Julian Assange today announced the launch of the Public Library of US Diplomacy, or PLUSD, the publication of more than 1.7 million US diplomatic and intelligence documents from the 1970s. PLUSD includes diplomatic cables, intel reports, congressional correspondence, and other formerly restricted material, now all online in searchable text form.
The project was apparently orchestrated by Assange from his place of refuge, within the Ecuadorean embassy in London. He says the records highlighted the "vast range and scope" of the United States' global influence. He has been encamped in the Latin American country's embassy mission for nine months, seeking to avoid extradition to Sweden over allegations of rape and sexual assault, which he denies.
The Mozilla Foundation has previewed a new, experimental system for in-app payments that is intended to solve several major problems with existing payment systems available to developers, including the fact that other payment systems are strongly partisan, tilted to one or just a few payment processors. It's a good and useful thing, and an example of the sort of good that a well-funded nonprofit can do for the health of the Web:
Here’s what’s wrong:
* Users cannot choose how to pay; they have to select from one of the pre-defined options. * In most cases, the user has to type in an actual credit card number on each site. This is like giving someone the keys to your expensive car, letting them drive it around the block in a potentially dangerous neighborhood (the web) and saying please don’t get carjacked! * Merchants typically have to manage all this on their own: payment processor setup, costly processing fees, and possibly even PCI compliance.
There are services to mitigate a lot of these complications such as PayPal, Stripe, and others but they aren’t integrated into web devices very well. Mozilla wants to introduce a common web API to make payments easy and secure on web devices yet still as flexible as the checkout button for merchants.
Introducing navigator.mozPay() For Web Payments [Mozilla.org/Kumar McMillan]
TorrentFreak's been looking at the BitTorrent video-downloading from the small pool of downloaders in Vatican City, and they've reported in with the Vatican's favorite pornography:
In the interests of science we researched each of the titles (including the curiously named RS77_Episode 01) and discovered that downloaders in the Vatican have one or two unusual ‘niche’ interests. We won’t link to our discoveries here, but feel free to do your own ‘research’ using the titles shown above. There isn’t a commandment that covers these films directly, but some might argue there should be.
TorrentFreak couldn’t find a priest prepared to make a comment and apparently the Pope is “busy” today. On a Sunday?
On March 25, Randall Munroe ran a strip called Time, an enigmatic, wordless image whose tool-tip was "Wait for it." Ever since, the strip has been updating with subsequent frames, all of them making up a time-lapse animation of a lovely story about a day of sand-castle building at the beach.
The XKCD Wikia entry for the post has animated GIFs and a slideshow showing the progress to date. It's really coming along nicely, and Randall's done some clever things with the back-end to stop people from previewing future frames. Read the rest
James Bridle photographed every CCTV between his home in east London and Dalston Junction, a 1.4mi walk with about 140 cameras. Welcome to London, where we have 11 CCTVs per red blood cells.
Expect to see a lot fewer images of toxic sludge creeping through small communities, thanks to the hard work of ExxonMobil. The company could have used its prodigious resources to make its oil pipelines more secure, preventing town-destroying leaks like the one that hit Mayflower, Arkansas. But they figured out that it would be cheaper to just corrupt the local law to chase reporters out and get the FAA to establish a Temporary Flight Restriction zone over the spill. Problem solved!
Read the rest
Michael Hibblen, who reports for the radio station KUAR, went to the spill site on Wednesday with state Attorney General Dustin McDaniel. McDaniel was in the area to inspect the site and hold a news conference, and Hibblen and a small group of reporters were following him to report on the visit. Upon arrival, representatives from the county sheriff's office, which is running security at the site, directed the reporters to a boundary point 10 feet away that they should not pass. The reporters agreed to comply. But the tone shifted abruptly, Hibblen told Mother Jones on Friday:
It was less than 90 seconds before suddenly the sheriff's deputies started yelling that all the media people had to leave, that ExxonMobil had decided they don't want you here, you have to leave. They even referred to it as "Exxon Media"…Some reporters were like, "Who made this decision? Who can we talk to?" The sheriff's deputies started saying, "You have to leave. You have 10 seconds to leave or you will be arrested."
Hibblen says he didn't really have time to deal with getting arrested, since he needed to file his report on the visit for both the local affiliate and national NPR.
The French spy agency Direction Centrale du Renseignement Intérieur inexplicably flipped out about a longstanding Wikipedia entry on a military base (station hertzienne militaire de Pierre sur Haute) filled with public domain, widely known information. They tried to get the Wikimedia Foundation to delete it, but wouldn't explain what, exactly, they objected to in the entry. When the Wikimedia Foundation rebuffed them, they picked out a random volunteer Wikipedia admin living in France -- a person who had never had anything to do with the post in question -- and threatened him with jail unless he used his admin privileges to delete the post.
The Foundation is trying to support the their volunteer as best as they can. Meantime, the post about station hertzienne militaire de Pierre sur Haute's pageviews have shot from a couple per day to 9000+.
Read the rest
The Foundation takes allegations of national security threats seriously and investigated the matter accordingly. However, it was not readily apparent what specific information the DCRI could consider classified or otherwise high-risk. Without further information, we could not understand why the DCRI believes information in the article is classified. Almost all of the information in the article is cited to publicly-available sources. In fact, the article’s contents are largely consistent with a publicly available video in which Major Jeansac, the chief of the military station in question, gives a detailed interview and tour of the station to a reporter. This video is now cited in the article. Furthermore, the page was originally created on July 24, 2009 and has been continually available and edited since.
A reader writes,
GovernmentAttic.org, a noncommercial independent website, announces the publication of thousands of important government documents obtained through proper channels using public records access laws such as the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Government Attic includes fascinating historical documents, oddities and fun stuff about government programs, and government "bloopers". Browsing the site is like rummaging through the Government's Attic -- hence the name.
Among the notable holdings: - Tens of thousands of pages of FBI files on important events and famous people; - Weird items seized by customs inspectors at airports; - A listing of movies, books and TV shows available on the International Space Station; - Air Defense System audio recordings of the events on 9/11; - Lists of investigations performed by dozens of agency Inspectors General; - Internal newsletters from the National Security Agency; - Complaints to the FCC about various television series, including The Simpsons, Saturday Night Live, and Law & Order; and - Documents from most federal agencies, including those with responsibilities in law enforcement, intelligence, and national defense.
Projectophile's Clare has a funny post about the hazards presented by beautiful mid-century modern home designs to children. My grandparents had a proper split-level MCM when I was a kid, and it's a wonder we survived. As Clare says, "I love open, flowing space as much as the next modern girl. But I know it would only be a matter of minutes before my kid flings himself off one of these deadly ledges..."