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Across the Pacific in a week: US & Russian balloonists set world distance record

RT -

As the record was beaten Thursday morning, flight officials applauded at the Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum in New Mexico, and people who were there posed with pictures counting the distance flown, Reuters reported, citing Art Lloyd Jr., a mission support control worker at the site.

"We're really excited and just now concentrating on getting them to a nice safe landing," Lloyd said.

They are also on course to beat a 1978 flight duration record of 137 hours, 5 minutes and 50 seconds on Friday morning.

Troy and Leonid waving goodbye before launch. Photo taken by: Tami Bradley (@tamib5 )

Een foto die is geplaatst door Two Eagles Balloon Team (@twoeaglesballoonteam) op 27 Jan 2015 om 6:55 PST

Organizers of the flight say, however, that the Two Eagles have “not yet broken the record,” as “that will be determined by the US National Aeronautic Association, followed by the FAI, after a meticulous process of documentation and review that may take several weeks or months.”

Bradley and Tyukhtyaev have been on a diet of fresh fruit, freeze-dried hikers' meals, beef jerky and sometimes a hot meal from a small stove, according to Lloyd.

Their equipment includes, among others, cold weather gear such as sleeping bags and a heater.

READ MORE: 62 yo Russian sailor crosses Pacific on rowboat, 17,000km in just 162 days

The pair started their journey early Sunday from Japan, local time.

Earlier, they were on track to land in southwest Canada, but weather changed their plans, so they decided to land in Mexico.

The Two Eagles’ progress can be tracked in real time on the flight’s website.

Kerry snow job: Secretary of state fined for failing to clear sidewalk

RT -

Among a variety of other titles – such as secretary of state, former senator, and one-time Democratic candidate for president – John Kerry was called “snow-shoveling scofflaw” by the Associated Press, which reported Thursday’s $50 fine.

Why can't .@state John Kerry and heiress, layabout Teresa Heinz hire somebody to shovel snow? pic.twitter.com/YvfIN1pqev Limousine #Liberal

— Lisa (@hubofthewheel) January 30, 2015

The fine followed a citizen’s complaint, submitted to the website Universal Hub on Wednesday. A resident took a picture of a snowy sidewalk at the five-bedroom Boston townhouse where Kerry has been living since 1995, Politico website reported.

Kerry spokesman Glen Johnson told the Boston Globe, “Diplomats – they’re just like us. Secretary Kerry was working overseas while the blizzard packed a wallop back home.”

He confirmed that the ticket was issued at 9:45am Thursday, adding that “The snow has all been shoveled now, the secretary will gladly pay the ticket, and let’s hope this is the last blizzard of the year.”

John Kerry Fined $50 For Failing To Shovel After #blizzardof2015http://t.co/cHPQ9tCiLypic.twitter.com/VWt7OTv6r0

— WBZ Boston News (@cbsboston) January 30, 2015

Kerry was in Saudi Arabia with US President Obama, attending the funeral of King Abdullah, so he wasn’t able to clear the sidewalks in front of his Beacon Hill mansion himself. The city saw a massive snowstorm this week, prompting its Mayor Martin Walsh to take action against those who turn a blind eye to snow drifts.

With an estimated net worth of around $200 million, Kerry shouldn’t have too much trouble stumping up for the penalty.

Just 4 purchases enough to ID you, despite anonymized credit card data

RT -

Three months of credit card transactions carried out by 1.1 million people in 10,000 shops in one country were studied by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology team, which made the results public in a January 30 issue of Science journal.

The name of the country is not specified, it’s only designated as an Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) country. The source of the data is only mentioned as a “major bank.”

The scientists dealt with anonymized data, which did not contain neither names nor account numbers. Only metadata was left available – the time and place of a purchase.

To identify a particular person in the bulk of financial metadata, one only needs “four pieces of outside information about a user,” the study revealed. Those four pieces could be a person’s four non-anonymous purchases. One’s social media activity is one source of this type of information.

For example, let’s say that we are searching for Scott in a simply anonymized credit card data set,” the research says. “We know two points about Scott: he went to the bakery on 23 September and to the restaurant on 24 September. Searching through the data set reveals that there is one and only one person in the entire data set who went to these two places on these two days.

Knowing the price of a purchase makes identification process quicker and simpler.

Special issue: Does the era of big data mean the end privacy? http://t.co/ItLK2ERo6V

— Science Magazine (@sciencemagazine) January 29, 2015

"We are showing that the privacy we are told that we have isn't real," study co-author Alex ‘Sandy’ Pentland of MIT told AP.

Among the things the scientists came across in their research was that women were easier to identify then men, and that the higher income one had the more vulnerable he or she was to exposure. The study authors chose not to focus on the reasons behind these factors.

The research makes our expectations of privacy no more than an "illusion," Eugene Spafford, director of Purdue University's Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security.

In light of the results, data custodians should carefully limit access to data,” said Arvind Narayanan, a computer scientist at Princeton University, Science reported.

Metadata has been placed into spotlight by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who disclosed US’s NSA collected records of times and locations of phone-calls and emails of millions of Americans.

"While government surveillance has been getting a lot of press, and certainly the revelations warrant such scrutiny, a large number of corporations have been quietly expanding their use of data," privacy consultant and author Rebecca Herold told AP.

Studies like this show "how metadata can be used to pinpoint specific individuals,” she added, and offered to look into other spheres in which basic information could potentially appear too revealing, like insurance, loan and mortgage applications, divorce proceedings.

Mounties on terror patrol: Canada intel agency to get expanded anti-terror powers

RT -

Under the new law to be presented in parliament on Friday, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) will be given powers to act on its own to prevent potential attacks, as currently it only gathers information, analyzes it and then passes to police for action, CBC reported on Thursday.

The legislation is expected to lift current restrictions of the activities of CSIS, a civilian agency. The law will criminalize the promotion of terrorism; ease tracking and monitoring suspects, alongside the right to prevent jihadist suspects from boarding planes and to intercept shipments of equipment and material that could be used in an attack. It will also authorize CSIS to share private information and block financial transactions, according to the Globe and Mail newspaper.

Such corrupting power. Harper's political foes beware. / #CSIS to be granted huge expansion of its powers. #cdnpolihttp://t.co/IpUpl7lizR

— Randy Olson (@Uusitalo2010) January 30, 2015

However, CSIS would need to get a judicial warrant first. The power to arrest or detain people would reside with the police.

READ MORE: Canada's spy agency tracks file-sharing websites worldwide – Snowden docs

“The goal is for CSIS to move from an intelligence-gathering service to an agency that will have the power to disrupt or diminish potential terrorist threats under appropriate judicial oversight,” CBC News quoted an unnamed source as saying.

I wonder if 'expanded power' for CSIS is really necessary.

— Jordan Ali (@jrdn_ali) January 30, 2015

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Thursday, “We are not under any illusion of the evolving multiple threats that we face. It's difficult to predict them all, but we must continually evolve and improve our tools to do everything we can in what are obviously dangerous situations for the Canadian public, situations that we are seeing more and more frequently all over the world,” according to CBC News.

View image | gettyimages.com

Experts, including constitutional lawyers, have pointed out that security agencies “already have wide-ranging powers at their disposal” and that Canada's 2013 Anti-Terrorism Act is quite “sufficient” for now, Reuters reported.

“The Stephen Harper government is undermining our country’s already inadequate system. Just three years ago, the prime minister shut down the Office of the Inspector General, a watchdog given the task of ensuring CSIS avoided dirty tricks,” Canadian Senator Colin Kenny wrote in the Vancouver Sun.

The legislation — much to My chagrin — will not rename #CSIS the “Conservative Intelligence Agency”. Some sort of trademark problem I’m told

— TheHarperGovernment (@TheHarperGov) January 30, 2015

The government introduced a new anti-terrorism bill in October, after a “lone wolf” attack of the parliament by a Canadian citizen, who killed a soldier. It followed another fatal attack of a Canadian convert.

“There’s a real danger when we make laws in reaction to events with the assumption that those laws will help prevent tragedies from happening again,” Kent Roach, a professor at the University of Toronto and an expert in constitutional and terrorism law, told CBC News.

READ MORE: No funds, no spies: US Secret Service may kick off hiring freeze over funding dispute

“Sometimes these things can become wins for extremists and terrorists,” Scott Stewart, vice-president of tactical analysis at Stratfor, a US private intelligence and consulting firm, said, as cited the broadcaster. “They are trying to provoke further attacks and if the response reinforces their perspective on the state of the world, then it ends up helping their cause.”

Microsoft to invest in Cyanogen, which hopes to take Android from Google

LXer -

Cyanogen takes the Android source code and modifies it, adding more features and porting it to other devices. It has also started supplying Android builds directly to OEMs (like the OnePlus One), which ship the software on devices instead of stock Android. Last week during a talk in San Francisco, Cyanogen's CEO said the company's goal was to "take Android away from Google." It wants to replace the Google Play ecosystem with apps of its own, the same way that Amazon uses the Android Open Source Project for its Kindle Fire products but adds its own app and content stores.

UK Broadcaster Sky To Launch Mobile Service

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader sends word that the British pay-TV company, Sky, will launch mobile services next year UK pay-TV firm Sky is launching a mobile phone service next year in partnership with O2's Spanish parent Telefonica. Sky will use Telefonica UK's wireless network, enabling the satellite broadcaster to offer mobile voice and data services for the first time. It takes Sky into the battle for "quad play", adding mobile to its existing services of internet, landline and TV. Offering all four services is seen as the next big UK growth area for telecoms firms and broadcasters.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

bitHound puts out features, not fires

LXer -

The following is a partial transcript from a phone interview with Dan Silivestru, CEO and co-founder of bitHound.io—automated, open source, code quality analysis software.read more


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