The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development -- a pro-establishment, rock-ribbed bastion of pro-market thinking -- has released a report predicting a collapse in global economic growth rates, a rise in feudal wealth disparity, collapsing tax revenue and huge, migrating bands of migrant laborers roaming from country to country, seeking crumbs of work. They prescribe "flexible" workforces, austerity, and mass privatization.
Alex sez, "Spacegambit is a hackerspace space program that funds cool space projects around the world. We're now working with NASA on the Asteroid Grand Challenge, with the aim of getting more makers involved in detecting asteroid threats to human populations and figuring out what to do about them.
We're running our open call at the moment (closing on 20 May) and looking to fund open-source projects linked with hackerspaces/makerspaces/fablabs/etc."
Florida state senator Dwight Bullard thought that a proposed bill to legalize carrying concealed firearms during disaster evacuations was an incredibly stupid idea. So he proposed an amendment to rename the bill "An act relating to the zombie apocalypse." Both the bill and the amendment failed to pass the state legislature.
If you're serious about killing zombies, you don't want a gun, anyway. You want one of these.
Scott Erven is head of information security for a healthcare provider called Essentia Health, and his Friday presentation at Chicago's Thotcon, "Just What The Doctor Ordered?" is a terrifying tour through the disastrous state of medical device security.
Wired's Kim Zetter summarizes Erven's research, which ranges from the security of implanted insulin pumps and defibrillators to surgical robots and MRIs. Erven and his team discovered that hospitals are full of fundamentally insecure devices, and that these insecurities are not the result of obscure bugs buried deep in their codebase (as was the case with the disastrous Heartbleed vulnerability), but rather these are incredibly stupid, incredibly easy to discover mistakes, such as hardcoded easy default passwords. For example: surgical robots have their own internal firewall. If you run a vulnerability scanner against that firewall, it just crashes, and leaves the robot wide open.
The backups for image repositories for X-rays and other scanning equipment have no passwords. Drug-pumps can be reprogrammed over the Internet with ease. Defibrillators can be made to deliver shocks -- or to withhold them when needed. Doctors' instructions to administer therapies can be intercepted and replayed, adding them to other patients' records. You can turn off the blood fridge, crash life-support equipment and reset it to factory defaults. The devices themselves are all available on the whole hospital network, so once you compromise an employee's laptop with a trojan, you can roam free. You can change CT scanner parameters and cause them to over-irradiate patients.
The one bright spot is that anaesthesia and ventilators are not generally networked and are more secure.
By an amazing coincidence, the worst terrorist attack that never happened since 9/11 is not happening right now, proving that everyone who was worried about out-of-control NSA spying had lost the plot. Which is ZOMGTERRISM. So 28 US diplomatic posts have been evacuated (that is to say, "experienced an ordered departure"), including ones in places like Mauritius or Madagascar, where al Qaeda has nefariously never operated as part of its devious plan to lure everyone there into a false sense of security.
Well, some people are cynical and just don't believe it, despite all the overwhelming secret evidence that we're not allowed to see or know about or hear about or even have described to us. People like State Department counterterrorism advisor Will McCants, who called the evacuation of the diplomatic posts "Crazy Pants" ("you can quote me"). Loose cannons like Michael Leiter, former director of the National Counterterrorism Center, who called the terrifying and nonspecific warnings "absurd hyperbole that is coming almost entirely from reckless commentators or ill-informed or ill-spoken [Capitol] Hill folks...no one who really knows al Qaeda or its history thinks that this is as huge a deal as portrayed—and certainly nothing remotely close to the worst thing we have seen since 9/11." But what the hell does he know?
Meet Cochliomyia hominivorax — a delightful insect that manages to me more horrifying that even Mark's favorite Central American friend, the botfly. How much more horrific? Check out the name. Roughly translated from Latin, "homnivorax" means "eater of man".
Remember ACTA, the terrifying, secret SOPA-on-steroids copyright treaty that the US government tried to ram down the world's throat? Well, it's back, only this time it's called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and it's limited (for now) to the Pacific Rim. The TPP negotiators are meeting (in secret, natch) in Peru to twirl their mustaches and cackle, and EFF has posted a great infographic summing up their nefarious plan (see the whole thing after the jump):
The TPP is likely to export some of the worst features of U.S. copyright law to Pacific Rim countries: a broad ban on breaking digital locks on devices and creative works (even for legal purposes), a minimum copyright term of the lifetime of the creator plus seventy years (the current international norm is the lifetime plus fifty years), privatization of enforcement for copyright infringement, ruinous statutory damages with no proof of actual harm, and government seizures of computers and equipment involved in alleged infringement. Moreover, the TPP is worst than U.S. copyright rules: it does not export the many balances and exceptions that favor the public interest and act as safety valves in limiting rightsholders’ protection. Adding insult to injury, the TPP's temporary copies provision will likely create chilling effects on how people and companies behave online and their basic ability to use and create on the Web.
Science Horrors is a tumblr blog that compiles stories about the discomfiting, disturbing, and just plain terrifying parts of science. From 13th-century bioterrorism to the killer carbon dioxide gas bubbles of central Africa, there's plenty here to amaze you and freak you the frack out.
One second this eagle is gliding around above a park, majestic, then moments later it swoops down and tries to grab a toddler. It's just so sudden and unexpected: the bird looks small when it's far away, but oh god nope that's one of those Hobbit-carrying guys and little red monkey hat is off to Mordor.
A school in Pennsylvania went into full-on lockdown when some children who were making a video about the immune system, which involved some sort of play-fighting with an umbrella, were mistaken for gun-toting lunatics. There is a balance between disaster preparedness and "when in trouble, or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout," and this isn't it. A deputy chief in the video excuses the exercise because the kids were doing something "suspicious," but of course, there's a difference between being secure and being terrified of anything out-of-the-ordinary. Alerting parents and locking down kids when nothing bad is happening isn't making us more secure, it's making us more scared.
Michael sez, "While preparing the PK bunker for the December 21st Mayan Apocalypse, we made a startling discovery: a machine powerful enough to prevent the end of the world. Needless to say, we were excited. The only problem? The machine's only power source is donations to Public Knowledge. And, yes, we shot some video.
We are so confident that this device will work that we offer you this UNCONDITIONAL GUARANTEE: if you donate to Public Knowledge before the Mayan Apocalypse, the world will not end on December 21st."