Wednesday, February 29, 2012











Wyoming to Consider Buying an Aircraft Carrier

 

Wyoming House Bill 85 calls for the establishment of a state "continuity task force" that would study the possibility that the United States of America may disintegrate, leaving Wyoming to fend for itself. You may think that's not a healthy preoccupation, but Rep. Lorraine Quarberg is here to tell you what's healthy and what ain't:

"I don’t think there’s anyone in this room today what [sic] would come up here and say that this country is in good shape, that the world is stable and in good shape — because that is clearly not the case," state Rep. Lorraine Quarberg, R-Thermopolis, said. "To put your head in the sand and think that nothing bad’s going to happen, and that we have no obligation to the citizens of the state of Wyoming to at least have the discussion, is not healthy."

Granted, we aren't in especially good shape right now, and something bad is going to happen, sooner or later. Maybe in November. But Wyoming's concerns still seem a little apocalyptic. The task force is to study the potential impacts of a variety of potential federal disruptions, including (but not limited to) a rapid decline of the dollar, a disruption in food or energy distribution, an unspecified "constitutional crisis," or, even more ominously, the "potential effects of a situation in which the federal government has no effective power or authority over the people of the United States."

Hm. Not sure what they're getting at there. If the federal government had no power (and so presumably little if any authority), that'd mean things were pretty damn bad. If it had no authority, but did have power, there'd be those what would say that calls for secession. (Not that I'm a fan of the feds exceeding their authority.)
Is Wyoming planning to secede? If so, it'd probably need some armed forces. Maybe that's why Rep. Kermit Brown offered an amendment (which was adopted) requiring the task force also to look into the "conditions under which the state of Wyoming should implement a draft, raise a standing army, marine corps, navy and air force and acquire strike aircraft and an aircraft carrier." Emphasis added.
Surely, I thought, this means that at least somebody has a sense of humor about this project. Even if Wyoming were going to be independent, either by choice or because the other 49 states just quit inviting it to things, it's not very likely to need an aircraft carrier. But Brown had previously voted in favor of moving the bill forward, and so it's hard to see why he would then add an amendment making fun of the whole project, let alone why the majority would have agreed to it. (So far, he hasn't responded to my request for comment, but I'm sure somebody will.)
Is the whole project (or at least the amendment) just intended to call attention to Wyoming's displeasure with the federal government? Or does Wyoming really need a navy with strike capability? And is that even possible? 



The state does not have a whole hell of a lot of water, to be honest. It appears that its largest lake is Yellowstone Lake, which on average is about 140 feet deep. (Yes, it's in a national park now, but that wouldn't matter, would it?) The draft of a Midway-class carrier, which you can probably find on eBay for cheap, was only 33 feet; even the biggest carrier available (Nimitz-class) only needs about 40 feet of water to float. So yes, assuming they could find one and figure out a way to get it in there, the people of Wyoming could potentially have their own aircraft carrier. It might not have much room to putt around in, but still.
I wouldn't get too cocky, though, even then. Dry as they are, most if not all the neighboring states seem to have at least one lake that could float a carrier, and since Wyoming has the fewest people of any U.S. state, it'd be heavily outnumbered, too.
Although it's too bad Vermont isn't closer. They'd probably still kick Vermont's ass.






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Court says sex shop too close to school

 

A court on Wednesday found the manager of a sex toy shop guilty of violating child protection laws for selling his products within 200 meters of a school.


Shop manager Nicolas Busnel had denied that its products such as dildos and vibrators violated the law, following a complaint from a Christian group, the CLER Love and Family association.
But the court in the French capital found that Busnel had violated the law by selling the products at his shop in central Paris, which is 90 meters from a local elementary school.
The court ordered him to pay a symbolic one euro in damages to the association. He had faced up to two years in prison and a €30,000 ($40,000) fine.
He said he would have to close the shop in the coming months, with three people losing their jobs.
His lawyer Richard Malka said he would appeal and denounced the verdict as based on "the most retrograde morality and the most worrying puritanism".
"France is today the only country in the Western world to consider a vibrating duck as a pornographic object," he said.
Malka said the restriction would make it nearly impossible for anyone to open a sex shop in densely populated central Paris.
"This decision will inevitably lead to a ban in a capital of the Western world on all businesses selling sex toys," he said.
A lawyer for the Christian group, Henri de Beauregard, said he was "satisfied that the law has been applied" and that "the protection of children is not retrograde".





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Wasted dude gets interviewed at the scene of a sex shop fire


Guy gives an interesting interview

 








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Rare newspaper makes ninth appearance

 

Fans of a newspaper that only appears once every four years will get the chance to read it on Wednesday.


Since it was founded in 1980, "La Bougie du Sapeur" is published only on February 29th in each leap year. 
Its name means "The Candle of the Sapper" and refers to a cartoon character created in the 1890s, Sapper Camember, who was born on February 29th.
Wednesday's issue is the ninth in the series of the newspaper which describes itself as "funny but not naughty" ("drôle mais pas méchant"). 
The latest issue contains a front page editorial dealing with one of the anomalies of French life, the measure of beer known as a "demi".
While a "demi" literally means "half", a request for a "demi" in a bar produces a quarter litre of beer.
"It's a veritable scandal," says the newspaper. "When you ask for a demi in your local, you get a quarter. It's organised theft. We are starting a crusade to return the demi to being: a demi!"
Little has changed since the newspaper was founded although current editor Jean d'Indy added photos in the 1992 issue (number 4). 
Readers may be frustrated by some of the newspaper's quirks. 
Answers to the crossword puzzle are given in the next issue, meaning a wait until February 29th 2016.
The editor said he had been asked to create a similar newspaper to appear every April 1st, but he declined.
"Things that are rare have a great value in the hearts of people," he told radio station Europe 1.
Profits from the newspaper are donated to an autism charity.





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girl doesn't know why we have leap years 

This young lady has clearly run out of things to get annoyed by, so she’s decided to take it out on Leap Day.










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Anonymous paralyzed Interpol website

 

In an international police operation in Latin America and Europe 25 suspected Internet activists have been arrested. The loosely organized hacking group presented later in the night on Wednesday for some time that any website of the international police organization.

Interpol said in the arrest of a campaign against "coordinated cyber attacks emanating from Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Spain". Those arrested, aged between 17 and 40 years and entities suspected of websites including the Colombian Ministry of Defense to have attacked the Chilean power company Endesa and the local National Library. Overall, according to these data already seized in mid-February in 15 cities, 250 computers, cell phones, other electronic devices as well as credit cards and cash.
The Anonymous movement is committed to the free flow of information, freedom of speech and against censorship. Under the pseudonym activists have launched numerous attacks on banks, credit card companies, or even to government institutions.
The hacker association is loosely organized, in principle, any to spend on it, without it being proved otherwise. A favorite weapon of Internet activists are called DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service), may be paralyzed without much hassle with those websites. These servers are flooded with requests until they go to their knees. Finally it hit among other sites of the U.S. intelligence service CIA, the FBI and the U.S. Justice Department.






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Megaupload Founder Defeats US Govt Attempts To Put Him Back In Prison

 

After being granted bail last week, Kim Dotcom went home to spend some quality time with his family. The Megaupload founder had been in prison for little over a month after his arrest in January. Upset at the decision to grant Dotcom freedom, the US Government, argued yesterday in an appeal hearing that he should be put back in jail. Today they failed in that attempt and Dotcom remains a free man – at least for now.

On February 22nd, Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom was released on bail by North Shore District Court Judge Nevin Dawson.
Dotcom had been held in custody since an anti-terrorist police squad raided his Coatesville mansion in January following a lengthy FBI investigation.
The prosecution, acting on behalf of the US Government, argued that Dotcom had hidden resources that would enable him to flee the country should he be granted bail. Although four additional bank accounts in the Philippines were discovered, all of them were empty, and the Judge concluded that there was no evidence of significant funds elsewhere
As a result the Megaupload founder was released from prison, free to continue the fight against the US authorities who want him extradited to face racketeering, copyright infringement and money laundering charges.
When TorrentFreak spoke with Dotcom yesterday he was in high spirits but the Crown, acting on behalf of the US Government, had already appealed the decision to free the Megaupload founder.
Crown prosecutor Anne Toohey told the court yesterday that since Dotcom’s release last week two further banks accounts had been discovered – one in the Philippines and another in the British Virgin Islands containing $2000.
She said that this, along with allegations that Dotcom might have access to forged travel documents, was enough to have the 38-year-old put back in prison.
Representing Dotcom, Paul Davison QC argued that it made no sense for his client to try and flee the country, not least because his wife Mona will shortly give birth to twins.
Today Judge Tim Brewer agreed, denying the prosecution’s appeal and allowing Dotcom to remain a free man pending an extradition appeal in August.
Also in court today, Dotcom and his wife had asked for access to around NZ $220,000 (US $185,130) to cover their living costs including rent of their mansion, security guards and other household staff. The amount would also cover substantial telephone costs incurred as Dotcom prepares his defense, fuel and tutoring for Dotcom’s children.
Previously, Judge Judith Potter agreed to release NZ $74,000 from one of Dotcom’s seized bank accounts to pay creditors left out of pocket after the shutdown of his companies.
It also emerged that US authorities are now investigating Mona Dotcom on suspicion of being involved in Megaupload.





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Forget Apple Fries, Burger King Japan to Offer Grilled Apple Burger

 

A few years back, Burger King joined the ranks of those fast food chains trying to present a “healthier” image of themselves by offering Apple Fries, apples slices cut to look like french fries in their kids meals.
Now, Burger King has gone back to the orchard to pick a fresh new idea for its Japanese customers: the BK RiNGO.
Available at stores Japan-wide starting March 9, the centerpiece of the BK RiNGO is a thick apple slice (ringo means ‘apple’ in Japanese), which is grilled and topped with cinnamon to give it a sweet aroma and then stacked on a grilled beef patty, dressed with honey-mustard sauce, lettuce and mayonnaise, and sandwiched in the loving embrace of Whopper Jr.-sized buns.
According to a press release by Burger King, “the BK RiNGO is a product that allows customers to fully enjoy the outstanding taste created by combining the unique sweetness of flame-grilled apples cooked with the juiciness of our beef patties.”
The BK RiNGO is priced at 240 yen (US $2.98) à la carte and 490 yen (US $6.08) for a value meal (tax included)
Furthermore, to celebrate the launch of the new item, any customer who orders the BK RiNGO from March 9-22 will receive a complementary 2-piece BK Chicken Wing.





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Robert Mullins, Co-Founder, Raspberry Pi Foundation Introduces 

Board B 

 

$25 computer, Raspberry Pi, officially launched today
Base version memory doubled, launch announcement crashes servers


The
+Raspberry Pi, the $25 computer that seems to be taking the computer enthusiast world by storm, was formally launched at 6AM GMT this morning. The Foundation has announced that they will be entrusting the manufacture of the computers to two British companies, Premier Farnell and RS Components.

The first run will consist of 10.000 model B´s to get them into the hands of hobbyists and teachers who can prepare projects and educational material. Next runs will include the cheaper model A as well to make sure young kids in the UK can afford one.


The two parts manufacturers shall be building and distributing identical versions of the Raspberry Pi at the originally quoted prices ($25 for Model A and $35 for the better specced Model B), while still allowing for a small profit to be given to The Foundation to be put back into the charity.


The Foundation also announced that they will be doubling the RAM available for Model A, taking it up to 256MB, while leaving the price intact.


Following an announcement for people to log in to their site at 6AM GMT, the Raspberry Pi servers could not cope with the demand. Thankfully the foundation had a static mini-site prepared and are serving that one until demand subsides.
Sadly both distributors were not prepared for the demand, and at time of writing both sites were giving connection errors.

It seems like no one really estimated what the interest in the device would have been like - as
#raspberrypi was one of the top trending phrases worldwide on Twitter around the time of launch. Both on Twitter and here on Google+ the interest was initially great, but people soon started posting angry comments at the way the launch was handled.










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What’s Behind China’s Sudden Access to Google Plus?

Chinese voluntary supervisors inspect a cyber cafe in Changsha 
for smoking, which was banned in the establishments in early 2011


Over the weekend, something stranger than usual happened on Google’s burgeoning social network Google Plus: The official Google Plus page of U.S. President Barack Obama was flooded with comments from Chinese users, many of them reveling in being able to post on the website for the first time, and in Chinese characters no less.
Chinese comments have since appeared throughout the week. Reuters translated some of the comments posted on the President’s page: “Many people don’t understand the meaning why all Chinese are coming here. We envy American people their democracy and freedom!” was the translation of one person named Lihui Chen.
But researchers and writers are still puzzling over just how the comments were able to be posted on the website in the first place, given that China has blocked most Google products beginning with YouTube in 2009 as part of its so-called “Great Firewall.”
Google told Reuters it hadn’t changed anything in its own services. Meanwhile, Reuters and other major news outlets including TIME’s Techland blog and the UK tech website The Register theorized that the sudden, unexpected access of Google Plus in China was due to a glitch in China’s government-imposed censorship of the Web, specifically one that allowed Chinese mobile phone users to access Google Plus.
Brian Glucroft, a private user experience research contractor from the U.S. based in China, who has run numerous tests on the Great Firewall’s permeability, thought this was likely a scenario.
“My guess at the moment is that the Great Firewall underwent some recent updates and that there were a few bugs in the rollout,” Glucroft wrote in a post on his personal blog, Isidor’s Fugue. “However, there are some peculiar aspects regarding the reported recent accessibility of Google+ that make me wonder if there is more to the story.”
In an email to TPM, Glucroft offered yet another theory: “Sometimes, I wonder if China deliberately makes the GFW inconsistent or applied irregularly just to confound attempts to probe/understand it.”
Glucroft further pointed out that in his experience, website blocking varied from region to region in China, and that he had actually been able to access Google Plus in the city Guangzhou last month.
But given how tight-lipped China is about the Great Firewall, its impossible to say for certain yet what exactly is going on. A spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry told Voice of America that the Chinese goverment “protects Chinese citizens’ rights to free expression on the Internet. But he also warned that they should express themselves according to Chinese laws and regulations,” as Voice of America put it.
That said, another person Voice of America spoke to was Jeremy Goldkorn, editor in chief of Danwei.com, a China-focused Internet and media research firm. Goldkorn said that many of the comments were not meant to be serious outcries for freedom from China’s Internet restrictions but rather intended to be jokes.
Ryan Budish, director of Herdict, a global Web accessibility reporting forum created by Harvard’s Berkman Center for Society and the Internet confirmed that his organization had received reports of unexpected Google Plus access in China, and posed a number of alternative theories as to what could be behind it. As Budish wrote in an email to TPM, the appearance of the comments could “mean one of several things.”
“(1) That the glitch in the “Great Firewall” began more recently. This does not appear to be the case, however, because if you look at President Obama’s page, there are Chinese comments predating 2/22 (but the vast majority begin 2/24)
(2) that those individuals who are getting through are using mobile devices, which has been noted as a possible hole in the Chinese filtering system. So our data may indicate that wired ISPs are still blocking Google+. Or,
(3) That this filtering is not occurring at the “Great Firewall” level, but is in fact a self-imposed censorship occurring at the ISP level. Thus, it might be imposed somewhat inconsistently across ISPs (particularly mobile vs wired).”
Budish explained that “the second two options seem more likely, but it’s hard to say which one might be right.”
As for why President Obama’s Google Plus page was the one that was the focal point of Chinese commentators, Budish theorized: “If you were in China trying to send a message to the US government to ask them to pursue a stronger agenda for Chinese Internet freedom, President Obama is the most obvious and well known recipient.”
So for now, at least, it appears that the sudden accessibility of Google Plus in China will remain a mystery. But for Google, it can only be a good thing: The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday reported that Google Plus has been slow to catch on with social networking users, with the website only averaging 3 minutes worth of a user’s time each month compared to seven hours for competitor Facebook (which, it should be noted, is also blocked in China). 







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Tuesday, February 28, 2012










WikiLeaks probed Swedish journos: report

 

Swedish journalists were the subject of a secret probe by WikiLeaks aimed at exposing what leaders of the whistleblower website are convinced is a conspiracy by Sweden against founder Julian Assange.

According to Swedish tabloid Expressen, WikiLeaks tasked a team of activists to secretly investigate the newspaper's editor, Thomas Mattson, as well as Ulrika Knutson, the head of Sweden's National Press Club (Publicistklubben).

"They have ascertained that at least three reporters who work for two different media houses are involved in the conspiracy," WikiLeaks sources told Expressen.


"They have surreptitiously photographed people suspected of being involved in the conspiracy against Assange, they have also accessed information from public records and gained access to secret material from government databases."


Expressen is the Swedish newspaper which first reported in August 2010 that Assange had been accused of sex crimes and that a warrant had been issued for his arrest.


WikiLeaks and Assange have long claimed that the sex crimes accusations are part of a larger conspiracy against him in response to the websites release of thousands of sensitive US diplomatic cables.


According to Expressen's sources, WikiLeaks leaders believe Swedish journalists, politicians, and government officials are involved in the alleged conspiracy and have been working on measures to "reveal the conspiracy" in order to prevent Assange from eventually being extradited to the US.


When told WikiLeaks had been gathering information on her, National Press Club head Knutson told Expressen "I don't know whether to laugh or cry".


According to Expressen editor Mattson, "WikiLeaks has attacked Expressen" ever since the paper's scoop regarding the sex crime allegations against Assange.


"I consider the investigation of me and other Swedish journalists as an attempt to find something that can be used to question relevant news coverage about Wikileaks," he said.


Writing about the matter on his official blog, Mattson emphasized the importance of distinguishing the work of WikiLeaks from Assange.


"WikiLeaks is important. But Assange is irresponsible when he criticizes independent media like this," wrote Matsson.


"The attempt to map Swedish publishers like Ulrika Knutson and me in the hope of being able to expose a conspiracy in which journalists accept payment to write negatively about WikiLeaks unfortunately shows a complete lack of knowledge about how independent news gathering works."


WikiLeaks spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson denied the website had engaged in any sort of probe of Mattson or other Swedish journalists.


"No, I'm not aware of any investigation taken place," she told Expressen.





 
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George Friedman on Email Theft and the Wikileaks Release 

Today Wikileaks released Stratfor strategy against Julian Assange

"Move him from country to country to face various charges for the next 25 years. But, seize everything he and his family own, to include every person linked to Wiki. 
Marko Papic wrote:> Nate makes a good point. The arrest is not necessarily the end of> Julian Assange. He could become a martyr in jail, particularly a> Swedish jail, which I imagine has better amenities than my house."











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Report Claims Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange Secretly Indicted In U.S.

 

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange holds a press conference at the Frontline club in London, UK on February 27, 2012. Whistleblowing website WikiLeaks has started to publish more than five million confidential emails from a global intelligence company. The emails, dated from July 2004 and late December 2011, are said to reveal the inner workings of US-based company Stratfor. 
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was secretly indicted by federal prosecutors in the U.S., according to an email from private intelligence company Stratfor obtained by the hacking group Anonymous and published by Wikileaks this week.
“Not for Pub — We have a sealed indictment on Assange. Pls protect,” Stratfor official Fred Burton wrote in a Jan. 26, 2011 email article about Assange. to colleagues at the company. It was one of over 5 million emails obtained from Stratfor’s servers. It was sent in reply to an email message from another Stratfor official linking to a CBS Josh Gerstein reports that the Justice Department and an attorney for Assange did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment and that there are reasons to doubt that a sealed indictment actually exists:
For one thing, military prosecutors suggested in court filings in December that Assange faced no charges in the U.S. at that time. The statements came in response to motions from Assange and WikiLeaks asking that his lawyers be guaranteed access to both open and closed proceedings in the case against Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, who faces a court martial for allegedly providing hundreds of thousands of secret military reports and diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks.
In addition, the grand jury seems to have been most active in the middle of last year, which makes an indictment that would have been returned six months or so earlier unlikely but not impossible.





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Anonymous Hits Interpol Site After 25 Arrested

 

Supporters of the loose-knit hacker collective Anonymous temporarily forced the main website for Interpol offline this evening, after the international police group announced it had arrested 25 suspected supporters.
The site www.interpol.int was unreachable for 20-30 minutes and appears to be loading again, albeit slowly.
This could have been the result of a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack by supporters of Anonymous. For this, either a hacker uses a botnet, or hundreds of volunteers use a special web tool flood a site with enough junk traffic to take it offline. (In such a short space of time a botnet looks more likely.)
Moments ago a senior Twitter account for Anonymous, AnonymousIRC, tweeted: “interpol.int seems to be #TangoDown. We can’t say that this surprises us much.”
Another prominent Twitter account holder with Anonymous added, “Looks like interpol.int is having some traffic issues. Now who would have expected that?”
The attack comes after as police conducted raids in dozens of cities across Europe and Latin America as part of “Operation Unmask,” which started in mid-February.
Interpol said the operation responded to cyber-attacks in Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Spain, that hit the Colombian Ministry of Defence the presidency, Chile’s Endesa electricity company and its National Library, among others.
According to Interpol’s announcement, police from Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Spain seized 250 items of computer equipment and mobile phones, credit cards and cash at 40 premises in 15 cities. The suspects ranged in age from 17 to 40.
In a separate incident, police in Spain arrested four other suspected supporters of Anonymous, accused of taking websites offline and leaking sensitive data.
]



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Police raid shutters Swedish file sharing site

 

Swepiracy, one of Sweden's largest file sharing sites, has been closed down following a coordinated raid by authorities in Sweden and the Netherlands.


Last week, police in Norrköping in eastern Sweden raided the home of a 20-year-old man suspected of running Swepiracy, a BitTorrent tracker site founded in 2006.

At the same time, police in the Netherlands confiscated Swepiracy servers located there.


"Swepiracy has tried to shield its operations by placing servers in the Netherlands but Swedish and Dutch police have, through coordinated raids, been able to secure evidence of [copyright] infringement," Sweden's Anti-Piracy Bureau (
Antipiratbyrån) said in a statement.

According to the group, Swepiracy was one of the most important outlets for the distribution of pirated copies of Swedish movies and had been warned to cease activities which violated copyright laws.


Instead, the man behind Swepiracy attempted to protect the operations by shifting servers to the Netherlands, prompting the police raid.


Prosecutor Henrik Rasmusson told the local Folkbladet newspaper that the 20-year-old is believed to have operated Swepiracy, which reportedly has nearly 30,000 members, for at least two years.


Rasmusson added that the man is believed to have earned "large sums" of money through fees charged to Swepiracy members to give them access to pirated films.


"Maybe as much as one million [kronor] ($150,000)," he said.


The 20-year-old was arrested and his computers confiscated, but he was later released after being questioned but remains under criminal suspicion of having violated copyright laws.


"He admits that he ran the operations, but he doesn't believe doing so was a criminal act," Rasmusson told the paper.


The Anti-Piracy Bureau also warned that it planned to take action against similar "illegal" services offered on sites like Theinternationals, SceneAccess and Sparvar.





 
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Osama bin Laden was routinely in touch with Pakistan spy agency


 

Osama bin Laden was in routine contact with several senior figures from Pakistan’s military intelligence agency while in hiding in the country, according to a large cache of secret intelligence files.
The disclosure was contained in e-mails from the private US security firm, Stratfor, which were published by WikiLeaks website on Monday after being obtained by the Anonymous hacking group.
Stratfor provides analysis of world affairs to major corporations, military officials and government agencies and was once likened by an American business magazine to a “shadow CIA”.
According to one of the e-mails, the firm was shown the information papers collected from bin Laden’s Abbotabad compound after the US special forces attack last May that resulted in his death.
The e-mail, from a Stratfor analyst, suggested that up to 12 officials in Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency knew of the al-Qaeda leader’s safe house.
The internal email did not name the Pakistani officials involved but said the US could use the information as a bargaining chip in post raid negotiations with Islamabad.
American officials have always believed it was impossible for the ISI not to have known that Bin Laden was sheltering in a garrison town so close to Islamabad. Pakistan has repeatedly dismissed the charge.






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Tittie
pocalypse escalates

 
The controversy over YouTube "reply girls" who post spammy video messages—intensified over the weekend, with the community uploading hundreds of videos, creating “anti-reply-girl” software, and launching other calls to action.
One YouTuber even started a petition, which is currently being passed around by prominent video creators.
But will YouTube listen? Some signs indicate that the Google-owned company is already taking action.
For those unfamiliar, the "reply girls” are roughly a dozen young ladies (along with a few robots) who make short video responses to popular videos clad in low-cut tops and push-up bras. The women make multiple videos a day, and critics have compared them to spam and accused them of stealing views and money. While response videos are a YouTube staple, critics of the reply girls say they manipulate YouTube’s related videos algorithm and violate community guidelines.  
Yogscast, a video-game commentating team, brought considerable exposure to the controversy last week, and since then, thousands of others have stepped in to weigh in on the controversy. Even famous YouTubers like iJustine have tweeted, jokingly, about the issue:
“Think I'm going to become a reply girl on youtube. They are so creative! #stabsmyself
Over the weekend, two reply girls who have been bearing the brunt of the backlash, based on their high view numbers, addressed the issue via video.
Thereplygirl, who has collected 12 million views since she began her channel in July, said in one video, “my channel will survive the flagging” and “if I stop doing the replies, I would be pleasing the haters.”
MeganSpeaks, who has collected 36 million views on her reply channel since August, mocked both thereplygirl, and Yogscast in her videos addressing the issue. She also said she stopped making response videos to Yogscast content because it was the right thing to do, and hinted in a comment that she would be moving away from reply videos in the future.
Meanwhile, YouTubers began passing around a Change.org petition today, started by a Yogscast forum user, titled “Google & YouTube: Give YouTube Users Tools to Combat Video Spam.
“With the recent uprising of the Anti-ReplyGirls movement, it has become apparent that YouTube users are in need of tools to combat what they consider video spam,” begins the petition, which then outlines five suggestions for combating “related videos” abuse and spam.
“The Reply Girl phenomenon is a blight on YouTube and must be removed. At the very least these tools will enable us to limit the revenue these 'Reply Girls' gain from exploiting YouTube users”  wrote Jack Northrop in the most-liked petition comment.
Some 2,100 people from Bulgaria to the United States had signed the petition by press time.  
Along with the petition, YouTubers have been passing around today (and over the weekend) a script, that hides the reply girl videos. At press time, 600 people had downloaded the program called “Anti Replygirls.”
YouTube has been silent on the issue so far, but as TheWillofDC noted in his YouTube news show, “YouTube is obviously tinkering with something behind the scenes.”
TheWillofDC explained when he did his first broadcast on the reply girls controversy, which aired Friday, his related videos section was covered with reply girls (and their ample breasts). Today, the related videos section is back to including five videos of his own content, a definite improvement.  










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WikiLeaks publishes leaked Stratfor emails, casting light on workings of private US intel firm

 

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks at a news conference in London, Feb. 27, 2012. The anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks began publishing on Monday more than five million emails from a U.S.-based global



LONDON — WikiLeaks said Monday it was publishing a massive trove of leaked emails from the geopolitical analysis firm Stratfor, shedding light on the inner workings of the Texas-based think tank that bills itself as a leading provider of global intelligence to a range of clients.
The online anti-secrecy group said it had more than 5 million Stratfor emails and it was putting them out in collaboration with two dozen international media organizations.
The small selection so-far published to WikiLeaks’ website gave a rare look at the daily routine at a private intel firm: One described a $6,000-a-month payment made to a Middle Eastern source, another carried bits of gossip dropped by a retired spook, and many were filled with off-color office banter.
An initial examination of the emails carried out by The Associated Press turned up a mix of the innocuous and embarrassing, but WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange promised more explosive material in the coming weeks.
“What we have discovered is a company that is a private intelligence Enron,” Assange told London’s Frontline Club, referring to the Texas energy giant whose spectacular bankruptcy turned it into a byword for corporate malfeasance.
Assange accused Stratfor of funneling money to informants through offshore tax havens, monitoring activist groups on behalf of major multinationals, and making investments based on its secret intelligence.
“Stratfor is simply out of control,” he said.
Stratfor pushed back against the suggestion that there was anything improper in the way it dealt with its contacts.
“Stratfor has worked to build good sources in many countries around the world, as any publisher of global geopolitical analysis would do,” the company said in a statement. “We have done so in a straightforward manner and we are committed to meeting the highest standards of professional conduct.”
The Stratfor statement suggested the company wouldn’t be commenting in any further detail on Assange’s allegations.
“Having had our property stolen, we will not be victimized twice by submitting to questioning about them,” the statement said.
How WikiLeaks got the company’s emails remains unclear — Assange refused to answer questions about the matter Monday — but Stratfor said the messages appeared to be the same ones stolen by hackers over the Christmas holidays. The breach, claimed by the Internet activist group Anonymous, ravaged the company’s servers and led to the disclosure of thousands of credit card numbers, among other information.
Several media groups, including Rolling Stone magazine and Germany’s NDR broadcaster, say they have been offered advance access to the emails and that they will publish stories based on the documents if appropriate.
One journalist involved in the deal said that the documents were made available by WikiLeaks within the past month.
“They haven’t told us anything about how they obtained them,” the journalist said, speaking anonymously to discuss sourcing issues.
Austin, Texas-based Stratfor is a subscription-based publisher providing political, economic and military analysis to help customers reduce risk. It charges subscribers for its reports and analysis, delivered through the web, emails and videos.
The emails thus far posted to the Web are generally mundane — dealing with training, staffing, budgets and administration. Others carry boasts about the company’s reach. In one, Stratfor Vice President of Intelligence Fred Burton brags about his “trusted former CIA cronies.” In another, he promises to “see what I can uncover” about a classified FBI investigation.
Messages left for Burton weren’t immediately returned. Stratfor has speculated that some of the leaked emails may have been altered or forged, although the firm did not provide any evidence of tampering.
The hackers involved took to Twitter to reject the suggestion as “pathetic.”
One Stratfor email warned about letting people know too much about how the company operated.
“I think showing too much of our inner workings devalues our Mystique,” the email said. “People don’t know how we collect our intelligence and that’s one of the cool, mysterious things about STRATFOR.”











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Stratfor Statement on Wikileaks

 

Company Denounces Email Disclosure as Deplorable Breach of Privacy


AUSTIN, Texas, Feb. 27, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Below is a statement from Stratfor on release of company emails by Wikileaks:  
In December, thieves compromised Stratfor's data systems and stole a large number of company emails, along with other private information of Stratfor readers, subscribers and employees. Those stolen emails apparently will be published by Wikileaks. This is a deplorable, unfortunate — and illegal — breach of privacy.
Some of the emails may be forged or altered to include inaccuracies; some may be authentic. We will not validate either. Nor will we explain the thinking that went into them. Having had our property stolen, we will not be victimized twice by submitting to questioning about them.
For subscribers and friends of Stratfor, we stress that the disclosure of these emails does not mean that there has been another hack of Stratfor's computer and data systems. Stratfor's data systems, which we have worked hard to rebuild since the December hack, remain secure and protected.
As with last year's hack, the release of these emails is a direct attack on Stratfor. This is another attempt to silence and intimidate the company, and one we reject. Under the continued leadership of founder and Chief Executive Officer George Friedman, Stratfor will not be silenced and will continue to publish the geopolitical analysis our friends and subscribers have come to rely upon.
As we have said before, Stratfor has worked to build good sources in many countries around the world, as any publisher of global geopolitical analysis would do. We have done so in a straightforward manner and we are committed to meeting the highest standards of professional conduct.
Stratfor is not a government organization, nor is it affiliated with any government. The emails are private property. Like all private emails, they were written casually, with no expectation anyone other than the sender and recipient would ever see them. They should be read as such.
Stratfor understands that this hack and the fallout from it, including the disclosures by Wikileaks, have created serious difficulties for our subscribers, friends and employees. We again apologize for any problems this incident has created, and we deeply appreciate the loyalty that has been shown to Stratfor since last year's hack.
We want to assure everyone that Stratfor is committed to recovering from the hack and rebuilding trust with the public, and will continue to do what we do best: produce and publish industry-leading analysis of international affairs.
About Stratfor
Stratfor is a subscription-based provider of geopolitical analysis. Individual and corporate subscribers gain a thorough understanding of international affairs, including what's happening, why it's happening, and what will happen next. Unlike traditional news outlets, Stratfor uses a unique, intelligence-based approach to gathering information via rigorous open-source research and a global network of human sources. Analysts then evaluate events looking through the objective lens of geopolitics. The company's goal is simple: to make the complexity of the world understandable to an intelligent readership, without ideology, agenda or national bias.
Additional information can be found 





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Wikileaks Soldier Bradley Manning Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

 

The secretive committee doesn't reveal who has been nominated, but those with nomination rights sometimes announce their picks. They include Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army private charged with the biggest leak of classified information in U.S. history, Russian human rights activist Svetlana Gannushkina and former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.

Norwegian Nobel Committee secretary Geir Lundestad told the AP on Monday that "The list of nominees is a mixture of repeated nominations and some new names."
Last week, Manning deferred his plea at an arraignment.
It took roughly an hour for Private First Class Bradley Manning's arraignment in a military court on Thursday. The Wikileaks case is considered to be the largest case for unveiling secret information about the US military. Many US officials, including President Obama, have condemned Manning's actions and accuse him of breaking the law and some are even calling for his execution. So can Manning receive a fair trial in the US? Zack Pesavento, press liaison for the Bradley Manning Support Networks, tells us what went on in the courtroom.










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Megaupload Founder Kim Dotcom: “We’re Going To Win”



After several failed attempts, last week Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom was finally granted bail and freed from prison. After initially spending time with his wife and children, Kim agreed to share his thoughts with TorrentFreak. For a man whose just had everything he owns taken away from him, he is effortlessly composed and quietly confident.

The Internet. We take this astonishing network for granted as we send our daily emails and catch up on the daily news.
Many of us can’t handle being offline for more than a few minutes. An ISP outage or cellphone breakdown often signals furious nail biting and a unique technological form of isolation anxiety.
For Kim Dotcom, the founder of the now-defunct Megaupload file-hosting service and a man whose fame and fortune was largely made online, communicating via purely AFK methods is now a fact of daily life.
After being denied bail on several occasions, at the North Shore District Court on February 22nd Judge Nevin Dawson finally agreed to Kim’s release. Although he is allowed to have a computer, the strict terms of Kim’s bail dictate a total ban on Internet access.
A few hours ago, armed with a good old-fashioned telephone, TorrentFreak spoke with Kim at his New Zealand home. So how is he bearing up after the ordeals of the past few weeks?
“I’m fine thanks,” he reassured us in a cheerful tone. “I’m only just catching up.”
During the days since his release Kim says he’s enjoyed spending time with his wife Mona and their children – a quiet family time in stark contrast to the events of January 19th.
“You should have been here, it was amazing, it was like a war zone. Armed police everywhere….two helicopters,” Kim recalled. “The New Zealand authorities certainly put on a show for the FBI.”
But if the dramatic events of that morning – elite anti-terrorist police running around with assault rifles and shouting about bombs – are bothering Kim inside, he certainly isn’t letting it show.
Mirroring the tone of the discussions TorrentFreak had with the larger-than-life entrepreneur last year, the Mega founder was as calm and considered as ever. For a man who has not only lost everything (not least all of his companies and tens of millions of dollars) but also faces extradition to the United States, he’s amazingly positive that the battles ahead are winnable.
Those battles, however, will initially have to be fought in New Zealand courtrooms and if the extradition is successful, back in the United States too. Kim is naturally cautious about us revealing too much about Megaupload’s strategy and how the company’s owners intends to counter the claims being made against them, but it’s safe to say that it’s underpinned by a firm belief that on the best legal advice, the business operated legally.
This confidence, Kim says, is shared by his co-defendants – Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk and Finn Batato.
“We’re going for this and we’re confident we’re going to win. It [the heavy handedness] went way too far, it was out of all proportion,” Kim told TorrentFreak. “We feel that the action taken against us was political.”






 

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