Nov 102012
 

By Juan Cole (Informed Comment) Progressives will have to push Obama to the left if we are to get what we want. As for positive accomplishments, here are a few we should pressure him and Congress on:

5. He needs to have the Department of Justice look into the Koch Brother-backed legislation in two dozen states restricting the franchise by requiring a paid-for state i.d., which is a kind of poll tax. In many states, this legislation violates the 1965 Voting Rights act. We can’t let a couple of sour billionaires undo the achievements of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., achievements for which he gave his life.

6. That use of the Department of Justice would perhaps make its workers and its head, Eric Holder, too busy to go around kicking down the doors of medical marijuana clinics and confiscating their computers, records and cash, in states where the state has legalized marijuana. Obama was elected the first time by the youth, and had promised to cease Federal harassment of pot clinics, but reneged and proved much worse than Bush on this issue.

Holder should stop denying the clear medical uses and benefits of pot. In Colorado and Washington states, the same people who voted for him have legalized recreational marijuana. Moreover, the RAND Corp. concludes that legalization would defund the Mexican cartels. If the the Democratic Party continues on this Draconian path, it should not be surprised when it begins losing elections because a substantial younger constituency deserts it for the Green Party.

via Informed Comment: Thoughts on the Middle East, History and Religion.

 November 10, 2012  Posted by at 6:34 am Comments Off
May 272012
 

By Sergei Skorobogatov (Cambridge University) Claims were made by the intelligence agencies around the world, from MI5, NSA and IARPA, that silicon chips could be infected. We developed breakthrough silicon chip scanning technology to investigate these claims. We chose an American military chip that is highly secure with sophisticated encryption standard, manufactured in China. Our aim was to perform advanced code breaking and to see if there were any unexpected features on the chip.

We scanned the silicon chip in an affordable time and found a previously unknown backdoor inserted by the manufacturer. This backdoor has a key, which we were able to extract. If you use this key you can disable the chip or reprogram it at will, even if locked by the user with their own key.

This particular chip is prevalent in many systems from weapons, nuclear power plants to public transport. In other words, this backdoor access could be turned into an advanced Stuxnet weapon to attack potentially millions of systems.

via Latest news on my hardware security research.

 May 27, 2012  Posted by at 7:12 pm Comments Off
May 082012
 

By Richard Winton (Los Angeles Times) On the ground and screaming that he was “sorry,” a shirtless Kelly Thomas is shown being hit again and again with fists, a baton and finally the butt of a stun gun by Fullerton police officers in a dramatic video that was shown for the first time Monday in an Orange County courtroom.

The grainy black and white video of Thomas violent encounter with police outside a bus depot is the centerpiece of the prosecutions case against two officers accused of escalating a standard police encounter with a homeless man into a fatal beating.

At one point, Thomas — a 37-year-old mentally ill homeless man who was a familiar face in the city’s downtown — screams out: “Dad, they are killing me!”

The video and the sound of fists and a baton striking Thomas were so graphic that several spectators left the courtroom and the judge paused the video at one point after some people in the audience began to groan. He cautioned that those who couldn’t stomach the video should leave.

via Video portrays violent death of Kelly Thomas – latimes.com.

 May 8, 2012  Posted by at 8:04 am Comments Off
May 022012
 

By Gene Weingarten (Washington Post) It is said that everyone has a price, a sum of money large enough to corrupt his moral integrity. I always suspected that I might have a price, too, but was a little alarmed recently to discover it is $125.

That was the price of the speed-camera ticket that arrived in the mail, together with a photo of a car in flagrante, doing 40 mph in a zone designated for 25. The car was the make, model and color of my car, and the infraction occurred at a place and time consistent with my routine. So, let’s face it, it was my car. However — here is where complex moral mathematics begin to intrude — the close-up photo of the license tag was a little blurry. With a little creative squinting, those two zeroes on the tag might be seen to resemble 6s or 8s. Which would mean this law-breaking vehicle belonged to someone else entirely.

My family looked and squinted, informed me those were clearly zeros, and advised me to just pay the ticket. “Not so fast,” I said. (Ha-ha.) There were complicating moral factors here, I explained, such as the inherent unfairness of a system that places the word of a soulless machine over that of a human.

via Gene Weingarten: Trial by perjury – The Washington Post.

 May 2, 2012  Posted by at 7:18 am Comments Off
Apr 202012
 

By Steve Fraser and Joshua B. Freeman (AlterNet) Prisoners, whose ranks increasingly consist of those for whom the legitimate economy has found no use, now make up a virtual brigade within the reserve army of the unemployed whose ranks have ballooned along with the U.S. incarceration rate.  The Corrections Corporation of America and G4S formerly Wackenhut, two prison privatizers, sell inmate labor at subminimum wages to Fortune 500 corporations like Chevron, Bank of America, AT&T, and IBM.

These companies can, in most states, lease factories in prisons or prisoners to work on the outside.  All told, nearly a million prisoners are now making office furniture, working in call centers, fabricating body armor, taking hotel reservations, working in slaughterhouses, or manufacturing textiles, shoes, and clothing, while getting paid somewhere between 93 cents and $4.73 per day.

via Getting Paid 93 Cents a Day in America? Corporations Bring Back the 19th Century | Civil Liberties | AlterNet.

 April 20, 2012  Posted by at 1:13 pm Comments Off