Mar 282015
Mar 282015

Source: BBC

The government’s smart meter scheme could be an “IT disaster”, the Institute of Directors (IoD) has said. The risks involved with “the largest UK government-run IT project in history” were “staggering”, a report said. It recommended that the government drastically scale back the programme or abandon it altogether. Smart Energy GB, the independent body set up to publicise smart meters, said the IoD wanted to take the UK “back to an analogue dark age”. Energy-saving digital smart meters, designed to replace existing analogue gas and electricity meters, should help householders to monitor their energy-use far more accurately, and energy companies to do away with estimated bills. ‘Technological innovation’ By some estimates, the new meters could save us £17bn on our energy bills. But the IoD believes the government’s plan to roll out smart meters to all 30 million UK households by 2020 is far too ambitious. “The pace of technological innovation may well leave the current generation of meters behind and leave consumers in a cycle of installation, de-installation and re-installation,” it said. Under the scheme, energy companies must begin offering free smart meters to their customers from the autumn. Despite the £11bn estimated cost to the industry, it will not be compulsory to have one.

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Mar 282015

Source: AFP

Russia is to sign up to the Chinese-led development bank AIIB, first deputy prime minister Igor Shuvalov said Saturday at an international forum in China, cited by Russian news agencies.

“I’d like to inform you that Russian President Vladimir Putin has taken the decision that Russia will participate in the capital of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB),” Shuvalov said at China’s Boao Forum, quoted by RIA Novosti state news agency.

The Beijing-backed AIIB, unveiled in October, is a multinational lender that the United States perceives as a threat to the Washington-led World Bank.

It has proved highly successful with countries that are US allies, however, with Britain, Germany, France, Italy and this week South Korea all saying they intend to join the $50 billion (46 billion euro) bank.

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Mar 282015

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has refused to turn her email server over to an independent third party and claims she has wiped the server clean, dealing a setback to the special investigative committee looking into the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack, the probe said late Friday.

Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy said the whole House will have to decide what the next steps are in the push to pry information from Mrs. Clinton, but said she will likely have to appear and testify on her decision-making about her emails, setting up another dramatic showdown between the former first lady and her congressional critics.

“Not only was the secretary the sole arbiter of what was a public record, she also summarily decided to delete all emails from her server ensuring no one could check behind her analysis in the public interest,” Mr. Gowdy said in a statement excoriating Mrs. Clinton’s actions.

Mr. Gowdy said Mrs. Clinton’s response to his subpoena was to re-transmit several hundred pages of emails that the State Department has already turned over.

Full article here

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Mar 282015

Source: The Guardian

The Department of Justice has been asked to investigate after prison guards allegedly forced inmates to engage in gladiator-style fights for “sadistic pleasure” and betting, in scenes the authorities said evoked Game of Thrones.

An inmate at the San Francisco County jail who weighed 150lb was allegedly forced to fight a 350lb inmate, under threat of being beaten up and shot with a Taser by guards, Jeff Adachi, the San Francisco County public defender, said in a press conference on Thursday.

Four sheriff’s deputies have been accused by three inmates of orchestrating vicious fights for their own amusement while encouraging them with chants.

Adachi said the deputy who reportedly orchestrated the activities was accused in 2006 of sexually assaulting inmates, in a case that was later settled out of court.

“I can only describe this as an outrageously sadistic scenario that sounds like it’s out of Game of Thrones,” Adachi said.

All four sheriff’s deputies were put on administrative leave on Thursday, and the two inmates cited by Adachi were moved to different prisons.

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Mar 272015

Source: All Gov.

A new free trade agreement being pushed by the Obama administration could allow foreign corporations to challenge American laws and regulations before international tribunals.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (pdf) (TPP), being negotiated between the U.S. and governments throughout the Western Hemisphere and the Pacific region, includes a provision authorizing companies to sue the U.S. government for actions that undermine their investment “expectations” and damage their business opportunities.

The controversial section of the treaty, kept hidden as part of the ongoing negotiations for the TPP, was only revealed after The New York Times obtained a copy of the classified document with help from WikiLeaks.

The language could be used by corporate lawyers in other nations to challenge U.S. federal, state or local laws, regulations, court rulings and government actions. Multinational companies based in Asia, North America and South America could bring such challenges to legal bodies operated by the World Bank or the United Nations.

The provision amounts to “a scheme hidden inside a scam,” wrote AlterNet’s Jim Hightower. Twenty-four of the 29 chapters in the accord, he says, “create a supranational scheme of secretive, private tribunals that corporations from any TPP nation can use to challenge and overturn [U.S.] laws. All a corporate power has to do to win in these closed proceedings is to show that a particular law or regulation might reduce its future profits.”

“It’s been negotiated among trade officials of the 12 countries in strict secrecy,” he added. “Even members of Congress have been shut out — but some 500 corporate executives have been allowed inside to shape the ‘partnership.’”

Democrats in Congress have been the most vocal opponents of the provision, saying it would give foreign banks as well as pharmaceutical, tobacco and other companies the ability to undermine U.S. sovereignty.

“This is really troubling,” Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York) told the Times.  “It seems to indicate that savvy, deep-pocketed foreign conglomerates could challenge a broad range of laws we pass at every level of government, such as made-in-America laws or anti-tobacco laws. I think people on both sides of the aisle will have trouble with this.”

Schumer and others like Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) are hoping to enlist help from those on the right to fight the TPP.

“Conservatives are likely to be incensed that even local policy changes could send the government to a United Nations-sanctioned tribunal,” Jonathan Weisman wrote at the Times.

However, most GOP lawmakers reportedly favor the agreement, as they have with other free-trade pacts because of their business-friendly provisions. Obama administration officials are defending the accord and accusing its critics of drumming up fear that they say has no basis in reality.

Senator Sherrod Brown (D–Ohio) says the entire agreement is problematic, not only the “investment expectations” section. “This continues the great American tradition of corporations writing trade agreements, sharing them with almost nobody, so often at the expense of consumers, public health and workers,” he told the Times.

Meanwhile, negotiations on the pact are said to be nearing completion.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Danny Biederman

To Learn More:

Trans-Pacific Partnership Seen as Door for Foreign Suits Against U.S. (by Jonathan Weisman, New York Times)

Jim Hightower: Obama’s Terrible Trade Pact Is a Scam That Must Be Stopped (by Jim Hightower, AlterNet)

Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty: Advanced Investment Chapter working document for all 12 nations (January 20, 2015 draft)(WikiLeaks) (pdf)

Obama’s Secret International Trade Treaty Caving on Environmental Protections (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Proposed Obama Trade Agreement would Ban Buy America Laws (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

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Mar 272015

Source: Al Alarabiya

In the fresh barrage of strikes, Saudi-led coalition warplanes targeted a rebel-held military base in third city Taez, local officials and witnesses said.

Arab foreign ministers meeting in Egypt on Thursday agreed to establish a unified military force for rapid intervention to deal with security threats to Arab nations.

The ministers “agreed on an important principle, to establish the force,” Arab League secretary-general Nabil al-Arabi said at a news conference.

“The ministers all agreed,” Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said, Agence France-Presse reported.

The agreement came after warplanes from Saudi Arabia and Arab allies struck Shiite Muslim Houthi rebels fighting to oust Yemen’s president on Thursday, in a major gamble by the world’s top oil exporter to check Iranian influence in its backyard without direct military backing from Washington.

The task of the force will be rapid military intervention to deal with security threats to Arab nations, Egyptian TV added. The ministers asked the secretary of the Arab League to coordinate with Arab armies’ chiefs of staff within one month to form the unified force.

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Mar 272015

Source: Boing Boing

The FBI used to publish excellent advice about encrypting your devices to keep your data secure when your stuff is lost or stolen; this advice has been silently dropped now that FBI Director James Comey is trying to stop manufacturers from using crypto by default.

The FBI has joined with others, like UK Prime Minister David Cameron in calls to end the use of effective cryptography because it makes it harder to spy on people.

So, until recently, the FBI was actively recommending you encrypt your data to protect your safety — and yet, today it’s “an affront to the rule of law.” Is this guy serious?

More directly, this should raise serious questions about what Comey thinks his role is at the FBI (or the FBI’s role is for the country)? Is it to keep Americans safe — or is it to undermine their privacy and security just so it can spy on everyone?

Not surprisingly, Comey pulls out the trifecta of FUD in trying to explain why it needs to spy on everyone: pedophiles, kidnappers and drug dealers:

“Tech execs say privacy should be the paramount virtue,” Comey continued, “When I hear that I close my eyes and say try to image what the world looks like where pedophiles can’t be seen, kidnapper can’t be seen, drug dealers can’t be seen.”

FBI Quietly Removes Recommendation To Encrypt Your Phone… As FBI Director Warns How Encryption Will Lead To Tears [Mike Masnick/Techdirt]

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Mar 272015

Dashcam video released on Tuesday proved several Inkster officers lied about their extremely brutal encounter with 57-year-old Floyd Denton January 28.

On Thursday, the lawyer representing Dent released perhaps an even more sinister video from the evening.

Police originally reported that the blood on his brain, broken orbital bone, and four broken ribs inflicted upon Dent came about as they acted in self-defense. They even went so far as to charge the retired grandfather with resisting arrest, assault on an officer, and fleeing police. All of these charges would ultimately be dropped after the judge watched the video.

However, a possession charge from the evening remained as the officers claimed they found crack cocaine under the passenger seat of the vehicle.

Dent was offered a plea deal that would include probation and expunging his record in six months, but Dent has refused to admit guilt for a crime he did not commit.

“I’m lucky to be living. I think they was trying to kill me, especially when they had choked me. I mean, I was on my last breath. I kept telling the officer, ‘Please, I can’t breathe,’” Dent said.

After being choked, punched 16 times, and repeatedly tasered- the beaten and bloodied man insisted that the drugs were planted in his car; a claim many might roll their eyes at and call a likely story. Dent was so adamant, however, that he insisted the hospital blood test him. All tests came back as clean as his criminal record.

Dent, in 57 years, had never had a single run in with the law and absolutely no drugs or alcohol were found in his system.

Now, newly released footage appears to prove Dent’s innocence. It shows the officer who is seen choking Dent in the video, William “Robocop” Melendez, pull what appears to be a plastic bag filled with a white substance from his pocket before searching the battered man’s vehicle.

The video is a bit blurry, and it is difficult to make out for sure what is going on, but a quick glance at Robocop’s history certainly does not make the image less suspicious.

The former Detroit officer has an extremely long list of offenses, including having “been sued at least four times for excessive use of force. He has cost the city more than $1 million in legal settlements and received more citizen complaints than any other in the city,” the LA Times reported in 2003.

In one particularly expensive settlement, the officer cost Detroit a million dollars following the fatal shooting of an unarmed man during a traffic stop in 1996. Melendez shot the man execution style 11 times, in front of horrified witnesses.

During a joint investigation by the FBI and Detroit Police Department, he was indicted for corruption, falsifying police reports, and planting drugs/guns on suspects who had been illegally arrested. The officer was somehow acquitted by a jury, despite other police testifying against him.

Some of the allegations in the indictment against Melendez included:

Melendez and two officers illegally arrested Victoria Tillmon on June 16, 2001, outside her home in the 3500 block of Wesson and falsely claimed she dropped a vial of crack cocaine. On the way to the police station, the indictment said, Melendez threatened her, saying that people who testify against him will be killed.

On Feb. 26, 2001, Melendez and two officers illegally entered a residence at 3820 Wesson and illegally searched Clifton White and Shannon White. The officers falsely reported that they confronted the pair on the street and that Clifton White was carrying cocaine.

In a lawsuit filed March 12 in U.S. District Court, a Detroit man accused Melendez and Officer Troy Bradley of concocting a gun case that landed the man in jail for 213 days.

In his lawsuit, Darell Chancellor said Melendez and Bradley arrested him and another man, Robert Louis Blackwell, near midnight on April 22, 2002, on Clippert Street.

The suit says that Melendez and Bradley, after a routine stop, planted handguns that led to federal charges against Chancellor. He was held in jail from April through November last year, until the U.S. Attorney’s Office agreed to his release on bond, the suit says. On Nov. 26, the U.S. Attorney’s Office asked for charges to be dropped against Chancellor.

Despite prosecutors determining that Robocop led the ring of 17 officers in engaging in corrupt policing, the crooked cop was allowed to keep his job and continue putting lives in danger.

If a bartender is suspected of not washing their hands at a bar, they can be fired for being a health risk.

However, if you have a history of brutality, murder, and corruption, and you are a cop, you keep your job. After all, it only places the lives of the community you work for in your corrupt hands. You plant drugs, beat and execute innocent people because you are a hero, and you just want to make it home to your family every night.

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Mar 262015

I FORGOT TO PUT MY INTRO IN THIS VIDEO! It was a mistake. !@#!@%!@#

DO NOT EMAIL ME! The prize has been claimed! Contest is OVER.

This video shows my FIRST TIME ever using a desoldering iron.

HAKKO FR-300 UNBOXING AND REVIEW – John’s first time using a desoldering iron tool