Monday, 29 July 2013
Council posts dog poo back to owners in 'clear up' campaignDog owners who fail to clean up after their pets have had their animal's faeces posted back to them by a council as part of a campaign to tackle the problem.
Officials in the Spanish town of Brunete, near Madrid, teamed up with advertising agency Mcann to orchestrate the stunt, which has seen instances of dog mess on the streets drop by 70%, reports The Local.
In February, the council recruited 20 volunteers to watch for people who don't clean up after their pets and then strike up casual conversation with them to gain information.
"They'd ask them what the dog's name and pedigree was. With that information they could find out the address of the pooch's owner from a registered pet database we have," explained Brunete's Town Hall spokesman.
The offending item was then boxed up and delivered back to the owner via courier while cameramen filmed the incident.
The spokesman said that the campaign had been "well accepted" in the Spanish town and that the streets were now cleaner.
They said: "We're not sure whether the volume of poo has gone down because they're more afraid of getting their dogs' excrement delivered back to them than of being fined."
Sunday, 28 July 2013
Mexico elects cat as mayorMEXICO is a weird and wonderful country, but surely no-one could’ve ever expected that, within its borders, a cat would be elected to run for mayor.
Morris has been put forward as the citizens’ candidate for elections taking place on July 7th and cat-lovers are probably chortling to themselves as they say “Well! He can’t do any worse than the humans! HAR HAR!” Obviously, you’d need to say that in a Mexican accent for it to work.
If Morris were to win, he would become the mayor of Veracruz state capital Xalapa.
His campaign slogan is ‘Xalapa Without Rats‘, and he currently comes second of the four candidates with the amount of ‘likes’ his Facebook page has gathered.
According to his campaign, Morris insists that although he is likely to cause a mess on a regular basis, at least he will cover it up and not leave it lying around for everyone else to clean up.
He also lists his weaknesses as “quilts, sheets, pillows, couches and clothing in general”.
However, one thing worth thinking about – Morris has nine lives, so if he’s despotic, he may never leave office.
Saturday, 27 July 2013
Birds in the neighbourhood may mean higher house prices
The gentle tweeting of birds from the back garden can be enough to lift anyone’s mood, but new research suggests it may also be a sign that your house will be worth more too.A new study has shown that houses in areas rich with bird life sell for an average of £21,000 more than those with fewer birds.
The research, which attempted to compensate for factors such as house size, age and levels of urbanisation, found that the presence of even just one uncommon species of bird was an indication of higher house prices.
The more species there were, the higher the prices became, the researchers found.
It suggests that house-hunters would do well to listen out for the sound of woodpeckers and nightingales to gauge the quality of a neighbourhood.
The researchers also found that nearby parkland did little to influence the number of birds, meaning their presence was due to nearby domestic gardens in the area.
Michael Farmer, from the department of agricultural and applied economics at Texas Tech University in Lubbock who led the research, which is published in the journal of Urban Ecosystems, said: “The addition of another desirable, less ubiquitous bird species improves mean home price by $32,028 (£21,000).
“This is likely due to the human created landscapes on private properties immediately surrounding a home sale.”
Bird song is already known to have a number of benefits such as helping people to relax. One study in Liverpool found it could help calm young patients as they received injections in a hospital.
The National Trust also suggests people listen to birdsong for a few minutes each day to help improve their mood.
Miles Shipside, a housing analyst and commercial director at property specialists Rightmove, said the relationship between property prices and birds could be explained by the value home owners place on having a garden.
He said: “Birds are very sensitive to their environment and it could be a sign of an area having good quality gardens.
“This would be reflected in the property prices. But in the UK particularly people do also put a high value on wildlife so an area where we can see it and be close to it would be more desirable.”
Friday, 26 July 2013
Man ordered to cover up his massive ‘anatomically correct’ gargoyleDAVID Smith has erected a big gargoyle in the grounds of his Paulden, Arizona, home. The nine-foot-tall statue in his yard boasts a 13-foot wing span. The statue is naked. And not everyone likes the view.
“I thought I was living in a free country,” says Smith. of his creation that he assures us is “anatomically correct and proportionally sized”.
How does he know the demon is anatomically correct? Can’e demons be out of proportion, like people with big ears and tiny feet? He adds:
“It just seemed like it needed to be there.I don’t like Ken dolls. It wasn’t put there to offend anybody. That isn’t the reason. Everything has a sex.”He’s right. Get a load of those trees.
The upshot is that the county has told Smith must be be on public view. He must remove the statu, dress it in hot pants and boob tunes or face a fone of up to $1,000.
Smith says he wont’t. He says the the metal beast is “an extension of himself”.
Other men get a sports car. He gets a gargoyle…
Thursday, 25 July 2013
US Authorities Targeted BitCoin Exchange ServiceThe Department of Homeland Security seized assets from Mt. Gox Dwolla account a few days ago and accused it of violating money transfer regulations. As everyone knows, BitCoin is growing rapidly today, and some companies invest thousands of dollars on the venture. One of the largest BitCoin exchange services was the Japanese startup Mt. Gox. It allowed people to convert US dollars to BitCoins and vice versa, with their most popular service being Dwolla – an electronic wallet providing real time transfers between people and businesses.
A few days ago the US authorities have seized all of the assets in the Mt. Gox Dwolla account for infringing money transfer regulations. Dwolla had nothing else to do but to acquiesce to the request. The problem is that as a currency exchange service, Mt. Gox set up a Wells Fargo business account for Mutum Sigillum LLC and was asked to complete a document stating whether the company planned to provide money services. The authorities point out that the document listed Mutum Sigillum LLC as a company which didn’t engage in money services. Indeed, the business answered “no” to those important questions: “Do you deal in or exchange currency for your customer?” and “Does your business accept funds from customers and send the funds based on customers’ instructions (Money Transmitter)?”
Moreover, in order to limit fraudulent activity, the company also needed to register with FinCEN like any money services in the United States. For people who use the exchange service, this move will only affect BitCoin traders using Dwolla to fund their trades. In the meanwhile, other traders in the United States may still use bank wires to send and receive money from Mt. Gox trades. Those traders with Dwolla accounts won’t be affected, only their ability to transfer directly to the company with Dwolla will. Finally, all these limitations only apply to the traders from the United States.
Industry experts point out that for those that have utilized Dwolla, there was still a lot of other BitCoin options, including BitInstant. The latter allow people to make deposits by cash. In the meanwhile, BitInstant still accepts Dwolla and is able to make transfer to different exchange services.
Wednesday, 24 July 2013
Pooches, owners march for more dog-friendly ParisSome Parisians want just a little bit more of their city to go to the dogs.
At least 100 pooches — with owners in tow, holding leashes — marched near the Louvre at a demonstration to demand more park space and access to public transportation for the four-legged friends.
Tongues and tails wagged Saturday under a warm Paris sun as collies, pugs, boxers, bulldogs, Labradors and other breeds paraded around the famed Paris museum.
Organizers of the canine-citizen march dubbed "My Dog, My City" estimate about 200,000 dogs live in Paris. They say other cities like New York, London, Montreal and Brussels offer more dog-oriented public spaces.
According to the city's website, two of Paris' 20 sections have only one reserved public park space for dogs. Leashes are required.
Tuesday, 23 July 2013
Kevin the peacock rules the roost in Breadsall
Residents in a small village in Derbyshire reveal how they are being terrorised by a peacock called Kevin.When Kevin the peacock crash-landed in the Derbyshire village of Breadsall, the locals were more bemused than bothered.
Soon, they reasoned, the bird would regain its bearings and head back to whichever stately home or ornamental park it had come from.
Instead, Kevin did what peacocks tend to do. Which is to take the joint over.
It has pecked its way through entire gardens, paralysed traffic by taking naps in the main road, terrorised the village hall’s cleaning lady and caused mass sleep deprivation.
That’s the trouble with having an uninvited peacock in your village. After a few weeks you stop thinking about how beautiful they are, and start wondering what they taste like.
The worst thing Kevin does is try to attract a mate. This involves hoisting its impressive tail feathers and screeching at 115 decibels — roughly the sound level you hear when a fighter jet takes off, or from the front row of a Twisted Sister concert.
The opening blast comes at around 5am when the bird wakes up to discover it’s still single. Then, from the vantage point of an overnight roost in a pine tree, it lets loose for real.
The contrast between a peacock’s outer loveliness and the sordid racket it makes has to be nature’s idea of a joke – one that is starting to wear thin in Breadsall. But at least it makes the bird easy to find.
You simply stand in the middle of the otherwise sleepy village and listen for what sounds like an axe-murder. Or the air-horn of a runaway truck.
I found Kevin sitting pretty on an ornamental tree stump behind Prem Singh’s house in Church Lane. One morning, Mr Singh, 56, the former chief executive of Derby NHS, looked out of his French windows to see 1,000 eyes looking back.
“I thought, 'my God’,” he said. “I was completely stunned. Normally you’d expect to see a few starlings, and here was this huge great thing about six feet long swishing around the garden.”
Peacocks originate from India, where, Mr Singh said: “Some Indians think they bring good luck.”
Not that his tolerance hasn’t been tested. Kevin quickly learned to home in on the bowls of food left out for Mr Singh’s cats, Millie and Rossi.
“He seems to love the stuff,” Mr Singh tells me, “but I’m not sure it loves him. You wouldn’t believe the mess he makes.
“I think he’s fantastic, though. He’s a real character. I call him The Captain after Captain Peacock [Frank Thornton’s character in Are You Being Served]. We’ve no idea where he came from, but he doesn’t show much sign of wanting to leave.”
Kevin’s provenance is, indeed, a mystery. With so much plumage to haul around, peacocks can only fly short distances and rarely stray far from their regular turf.
Yet no one near Breadsall has reported one missing, and inquiries by the local policeman, Russ Crooks, appear to have led nowhere.
At one point a posse, led by Simon Dowling, a local smallholder, was formed to catch Kevin only to discover — as John Humphrys recounted in The Telegraph last week — that the birds are fiendishly hard to lay hands on.
“We thought we’d got him cornered at one point,” says Linda Morris, one of the six-strong peacock patrol, which included Pc Crooks. “
But at the last minute he jumped over a wall and into the next-door garden. There have been a few other attempts and they’ve all failed.”
So, the months have slipped by, and Kevin’s grip on the village has tightened. Residents sleep to the hours the bird permits, traffic moves in sync with the bird’s own movements.
Lately it has been taking on a more activist role, turning up to watch fixtures at the tennis club, monitoring Sunday attendances at All Saints’ Church and making unscheduled inspections of the local primary school.
“We’re not really sure what to do about him,” admits Chris Goodwin, the parish council chairman. “Some people love having him here, but you do get grumbles about the noise, and we have concerns about him being a road hazard.
"Not long ago a cyclist nearly came off his bike because of Kevin, and sometimes he just sits in the road and holds up all the traffic and the drivers get pretty cross about it.”
Then there’s the fear factor. Peacocks aren’t usually aggressive – effectively they are pheasants in finery – but close up they can look and sound scary.
Earlier this year, Jackie Payne was cleaning the Memorial Hall when she saw Kevin advancing across the car park.
Too nervous to leave, she locked herself in the lavatory, eventually resorting to throwing biscuits out of the window to distract him until she could escape.
“It’s not the sort of problem we’ve had before as a parish council,” admits Mrs Goodwin. “I suppose we’re really hoping that his owner will turn up and take possession of him.”
For now, though, it’s Kevin taking possession of the village.
Monday, 22 July 2013
'Sleepwalking' drink driver avoids jail after crashing car at 100mph
A drink driver who crashed his car at 100mph has avoided jail after telling a court he was sleep walking.Marine engineer David Hamnett, 47, downed whiskey and wine before getting behind the wheel of his Volvo S40.
He travelled 150 miles and reached speeds of up to 100mph before hitting another car and slamming into a motorway's central partition.
Hamnett was cut free from the wreckage wearing just a T-shirt and jogging bottoms. He was twice the drink drive limit.
But he told a court he had been "sleep driving" and had slept-walked to his car and headed off on his usual weekly commute to Devon from his home in Ormskirk, Lancs.
Hamnett said he must have been asleep during the entire drive before the crash which happened in Worcestershire in the early hours of July 9, 2011.
He told Shrewsbury Crown Court he put the clothes on to go to bed and woke up to find himself in the smash 150 miles away on the M5.
But Dr Idzikowski, director of the Edinburgh Sleep Centre, said it was "highly unlikely" he could have snoozed behind the wheel without crashing for two hours.
Judge Peter Barrie accepted he had a genuine sleeping disorder and that Hamnett may have got into his car while asleep.
But he said he had likely carried on with the "pointless" journey after waking up.
He was found guilty of dangerous driving and handed a twelve month community order, banned from driving for six months and ordered to take an advanced test.
Judge Barrie said: "This was a highly dangerous incident at high speed, weaving on a motorway and causing an accident in which you and the occupants of another car suffered significant injuries.
"It could have been much worse and an aggravating feature was that you were well over the drink drive limit."
Sunday, 21 July 2013
Michael Douglas: oral sex caused my throat cancer
Michael Douglas has said that his throat cancer was caused by oral sexThe Oscar-winning star went into detail about the cause of his illness for the first time in an interview with the Guardian.
It had been assumed by some that the cancer could have been related to his years of smoking, but the Basic Instinct star said it followed his contraction of HPV (human papillomavirus), a sexually-transmitted virus that is best known as a common cause of cervical cancer, but which can also cause throat cancer.
Asked if he regretted having smoked, the actor told the newspaper: "No. Because without wanting to get too specific, this particular cancer is caused by HPV which actually comes about from cunnilingus.
"I did worry if the stress caused by my son's incarceration didn't help trigger it. But yeah, it's a sexually transmitted disease that causes cancer."
He jokingly added: "And if you have it, cunnilingus is also the best cure for it."
Saturday, 20 July 2013
Glastonbury tents to be given new lease of life
Dumped Glastonbury tents are to be given a new life and made into luxury gift wrap.Discarded tents at this year's Glastonbury, Latitude and Wychwood festivals are set to be collected, cleaned and transformed into sustainable wrapping paper.
Nicky Rajska and Louise Oldridge, founders of Devon based company Wrag Wrap, will be getting their hands dirty salvaging unwanted tents at each site, then recycling them into wrapping products that can be used time and time again.
The tents that can be reused will be given to community groups and charities.
Nicky said: "We're looking for broken and torn tents, so we can clean and launder them, restoring them to perfect condition in an environmentally friendly way - dye them and sell them as beautiful gift wrap - with a percentage of sales going back to each festival to help protect the land and environment.
"We can't take away all of the waste but we know we can help to make some kind of a difference and hopefully shine a spotlight on the issue of discarding unwanted items at festivals."
Approximately 615,000 people will be camping at UK festivals this summer, with over 3,000 tents estimated to be discarded.
Over 83 square kilometres of wrapping paper ends up in UK rubbish bins each year.
Friday, 19 July 2013
Recruitment site only offers jobs to beautiful people
A recruitment site has been launched that only offers jobs to beautiful people.Companies who count complexion as one of their key competencies can log on to the "lookist" dating community BeautifulPeople.com and browse their handsome selection of attractive jobseekers.
The dating site has 750,000 good looking members on its books and is launching the employment agency as a spin-off.
It will allow employers to advertise their vacancies to the members and, should any of the good looking guys and girls be interested, they can apply for the job directly through the website.
Greg Hodge, Managing Director of BeautifulPeople.com, explained: "An honest employer will tell you that it pays to hire good looking staff.
"Attractive people tend to make a better first impression on clients, win more business and earn more.
"Most of our members are high earners and happily in employment.
"But for those who aren't, giving them access to potential employers is an added benefit to their membership, especially in these economic tough times.
"We have a dedicated team to validate each business which applies to our recruitment service so that every introduction is safe and legitimate," he said, adding: "This isn't an invitation for crack-pots to come and ogle our beautiful members."
Los Angeles-based real estate agency, Urban Homes Group, is one of the website's early adopters.
Their CEO, Dominic Pietrangelo, said: "Securing prospective realtors through BeautifulPeople makes sense; it's no secret that attractive agents have an advantage and more often than not are better received by clients, in a highly competitive market every advantage counts."
London bridal designer Sassi Holford, said she would consider hiring through the service.
"My requirements are so specific, I will consider any worthwhile avenue for recruitment," she explained.
"My staff are hired not simply because they are attractive, they have to be excellent performers.
"Brides want to look beautiful on their wedding day so the whole gown buying experience should build their confidence and make them feel they are entering a glamorous world – they need to put themselves in a mindset of beauty and well-presented consultants will add to this."
But beauty can be a double-edged sword for those on the lookout for work, as Sassi explained: "An absolutely stunning member of staff could have the opposite effect if the client has less self-confidence."
And it's not just image-conscious businesses who can use the service.
Working mother Olivia Kinnard intends to use BeautifulPeople.com to find a nanny.
She explained: "The truth is, my toddler, Kit, responds better to good looking people.
"And I'm sure I'm not the first parent to think they need a slim and fit nanny to be able to keep up with a busy child – it's just that many wouldn't dare to come out and say it!".
Employment experts warn that there are potential pitfalls in the plan – such as possible discrimination claims if looks were found to be a reason for an unsuccessful application.
Thursday, 18 July 2013
Judge ordered to return dachshund to neighbour
A top judge in Swaziland has been ordered to return a dachshund puppy to its owner after he became embroiled in a messy custody battle.The magistrates court in the capital Mbabane ordered Judge Jacobus Annandale to return the sausage dog to his neighbour Bhekiwe Dlamini, after he had it seized from her a week ago.
Justice Annandale, an avid dog-breeder, had sold the long-bodied pup to Ms Dlamini but later accused her of abusing it and sent police officers with a fake court order to take it back.
Magistrate Ndumiso Shongwe overturned the interim order obtained by Justice Annandale and dismissed the case.
The court also dismissed the judge's claim that Ms Dlamini had failed to take care of the dog, and made it sleep in the fly-infested cold.
In his ruling, the magistrate said there had been no conditions attached to the agreement of sale between the two parties.
Wednesday, 17 July 2013
Who Is Who in Smartphone SectorAccording to the recent statistics, Apple’s overly hyped iPhone is slowly dying and may soon fall behind Microsoft. Indeed, the excessive growth which has characterized Apple sales in the smartphone sector has recently slowed and the company now has only 19% of the market. Some industry observers put this market share figure in perspective and pointed out that the company is currently one point ahead of the much maligned Microsoft.
In the meanwhile, the winner now is Android, dominating the mobile market and making up almost 60% of those shipments. However, Microsoft has patent which Android uses, and therefore makes $8 out of each phone sold, so it is winning in this situation as well.
As for the top manufacture, the first place is taken by Samsung, which grew its volume by 64% annually. Apple takes the second place and is followed by Huawei, LG and ZTE. However, those make up less than 5% of the market share.
The industry experts wonder how Apple not only dropped the ball, but gift wrapped it and gave it to its rivals. One answer is that this wouldn’t be happening if Steve Jobs were alive, but saner appeals suggest that the company simply fears to modify Jobs’ vision. Some experts claim that the iPhone user interface is already 6 years old and needs an urgent refresh. In addition, Apple keeps ignoring the trend for larger displays in premium smartphones.
In the meanwhile, Apple can’t claim that the market is saturated, as global shipments for notebooks, tablets and smartphones were over 308 million in the first quarter of the current year, which represents 37% growth from the same quarter of 2012. The statistics shows that tablets are the fastest growing among the three markets, growing 106% year-over-year to 41.9 million units. Here Apple is still the leader, holding a 46% market share, but it has lost the level of dominance it once enjoyed.
Tuesday, 16 July 2013
Porn Studios Threaten to Call Neighbours of File-SharersApparently, copyright trolls are using quite threatening language in their attempts to convince defendants to settle. Recently, the Prenda Law reincarnation “Anti-Piracy Law Group” sent letters to people accused of pirating porn content, threatening them to inform neighbours about their illegal activities and inspect their work machines.
Such copyright troll lawsuits, involving up to tens of thousands of alleged pirates became very widespread in the past few years, because people tend to settle due to the embarrassing nature of the case. The cases are all alike: a number of IP addresses are accused of “stealing” copyrighted content with the trolls requesting a subpoena from the court to make ISPs disclose the identities of account holders. Finally, they then contact the defendants and offer to settle for a reasonable amount, threatening to name them in the lawsuit otherwise.
While many courts today refuse such cases, there are still judges who sign off on them. Sometimes related, the copyright trolls go crazy: the letters sent by the “Anti-Piracy Law Group”, former Prenda Law, represent a bright example of a new low.
It was the LW Systems v. Christopher Hubbard case where the defendant received a letter from the law firm representing a porn studio. The letter was sent after the defendant ignored the first settlement offer. It was obvious that the case dealt with embarrassing porn material, but the defendant was also threatened that his family members and even the neighbours will be told about his “alleged perverse download habits”.
Moreover, the law firm made it sound like it was doing the defendant a favor and claimed that it wanted to inform the others to make sure that it was targeting the right individual. Nevertheless, another copyright troll Steve “Lightspeed” Jones revealed the true motivation of such moves years ago, saying that normally people aren’t embarrassed to tell their neighbours that they have downloaded some new music. However, things are different with trading midget, tranny, facials, and teen porn video – this is something worth keeping from the family and neighbours. This could be continued to compare this to the Recording Industry Association of America.
Monday, 15 July 2013
iPads Might Be Dangerous for the Faint-HeartedApple customers with heart conditions could find out that taking their iPads to bed with them may have consequences. The matter is that tiny magnets within the iPad cover can shut off implanted defibrillators on a pacemaker if you leave the device on your chest. The same may happen if you fall asleep with the iPad lying on you.
Of course, it doesn’t seem likely as a death scenario, but it is quite surprising that the geniuses at Apple didn’t think about people with heart conditions. Actually, even a 14-year-old girl could spot this, and she did. Gianna Chien made the discovery as part of her science fair project. However, her project didn’t get first place, maybe because the judges thought that Apple was perfect and iPads can’t harm anyone. But Chien will soon again be presenting her findings to 8,000 doctors at a meeting of the Heart Rhythm Society in Denver. Hopefully, she will find a more reasonable audience there.
The girl says that if you fall asleep with the iPad2 on your chest, the magnets in the cover can “accidentally turn off” the heart device. Since her dad is a doctor, she believes that it’s pretty important that people know this. Her study found that 30% of patients with defibrillators who put Apple devices on their chest were affected by iPads. Although most defibrillators can turn back on after the magnet is removed, some of them must be reactivated manually, which may causes a life-threatening situation.
According to John Day, head of heart-rhythm services at Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah, and chairman of the panel responsible for reviewing scientific papers which will be presented at the Denver meeting, Gianna Chien’s research offers a valuable warning for patients with implanted defibrillators that deliver an electric shock to restart a stopped heart.
Sunday, 14 July 2013
7 Hackers & A Great Bank Robbery
The US prosecutors announced that a cybercrime ring managed to steal $45 million from a couple of Middle Eastern banks in one of the largest bank robberies ever. The group coped with hacking into credit card processing companies and withdrawing money from ATMs in more than two dozen countries.
8 individuals were alleged to form the NY-based cell of the group, 7 of which are already in custody, while the 8th, allegedly a leader of the gang, was reported to have been murdered in the Dominican Republic this past April.
According to the prosecutors, the ringleaders were outside the US, but the investigation is still continuing. Anyway, it seems that the crooks somehow managed to do some serious damage in short time. For instance, during one of the 10-hours attacks, they raided $40 million from ATMs in two dozen countries through 36,000 transactions.
It turned out that the cybercrime group used laptops and the worldwide web instead of guns and masks. The outfit managed to work its way from the computer systems of large companies to the streets of New York City. Thus, you can see how cybercrime poses a huge threat to the international banks and how tech-savvy criminal gangs are now.
So, within the last 5 months, the collective hacked into the computers of a couple of credit card processors – one in India and the other in the US. They then increased the available balance and withdrawal limits on prepaid MasterCard debit cards issued by banks of Oman and the United Arab Emirates. Finally, they distributed counterfeit debit cards to their people across the globe, enabling them to extract millions of dollars out of ATMs in a matter of hours.
In the meanwhile, MasterCard announced that it did cooperate with law enforcement in the investigation but its systems weren’t involved or compromised. Experts believe that the robbers targeted Middle Eastern banks because those usually allow people putting larger sums on cards. In addition, they don’t monitor them as closely as other banks. Although it was only a matter of time before the Eastern banks were considered an easy target for cyber criminals, security experts remind that the attack mirrored a similar case four years ago, which targeted the prepaid debit-card unit of Royal Bank of Scotland. In the time, the bank lost over $9 million in just 12 hours.
Saturday, 13 July 2013
A Few Ways to Secure Your E-MailIt recently became known that in some cases the government may read your private e-mails, which can’t be good news for any citizen. This is why security experts of different sources and Electronic Frontier Foundation introduce a few ways to counter the government’s surveillance techniques.
The EFF has created a Surveillance Self-Defense website in order to educate the US citizens about the law and technology of government surveillance in the country. First of all, you should know how your e-mail service works: the information is transferred between the sender and the receiver “through the wire”, i.e., through other nodes/servers, and this is where the government can get it.
The EFF has created a Surveillance Self-Defense website in order to educate the US citizens about the law and technology of government surveillance in the country. First of all, you should know how your e-mail service works: the information is transferred between the sender and the receiver “through the wire”, i.e., through other nodes/servers, and this is where the government can get it.
1. End-to-end encryption
You can use such software as PGP (aka Pretty Good Privacy) and the GNU Privacy Guard (GnuPG) to protect your transiting e-mails. They will also secure stored information. When you use end-to-end encryption, you ensure the privacy not just of your e-mails through the wire, but also of the e-mails stored on your PC or other machines. Don’t forget that these programs work only if the receiver has them installed as well, and you need to find and verify the receiver’s public keys.
2. Server-to-server encrypted transit
When you send an e-mail, its content usually passes through a chain of SMTP mail servers. You can check e-mail’s headers to find out which servers it passed through. Although most free e-mail providers don’t encrypt your messages when they pass the SMTP servers, you still can secure your e-mail’s content when it transits those servers through TLS (Transport Layer Security). Just make sure your e-mail provider supports this kind of encryption.
3. Client-to-mail server encryption
If you use webmail services, check whether your e-mail provider uses the HTTPS protocol. Hushmail.com, for example, always uses HTTPS, and also provides end-to-end encryption. Then, even if webmail services use HTTPS to their login page, they may switch back to HTTP after this step. In this case you need to look for a configuration option or a browser plugin which would keep the secure protocol enabled at all times. Gmail, for instance, always enables the HTTPS security protocol.
4. Information stored on other PCs
Unless you have your own private mail server, other machine gets your e-mails. Your ISP or a webmail provider’s sent texts are traceable and therefore can be accessed by third parties. Make sure to delete messages from your ISP mail server after download or delete them after you finished reading them. However, this can’t guarantee 100% that the mail is forever gone. In this case, the best way is to use PGP/GnuPG encrypted e-mails.
Friday, 12 July 2013
Man who set up camera to catch a ghost instead catches girlfriend's affair with his 16-year-old son
An Australian father who rigged up a video camera in his kitchen to capture paranormal activity instead caught his girlfriend canoodling with his 16-year-old son.The Tasmanian Supreme Court heard that the father had set up a camera to capture ghosts he believed were haunting his house.
One day he forgot to turn it off and when he later reviewed the footage, he saw his son and the 28-year-old Tasmanian woman - who cannot be named for legal reasons - kissing and cuddling.
His girlfriend of 11 years initially denied any relationship, but his son confessed that they had sex on multiple occasions.
The woman later pleaded guilty to sex with the minor and today was sentenced to at least six months in jail.
The court heard the illicit affair began last year after a discussion about driving lessons. It was discovered in October, when the boy was moved to live with his grandparents.
Thursday, 11 July 2013
Scottish outrage at 'nanny state' plan to ban pint glass in Highlands pubs
Plans to ban the pint glass from pubs throughout the Highlands of Scotland have sparked outrage.The traditional vessel is already outlawed in nightclubs in the Highlands, which are forced to serve all drinks – including champagne, cocktails and the finest malt whiskies – in plastic containers after 9pm because of police fears over potential injury.
Now anyone enjoying a leisurely drink by the roaring fireside of even the remotest rural location could have to drink out of plastic because of the ruling.
As the plans to extend the scheme were revealed, landlords labelled them "nanny-state" interference, and accused licensing board chiefs of treating their customers like children.
The Highland Licensing Board is inviting the public to give their opinions on its policies, including the plastic glass scheme.
Wednesday, 10 July 2013
Germany Ready for Cyber WarThe German Army held its first cyber warfare military exercise open to the public. Some of the tech hacks were there to watch the process. The scenario was the following: Red forces overran part of a fictional Blue continent in the Atlantic, forcing the UN Security Council to sanction a military intervention. The German Parliament agreed on the deployment of Bundeswehr forces, which rapidly set about dismantling the enemy tech infrastructure.
The cyber attack was started by the Strategic Reconnaissance Command of the Bundeswehr. The latter includes the Computer Network Operations team of 60 hackers. Actually, the very existence of the cyber war unit wasn’t made public until 2012, and it is still unknown how many cyber soldiers the country really has on call. Despite the fact that there are thousands of women serving in the Bundeswehr, the 60-strong unit in the exercise consisted of geeky men only.
Local press was allowed to interview the troops after the exercise was over, but no photos were allowed. One of the soldiers claimed all the weapons they used in the attack were freely available online. He confirmed they used ordinary, commercially available software. The hackers employed a range of instruments having odd names, such as “John the Ripper” and “hostenum” in order to wreak havoc on the Red intranet.
Computer Network Operations officers revealed that their deployment is strictly regulated and they could only go into action after Bundestag approval. They also admitted that they follow the same rules of deployment as fighter squadrons or tank battalions. Therefore, the hackers need a clear mandate to spring into action.
Tuesday, 9 July 2013
Antarctica Beat Hundred Countries on Internet FrontMany people know that the CIA World Factbook is a really useful resource for those who want to discover information about places they’ve never been. Experts of TechEye recently found themselves on a page which compares different countries’ Internet hosts. The interesting thing is that Antarctica – which is not even a country – takes 139th place out of 233 entries.
As you know, Antarctica is populated mainly by scientists from different countries. However, it turned out that it has a total of 7,764 hosts, which is far outranking many countries, like Jamaica, Cuba and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This figure is far outnumbering Nigeria with a very large population, which takes only 169th place, as well as Afghanistan, Iraq and the Falkland Islands, too. In addition, Antarctica is also ahead of the Isle of Man and even way ahead of the Vatican.
In the meanwhile, the top 5 of the hosts chart includes the United States (505,000,000), Japan, Brazil, Italy and China. It is also interesting that Poland, Argentina and Canada are ahead of the United Kingdom (8,107,000). India, having a population of 1.2 billion people, only has 6,746,000 Internet hosts, while China, with a similar population, can boast 20,602,000 of them.
Monday, 8 July 2013
FBI Can Read E-mails without WarrantAccording to recently released documents, the Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide (DIOG) of Federal Bureau of Investigation allows agency reading your e-mail without having a warrant.
The American Civil Liberties Union published a copy of 2012’s edition of FBI’s Guide for Federal Bureau of Investigation, which basically allows the Bureau reading your e-mail whenever it sees fit and without a warrant.
In short words, under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, better known as ECPA (a privacy law of 1986), the law enforcement agencies are able to read your e-mail before being opened by an addressee as long as a warrant exists. However, there’s a problem: once the e-mail is opened by an addressee, or hasn’t been opened within 6 months, a warrant is not needed anymore. A few months ago, the Department of Justice of the United States attended a Congressional hearing, where it admitted that ECPA needs to be revised and even offered to support ECPA’s revisions.
Worse still, one of the circuit court of appeals recently handed down a decision that federal authorities need a warrant before accessing an e-mail address, but the problem is that the ruling only applies in the 4 states covered by the Sixth Circuit. This is why American Civil Liberties Union filed a request to find out whether the Federal Bureau of Investigation and similar agencies are taking advantage of a loophole in the outdated Electronic Communications Privacy Act and accessing some electronic communications without a warrant. Any person is able to find Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide for 2008 and 2011 on the FBI’s official website.
Sunday, 7 July 2013
Couple flown to wrong continent after airline error
Two US holidaymakers found themselves a long way from their intended destination after an airline confused two airport codes.Sandy Valdiviseo and her husband Triet Vo were intending to fly from Los Angeles to Dakar in Senegal with Turkish Airlines. However, instead they ended up almost 7,000 miles away – on an entirely different continent – in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, after the airport codes were mixed up, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The airport code for Dakar, the capital of Senegal, is DKR, while the code for the airport in Dhaka, which is the capital of Bangladesh, is DAC.
After arriving in Istanbul, the couple had boarded a connecting flight. It was only after seeing the route map of the flight’s progress, which showed the plane over the Middle East, that they realised the error.
“When the flight attendant said we were heading to Dhaka, we believed that this was how you pronounced 'Dakar' with a Turkish accent," Ms Valdivieso said.
When they arrived in Bangladesh, the pair informed Turkish Airlines about the mistake, and tried to arrange a transfer to Senegal.
According to reports, the airline insisted on tracking down the recording of the initial booking before acknowledging the error and installing the couple on flights to West Africa, 12 hours after their arrival in Bangladesh. Their baggage arrived in Senegal two days after they did.
The incident happened in December last year, but has only just been reported after the couple’s long battle to obtain compensation.
"I have called them [Turkish Airlines] every Friday for the past four months," said Ms Valdivieso. "They told me each time that they will review my case and get back to me. But they never do."
"We are very, very sorry that this happened," a Turkish Airlines spokeswoman said. The couple have since been offered two free economy-class tickets to anywhere on the airline’s flight network.
Saturday, 6 July 2013
Visitors flout ban on wearing Nazi uniforms to WWII event
Visitors to a Second World War-themed event celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Dambuster have turned out in Nazi uniforms despite a ban on the costumes.Organisers of the 1940s weekend in Haworth, West Yorkshire, faced complaints last year from a party of German tourists about the flaunting of regalia linked to the Holocaust.
This year, an attempt to prevent a repeat of the controversy, signs warning "No Nazi or SS Insignia or uniforms on these premises" were displayed on shops pubs and camp sites.
Businesses all over the town were given signs saying Nazi or SS uniforms "not welcome," in a bid to avoid "unnecessary offence".
Emma Cox, one of the organisers of the celebrations, said those involved were getting more stubborn about flaunting their regalia every year.
"This is a very controversial issue,” she said. “Lots of people who come to the weekend are re-enactors recreating military, civilian, and other features of the era.
"Then there are people who come as spectators who are mainly local people but some from further afield.
"Every year there are a few people who come in SS uniforms, which is nothing to do with the re-enactments.
"It is just about getting dressed up as SS people. Some people find this quite upsetting in what is meant to be a celebration of the Home Front spirit.”
"Apart from anything (else), there would not have been any SS in England at the time.”
Those who come dressed as SS had been getting “very uptight” about not being welcome, she added.
"They seem to be getting more determined to get dressed up in their SS uniforms and this is an open and public event so it is just not appropriate or practical to vet the thousands of people coming into the village,” she said.
"It is okay to come dressed as a German soldier. But everyone knows the SS was different. They were the people running the concentration camps.
"It's a problem because this is a public event which is supposed to be inclusive."
All proceeds raised from the weekend will be donated to the armed forces charity, the Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen's Families Association.
Last year the event raised £25,000 for Help for Heroes.
Last week marked the 70th anniversary of the Dambuster raid over Germany.
The raid, carried out by 133 airmen in 19 Lancaster bombers, was an attempt to cripple a major part of the Nazi war economy by attacking three dams in Germany’s industrial heartland.
Friday, 5 July 2013
Best Way to Fight against Online PiracyNetflix’s Chief Content Officer claimed that legitimate alternatives for film enthusiasts are the best way to fight against digital piracy. Ted Sarandos, the man who’s been the head of the company’s content acquisition department for 13 years, explained that people really want a great experience and access – apparently, people are mostly honest. Thus, the best way to fight online piracy isn’t legislatively or criminally but by offering good options.
The matter is that ISPs are forced to publicize their connection speeds, and when Netflix launches in a territory the BitTorrent traffic drops. Nevertheless, everyone already knows that not all of BitTorrent’s activity is about piracy – for example, Netflix’s growth in traffic is not a sign of people stopping from downloading their favorite video content. However, at least a healthy percent switched to legitimate services over unauthorized ones.
BitTorrent Inc. points out that the key thing is that BitTorrent is an Internet protocol, just like HTTP, but it is able to move information better than any other one. Indeed, BitTorrent is an award winning technology that is currently used by Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, Blizzard, and even by some genetic researchers and the scientists working on the Large Hadron Collider. Basically, any company moving large data sets uses BitTorrent protocol.
Although people are free to download and upload any content via P2P networks, it becomes more and more obvious that Netflix makes a really valid point: if you offer people what they want and when they want it, then everyone will be satisfied, including copyright owners.
The clear example is the HBO-produced popular TV series “Game of Thrones”. For the last two years, the show had broken records on BitTorrent’s networks, but not because users wanted illegal content, but due to the different timelines of availability or the lack of it. This situation may change, because requests from thousands of people made the pearl of all premium cable services decide to launch a movie streaming service without the strings of having cable subscription.
It has been repeatedly said that if copyright owners, content creators, and all anti-piracy activists would understand that, everything would become easier and the fruitless war against online piracy would finally come to an end.
Thursday, 4 July 2013
US President Planning Online Wiretapping LawAs you know, the British Labour Government will surely go down in history for its extensive use of CCTV cameras, but in the meanwhile, Barack Obama can become known for his online wiretapping laws.
Media reports say that Barack Obama is going to end the long-running debate over online snooping with a legislation allowing law-enforcement agencies tapping into many types of online communications.
Everyone understands that bringing in this law will surely have political, technical and legal obstacles. Indeed, if Obama gets it through it would really represent a sea change in American culture. Industry experts point out that if he succeeds, the FBI and other agencies will have a right to snoop on voice-over-Internet-protocol (VoIP) services like Skype and real-time chats.
Apparently, it would end a regime where the FBI has difficultly snooping but is able to eavesdrop on traditional telephone calls. Of course, tech firms hate the idea, which would likely face stiff opposition in Congress. At the moment, spooks can ask the courts to wiretap almost anything, but only traditional telecommunications carriers are demanded to make it easy.
The law in question – Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act – doesn’t apply to any of Microsoft’s services, for example. This includes Skype, as it doesn’t class Microsoft as a traditional telecommunications carrier.
Thus, Obama’s new legislation would encompass VoIP, chat and any other online communication services. However, it is still unclear how tech companies could be compelled to help the authorities unscramble encrypted communications, apart from providing access. Actually, Obama’s proposed legislation is a slightly watered down version of what the Federal Bureau of Investigation wants. The FBI had called for a blanket requirement that ISPs provide authorized officials the same kind of sweeping, turn-key access to their networks that phone companies do.
However, tech firms, civil libertarians and some government officials claimed that it was impractical for smaller firms and such back doors can present serious security risks. Some of the critics insist that the fact the President would end up pushing the legislation will make him the punching bag for every American citizen who is already worried about their government.
Wednesday, 3 July 2013
Asteroid nine times the size of the QE2 to pass Earth
An asteroid nine times larger than the QE2 is due to sail past the Earth later this month.Luckily, the giant space rock will get no closer than 3.6 million miles, or 15 times the distance between the Earth and the moon.
But once it has passed it will not make a return trip to the Earth for at least another two centuries.
Coincidentally, scientists have named the asteroid 1998 QE2. The name has nothing to do with the transatlantic liner - it follows a code used for newly-discovered asteroids by the US Minor Planet Centre in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The asteroid is believed to be about 1.7 miles long, or nine times the length of the Queen Elizabeth 2.
It was discovered on August 19, 1998, by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research programme near Socorro, New Mexico.
Scientists plan to scan it with radar using a 230ft wide dish telescope at the Goldstone Observatory in California's Mojave desert.
Even from a distance of nearly four million miles, the researchers expect to resolve features on the asteroid as small as 12ft across.
Chief investigator Dr Lance Benner, from the American space agency Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said: "It is tremendously exciting to see detailed images of this asteroid for the first time.
"With radar we can transform an object from a point of light into a small world with its own unique set of characteristics."
In 2016 Nasa will launch a robotic sample return mission to one of the most potentially hazardous known near-Earth objects (NEOs), the asteroid (101955) Bennu.
The asteroid, which measures a third of a mile across, comes within 500,000 kilometres of the Earth every six years.
Scientists have calculated that in 2182 there is a one in 1,800 chance of the object colliding with the Earth
Tuesday, 2 July 2013
Burglar betrayed by his sweet tooth
A burglar was betrayed by his own sweet tooth when he was unable to resist some Jaffa Cakes at a house in Birmingham.Reece O'Callaghan, who is starting a seven-and-a-half year jail term, helped himself to the cakes and a pasta meal after breaking into the home of an elderly couple.
He was spotted at the property by a neighbour and police arrested him nearby, but denied he was the culprit.
However, forensic experts found his middle finger imprint on the Jaffa Cake box which meant the evidence "literally pointed" at him, prosecutor Jason Pegg told the City's Crown Court.
The victims, aged 78 and 82, had been away on holiday in July last year when O’Callaghan broke into their home by smashing a window.
Once inside he satiated his appetite before stealing the valuables, including three televisions.
udge William Davis QC said his actions had left the couple "devastated."
They had returned home to find that their house was a “mess”.
The wife, the judge noted, had been unable to stop crying and that they were "mourning the loss" of sentimental items from their home which could not be replaced because they had been unable to afford house insurance.
O'Callaghan, of West Heath, who had previously pleaded guilty to two charges of burglary and aggravated burglary, was given a sentence of seven-and-a-half years detention.
The judge said that in a separate incident in December last year the defendant and another young man had "invaded" the home of man, who had befriended them and who had "significant health problems."
"Armed with a knife you used violence against him and you took his property."
They had also carried out a second raid, armed with a screwdriver, and stolen some of the victim's medication.
The 17-year-old, who had admitted aggravated burglary and burglary, was sentenced to four-and-a-half years detention.
Monday, 1 July 2013
Dog owner remortgages home to offer £10,000 reward
A dog lover whose pet was snatched five months ago has remortgaged her three-bedroom home so she can offer a £10,000 reward for information leading to the animal's return.Dawn Maw, 42, was putting pointer Angel, one of just two show champion gun dogs in the country, into the boot of her car along with her three other dogs when she was taken on December 6 last year.
But now, the mother-of-one – who has travelled the length and breadth of the UK to find her dog – has remortgaged her £160,000 semi-detached home in the hope someone will come forward for the reward.
She said: "I didn't tell the bank what I needed the money for. My husband was a little dubious before we approached the bank, but he would never have stopped me because Angel was part of the family and we all miss her.
"We've managed to raise money which we've put towards raising awareness of Angel.
"I've published 18,000 posters, 70,000 business cards and 30,000 fliers, and spent about £5,000 on advertising, but she's still not been found."
She admits taking the equity has left her family making sacrifices – they've had to forgo holidays and meals out – but Ms Maw insists it's all worth it, as Angel is part of the family.
"She wasn't just a dog, she was everything to us, a real family member. She wasn't a dog we'd take for a walk once a day then forget about," said Ms Maw, of Barnsley, South Yorks.
"It's devastated the whole family. People have said to me, 'why don't you just get a new dog?'
"But it's not like getting a new car. You can't just replace her. That's why it was so important to get this money, so we know we're doing everything we can to get her back.
"I still have hope we'll find her. It's been five months but the biggest hope we have is her chip. Hopefully someone will find her and a vet will scan her, because she's microchipped."
Ms Maw has been working with Bruce Forsyth's daughter Debbie Matthews, who's launched a campaign called Vets Get Scanning, and introduced 'halo scanners' which cost just under 30 pounds and are more accessible than regular scanners.
Ms Maw said she had been walking four-and-a-half-year-old Angel and her three other dogs in Cawthorne, Barnsley, and was putting the animals in the back of the car when Angel disappeared.
"As I turned around I saw a white Transit van," she said.
"It was 7.30am and it had only just got light.
"She was obviously stolen and whoever has got her doesn't want to give her up. Whether she was stolen to order, I don't know."