Category Archives: Uncategorized

UK Police Have The Ability To Shut Down Your Phone Remotely If Deemed Necessary

By: Joseph Cox of Vice

UK police could acquire a new power. Last Friday, the Digital Economy Act became law, much of which focuses around restricting access to online pornography, and what sort of sexual acts can legally be included in porn.

But with the legislation’s passing, law enforcement agencies may soon be able to remotely disable or restrict a mobile phone if it is suspected of being used for drug dealing or related to it, and in some cases regardless of whether a crime has actually been committed, according to legal commentators.
“The ‘drug dealing telecoms restriction order’ contained within Section 80 of the Digital Economy Act 2017 is an entirely unprecedented and potentially draconian power allowing police to prevent the use of phones or other communications devices,” Myles Jackman, legal director for activist organisation Open Rights Group, told Motherboard in an email.

As for how this would likely work in practice, a police officer ranked superintendent or higher, or the Director General or Deputy Director General at the National Crime Agency, would apply for a court order that would then be presented to a communications provider—a telco company—ordering it to restrict the specified device or phone number.
Judging by recently published amendments, some of these orders could last indefinitely, and they seemingly could also be used against people who have not committed a crime, or who are not drug dealers themselves. Orders can apply if the user is “facilitating the commission by the user or another person of a drug dealing offense,” or “conduct of the user that is likely to facilitate the commission by the user or another person of a drug dealing offence (whether or not an offence is committed).”

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Net Neutrality May Once Again Come Under Fire 

By: Seth Fiegerman 

The attempt to roll back net neutrality has officially begun.

Ajit Pai, the Trump-appointed chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, laid out plans Wednesday to limit the agency’s oversight of Internet service providers, potentially weakening enforcement of net neutrality.

The net neutrality rules, approved by the FCC in 2015, are intended to keep the Internet open and fair. The rules prevent Internet providers from playing favorites by deliberately speeding up or slowing down traffic from specific websites and apps.

As part of the 2015 process, the FCC voted to assert more regulatory control over Internet providers by reclassifying them as common carriers, similar to telephone services.

Pai has now issued a proposal to repeal that reclassification, called Title II, raising alarms among net neutrality advocates and throughout the tech industry.

“Two years ago, I warned that we were making a serious mistake,” Pai said in a speech at the Newseum in Washington D.C. “The more heavily you regulate something, the less of it you’re likely to get.”

Pai and the telecom industry have framed the debate as less about the principle of net neutrality than the mechanism to enforce it.

“AT&T continues to support the fundamental tenets of net neutrality,” AT&T (T, Tech30) CEO Randall Stephenson said in a statement Wednesday. “It was illogical for the FCC in 2015 to… regulate the Internet under an 80-year-old law designed to set rates for the rotary-dial-telephone era.”

AT&T has agreed to acquire Time Warner, the parent company of CNN. The deal is pending regulatory approval.

Net neutrality advocates, however, argue this approach effectively guts the rules safeguarding the Internet.

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Wikipedia Founder Launches New Site To Fix Fake News 

By: Estelle Shirbon

The founder of online encyclopaedia Wikipedia has announced plans for a crowd-funded news website offering stories by journalists and volunteers working together, an initiative he hopes will counter the spread of fake news.

Jimmy Wales said the new platform, Wikitribune, would be free to read and carry no advertising, instead relying on supporters to fund it, while the accuracy of its articles would be easily verifiable as source material would be published.

“The news is broken, but we’ve figured out how to fix it,” he said in a promotional video posted on the website’s homepage, which does not yet carry any news stories. The page indicates the platform will go live in 29 days.

The initial goal is to raise sufficient funds to hire 10 professional journalists. The website is set up to encourage supporters to give $10 a month, but the amount and frequency of gifts can easily be modified.

The online proliferation of fake news, some of it generated for profit and some for political ends, became a major topic of angst and debate in many developed countries during last year’s U.S. presidential election.

Charlie Beckett, media professor at the London School of Economics, welcomed Wikitribune as an attempt to tackle a lack of public trust in mainstream media, but questioned whether it would have the scale and reach to stem the flow of fake news.

“The kind of people who will pay attention to Wikitribune and contribute to it are people who are already pretty media-literate,” he told Reuters.

Wales argued in his video that because Internet users expected news to be free, news sites were reliant on advertising money, which incentivized them to produce “clickbait” rather than quality output.

He also said social media networks, where an ever-increasing number of people get their news, were designed to show users what they wanted to see, confirming their biases.

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China To Build Smog Eating City

By: Leanna Garfield of Business Insider 

The eastern Chinese city of Nanjing, like many of the country’s urban areas, suffers from intense smog. 

The Air Quality Index, which uses a scale from 0 to 500 (with higher numbers indicating worse pollution), rates Nanjing’s air quality as 132 – a level considered unhealthy for the public, especially those with respiratory disease.

The Italian design firm Stefano Boeri Architetti believes that building towers covered in plants could help the city reduce its pollution.

The company recently announced that it will build two skyscrapers that will hold a total of 1,100 trees and 2,500 cascading shrubs on their rooftops and balconies.

Construction on the buildings, called the Nanjing Green Towers, began in early 2017 and is set to wrap up next year.

The design will be similar to that of a two-tower complex that Boeri designed in Milan. Another tower in Lausanne, Switzerland will follow a similar plan and is expected to open by early 2018.

Though only two forest-like towers are currently underway, Boeri’s ultimate goal is to create an entire “forest city” in Nanjing and other Chinese cities.

The ‘forest towers’ in Nanjing will feature offices, a 247-room luxury hotel, a museum, and an architecture school.

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Trump Stands Corrected by The Relevance of Nato

By: Ben Kentish of The Independent

Donald Trump has rowed back on his claim that Nato is “obsolete”, saying his earlier comments were made when he did “not know much about” the military alliance.

The US President told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer during the presidential campaign that the 28-member state organisation was redundant and overly expensive for the US – a claim he repeated shortly before taking office in January.

“We are paying disproportionately,” he said at the time. “It’s too much, and frankly it’s a different world than it was when we originally conceived of the idea.”

Asked about his previous comments during an interview with the Associated Press, Mr Trump said they were a result of him “not knowing much” about Nato.

”They had a quote from me that Nato’s obsolete,” he said. “But they didn’t say why it was obsolete. I was on Wolf Blitzer – very fair interview – the first time I was ever asked about Nato, because I wasn’t in government.

“People don’t go around asking about Nato if I’m building a building in Manhattan, right? So they asked me, Wolf … asked me about Nato, and I said two things. Nato’s obsolete — not knowing much about Nato, now I know a lot about Nato — Nato is obsolete, and I said, ‘And the reason it’s obsolete is because of the fact they don’t focus on terrorism.’ You know, back when they did Nato there was no such thing as terrorism.”

Mr Trump appeared to change tack during a press conference with Jens Stoltenberg, Nato’s Secretary-General, earlier in April.

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Canada Votes For Net Neutrality 

By: Jordan Pearson 

On Thursday afternoon, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the country’s federal telecom regulator, dropped a bombshell ruling on the status of net neutrality—the principle that all web services should be treated equally by providers. And, blessedly, it’s good news.
The CRTC ruled that “[internet] service providers should treat data traffic equally to foster consumer choice, innovation and the free exchange of ideas,” a CRTC news release states. What this means is that service providers won’t be able to privilege certain services over others—say, YouTube or Apple Music—by letting you use them without dinging your data plan. This is a practice generally known as “zero-rating” or differential pricing.

Differential pricing contradicts the principle of net neutrality because it allows service providers to leverage their privileged position to decide which services are most attractive to their customers, effectively discriminating against others.
The CRTC’s decision is welcome news as its sister organization in the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), is right now starting to roll back some of its previous commitments to net neutrality.
The CRTC ruling originated from complaints against Quebec-based provider Videotron’s unlimited music streaming service, which launched in 2015. The service allowed subscribers to stream music from third-party apps without it counting against their data plans.
Those complaints sparked a series of hearings on the practice of differential pricing. At the time of the hearings in the fall of last year, two of Canada’s “big three” telecom providers came out in support of differential pricing—Telus and Bell—while Rogers was the sole dissenting voice among the trio.

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U.N To Reveal War Crimes Documents That May Rewrite History 

By: Owen Bowcott of The Guardian 

War crimes files revealing early evidence of Holocaust death camps that was smuggled out of eastern Europe are among tens of thousands of files to be made public for the first time this week.

The once-inaccessible archive of the UN war crimes commission, dating back to 1943, is being opened by the Wiener Library in London with a catalogue that can be searched online.

The files establish that some of the first demands for justice came from countries that had been invaded, such as Poland and China, rather than Britain, the US and Russia, which eventually coordinated the post-war Nuremberg trials.

The archive, along with the UNWCC, was closed in the late 1940s as West Germany was transformed into a pivotal ally at the start of the cold war and use of the records was effectively suppressed. Around the same time, many convicted Nazis were granted early release after the anti-communist US senator Joseph McCarthy lobbied to end war crimes trials.

Access to the vast quantity of evidence and indictments is timed to coincide with the publication on Tuesday of Human Rights After Hitler: The Lost History of Prosecuting Axis War Crimes by Dan Plesch, a researcher who has been working on the documents for a decade.

The documents record the gathering of evidence shortly after the UN was founded in January 1942. They demonstrate that rape and forced prostitution were being prosecuted as war crimes in tribunals as far apart as Greece, the Philippines and Poland in the late 1940s, despite more recent suggestions that this was a legal innovation following the 1990s Bosnian conflict.

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Tensions Rise Between U.S and North Korea Over Nuclear Testing and Potential War

By: WILLIAM M. ARKIN, CYNTHIA MCFADDEN and KENZI ABOU-SABE of NBC

The U.S. is prepared to launch a preemptive strike with conventional weapons against North Korea should officials become convinced that North Korea is about to follow through with a nuclear weapons test, multiple senior U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News.

North Korea has warned that a “big event” is near, and U.S. officials say signs point to a nuclear test that could come as early as this weekend.

The intelligence officials told NBC News that the U.S. has positioned two destroyers capable of shooting Tomahawk cruise missiles in the region, one just 300 miles from the North Korean nuclear test site.

American heavy bombers are also positioned in Guam to attack North Korea should it be necessary, and earlier this week, the Pentagon announced that the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group was being diverted to the area.

The U.S. strike could include missiles and bombs, cyber and special operations on the ground.

The danger of such an attack by the U.S. is that it could provoke the volatile and unpredictable North Korean regime to launch its own blistering attack on its southern neighbor.

“The leadership in North Korea has shown absolutely no sign or interest in diplomacy or dialogue with any of the countries involved in this issue,” Victor Cha, the Korea Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies told NBC News Thursday.

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Yet Another Company Caught Plotting To Raise The Price Of Cancer Drugs For Profit

By: Katie Forster of The Independent 

Leaked internal emails appear to show employees at one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies calling for “celebration” over price hikes of cancer drugs, an investigation has revealed.

Staff at Aspen Pharmacare reportedly plotted to destroy stocks of life-saving medicines during a price dispute with the Spanish health service in 2014.

After purchasing five different cancer drugs from British firm GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the company tried to sell the medicines in Europe for up to 40 times their previous price, reported The Times.

In 2013, the price of one pack of a chemotherapy drug called busulfan, used to treat leukaemia, rose from £5.20 to £65.22 in England and Wales, according to the newspaper.

The other four drugs, including leukeran, also used by leukaemia patients, and melphalan, for skin and ovarian cancers, also became up to four times more expensive.

Price rises for generic cancer drugs, such as those acquired by Aspen, cost the NHS in England around £380m a year for prescriptions dispensed outside hospitals, the European Cancer Congress has estimated.

In a confidential email published by The Times, an Aspen employee appeared to write: “We’ve signed new reimbursement and price agreement successfully: price increases are basically on line with European target prices (Leukeran, a bit higher!)… Let’s celebrate!”

When bargaining over drug prices in Spain, the pharmaceutical giant is said to have threatened to stop selling the cancer treatments unless the Health minister agreed to price rises of up to 4,000 per cent, reported Spanish daily El Confidencial Digital at the time.

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Syrian President Al Assad Claims Video Of Gas Attack Was Fabricated (Fake News) 

By: Bethan McKernan

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has reiterated that his government had nothing to do with the chemical gas incident in a rebel-held village last week that killed more than 80 people.

Allegations that his forces had deliberately poisoned civilians were ”100 per cent fabrication”, the president said on Thursday, adding that the Syrian government gave up its chemical weapons stocks as part of a 2013 agreement. 

“Our impression is that the West, mainly the United States, is hand-in-glove with the terrorists. They fabricated the whole story in order to have a pretext for the attack,” he said.

Assad made the comments in an interview broadcast by AFP, his first since the US struck a Syrian airbase with missiles in retaliation for the events in Idlib province. 

The international community has condemned the deaths in the village of Khan Sheikhoun, which most Western intelligence services believe occurred thanks to a deliberate attack carried out by the Syrian government. 

Damascus and allies in Moscow have denied the regime attacked the village with chemical weapons, maintaining that the casualties were caused by gases released after an al-Qaeda-affiliated ammunitions depot was hit by conventional munitions in a legitimate government air raid. 

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