VnutZ's Articles, Page 2 of 76
Back in 2011, President Obama basically made the decision that using drones was NOT hostile and therefore allowed him to sidestep the War Powers Resolution. This created a lot of media spin but it quickly died down. Now, thanks to an anonymous whistleblower to The Intercept, it seems the details of the American drone program executed through the CIA and JSOC are laid completely bare. There is basically no wiggle room for the President to tap dance out of this one with the usual “I was not aware” routine as the documents definitely show him as the approval authority. It will be interesting to see how this leak pans out, especially in the wake of the Doctors Without Borders killing.
TOR, that privacy technology created by the US Navy may soon be coming to Apple iPhone users. While the latest iOS version was known to initially break many VPNs, the features behind the change are enabling a swath of new applications to include an ability to bring the TOR project, for transparent system-wide use, to the iPhone. Android users have long enjoyed full access to the privacy of TOR but iPhone users may soon join them whether through a back-end VPN or application specific ports like Firefox which are the basis of many TOR apps. It’s unlikely (and dumb) for a phone to serve as a TOR relay, but the increase in TOR users will certainly require the TOR network itself to increase its volume of relay operators.
Although they still seem like new technology, autonomous cars have been driving our roads for more than half a decade now. This year, things were serious enough to finally force the creation of regulations that ultimately resulted autonomous cars being declared legal – but still in a gray area. The question of who is liable in an accident is definitely still a hazy matter that probably won’t manifest itself until forced into the courts after an accident. Despite all the advances, however, the technology was still not in the hands of consumers.
Equality cuts both ways.
As women have pushed and fought over the years to be recognized on the same playing field as men, the question on selective service is tipping in their direction now, too. The Army Secretary John McHugh basically indicates that for the military to achieve true parity in terms of equality, then all aspects must be considered and that includes the draft. After all, women have just proven themselves capable of passing Ranger School in addition to serving for nearly 14 years in “frontless” combat – so therefore it cannot be argued they can’t handle military service.
It appears to be the end of an era. Since Marilyn Monroe first graced the cover in 1953, Playboy magazine has tantalized American culture for good or bad for the past 62 years. But with circulation dropping from 5.6 million to 800 thousand, the magazine sought to reinvent itself and opted to cease publishing photos of nude women in order to appeal to a more mainstream audience. The editor behind the decision said, “12-year-old me is very disappointed in current me. But it’s the right thing to do.”
EMV – EuroPay, MasterCard, Visa – chip enabled credit cards offer an increase in security for cardholders over traditional magnetic stripe cards. Although they’ve been utilized overseas for years, the transition in the United States has lagged. As a matter of fact, the United States was supposed to have fully switched by 1 October 2015. Obviously, for anyone that’s tried, generally speaking American POS (point of sale) terminals generally are not supporting the new technology yet.
So how does this present a fantastic fraud opportunity? Basically it’s a matter of taking advantage of the weaker investigative element – the merchant. Before, when a cardholder claimed fraudulent charges, it’s generally been the credit card company responsible for the liability. But with the imposed deadline of 1 October 2015 putting the onus on merchants to utilize EMV chipped cards. Therefore, if a cardholder claimed fraudulent purchases are made, the credit companies will take the money from the merchants – thus … they don’t care. So go buy that big screen TV and kicking home theater audio system from a store far away from where you live. Just make sure to leave your cell phone at home, that there are magnetic stripe only POS terminals present, and no video cameras. Then claim your card was compromised. Enjoy.
The United States conducted an airstrike with an AC-130 into Afghanistan as part of a joint campaign to retake Kunduz from the Taliban that killed 22 non-combatants. Army General Campbell indicated the Afghan forces under fire from the Taliban requested US air support against the hospital. At the same time, he admits America’s own rules of engagement may not have been followed explicitly in the incident which led to the deaths of many volunteers in Doctors Without Borders. Although President Obama has apologized for the killing, the aid organization has sought to invoke Article 90 of the Geneva Convention for an investigation of war crimes against the United States.
Takaaki Kajita and Arthur McDonald share the honor of 2015’s Physic’s Nobel Prize for their work regarding neutrinos “flipping”. Neutrinos come in three forms – electron, muon, and tau – each of which is so tiny they literally pass through all matter without interacting with it. To put that into perspective, according to a high energy physicist at the DoE, if you had a block of lead one light year in length, it would only stop half of the neutrinos flying through it! Returning to the Nobel Prize, the physicists’ work at the underground detector under Mount Kamioka and the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory revealed evidence the neutrinos were changing themselves between each of the three different neutrino types. This basically revealed why neutrinos were not behaving according to the calculations – they kept changing in energy and mass – and therefore quantum particle physics continues to defy the standard model.
Private drone use is skyrocketing and the regulations surrounding their use is both limited and not widely known. While people are finding creative uses for drones in the form of photography and video, some of those applications are bordering on disruptive to others. They are certainly a safety problem with regards to airliners as FAA reports indicate the number of near strikes are rapidly increasing. (This YouTube video shows a drone strike against an aircraft winglet during a landing approach).
Recurring Slope Lineae (paywall) or RSL, are an indicator of previous or current liquid flows on Mars. Researchers are able to track the changes in RSL in Martian craters thanks to the Mars Global Surveyor. Obviously, the sites are of interest to send the rovers into for research into possible Martian biology. Buuuuut, by agreed upon international space agency conventions, that’s impossible because the only device that was “cleaned” to sterile standards was Viking, more than 40 years ago. Essentially, when Opportunity and Spirit were sent to Mars, it was decided that Martian life was so unlikely that it wasn’t worth the extra money to fully sterilize the spacecraft. Now, the concern is that exposing the possible biologics to Earth contaminants could potentially kill the very thing mankind has looked for.
Things in Syria are about to get a whole lot more saucy. Shortly after Putin declared Russia would become involved in Syria, military aircraft began conducting strikes. The key difference is that Russia has declared any force opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as a terrorist element. Thus, Russian military forces are free to engage, in conjunction with Syrian forces, basically any rebel force whether ISIS or not. It will only be a matter of time before forces supported by the United States are destroyed by Russians.
D-Wave released their first quantum computer in 2007 with only 16 qubits. While it looks like their projected 2008 machine missed its deadline by eight years, D-Wave just broke the 1000 qubit barrier in a machine upgrade delivered to Google. These past years have revealed a lot about the potential of quantum computers to include achieving huge performance gains without increasing the electrical power demand. The challenge, according to D-Wave, has been in how to build and integrate more qubits into the processor which are achieved through small superconducting loops. Working in tandem, the quantum computer tests specialized algorithms to reveal the most probable outcome of simultaneous chances.
Volkswagen was caught redhanded falsifying emissions data for its diesel engines. In a nutshell, the vehicles determined a running condition that was likely to be occurring during an emissions test and altered the engine parameters in order to pass. Once back on the road, the vehicles resumed normal operation which essentially emitted 40% more pollutants (far exceeding the tested amount). Presently, the company is facing billions in fines while having to recall over half a million vehicles.
An interesting thing to ponder is that these emissions standards are only present in the United States. Although cheating the test is unethical, the diesel engines are certainly efficient and have powered VWs driven responsibly to more than 800 miles per tank. Are the standards in the United States simply too strict for their own good?
This particular story is rapidly filling up social media sites, generally in support and defense of young Ahmed. In summary, Ahmed Mohamed is a teenager that taught himself to build a clock using a micro controller and various electronic components. Proud of his work, Ahmed takes the clock to school to impress his teacher who quickly decides its a bomb and has Ahmed arrested.
On the one hand, do we prefer our educators erring massively on the side of caution with presumed apologies (none in this case have been offered) to follow? This would clearly be quite the media story had it actually been a bomb.