Clinton’s ‘Please Hack Me’ Server 


L. Gordon Crovitz writes: “I’m still clinging to my BlackBerry, ” President-elect Obama said in early 2009. “They’re trying to pry it out of my hands.” The National Security Agency was so anxious about foreign intelligence agents gaining access to classified information that it assigned dozens of technologists to work for months before the inauguration to modify a BlackBerry Mr. Obama could use. The new president was told his device could safely communicate with fewer than a dozen other people, after their devices were loaded with special encryption.

“From what has been released so far, that includes the name of a CIA source on Libya that Mrs. Clinton divulged in unprotected email to confidant Sidney Blumenthal.”

His secretary of state took a different approach.

“Other emails identified as containing classified information include those dealing with discussions of Iran’s nuclear program, spy satellites and drone strikes.”

Hillary Clinton set up her own private email server. By avoiding use of government servers, she succeeded in keeping emails off-limits to information requests from congressional overseers and journalists—but American counterintelligence agents must now assume that Chinese, Russian and possibly other agents had full access. A Pentagon counterintelligence official told the Daily Beast that if he were in charge of a foreign intelligence agency, “I’d fire my staff if they weren’t getting all this.”


“The AP reported attempted hacks on Mrs. Clinton servers from China and Russia. It identified a hacker using a computer in Serbia who scanned the server in the basement of her Chappaqua, N.Y., home multiple times in 2012.”

Mr. Obama jumped the gun on the FBI inquiry into Mrs. Clinton’s handling of classified material by saying earlier this month that “this is not a situation in which America’s national security was endangered.”

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

The New York Times reported that Mr. Obama’s comments “raised the ire of officials who saw an instance of the president trying to influence the outcome of a continuing investigation.”

“There’s good reason to assume that foreign intelligence agencies were able to read the Clinton emails. Government servers are not hackproof, but they offer basic defenses and alerts. An Associated Press investigation found that the Clinton setup didn’t use a virtual private network, a common corporate safeguard. This meant her email server could be accessed over an open Internet connection.”

Meddling with the FBI investigation is only part of the problem. Mrs. Clinton’s conduct in office is forcing U.S. counterintelligence agencies to review her emails to identify what sources and methods of U.S. intelligence they have to assume were burned. Read the rest of this entry »

Donald Trump: World’s Greatest Troll

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Trolls operate on the principle that negative attention is better than none. In fact, the troll may feed off the negative attention, claiming it makes him a victim and proves that everyone is out to get him.


…There’s a notion that Donald Trump’s recent rise in Republican polls is a media-driven creation. That explanation isn’t entirely wrong, but it’s incomplete. It skims over the complex interactions between the media, the public and the candidates, which can produce booms and busts of attention. And it ignores how skilled trolls like Trump can exploit the process to their benefit.

Let’s look at some data. In the chart below, I’ve tracked how media coverage has been divided among the Republican candidates over roughly the past month (the data covers June 14 through July 12), according to article counts on Google News. In turn, I’ve shown the share of Google searches for each candidate over the same period. The data was provided to FiveThirtyEight by Google but should closely match what you’ll get by searching on Google Trends or Google News yourself.


“Trump has taken trolling to the next level by being willing to offend members of his own party. Ordinarily, this would be a counterproductive strategy. In a 16-candidate field, however, you can be in first place with 15 or 20 percent of the vote — even if the other 80 or 85 percent of voters hate your guts.”

Even before his imbecilic comments about Sen. John McCain this weekend, which came too recently to be included in this data, Trump was receiving far more media attention than any other Republican. Based on Google News, 46 percent of the media coverage of the GOP campaign over the past month was directed toward Trump, more than for Jeb Bush (13 percent), Chris Christie (9 percent), Scott Walker (8 percent), Bobby Jindal (6 percent), Ted Cruz (4 percent) and Marco Rubio (4 percent) combined.


“Trolls are skilled at taking advantage of this landscape and making the news cycle feed on its own tail, accelerating the feedback loop and producing particularly large bounces and busts in the polls.” 

And yet, the public is perhaps even more obsessed with Trump. Among the GOP candidates, he represented 62 percent of the Google search traffic over the past month, having been searched for more than six times as often as second-place Bush.

So if the press were going purely by public demand, there might be even more Trump coverage. Instead, the amount of press coverage that each candidate has received has been modulated by the media’s perception of how likely each is to win the nomination….(read more)


“The public is perhaps even more obsessed with Trump. Among the GOP candidates, he represented 62 percent of the Google search traffic over the past month, having been searched for more than six times as often as second-place Bush.”

But a regression analysis — you can read the gory details in the footnotes3— suggests that press attention both leads and lags public attention to the candidates. This makes a lot of sense. The public can take cues from the media about which candidates to pay attention to. But the media also gets a lot of feedback from the public. Or to put it more cynically: If Trump-related stories are piling up lots of pageviews and Trump-related TV segments get good ratings, then guess what? You’re probably going to see more of them.4

This creates the possibility of a feedback loop….(read more)


…So if these spikes are media-driven, they seem to be driven by some particularly modern features of the media landscape. Social media allows candidates to make news without the filter of the press. It may also encourage groupthink among and between reporters and readers, however. And access to real-time traffic statistics can mean that everyone is writing the same “takes” and chasing the same eyeballs at once. Is the tyranny of the Twitter mob better or worse than the “Boys on the Bus” model of a group of (mostly white, male, upper-middle-class, left-of-center) reporters deigning to determine what’s news and what isn’t? I don’t know, but it’s certainly different. And it seems to be producing a higher velocity of movement in the polls and in the tenor of media coverage. Read the rest of this entry »

Japan Hotel Features Robot Receptionists


Interestingly, the robots have been made to look like dinosaurs

 writes: Step aside, receptionists. Robots are coming to get you. At least, that’s what’s happening at a hotel in Japan. Called Weird Hotel, the place of business uses robots in order to cut costs, according to the Associated Press.

“I wanted to highlight innovation. I also wanted to do something about hotel prices going up.”

— Hotel owner Hideo Sawada

The owner of the hotel, Hideo Sawada, says robots are used to boost efficiency, too, and not as a gimmick to attract tourists. Interestingly, the robots have been made to look like dinosaurs. “If you want to check in, push one,” it says in English. The visitor then needs to enter their information into a touch screen. Read the rest of this entry »

[VIDEO] Pixar Tech Director Alonso Martinez is Building His Own Desktop Robot Companion with Emotional Intelligence

Technical director at Pixar, Alonso Martinez, is currently in the early stages of developing a new companion robot. Mira, as it is currently named, is apparently an exploration into human-robot interaction and emotional intelligence. While currently in the very early stages of development, the small desktop companion is already equipped with some pretty impressive facial recognition and quite an adorable little personality.


As her understanding of the world and people’s emotions get richer so will her ability to interact with people in a more meaningful way.”

As you can see in the video above, Mira’s favorite activity at the moment is peak-a-boo. Able to realize when you have covered your face, it will light up in excitement like a small child once revealed again making happy blips and bleeps while changing color. Read the rest of this entry »

From The Chinese University of Hong Kong: A New Algorithm That Recognizes Faces Better Than People Can

faces in the wild
Faces from the Dataset Used to Test the Algorithm Described Below

It’s already a little eerie when Facebook suggests tags for who it recognizes in your photo, especially for faces that are small, blurry, or otherwise difficult to distinguish. What if Facebook were even better–better at recognizing people in pictures than you are?


Two computer scientists are announcing they’ve made a program that is better at matching photos than people are, the Physics arXiv Blog reports. This is the first time a program has performed better than people at recognizing people.


To be sure, the new algorithm, developed at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, outperforms people in a very specific task with a very specific set of photos. The Hong Kong researchers asked the algorithm to tell whether two faces are the same, drawing from a set of 13,000 photos of 600 public figures. Humans get the right answer 97.53 percent of the time, on this test. The Chinese University of Hong Kong algorithm is right 98.52 percent of the time. (You can try some sample matches at the Physics arXiv Blog!)

Read the rest of this entry »


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