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Edward Snowden's lawyer wants US officials charged over CIA torture

The CIA misled the White House, Justice Department, Congress and the US people in its effort to conduct intelligence gathering operations by using torture, according to the Senate intelligence committee. Wolfgang Kaleck, Edward Snowden's attorney and director of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), wants Europe to target the "architects" of organized torture operations spearheaded by the CIA.


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"We're preparing reams of dossiers, and demanding of prosecutors that they do the same for those who are named in the report and those known as the higher-ups who directed and conducted this system," Kaleck recently told The Guardian. "If these people enter European territory, they need to know that they'll run into severe trouble."


Kaleck also defended a German national, Khaled El Masri, who was wrongly seized by the CIA in 2004 - and wants the German government to begin requesting extradition requests to the United States, which will clearly be denied. El Masri was taken in Macedonia, shipped to Afghanistan, and tortured for five months. After the CIA figured out they seized the wrong person, they flew him to Albania and just left him on the side of the road.

Oculus VR acquires hand-tracking company Nimble VR

It looks like Facebook has been spending big on its most exciting acquisition, Oculus VR, to acquire two companies that would better position Oculus VR as the absolute champion of VR technology... when the Rift launches that is.



Oculus VR has acquired two companies this week, the first being Nimble VR while the second one being 13th Lab. Nimble VR is a two-year old company that took to Kickstarter a while ago, developing skeletal hand tracking and software, as well as a depth-sensing camera dubbed Nimble Sense that would see the hands of Oculus Rift users in the VR world, all with gesture recognition. 13th Lab is the other company Oculus VR acquired, which makes accurate, maker-less augmented reality tracking and real-time 3D construction framework technology.


Oculus VR talked about its acquisition of 13th Lab in a blog post saying: "The ability to acquire accurate 3D models of the real-world can enable all sorts of new applications and experiences, like visiting a one-to-one 3D model of the pyramids in Egypt or the Roman Colosseum in VR". Oculus isn't finished just yet, as it also announced it has hired motion capture expert Chris Breglar, who is a professor of Computer Science at New York University and contributor to motion tracking special effects in big Hollywood films like Star Trek Into Darkness and The Lone Ranger. Bregler will lead a vision research team at Oculus VR.

Continue reading 'Oculus VR acquires hand-tracking company Nimble VR' (full post)

Al Sharpton all over Sony executives for racially-charged emails

Civil rights supporter Reverend Al Sharpton plans to meet with Sony Pictures Entertainment executives regarding racially-themed emails focusing on President Obama. SPE co-chairman Amy Pascal and producer Scott Rudin shared emails, saying Obama could be a fan of Django Unchained, Ride Along, and additional movies with black actors.


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The email exchange was leaked after the Guardians of Peace breached SPE, stealing emails, employee personal information, movies, and terabytes of other data.


Not surprisingly, Rudin issued a statement quickly: "To anybody I've offended, I'm profoundly and deeply sorry, and I regret and apologize for any injury they might have caused. I made a series of remarks that were meant only to be funny, but in the cold light of day, they are in fact thoughtless and insensitive - and not funny at all."

Continue reading 'Al Sharpton all over Sony executives for racially-charged emails' (full post)

Lawmaker wonders why US government sink the Pirate Bay

Sweden may have finally dropped The Pirate Bay off the map earlier this week, but Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) wondered why the Obama Administration wasn't able to remove the "illegal enterprise operating out of Sweden" even sooner.


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Sen. Whitehouse Googled "pirate movies" and quickly found a link to The Pirate Bay via Google, apparently leaving him frustrated.


"There are ways in which these companies could go to court and try to knock this stuff down," Sen. Whitehouse recently said. "There are ways in which prosecutors can have discussions with companies about aiding and abetting offenses, and being accessories to offense. There's a lot that can be done in this area, it seems to me."

Continue reading 'Lawmaker wonders why US government sink the Pirate Bay' (full post)

Qualcomm rumored to layoff 1500 staff, up from the 600 being reported

Qualcomm is reportedly letting go of a decent chunk of its worldwide staff, with 158 jobs in San Diego being cut, and up to 100 elsewhere around California. On top of that, we have around 600 jobs in total being let go from Qualcomm's global workforce.


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Then, a nice source pointed us in the direction of a thread on Reddit by "lgotlaidoff" who said "Just got fired today. Upto 1500 people to be fired in coming weeks. The "600" number that they are talking in media is pure BS".


A spokesperson from Qualcomm said in a statement: "We regularly evaluate our businesses to determine where efficiencies can be obtained and priorities addressed. On occasion, that requires we adjust the size or skill mix of our work teams in order to shrink or eliminate some projects and start and grow new projects". The layoffs will begin on February 11, 2015 according to a filing by the company with the California Employment Development Department.


If this does turn out to be true, Qualcomm would be playing the numbers down for various reasons. We should find out soon enough, as 900 jobs are something you can't hide for too long.

Google offering YouTube talent bonuses to stay away from competitors

Google doesn't want its popular YouTube talent to leave its video sharing website, so it is reportedly offering these stars big bonuses for staying with the company.


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Big YouTube stars and video producers are reportedly being offered bigger payments, as well as additional funding in exchange for signing a multi-year exclusivity deal. This would have the YouTube star signed to the service, where their content must be used on YouTube exclusively, for a very long time, before it can be pushed onto other services.


The Wall Street Journal has reported that YouTube's Global Head of Business has been pushing the company through a "fire drill" in order to keep their most valued talent. YouTube doesn't want its competitors such as Facebook, or others to capture them, as these competitors are apparently offering "incredibly attractive" offers.

Noe Iniguez becomes first person sentenced under CA revenge porn law

Noe Iniguez, 36, recently had the honor of being the first person convicted and sentenced under the California new "revenge porn" law. Found guilty of two restraining order violations and one state revenge porn statute, Iniguez was sentenced to one year in jail and 36 months of probation - he will also have to attend domestic violence classes.


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Iniguez posted a topless picture of his ex-girlfriend on her employer's website, encouraging the company to terminate her employment, while also calling her a "drunk" and "slut."


"California's new revenge porn law gives prosecutors a valuable tool to protect victims whose lives and reputations have been upended by a person they once trusted," said Mike Feuer, Los Angeles City Attorney, in a press statement. "This conviction sends a strong message that this type of malicious behavior will not be tolerated."

Congressman Steve Stockman says bitcoin regulation talk is too hasty

US Congressman Steve Stockman (R-TX) recently introduced the H.R. 5777 "Cryptocurrency Protocol Protection and Moratorium Act," which would effectively treat bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies as real currency. The moratorium would also prevent state and federal bitcoin regulation for five years - Stockman hopes investors and support for bitcoin will increase if lawmakers are unable to keep the government from interfering on a frequent basis.


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Here is what Congressman Stockman recently said: "It's too early to be talking about that. Just imagine if Steve Jobs had to deal with this, or anybody starting an Internet company having to hop through the obstacles they're putting up."


US lawmakers are paying more attention to cryptocurrencies, but might be too eager to create new legislations - without thinking of long-term consequences - especially if the industry cannot flourish naturally.

Sony hackers threaten employees' families through e-mails

Sony is not having a good week, with the hacking scandal reaching Sony Pictures Entertainment employees, and their families. Employees of the company have received e-mails from these hackers, directly threatening their families. Sony has reportedly told these employees to turn off their smartphones after receiving the e-mail.


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It has been two weeks since the company was hacked, with hackers releasing passwords, e-mails, details on cast and crew members of Sony's productions, business documents that included salaries, and media files from employees' computers, and much more. A poorly-written e-mail was sent to Sony Pictures Entertainment employees, saying: "Please sign your name to object the false of the company at the email address below. If you don't, not only you but your family will be in danger".


The "Guardians of the Peace", or GOP, are the hackers behind the scandal, but we don't know their identities yet. North Korea has been a suspect for a while now, with the malware that broke into Sony's network looking like malware used in an attack in Seoul last year, as well as the Shamoon "wiper" malware.

Rovio lays off 110 staff from its Tampere, Finland studio

Rovio has announced that it is laying off 110 staff from its Tampere, Finland-based studio, and then closing the studio itself down. The developer of Angry Birds previously said it would lay off around 130 employees, but it has been able to lay off a little less, as it is opening up a few new positions.


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This lay off of 110 employees represents around 16% of Rovio's global workforce, but the company isn't as powerful as it once was. Angry Birds was next to unstoppable, and while it might still be by branching out into different brands like Star Wars and Transformers, interest for the bird-flinging game is coming down.


Rovio's CEO, Mikael Hed, said in October: "We have been building our team on assumptions of faster growth than have materialized. It is never easy to consider changes like this, but it is better to do them sooner rather than later, when we are in a good place to reignite growth". Angry Birds still enjoys over 200 million active players every month (as of September), but this is down from the 263 million active players it had back in 2012.

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