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Current Affairs Posts - Page 8

Snowden could wiretap the President, or a Federal Judge easily

The Snowden revelations exploded today, with his interview on German TV station NDR. One of the more scary things he said is that the NSA - and even Snowden himself when he was still with the US spy agency - could wiretap or 'hack' virtually anyone, including President Obama or a Federal Judge.



Snowden said "When you are on the inside and you go into work everyday and you sit down at the desk and you realise the power you have - you can wire tap the President of the United States, you can wire tap a Federal Judge and if you do it carefully no one will ever know". I don't know what to be more worried with, that anyone can be wiretapped, or that "no one will ever know".


The ex-NSA employee goes into more detail, stating that most of these illegal NSA programs are useless. As they "have no value", and that "they've never stopped a terrorist attack in the United States and they have marginal utility at best for other things...The National Security agency operates under the President's executive authority alone. He can end of modify or direct a change of their policies at any time".


Snowden admits, that President Obama could shut these programs down, or heavily modify them - so the question is, why doesn't he?

Edward Snowden sits down in a world-first interview

German TV station, NDR, sat down with NSA whisleblower Edward Snowden, in a world-first interview. The interview itself was reportedly a 6-hour stint, but the video was cut down to just 30 minutes.



Germany's broadcasting laws are different from the US, which is reportedly the reason behind this slice down of the interview. You can watch the 30 minutes above, where Snowden has some scary things to say such as "Every time you pick up the phone, dial a number, write an email, make a purchase, travel on the bus carrying a cell phone, swipe a card somewhere, you leave a trace and the government has decided that it's a good idea to collect it all, everything, even if you've never been suspected of any crime. Traditionally the government would identify a suspect, they would go to a judge, they would say we suspect he's committed this crime, they would get a warrant and then they would be able to use the totality of their powers in pursuit of the investigation. Nowadays what we see is they want to apply the totality of their powers in advance - prior to an investigation".


One of the major points of the interview, is the power that President Obama has to stop all of this, where Snowden says "But what (the review boards investigating the illegal NSA programs) found was that these programs have no value, they've never stopped a terrorist attack in the United States and they have marginal utility at best for other things... The National Security agency operates under the President's executive authority alone. He can end of modify or direct a change of their policies at any time".

Continue reading 'Edward Snowden sits down in a world-first interview' (full post)

Happy Birthday to the Mac, Apple's Macintosh turns 30 today

30 years ago today a young Steve Jobs took the budding personal PC world by storm when he unveiled the original Macintosh to the world. The original Mac featured many new features that dazzled the crowd such as advanced graphics technology, text-to-speech, and a wealth of new fonts.


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The original Macintosh was sold with just 128k of memory, an 8MHz Motorola 68000 processor, and a 9-inch black and white CRT display that featured a resolution of 512x324. A 3.5-inch floppy drive was present and the entire thing retailed for a whopping $2,495, a figure that equates to several thousand dollars today. I remember using these in first and second grade in the Computer Curriculum Class that my elementary school hosted. Stepping back I am truly amazed at how far personal computing has came in the last three decades. The sheer fact that a modern smartwatch has orders of magnitude more processing power than the original Macintosh had, boggles my mind.

The internet is a gift from God says Pope Francis

Today is the Catholic Church's World Communications Day, and to celebrate the occasion, Pope Francis, has released a statement that gives us a clue on the church's official stance on the interwebs. The Pope said that the internet has lead to "unprecedented advances" in technology which has made it easier than ever before to communicate with one another.


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The Pope continued to praise the internet and wet as far as to announce that the web is truly a gift from God. Not all was praise however, as he did say that the internet's fad of social media isolates individuals from real interaction with their friends and family. He went on to say that the internet makes it easy for users to wall themselves within circles where their opinions are echoed back without any new ideas being injected, but he did concede that the Internet's benefits far outweigh its drawbacks.


"The internet, in particular, offers immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity," Francis said. "This is something truly good, a gift from God," said the pope. "The desire for digital connectivity can have the effect of isolating us from our neighbors, from those closest to us. We should not overlook the fact that those who for whatever reason lack access to social media run the risk of being left behind. While these drawbacks are real, they do not justify rejecting social media," he added. "Rather, they remind us that communication is ultimately a human rather than technological achievement."

Continue reading 'The internet is a gift from God says Pope Francis' (full post)

Edward Snowden nominated to become student rector at a University

In a weird but not uncommon twist of events, Edward Snowden has agreed to stand for the post of Student Reactor at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. The position is basically a three-year position that sees its holder as the representative of the students to the management of the university.


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Fortunately for Snowden, the position can be held remotely and never requires the holder to visit in person, unfortunately the position is unpaid. The position has historically been held by those directly involved with controversial political figures or others close to those figuresincluding: Winnie Mandela, Nelson Mandela's former wife and Israeli nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu. Charles Kennedy, the former Liberal Democrat leader, is the current incumbent.


The position is not locked in for Snowden just yet though as he will have to beat out former Scottish cyclist Graeme Obree, clergyman Kelvin Holdsworth, and author Alan Bissett. In any event, the position is mostly honorary, and avocation on the students behalf is a rare occurrence.

Fox Sports to stream Super Bowl live on internet for free

For the first time, Fox Sports will stream the Super Bowl via its web-based and mobile video streaming service, Fox Sports Go, for free. Fox says that it will use the Super Bowl to showcase its Fox Sports Go service via a free one day pass to anyone who signs up for a free account.


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The free day of access will last from 12 A.M eastern on Feb. 2nd until 3 A.M on Feb. 3rd. The entire Super Bowl event will be streamed live including the Pre-Game Show, Super Bowl, Half Time Show featuring Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, as well as the post-game activities. Unfortunately the game will not be streamed to smartphones as Verizon and the NFL have an exclusive agreement for mobile streaming.

Snow blower causes $450,000 in damage to Manhattan Apple Store

Snow blowers, lawn mowers, and kids playing stick ball are the cause of thousands of window breaks every year, but a recent incident in New York City may be one of the most expensive rock through window accidents in history. During a recent routine snow removal pass by Manhattan's posh $6.7 million Apple Store, a rock was sent flying through the air, striking one of the stores massive panes of glass.


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Apple says that the store will stay open despite the damage and I don't see why not as no one appears to be in danger as the glass looks to be coated with safety coatings preventing the glass shards from collapsing. Unfortunately for Apple, the single pane of glass is going to cost a whopping $450,000 to replace, which puts it at one of the most expensive window pane replacements in history.

Continue reading 'Snow blower causes $450,000 in damage to Manhattan Apple Store' (full post)

Beijing's smog problem is so bad that sunrises are televised on TV

Beijing's smog problem is becoming so bad that not only do people have to walk around wearing masks to try and be a little safer than walking through pollution, but citizens of one of the city cannot even view a natural sunrise.


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The Chinese capital has now placed massive digital commercial TVs across the city that display virtual sunrises... yes, virtual sunrises. Air pollution monitors have issued a severe air warning for both the elderly and school children to stay indoors until the quality improves. Beijing's commuters have resorted to wearing industrial strength face masks to get to work because of the intense smog.


Beijing's air quality is normally poor, but the readings for Thursday for particles of PM2.5 pollution are the first of the season to be above 500 micrograms per cubic meter. Mid Thursday morning, the density of PM2.5 was between 300-500, but the air started to clear toward the afternoon. The World Health Organization considers 25 micrograms safe, so these readings are around 26 times the WHOs safe limits.

Continue reading 'Beijing's smog problem is so bad that sunrises are televised on TV' (full post)

Critics expect Pres. Obama to fix high-profile NSA snooping issues

The National Security Agency (NSA) is undergoing internal reform following former contractor Edward Snowden's public disclosure of numerous sneaky NSA actions. President Barack Obama plans to announce his changes to the NSA later this week, including enhanced security measures to make it harder for someone else to have access to such a large amount of information - and store or share it - with unauthorized recipients.


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Obama will also meet again with Silicon Valley tech leaders that have been bombarded with information requests from the NSA and other government agencies - a tactic that overburdens the companies and hurts trust among customers and potential investors.


Mass surveillance reportedly doesn't work, and only infringes on Internet and privacy rights, according to a growing number of groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). In a blog post, the group shared studies indicating the wide-scale NSA phone metadata program simply doesn't work when trying to collect information to prevent terrorism. The ACLU also believes Snowden should be granted immunity so he can return to the United States without fear of facing prosecution related to theft of government property and espionage.

Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, suffers kidney stone attack

While on a cruise ship in Ecuador's Galapagos Islands, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos suffered a kidney stone attack. Bezos was airlifted by an Ecuadorian navy helicopter, flown to his personal jet, and then to the US to have surgery performed.


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ABC News reports that Bezos suffered the attack on New Year's Day when on the cruise ship, with other media outlets reporting that the Amazon founder received messages of thanks from his family and business partners. Bezos himself has now confirmed the news, with an Amazon spokesperson telling The Verge: "I sent Jeff your note and here's what he sent back: 'Galapagos: five stars. Kidney stones: zero stars."

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