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Boko Haram Strikes Chinese Company in Cameroon

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For Breitbart.com reports: Late Friday, Boko Haram Islamist insurgents reportedly attacked a Chinese-owned camp in Cameroon. Chinese news agency Xinhua reported ten Chinese nationals unaccounted for and one injured. According to CNN, a Cameroonian soldier was killed during the attack.

The attack took place in the town of Waza. The northern Cameroon town is just a few miles from the Nigerian border, where Boko Haram recently kidnapped almost 300 schoolgirls. The area is in close proximity to the Sambisa forest, a location that remains a stronghold for the Islamist terrorist group. Read the rest of this entry »

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What’s The Big Deal if Your e-Book is Spying On You?

John Hurt in a film adaptation of George Orwell's 1984

The only book about surveillance you ever need to read… John Hurt in a film adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984. Photograph: Ronald Grant Archive

The Facebook generation isn’t bothered about the data e-readers are collecting – just another victory for market forces

For The Guardian writes:

So some big companies are using technology to improve their services – big deal. Or at least that seems to be the balance of opinion around these parts on the news that while you’re reading your favourite ebook, your favourite ebook is reading you. Of course it’s not strictly speaking news to those of you who follow the Electronic Frontier Foundation, or indeed the Wall Street Journal, but for those of us who don’t spend our lives cogitating on the details of every End User License Agreement we sign up to, it still comes of something of a shock to realise that – sotto voce – your electronic device is keeping up running commentary on your reading habits.

Maybe you’ve already followed dickcheeseman’s advice and sprung your Kindle out of Amazon’s embrace or maybe, as R042 suggests, you’ve cut your e-reader off from its natural habitat and foresworn WiFi, but even if like Commontata you “couldn’t care less” what any business has on you, the default collection of user data is another signal that electronic devices shift reading into something a little more commercial. Read the rest of this entry »


Orwellian eBooks Reveal More Than We Realize

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John Hurt holds a book in a scene from the film, 1984. Photograph: Atlantic Releasing Corporation/Getty Images

Although the Kindle highlights function is publicly anonymous, there are still serious privacy concerns as it allows Amazon to track and store the reading statistics of customers

For The Irish TimesSarah Gilmartin writes:

‘The book fascinated him, or more exactly it reassured him. In a sense it told him nothing that was new, but that was part of the attraction. It said what he would have said, if it had been possible for him to set his scattered thoughts in order. It was the product of a mind similar to his own, but enormously more powerful, more systematic, less fear-ridden.”

Winston Smith’s description of reading in the totalitarian world of 1984 may be satirical, but there’s also some truth to it.
We know the feeling of identifying with a book. It is one of the most satisfying aspects of reading, when a character says or does something that we ourselves think but are unable to articulate so eloquently or with an image that really expresses the sentiment.

Reading 1984 as a traditional book, I might have reached for a pen to underline that quotation. Reading it as an ebook, I have access to an enhanced version of this highlighting process. Since Amazon launched its Kindle Popular Highlights, in 2010, readers have been able to leave their own stamp on their favourite ebooks and can publicly share their insights if they want to. Tracking the scattered thoughts and similar minds of readers around the world, Amazon also gives its Kindle customers the option of viewing the most popular highlights of whatever book they’re reading.

Read the rest of this entry »


9 Public College Presidents Pay Tops $1 Million

college-unaffordability

The number of public college presidents earning over $1 million more than doubled in the 2012-2013 fiscal year from the year before, according to a new survey.

The Chronicle of Higher Education study found that nine college presidents earned more than $1 million in total compensation in 2013, compared to just four in 2012.

Elwood Gordon Gee, President of West Virginia University

Elwood Gordon Gee, President of West Virginia University

Public college presidents first exceeded the $1 million total compensation mark in 2006-2007, according to the survey.

Gordon Gee topped the list, earning $6.1 million as the head of Ohio State University. Gee resigned that post last year after making comments about Roman Catholics, the University of Notre Dame and Southeastern Conference schools. He is now president of West Virginia University.

The study took into account base salary, bonuses, retirement, severance and deferred pay — an incentive offered to presidents who stay in their positions for an agreed-upon period of time.

Four of the college presidents on the top 10 list have retired. Two others have accepted positions at other universities.

The top 10 earners in the fiscal year 2012-2013 were:

Gordon Gee, president of the West Virginia University

Gee’s compensation total is based on payments he received at the Ohio State University, from which he resigned in June of 2013 after six years as president. Gee earned $6.1 million in 2013, which includes $3.3 million in deferred pay and $1.55 in retirement and severance pay.

Bowen Loftin, president of Texas A&M University at College Station

Loftin earned $1.6 million, and resigned from his position in January after three years. He now serves as chancellor of the University of Missouri. Loftin’s $425,000 base salary did not change from 2012 to 2013, however in 2013 Loftin was paid $950,000 in severance and retirement pay.

Hamid Shirvani, president of North Dakota University system

Shirvani earned roughly $1.3 million in 2013. He retired in June 2013, after less than a year in his position overseeing the 11-campus system. He was paid $962,095 in severance and retirement pay — more than double his $349,000 base salary.

Renu Khator, University of Houston main campus

Khator earned roughly $1.26 million in 2013. She has served in the position since 2008. Nearly 45 percent of Khator’s total compensation comes from bonus pay and deferred pay on top of her $700,000 base salary. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Glenn Greenwald on Meet The Press: Traitor Label ‘Badge of Honor’

“One of the most encouraging aspects of the story has been that there has been a complete breakdown in the traditional, standard divisions between left and right or conservative and liberal, Republican and Democrat…”

Glenn Greenwald appeared on Meet the Press, things ended poorly for David Gregory. On Sunday morning, Greenwald appeared on the show for the first time since the contretemps, though NBC put two layers between Greenwald and Gregory, having justice correspondent Pete Williams conduct the interview and fielding the questions from social media.

“…There has been this extremely inspiring bipartisan coalition that has emerged that has demanded that there be constraints imposed on the NSA.”

Greenwald told HuffPost Live he was disappointed Gregory wouldn’t be conducting the interview, as he was curious how the host’s approach may have changed since last summer. Alas.greenwaldbook

[Glenn Greenwald's book: No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State is available from Amazon.com]

The most pointed question asked how Greenweld reconciled his comparison of NSA leaker Edward Snowden to Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg, given that Ellsberg stayed to face trial while Snowden fled the U.S. and eventually defected to Russia. He quoted Ellsberg’s op-ed arguing that the justice system had become considerably harsher toward whistleblowers. “If Edward Snowden were to go on trial, he would be rendered incommunicado, he would not be released on bail, he couldn’t argue his case to the public,” Greenwald said. Read the rest of this entry »


P.J. O’Rourke’s Commencement Speech to Rutgers’ Geniuses: Go Forth and Fail

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Greetings, Class of 2014. So Condoleezza Rice was too offensive for you. Just wait until Monday morning. Did you learn how to spell KFC?

P.J. O’Rourke writes: Rutgers Did Not Invite Me to Give Its Commencement Speech Today…The university got pretty confused about who would, after Condoleezza Rice declined.Rutgers invited, then disinvited, then re-invited Eric LeGrand, the Rutgers defensive tackle who was paralyzed from the shoulders down in a 2010 football game. LeGrand went on to write two books, become a motivational speaker, and finish his Rutgers degree via Skype.

“…1989 happens to be when the Berlin Wall fell. I know, I know, most of you weren’t born, and you get your news from TMZ. A wall falling over can’t be as interesting as Beyonce’s sister punching and kicking Jay Z in a New York hotel elevator…”

Between inviting and re-inviting LeGrand, Rutgers invited and confirmed the invitation of former New Jersey governor and former head of the 9/11 Commission Tom Kean. So the university has two—and, for all I know, still counting—commencement speakers. But Rutgers never got confused enough to invite me.

“Stop taking selfies and Google “Berlin Wall” on the iPhones you’re all fiddling with.”

Eric LeGrand and Tom Kean are uplifting figures.  LeGrand has raised hope. Kean has raised hell with the CIA and FBI. I am not uplifting.

Here Is What I Would Tell the Rutgers Graduating Class of 2014…

I hear Condoleezza Rice stood you up. You may think it was because about 50 students—.09 percent of your student body—held a “sit-in” at the university president’s office to protest the selection of Secretary Rice as commencement speaker. You may think it was because a few of your faculty—stale flakes from the crust of the turkey pot pie that was the New Left—threatened a “teach-in” to protest the selection of Secretary Rice.

“Sit-in”? “Teach-in”? What century is this?

I think Secretary Rice forgot she had a yoga session scheduled for today.

It’s shame she was busy. You might have heard something useful from a person who grew up poor in Jim Crow Alabama. Who lost a friend and playmate in 1963 when white supremacists bombed Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. Who became an accomplished concert pianist before she tuned her ear to the more dissonant chords of international relations. Read the rest of this entry »


Obamacare: Can’t Get Rid of It

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Blue State Girl for Paul Ryan


[PHOTO] Fredric March, director Rouben Mamoulian and Miriam Hopkins: Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde Have a Tea Break, 1931

DR. JEKYLL & MR HYDE

Fredric March, director Rouben Mamoulian and Miriam Hopkins take a break from work on DR. JEKYLL & MR HYDE, 1931.

Silver Scream


‘Girls Gone Wild’ Creator Lands In Jail Again

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For The Daily CallerEric Owens reports:

Joe Francis – Gawker’s Douche of the Decade and a man who once bellowed that a “retarded” jury “should be shot dead” for convicting him of false imprisonment – has made millions of dollars by convincing skanky babes to bare their breasts for dozens upon dozens of Girls Gone Wild videos.

The last few years have not been kind to the softcore porn mogul, though.

[See also: 'Girls Gone Wild' founder Joe Francis sentenced to 270 days in jail]

His latest brush with the law came on Friday when cops arrested him for “pushing and shoving” someone at the “Girls Gone Wild” worldwide headquarters in Los Angeles, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Francis, 41, allegedly attacked an employee there, explains the gossip site TMZ. He also allegedly violated a restraining order issued by a federal bankruptcy judge which forbids him from coming within 100 feet of the office building. Read the rest of this entry »


America’s Amazing Shale Revolution in One Chart

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For AEIdeas,  writes: The chart above shows the combined daily oil output in America’s three most productive oil fields — the Bakken in North Dakota, the Eagle Ford Shale in south-central Texas and the Permian Basin in west Texas — from January 2007 to June 2014, based on estimates released this week by the EIA. From combined output of 1 million barrels of oil per day (bpd) in 2007, total crude oil production in those three oil fields will top 4 million barrels in June, based on drilling rigs data and EIA estimates of changes in production from existing wells.

Oil production for each of America’s three super-giant elite oil fields are displayed separately in the chart below, with June production levels estimated at 1.068 million bpd in the Bakken, 1.42 million bpd in the Eagle Ford Shale, and 1.53 million bpd in the Permian Basin. Read the rest of this entry »


Original cover Art by Gene Day from Master of Kung Fu #104, published by Marvel Comics, September 1981

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The Bristol Board


[VIDEO] $28 Million Russian Satellite Explodes During Launch

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For The Daily CallerGiuseppe reports: A Russian rocket carrying the the country’s most-expensive, state-of-the-art communications satellite exploded minutes after takeoff and before reaching space on Friday.

Russian state media reports the Proton-M rocket took off Baikonur, Kazakhstan and, after ascending about 100 miles, veered off course and disintegrated in the atmosphere some nine minutes into flight when the Russian Federal Space Agency lost contact.

The failed rocket took an Express-AM4P European-built communications satellite valued around $28 million along with it.

RT covered the launch live.

WATCH:

“The exact cause is hard to establish immediately, we will be studying the telemetry. Preliminary information points to an emergency pressure drop in a steering engine of the third stage of the rocket,” Russian Federal Space Agency Chief Oleg Ostapenko said. Read the rest of this entry »


Russia Wants Autonomous Fighting Robots, and Lots of Them: Unmanned Ground Vehicles

For Popular MechanicsDavid Hambling writes: A new video shows a Russian military robot doing something no American machine in service can match: firing a machine gun. It’s hardly a technological triumph—the U.S. has been testing armed robots for decades. But while political and ethical caution has prevented the West from advancing with the concept, Russia seems determined to field a wide variety of combat robots.

The Russians call such robots MRKs, from the Russian for Mobile Robotic Complex. The latest is the MRK-002-BG-57, nicknamed Wolf-2. It’s basically a tank the size of a small car with a 12.7-mm heavy machine gun. In the tank’s automated mode, the operator can remotely select up to 10 targets, which the robot then bombards. Wolf-2 can act on its own to some degree (the makers are vague about what degree), but the decision to use lethal force is ultimately under human control. russian-drones-0514-mdn

Ramp-Up

Although the U.S. military fielded thousands of robots in Iraq and Afghanistan, these were used for bomb disposal and reconnaissance only. In 2007 the widely publicized deployment of three Talon/SWORDS robots fitted with machine guns ended in fiasco. The robots were confined to their base and never sent out on patrol because of fears of what might happen if anything went wrong. Work continues with MAARS, the successor to Talon/SWORDS, but there is no sign yet of anything being fielded. And when the budget gets tight, unmanned systems tend to feel the squeeze first. Read the rest of this entry »


‘Quantified Self’ Technology: Humans are Gradually Becoming Cyborgs—and That’s a Good Thing

robot-hands-ap

SA Forum is an invited essay from experts on topical issues in science and technology. This column was produced in collaboration with the World Economic ForumJustine Cassell is director of the Human–Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. Read the full article here, and read more about Cassell here

For Scientific AmericanJustine Cassell writes:

Justine Cassell

Justine Cassell

Imagine you have a great-aunt, a vibrant woman in her 70s who refuses to be trapped in a rocking chair. In fact, she holds a full-time job and insists on walking there and back, a couple of miles each way. She says it keeps her young, but you can’t help worrying. No one is healthy forever.

Like many people her age, your great-aunt follows a set routine. Before her trip to work, she stops at a nearby café for a cup of

So far, most QS sensors remain on wristbands, phones and other wearables.  Credit: Pebble Technology via Wikimedia Commons

So far, most QS sensors remain on wristbands, phones and other wearables.
Credit: Pebble Technology via Wikimedia Commons

tea, and as she walks she phones a friend on her mobile phone. After work, she likes to call another friend to ask about a visit. She picks up a small cake or a few cookies at a shop on the way. Afterward she buys groceries to take home for supper.

A big departure from this pattern could mean your great-aunt is having problems. If you had access to her cell phone records and GPS data, you could see that something was up. It could even help you tell how urgent the situation might be. If she’s quit socializing and is just shuttling to work and back, it might signal depression—you’d make a note to drop by and make sure she’s okay. If she stops leaving the house entirely and doesn’t answer her phone, you know the problem is urgent. If you can’t get over there immediately, you’d better call a neighbor to look in on her. Read the rest of this entry »


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