Since before the release of the first iPhone in 2007, security researchers have been holding secret annual meetings called “Jamborees”, in order to exchange new ideas about the possibilities of manipulating commercial electronics and household gadgets to extract protected information. The documents about these gatherings have been provided for The Intercept by NSA famous whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The current conference, called the Trusted Computing Base Jamboree, sponsored by the CIA’s Information Operations Center, is focused on bypassing and exploiting new security features of electronic devices. Held in a Lockheed Martin unit (Lockheed Martin is one of the largest defense contractors, considered by Arms and Security Project Director William Hartung, from the Center for International Policy, to be a good “candidate for Big Brother”), this conference is part of a larger project dedicated to the discovery of ways to crack private companies’ security systems. According to documents dating from 2010-2012, security experts have been mainly interested in extracting encryption keys that protect data stored on Apple devices. In 2011, some security researchers claimed to have discovered a “noninvasive” way to extract encryption keys, while others focused on the possibilities of physically extracting the key from Apple’s hardware. At the consecutive year’s Jamboree, other experts presented a way to control Xcode (a free piece of software upon which most Apple app-developers base their work) for creating malware which extracts private data from users.
The CIA attempts to tackle Apple private security settings are more of a concern in a context like the current one, with IT giants struggling to resist pressure from the U. S. and U. K. governments to weaker the security of their products. Law enforcement agencies want the government to be allowed to circumvent the security tools built into wireless devices. Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, has vocally defended privacy as a core value of his company and reproved law enforcement agencies and secret services for their attempt at interfering.
Steven Bellovin, former chief technologist for the U. S. Federal Trade Commission (currently a professor at Columbia University), expressed his lack of surprise at the news odf CIA’s research into Apple technologies: “Spies gonna spy”, he said. “Their attitude is basically amoral”. While he conceded that it’s reasonable to seek information about dangerous people, Bellovin restated the risks of an inappropriate use of such intelligence technologies: mass surveillance, targeting Americans without a warrant, or spying on allies.
image source: The Intercept
In the aftermath of the February armistice signed at Minsk by Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and French President François Hollande, efforts are being made to restore a relative stability in the East of Ukraine. Both parts agreed at Minsk to withdraw heavy armament by the beginning of March. Despite the perpetuation of violent incidents, most of the rockets and heavy artillery systems have been pulled back by pro-Russian fighters, according to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.
Three days ago, Poroshenko had accused the rebels in Eastern Ukraine of hesitancy to take back the heavy war equipment in the region, in compliance to ceasefire regulations, but now he admitted that the “lion’s share” of artillery and rocket systems has been withdrawn. This is a significant turn in the history of local conflicts, whose intensity peaked in the past 12 months, since Putin’s annexation of Crimea on the 18th of March, 2014. The violence that erupted in April, 2014, in the eastern regions of Ukraine (around the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk), has killed around 6,000 people so far, while one million persons have abandoned their homes to flee that territory. 1,549 Ukrainian soldiers have died since the beginning of the rebellion, 64 of which were killed after the February 15 ceasefire. In this context, Poroshenko is still sceptical, despite witnessing the weapon withdrawal: “There is a ceasefire or there isn’t – it depends on how you look at it.” – the Ukrainian president said.
The goal of the truce-signers managing the conflict, according to the document, is to create a buffer-zone between the territories controlled by Ukrainian soldiers and by pro-Russian rebels, respectively. This zone is supposed to measure at least 50 km (30 miles) for artillery exceeding 100mm calibre, 70 km for systems including several rockets and 140 km for very heavy rockets and missiles. On Saturday, tanks with self-propelled guns were still parked in a hangar in Snizhne, about 90 km away from Donetsk, according to BBC news. One of BBC’s field reporters warned that the war seems far from its final throws, although we are witnessing a period of relative calm.
image source: BBC news
Emma Watson, appointed UN Women Goodwill Ambassador last year, at the age of 24, discussed an interesting aspect of gender equality in her latest interview: the actress questioned the habit of not letting women pay for dinner, since this is an act of chivalry that all human beings should be allowed to enjoy, supposing they are willing to do that. This subtle criticism of traditional gender roles was pronounced in the context of Watson’s ongoing campaign as UN Goodwill Ambassador, “HeforShe”, a campaign launched in September 2014 and aiming to involve men as well as women in the worldwide race for gender equality.
In an interview held at the London Facebook headquarters, Miss Watson exemplified her idea about renouncing double standards with a personal anecdote. She recounted a date she had with a man (whose name she didn’t disclose) and described his reaction when she insisted to pay for dinner. Although the man had thought himself a feminist and although he did not overreact, Watson said there was a bit of uneasiness between them, something “not going down well”. Watson argues that this shouldn’t happen, since two persons – man and woman – can agree to pay for dinner alternatively or to split the bill. Chivalry, manifested in the form of opening the door for someone or taking someone out to dinner, should not be a male privilege, the actress claims. She is trying to challenge the assumption that gender equality has only downsides for men and reveal the fact that true equality means not just equal rights, but also equal obligations. Another meaning of her objection to women’s being always the receivers of chivalry, not the ones to grant it, is that being offered favours that one cannot return can sometimes push people into a subordinate position. Since women are supposed to be equal and paying for dinner is not a form of reminding them of their relative lack of financial strength, but a simple form of politeness, it should also be exercised freely and equally. “The key is chivalry should be consensual, both parties should be feeling good about that. I think it’s a problem when people expect things to be a certain way, to follow a certain status quo.” – Watson explained
The conclusion to her anecdote was nevertheless an optimistic one, since, as the actress observed, gender equality talks have evolved far enough to allow for such an episode to be discussed and overcome. “The cool thing was that we were both willing to have the conversation about why it was awkward, or why it was uncomfortable. We were able to have this dialogue.” – Emma said.
The HeforShe campaign has gathered 240,000 commitments from men all around the world promising to treat women fairly, and as many as 30 million Facebook likes.
image source: the inspiration room
Solar Impulse 2, the first solar-powered flying machine to tour the world, began its record-challenging trip on Monday. Departing from Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arabian Emirates, it is scheduled to reach its first pit stop, in Muscat, Oman, in approximately 12 hours. The next programmed destinations are India, Myanmar, China and the U. S. The whole world-circling journey is estimated to take up to 5 months, covering 35,000 kilometers (21,748 miles). Today, it will fly only the first 250 miles (400 kilometers).
The initial plan was to depart on this journey earlier, on the 1st of March, but weather-related warnings determined a week’s delay. The wind blew strongly and dust-storms prevented visibility for the past few days, but this morning the skies were clearer and the machine took off successfully. Meteorologist Luc Truellemans explained that the sandstorms and the sea breezes exceeded the limits allowed for flying in the course of last week, but have now calmed down to manageable strengths.
The heroes of this story, pilots Andre Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard, are set on spending 500 hours in front of the flight panels in the course of this journey. They will control the plane alternatively. Piccard told the press that they both had “butterflies in the stomach” at the beginning of this long-prepared historical cruise (which they started planning about 12 years ago). Borschberg will be the one to fly the first leg of the tour, while Piccard is scheduled to fly the last one and arrive back in Abu Dhabi after nearly half a year. Flying over the ocean is also programmed to be shared between the two pilots: Piccard will fly over the Pacific and Borschberg will lead the cross-Atlantic part of the journey.
Solar Impulse is 72 meters (236 feet) wide across the wings, which exceeds the wingspan of a Boeing 747, but the solar-powered machine far is lighter, weighing only 2.5 tons. The cockpit is relatively small (3.8 square meters, with one seat). The two pilots have stored aboard a week’s reserve of food and water, a parachute and a life raft, as well as oxygen bottles for emergencies.
If this trip is to succeed, it will not be Piccard’s fist record-breaking one: he was also part of the first team who flew around the earth in a balloon without pit stops, in 1999.
To follow the team’s progress, you can look up #RTW on twitter. @andreborschberg and @bertrandpiccard will keep you posted.
image source: Arabian Aerospace
The Pink Floyd member David Gilmour, who turned 69 yesterday (March 6), announced that he will launch another solo album, whose title is yet undisclosed. In September, he will start a short Europe tour to promote the new songs. Beginning in Croatia and including locations as diverse as Verona (Italy), Orange (France), and Oberhausen (Germany), the circuit will end with three nights of concerting at the Royal Albert Hall in London, on September 23-25, 2015. The other locations will be just as glamorous: Arena Pula in the city of Pula, Croatia, Verona Arena in Italy, Teatro Le Mulina in Florence, Italy, Theatre Antique in Orange, France, and Konig-Pilsener Arena in Oberhausen, Germany. Gilmour considers them “some of the world’s most beautiful cities and venues” and says he has selected these Roman-era Theatres in order to suit the atmosphere he hopes to evoke in his new songs.
This being the first solo album that Gilmour releases since the 2006 On an Island, which reworks some of the psychedelic sounds in early Pink Floyd albums into a nevertheless very personal set of songs, fans are wondering whether they will hear a different Gilmour from the one in collective Pink Floyd albums.
The Endless River, the most recent of these albums, has just been launched last November. Containing pieces written by David Gilmour, Nick Mason, and the late Richard Wright, the song collection is regarded by remaining Pink Floyd members as their final word, in a series of albums that began almost half a century ago with Pink Floyd’s first release, the 1967 11-track collection The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, composed by early band member Syd Barett, before Gilmour joined Pink Floyd. Gilmour has been a member since December 1967, his first record with the band being A Saucerful of Secrets, launched in 1968. Gilmour began recording solo albums a decade later, in 1978.
After The Endless River, which earned Pink Floyd their first top spot on the charts in decades, and after former Pink Floyd member Roger Waters’s 2013 “The Wall” tour, which was a roaring success (the highest grossing tour for a solo musician, exceeding the sales of previous record holder, Madonna), David Gilmour’s tour has high expectations to meet.
Some sketches have yet to be finished, Gilmour told Rolling Stone. He’s looking at a few months’ work before everything is put together and he hopes that the final version of the new record will appear in 2016. Gilmour modestly added that the 2015 tour is “an old man’s tour, not a 200-date sort of thing”, which is why the series of concerts isn’t a long one.
Tickets for the concerts have become available yesterday, March 6, and the exact dates are as follows:
Croatia, Arena Pula, September 12 Italy, Verona Arena, September 14 Italy, Teatro Le Mulina in Florence, September 15 France, Theatre Antique in Orange, September 17 Germany, Konig-Pilsener Arena in Oberhausen, September 19
UK – Royal Albert Hall in London, September 23-25.
image source: Inquisitr
In North Jerusalem, a Palestinian drove his car into a group of female officers, injuring four of them. One was lightly hurt, but the three others were more seriously injured. After hitting the women, who were not within the precincts of the Police Station, the attacker continued to drive for about 300 meters until he hit a cyclist in a light train rail station. The Israeli man on the bicycle, along with the five injured officers, was treated by the paramedics who arrived in very short time at the spot on the accident. The aggressor, who is probably from East Jerusalem, was shot and severely wounded by a Border Guard who happened to be there because he was performing a training exercise. The terrorist was carrying a butcher knife, which he tried to use against the forces after the car collision.
The fortunate intervention of the Border Guard was possible because the attack occurred very close to a Border Police base, on HaTzadik Street, a place where another hit-and-run attack happened in November 2014, killing one Border Police Officer and injuring 13 people. In the interval between the two vehicle terror-attacks, several other instances of violence have been registered in Jerusalem, the latest being the stabbing of an ultra-Orthodox man by an Arab teen on February 22. This incident happened in Safra Square, but the Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, who was there with his security guard, intervened to stop it.
The Mayor took a very decisive stand against the threat of terrorism, promising that the authorities (and the people along with them) will not let terror become a hindrance to their daily lives and promising to refuse compromise in fighting its agents. He expressed his gratitude towards citizens, guards, and police, who helped in capturing the aggressor and thus avoided the possibility of his hurting even more persons. “Our response to terror is to continue on with our routine”, Mayor Nir Barkat stated, as he announced the continuation of all Purim events in Jerusalem according to the pre-established schedule. The condition of proceeding with the festivities, as the mayor acknowledged, is to increase security in the entire city, particularly in Safra Square, where the main Purim celebration event will take place in a closed and guarded location. In order to boost confidence, he officially invited all the residents of Israel to celebrate the Jewish festivity in Jerusalem.
image source: ynet news
Scientists have opened two bottles of 170-year-old beer that was recovered from a shipwreck off the coast of Finland. The reason was to research the ingredients of the beer and make a profile of 19th century beers. The results of the study were published in the Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry.
The bottles of beer were recovered from the shipwreck and they have stayed buried 165 feet (50 meters) under the sea for a whopping 170 years. During this time, some saltwater did seep into the bottles and changed their taste and texture, but even so, scientists were able to analyze them and reveal the fact that in their heyday they tasted pretty much like modern beers.
The five bottles of 170-year-old beer were discovered in the Baltic Sea inside the wreckage of a boat that sank off the coast of the Aland Island in Finland in the 1840s. Along with the five bottles of beer, divers also found 150 bottles of champagne.
Unfortunately one bottle of beer didn’t make the trip back to the mainland as it cracked and started foaming. It was revealed that some of the divers mustered up the courage to taste the 170-year-old beer and they said it tasted like beer.
Lead researcher and scientists at the Technical Research Center of Finland, John Londesborough opened two of the remaining 170-year-old beer bottles and revealed that their smell wasn’t too appealing. Apparently, the beer smelled by yeast extract, cabbage, Bakeline, cheese, sulfur, goat and burnt rubber. The reason it smelled this awful was bacteria that seeped inside the bottles and started growing and overpowering the malt, hop and fruity profiles the beers had.
The scientists also revealed that the beers were bright golden yellow, with very little haze, and that they had been diluted by seawater by 30%. They concluded that the beers were stronger than their current alcohol levels of 3.2%.
Indeed, the beers had not been stored in ideal conditions, so how they must have tasted could not be determined, the researchers said. But following chemical analysis, they did managed to find various flavor compounds that are very similar to those of modern beers. In conclusion, beer made in the 1800s did not taste as different as the beer made today.
Image Source: Gizmodo
After last week’s shocking destructions at the Mosul Museum, when ISIS extremists filmed themselves hammer-drilling statues from the ancient city of Nineveh, another tragic devastation happened at the archaeological site of Nimrud. The authors of the damage claim to be following the words of the Quran, but their interpretation of Islamic law is very far-fetched and their actions are aimed at scandalizing the Western world and mocking its values.
Nimrud, by its ancient name Kalhu (or the Biblical Calah), is a city situated in the north of Bagdad, founded more than 3,000 years ago by Shalmaneser I (1274 BC – 1245 BC or 1265 BC – 1235 BC) an Assyrian king of the Middle Assyrian Empire (1365 – 1050 BC). The city is thought by experts to have been already inhabited as far back as 7,000 years ago. Some of the buildings preserved from the ancient settlement, like the palace of King Ashurnasirpal II (who ruled from 883 to 859 BC), were important testimonies of Assyrian architectural techniques, as well as Assyrian sculpting and writing techniques.
The archaeological site in Nimrud was mostly excavated by British explorers, and several objects found there belong to the British Museum now. In 2002, it was listed by the World Monuments Fund as one of the world’s most endangered sites, because the stone reliefs were decaying due to the weather and were unguarded from thieves. Since the war against Iraq broke out in 2003, the site was practically abandoned, because of the failure of the Iraqi state structures. However, according to Ihsan Fethi, a specialist in evaluating damaged archaeological sites and a member of the Iraqi Architects Society, the site was still in a decent condition until now.
Among the most precious artifacts that were most probably destroyed are the winged-bull stone colossi called “Lamassu”, with human heads and beards. Similar statues were destroyed at the Mosul Museum last week. Nimrud was also important for the steles and bas-reliefs showing scenes of war and hunting, as well as mythological creatures like bird-headed genies. The loss of these important relics was deplored by former UNESCO world heritage officer in charge of Iraq monuments George Papagiannis, who considered the Nimrud barbaric destructions a huge misfortune to the work of historical preservation. Iraq’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities announced on Thursday that extremists have been using heavy vehicles like bulldozers to smash the ancient vestiges. The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities regrets the behavior of these barbaric groups, and considers that they are defying “the will of the world and the feelings of humanity”.
image source: Al-Jazeera
Between 2009 and 2013, while she was in office as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton is said to have used her personal email for work. To avoid speculations over the inappropriateness of this practice, she decided to ask for the release of all the emails from that period of time. “I want the public to see my email. I asked State to release them. They said they will review them for release as soon as possible.” – the former U. S. Senator wrote on Twitter.
This message is Hillary Clinton’s first public intervention since the beginning of the scandal surrounding her unsuitable use of a private email account. It comes as an answer to the comments in The New York Times, published earlier this week. This might be a crucial turning point in H. Clinton’s career, since her nomination as the Democrat candidate for the White House is very likely to happen, given that she is leading in all the polls so far. However, it is still premature to say whether she will be the one to run for president and maybe much depends on the outcome of the email release.
The disclosure of the documents might nevertheless take a while, because, as the State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf has announced in the aftermath of Clinton’s tweet, the standard procedure of reviewing the emails before release will be time-consuming, given the volume of information. According to Reuters, we are talking about a set of files that is 55,000 pages large. As ABC news has announced, a certain number of emails that do not concern work will be checked but not handed to the public.
According to her legal representative David Kendall, Hillary Clinton used only one email address during her stay in office as Secretary of State. However, as Jason R. Baron (a lawyer at Drinker Biddle & Reath and a former director of litigation at the National Archives and Records Administration) observed, the use of a personal email account in governmental affairs is “inconsistent with the Federal Records Act and longstanding policies of the National Archives”.
Hillary Clinton’s request to have her emails made public was made after the House Select Committee, which was investigating the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, had sent subpoenas to the State Department demanding all of the former Secretary of State’s communications in connection to Libya.
image source: USA Today
Anatoly Kucherena, Edward Snowden’s Russian legal representative, told the press that his client, the former NSA contractor who revealed classified information about several global surveillance programs in the summer of 2013, is willing to return to the United States if promised that he will undergo a fair judicial procedure.
Snowden has spent the past year and a half in a secret location in Russia, the first country who granted him asylum among the 21 countries where he applied for it in July 2013, after the U.S. government had suspended his passport. Although Russia had initially been a transit location before heading to Latin America, where four other countries had promised him asylum, the U.S. fugitive decided, after witnessing the pressure that U.S. officials put on other governments (especially European) to refuse his asylum request, that it was unsafe to leave the Russian territory at that time. In August 2014, after his one-year temporarily asylum had expired, Snowden received a three-year residency permit which allows him to travel outside Russia, but “I suspect that as soon as he leaves Russia, he will be taken to the U.S. embassy” – his lawyer says.
However, the situation seems to be about to improve. Negotiations between Snowden’s lawyer (along with several lawyers from other countries) and the U.S. government might lead to the whistle-blower’s return to the U.S. His demand, according to his lawyer’s declaration, is “that he is given a guarantee of a legal and impartial trial”.
So far, the U.S. Attorney General had only promised that Snowden’s supposed crime will not be punished with the death penalty. Since no further guarantees were yet offered, and since he was accused, on June 14, 2013, of the violation of the Espionage Act and of the theft of government property, for which he could face as much as 30 years of imprisonment, the dissident’s return is still uncertain.
image source: New York Post