Swiss Company to Build Utility-Scale Batteries in North Carolina

October 30th, 2014

Via: Fortune:

A Swiss maker of giant storage batteries for wind and solar farms is taking over a giant Philip Morris plant.

The Philip Morris plant in Concord, North Carolina used to manufacture a billion cigarettes a year. But Americans are smoking less, and in the tobacco giant shuttered the factory’s doors years ago and announced plans to sell the 2,100 acre, the 3.5 million square foot facility. In a sure sign that the U.S. economy is changing for the better, the empty space is not being turned in an outlet mall or water park but into a giant manufacturing site for utility-scale batteries that will store wind and solar electricity. Alevo, the Swiss maker of the battery technology, plans to open the plant Tuesday, and says that within three years they will create 2,500 high paying jobs.

Research Credit: almaverdad2


Verizon Launching Tech News Site that Bans Stories on U.S. Spying

October 29th, 2014

Via: The Daily Dot:

Verizon is getting into the news business. What could go wrong?

The most-valuable, second-richest telecommunications company in the world is bankrolling a technology news site called SugarString.com. The publication, which is now hiring its first full-time editors and reporters, is meant to rival major tech websites like Wired and the Verge while bringing in a potentially giant mainstream audience to beat those competitors at their own game.

There’s just one catch: In exchange for the major corporate backing, tech reporters at SugarString are expressly forbidden from writing about American spying or net neutrality around the world, two of the biggest issues in tech and politics today.

Unsurprisingly, Verizon is deeply tangled up in both controversies.


Verizon Wireless Injects Identifiers that Link Its Users to Web Requests

October 29th, 2014

Via: Ars Technica:

Cellular communications provider Verizon Wireless is adding cookie-like tokens to Web requests traveling over its network. These tokens are being used to build a detailed picture of users’ interests and to help clients tailor advertisements, according to researchers and Verizon’s own documentation.

The profiling, part of Verizon’s Precision Market Insights division, kicked off more than two years ago and expanded to cover all Verizon Wireless subscribers as part of the company’s Relevant Mobile Advertising service. It appends a per-device token known as the Unique Identifier Header (UIDH) to each Web request sent through its cellular network from a particular mobile device, allowing Verizon to link a website visitor to its own internal profiles. The service aims to allow client websites to target advertising at specific segments of the consumer market.

While the company started piloting the service two years ago, privacy experts only began warning of the issue this week, arguing that the service is essentially tracking users and that companies paid for a fundamental service that should not be using the data for secondary purposes.


Google Pill to Diagnose Disease

October 29th, 2014

How about a Google suppository?

Via: Wired:

Google is attempting to develop a pill that would send microscopic particles into the bloodstream in an effort to identify cancers, imminent heart attacks, and other diseases.

Andrew Conrad, the head of life sciences inside the company’s Google X research lab, revealed the project on Tuesday morning at a conference here in Southern California. According to Conrad, the company is fashioning nanoparticles—particles about one billionth of a meter in width—that combine a magnetic material with antibodies or proteins that can attach to and detect other molecules inside the body. The idea is that patients will swallow a pill that contains these particles, and after they enter the bloodstream—attempting to identify molecules that would indicate certain health problems—a wearable device could use their magnetic cores to gather them back together and read what they’ve found.


Lowe’s Hires Robots for the Holidays

October 28th, 2014

If you think it’s just for the “Holidays”, I got a bridge to sell ya.

Via: PCMagazine:

Lowe’s is hiring some new workers for the holiday season, but they’re not human.

The hardware store just announced plans to test customer service robots, which will be able to help you locate items in the store, and share real-time information about product promotions and inventory. Dubbed OSHbot, the robots can speak multiple languages and remotely connect with expert employees in other locations to answer project-related questions.

Unfortunately, the robots won’t yet be making an appearance at Lowe’s stores nationwide. Lowe’s will deploy two of the bots at its Orchard Supply Hardware store in San Jose, Calif. to see whether customers and employees embrace the technology.

The OSHbots roll right up to you, say hello, and ask what you need. They also feature 3D-scanning technology, so you can bring in a spare part, scan it under a 3D-sensing camera, and OSHbot will identify the product, tell you how much it costs, and then guide you to where you can find it on store shelves.


Taco Bell Unveils Mobile Ordering

October 28th, 2014

“Cashiers and food service workers: You’re pretty much screwed.”

Seattle Hikes Minimum Wage to $15 Per Hour

Via: USA Today:

Food used to be what drove folks into restaurants. But these days, it’s also increasingly the technology behind it.

That’s why two major restaurant chains, Taco Bell and Outback Steakhouse, made marketing waves on Tuesday, not with new product rollouts, but with industry-leading technology announcements.

Taco Bell went way outside the bun to unveil an advanced mobile app that lets folks order and pay on their smartphones and then walk or drive in and pick up their food.


‘Ambulance Drone’ Prototype Unveiled in Holland

October 28th, 2014

Via: AFP:

A Dutch-based student on Tuesday unveiled a prototype of an “ambulance drone”, a flying defibrillator able to reach heart attack victims within precious life-saving minutes.

Developed by Belgian engineering graduate Alec Momont, it can fly at speeds of up to 100 kilometres per hour (60 miles per hour).

“Around 800,000 people suffer a cardiac arrest in the European Union every year and only 8.0 percent survive,” Momont, 23, said at the TU Delft University.

“The main reason for this is the relatively long response time of emergency services of around 10 minutes, while brain death and fatalities occur with four to six minutes,” he said in a statement.

“The ambulance drone can get a defibrillator to a patient within a 12 square kilometre (4.6 square miles) zone within a minute, reducing the chance of survival from 8 percent to 80 percent.”

Painted in emergency services yellow and driven by six propellers, the drone can carry a four kilogramme load — in this case a defibrillator.

It tracks emergency mobile calls and uses the GPS to navigate.

Once at the scene, an operator, like a paramedic, can watch, talk and instruct those helping the victim by using an on-board camera connected to a control room via a livestream webcam.

The prototype has already attracted the interest of emergency services including that of Amsterdam, the Dutch daily Algemeen Dagblad said.


British Spies Allowed to Access U.S. Data Without a Warrant

October 28th, 2014

Via: National Journal:

British authorities are capable of tapping into bulk communications data collected by other countries’ intelligence services—including the National Security Agency—without a warrant, according to secret government documents released Tuesday.

The agreement between the NSA and Britain’s spy agency, known as Government Communications Headquarters or GCHQ, potentially puts the Internet and phone data of Americans in the hands of another country without legal oversight when obtaining a warrant is “not technically feasible.”

The data, once obtained, can be kept for up to two years, according to internal policies disclosed by the British government. GCHQ was forced to reveal that it can request and receive vast quantities of raw, unanalyzed data collected from foreign governments it partners with during legal proceedings in a closed court hearing in a case brought by various international human-rights organizations, including Privacy International, Liberty U.K., and Amnesty International. The suit challenges certain aspects of GCHQ’s surveillance practices.

It is well known that the NSA and GCHQ closely share intelligence data with one another, as part of a long-standing surveillance partnership. Some details of the agencies’ spy pact were exposed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden last year, including the existence of GCHQ’s Tempora program, which taps into fiber-optic cables to scoop up online and telephone traffic across the Web for up to 30 days.

But this is the first time the British government has disclosed that it does not require a warrant to access data collected and maintained by its American counterparts. The revelation appears to counter statements made by an oversight committee of the British Parliament in July of last year that “in each case where GCHQ sought information from the U.S., a warrant for interception, signed by a minister, was already in place.”


Cryptogon Readers Send Contributions

October 28th, 2014

Update: The KLs of Cryptogon

Three different KLs sent funds this month. I’m going to first name last initial to keep things clear. Kelle L sent $20 earlier in October and $30 just now. Thank you.

Thank you.

Ken L $25
Eileen $75


Assange: Google Is Not What It Seems

October 28th, 2014

arby

Via: Newsweek:

It was also in 1999 that Schmidt joined the board of a Washington, D.C.–based group: the New America Foundation, a merger of well-connected centrist forces (in D.C. terms). The foundation and its 100 staff serve as an influence mill, using its network of approved national security, foreign policy and technology pundits to place hundreds of articles and op-eds per year.

By 2008, Schmidt had become chairman of its board of directors. As of 2013 the New America Foundation’s principal funders (each contributing over $1 million) were listed as Eric and Wendy Schmidt, the U.S. State Department and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Secondary funders include Google, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Radio Free Asia.

Schmidt’s involvement in the New America Foundation places him firmly in the Washington establishment nexus. The foundation’s other board members, seven of whom also list themselves as members of the Council on Foreign Relations, include Francis Fukuyama, one of the intellectual fathers of the neoconservative movement; Rita Hauser, who served on the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board under both Bush and Obama; Jonathan Soros, the son of George Soros; Walter Russell Mead, a U.S. security strategist and editor of the American Interest; Helene Gayle, who sits on the boards of Coca-Cola, Colgate-Palmolive, the Rockefeller Foundation, the State Department’s Foreign Affairs Policy Unit, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the White House Fellows program and Bono’s ONE Campaign; and Daniel Yergin, oil geo-strategist, former chair of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Task Force.

The chief executive of the foundation, appointed in 2013, is Jared Cohen’s former boss at the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff, Anne-Marie Slaughter, a Princeton law and international relations wonk with an eye for revolving doors. She is everywhere, issuing calls for Obama to respond to the Ukraine crisis not only by deploying covert U.S. forces into the country but also by dropping bombs on Syria—on the basis that this will send a message to Russia and China. Along with Schmidt, she is a 2013 attendee of the Bilderberg conference and sits on the State Department’s Foreign Affairs Policy Board.

There was nothing politically hapless about Eric Schmidt. I had been too eager to see a politically unambitious Silicon Valley engineer, a relic of the good old days of computer science graduate culture on the West Coast. But that is not the sort of person who attends the Bilderberg conference four years running, who pays regular visits to the White House, or who delivers “fireside chats” at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Schmidt’s emergence as Google’s “foreign minister”—making pomp and ceremony state visits across geopolitical fault lines—had not come out of nowhere; it had been presaged by years of assimilation within U.S. establishment networks of reputation and influence.

On a personal level, Schmidt and Cohen are perfectly likable people. But Google’s chairman is a classic “head of industry” player, with all of the ideological baggage that comes with that role. Schmidt fits exactly where he is: the point where the centrist, liberal and imperialist tendencies meet in American political life.

By all appearances, Google’s bosses genuinely believe in the civilizing power of enlightened multinational corporations, and they see this mission as continuous with the shaping of the world according to the better judgment of the “benevolent superpower.” They will tell you that open-mindedness is a virtue, but all perspectives that challenge the exceptionalist drive at the heart of American foreign policy will remain invisible to them. This is the impenetrable banality of “don’t be evil.” They believe that they are doing good. And that is a problem.

Research Credit: alvinroast


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