FBI Adds People to No Fly List for Refusing to Become Informants

April 23rd, 2014

Via: The Guardian:

Naveed Shinwari hasn’t seen his wife in 26 months. He suspects it’s because he refused to become an informant for the FBI.

In February 2012 Shinwari, who has lived in the US since he was 14, flew to Afghanistan to get married. He says that before he could get home to Omaha, Nebraska, he was twice detained and questioned by FBI agents who wanted to know if he knew anything about national security threats. A third FBI visit followed when he got home.

The following month, after Shinwari bought another plane ticket for a temporary job in Connecticut, he couldn’t get a boarding pass. Police told him he had been placed on the US no-fly list, although he had never in his life been accused of breaking any law. Another FBI visit soon followed, with agents wanting to know about the “local Omaha community, did I know anyone who’s a threat”, he says.

“I’m just very frustrated, [and I said] what can I do to clear my name?” recalls Shinwari, 30. “And that’s where it was mentioned to me: you help us, we help you. We know you don’t have a job; we’ll give you money.”

Shinwari is one of four American Muslims in a new lawsuit who accuse the FBI of placing them on the no-fly list, either to intimidate them into becoming informants or to retaliate against them for declining.

Washington State School District Sets Up ‘Homeland Security Class’

April 23rd, 2014

Via: Storyleak:

The Department of Homeland Security is partnering with a Washington state school district to recruit future employees through a new high school curriculum.

An employment application posted by Evergreen Public Schools this weekend requests a certified “Homeland Security Instructor” to steer young students into a career with the agency.

“Instruct high school juniors and seniors in skills and knowledge leading to entry-level employment or further education in Homeland Security occupations,” the job description reads. “In-depth instruction will include theory, application and work based learning activities. The instructor will work closely with the Skills Center and administrative staff and the program advisory committee to continually upgrade the program curriculum and skills competencies (outcomes) needed by students for employment.”

Research Credit: almaverdad2

#myNYPD Twitter Campaign Backfires, Promotes Photos of Police Brutality Instead of Positive Encounters with Public

April 23rd, 2014

Via: New York Daily News:

An exercise in social media outreach turned #epicfail Tuesday when users flooded the Twittersphere with some of the NYPD’s most infamous moments of brutality.

The NYPD, through its Twitter page, innocuously asked people on to post pictures of themselves interacting with New York’s Finest — complete with the hashtag myNYPD.

But instead of happy pictures of cops posing with tourists and helping out locals, Twitter erupted with hundreds of photos of police violence, including Occupy Wall Street arrests and the 84-year-old man who was bloodied for jaywalking on the Upper West Side earlier this year.

Research Credit: ottilie

The Pittsburgh Startup That Has Big Plans for Batteries

April 22nd, 2014

Via: Guardian:

From cell phones to laptops to electric cars, the world is becoming increasingly dependent on batteries. Unfortunately, this convenience comes at a cost: some common battery materials are toxic and require special treatment after their end of life. A new company is hoping to combat this cycle: It has begun using more benign materials to make its energy cells.

Aquion Energy, a Pittsburgh-based startup that uses water and salt for some of the key components in its batteries…

One factor that distinguishes Aquion is the novel cocktail of materials that it uses in its batteries. Each cell has an electrode at each end, a separator to divide the two, and an electrolyte to create an electrochemical reaction with the electrodes to produce electricity. Aquion uses manganese oxide and activated carbon for the electrodes, and a sodium sulfate solution for the electrolyte. The separator is made from a synthetic material that has a structure similar to cotton.

“We are using common and benign materials of salt water, dirt and carbon,” said Ted Wiley, vice president of product and corporate strategy at Aquion. “We are using materials that are non-toxic and readily available in high volumes. And they won’t be damaging to the environment.”

Introducing AISight: CCTV Network Completely Run by AI

April 22nd, 2014


Via: ITProPortal:

BRS Labs’ AISight is different because it doesn’t rely on a human programmer to tell it what behaviour is suspicious. It learns that all by itself.

The system enables a machine to monitor is environment, and build up a detailed profile of what can be considered “normal” behaviour. The AI can then determine what kind of behaviour is abnormal, without human pre-programing.

Pentagon’s Superpowered Autopilot Will Do the Work of 5 Crew Members

April 22nd, 2014

Via: Wired:

Some think that the Defense Department couldn’t possibly reduce its forces as much as it claims it will. After all, who would fly the planes?

Now DARPA has an answer. The Pentagon’s research arm is developing a sophisticated, drop-in autopilot that can replace as many as five crew members of a military aircraft, and turn the pilot into a high-level “mission supervisor” issuing commands through a touch screen.

The Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) program is a tailorable, removable kit that will assist in all phases of aircraft flight — even dealing with emergency system failures in-flight. The agency says the system will reduce pilot workload, augment mission performance and improve aircraft safety.

“Our goal is to design and develop a full-time automated assistant that could be rapidly adapted to help operate diverse aircraft through an easy-to-use operator interface,” said Daniel Patt, DARPA program manager, in a statement. “These capabilities could help transform the role of pilot from a systems operator to a mission supervisor directing intermeshed, trusted, reliable systems at a high level.”

DARPA says it plans to build on the advances in autopilot technology over the past 50 years and develop a highly adaptable automated system that can move from aircraft to aircraft and execute missions from takeoff to landing — all from a simple touch and voice recognition interface.

Allowing ALIAS to handle lower-level flight maintenance tasks would free human operators to focus on mission-level tasks, according to DARPA.

Man Prefers $50 3D Printed Prosthetic Hand to One That Cost $42,000

April 21st, 2014

Via: 3dprint.com:

After some time had passed, Simon decided to meet up with Delgado once more, this time to work on the setup of the tendons within the Beast. To his amazement, Delgado had told him that the 3D printed hand has been functioning better than the myoelectric device, and he had preferred it to the $42,000 hand he had used for over a year. Sure, a piece may break every once in a while, as ABS plastic is not the strongest material in the world, but the solution is simple, print a replacement.

Simon is currently working with Delgado to print him a new hand; this time from a stronger material called Bridge nylon, which will give Delgado an even more robust hand.

The Ticking Time-Bomb at the Bottom of the Baltic Sea

April 21st, 2014

Via: The Economist:

THERE IS something dangerous lurking in the shallow waters of the Baltic Sea. Nearly 70 years after the victorious Allies dumped thousands of tonnes of Nazi chemical weapons and chemical agents into the Baltic Sea, experts have warned of an environmental disaster as the weapons corrode and their deadly contents spill into sea.

Under an agreement reached at the Potsdam Conference in 1945, Britain and the Soviet Union dumped around 65,000 tonnes of Germany’s chemical weapons stockpile into the murky depths of the Baltic Sea in 1947-48. Since then the threat posed by the shells and drums full of hazardous waste has been subject to speculation and research. Some scientist called it a “ticking time-bomb”.

It now appears the ticking has got louder. Recent research by Poland’s Military University of Technology has found traces of mustard gas on the sea bed just a few hundred metres off the Polish coast, in the Gulf of Gdansk. This indicates corrosion of the metal, and that poisonous chemicals are now leaking into the water and could be absorbed by fish, entering the food chain. Scientists are concerned, but not just because containers are leaking. There should be no chemical weapons in the Gulf of Gdansk as this was not a dumping zone. Stanislaw Popiel, from the team of the military university, which carried out the research, said that it was hard to say where the contamination came from.

One possible explanation is that the Soviets had a fairly care-free attitude to where they dumped the weapons. Although the vast majority of the munitions were thrown into the Bornholm and Gotland deeps, Jacek Beldowski, from the Polish Institute of Oceanography, said the Soviets often threw everything overboard “as soon as they were out of sight of land”. This means there could be tonnes of chemical weapons lying in unknown locations, close to land and in fishing zones. Mr Beldowski has also found an increase in fish with illnesses and genetic defects in the areas of the known dumping zones; evidence that some of the containers are indeed leaking.

Corn Ethanol Is a Scam

April 20th, 2014

Thanks Captain!

Captain Obvious

Via: Fortune:

OK, can we please stop pretending biofuel made from corn is helping the planet and the environment? With huge subsidies for ethanol in gasoline, with all States now selling gasoline having some ethanol blend, and a general misconception that these biofuels are green, corn ethanol has taken on a $30 billion/yr life of its own.

BNP Banker, His Wife And Nephew Murdered In Belgium

April 20th, 2014

Via: ZeroHedge:

In the beginning it was banker suicides. Then about two weeks ago, suicides were replaced by outright murders after the execution-style killing of the CEO of a bank in otherwise sleepy (and tax evasive) Lichtenstein by a disgruntled client. Then on Friday news hit of another execution-type murder in just as sleepy, if not so tax evasive, Belgium, where in the city of Vise, a 37-year-old Director at BNP Paribas Fortis was murdered alongside his wife and a 9 year old nephew in a premeditated and orchestrated drive-by shooting.

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