sending Bitcoins to anyone located outside of Thailand
  • Receiving Bitcoins from anyone located outside of Thailand
Bitcoin Co. Ltd.’s response was “to suspend operations until such as time that the laws in Thailand are updated to account for the existance [sic] of Bitcoin.” Previously, the Bank of Thailand “had bypassed the company’s money exchange license on the basis that Bitcoin was not a currency.”
Other countries have also wrestled with how to define, monitor, and regulate virtual currencies. The European Central Bank last year expressed concern over their instability and untraceability, while the U.S. Treasury expanded its anti-money laundering laws to cover Bitcoin.
The price of a Bitcoin in USD has fluctuated somewhat erratically over the past few months, from as high as $266 to as low as $50, in part due to the European sovereign debt crisis. When Bitcoin was riding high, many saw it as a bubble.
The news out of Thailand sparked a lively thread on Reddit, where users debated where Bitcoin went wrong and whether the country (not to mention the rest of the world) would ever be able to adapt to the currency. Pessimism abounded.
For now, anyway, the Thai will have to make do with their official currency—the baht—and old-fashioned bartering. Still, Bahtcoin.com, which describes itself as a “dealer for Bitcoin in Thailand,” appears to be operational for the time being. You can sell your Bitcoins for 2,574.37 baht ($83.24) apiece and buy them for 3,126.54 ($99.89).
No word yet as to how violators of Thailand’s new Bitcoin regulations would be prosecuted or punished, but seeing as the country can inflict the death penalty for crimes like drug trafficking or, yes, even bribery, traders may want to play it safe.

How to Manage Negativity and Use It to Your Advantage

We live in a world of ups and downs, but handling the positive aspects tends to come a bit easier than the negative. With the right skill set, however, you can manage negativity when it comes your way.

Understand Negative Body Language

Your body often communicates more than your words and the same can be said for others. In order to understand negativity and react to it properly, it helps to recognize specific and common cues:
  • Moving or leaning away from you
  • Crossed arms or legs
  • Looking away to the side
  • Feet pointed away from you, or towards and exit
While not a pure indication, these body language cues point to a negative reaction of some kind. Out of context they don't mean much, but by interpreting the situation and what the person is saying you can understand a lot more about how they're feeling in a given moment. For more on how body language works, check out our complete guide.
Face touchingOf course, your personal body language matters as well as it communicates various signals to the people you interact with. While you don't need to watch what your body says in every situation, it can make a big difference in a job interview. You'll want to avoid these cues:
  • Restless leg
  • Sitting rigid or slouching
  • Excessive nodding, hand gestures, and fidgeting
Generally speaking, aside from avoiding the general negative body language you just don't want to use certain cues too much or too little. If you can find a happy medium, your body language will communicate comfort rather than anything negative.

Train Your Brain to Minimize the Impact of Negative Comments

One negative comment can ruin a day. After all, our brain has a negative bias and gives the bad stuff greater weight than the good. You can counteract the effects of negativity by finding a lot of small, happy moments to enjoy but that doesn't prevent you from feeling bad in the moment. Instead, train your brain to minimize the impact of negativity so you don't feel so awful when someone hurts your feelings.
To do this, separate negative thoughts from actions. You can do this by saying negative things to yourself and then proving yourself wrong. For example, if you follow up a comment like "I'm lazy and never get any exercise" with actually exercising you will demonstrate the inaccuracy of such a statement. The more you prove to yourself that you can counteract negative comments through simple actions, the more likely you'll be able to do that when someone tosses a scathing comment your way. Not only that, but you'll have a heap of evidence demonstrating the inaccuracy of their statement so you won't feel so bad in the first place.
This process will help you put things into perspective, but you have to do that proactively as well. When you feel bad about a particular comment, make it your goal for the day to focus on positive things. It won't feel much better at first, but as you pick up on enough of the good you'll start to see how little that one negative comment means.

Learn How to Handle Negative People

Some people have a higher level of negativity than others. You can most likely think of a few specific in your examples right now. When dealing with them, it helps to know their baseline so you can anticipate what kind of negativity to expect. Marriage and family therapist Roger Gil explains:
If you hang around someone long enough you will get a feel for whether they're the type to be more optimistic, pessimistic, or pragmatic. This knowledge is valuable because while you might expect a "yes" from the optimist, a "no" from the pessimist, or a "let's look at the big picture" from the pragmatist, it's the times that the responses don't follow the "party line" that should interest you. By knowing what is your critic's norm, you will be able to differentiate between the times that "they are just being themselves" versus the times that they may be recognizing something truly noteworthy.
When you know to expect negativity, you don't need to spend much thought on it. Simply pay attention to those times when they break from their norm. If you get the usual negative feedback, however, it helps to re-route their complaints to something productive by requesting solution-based feedback. Productivity and ideas blog the 99u provides an example:
To ask a solution-focused question, describe a potential solution and ask whether it would be acceptable to the other person. For example, to get a piece of work accepted in its current form, you might ask:
"I know you don't like the look of it, but if I can show you evidence that your customers prefer it this way, will you sign it off?"
Your goal is to leave the room with a clearly-agreed next step towards a solution. They may still be sceptical or unsure, but at least you know what you need to do to get the work accepted.
Regardless of how you counter negativity, the best solutions involve letting the issue go or trying to turn it into positivity. So long as you approach the situation with one of those goals, you'll have no trouble dealing with negative people. (For more suggestions, however, check out our complete guide.)

Utilize Negativity for Positive Results

All of this said, you don't want to discount negativity entirely. You can actually use it to help accomplish your goals. Excessive optimism becomes crippling for many people, ballooning up the perceived effects of failure. A little defensive pessimism can help when you feel this way because accepting the possibility of failure softens the blow.
On top of that, failure is good for you! It helps us learn. Sometimes it even helps to fail on purpose so you can push yourself forward. Negativity rarely feels good, but it move your mind to a better place and improve your abilities. Don't try to root it out in every situation—embrace it instead. You can't always make life comfortable, but you can strive to make it better.

Police Kill 95-Year-Old Illinois man With Taser Shocks and Bean Bag Rounds

A 95-year-old resident of an Illinois nursing home died early Saturday, hours after being shocked with a Taser and bean bag rounds in a confrontation with police.
Authorities said John Warna was a resident at Victory Centre of Park Forest, on the 100 block of South Main Street in the south suburb. He was threatening paramedics and staff with a cane and a metal shoehorn when police arrived at the complex, they said.
Police said they struck him with a Taser and bean bag rounds after he threatened officers with a 12-inch butcher knife.

Sunday 28 July 2013

34 Medical Studies Proving Cannabis Cures Cancer

There’s still a lot of confusion across the nation about whether or not marijuana is effective for cancer patients.
 Odds are you’ve heard something about it but weren’t sure whether the information was reliable or definitive. So, in order to help clear things up, here is a list of 25 studies showing that marijuana cures cancer, categorized by the type of cancers being cured in each study.   
As you sort through the articles, note that the consistent theme between them is that cannabis shrinks tumors and selectively targets cancer cells. As bills and voter initiatives to legalize medical marijuana spread from state to state, remember that we’re not just talking about mitigating the side effects of chemo (though this is another viable use), we’re talking about curing the cancer itself as well as preventing its spread. I’ve taken the liberty of only including articles from credible scientific journals, removing any biased or otherwise improperly cited studies. Enjoy!

Cures Brain Cancer

Cures Mouth and Throat Cancer

Cures Breast Cancer

Cures Lung Cancer

Cures Uterine, Testicular, and Pancreatic Cancers

Cures Prostate Cancer

Cures Colorectal Cancer

Cures Ovarian Cancer

Curse Blood Cancer

Cures Skin Cancer

Cures Liver Cancer

Cures Biliary Tract Cancer

Cures Bladder Cancer

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/803983 (Sign-up required to view study)

Cures Cancer in General

About the Author

Watching the watchers is taking on a whole new meaning

News that Google Inc. may be developing a television set-top box with a motion sensor and video camera has rekindled the debate over technology that can record so-called ambient action. 
Should a TV-mounted box have the ability to track our movements, record our voices and monitor our behaviors? Should cable providers and tech companies be allowed to collect such information without our consent?
Lawmakers and privacy advocates are asking such questions as companies continue to experiment with data collection that will extend beyond our gadgets and into our living rooms and bedrooms. 
On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Google privately showed off a prototype device at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last January.
 The company is one of many tech players looking to compete with pay-TV providers, who themselves have been exploring new ways to capture information about viewers’ behavior.

Friday 26 July 2013

This week’s deployment of Black-hawk helicopters in Chicago is only the latest in a series of “urban warfare training”

This week’s deployment of Black-hawk helicopters in Chicago is only the latest in a series of “urban warfare training” exercises that have become a familiar feature of American life.

Such operations are unquestionably of central importance to the US military. Over the past decade, its primary mission, as evidenced in Afghanistan and Iraq, has been the invasion and occupation of relatively powerless countries and the subjugation of their resisting populations, often in house-to-house fighting in urban centers.

The Army operates a 1,000 acre Urban Training Center in south-central Indiana that boasts over 1,500 “training structures” designed to simulate houses, schools, hospitals and factories.

 The center’s web site states that it “can be tailored to replicate both foreign and domestic scenarios.”

What does flying Blackhawks low over Chicago apartment buildings or rolling armored military convoys through the streets of St. Louis accomplish that cannot be achieved through the sprawling training center’s simulations?

 Last year alone, there were at least seven such exercises, including in Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Tampa, St. Louis, Minneapolis and Creeds, Virginia.

The most obvious answer is that these exercises accustom troops to operating in US cities, while desensitizing the American people to the domestic deployment of US military might.

Russia promises it won't hand over Snowden to the U.S.

Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who fled to Russia after blowing the whistle on the agency’s top-secret surveillance programs, will not be extradited to the U.S., RT reported.
On Friday morning, Attorney General Holder told Russia the U.S. wouldn't seek the death penalty for Snowden.
Facing charges of espionage and theft, Snowden has spent the last month living in the transit zone of Moscow’s airport. Russia has thus far treated the airport as international territory, allowing Snowden to apply for asylum to countries around the world. 
Originally, it appeared Snowden would take asylum in Latin America, where three countries offered protection. But after a plane from Moscow was grounded en route to Bolivia, his plans seemed to have at least temporarily changed. Last week, he applied for asylum in Russia. If granted, his lawyer said, he plans to settle down and work in the country. 
Yesterday, as Russia considered Snowden’s asylum request, the U.S. reiterated its desire to have the whistleblower returned to the U.S. to face charges. Meanwhile, the Senate Appropriations Committeethreatened to sanction any country that assisted Snowden.
A spokesman for Russian president Vladimir Putin said today that Russia would not return Snowden to the U.S. “Russia has never extradited anyone, and will not extradite,” he said. 
According to RT, the spokesman said the Kremlin was confident Snowden would stop harming the U.S. if granted asylum in Russia. 
Russia’s immigration agency has yet to decide on Snowden’s asylum plea.

Halliburton Admits Destroying Gulf Oil Spill Evidence, Gets Probation

Halliburton announced that it will plead guilty to destroying critical evidence in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, in exchange for three years probation and a fine.
Halliburton was responsible for mixing the cement used in the Deepwater Horizon rig, which exploded, killing 11 workers and gushing 5 billion gallons of oil into the ocean for nearly three months — the largest oil spill in US history.
The evidence in question concerns whether BP was irresponsible when it used fewer devices than Halliburton recommended to center cement casings in the well. In addition to accepting the probation and paying a $200,000 fine, Halliburton will admit that it threw out test results that showed there was no real difference between the number of devices it recommended and the number BP used.
Halliburton is the third company to plead guilty to a criminal charge in the explosion; BP plead guilty to manslaughter and a $4 billion fine, and Transocean admitted to violating the Clean Water Act and a $1.4 billion fine.