There Was an Incredible Hybrid Solar Eclipse this Morning

There Was an Incredible Hybrid Solar Eclipse this Morning

This morning’s hybrid solar eclipse was stunning. But depending on where you are in the world you may not have been able to see it at all, cloud cover may have messed with visibility, or you may have had a partial view. So for anyone who missed it, this is what the eclipse looked like from Kenya. Pretty snazzy, huh?

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Source: http://feeds.gawker.com/~r/gizmodo/full/~3/gYwYIGcxtvI/there-was-an-incredible-hybrid-solar-eclipse-this-morni-1457754100
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Burns explores Roosevelt legacy in new documentary

WARM SPRINGS, Ga. (AP) — Filmmaker Ken Burns said Saturday that he wants to tell the story of three of the most famous Roosevelts, their strengths and weaknesses, in an upcoming documentary on one of America’s most famous political families.

He previewed part of the 14-hour series that will air next year during a reunion of the extended Roosevelt family at the former polio clinic in rural Georgia that President Franklin Roosevelt purchased after coming to seek a cure for his crippled legs. Roosevelt built a home here known as the Little White House, where he died in 1945.

Burns’ film explores the political and family ties between President Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt and his wife, Eleanor. The filmmaker acclaimed for documentaries on the Civil War, baseball and World War II said he aimed for an honest portrayal of political figures who were sometimes reduced to caricatures.

Contrasting American ideals of heroism with those of the heroes of ancient Greece, Burns remarked that the Greeks “saw heroes as having very obvious strength but also very obvious and sometimes equal weaknesses.”

“Achilles had his heel,” Burns said. “And so I think for us, it’s always been what kind of American history do you show? One that’s sort of treacly and superficial or one that gets deeper?”

Defining a common legacy between the three figures is tricky since their lives span from 1858 to 1962. The political populism of Theodore Roosevelt — for example, his anti-monopoly stances and efforts to improve food safety and regulation — arguably found a new expression in the New Deal politics championed by Franklin Roosevelt to alleviate the suffering inflicted by the Great Depression.

The film follows Eleanor Roosevelt as she emerged from her role as first lady after Roosevelt’s death and successfully worked to adopt a United Nations declaration of human rights. She was the niece of Theodore Roosevelt and a distant relation to Franklin Roosevelt.

All three Roosevelts backed an expanded role for the central government, an unresolved issue in American politics. Congressional Republicans recently shut down much of the U.S. government in a failed attempt to derail big changes to the health insurance market made by a Democratic president.

“We have a federal government that is big because of Franklin Roosevelt,” Burns said in an interview. “And lots of people think that’s a good thing. And a lot of people think that’s a bad thing. And a lot of people, most people, don’t understand it.”

The film shows flaws. Theodore Roosevelt encouraged a rebellion in Panama so the United States could secure the land needed for the Panama Canal. It discusses Franklin Roosevelt’s infidelity and the emotional abuse inflicted by Eleanor Roosevelt’s mother and an absent, alcoholic father.

Evidence of the history depicted in the film can be found on the surrounding campus. Roosevelt’s residence still has the bed where he died and a door has scratch marks believed to be from his dog. Burns saw the fast-driving 1938 Ford that allowed Roosevelt to escape his watchful bodyguards.

“He would ride along the countryside, toot his horn, say, ‘I want to talk to you,'” said Marion Dunn, 90, who met Roosevelt while working at the rehabilitation center. “He was a real people person – he didn’t talk up or down to anyone.”

Tweed Roosevelt, the great-grandson of Theodore Roosevelt, said he was supportive of Burns’ work but could not judge the documentary since he had not seen all of it. While the Roosevelts have been extensively chronicled, it’s uncommon to consider the joint legacy of all three in a single work.

“The attitudes of Franklin and Eleanor (weren’t) all that different from T.R.’s view about the ‘common man’ and the difficult situations they face,” Tweed Roosevelt said. “Today that’s certainly in my opinion a very important issue, but it seems to be somewhat ignored. Here we are in an era of increasing distance between the rich and the poor getting very much back to how it was in T.R.’s time.”

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Follow Ray Henry on Twitter: http://twitter.com/rhenryAP.

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/burns-explores-roosevelt-legacy-documentary-005952758.html
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BadBIOS: Next-gen malware or digital myth?

[Ed. note: This story originally stated that it was believed that BadBIOS can infect other machines via ultrasonic audio. Rather, as amended below, it is believed that BadBIOS can communicate with other machines already infected with BadBIOS via ultrasonic audio.]

Security researcher Dragos Ruiu calls it “BadBIOS.” According to him, it’s a strain of malware that has persisted amongst the machines in his laboratory for almost three years and that has proven near-impossible to clean out. But some parts of his hypothesis about how it’s spreading are so strange that even other experts are skeptical.

Ars Technica is reporting in detail about Ruiu’s saga, which seems to involve a piece of malware so polymorphic that it seems to be able to spread by infecting everything from a system’s BIOS on up.

What’s strangest about this malware is that it even seems to be able to communicate with other infected computers that are airgapped — that is, machines that aren’t physically connected to a network.

BadBIOS appears to be OS-agnostic, as Ruiu has found it in Windows, BSD, and OS X machines. Reflashing the BIOS does not appear to help, either. Infected machines refuse to boot from external devices, and any USB drives plugged into a system are also infected — possibly by way of the USB controller.

BIOS-infecting malware by itself isn’t new; one of the first rootkits that infected system BIOSes, Trojan.Mebromi, was discovered back in 2011. But how is it possible that the BIOSes of machines from completely different manufacturers could all be vulnerable to such an attack?

Possibly by way of a general security hole in the UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface), the BIOS system used by all recent-model PCs. A Mac version of the same attack has also been hypothesized, since Macs use UEFI now as well. Another place the malware could be hiding, which explains a great deal about its behaviors overall, is within the PCI architecture itself or within the controllers for USB devices.

Any such malware would also have to contain multiple payloads for each of its infection targets — not just different OSes, but UEFI, PCI, and USB firmware as well. While difficult to execute, it isn’t theoretically impossible. It would just be a major technical accomplishment.

The single most difficult-to-swallow proposition about BadBIOS, though, is that it can transmit data to other infected machines via audio, by way of ultrasonic signals transmitted from the speakers of one machine and picked up by the microphone of another. This is also theoretically possible, as fellow security researcher Robert Graham demonstrated.

But here’s the biggest question of all: Is all this really due to a single, monster malware, or has Ruiu made sincere mistakes with his research? There’s always the possibility that the infection of the air-gapped machines has not been due to malware, but rather some kind of mishandling of the systems in question.

Possible but unlikely given Ruiu’s pedigree, say other experts. Graham himself has weighed in and has taken two stances. On the one hand, he’s critical of the fact that Ruiu hasn’t, say, dumped the BIOS of any infected system and provided it for analysis yet. He wants to see more of what Ruiu himself has uncovered, and Ruiu has in fact promised all that in time.

On the other hand, a great many of the behaviors that Ruiu described do in fact seem plausible to Graham, and he has no overt reason to distrust Ruiu. “[Ruiu has been] a well-respected researcher for 15 years,” writes Graham. “If he says he’s got an infected BIOS, I’m going to believe him.”

Another researcher, Arrigo Trulzi, is tilting toward giving Ruiu “the benefit of doubt until I see the code. I’ve seen enough to think most [of what Ruiu describes] is doable. The all-in-one. …”

If indeed BadBIOS is the first in a breed of all-in-one malware that can not only infect a machine in multiple ways but spread that infection in multiple ways as well, new weapons are in order. Those who talk seriously about redesigning computing as we know it from a security-first perspective, such as Peter G. Neumann, might come to seem less like pie-in-the-sky idealists and more like folks who had the right idea all along.

This story, “BadBIOS: Next-gen malware or digital myth?,” was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

Source: http://www.infoworld.com/t/malware/badbios-next-gen-malware-or-digital-myth-230047?source=rss_infoworld_blogs
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Ohio death row inmate: Doctor couldn’t find veins

In this undated photo released by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction shows Ronald Phillips. Phillips, a death row inmate who raped and killed his girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter, wants his upcoming execution delayed while he fights the state’s newly announced — and never tried — lethal injection process. (AP Photo/Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction)

In this undated photo released by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction shows Ronald Phillips. Phillips, a death row inmate who raped and killed his girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter, wants his upcoming execution delayed while he fights the state’s newly announced — and never tried — lethal injection process. (AP Photo/Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction)

(AP) — A prison doctor couldn’t find veins in the arms of a death row inmate during a pre-execution checkup, the inmate said Friday by video in rare court testimony.

Condemned child killer Ronald Phillips said the doctor could only find a vein on his right hand following an examination Oct. 18 at the medical center at Chillicothe Correctional Institution south of Columbus.

“I guess the Lord hid my veins from them,” Phillips said, referring to a comment he made that day after the checkup ended.

Phillips, 40, testified under questioning by his attorneys that the doctor said he was not part of the state’s lethal injection process when asked to do the checks. A prison nurse also participated.

Phillips said he had a fear of needles dating from childhood when he said his parents would sell drugs and let addicts shoot up in their kitchen in a tough Akron neighborhood.

Phillips, wearing glasses and a white prison shirt over a black T-shirt, testified by video hookup from death row for more than an hour. He is scheduled to die Nov. 14 for raping and killing Sheila Marie Evans, the 3-year-old daughter of his girlfriend, in 1993 in Akron.

Phillips testified as part of a lawsuit brought by his attorneys to delay his execution while they gather evidence against the state’s new execution policy, which includes a never-tried, two-drug injection process.

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction announced the new policy last month and said Monday it would use that process, a combination of a sedative and painkiller.

Phillips’ attorneys say the department’s announcements came too close to the execution date to allow a meaningful challenge. The state says nothing is substantially different about the new system.

Judge Gregory Frost originally granted Phillips permission to testify in person, then switched to the video testimony when it was clear courtroom technology could handle the unusual arrangement. There are no recent examples of Ohio death row inmates testifying in person or by video in federal court cases.

The hearing Friday began by focusing on the state’s decision to allow the prisons director or death house warden to delegate responsibility for changes in the execution process. That could include any deviation from the policy, down to paperwork documenting a particular step.

Ohio has walked away from that promise with the new policies, Allen Bohnert, an attorney for Phillips, told the judge.

“Close enough for government work is not acceptable in applying this death penalty protocol,” Bohnert said.

An attorney for the state said Ohio is committed to carrying out the execution in a humane, dignified and constitutional manner and understands that commitment.

“The state will do what the state says it will do,” said Christopher Conomy, an assistant Ohio attorney general.

Phillips’ attorneys are also challenging the state’s new policy for the lethal drugs it will use.

The state’s first choice is a specialty dose of pentobarbital mixed by a compounding pharmacy. If that can’t be obtained — as in the case of Phillips’ execution — the state will use the two-drug method to put Phillips to death.

Phillips’ lawyers argue in court filings that the two drugs could cause severe side effects, including painful vomiting.

The drugs Ohio is proposing to use on Phillips will cause him to stop breathing within a few minutes, an anesthesiologist said in a statement Thursday as part of a filing by the state in support of the new method.

Irreversible brain and heart damage will follow and the inmate will die a few minutes later, according to Dr. Mark Dershwitz, a University of Massachusetts anesthesiologist.

The drugs are midazolam, a sedative, and hydromorphone, a painkiller.

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Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/awhcolumbus

Associated PressSource: http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/386c25518f464186bf7a2ac026580ce7/Article_2013-11-01-US-Death-Penalty-Ohio/id-9a896d5313544637a3b9d1bba6cef625
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Calls To Limit Speech In The Snowden Era Underscore The Importance Of A Free Press

The Snowden revelations have reignited a discussion about privacy — especially privacy in the digital age. That discussion will eventually, we can hope, not only reform how the government views the privacy of its citizens, but also how those citizens interact with private entities that might store massive amounts of their personal information.

It’s stunning to consider how much better informed we are as a global citizenry thanks to Snowden’s efforts and the journalists that have worked closely with him. They have carefully brought to light documents and information regarding the spying efforts of the United States government, and to a lesser degree, the British government on a scale that was previously unimaginable.

But the Snowden leaks have done more than uncover a secret world of surveillance. They are starting to drive change at the congressional level. Following revelations that the NSA taps the fiber-optic cables of the Internet, tracks the metadata of all phone calls placed in the United States, and forces technology companies to hand over user data, we’ve entered into a new era of transparency.

There are forces arrayed against this trend, however. The parts of the government that wish to remain hidden are not enjoying their time in the spotlight.

United States

In short, [NSA General Keith Alexander] is not much of a fan of free speech, an adversarial press, a transparent government, public accountability, or a great many other things that a constitutional, democratic republic requires to function.

Change is already under way. Bills in Congress are being proposed, with bipartisan and bicameral support, that would greatly curtail the legal authority, and therefore ability, of the NSA to collect as much data as it currently does.

The shifting tone in Congress — most recently and most notably the about-face of Senator Dianne Feinstein on the subject of the NSA — has been matched by a stiffly unshifting tone from the spy agencies themselves.

With its track record of being truthful already underwater, the NSA has managed to explain little in recent weeks — and complain much. It has become known that their talking points are as manufactured as their denials – there will come a time when leaning heavily on 9/11 will show weakness of argument, but we can have that talk some other time — now public, the public protestations of the NSA are becoming increasingly cardboardish.

But when the NSA and its ilk are clear, we can learn the most. And when it comes to something so intensely serious, clarity is useful. The NSA’s General Keith Alexander recently made the following set of remarks (transcription by Politico):

“I think it’s wrong that that newspaper reporters have all these documents, the 50,000—whatever they have and are selling them and giving them out as if these—you know it just doesn’t make sense.

We ought to come up with a way of stopping it. I don’t know how to do that. That’s more of the courts and the policymakers but, from my perspective, it’s wrong to allow this to go on.”

It’s somewhat difficult to tally just how much the general managed to get wrong in two short statements, but let’s try. He’s wrong that the documents are being sold; they are not. Stopping “it” would mean stopping the free press, in essence overriding the First Amendment. That’s not a good idea. He’s correct that it would be up to “courts and the policymakers” to gut free speech in the country, but he’s wrong in that it is not “wrong to allow this to go on.”

In short, the general is not much of a fan of free speech, an adversarial press, a transparent government, public accountability, or a great many other things that a constitutional, democratic republic requires to function.

Let’s look at just how bad an idea it would be to follow his advice.

If we did not allow newspapers, blogs, Twitter users, writers and readers of all shapes and sizes and sorts to publish what they might, and learn what they will, then we would not know that the NSA was tapping the data connections between Yahoo and Google data centers in foreign countries. Why foreign countries? Because the rules that guide the NSA are looser in foreign countries, and so it can do what it can’t in the United States. What we have learned is plain: If there is data, the NSA wants to tap, collect, store, and then analyze it at will.

Given the history of privacy, and the historical backing of the Fourth Amendment, this isn’t much in line with the American Experiment. To then prevent the American citizenry from finding out that their legal protections were being hollowed out not good, and the general is wrong.

Britain

Across the pond, this is a bit more explicit. Here’s The Guardian, in August [emphasis mine]:

I received a phone call from the centre of government telling me: “You’ve had your fun. Now we want the stuff back.” There followed further meetings with shadowy Whitehall figures. The demand was the same: hand the Snowden material back or destroy it. I explained that we could not research and report on this subject if we complied with this request. The man from Whitehall looked mystified. “You’ve had your debate. There’s no need to write any more.”

During one of these meetings I asked directly whether the government would move to close down the Guardian’s reporting through a legal route – by going to court to force the surrender of the material on which we were working. The official confirmed that, in the absence of handover or destruction, this was indeed the government’s intention. Prior restraint, near impossible in the US, was now explicitly and imminently on the table in the UK.

The last sentence is key, as it describes a process by which what is fit and not fit to be published is determined before publication. In August The Guardian stated that such a thing was “near impossible” in the United States. And yet, General Alexander recently called for “a way of stopping it,” again with “it” being the reporting about the Snowden documents. Alexaner continued: “It’s wrong to allow this to go on.” So, the general is calling for prior restraint, which has long been a firewall between censorship and the public learning what it might.

There are fresh threats from the British government, however, that also bear telling. Here’s current Prime Minister David Cameron on the continued leaks (via The Guardian):

We have a free press, it’s very important the press feels it is not pre-censored from what it writes and all the rest of it. The approach we have taken is to try to talk to the press and explain how damaging some of these things can be and that is why the Guardian did actually destroy some of the information and disks that they have. But they’ve now gone on and printed further material which is damaging.

I don’t want to have to use injunctions or D notices or the other tougher measures. I think it’s much better to appeal to newspapers’ sense of social responsibility. But if they don’t demonstrate some social responsibility it would be very difficult for government to stand back and not to act.

Sadly, his government has already taken to smashing laptops of journalists and threatening prior restraint. He has now introduced new legal methods as potential tools to increase pressure. Also, there is a certain sliminess to the comment that the press “feels it is not pre-censored from what it writes.” There is a large gap between that and the press in fact being free to write whatever it wishes.

Hell No

It’s plain that the governments of the United States and Britain would prefer it if we knew nothing of their surveillance activities. With that in mind, we now do, and they want to stop the continued leaks.

But as we are seeing from congressional activity in the United States, the leaks are producing change. Which is precisely what the NSA and GCHQ do not want. Tough. If to get their way they think for a moment we are willing to give up the right to free expression, thought and writing, then they can go to hell.

Top Image Credit: Shutterstock

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