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How Apple and Facebook Helped To Take Down KickassTorrents

Slashdot -

Reader itwbennett writes (edited): Artem Vaulin, the alleged owner of the torrent directory service KickassTorrents, was arrested in Poland earlier this week, charged with copyright infringement and money laundering. As we dig deeper as to what exactly happened, it turns out Apple and Facebook were among the companies that handed over data to the U.S. in its investigation. Department of Homeland Security investigators traced IP addresses associated with KickassTorrents domains to a Canadian ISP, which turned over server data, including emails. At some point, investigators noticed that Vaulin had an Apple email account that was used to make iTunes purchases from two IP addresses -- both of which also accessed a Facebook account promoting KickassTorrents.if you're wondering where exactly iTunes came into play, here's a further explanation. It all started in November 2015, when an undercover IRS Special Agent reached out to a KickassTorrents representative about hosting an advertisement on the site. An agreement was made and the ad, which purportedly advertised a program to study in the United States, was to be placed on individual torrent listings for $300 per day. When it finally went live on March 14th 2016, a link appeared underneath the torrent download buttons for five days. Sure it was a short campaign, but it was enough to link KAT to a Latvian bank account, one that received $31 million in deposits -- mainly from advertising payments -- between August 2015 and March 2016. Upon further investigation of the email accounts, and corresponding reverse lookups, it was found that the account holder had made a purchase on iTunes.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

New Leak: Top DNC Official Wanted to Use Bernie Sanders’s Religious Beliefs Against Him

The Intercept -

Among the nearly 20,000 internal emails from the Democratic National Committee, released Friday by Wikileaks and presumably provided by the hacker “Guccifer 2.0,” is a May 2016 message from DNC CFO Brad Marshall. In it, he suggested that the party should “get someone to ask” Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders about his religious beliefs.

From:MARSHALL@dnc.org
To: MirandaL@dnc.org, PaustenbachM@dnc.org, DaceyA@dnc.org 
Date: 2016-05-05 03:31
Subject: No shit It might may no difference, but for KY and WVA can we get someone to ask his belief. Does he believe in a God. He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage. I think I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist.

The email was sent to DNC Communications Director Luis Miranda and Deputy Communications Director Mark Paustenbach. It’s unclear who the “someone” in this message could be — though a member of the press seems like a safe bet. A request for comment sent to Marshall was not immediately returned.

[UPDATE at 1:03 p.m. ET: Marshall emails to say “I do not recall this. I can say it would not have been Sanders. It would probably be about a surrogate.” We have asked him who that surrogate could possibly be.]

And although Sanders is not mentioned by name, he was the only Jewish candidate from either party — an apparent weakness that Marshall believed the party could exploit in favor of Hillary Clinton.

It is also unclear why the Democratic National Committee, which isn’t supposed to favor one Democratic candidate over another until they receive a nomination, would have attempted to subvert the Sanders campaign on the grounds that “he is an atheist.”

A reply to Marshall’s email from DNC CEO Amy Dacey read only “AMEN.”

Sign up for The Intercept Newsletter here.

The post New Leak: Top DNC Official Wanted to Use Bernie Sanders’s Religious Beliefs Against Him appeared first on The Intercept.

Sony Is the Only Remaining Obstacle To PS4-Xbox Cross-Play

Slashdot -

In March, Microsoft announced native support for cross-platform play between Xbox One and Windows 10. At the time, the company also added that this support could be extended to "other console and PC networks," something which led people to wonder if truly cross-platform gaming, on any platform, was next. When asked, Sony did say that it was open to the idea. "PlayStation has been supporting cross-platform play between PC on several software titles starting with Final Fantasy 11 on PS2 and PC back in 2002. We would be happy to have the conversation with any publishers or developers who are interested in cross-platform play." But since then, it appears that Sony has had a change of heart, which has resulted in developers asking the company for an update. Kotaku reports: In recent days, the developers behind Rocket League and The Witcher 3 have both called for Sony to break down the walls separating PlayStation Network and Xbox Live and allow cross-platform multiplayer. What's changed in the last few days are developers making an open call for Sony to make good on having that conversation with publishers and developers. In an interview with IGN, Psyonix president Jeremy Dunham explained how the Rocket League developer had already taken care of the technical side of things. "We're literally at the point where all we need is the go-ahead on the Sony side," said Dunham, "and we can, in less than a business day, turn it on and have it up and working no problem. It'd literally take a few hours to propagate throughout the whole world, so really we're just waiting on the permission to do so." In another statement to IGN, CD Projekt RED CEO Marcin Iwinski supported Psyonix.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Use this $18 USB borescope for looking in walls, or other tight places

Boing Boing -

Want to look in your walls, Rob? Try this USB endoscope!

I wanted to look inside the cylinders of my motorcycle, just for fun. Rob has a secret room, hidden in the walls of his house. This 5M long fiber optic cable sports a 2.2 megapixel camera, 6 adjustable LEDs for lighting, and a small array of tools to affix for poking or dragging.

You can use this with a laptop, or with a USB-A to Mini-USB adaptor it'll work with USB OTG ready Android phones and tablets.

DBPOWER 2Million Pixels 5M USB Waterproof HD 6LED Borescope Endoscope Inspection Tube Camera via Amazon

BlackBerry “Hamburg” mid-range Android phone specs leaked?

Liliputing -

BlackBerry is expected to launch several new Android phones this year, including a mid-range model code-named “Hamburg,” which is expected to sell for under $400 and have a touchscreen display but no physical keyboard.

Now more details about the Hamburg are starting to emerge. The phone recently showed up at the FCC and GFXBench websites.

The FCC documents don’t provide many details about the phone, other than the fact that it seems to have a 2,610 mAh battery and that the phone is manufacturer by TCL, the same company behind Alcatel smartphones.

Continue reading BlackBerry “Hamburg” mid-range Android phone specs leaked? at Liliputing.

Oil Lobby Paid Washington Post and Atlantic to Host Climate-Change Deniers at RNC

The Intercept -

At the award-winning seafood restaurant in downtown Cleveland that The Atlantic rented out for the entire four-day Republican National Convention, GOP Rep. Bill Johnson turned to me and explained that solar panels are not a viable energy source because “the sun goes down.”

Johnson had just stepped off the stage where he was one the two featured guests speaking at The Atlantic’scocktail caucus,” where restaurant staff served complimentary wine, cocktails, and “seafood towers” of shrimp, crab cakes, oysters, and mussels to delegates, guests, reporters and, of course, the people paying the bills.

The event was sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute, the lobbying arm of fossil fuel giants like ExxonMobil, Chevron, and ConocoPhilips.

Johnson, a climate denier and influential member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, spoke of a future when American scientists “solve these big problems” and “figure out how to harness the sun’s energy, and store it up, so that we can put it out over time.” His hypothetical invention, of course, is called a battery, and was invented over 200 years ago.

Instead of balancing Johnson with an environmentalist or a climate scientist, The Atlantic paired Johnson with another notorious climate denier: Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., who is an energy adviser to Donald Trump. Cramer has called global warming “fraudulent science by the EPA,” and once told a radio audience in 2012 that “we know the globe is cooling.”

Both congressmen went nearly unchallenged by the moderator, The Atlantic’s Washington Editor Steve Clemons, who said he wasn’t able to find an opposing speaker, but went ahead with the event anyway.

Lewis Finkel, a top lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute gave the opening remarks. “We are pushing forward for a robust energy discussion during this election cycle,” he said.

A “seafood tower” of Jumbo Shrimp

Photo: Alex Emmons

Evidence of human-made climate change is so conclusive that it’s wrong for journalists to treat its denial like a reasonable point of view. But it is a new low for major media groups to sell their brand to lobbyists and let climate truthers go unchallenged.

And The Atlantic was hardly alone. At the Republican National Convention, the American Petroleum Institute also paid the Washington Post and Politico to host panel conversations where API literature was distributed, API representatives gave opening remarks, and not one speaker was an environmentalist, climate expert, scientists, or Democrat.

At The Atlantic‘s event, Cramer and Johnson both downplayed concerns about climate science. “The 97 percent of the scientists who believe its real, don’t all believe the exact same level,” said Cramer. “Whose fault it is, what’s going to stop it, … there’s a wide range in that spectrum.”

Johnson told the audience “climate change is probably not in most American’s top 10, top 20 issues.”

Clemons offered only limited pushback. When Johnson argued that alternative energy should not receive federal subsidies, Clemons pointed out that “the natural gas and the oil industry and the fossil fuel sector also have massive subsidies built into them,” and asked Johnson, “Would you remove all of those? How do you have that discussion?”

Johnson replied with a non-answer: “You let the energy market drive the innovation. I am not against incentives … for companies trying to pursue energy-efficient projects.” Clemons did not press him on the point.

Judge for yourself:

After the event, I followed up, asking Johnson why fossil fuel companies get tens of billions of dollars a year in federal government subsidies but alternative energy must be “market-driven.” Johnson denied any knowledge of the highly controversial subsidies, the protection of which is a top priority for the oil lobby. “The American government subsidizes fossil fuels … I don’t know what you’re talking about. I haven’t voted for that,” he said.

At the Washington Post’s discussion, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., said that in the past 15 years the earth was, on average, “cooling down,” but stressed “the point is that it’s not a settled science.”

Stephen Stromberg, an opinion writer moderating the panel for the Washington Post, registered his protest but quickly moved on. “I think there would be a vast bulk of climate scientists who would disagree,” he said, “but we don’t have to litigate the science of it this morning.”

The Washington Post’s discussion was hosted at a swanky brewpub the newspaper rented out for the week, a stone’s throw from the main entrance to the Quicken Loans Arena where the convention was held. The American Petroleum Institute was also an underwriter for the rental, and the brewpub offered guests free hors d’oeuvres, an open bar, and complimentary massages in a side room. API literature was stacked on tables, including the check-in desk.

Not to be outdone, Politico rented out the entire 21st floor of a high-rise hotel and offered guests hits from a prominently featured “flavored oxygen bar.” At Politico‘s API-sponsored event, the oil lobbying group’s CEO, Jack Gerard, opened the event by telling the audience that “the United States has become the superpower of energy in the world.”

Politico’s “Flavored Oxygen Bar”

Photo: Alex Emmons

Rep. Cramer, who was also a guest at the Politico event, joked with the audience that in his home state of North Dakota, “we’re for a warmer climate.” When discussing the EPA’s new standards to reduce methane emissions, a greenhouse gas far worse than carbon dioxide, he remarked “we’re not going to put diaper on cattle, let’s get real.” Both lines were met by roaring laughter.

Steven Shepard, a campaign editor at Politico, barely pushed back in his role as moderator. Instead of asking about the legitimacy of climate science, he asked the panel whether Donald Trump’s position on climate change – that it does not exist and is simply a Chinese conspiracy – would hurt the party in regional elections. None of the panelists said it would.

American journalists have long held that editorial independence is essential to hard-hitting, trusted reporting. News organizations build strong institutional barriers to prevent advertisers from influencing their journalism. But as revenue from traditional advertising has declined, newsrooms have been finding new ways to drive revenue from sponsors.

The Atlantic was a pioneer when it came to holding sponsored events. It’s always been controversial – but there have been some spectacular embarrassments as others tried new variations on the theme.

Washington Post, for instance, announced in 2009 that it would sell sponsorships for “off-the-record salons” – gatherings of D.C. elite that cost as much as $25,000 a seat. The plan violated many newsroom rules — it was aimed at single sponsors with vested interests, it involved selling access to editorial personnel, it was off the record and “confrontation” was banned. The Post eventually dropped the plan, and its ombudsman at the time, Andrew Alexander, described it as “an ethical lapse of monumental proportions.”

So how could this week’s single-sponsored events featuring editorial talent without dissenting speakers not have violated the editorial standards of The Atlantic, the Washington Post, and Politico?

Anna Bross, the senior director of communications for The Atlantic wrote in an email “The Atlantic has full control over speakers and panels produced. We do not defer any of that control to event underwriters.”

Steve Clemons, who moderated The Atlantic event, said there was no environmentalist on his panel because he couldn’t find one within the time deadline.

“I find it very important, no matter what the event is, to build in a diversity of perspective,” Clemons said. “So why didn’t we have that here? Because nobody would accept. I asked so many players, both different parties, different perspectives, private sectors players, to balance it out, and within the time we have, it didn’t happen.”

Then why not just cancel the panel? “Because I had trust in my own ability to be the alternative, and I had trust that the audience would ask questions to provide balance,” Clemons said.

“It is incumbent on us [journalists], to do what we can, to either create the debate or create the balance of views,” Clemons said. “You could argue we should have done more, and I, actually, would agree with that. I could have been more robust, and said ‘are you an idiot, do you not understand science?’ I did that in my own way, without being completely offensive.”

Washington Post Vice President for Communications Kris Corrati insisted that the sponsors had no influence on the makeup of the panel – and said the Post, too, had tried and fail to find speakers with different views.

Representatives from all three news organizations told The Intercept that the presence of journalists provided an adequate check on the views of climate-denying congressmen.

They also all noted that the American Petroleum Institute is paying for three more events – at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Politico‘s Shepard said his company’s event will have “the same exact sponsor, with a number of lawmakers that probably don’t line up with the sponsor on the issues.”

But consider the makeup of those panels. The Atlantic‘s DNC event will feature Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Calif., a strong advocate of renewable energy. But it will also include Rep. Gene Green, D-Texas, a vehement defender of fracking.

Politico‘s DNC event will feature Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a defender of fracking, and Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, who crossed party lines to vote in favor of the Keystone XL Pipeline, as well as energy advisers from the White House and Clinton campaign.

What were once blurred lines in the journalism business are becoming increasingly clear – because they have been crossed.

Earlier this month, for instance, The Intercept obtained a brochure from the Beltway newspaper The Hill in which it offered to sell interviews. For $200,000 sponsors would be granted an interview for “up to three named executives or organization representatives of your choice.”

Top Photo: A coal-fired plant.

Sign up for The Intercept Newsletter here.

The post Oil Lobby Paid Washington Post and Atlantic to Host Climate-Change Deniers at RNC appeared first on The Intercept.

Colorado tap water spiked with THC

Boing Boing -

Colorado has already legalized pot, but now its residents in the small town of Hugo can get it for free! After hearing "complaints," according to the sheriff's office, investigators tested the water for THC and found that, yes indeedy, it contained THC. According to the Washington Post:

Perplexed by the discovery of THC, officials began examining Hugo’s wells. Town employees, local Fox outlet KDVR reported, discovered that one of the well houses showed signs of a forced entry. Subsequent field tests detected THC in a handful of locations, though the health department does not currently have “reliable information” on the THC concentrations.

It's highly unlikely that enough THC could be put in the water to get someone stoned, especially since it's not water-soluble. But for now, the town is giving out bottled water to the residents, who are being told to avoid tap water for bathing, cooking with, and drinking. Yeah, right!

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

Samsung Fights Back, Sues China's Huawei For Patent Infringement

Slashdot -

In May, China's conglomerate Huawei filed a lawsuit against Samsung accusing the Korean company of infringing on some of its 4G-related patents. Now, Samsung is returning the favor. According to Reuters, Samsung has filed a lawsuit of its own against Huawei for a very similar reason. From the report: An intellectual property court in Beijing said on its official Weixin account that Samsung sued Huawei and a department store in Beijing and has claimed 161 million yuan ($24.14 million) in damages. Samsung asked the two defendants to stop production and sales of products the South Korean firm says infringes on its patents, including Huawei's Mate 8 and Honor smartphones, the court said.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Kickass Torrents returns after a whole day offline

Boing Boing -

A day after an expensive, multinational police effort to remove KickAssTorrents from the net culminated in the arrest of its founder and the confiscation of its domains, the inevitable happened. It's back online.

This morning the founder of kat.cr was arrested in Poland. It is another attack on freedom of rights of internet users globally. We think it's our duty not to stand aside but to fight back supporting our rights. In the world of regular terrorist attacks where global corporations are flooded with money while millions are dying of diseases and hunger, do you really think that torrents deserve so much attention? Do you really think this fight worth the money and resources spent on it? Do you really think it's the real issue to care of right now? We don’t!

You don't have to believe the rhetoric to understand how futile it is trying to push cybertoothpaste back in the cyberbottle. Effectively, all the attempt did here was turn an underground piracy site into a mainstream phenomenon, its mirrors linked to by every major news site on the internet.

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