Monthly Archives: October 2013

How Wall St makes money creating sugar scarcity

A fire in Brazil’s largest port has burnt some 180,000 tonnes of raw sugar, damaging six warehouses and pushing international prices to a one-year high. The cause of the blaze is still being investigated. Brazil is the world’s main sugar exporter, accounting for nearly half of international sales. The terminal affected by the fire belongs […]

Investigator wants US to disclose drone strike casualty info

A United Nations investigator has called on the US to make public its data about drone strikes and civilian casualties. Ben Emmerson has spent the year travelling to countries where the strikes have taken place, and speaking to US officials. He says the involvement of the CIA creates “an almost insurmountable obstacle to transparency”. In […]

NSA collecting 250 million electronic address books a year

A document leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden says the National Security Agency collects up to 250 million online address books each year. The collection of contact lists from both foreign and US email and instant message accounts is outlined in a document leaked to the Washington Post.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-24533693 Scrutinising such lists allows the NSA to […]

Worries about privacy as Google launches shared endorsements

Google is facing a backlash over plans to put people’s faces and comments about products and places into adverts. The “shared endorsements” policy change starts on 11 November and covers the comments, “follows” and other actions people do on Google+.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-24519300 One protest involves people swapping their profile pictures for that of Google boss Eric […]

Eavesdropping back doors built into routers by D-Link

An easy-to-exploit backdoor has been found in seven different models of domestic routers made by D-Link and Planex.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-24519307 The backdoor, if used, would let an attacker take complete control of a router or modem and spy on a home’s browsing activity. D-Link has acknowledged the existence of the backdoor and said a fix would […]

Smartphone fingerprint scanner to lead to biometric databases

The Android-powered One Max – which includes a fingerprint scanner and a 5.9in (15cm) screen – had been scheduled to be unveiled at a press conference in China on Tuesday.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-24519976 The HTC One Max’s inclusion of a fingerprint scanner makes it set to be the first Android handset to go on sale with the […]

Another nuke commander sacked magnifying fears of warhead use

Maj. Gen. Michael Carey, who oversees the nation’s arsenal of intercontinental missiles, was fired on Friday for personal misbehavior, the Air Force said, adding that the matter was not tied to readiness or security. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/12/us/another-military-commander-is-fired.html?ref=us  On Wednesday, the deputy commander of United States Strategic Command, which oversees America’s nuclear arsenal and space operations, was removed […]

Drone conference tries to assuage fears of domestic use

The Drones and Aerial Robotics Conference was held at New York University Friday and it has been a trying period for defenders of the drone. Public perception has been shaped in large part by the Obama administration’s use of drones in counterterrorism efforts, and civil liberties advocates have long decried the drone’s seemingly boundless capacity […]

France and Europeans say “no” to fracking, again

France’s highest court on Friday upheld a government ban on a controversial drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing. The Constitutional Council ruled against a challenge by Schuepbach Energy, an American company, whose exploration permits were revoked after the French Parliament banned the practice. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/12/business/international/france-upholds-fracking-ban.html?ref=world The method, known informally as fracking, pumps water, sand and chemicals […]

Poland nationalizes pensions to stave off debt crisis

Ignoring warnings that it could deter foreign investment, the Polish government has announced a draft bill that would require private pension funds to transfer about 35.2 billion euros, or $47.6 billion, in government bonds to the state in February. Critics have likened the move to a Soviet-style nationalization of private assets, or an asset seizure. […]

AI to take control of your motor vehicle while your driving

A car that takes control of the steering wheel when it detects the risk of a collision is being tested at a research facility in Germany. Ford said the Obstacle Avoidance system first warned the driver of danger and then took charge if they did not react. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-24464480 The firm said the equipment had been […]

More of the same in Foxconn electronics sweat shops

Foxconn, the world’s biggest contract electronics maker, has admitted student interns worked shifts at a factory in China that were in violation of its company policies. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-24486684 The firm, which makes products for some the world’s biggest brands, has been under scrutiny for labour practices. It had admitted to hiring underage interns at the same […]

Americans involved in Shabab terror campaign in Africa

Dozens of American citizens have fought for the Shabab, and there have been unsubstantiated reports that one of the mall attackers may have been American. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/11/world/africa/norway-kenya-mall-siege.html?ref=world&_r=0 Many questions about the Kenyan mall siege remain unanswered nearly three weeks after it ended. Investigators have not yet made clear how many assailants were involved or what countries […]

US to field transhumanist “iron man” soldier in 3 years

The US Army is working to develop “revolutionary” smart armour that would give its troops “superhuman strength”. It is calling on the technology industry, government labs and academia to help build the Iron Man-style suit.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-24474336 Other exoskeletons that allow soldiers to carry large loads much further have already been tested by the army. The […]

Gazans desperate for food after UN cuts food assistance

Hundreds of women and children protested cutbacks in a United Nations food-assistance program on Wednesday, the latest in a growing backlash by Palestinian refugees and their offspring in this forlorn coastal strip against the agency that for decades has provided them with nutrition, education and health services. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/10/world/middleeast/palestinians-in-gaza-protest-cutbacks-in-un-food-assistance.html?ref=world “People are getting poorer, and the agency’s […]

Agribiz giant Foster Farms serves up salmonella

The Agriculture Department issued a public health alert this week, saying that a strain of salmonella may have sickened 278 people who reported becoming ill after they ate poultry produced by Foster Farms. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/09/business/us-issues-warning-on-salmonella-believed-to-be-linked-to-a-poultry-farm.html?ref=us The raw meats “in question” were being sold in packages bearing the codes P6137, P6137A and P7632, which are the listings […]

Haitians to sue UN over cholera outbreak that killed 8000

Advocates for Haitian victims of the deadly cholera epidemic that first afflicted their country three years ago said they were taking the step on Wednesday of suing the United Nations, asserting that the organization’s peacekeeping force in Haiti was responsible for introducing the disease through sewage contamination from its barracks.   http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/09/world/americas/rights-advocates-suing-un-over-the-spread-of-cholera-in-haiti.html?ref=world&_r=0    The lawsuit, which […]

Global elite buying up luxury gems and art in Hong Kong

The confidence of the world’s superrich to splurge on top gems and works of art appears intact, judging by a string of Sotheby’s auctions in Hong Kong in the past five days.  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/09/business/international/record-setting-diamond-sale-shows-appetite-for-luxury-in-asia.html?ref=world   One of the highlights — a white diamond the size of a ripe plum, weighing 118.28 carats — went for 212 […]

Spanish austerity devastates children and the disabled

The Council of Europe, the continent’s main human rights watchdog, has warned Spain its austerity programme could have a devastating impact on children. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-24457562   Child poverty reached 30% in 2011 and cuts in welfare, health and education have left some children homeless and malnourished, its report said. Disabled people also face poverty and increasing […]

Chinese troops shoot 60 Tibetan protesters in Biru

At least 60 Tibetans were injured after Chinese police fired into a crowd of protesters, rights group Free Tibet and US-based Radio Free Asia report. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-24442218  The shooting occurred on Sunday in Biru county, as villagers demanded police free a man who led separate protests in September. There had been clashes in September after Tibetans […]