In "Meet the Spies Doing the NSA's Dirty Work," Foreign Policy's Shane Harris digs into the operations of a little-known FBI unit tasked with doing the domestic surveillance no other intelligence agency can touch.
Interviews with current and former law enforcement officials, as well as technology industry representatives, reveal that the unit is the FBI's equivalent of the National Security Agency and the primary liaison between the spy agency and many of America's most important technology companies, including Google, Facebook, YouTube, and Apple.
"Dr. Chaps' Gordon Klingenschmitt, in a video removed from YouTube after his representatives issued takedown requests.
Miranda Blue of Right Wing Watch, a watchdog blog that reports on the radical right in part by posting fair-use clips on YouTube of activists speaking in their own words, writes: "One of the guys we monitor, former Navy chaplain Gorden “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt, has now figured out a way to get our entire YouTube account taken down for weeks at a time just by filing multiple frivolous claims against our account. Now, we’re trying to get YouTube to change its policies to prevent people like Dr. Chaps from taking down entire watchdog organizations – which is surprisingly easy to do."
Dr. Chaps, by the way, believes President Obama is literally possessed by demons, and that gay men in the military are having sex with each other on the altar at West Point's chapel. He has a website, where he solicits donations for his "religious work."
@BHscanner, one of several excellent independently-run Twitter accounts that monitor and live-tweet police radio communications in Los Angeles, has for the last 24 hours been tweeting some incredible photographs of historic LA. Some are as old as the 1850s; others, like this shot of Signal Hill, from the 1940s. There are some spectacular shots from the '60s along and inside Hollywood hotspots. Worth a follow.
A biology textbook from Pearson is the subject of a renewed debate over evolution vs. creationism in Texas schools.
More science vs. magic in Texas schools: creationists in the state are rejoicing as the State Board of Education has held up the approval of a Biology textbook
"because of alleged factual errors." The science tome from Pearson Education
, one of America's largest publishers, contains a section on natural selection, and nothing about how Jesus made the dinosaurs. [AP]
Update: The textbooks were approved, and the Creationists lost this battle.
CNN's Karl Penhaul has a video report on creative reuse in the Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) disaster zone: fishermen in the Philippines are converting refrigerators into makeshift boats.
Dr. Thomas Rees, a pioneer of modern "aesthetic surgery" and a humanitarian who performed life-saving surgery in rural Africa for free, has died. He was 86, and the cause was liver cancer. From the NYT obit
: "New York magazine once referred to Dr. Rees as “one of the fathers of aesthetic surgery in New York
,” and he is credited with helping to elevate cosmetic surgery from something one did not really discuss to almost a status symbol." — Xeni
"Five defendants are depicted in this courtroom sketch of a U.S. district court in Manhattan on Nov. 20, 2013. The men allegedly conspired to smuggle North Korean meth into the U.S." Jane Rosenburg, for Reuters
Five men have been extradited to the US from Thailand to face charges of trafficking crystal methamphetamine cooked in North Korea. The highly militarized nation is hard for humans to get out of, but court documents indicate that meth seems to escape more easily. In September, the men were arrested by US federal agents after promising North Korean meth to undercover DEA agents. From Al Jazeera:
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Screengrab from Chris Hadfield music video for his cover of David Bowie's Space Oddity.
Check out some of the great videos we've blogged lately, which you can watch in our video archives:
How astronaut Chris Hadfield inspires people to get excited about space
A Twitter breakup, re-enacted as a web video drama
Blade Runner animated as 12,000 hand-painted watercolor paintings
A history of the bass in popular music
Tropes vs Women in Video Games: Ms. Male Character
• Humane Society: dogs are suffering in dental experimentation
Boing Boing: Video archives
Happy mutants, light up a conversation with fellow members of the intergalactic Boing Boing community on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Flickr (we have a pool where readers share photos), and YouTube. We even do IRC! And of course, check out our beloved BBS.
On PBS NewsHour
, science correspondent Miles O'Brien
interviews Chris Hadfield
, who has brought new popular interest to space exploration with his innovative use of web video, tweets, Facebooked photos, and a creative use of the internet, from space. Miles talks to the retired Canadian astronaut, author of "An Astronauts Guide to Life on Earth
," about the importance of space exploration.
You can listen to the interviews or read a transcript here; videos are below.
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Natanz, Iran's primary uranium enrichment facility.
"The real program to sabotage Iran's nuclear facilities was far more sophisticated than anyone realized," writes Ralph Langner in Foreign Policy Magazine
Three years after it was discovered, Stuxnet, the first publicly disclosed cyberweapon, continues to baffle military strategists, computer security experts, political decision-makers, and the general public. A comfortable narrative has formed around the weapon: how it attacked the Iranian nuclear facility at Natanz, how it was designed to be undiscoverable, how it escaped from Natanz against its creators' wishes. Major elements of that story are either incorrect or incomplete. That's because Stuxnet is not really one weapon, but two. The vast majority of the attention has been paid to Stuxnet's smaller and simpler attack routine -- the one that changes the speeds of the rotors in a centrifuge, which is used to enrich uranium. But the second and "forgotten" routine is about an order of magnitude more complex and stealthy.
Check out this new episode of the web video series Shaking Through. Peter English tells Boing Boing, "It's featuring a Philadelphia-based rapper named Lushlife, who is remarkable. With our help, he conceived a 10+ minute, 4-movement hip hop epic, centering around the mysterious Toynbee Tiles, which you have posted about in the past. The episode is part mystery, part in-studio doc and part music video. Tons of fun. The piece also features well known producer RJD2 and full orchestration."
In a previous edition of the web series, Mikael Jorgensen of Wilco with Helado Negro.
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Moraine Lake’s beautiful color comes from the light reflecting off rock flour at the bottom of the lake.
Google has released new "Street View" imagery of national parks and historical sites across North America.
Working with the U.S. National Park Service and Parks Canada, our Street View cars, trikes and Trekker mapped more than 44 locations with beautiful, 360 degree panoramas.
Leave your gear behind and still get a chance to marvel at the Sequoias in California. Or perhaps you’re looking for more adventure? Lookout to Signal Mountain in Wyoming’s Grand Tetons, climb around California’s Joshua Tree National Park, or dip your toe into Moraine Lake in Banff, Canada. Getting tired? Take a break to watch the Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone National Park, the first national park in the world.
Or, let your inner history buff come out to explore monuments and fortresses across North America.
The first of four studies on a poorly-understood link between sleep quality and depression indicates that when antidepressant medication and insomnia therapy are used together
, recovery from depression is more thorough, and faster. (Thanks, Miles O'Brien) — Xeni
A still image from undercover video shot at the dental experimentation lab at Georgia Regents University by the Humane Society of the United States.
The Humane Society of the United States this week released results of an undercover investigation at Georgia Regents University, which showed that dogs sold by "random source Class B dealers into research," with a history of poor conditions and illegal activity, suffer greatly in "unneccesary" medical experiments at the facility. The experiments also consume "significant USDA enforcement resources," according to the HSUS, which calls on dog lovers to take action and ensure that pets are never sold to research laboratories, and to ask GRU to stop unnecessary dental experiments on animals. A detailed report on the investigation is here in PDF form; it's very upsetting to read if you're an animal lover or get squicked out by descriptions of violence and suffering.
"It appears that the dental experiments documented by the HSUS investigator may have been
conducted without an approved protocol in place," according to the HSUS report.
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