Archive for the ‘technology’ Category

China Hosts Vast Spy Network, Computer Invasion Force

March 28, 2009

A vast electronic spying operation has infiltrated computers and has stolen documents from hundreds of government and private offices around the world, including those of the Dalai Lama, Canadian researchers have concluded.

By JOHN MARKOFF
The New York Times

In a report to be issued this weekend, the researchers said that the system was being controlled from computers based almost exclusively in China, but that they could not say conclusively that the Chinese government was involved.

The researchers, who are based at the Munk Center for International Studies at the University of Toronto, had been asked by the office of the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan leader whom China regularly denounces, to examine its computers for signs of malicious software, or malware.

Their sleuthing opened a window into a broader operation that, in less than two years, has infiltrated at least 1,295 computers in 103 countries, including many belonging to embassies, foreign ministries and other government offices, as well as the Dalai Lama’s Tibetan exile centers in India, Brussels, London and New York.

art.hacker1.cnn.jpg 
The leader of these Chinese hackers says there “is always a weakness” on networks that allows cyber break-ins. 

The researchers, who have a record of detecting computer espionage, said they believed that in addition to the spying on the Dalai Lama, the system, which they called GhostNet, was focused on the governments of South Asian and Southeast Asian countries.

Intelligence analysts say many governments, including those of China, Russia and the United States, and other parties use sophisticated computer programs to covertly gather information.

The newly reported spying operation is by far the largest to come to light in terms of countries affected.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/
03/29/technology/29spy.html

Related:
China boosts military, cyberwarfare capabilities

Chinese Hackers Routinely Attack U.S. Computers

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End Of The Era Of Books, Author Says

January 21, 2009

Novelist, essayist and screenwriter Larry McMurtry makes a rare Houston speaking appearance Wednesday night when he delivers the 2009 Friends of Fondren Library Distinguished Guest Lecture.

Best-known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning novelLonesome Dove, the 72-year-old McMurtry remains extraordinarily prolific. He contributes frequently to the New York Review of Books. His screenplay for Brokeback Mountain, co-written with Diana Ossana, won an Academy Award in 2006.

And while he has turned in the last decade to memoir, chronicling his evolution as a writer and antiquarian-book dealer, he’s not done with fiction. His 29th novel hits bookstores later this year.

McMurtry also continues to operate Booked Up, his massive used- and rare-book shop in his hometown of Archer City.

He talked by phone with [Houston] Chronicle books editor Fritz Lanham.

Q: What will you talk about at Rice?

A: The end of the culture of the book. I’m pessimistic. Mainly it’s the flow of people into my bookshop in Archer City. They’re almost always people over 40.

I don’t see kids, and I don’t see kids reading. I think little kids love to have stories read to them, but when they get to 10 or 11 or 12, they run into this tsunami of technology: iPod, iPhone, Blackberries.

They don’t resist it, and it’s normal that they wouldn’t; it’s their culture. I’m not so sure they ever come back to reading. Some will, but most won’t.

Read the rest:
http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/hea
dline/features/6221607.html

“America becoming the nation of the unemployed” — Schools to Blame?

January 8, 2009

Without a long-term plan for investment in science and technology that stresses innovation and jobs, America will be the nation of the unemployed,  Norman Augustine, retired Chairman of Lockheed Martin told Congressional leaders Wednesday, January 7, 2009.

He said that government spending often only yields short-term jobs and when the global economy is jump started “those new long-term jobs won’t be here.”

“We need a companion effort to these [short-term job] proposals that addresses long-term job creation,” said Augustine. “What replaces them when the jobs run out? Investments in science and technology are likely to underpin any advancement in our country, helping to solve the energy problem, and creating new jobs.”

Augustine said the needed structural reforms could come from a complete overhaul of our schools and a renewal of science and technology in the classroom.

“This is not a short term economic ill we are facing.”

He said that almost 90% of American science teachers lack a degree in a science study area….

Mr. Augutine appeared before the  House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, Chaired by Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Augustine often tells Congress what members don’t care to hear.  We recall him saying once, “By the time of the United States tricentennial, there will be more government workers than workers.”

We used the word Cappuccino in the headline just to get your attention and to make the point that often American schools spend their resources on all the wrong things.  Schools need to be geared toward excellence without further catering to the slowest students.  This is a national and not a local issue anywhere in our opinion: and Mr. Augustine told Congress that yesterday…

Anter yesterday’s hearing, House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio said, “We cannot borrow and spend our way back to prosperity when we’re already running an annual deficit of more than one trillion dollars.  I was pleased to hear the president-elect say yesterday that we need to stop just talking about our national debt and actively confront it.”

John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapel, Virginia

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Related:
http://money.cnn.com/2009/01/07/news/economy/steerin
g_committee_forum/index.htm?postversion=2009010712

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Related:
 America’s Future? Grim Reality Unless Major Changes Are Adopted
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U.S. Students Failing International Science Measures

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School Lacks Toilet Paper, Light Bulbs

A Detroit elementary school is asking for donations of toilet paper and light bulbs to keep their school functioning.

The principal of the Academy of Americas sent a letter to staff, parents and partners asking for donations of items “that are of the utmost importance for proper school functioning and most importantly for student health and safety.”

In the letter, Principal Naomi Khalil cited budget constraints within the district as the reason why the school could no longer stock the items.

The district is grappling with a more than $400 million budget deficit and is on the verge of being assigned an emergency financial manager by the state.

Read the rest:
http://www.clickondetroit.com/new
s/18430596/detail.html

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School System Spent $67,000 On Cappuccino Machines

Chicago Sun-Times

Chicago public school bureaucrats skirted competitive bidding rules to buy 30 cappuccino/espresso machines for $67,000, with most of the machines going unused because the schools they were ordered for had not asked for them, according to a report by the CPS Office of Inspector General.

That was just one example of questionable CPS actions detailed in the inspector general’s 2008 annual report. Others included high school staffers changing grades to pump up transcripts of student athletes and workers at a restricted-enrollment grade school falsifying addresses to get relatives admitted.

In the case of the cappuccino machines, central office administrators split the order among 21 vocational schools to avoid competitive bidding required for purchases over $10,000. As a result CPS paid about $12,000 too much, according to Inspector General James Sullivan. “We were able to find the same machines cheaper online,” he said.

“We also look at it as a waste of money because the schools didn’t even know they were getting the equipment, schools didn’t know how to use the machines and weren’t prepared to implement them into the curriculum,” Sullivan said.

CPS spokesman Michael Vaughn said CPS plans to change its purchasing policy so that competitive bidding kicks in when a vendor accumulates $10,000 worth of orders, no matter how many schools are involved. One person was fired and disciplinary action is pending against three others, he said.

Read the rest:
http://www.suntimes.com/news/education/
1365268,CST-NWS-inspect07.article

Australia Moves to Censor Internet

December 27, 2008

A proposed Internet filter dubbed the “Great Aussie Firewall” is promising to make Australia one of the strictest Internet regulators among democratic countries.

Consumers, civil-rights activists, engineers, Internet providers and politicians from opposition parties are among the critics of a mandatory Internet filter that would block at least 1,300 Web sites prohibited by the government — mostly child pornography, excessive violence, instructions in crime or drug use and advocacy of terrorism.

Hundreds protested in state capitals earlier this month.

“This is obviously censorship,” said Justin Pearson Smith, 29, organizer of protests in Melbourne and an officer of one of a dozen Facebook groups against the filter.

The list of prohibited sites, which the government isn’t making public, is arbitrary and not subject to legal scrutiny, Smith said, leaving it to the government or lawmakers to pursue their own online agendas.

AP

“I think the money would be better spent in investing in law enforcement and targeting producers of child porn,” he said.

Internet providers say a filter could slow browsing speeds, and many question whether it would achieve its intended goals. Illegal material such as child pornography is often traded on peer-to-peer networks or chats, which would not be covered by the filter.

“People don’t openly post child porn, the same way you can’t walk into a store in Sydney and buy a machine gun,” said Geordie Guy, spokesman for Electronic Frontiers Australia, an Internet advocacy organization. “A filter of this nature only blocks material on public Web sites. But illicit material … is traded on the black market, through secret channels.”

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy proposed the filter earlier this year, following up on a promise of the year-old Labor Party government to make the Internet cleaner and safer.

“This is not an argument about free speech,” he said in an e-mail to The Associated Press. “We have laws about the sort of material that is acceptable across all mediums and the Internet is no different. Currently, some material is banned and we are simply seeking to use technology to ensure those bans are working.”

Read the rest:
http://tech.yahoo.com/news/ap/2008
1226/ap_on_hi_te/tec_australia_internet_filter

Mumbai attackers more tech savvy than the police

December 14, 2008

When the attackers arrived on the shores of Mumbai last month, they had studied satellite images of the city, were carrying handheld GPS sets and were communicating with their handlers via the Internet and satellite phone.

Many of the Indian police they encountered did not even have walkie-talkies.

The Mumbai gunmen not only overwhelmed security forces with their weaponry and willingness to die, but also with their sophisticated use of technology, security experts said.

By MUNEEZA NAQVI and MIN LEE, Associated Press Writers

“These (terrorists) are well aware of the technology available and also know that the police are several steps behind. And a lot of this technology is extremely easy to use and to learn,” said Pavan Duggal, a technology expert and New Delhi-based lawyer.

India‘s underfunded and poorly trained police force is simply unable to compete, experts said.

“Crimes that involve technology usually make the police very nervous,” Duggal said.

An Indian policeman stands guard at a police complex believed ... 
An Indian policeman stands guard at a police complex believed to be housing the lone surviving gunman, Mohammed Ajmal Kasab from the recent attacks in Mumbai December 11, 2008. Indian police will charge the lone surviving gunman of last month’s Mumbai attacks on 12 counts, including waging war against the state, officials said on Wednesday.REUTERS/Arko Datta (INDIA)

To prepare for their Nov. 26 assault, militants examined the layout and landscape of the city using images from Google Earth, which provides satellite photos for much of the planet over the Internet, said Mumbai’s chief police investigator, Rakesh Maria.

The 10 gunmen also studied detailed photographs of their targets on laptop computers, Maria said.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081214/ap
_on_re_as/as_india_shooting_technology_1

This Nov. 26, 2008, file photo shows a gunman walking at the ... 
This Nov. 26, 2008, file photo shows a gunman walking at the Chatrapathi Sivaji Terminal railway station in Mumbai, India. The lone gunman to survive the Mumbai terror attacks was a petty street thug from a dusty Pakistani outpost who was systematically transformed into a highly trained suicide guerrilla over 18 months in jihadist camps, India’s top investigator into the attacks said Saturday. Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, 21, was one of the 10 men who came ashore on small rubber raft Nov. 26, divided into five pairs and attacked some of Mumbai’s best known and most beloved landmarks.(AP Photo/Mumbai Mirror, Sebastian D’souza, File) CREDIT MANDATORY

U.N.: Mexico Will Cut Emissions 10% By 2050 If U.S., Japan Pay

December 12, 2008

If you are an American you heard this right: Mexico will go to work on cleaning up its factories that produce tons of pollution if you pay.  But this won’t happen soon…

To improve the quality of the environment, China, Russia and everyone else have offered to limit the industries of the U.S., Japan and Canada — and give them the bill to pay “emerging economies” to have cleaner industries….

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Developing countries upbraided rich nations at U.N. climate talks Thursday, saying they were refusing to act boldly enough to stop global warming. Mexico sought to prod others into action by becoming the first developing country to announce a cap on greenhouse gas emissions.

As 145 environment ministers and other leaders gathered for the final phase of the two-week talks, delegates from poor countries made emotional pleas to rich countries to take the lead in cutting the heat-trapping gases that their factories have pumped into the air since the Industrial Revolution.

By VANESSA GERA, Associated Press Writer

Former U.S. vice president Al Gore, right, receives an Honorary ... 
Former U.S. vice president Al Gore, right, receives an Honorary Doctorate from Professor Bronislaw Marciniak, left, at the Poznan University, Poland, Thursday, Dec. 11, 2008. Gore is in Poland to participate in the UN climate change conference in Poznan where more than 10, 000 delegates from 186 governments, businesses and environmental groups meet to agree on a new climate treaty in Copenhagen at the end of 2009 to succeed the Kyoto Protocol.(AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

Countries like the United States, Canada and Japan have resisted deep emissions cuts without similar sacrifice from the developing world. They argue that unilateral action on their part would harm their economies, and would not solve the crisis if industrializing countries like China and India keep spewing out ever more carbon dioxide.

The attitude of the rich countries “borders on the immoral and is counterproductive,” said John Ashe, Antigua’s ambassador to the U.N., speaking on behalf of 130 developing countries plus China.

Mexico DF City.jpg

Above: Mexico City sparkles on a rare clear evening conceded that “our negotiations are by far not progressing fast enough. We are not making any progress on crucial issues.”

German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel

“If industrialized countries carry on playing games with words in an attempt to shirk their responsibilities, we will become a laughing stock,” Gabriel said.

To spur global collective action, Mexico’s environment secretary, Juan Rafael Elvira, announced his country’s plan to cut 2002 greenhouse gas emission levels by 50 percent by 2050. Still, he said Mexico’s goal of using solar power, wind and other clean technologies could only be reached with financial and technological help from wealthier nations.

The Mexican plan includes establishing a cap-and-trade system that would set emissions limits on certain sectors, such as cement, electricity and oil refining, which account for the vast majority of its emissions. Companies that reduce their emissions below those limits could sell their unused allowances on the international carbon market.

The move makes Mexico the only developing country to set a voluntary national target below current levels, said Antonio Hill, senior policy adviser for Oxfam. South Korea has said it would announce an emissions cap next year, and South Africa has a detailed plan to peak emissions in 2025.

Tourists walk through heavy fog over Tiananmen Square in Beijing ...
Tourists walk through heavy fog over Tiananmen Square in Beijing in 2007. China warned its heavy dependence on coal to fuel its fast-growing economy made it difficult to control greenhouse gas emissions, but said fighting global warming remained imperative.(AFP/File/Teh Eng Koon)

“It’s a very significant step because a major emerging economy is saying that it will put a limit on its emissions for key sectors which account for the majority of its emissions,” said Jake Schmidt, international climate policy director for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Officials at the talks in Poland are working on a new worldwide treaty to cut greenhouse gas emissions. It is supposed to be concluded next December in Copenhagen, Denmark, and would replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

Environmentalists have also sharply criticized the rich countries, saying they have done too little to battle global warming. But many developing countries, including Brazil, China, South Africa, and now Mexico, have won praise for taking strong steps in fighting climate change.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081211/ap_on_bi_ge/eu_poland_climate_talks_7