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NSA Considered Scrapping Program Before Snowden’s Whistleblowing – New Report Shows Internal Talks Questioned Results Versus Cost http://b4in.org/cH2s

Less-than-impressive results, coupled with growing costs, had officials considering dropping a controversial program at the National Security Agency, officials are now saying.

Of course, the agency didn’t have a chance to decide whether it would stop monitoring and collecting phone records before whistleblower Edward Snowden decided to make international headlines by outing the agency and its program.

Snowden, now, is seen as a hero by some and a disgrace by others, but the program he revealed was, reportedly, already under the spotlight. It was a program NSA officials were contemplating dropping as it was not netting the results the agency had been hoping for, The Washington Post reports in an Associated Press (AP) story.

A proposal to shelf the program had already been making its rounds at the agency but, when Snowden went public, it had yet to reach Gen. Keith Alexander. Alexander, at that time, was the NSA director. AP, in its story, said two former intelligence officials with the NSA stated it was doubtful Alexander would have approved the idea of scrapping the program.

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The World’s Most Misterious and Unexplained Book: The Voynich Manuscript http://b4in.org/gHgV

There are quite a number of undeciphered books in the world but none are more enigmatic than the mysterious Voynich manuscript. It is named after Wilfred Voynich, a Polish book dealer who bought it in 1912. At the time, the Collegio Romano was short on money and sold a batch of 30 manuscripts. Among those, Voynich discovered one that would puzzle humanity for the next century.

Carbon dating revealed it was written in the early 15th century. Some of its pages were torn out but the remaining 240 contain puzzling illustrations and text hand-written in an unknown writing system. All attempts to translate the text have resulted in failure. Many cryptographers and code-breakers have studied the manuscript but it refuses to give up its secrets.

It has been described as either a magical or a scientific writing and almost every page contains drawings and diagrams inked in vibrant shades or red, green, blue , brown or yellow. While the text itself cannot be read, the illustrations divide the book into six different sections. Each of these sections has differently-styled drawings and subjects. The sections are:

Herbal: Each page contains one or two drawings of unknown plants described in a few paragraphs. The format is typical of European herbals of the time.

Pharmaceutical: This section contains drawings of different chimeric plant parts (leaves, roots, fruit). It also shows various apothecary equipment, some of which have been labeled as fantastical.

Biological: The category consists of text and figures that mostly show tiny naked women bathing in tubs connected by an intricate network of pipes.
Recipes: This section contains full pages of text divided into multiple short paragraphs.

Astronomical: This is the most elaborate category, containing circular diagrams. Some of them show suns, moons and stars. There is a series of 12 diagrams depicting the conventional symbols for zodiacal constellations. Each of these diagrams show 30 female figures arranged in concentric bands.

Cosmological: Also contains circular diagrams but these are more obscure than the rest. This section also includes foldouts, the largest of which spans six pages and shows a map with nine islands connected by paths. The islands contain castles and what appears to be a volcano.

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Global Doom: Earth’s Magnetic Field Is Collapsing http://b4in.org/sHvN

To those of us wondering when will the Apocalypse take place, we might have an answer. During the last 200 years, Earth’s magnetic field has weakened by 15%. This has led scientists to believe that our planet is undergoing a magnetic pole reversal.

This is a lot scarier than the name suggests as it will permanently affect life as we know it.

The Earth is protected against cosmic rays by its magnetosphere. The magnetosphere is generated by our planet’s molten metallic core. Once every 450,000 years or so, the magnetic North and South poles shift and this process takes anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 years to complete.

During a magnetic pole reversal, the Earth’s magnetic field is weakened. This process has a severe impact on most life forms. The last geomagnetic reversal occurred 781,000 years ago and scientists believe we are due another in a relatively short period of time. The last time this happened, the magnetic field dropped to around 5% of its current intensity.

All electronic devices would be rendered unusable, effectively sending us back to the Middle Ages. Society as we know it would rapidly crumble.
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China Has Built the World’s First Hydrogen-Powered Tram http://b4in.org/iHkA

Chinese scientists have developed the first hydrogen-powered tram in the world.

This will allow China to start to address the smog problems in their biggest cities.

The Qingdao Sifang Company, a subsidiary of China South Rail Corporation Limited, is the manufacturer. “It took two years for Sifang to solve key technological problems, with the help of research institutions,” said chief engineer Liang Jianying, according to the Xinhua news agency. But Liang did not give any indication as to when the tram would be in operation.

It is now off the production line in the coastal city of Qingdao. Hydrogen fuel cells are not new and have been around for a while. They are currently being used and tested in different types of vehicles, including buses. But nobody before had managed to use the technology for trams.

The tram can carry 380 people at a top speed of 45 mph, and can travel 60 miles on just one tank of hydrogen.

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It's a start. Wonder what its efficiency would do if it was methane powered.
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Will We Ever Learn to Work With Nature, Rather Than Against It? http://b4in.org/qHvk

here has been decades of research conducted by environmental scientists. In a recent article in the Chemical and Engineering News, scientists are now convinced that some chemicals will persist for at least 40 years or more, and some will remain forever.

Prior to 1972 when its use was banned, DDT was a commonly used pesticide. Although it is no longer used or produced in the United States, we continue to find DDT in our environment. Other parts of the world continue to use DDT in agricultural practices and in disease-control programs. Therefore, atmospheric deposition is the current source of new DDT contamination in our Great Lakes. DDT and its break-down products DDE and DDD are persistent, bioacculumative, and toxic (PBT) pollutants targeted by the EPA, said the EPA on its website.

DDT was found in umbilical cord blood in 2011:



Ronald Hites from the University of Indiana and other researchers have tracked the movements through the environment of persistent chemicals, such as DDT, PCBs, and PAHs. Scientists were surprised to find evidence of DDT 40 years after it was banned, contradicting the previous notion that the chemical broke down in the atmosphere in a matter of days, reported the Environmental Monitor.

Scientists have found that DDT and other chemicals are able to:

Get into the atmosphere
Be collected in water
Seep into the soil or sediment
Be placed into landfill

The problem being that they have found it can then be released back into the atmosphere.

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Hackers for Hire both Good and Bad http://b4in.org/tHqb

Ever see those public bulletin boards with all the business cards on them? Don’t be surprised if you spot one that says “Hacker•for•Hire.” These are hackers who will, for a nice juicy fee, hack into your wife’s Facebook account to see if she’s cheating on you.



However, there’s at least one hackmaking site that matches hackers to clients who want to infiltrate a network for personal gain or even revenge. The site, Hacker’s List, is a good idea, certainly not the first of its kind; the site’s founders (who wish to remain anonymous) get a piece of the pie for each completed job. Kind of sounds like one of those freelance job sites where someone bids on a posted job. The client must put the payment in escrow prior to the job being carried out. This pretty much guarantees payment to the hacker.

The site began operation in November. Imagine the possibilities, like business people getting a complete list of their competitors’ clients, customers, prices and trade secrets. And yes, a college student could hire a hacker for changing a grade. Makes you kind of wish you were skilled at hacking; what a freaking easy way to make a lot of money.

Is a site like this legal? After all, cracking into someone’s personal or business account is illegal. The site has a lengthy terms of service that requires agreement from users, including agreeing not to use the service for illegal activity. The verdict isn’t out if Hacker’s List is an illegal enterprise, and further complicating this is that many of the job posters are probably outside the U.S.

Hacker’s List was carefully developed, and that includes the founders having sought legal counsel to make sure they don’t get in trouble.

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Private E-mails Reveal Ex-Clinton Aide’s Secret Spy Network – E-mails disclosed by a hacker show a close family friend was funneling intelligence about the crisis in Libya directly to the Secretary of State’s private account http://b4in.org/tHrn

By Jeff Gerth, ProPublica, and Sam Biddle, Gawker

Starting weeks before Islamic militants attacked the U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, longtime Clinton family confidante Sidney Blumenthal supplied intelligence to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gathered by a secret network that included a former CIA clandestine service officer, according to hacked e-mails from Blumenthal’s account.

The e-mails, which were posted on the Internet in 2013, also show that Blumenthal and another close Clinton associate discussed contracting with a retired Army special operations commander to put operatives on the ground near the Libya-Tunisia border while Libya’s civil war raged in 2011.

Blumenthal’s e-mails to Clinton, which were directed to her private e-mail account, include at least a dozen detailed reports on events on the deteriorating political and security climate in Libya as well as events in other nations. They came to light after a hacker broke into Blumenthal’s account and have taken on new significance in light of the disclosure that she conducted State Department and personal business exclusively over an e-mail server that she controlled and kept secret from State Department officials and which only recently was discovered by congressional investigators.

The contents of that account are now being sought by a congressional inquiry into the Benghazi attacks. Clinton has handed over more than 30,000 pages of her e-mails to the State Department, after unilaterally deciding which ones involved government business; the State Department has so far handed almost 900 pages of those over to the committee. A Clinton spokesman told Gawker and ProPublica (which are collaborating on this story) that she has turned over all the e-mails Blumenthal sent to Clinton.

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Desert Glass: Evidence of Ancient Atomic Bombs? http://b4in.org/gHgW

Seven years after the nuclear detonations in New Mexico, Dr. J Robert Oppenheimer, the ‘father of the atomic bomb’ was asked during a lecture if he had been the first person to conduct atomic tests. His reply was: Yes, in modern times.

Although at the time his answer was considered cryptic or at least vague, Dr. Oppenheimer was alluding to a series of ancient Hindu texts that described the occurrence of large-scale catastrophes that did not correspond to any recorded natural disasters. More specifically, he was referring to the Bhagavad Gita, an ancient Sanskrit writing that portrayed the detonation and effects of a powerful “unknown weapon”.

This subject is obstinately avoided by the scientific community but there is evidence supporting events such as this one. This evidence routinely comes in the form of fused glass fragments found in many deserts all over the world. These pieces of glass closely resemble those found at the Alamogordo atomic proving grounds. Desert glass forms when temperatures in excess of 3,300 degrees Fahrenheit (1,800º Celsius) cause the sand grains to melt and fuse together.

They were first described by Patrick Clayton who encountered them while surveying the Sahara in 1932. Clayton discovered huge chunks of yellowish-green glass in the sand and presented them to fellow geologists. A possible explanation came almost 50 years later when one of the engineers that helped create the atomic bomb was revisiting the testing site in New Mexico. He noticed glass fragments that were similar to those he had seen in the desert, albeit much smaller.

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How to Deal With Embarrassing Moments That Can Ruin Your Social Life http://b4in.org/qHvp

When it comes to being clumsy, I’m your man. Whether it be walking into walls, or steel columns, I’ve tasted my share of lumps.

Let the world see how clumsy you are.

I’ve tripped on ice, tripped on grass, and tripped over dogs on the street, I think. In the past, I’d like to blame it on ill-fitting shoes. But now it’s more a matter of being awkward and loving it.

Ridicule
Is this what people do when they see you fall? (BuzzFeedYellow/YouTube)

Can it be embarrassing? Sure! So can anything you do. There are a million ways to feel awkward about something. You might have friends with rigid ideas on what actions are cool. So let them eat waffles and take pride in your awkward self.

Not saying good balance isn’t something to aspire to. But until you get there, you’ll probably be a little clumsy. It’s like a baby feels when learning to walk, or how I felt learning to drive.

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A Spray That Will Stop Bleeding and Save Lives http://b4in.org/gHfR

A company called Remedium Technologies is developing a life-saving technology called Hemogrip™, which will act to stop major bleeding rapidly. It is foam composed of a polymer made from crustacean shells.

It is a uniquely user-friendly hemostat that is able to produce a clot-like seal upon contact with blood. It can be used effectively by a surgeon, by a soldier, or by an unskilled “buddy.” Working under grants from the National Science Foundation and the United States Army Research Lab, Remedium Technologies is dedicated to saving lives both in the field and in the operating room, according to their website.

Advanced trauma lanes training tests medics battlefield capabilities Image: U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Rafael Martie/ Wikimedia Commons
Advanced trauma training tests medics’ battlefield capabilities. (Image: U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Rafael Martie/ Wikimedia Commons)

Pressure is one of the best tools that medics have to fight bleeding, but they can’t use it on severe wounds near organs. Here, compression could do more harm than good, Srinivasa R. Raghavan of the University of Maryland explained during a presentation at the American Chemical Society national meeting in Denver.

“First responders have no way to effectively dam blood flows from these non-compressible injuries, which account for the majority of hemorrhagic deaths”, Raghavan said.

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Major US tuna brands connected to slavery at sea and human rights abuses http://b4in.org/rHsG

The Associated Press recently released results of an investigation into slavery on Southeast Asian fishing trawlers that supply major supermarkets and seafood companies throughout the United States. The enslaved men featured in the AP story, primarily from Myanmar, were brought to Benjina, Indonesia and forced to fish for products that were then shipped to Thailand, where they entered the global seafood market, including American supply chains.

The story detailed accounts of human rights abuses and raised additional questions about where the slave-caught seafood ends up. US Customs records indicated that several of the Thai factories connected to the dirty seafood ship their products to the United States. The investigation uncovered slaves who were regularly kicked, beaten and whipped with stingray tails, and reports of dead bodies being thrown to the sharks or kept in freezers with the fish.

One of the companies connected to the suppliers was Thai Union, owner of Chicken of the Sea, and currently set to purchase Bumble Bee. While the AP did not specifically investigate tuna fisheries, the story reinforces serious concerns over the supply chains for the biggest tuna companies in the US. In Greenpeace’s recent canned tuna ranking, the big three tuna companies – Chicken of the Sea, Bumble Bee and Starkist, making up 80 percent of the US market – all received failing scores on both sustainability and human rights issues.

There has been increasing pressure on Thailand to clean up tuna industry labor practices. In 2014, a US report on human trafficking downgraded Thailand to Tier 3, the worst level, for not meeting minimum standards to protect workers. Thai Union was quick to respond to today’s AP investigation and drop the supplier in question, but knowing this investigation tracked just one shipment from a single supplier, serious concerns remain about where the company’s seafood is coming from.

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Hacking Humans: How Cybercriminals Trick Their Victims http://b4in.org/jHUc

Intel Security has compiled a list of the top ways cybercriminals play with the minds of their targeted victims. And the chief way that the cybercriminals do this is via phishing scams—that are designed to take your money.

The fact that two-thirds of all the emails out there on this planet are phishy tells me that there’s a heck of a lot of people out there who are easily duped into giving over their money. I’m riled because many of these emails (we all get them) scream “SCAM!” because their subject lines are so ridiculous, not to mention the story of some befallen prince that’s in the message

I bet there’s a dozen phishing emails sitting in your junk folder right now. Unfortunately, a lot of these scam emails find their way into your inbox as well.

McAfee Labs™ has declared that there’s over 30 million URLS that may be of a malicious nature. Malicious websites are often associated with scammy emails—the email message lures you into clicking on a link to the phony website.

Clicking on the link may download a virus, or, it may take you to a phony website that’s made to look legitimate. And then on this phony site, you input sensitive information like your credit card number and password because you think the site really IS your bank’s site, or some other service that you have an account with.

6 ways hackers get inside your head:

Threatening you to comply…or else. The “else” often being deactivation of their account (which the scammer has no idea you have, but he sent out so many emails with this threat that he knows that the law of numbers means he’ll snare some of you in his trap).

Getting you to agree to do something because the hacker knows that in general, most people want to live up to their word. That “something,” of course, is some kind of computer task that will compromise security—totally unknown to you, of course.

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