• Sep, 2021
  • 12-09-2021
  • Protonmail logged IP of French activist upon order by Swiss authorities

    ... his alleged crime was truancy. He was a member of Youth for Climate Action in Paris, and they were using Protonmail to schedule and organize an event where they would skip school to go and protest, reported Mental Outlaw on YT. The youths were going to protest governments and corporations they believed were causing climate change.

    Have you ever skipped school?

    Protonmail does not have any userside/clientside encryption. Tor or mixnet would have put something between the user and Protonmail.

    Mental Outlaw pointed out that although Protonmail may not comply with a request from an outside state (France, US, whoever), they could just go through Switzerland.

    Protonmail updated it's privacy policy to more accurately reflect what they do.

  • Sep, 2021
  • 11-09-2021
  • Reportedly, US drone strike killed an aid worker and children

    According to NYT.

    DailymailUK: 'The drone strike that the Pentagon claimed killed an ISIS-K suicide bomber in Kabul actually targeted an aid worker who had filled his car with water jugs, rather than explosives, according to a shocking new report.'

    According to the family, 10 were killed in that car, although the Pentagon says 3 civilians.

    Congresswoman Ilhan Omar  wrote of a recent drone strike (I don't know if it was the same strike):

    "This is the lastest in 20 years of innocent lives taken and children orphaned in Afghanistan and covert drone warfare around the world. Impunity for these attacks continues to create a neverending cycle of violence and retribution. Where should these victims go to seek justice?"

    ‘Imminent Threat’ or Aid Worker: Did a U.S. Drone Strike in Afghanistan Kill the Wrong Person? - The New York Times  
  • Sep, 2021
  • 03-09-2021
  • US collected biometric records on 5m Afghanis

    ... and now those people are at risk due to this very thing, according to some like Margaret Hu, who calls it a lesson in the life-and-death consequences of data collection.

    The US left this data behind, along with iris scans and names.

    Consortium News commented that the US is going after Assange in part because (they allege) Assange endangered lives by revealing names of informants (when he was actually redacting them).

    The Taliban reportedly have control of US biometric devices – a lesson in life-and-death consequences of data privacy  
  • Aug, 2021
  • 31-08-2021
  • IUDs. Women are pulling them out themselves to not pay removal fee

    IUD insertion is free but removal can cost hundreds, so women are just removing them themselves and posting videos on social media.

  • Aug, 2021
  • 23-08-2021
  • Daniel Hale awarded Sam Adams for drone info

    Of 200 people killed in a 1-year period in 2012-2013 US special forces airstrikes (using drone) only 35 were the intended targets.

    The innocent civilians were routinely categorized as 'enemies killed in action.'

    Hale was a defense contractor in 2013 when his conscience caused him to release classified documents to the press. Hale was charged under the Espionage Act and received 45 months.

    In a hand-written letter to Judge Liam O’Grady Hale explained that the drone attacks and the war in Afghanistan had “little to do with preventing terror from coming into the United States and a lot more to do with protecting the profits of weapons manufacturers and so-called defense contractors.”

    Hale also cited a 1995 statement by former U.S. Navy Admiral Gene LaRocque: “We now kill people without ever seeing them. Now you push a button thousands of miles away … since it’s all done by remote control, there’s no remorse … and then we come home in triumph.”

    Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence  
  • Aug, 2021
  • 19-08-2021
  • China's sponge cities

    Instead of building barricades to water, they want to absorb and release the water when needed.

    How it's done usually is combining grey infrastructure like drainage and water treatment with green spaces.

    People also like to go to the green spaces to use them. Trees, elevated walkways, etc.

    They also use some bioswales, which are several KMs in length now. They're grooves water can seep into and go down into the earth rather than enter drainage systems.

    They also use permeable road surfaces. Polyurethane binders combined with gravel or stones let water through.

    These are all designed to deal with regular heavy rain, and aren't as useful for extreme weather events.

    The US and Russia have also done sponge city stuff, but not to the same level as China.

  • Aug, 2021
  • 17-08-2021
  • Indonesian 'rainwater communities'

    There isn't access to clean water in many places, and there are sometimes long droughts, and drinking rainwater isn't appealing due to cleanliness concerns, although people use it.

    Indonesians were (many still are, of course) buying their drinking water. Clean water sales long ago passed into the hands of private companies.The companies own the clean water springs.

    Many communities there now use electrolysis, passing a current through the water. It kills microbes and increases the PH value.

    Credit for this is attributed to a pastor of one of the communities, Romo Kirjito, who worked for years in his lab trying solutions to get everyone clean water for free (or close to free).

  • Aug, 2021
  • 16-08-2021
  • Daniel Hale, who leaked information on US drone warfare, sentenced to 45 months in prison for violating Espionage Act

    “I believe that it is wrong to kill, but it is especially wrong to kill the defenseless,” Hale told the court. He said he shared what “was necessary to dispel the lie that drone warfare keeps us safe, that our lives are worth more than theirs.”

    “Hale did not in any way contribute to the public debate about how we fight wars. All he did was endanger the people who are doing the fighting.” This was said by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon Kromberg.

    “You are not being prosecuted for speaking out about the drone program killing innocent people. You could have been a whistleblower ... without taking any of these documents." This was said by U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady.

    The defense said it was a public service. WP reported: 'The documents included a report finding that reliance on deadly attacks was undermining intelligence gathering. During one five-month stretch of an operation in Afghanistan, the documents revealed, nearly 90 percent of the people killed were not the intended targets.'

    Intercept: Leaked military documents expose the inner workings of Obama’s drone wars  
  • Aug, 2021
  • 13-08-2021
  • Russia using cloud seeding to create rain

    ... it's a dry hot summer.

    Here's what the canisters look like. They're filled with silver iodide which provides a base for the formation of snow and rain inside clouds. Planes go on missions to seek out clouds and shoot them with the canisters.

  • Jul, 2021
  • 31-07-2021
  • Agroforestry

    ... such as 'alley cropping.' It means more effort and a reduced farming space (the trees take maybe 10%), but rows of fast-growing easy-to-manage poplars divide some German farms now.

    The trees 'sequester' co2 (and therefore mitigate climate change). Hens enjoy the forest floor, and eat the greenery there, which reduces co2 because most of the co2 associated with farming chickens comes from producing the feed (partially, because some of their feed is still bought). The hens trample fallen leaves and the soil regains nutrients. The roots of the tree also improve soil quality, and trees form a wind break so soil isn't blown away, and anchor moisture into the ground, and (with the shrubbery planted beside the strips of trees, like multiyear wildflower) provide a habitat for beneficial insects like hoverflies, dung beetles, and wild bees, and worms and fungi.

    So three things--chicken farming, producing feed for them, and having trees to convert co2 to oxygen (and glucose) are now done in one location, so less land needed and less transportation costs.

    However, a lot of the trees are eventually chopped down to 20cm once they are fully grown, and burnt as firewood, rereleasing 70% of their co2, which mitigates their mitigation of co2.

    The first year after planting trees on a farm field takes more work, because you have to tend the area around the tree shoots so they can live.

    There are some farming areas where the ground is not thick enough to really have large trees, though, and watery rice fields and hilly regions also aren't always idea for trees.

    Familiar facts: 25% of greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture. Monoculture sucks nutrients out of soil. Farms take up a lot of land. Using lots of trees on farms was historically practiced everywhere but went out of fashion in the early 20th century, when it was seen as inefficient (tractors and machinery played a part).

    #tab-dashboard-02">EEA: Greenhouse gas emissions by aggregated sector

  • Jul, 2021
  • 19-07-2021
  • Pegasus spyware, capable of switching on cameras and mics, linked to list of 50,000 phone numbers

    ... and targeting journalists in 50 countries, targeted by 10 states.

    One Mexican journalist was on the list and 2 months later was killed, although journalists are frequently killed in Mexico.

    The spyware is reportedly from Israeli company NSO Group (although there are many other similar companies). The software is sold to governments (only those who have been 'approved by Israel') to deal with 'terrorism' and 'criminals,' but is used by governments against their own civil society (journalists, activists, dissidents, lawyers) and heads of state.

    The software is almost undetectable on your phone. It is not the kind of malware that you have to stupidly click something to have it install (spearfishing). It uses a zero-click exploit, using some app on your phone. It's not known which apps, but one is WhatsApp: it infected phones using a WhatsApp call and you don't even have to pick up the call. It has root access to the device (can do anything, including see all keystrokes, use camera, mic, contacts, archives, location). It might be stored in a temp file in RAM instead of on the hard drive.

    The only way to get rid of it currently is get a new phone and new SIM.

  • Jul, 2021
  • 11-07-2021
  • Audacity turns bad

    ... according to everyone in the privacy forums and bloggers, because it updated it's policies to tell users it would be collecting unknown data from them and using it in unknown ways.

    Audacity was bought by Muse Group (which owns Musescore and Ultimate Guitar). The new owners pledged to keep it 'free and opensource' but it seems they might have found another way to monetize their investment here).

    One of the things people were most excited to point out about the new policy for Audacity was they added a 'only use if over age 13' type line, because under GDPR 'The age threshold for obtaining parental consent is established by each EU Member State and can be between 13 and 16 years.'

    Many people just said they wouldn't use it anymore and deleted it from their machines. Other options offered by the community were to fork or use a previous version, or to limit port access.

  • Jul, 2021
  • 06-07-2021
  • Virtual influencers

    On social media, the use of these characters is a bit of a thing. They're CG attractive women (usually) used to promote and sell products.

    Some have lots of followers. Some are modelling agencies offering a roster of character options. They've been used by some big fashion brands.

    About 40% of people reportedly follow a virtual influencer without knowing it.

  • Jun, 2021
  • 27-06-2021
  • China sent a crew to its new space station

    China isn't a participant in the ISS, largely because of the US's objections to China's secrecy and military focus in space. They built their own space module, called Tianhe III (their first two space stations were more short term), or Heavenly Harmony, which launched last April.

    China used a Shenzhou-12 spaceship launched by a Long March-2F Y12 rocket from the Gobi Desert to transport a three-man crew of science-minded military pilots (2 vets, one new pilot) to Tianhe.

  • A fungus, Mycelium, is being talked about as an alternative to plastic to make things

    Basically, they make a mold and then fill it with hemp or woodchips (or some other agricultural waste). This is called the 'foam.' Mycelium is also placed in the molds. The molds are then placed on racks with temperature, humidity, co2 and airflow controlled.

    The Mycelium fibers grow so they fill the mold. Then the molds are heat treated to kill the Mycelium.

    Some people are also making other products such as bacon and other artificial meats, a leather alternative, insulation, and fabrics out of Mycelium.

  • Jun, 2021
  • 14-06-2021
  • Hackers don't want Bitcoin, some now like Monero

    ... which hides virtually all transaction details, and is considered a privacy token. With Monero, it's more difficult to see who the sender and recipient are, and transaction amount. 90-95% of ransoms are still paid in Bitcoin, but Monero is increasingly popular.

    Bitcoin is public ledger and stores all transaction history. It was headline news this month how the FBI recovered payments made with Bitcoin to the Colonial Pipeline hackers.

    Difficulties with using Monero include that many regulated exchanges have chosen not to list it to to regulatory concerns, meaning it's less liquid and can't be cashed out as easily as Bitcoin.

  • Jun, 2021
  • 13-06-2021
  • Chile starts thermosolar power plant in its superhot desert

    Atacama desert is very hot due to the sunlight it gets.

    The thermosolar plant has thousands of reflectors which move with the sun, reflecting its rays toward a column in the center, in which is water and salt that when heated creates steam.

    It makes 210mW, enough to power 380k homes.

    Chile is looking to close down some of its coal plants.

  • Jun, 2021
  • 01-06-2021
  • EU border wall, sound weapons, AI lie detection

    In order to keep out migrants several EU countries are building border walls (nevermind their negative response to the 2017 Trump proposal), employing sound cannons, and working on an AI lie detection tool.

    Analysts have commented that often these types of tools, implemented for such causes as migrants, are tested out before being turned on the citizens of the countries that built them.

    They also note that the steps will possibly result in more deaths, as the migrants will turn to smugglers and other more dangerous methods of entering Europe.

  • First AI drone attacks (without human oversight)

    Reports have it that last year a Turkish quad-copter which was a true set-and-forget weapon, identified targets and opened fire in Libya. The targets were renegades loyal to Khalifa Haftar, reportedly.

    Analysts note that Turkey and other countries perceive themselves to have a competitive advantage by using these tools.

  • Danish journalists come forward with US spying report

    Allegedly (so far these are only allegations), in 2013 during the days of Edward Snowden's revelations the Obama government was spying on German and other leaders of US-allied countries, Danish foreign intelligence agency FE signed a deal with the NSA so that the Americans could intercept communications (tap phones and messaging of German and other allied leaders) using their own software following the 911 attacks in 2001.

    Following Snowden's publishing the documents about this activity, a report was created but it was never made public, but now six of the very few people who ever saw it decided to come forward.

    It is expected there will now be pressure to publish it, especially considering Danish and other European individuals were targeted. It is being reported that current US pres Biden was significantly involved in the operation. He was VP from 09-17.

    German, France and other EU states are waiting for better, more certain information before responding publicly.

    Newscasters on several channels reported the story with smiles of bemusement or low-key glee.

    #InternationalRelations #Snowden #journalism
  • May, 2021
  • 17-05-2021
  • Marines boarding ships with personal jetpacks

    UK's Royal Marines, using the Gravity Jet Suit (1000bhp)

  • May, 2021
  • 01-05-2021
  • More mysterious 'Havana Syndrome' attacks

    More of these strange attacks have been reported, this time not in Cuba but near the White House.

    When they were first reported in 2017, the U.S. government referred to them as 'targeted attacks' but later started calling them 'health incidents.'

    But recently, two U.S. senators said they were definitely attacks. Canadian diplomats accused the Canadian government of withholding information about three new cases of brain injury among Canadian diplomats who served in Cuba, too.

    The U.S. puts Russia as the most likely perpetrator.

    Last year the National Academy of Science found the weapon to be one that uses 'pulsed microwave energy' to cause brain damage.

    The reported symptoms are vague, including memory loss, nausea, headaches, and loss of balance. The U.S. diplomats reported hearing a strange noise, which was recorded and is publicly available to listen to, in the embassy before the symptoms started.


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