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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
Christmas is upon us and that means that millions of little boys and girls will be waking up to presents under a tree as the day progresses. As always NORAD has their Santa tracker up and running, and this year so does Google.
Unfortunately one of the systems tracking software is out of whack or they are tracking two different jolly old men. At the time of this writing, NORAD says that Santa is on his way to Hong Kong, but Google is tracking him as he is on his way to Taipei Taiwan. Google says that Santa has delivered 2,187,948,856 presents already and traveled more than 66,000km.
Even though the FCC is considering giving clearance for in-flight cellular usage, and possibibally allowing the use of electronics during takeoff and landing, Delta seems to be sticking to their guns about the matter. Delta's CEO, Richard Anderson, sent out a memo to 80,000 delta employees this morning stating that the company would not allow in-flight cellular or internet-based calling.
"Delta will not allow cellular calls or internet-based voice communications onboard Delta or Delta Connection flights," the memo read. The memo did say that it would allow the use of texting, email and other "silent" features if the FCC says they are ok. "If the FCC lifts its ban on cellular use in flight, Delta will move quickly to enable customers to use text, email and other silent data transmission services gate to gate."
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is still living and working in Russia, though has penned an open letter to the people of Brazil, while politicians ask Snowden for help following reports of NSA spying on Brazilian lawmakers.
In his open letter: "If Brazil hears only one thing from me, let It be this: when all of us band together against injustices and in defense of privacy and basic human rights, we can defend ourselves from even the most powerful systems."
Snowden said he would like to help the Brazilian people get their rights back, but cannot as long as he is wanted by the United States. In return for helping Brazil lawmakers, Snowden has requested asylum and safe passage to the country. No formal legal documents have been submitted to the Brazilian government to begin proceedings.
Although the NSA is considering granting Snowden amnesty if he agrees to stop discussing his activities, the former IT manager seems content to remain in Russia. Realistically, Snowden's ability to help other countries is limited unless he is eventually granted permanent political asylum - and is able to travel to the host country - without being intercepted by US officials.
Rumors about secret hidden software in tech devices are as old as tech itself, and since the beginning of personal computing people have been devising clever ways to trick others into formatting their machines. Unfortunately, a new rumor has popped up that has tricked Mac owners into doing just that.
A new infographic is spreading like wildfire around the internet that claims that Apple has been installing Bitcoin mining software into their Mac devices since 2009. The infographic informs users that they can unlock this feature by opening up the terminal and entering the command "sudo rm -rf/*" Unfortunately, this command does not unlock any hidden programs, apps, or features, but actually tells the users Mac to format itself, which causes a loss of all data, and a bricked device.
Before Edward Snowden blew his whistle, the average American had no idea that the NSA was watching every move we make in our daily lives. Like him or not, we have him to thank for cluing us in on the illegal actions taken by big brother to "ensure our safety."
Time Magazine has just released its Person of the Year announcement and surprisingly Edward Snowden was runner up for the top spot which was claimed by Pope Francis. While some Americans despise Snowden, there are many who champion him as a hero for leaking the information he did. Time's decision on why it chose Pope Francis is still unclear as it has in the past named whistle-blowers as persons of the year. Who do you think deserved the top spot? Pope Francis? Edward Snowden? Or someone else entirely? Let us know in the comments.
You probably thought I was smoking something exotic when I wrote that title, but no - this isn't bait - Samsung has just launched the Prelude, the world's largest floating vessel. Samsung, a company known for its Galaxy devices and various electronic devices, will use its Prelude for offshore gas extraction.
The Prelude is truly massive in scale, where it is 12x the size of the already-gigantic Titanic, nearly as big as the Taipei 101 - which is a massive building in its own right. The Prelude is 488m long, and is the first platform on Earth that can liquefy natural gas on-board, and then pipe it directly into liquefied natural gas (LNG) ships for delivery into neighboring countries. It will be stationed just north of Australia, where it will be parked for 25 years.
Liquefying natural gas isn't easy, but the Prelude can do this - and shrinks it up 600x, which requires an incredible amount of energy to get the gas to -260F, which makes it nice and compact for easy transportation. Samsung has reportedly spend $12 billion to create the Prelude, and was built for Shell, by Samsung Heavy Industries, a Samsung affiliate. Samsung Heavy Industries has an annual revenue of around $13 billion, so this is quite the investment.
The Prelude can withstand hurricanes that are up to Category 5, which goes to show the engineering efforts Samsung put into this behemoth.
Alan Rusbridger, editor of The Guardian, is being threatened by British police over "potential" terrorism charges for publishing the incriminating NSA and GCHQ documents that NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden, leaked.
Rusbridger testified in front of a British parliamentary committee on Tuesday, where lawmakers pushed the suggestion that the Guardian helped terrorists, just because the British paper revealed UK and US spy agency 'secrets'. Rusbridger stood his ground, stating that the government spying going on all around the world should be of public knowledge.
The Guardian editor said: "We have published I think 26 documents out of the 58,000 we've seen, or 58,000 plus. So we have made very selective judgments about what to print. We have published no names and we have lost control of no names."
Critics are comparing the current spy scandals and "terrorism" charges against the infamous anti-communism hearing which were conducted by US Senator Joseph McCarthy during the Cold War. Ben Emmerson, the UN special rapporteur on counter-terrorism, said: "The astonishing suggestion that this sort of journalism can be equated with aiding and abetting terrorism needs to be scotched decisively. Attacking the Guardian is an attempt to do the bidding of the services themselves, by distracting attention from the real issues. It is the roles of a free press to hold government to account, and yet there have even been outrageous suggestions from some conservative MPs that the Guardian should face a criminal investigation."