Monthly Archives: April 2014

Tech companies agree with US on smartphone kill switch

Several lawmakers over the last year have teamed up with  manufacturers and wireless carriers to include smarter antitheft technology on smartphones. A group of tech and phone companies on Tuesday said they were on board with the idea. http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/04/15/tech-companies-commit-to-offering-a-kill-switch-for-preventing-phone-theft/?ref=us CTIA, the industry trade group that represents the carriers, said over a dozen companies, including Apple, […]

NATO conducts more airstrikes on civilians in Afghanistan

NATO airstrike in eastern Afghanistan killed a woman and two children on Tuesday, again raising the issue of civilian casualties at a time when both the presidential election and the future of the Western troop presence are unresolved. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/16/world/asia/nato-airstrike-in-afghanistan-is-said-to-kill-civilians.html?ref=world Local officials said that a NATO aircraft had fired a rocket into a village in the […]

TSA behavior detection experiments fail to identify threats

A multiyear experiment in behavior detection is only worsening the Transportation Security Administration’s reputation for wastefulness. Since 2007, the T.S.A. has trained officers to identify high-risk passengers on the basis of mostly nonverbal signs, like fidgeting or sweating, which may indicate stress or fear. The total price tag: nearly $1 billion. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/07/opinion/behavior-detection-isnt-paying-off.html?src=rechp In theory we’re […]

The United Kingdom unveils their first robot soldier

A robotic mannequin that can run, sit and even mimic the movement of a soldier has been unveiled by the Ministry of Defence. The £1.1m robot – developed using Formula 1 technology – http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-26892771 The “Porton Man” has more than 100 sensors over its body to record data during tests. The Ministry of Defence said […]

Google secretly creating robotics monopoly

Google is taking a stake in a Silicon Valley-based robotics company that has yet to reveal its first product. http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-26958985 Savioke’s work may be under wraps, but it has announced plans to begin customer trials of a service industry-targeted machine this year. Google has acquired eight other robotics companies outright over the past year. Its […]

Bank of America admits wrongdoing by settling lawsuit

Bank of America has agreed to pay $783m (£470m) in fines and refunds to settle accusations it misled customers about its credit card services.http://www.bbc.com/news/business-26966518 The bank will refund $738m to affected customers and pay $45m in penalties to US regulators. The payout relates to the bank’s sales and marketing of its payment and identity theft […]

UN criticized for not rendering aid in South Sudan

The United Nations peacekeeping operation in South Sudan was severely criticized on Wednesday by Doctors Without Borders, the emergency medical charity, over what it called a shameful indifference to the squalid living conditions of 21,000 displaced people forced to shelter in a flooded portion of a peacekeeping base in the capital, Juba. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/10/world/africa/medical-charity-sharply-criticizes-un-operation-in-south-sudan.html?ref=world The rebuke […]

US Justice Department allows profiling to continue

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s long-awaited revisions to the Justice Department’s racial profiling rules would allow the F.B.I. to continue many, if not all, of the tactics opposed by civil rights groups, such as mapping ethnic populations and using that data to recruit informants and open investigations. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/10/us/profiling-rules-said-to-give-fbi-tactical-leeway.html?emc=edit_th_20140410&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=24074060&_r=0 The new rules, which are in […]

US Treasury allows Boeing to sell to Iran

The US Treasury has granted plane manufacturer Boeing a licence to export certain spare commercial parts to Iran, a company spokesman says. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-26896983 Boeing has had no public dealings with Tehran since 1979. In a statement, the US company said the licence had been granted for the safety of flight. The step is being seen […]

Extrajudicial killing lawsuit against White House dismissed

A federal judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit against top Obama administration officials that was filed by the parents of three United States citizens whom the government killed without trial in drone strikes, including Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical Muslim cleric. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/05/world/judge-dismisses-suit-against-administration-officials-over-drone-strikes.html?ref=world&_r=0 In a 41-page opinion, Judge Rosemary M. Collyer of Federal District Court for the […]

US admits using “Cuban Twitter” to destabilize government

The U.S. government masterminded the creation of a “Cuban Twitter” — a communications network designed to undermine the communist government in Cuba, built with secret shell companies and financed through foreign banks, The Associated Press has learned. http://news.yahoo.com/us-secretly-built-cuban-twitter-064146796.html;_ylt=AwrBTzi9CD5TJhgA8U9XNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTB0bzlscmh0BHNlYwNzYwRjb2xvA2JmMQR2dGlkA1ZJUDQwNV8x The Obama administration project, which lasted more than two years and drew tens of thousands of subscribers, […]

NSA required web-encryption firm to include backdoors

The US National Security Agency persuaded web-encryption company RSA to develop a more vulnerable random-number generator to make it easier to spy on businesses, Reuters has reported. http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-26834889 The news agency reported research suggesting the software had made reading companies’ encrypted messages about 65,000 times easier. RSA said it should “have been more sceptical of […]

The US Navy begins active testing of humanoid robots

Robots designed to withstand intense heat are to be tested by the US Navy this summer. The Shipboard Autonomous Fire-fighting Robot (SAFFiR) has been built by engineers at Virginia Tech and other US universities. http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-26850631 The robots are expected to perform a variety of tasks – balancing, turning valves, picking up and dragging a fire […]

Ukrainian who led protest movement allegedly shoots self

A Ukrainian far-right leader accidentally shot and killed himself during a shoot-out with police last month, an investigation has concluded. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-26849934 The inquiry by the interior ministry said Oleksandr Muzychko, aka Sashko Bily, had shot himself in the heart as police tried to wrestle him to the ground during the chase. He was a member […]

Pacific Gas and Electric charged in pipeline explosion deaths

Pacific Gas and Electric was charged Tuesday with 12 federal felony counts involving safety violations linked to a 2010 natural gas pipeline explosion that killed eight people in the San Francisco Bay Area. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/02/us/pacific-gas-and-electric-charged-with-12-felonies-in-explosion.html?ref=us Federal prosecutors allege that the company knowingly relied on erroneous and incomplete information when assessing the safety of the pipeline that […]

Clapper letter admits NSA and CIA searches were illegal

United States intelligence analysts have searched for Americans’ emails and phone calls within the repository of communications that the government collects without a warrant, according to a letter from James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, to Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/02/us/politics/letter-puts-focus-on-us-searches-for-americans-emails-and-calls.html?ref=us The March 28 letter was not the first official […]

The West to expand NATO air patrols along Russian border

The West is expected to expand the air patrols that NATO nations conduct over Baltic nations. The air patrols are being carried out from a base in Lithuania, and Estonia has offered to provide a second base to sustain expanded operations. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/02/world/europe/nato-orders-end-to-practical-and-military-cooperation-with-russia.html?ref=world Another step is to increase NATO’s naval presence in the Baltic Sea. NATO […]

Phone hacking drones unveiled at Black Hat conference

Security firm SensePost has unveiled its Snoopy drone, which can steal data from unsuspecting smartphone users, at the Black Hat security conference in Singapore. http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-26762198 The drone uses the company’s software, which is installed on a computer attached to a drone. That code can be used to hack smartphones and steal personal data – all […]

Facebook helps Google establish an inescapable web

Facebook plans to connect the two-thirds of the world that has no net access, using drones, satellites and lasers. The move was announced on the social media platform by founder Mark Zuckerberg. http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-26784438 It will put it in direct competition with Google, which is planning to deliver net access via balloons. Both of the net […]

CIA misleads US government about Black Site torture

The CIA repeatedly misled the US government over the severity and effectiveness of its interrogation methods, the Washington Post reports. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-26831756 A long-awaited US Senate report said that the CIA used secret “black sites” to interrogate prisoners using techniques not previously acknowledged. These included dunking suspects in icy water and smashing a prisoner’s head against […]