The latest (unstable) build of Cyanogenmod (a free/open version of Android) incorporates a secure, encrypted SMS program called TextSecure, which was created by Open WhisperSystems. Open WhisperSystems's chief engineer is the respected cryptographer and privacy advocate Moxie Marlinspike, and the source for the Cyanogenmod integration is open and available for inspection and scrutiny. The new encrypted SMS is designed to be integrated with whatever SMS app you use on your phone, and allows for extremely private, interception- and surveillance-resistant messaging over the normally insecure SMS. It requires that both parties be using TextSecure, of course -- if you send a TextSecure message to someone without secure messaging, the message will fall back to unencrypted text.
By leveraging this for our TextSecure implementation, we can extend the encrypted messaging functionality to nearly any SMS application you decide to use. Your messages to other CM or TextSecure users (regardless of iOS or Android) will automatically be encrypted and secured. In the event your receiving party isn’t on CM or using TextSecure, the implementation will silently fall back to a normal SMS message (unencrypted).
Today, we are launching our version initially into the CM 10.2 nightly stream to test the server load and make sure things are working at scale. Once things are dialed in, we’ll also enable this for CM 11 builds moving forward.
The source for this code is also being made public, and similar to what we did with CMAccount, we welcome outside audits of the cryptography.
Senior Fellow and Director of the Center on Peace and Liberty at the Independent Institute, Ivan Eland, also predicted that drone strikes will inevitably continue as long as possible, despite the fact that more Islamist extremists are created this way than are actually eliminated.
RT: This is the first visit of a Pentagon chief to Pakistan in four years. Can the cracks be smoothed over while the drone strikes continue?
Ivan Eland: The Pakistanis look the other way. They protest sometimes about the drone strikes, but they look the other way, so I think the US relationship with Pakistan is always on the knife’s edge. And of course the US pulling out has put a new element into that, but I think Hagel is there to try and negotiate. And I think, actually, US-Pakistani relations are getting better, whereas US-Afghan relations, with Khamid Karzai, are probably worse now than they have been.
RT: Is America really interested in helping relations or are they looking at the bottom line of supplying troops in Afghanistan through Pakistan?
IE: I think they want to withdraw their troops, but they also want a continuing presence in Afghanistan. And of course they still need the Pakistanis to help out, hopefully by pressuring the Taliban for the peace negotiations. But I doubt that's going to happen, because the Taliban are winning the war, and they know that most of the US forces at least are going to be leaving - that's a big inhibitor for peace negotiations no matter how much pressure the Pakistanis put on them.
That's about the only card the US has to play in Afghanistan anymore, trying to get the Pakistanis to pressure the Taliban to negotiate with the Afghan government. You know, the US could apply more aid or threats or whatever, but it's still going to be a tough go to get the Taliban to negotiate with the government.
RT: In October, the family of a woman killed by a drone strike, including a little girl, testified before the Congress, but there was little reaction from lawmakers, why?
IE: If the Pakistanis don't pressure the Taliban to negotiate with the Afghan government then the US government is kind of overlooked. I think there's going to be a heightened civil war. Of course the drone strikes in Pakistan always, from day one, have been hitting targets that the Pakistani government wanted to hit. That is the Taliban, which is different and fights the Pakistani government. The US has been hitting them as well as the Afghan Taliban which the Pakistanis support. So it's a very convoluted situation.
Really, when it comes down to it, Pakistan which is supposed to be a US ally is also the principal supporter of the Afghan Taliban which is fighting the US supported government. So the US situation with Pakistan has always been extremely complicated, including the drone strikes. And I think the drone strikes will continue as long as the US can do so, unfortunately.
RT: Given the mistrust that already exists between the two countries, including allegations of Pakistani official support for terrorism and the killing of Bin Laden in the country. How much more strain can the relationship take?
IE: I think the US withdrawing from Afghanistan eases the tension a little bit in one respect, but on the other hand the US is getting more desperate to get some sort of a settlement, so when it does withdraw the most part of its troops, or maybe even all of them, if Khamid Karzai doesn't play ball with the US, then you could see more pressure from the US on Pakistan to get the Afghan Taliban to negotiate.
So in one sense the US pulling its troops out may help out because Pakistan desperately wants influence in a post-US Afghanistan, so it is still supporting the Taliban, but they are also under pressure from the US to get the same Afghan Taliban to negotiate. Maybe the solution for Pakistan is to just pretend that the Taliban is negotiating.
Really, the Taliban will have great influence in the post-US Afghanistan, no matter what I think. These negotiations – if there are any - any meaningful negotiations will probably be somewhat of a facade I think.
RT: What choice does the US have if Pakistan fails to tackle the Taliban and other militant groups except to launch drone strikes?
IE: I think it's a bit embarrassing. One of the problems of the drone strikes is that they do kill Al-Qaeda people, but they also kill innocent Pakistanis. The same is true in Afghanistan, of course. This is a problem - that you may be creating more terrorists than you are killing. And this woman is an emblematic of that. And I don't think anybody in the US, including members of the Congress at that hearing, really want to face up to the fact that the drone wars may be really unsuccessful. They are tactically successful in killing some militants, but they are strategically a disaster, because they are creating more animosity and therefore generating more Islamic terrorism – and not only for the US, but I think for the other parties involved as well.
Russia is returning to the Arctic and “intensifying the development of this promising region” so it needs to “have all the levers for the protection of its security and national interests,” Putin said on Tuesday at an expanded meeting of the Defense Ministry Board.
He ordered the ministry to complete the formation of new military units and infrastructure in the Arctic next year.
"I would like you to devote special attention to deploying infrastructure and military units in the Arctic," the president said in televised remarks.
Russia is reinstating its military base in the Novosibirsk Archipelago (New Siberian Islands), which had been abandoned by the military in 1993, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The islands “have key meaning for the control of the situation in the entire Arctic region,” Putin told the top military brass.
This year, Russia has also started restoring its Arctic airfields including one called “Temp” on Kotelny Island near the city of Norilsk. It is also overhauling urban facilities in Tiksi, Naryan-Mar, and Anadyr.
The country is set to continue the revival of other Russian northern airfields as well as docks on the New Siberian Islands and the Franz Josef Land archipelago, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said, speaking at Tuesday’s meeting.
“There are plans to create a group of troops and forces to ensure military security and protection of the Russian Federation's national interests in the Arctic in 2014,” Shoigu confirmed.
Additionally, Russian Senator and well-known polar explorer, Artur Chilingarov, suggested reviving the Academy of Sciences’ Polar Commission – a research institution which existed until 1936.
Back in September, Russia announced it was resuming its permanent Arctic military presence. In a symbolic move, it sent 10 warships and nuclear-powered icebreakers along the Northern Sea Route. This is a shipping lane between the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans, which runs from the Russian northern port city of Murmansk, along Siberia and the Far East.
In recent years, as the race for the Arctic intensified, Russia has repeatedly reiterated that it is set to retain its position in the region for both security and economic reasons, as well as to preserve its national integrity.
However, other Arctic nations are not going to give up either in their intention of grabbing a share of the region, believed to be rich in oil, natural gas, and deposits of gold and platinum. According to a US Geological Survey, about 90 billion barrels of oil and 1,670 trillion cubic feet of natural gas are there, making up about 10 percent of the world's petroleum resources. The dominant portion of these resources is hidden beneath ice that is shared between five nations bordering the Arctic: Canada, Denmark, Norway, the Russia and the US – who have been in a bitter dispute over how to divide up the ‘pie’.
According to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, an economic zone belonging to a state is limited to 200 nautical miles from the coastline. That area can only be extended if a country provides evidence that the continental shelf is a geological extension of its territory.
Canada confirmed on Monday that it is preparing to include the North Pole as part of its Arctic Ocean seabed claim in the multi-country push to prove jurisdiction over further territory in the area.
Since 2007, Russia has organized several expeditions to prove that an underwater Arctic mountain range, the Lomonosov Ridge, is part of its own landmass. It says the ridge is a continuation of the Siberian continental platform and it is not isolated from the Russian plateau.
US President Barack Obama in May unveiled a strategy for the Arctic, asserting that nations must protect the region's fragile environment and keep it free from conflict. The plan also made it clear the US does not want to be left behind as the other countries eye natural resources and exploit potential new sea routes.
Norwegian Justice Minister Anders Anundsen announced on Monday evening that he had sent a request to his Swedish colleague, Beatrice Ask, to rent jail space, the state broadcaster NRK reports.
“We cannot live with the situation we have in this country now. We have long prison queues, and that is why we have contacted the Swedes to see if it is possible to lease prison places there,” he told NRK.
Anundsen described his proposal as “a win-win situation for both us and the Swedes”.
Per Clareus, a spokesman for Beatrice Ask, said on Monday that the Swedish justice ministry wasn’t ready to comment on Anundsen’s proposal until they had had time to consider it as the letter hadn’t arrived yet.
Norway has 1,200 people for whom jail places are needed, and Norwegian authorities say the problem is becoming a serious law and order issue.
Deputy Justice Minister Vidar Karlsen, who is from the right-wing Progress Party like Anundsen, said last month that he was considering sending foreign criminals to disused military bases in the artic north of Norway.
Sweden has closed four prisons in the towns of Aby, Haga, Batshagen and Kristianstad after the number of people being handed down jail terms fell dramatically.
“We have seen an out-of-the-ordinary decline in the number of inmates. Now we have the opportunity to close down a part of our infrastructure that we don’t need at this point in time,” Nils Oberg, the head of Sweden’s prison and probation services, told the English language newspaper the Local last month.
Prison numbers in Sweden dropped by 6 percent between 2011 and 2012 and are expected to do the same both this year and next, said Oberg.
At its peak in 2004, the Swedish prison population stood at 5,722, while in 2012 it was down to 4,852 out of a population of 9.5 million, according to official data.
Oberg said he did not know for sure why the prison population had dropped by so much. One reason may be Sweden’s focus on the rehabilitation of prisoners.
“We certainly hope that the efforts we invest in rehabilitation and preventing relapse of crime has had an impact, but we don’t think this could explain the entire drop of 6 percent,” he said.
Another reason may be that Swedish courts have begun to give more lenient sentences for drug offences, following a ruling by the Swedish Supreme Court in 2011. Last March there were 200 fewer people in jail for drug offences than the previous year.
Hanns von Hofer, a criminology professor at Stockholm University, attributed the drop in prison terms to a recent shift in policy to probationary sanctions replacing short term jail terms for minor theft, drug offences and violent crimes.
In 2010, Belgium became the first country to send its inmates abroad after it sent 500 to the Netherlands in a 30 million euros ($41 million) a year deal.
Norway locks up just 71 people per 100,000 of its population a shade above Sweden’s figure of 67 per 100,000. The United States puts more people in jail than any other country with 716 per 100,000 of its population.
"No one listened to it. But there it is, forever – the quintessence of articulated punk. And no one goes near it." - Lou Reed, August 2013
“Cited by nearly every group in punk's long lineage and by more than a few arty types, the Velvets defined New York rock, poised between street-level grit and literary irony, rock simplicity and minimalistic drones, clarity and noise.”– The New York Times
The Velvet Underground’s White Light/White Heat is one of the most confrontational and inspirational second albums ever made by a rock band. Recorded in a matter of days at the end of the summer of 1967, a season in which everything seemed possible in rock and much of it happened at now-mythic speed, White Light/White Heat is an album that reeks of the gritty NY street life and could only have been made in New York, by one band. And that group is the classic-quartet lineup of The Velvet Underground – singer-guitarist Lou Reed; bassist-organist and viola player John Cale; guitarist-bassist Sterling Morrison; and drummer Maureen Tucker.
The Velvet Underground - White Light/White Heat 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition, released this week, is a three-disc, 30-track set featuring both the original stereo and mono releases, completely remastered, with bonus tracks including alternate versions, unreleased outtakes, John Cale's last studio sessions with the band, and the official release of their complete show at The Gymnasium in New York recorded on April 30, 1967, which includes five previously unreleased performances culled from John Cale’s personal copy. The Super Deluxe Edition includes four newly prepared remixes, including the earliest known, previously unreleased version of "Beginning To See The Light." and previously unreleased versions of "The Gift (vocal version)" and "The Gift (instrumental version)". Exclusive to this limited Super Deluxe Edition is a 56 page hard bound book with rare photos , memorabilia and David Fricke Essay/interview with John Cale and Lou Reed from 2013. The 45th anniversary editions were developed in conjunction with Lou Reed and John Cale.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) – the institution that comes up with new technologies for the US military – has developed the revolutionary satellite. The Membrane Optical Imager for Real-Time Exploitation (MOIRE) is made up of 18 octagonal mirrors that unfurl to form a massive eye, measuring 68 feet (20.7 meters) in diameter.
From its position 35,000 kilometers above the Earth, MOIRE will be able to view approximately 40 percent of the planet’s surface. The satellite will transmit what it sees in high resolution and in real time.
“It would be optimal to have real-time images and video of any place on earth at any time—a capability that doesn’t currently exist,” writes DARPA on its website. Currently the MOIRE is in the second phase of its development and a ground-based prototype has been successfully tested.
Up until this point, the logistics of transporting such an enormous satellite into space made such a feat impossible. However, MOIRE’s 18 octagonal mirrors are made of a plastic membrane about as thick as cling film instead of heavy glass lenses. As well as being significantly lighter, the new material is also more flexible and can be folded and as a result takes up less space at launch.
“Membrane optics could enable us to fit much larger, higher-resolution telescopes in smaller and lighter packages,” said Lt. Col. Larry Gunn, Darpa program manager, in a statement. “In that respect, we’re ‘breaking the glass ceiling’ that traditional materials impose on optics design.”
Moreover, the membranes are easier to protect than their glass predecessors and are able to survive more wear and tear. Instead of reflecting light like mirrors, the membranes diffract light with specially placed obstacles etched into their surfaces. The membrane focuses the light onto a sensor which then transforms it into an image.
Although DARPA has not released any information on how much it costs to produce the membranes, the new design has the potential to drastically lower the costs of putting a satellite in orbit.
You met Lance Howarth, the CEO of the Raspberry Pi Foundation (this means he heads up our charitable giving), when he joined us earlier in the autumn. Today Lance has some news for you – and a very silly hat.
Ho Ho Ho!
Here at Pi Towers we are getting into the festive spirit, and we’ve been thinking how best to pay back the goodwill our community has shown us over the last year. So, in support of “Hour of Code” as part of Computer Science Education week, we got together with our friends from Google and we are going to give away Pis for Christmas. That’s right: we’re giving away up to 2000 Google Raspberry Pis to anyone under the age of 18 in the United Kingdom. To qualify for a free Pi you need to do one of two things. Either:
- Get your school to do an “Hour of Code” between now and the end of term and we’ll send a Pi for every participant to your school (up to a maximum of 20), or
- Design a “My Pi Project” poster and send it to us here at Pi Towers, and we’ll send you your own Raspberry Pi.
You can get more information on Hour of Code week from our friends at Code.org. They have lots of great ideas of what you can do for the Hour Of Code. If you are a member of Code Club, how about getting your class to have a go at their festive project Christmas Capers? To qualify for your Google Pi, just ask your teacher to register here. At the end of next week we’ll take the first thousand Raspberry Pis and start shipping them out on a first come, first served basis, so the Pis should be waiting for you when you come back to school in January.
Not everyone is going to get the opportunity participate in the Hour of Code week, but don’t worry, you can still get a free Google Pi. All you need to do is design a poster showing us what you think would be a cool Raspberry Pi project. This might be something to do with your pet, like an automatic cat flap or feeder; something to do with photography, like looking at the thermal image of your house; or something festive like controlling the Christmas lights so they flash along to music. If fact, anything will do, we are just looking to see how imaginative you can be and to learn what you think would be a cool project. Once you have designed your poster you need to get your parent to print this form out, fill it in, and then send it with your poster to us by post at:
Raspberry Pi Foundation
Mount Pleasant House
You can also send us a scan of your poster and completed form by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your poster needs to be with us by the 8th of January, so you’ll have plenty of time to get this done over the Christmas break. So get thinking!
Who ate all the Pis? Santa, of course!
A couple of notes: this promotion is only open to schools and kids in the UK (this requirement is placed on us by our partners at Google UK). You’ll receive Google Pi kits, which include a cased Model B Raspberry Pi, an SD card, a power supply, a copy of The MagPi, some projects recipe cards and a Getting Started guide. If you are a teacher and you send us a successful application, we will be getting in touch later in 2014 to talk about what you’re doing with the Raspberry Pis.
Having to endure freezing temperatures on the streets of Kiev is not the worst the protesters and police have been through since the rallies broke out in the Ukrainian capital in late November, following President Yanukovich’s refusal to sign an integration agreement with the EU.
A violent crackdown on the rally participants by the Berkut special police forces on the night of November 30, instead of suffocating the protest only multiplied the number of its participants and strengthened their resolve.
Standoffs between police and protesters have become a daily routine for the Ukrainian capital, which is looking like a war zone with its camp of protesters in the very center and barricades around major government buildings. Each side claims dozens of injured in the clashes.
“Every few hours Ukraine’s opposition reports police have begun an assault on the protesters, so every few hours the tension is ratcheted up another notch,” RT’s Paul Scott reports from Kiev.
In a situation as precarious as this, any news might become explosive - fertile ground for hoaxing.
Like the one, that emerged straight after the December-6 meeting between Viktor Yanukovich’s and Vladimir Putin. Media reported that the Ukrainian president had agreed to join Russia's Customs Union. The reports hardened the resolve of many on Independence Square (Maidan Nelalezhnosti).
The story was immediately denied by Moscow and Kiev, but among the protesters it fell on deaf ears.
The rumor of the Russia-Ukraine agreement was followed by more outrageous ones. One minute it was claimed that Russia was going to cross the border and help stamp out the protests. The next stated that special forces were being shipped in from all over Ukraine, and tanks were rumbling their way into central Kiev.
Mark Almond, Professor of history at Oxford University told RT, that he had seen it all before.
“Those who remember the so-called orange revolution in 2004 would remember we were told then that there were Russian special forces lurking in the woods near Kiev, waiting to crack down. There weren’t, nothing happened,” Almond said. “So we’re seeing a kind of a propaganda war… psychological war taking place, using these rumors of crackdown and even foreign interference”.
On Monday, several Ukrainian news outlets reported on foreign countries’ acts of support for the protesters out on the streets of Kiev. It was said that Washington’s Statue of Liberty and Rio’s Statue of Christ the Redeemer had been lit up by blue and yellow lights, representing the colors of the Ukrainian flag. The pictures of the events jumped from a personal Facebook account to the official Twitter of a major opposition political party and then to news agencies.
Only it wasn’t news. Rather an experiment to show how easy it was to manipulate public opinion. The pictures were actually photoshoped by a Ukrainian blogger and occasional online prankster, Den Alampiev.
“I decided to see how people are consuming hoax news,” he wrote on his web-page. “It took me two minutes to make fake photos of the Statue of Liberty and the Statue of Christ. I wrote a short description and posted on Facebook, Vkontakte [famous Russian network], Twitter and LJ. In exactly 24 hours the photo spread across the social media.”
The effect actually exceeded Den’s expectations. Hundreds of Facebook likes were one thing, but the “lighting trick” soon led to a much more serious result.
"It was even retweeted on the official twitter page of the opposition party Fatherland as real news, with a comment that the whole world is supporting Ukrainian protesters”, Alampiev told RT.
“People camping out on Maidan don't check this information. Such hoaxes are spread to instigate people, not to let protesters run out of steam, to draw more support for a certain political power.”
For more on the fake news, which adds fuel to protests in Kiev, watch RT Paul Scott’s report from the Ukrainian capital.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.