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Mon, 28 Nov 2022
The World for People who Think

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US Navy Missile Destroyer Collides with Oil Tanker

A US Navy guided missile destroyer was left with a gaping hole on one side after it collided with an oil tanker early Sunday just outside the strategic Strait of Hormuz

Cell Phone

What Happens When Our Cellphones Can Predict Our Every Move?

Mobile Phone
© Jojje / Shutterstock
A team of British researchers has figured out a way to use people's cellphone tracking data to predict where they'll be at a given time.
Your cellphone knows where you've been. And new research shows it can take a pretty good guess at where you're going next.

A team of British researchers has developed an algorithm that uses tracking data on people's phones to predict where they'll be in 24 hours. The average error: just 20 meters.

That's far more accurate than past studies that have tried to predict people's movements. Studies have shown that most people follow fairly consistent patterns over time, but traditional prediction algorithms have no way of accounting for breaks in the routine.

The researchers solved that problem by combining tracking data from individual participants' phones with tracking data from their friends - i.e., other people in their mobile phonebooks. By looking at how an individual's movements correlate with those of people they know, the team's algorithm is able to guess when she might be headed, say, downtown for a show on a Sunday afternoon rather than staying uptown for lunch as usual.

For this innovation, the researchers - Mirco Musolesi, Manlio Domenico, and Antonio Lima of the University of Birmingham - won this year's Nokia Mobile Data Challenge. It's fascinating from an academic standpoint. But how exactly might it be used in the real world?

Eye 2

TrapWire secret surveillance program: American cities under total surveillance?


US Military Training for Disaster

It was an exercise in the unthinkable: a 10-kiloton nuclear bomb has decimated a major city in the Midwestern U.S. What will the military do?

More than 9,000 troops and civilians from across the country descended on Indiana and northern Kentucky to find out, during the 19-day Vibrant Response exercise. The exercise, led by U.S. Army North out of Fort Sam Houston, Texas, wrapped up Aug. 13 and included local, state and federal agencies, and involved 300,000 casualties and military units from more than 40 locations across the U.S.

The intent is to allow the military to practice interacting with civilian agencies and test the military's ability to deploy, employ and sustain specialized military response forces in the aftermath of a catastrophic chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear event.

Photos from the exercise can be viewed here.

Eye 1

Post Olympic Games UK: full-blown police state

© Rasouli Amir
London that is widely known as a perfect example of surveillance society with its watchful CCTVs, is now a perfect example of a police state after the massive Olympics militarization, a fact even organizers implicitly acknowledge.

Organizers decided earlier this year to dress the official mascot for the 2012 Olympics in London, where the security and surveillance cordon are nicknamed the Ring of Steel, in a Metropolitan police outfit.

The mascots, "Wenlock" and "Mandeville", feature a huge single eye that is actually a camera lens that organizers said can "record everything."

The dolls effectively create an explicit symbol of the pervasive surveillance state and suggest an unwelcome addition to British social life that is now subject to an even more intrusive surveillance system thanks to the biggest and most expensive British security operation in decades for the Olympics.

The irony has been taken up by critics of the Games.

Comment: 1.2 billion-euro spent on security to arrest one Parkinson's sufferer for 'not smiling'.


U.S. set to hand over Omar Khadr videotapes to Canadian government

Omar Khadr
© desconocido
Toronto - American authorities are expected to hand videotapes of Omar Khadr to the Canadian government this week now that the head of the military commission has signed off on their release.

Khadr's Canadian defence team, meanwhile, served three affidavits on the government on Monday in support of its Federal Court application to force Public Safety Minister Vic Toews to make a decision on the prisoner's transfer from Guantanamo Bay to Canada.

The government has a month to respond but the lawyers said they were hoping the hearing would be expedited.

Toews has demanded access to the tapes of two mental-health assessments done of Khadr prior to his trial two years ago in Guantanamo Bay.


Flaws in Norway massacre response uncovered, but not a Columbine-style awakening for police

© The Associated Press/Berit Roald / NTB scanpix
Officials stand next to copies of the report from the independent commission into the July 22, 2011 attacks in Norway In Oslo Monday Aug.13, 2012.
Oslo - A year after a far-right militant's bomb and gun attacks exposed flaws in Norway's terror preparedness, police are being criticized for failing to improve their ability to stop a gunman bent on inflicting mass casualties.

In contrast to the 1999 Columbine High School massacre in Colorado, which led to sweeping changes in police tactics and training in the U.S., the massacre of 77 people in July last year hasn't had a tangible impact on Norway's police force, critics say.

"There are hardly been any visible changes from July 22 and until today. That is what our members tell me," said Arne Johannessen, who heads Norway's union for police officers. "Now things have to happen. Now both the leadership in the police and the politicians must take this seriously."

A government-appointed commission on Monday presented a long-awaited 500-page report outlining flaws - and some bright spots - in how police and other authorities responded to Norway's worst peacetime attacks.

The confessed gunman, right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik, set off a car bomb outside the government headquarters in Oslo, then drove to the Labor youth division's annual summer camp, disguised as a police officer, and opened fire. Eight people were killed in the explosion, while 69 people died in the massacre on Utoya island, in a lake some 25 miles (40 kilometres) from the capital.


Pope's Butler Charged with Stealing Private Papers

Pope Benedict XVI, Paolo Gabriele
© The Associated Press/Domenico Stinellis
In this Monday, April 21, 2008 file photo, Pope Benedict XVI, left, arrives at the Italian air force 31st Squadron base in Ciampino, 30 kilometers south-east of Rome, on his way back from a six-day trip to the U.S. including the U.N. and Ground Zero in N.Y.C. The Vatican has confirmed Saturday, May 26, 2012, that the pope's butler Paolo Gabriele, at right carrying bags, was arrested in an embarrassing leaks scandal.
Vatican City - The pope's former butler Paolo Gabriele, who will stand trial for leaking confidential papers, was a model employee in many ways but also a troubled and frustrated character, the Holy See says.

Renowned as a trusted and dedicated companion to the aged pontiff, Gabriele, 46, shocked the tiny Vatican community with his admission of guilt and left many wondering why he decided to turn whistleblower and risk his freedom.

Questions remain over whether Gabriele was acting out of love for the Church and the pope, as he has claimed, or whether he has become the scapegoat in a wider conspiracy to unseat powerful figures in the Vatican.

"I was moved to act by my deep faith and the desire to shed light on everything that goes on in the Church," Gabriele told a Vatican magistrate.

Married with three children, he was known as a pious and very discreet character, who was one of the select few who had access to Pope Benedict XVI's private chambers and attended him both when he woke and last thing at night.

Known as Paoletto, he had worked for Benedict since 2006 and was often seen by the pope's side on foreign trips, riding with him in the "popemobile".

It was Gabriele's job to prepare the pontifical ceremonial robes, which he helped the 85-year-old German pontiff don each morning at dawn, before serving him lunch and dinner, and sometimes sitting down to eat alongside him.


VPNReviewz Reports That Executive Order Promises To Give Total Control Of The Internet To The Department of Homeland Security

In an event that was devoid of the usual pomp and circumstance, President Obama issued an Executive Order, (EO) that effectively handed the Department of Homeland Security, (DHS) the ability to take complete control over the internet, according to reports from VPNReviewz.

According to privacy advocates like the EFF, EPIC, UsenetReviewz, and many others, this order gives the DHS the authority to take complete control of public, private, and non-profit facilities...giving them the ability to close off or limit any and all civilian communications. And, on the National Communications Systems official website, the order is further elaborated on, saying that the infrastructure, "includes wireline, wireless, satellite, cable, and broadcasting, and provides the transport networks that support the Internet and other key information systems."

CEO of VPNReviewz, Michael Maxstead, agrees that the existing "Emergency Alert System" used in the US probably does need to be brought up to date to reflect existing technologies, but that, "This EO allows too much control over such a large entity." He further goes on to wonder "And, what will the system be used for once it is completely in place?" He asks this because the order allows the DHS to "prioritize" internet traffic. In order to prioritize the traffic effectively, the controlling and monitoring agency would have to know the origination point, destination, identification, and type of traffic. Essentially everything about the communication.


Are The Government And The Big Banks Quietly Preparing For An Imminent Financial Collapse?

Wall Street
© The Economic Collapse Blog
Something really strange appears to be happening. All over the globe, governments and big banks are acting as if they are anticipating an imminent financial collapse. Unfortunately, we are not privy to the quiet conversations that are taking place in corporate boardrooms and in the halls of power in places such as Washington D.C. and London, so all we can do is try to make sense of all the clues that are all around us. Of course it is completely possible to misinterpret these clues, but sticking our heads in the sand is not going to do any good either. Last week, it was revealed that the U.S. government has been secretly directing five of the biggest banks in America "to develop plans for staving off collapse" for the last two years.

By itself, that wouldn't be that big of a deal. But when you add that piece to the dozens of other clues of imminent financial collapse, a very troubling picture begins to emerge. Over the past 12 months, hundreds of banking executives have been resigning, corporate insiders have been selling off enormous amounts of stock, and I have been personally told that a significant number of Wall Street bankers have been shopping for "prepper properties" in rural communities this summer.

Meanwhile, there have been reports that the U.S. government has been stockpiling food and ammunition, and Barack Obama has been signing a whole bunch of executive orders that would potentially be implemented in the event of a major meltdown of society. So what does all of this mean? It could mean something or it could mean nothing. What we do know is that a financial collapse is coming at some point. Over the past 40 years, the total amount of all debt in the United States has grown from about 2 trillion dollars to nearly 55 trillion dollars. That is a recipe for financial armageddon, and it is inevitable that this gigantic bubble of debt is going to burst at some point.

In normal times, the U.S. government does not tell major banks to "develop plans for staving off collapse".

But according to a recent Reuters article, that is apparently exactly what has been happening....
U.S. regulators directed five of the country's biggest banks, including Bank of America Corp and Goldman Sachs Group Inc, to develop plans for staving off collapse if they faced serious problems, emphasizing that the banks could not count on government help.

The two-year-old program, which has been largely secret until now, is in addition to the "living wills" the banks crafted to help regulators dismantle them if they actually do fail. It shows how hard regulators are working to ensure that banks have plans for worst-case scenarios and can act rationally in times of distress.
Does it seem odd to anyone else that only five really big banks got such a warning?

And why keep it secret from the American public?

Does the federal government actually expect such a collapse to happen?