Sunday, April 17, 2011

EmSense comes up with EmBand device to track your brainwaves as you watch TV

EmSense comes up with EmBand device to track your brainwaves as you watch TV | Mail Online

Would you feel comfortable if market researchers could know your every thought?

A headband designed by San Francisco firm EmSense can sense your brainwaves as you have reactions to watching something and then record the data for researchers.

The process of measuring your reaction to something is known as ‘quantitative neurometrics’ and it can be carried out as you watch a computer or television screen.

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ACLU Seeks Records about State Police Searches of Cellphones

ACLU Seeks Records about State Police Searches of Cellphones | ACLU of Michigan | Because Freedom Can’t Protect Itself
April 13, 2011

DETROIT – The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan urged the Michigan State Police (MSP) today to release information regarding the use of portable devices which can be used to secretly extract personal information from cell phones during routine stops.

For nearly three years, the ACLU has repeatedly asked for this information through dozens of Freedom of Information Act requests, but to date it has not been provided.

Read our letter to the Michigan State Police.

“Transparency and government accountability are the bedrocks of our democracy,” said Mark P. Fancher, ACLU of Michigan Racial Justice Project staff attorney. “Through these many requests for information we have tried to establish whether these devices are being used legally. It’s telling that Michigan State Police would rather play this stalling game than respect the public’s right to know.”

Several years ago, MSP acquired portable devices that have the potential to quickly download data from cell phones without the owner of the cellphone knowing.

The ACLU of Michigan expressed concern about the possible constitutional implications of using these devices to conduct suspicionless searches without consent or a search warrant.

In August 2008, the ACLU of Michigan filed its first FOIA request to acquire records, reports and logs of actual use.

Documents provided in response confirmed the existence of these devices, but MSP claimed that the cost of retrieving and assembling the documents that disclose how five of the devices are being used is $544,680. The ACLU was then asked to pay a $272,340 deposit before the organization could receive a single document.

In order to reduce the cost, the ACLU of Michigan narrowed the scope of its request. However, each time the ACLU submitted more narrow requests, MSP claimed that no documents exist for that time period and then it refused to reveal when the devices were used so a proper request could be made.

“We should not have to go on expensive fishing expeditions in order to discover whether police are violating the rights of residents they have resolved to protect and serve,” said Fancher.

According to CelleBrite, the manufacturer of at least some of the devices acquired by MSP, the product can extract a wide variety of data from cellphones including contacts, text messages, deleted text messages, call history, pictures, audio and video recordings, phone details including the phone number and complete memory file dumps on some handsets.

In its three-page letter, the ACLU of Michigan explained that the use of such devices may violate Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches if a warrant is not issued. In addition, the organization would like to determine if MSP is disproportionally downloading the personal information of people of color.

Recently, the national ACLU took on a similar issue challenging a federal policy of searching, copying and detaining travelers’ laptops, cell phones and other electronic devices at airports and the border without suspicion of wrongdoing.

Today’s letter was signed by Fancher and Michael J. Steinberg, ACLU of Michigan legal director.

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Major outbreak spawned 243 tornado reports in 3 days

Major outbreak spawned 243 tornado reports in 3 days - National Environmental News |

major severe weather outbreak across the southern plains, southeastern states, and mid-Atlantic states from last Thursday through Saturday spawned 243 reported tornadoes across the nation from Oklahoma to North Carolina.

On Thursday, 23 tornadoes were reported in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, and Alabama. Four people were killed on this day, two in Oklahoma and two in Arkansas.

By Friday, the storm system ramped up even further, with 113 tornado reports across Illinois, Missouri, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. Ten people were injured near Clinton, Mississippi from an apparent EF-3 tornado with estimated winds of 140 mph. Another five people were injured near Tucker, Mississippi and four additional injuries in Possumneck, Mississippi. As the day continued, another injury was reported in Poplar City, Illinois as a home was damaged by a tornado. Later, law enforcement in Alabama confirmed the first fatality of the day in Linden, Alabama, with at least four additional people injured. A tornado in Pratville, Alabama took 3 more lives later that night with an additional four injuries.

Sunday News Rundown

The U.S. tax code: A "huge convoluted mess"

The U.S. tax code: A "huge convoluted mess" - CBS Sunday Morning - CBS News
CBS News)

These are TAXING TIMES to put it mildly. Midnight tomorrow is the deadline for filing our income tax returns. And it comes in the midst of a heated debate that could shape our filing days for many years to come. Our Cover Story is reported by Seth Doane:

Every year in our nation's capital, cherry blossoms are a welcome sign of spring ...

But this year they coincide with another, far less welcome spectacle: Turmoil, over taxes.

With our national debt above 14 trillion dollars, has the age-old debate over taxing and spending finally reached a tipping point?

And while the two sides seem far apart, there is one thing nearly everyone agrees on:

The American tax system is "a huge convoluted mess," says Chris Edwards, who studies tax policy at the Cato Institute, a Libertarian think tank in Washington.

The American tax system is "a mess that's completely unfair, and that few Americans understand," says David Cay Johnston, who teaches tax regulation at Syracuse University Law School.

The American tax system is not only a mess, but an "extraordinarily complex" mess ... and not just for individuals, for corporate entities, businesses," says Nina Olson - of the Internal Revenue Service.

Of the many people who are fed up with our tax system, you might want to pay closest attention to Olson.

First engagement of the Civil War re-enacted at Fort Mott

First engagement of the Civil War re-enacted at Fort Mott |

PENNSVILLE TWP. — Did you hear the thunderous booms in Salem County this Sunday afternoon?

It was only the beginning of the American Civil War.

Nothing to worry about. The war ended in 1865, but this week marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the war.

South Jersey spent the day commemorating the battle that sparked a horrific bloody war between the northern and southern states.

The battle re-enacted was the bombardment of Fort Sumter. Since the fort is closer to Charleston, SC than it is to New Jersey, Fort Delaware served as the representative of the Fort Sumter.

The event was met by many re-enactors including Dave Hann, whose great-great-grandfather was a member of the Fort Sumter volunteers and fought in the bombardment.

His name was Edward Simms and he enlisted on April 8, 1861. The confederate bombardment at Fort Sumter was only four days later.

Simms’ last day of service was on April 9, 1865, the day Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to the Union at Appomattox in Virginia.

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Anarchy erupts in Greece as austerity bites

Anarchy erupts in Greece as austerity bites - Europe, World - The Independent

As Thessalonika riots, a town near Athens spins out of control with angry residents setting up massive roadblocks and hurling Molotov cocktails

By Elena Becatoros in Keratea, Greece

Sunday, 17 April 2011

A gas bomb explodes in Keratea


A gas bomb explodes in Keratea

As explosions boom, the town's loudspeakers blare: "Attention! Attention! We are under attack!" Air-raid sirens wail through the streets, mingling with the frantic clanging of church bells. Clouds of tear gas waft between houses as helmeted riot police move in to push back the rebels. This isn't a war zone, but asmall town just outside Athens. And while its fight is about a rubbish dump, it captures Greece's angry mood over its devastated economy.

As unemployment rises and austerity bites ever harder, tempers seem to fray faster in Greece, with citizens of all stripes thumbing their noses at authority. Some refuse to pay increased highway tolls and public transport tickets. There has been a rise in politicians being heckled and even assaulted. Yesterday, in Thessalonika, scores of activists were arrested after violent clashes with police.

The anger is most palpable in Keratea, a town of 15,000 people 30 miles south of Athenswhich appears to have spun out of control. The state's attempt to start work on a planned landfill site on a nearby hillside in December caused locals to set fire to construction vehicles and erect massive roadblocks on a road that bypasses the town and runs to the capital. It's a fight that has galvanised the town, from the mayor and the local priest to shopkeepers, farmers, schoolteachers and teenagers.

Over the past four months, locals have developed increasingly inventive roadblocks to stop contractors from getting to the site. They have parked trucks across the street and built piles of rubble and dirt. Apparently in it for the long haul, they have erected a wooden hut by the side of the road to serve as protest headquarters, complete with campaign posters, news clippings and children's drawings of the riots. Their latest move was a nocturnal expedition to dig a shoulder-deep trench across both lanes of the road. That was one step too far for the authorities, who, on Thursday, sent in workers – protected by police – to repair the damage.

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United We Strike International Radio Marathon 04/17 by Commoncents Radio | Blog Talk Radio

United We Strike International Radio Marathon 04/17 by Commoncents Radio | Blog Talk Radio

Bretton Woods outlook dark for America

Bretton Woods outlook dark for America | Prestowitz

The George Soros-backed Institute for New Economic Thinking's just-concluded Bretton Woods weekend conference of leading economists didn't actually focus on America's future, but the sum of the discussions produced a pretty grim outlook.

The current political and cultural polarization of the country was seen as probably worse today than at any time since the outbreak of the Civil War exactly 150 years ago. The geography of this polarization is also similar to that of the Civil War period and the issue of a powerful federal government versus states' rights remains pretty much the same.

The polarization today is being propagated by wealthy and powerful elements on Wall Street and elsewhere that fund bitter, attack dog politics and sharply polarized media commentary.

The power of big financial and corporate lobbies is such that they overwhelm reform efforts with huge lobbying campaigns. The effort to regulate the banks and establish accountability for them has failed to a large extent. The Dodd/Frank law that is supposed to re-regulate the banks fails badly because the reform of the banks to date has involved actually making them bigger and fewer. The biggest 50-odd institutions are being designated as too big too fail, but are not being subjected to any rigorous or vigorous oversight and regulation.

By dint of being understood to be too big to fail these banks are effectively in a position to "short" the government, meaning that they can essentially force the government to subsidize them by pursuing risky investment policies that the government must then support. The cost of capital of the big boys is lower than that of the medium and smaller fry by reason of the "too big to fail" designation. Thus, they will eventually squeeze the other banks out of the game. So bye bye community banking and ever getting to a real person at the end of the endless telephone menus.

But it gets worse. Americans are far too indebted and are trying to repair their personal balance sheets and cutting consumption to pay down debt. But this is retarding recovery and forcing the government to spend more in order to keep some kind of growth going and unemployment falling. To avoid falling back into recession, the government spending will have to continue for quite some time. But this will exacerbate the U.S. trade and current account deficits and increase overseas dollar holdings.

Study: Nearly Half of US Meat Tainted With Drug-Resistant Bacteria

Study: Nearly Half of US Meat Tainted With Drug-Resistant Bacteria

(FOX News) - There may be scores of drug-resistant bacteria lurking in your grocery meat aisle.

A study Friday by the Translational Genomics Research Institute, found that Staphylococcus aureus -- bacteria that causes most staph infections including skin infections, pneumonia and blood poisoning -- was present in meat and poultry from US grocery stores at "unexpectedly high rates."

Researchers found nearly half of the meat and poultry samples, 47 percent, were contaminated with S. aureus, and more than half of those bacteria, 52 percent, were resistant to at least three classes of antibiotics.

For the study, researchers looked at 136 samples involving 80 brands of beef, chicken, pork and turkey from 26 grocery stores in five cities including Los Angeles, Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Flagstaff, Ariz., and Washington, D.C.

"For the first time, we know how much of our meat and poultry is contaminated with antibiotic-resistant Staph, and it is substantial," Dr. Lance B. Price, senior author of the study, said in a statement. "The fact that drug-resistant S. aureus was so prevalent, and likely came from the food animals themselves, is troubling, and demands attention to how antibiotics are used in food-animal production today."

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