Update: Never Mind
The emails were sitting in a queue somewhere and they all just came through.
BlueHost migrated my account to a faster server, but the MX settings were botched in the process. Anyway, if you sent me any email or any story suggestions over about the last couple of days, I didn’t get them.
Mannequins in riot gear, armoured cars and drones line a police equipment and “anti-terrorism technology” trade fair in Beijing as vendors seek to profit from China’s huge internal security budget.
The country is estimated to have more than 180,000 protests each year and the ruling Communist Party spends vast sums on ensuring order — more even than on its military, the largest in the world.
China’s domestic security budget across all levels of government is 769 billion yuan ($125 billion) this year, more than the country officially plans to spend on its armed forces, and an increase of more than 200 billion yuan since 2010.
Billions of the internal security budget, which also covers mundane items such as food safety and running courts, is earmarked for “stability maintenance”, a term used to justify arresting protesters and surveillance of dissidents.
Via: Freedom to Tinker:
Today I joined a group of twenty computer scientists in issuing a report criticizing an FBI plan to require makers of secure communication tools to redesign their systems to make wiretapping easy. We argue that the plan would endanger the security of U.S. users and the competitiveness of U.S. companies, without making it much harder for criminals to evade wiretaps.
The FBI argues that the Net is “going dark”—that they are losing their ability to carry out valid wiretap warrants. In fact, this seems to be a golden age of surveillance—more collectable communications are available than ever before, including whole new categories of information such as detailed location tracking. Regardless, the FBI wants Congress to require that voice, video, and text communication tools be (re-)designed so that lawful wiretap orders can be executed quickly and silently.
Via: New York Times:
Just like Frank, as the baby boomer generation grows old and if the number of elderly care workers fails to grow with it, many people might end up being cared for by robots. According to the Health and Human Services Department, there will be 72.1 million Americans over the age of 65 by 2030, which is nearly double the number today. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the country will need 70 percent more home aide jobs by 2020, long before that bubble of retirees. But filling those jobs is proving to be difficult because the salaries are low. In many states, in-home aides make an average of $20,820 annually.
“There are two trends that are going in opposite directions. One is the increasing number of elderly people, and the other is the decline in the number of people to take care of them,” said Jim Osborn, a roboticist and executive director of the Robotics Institute’s Quality of Life Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon University. “Part of the view we’ve already espoused is that robots will start to fill in those gaps.”
That the Obama administration is now repeatedly declaring that the “war on terror” will last at least another decade (or two) is vastly more significant than all three of this week’s big media controversies (Benghazi, IRS, and AP/DOJ) combined. The military historian Andrew Bacevich has spent years warning that US policy planners have adopted an explicit doctrine of “endless war”. Obama officials, despite repeatedly boasting that they have delivered permanently crippling blows to al-Qaida, are now, as clearly as the English language permits, openly declaring this to be so.
It is hard to resist the conclusion that this war has no purpose other than its own eternal perpetuation. This war is not a means to any end but rather is the end in itself. Not only is it the end itself, but it is also its own fuel: it is precisely this endless war – justified in the name of stopping the threat of terrorism – that is the single greatest cause of that threat.
The Chaska, Minn.-based company Sheer Wind thinks it has a design that could bring the cost of wind power down to a price competitive with natural gas. Daryoush Allaei, Sheer Wind’s chief technical officer, told DNews that a utility-scale system of these wind turbines — that is a 100 to 500 MW power plant — the cost could be as low as 1 cent per KWh. For comparison, conventional tower and blade wind power plants cost about 45 to 80 cents per KWh and natural gas plants cost about 2 to 3 cents per KWh.
The company’s Invelox captures wind using wide-mouthed funnels. Inside, passageways turn the wind horizontally and taper it into a narrow space, which naturally accelerates the flow. The higher speed wind is then channeled into a turbine positioned at ground level. According to the company, the system works even if wind speeds are slow at the top. For example, a wind entering at 10 mph is increased to 40 mph by the time it enters the turbine. After passing through the turbine, the wind is exhausted back into the environment at 15mph.
Research Credit: HongPong
In other news: “ADHD is a prime example of a fictitious disease.”
Nearly 1 in 5 children in the U.S. suffers from a mental disorder, and this number has been rising for more than a decade.
According to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 20 percent of American children are suffering from mental disorders such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, depression and autism.
The CDC’s first study of mental disorders among children aged 3 to 17 also found that the cost of medical bills for treatment of such disorders is up to $247 billion each year.
Al-Qaeda’s Syrian wing is helping to finance its activities by selling the product of oilfields that once helped to prop up the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
Up to 380,000 barrels of crude oil were previously produced by wells around the city of Raqqa and in the desert region to its east that are now in rebel hands – in particular Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda off-shoot which is the strongest faction in this part of the country.
More than 8,000 French households’ tax bills topped 100 percent of their income last year, the business newspaper Les Echos reported on Saturday, citing Finance Ministry data.
The newspaper said that the exceptionally high level of taxation was due to a one-off levy last year on 2011 incomes for households with assets of more than 1.3 million euros ($1.67 million).
President Francois Hollande’s Socialist government imposed the tax surcharge last year, shortly after taking office, to offset the impact of a rebate scheme created by its conservative predecessor to cap an individual’s overall taxation at 50 percent of income.
You sit here today, $30,000 or $40,000 in debt, as the latest victims of what may well be the biggest conspiracy in U.S. history. It is a conspiracy so big and powerful that Dan Brown won’t even touch it. It’s a conspiracy so insidious that you will rarely hear its name.
Move over, Illuminati. Stand down, Wall Street. Area 51? Pah. It’s nothing.
The biggest conspiracy of all? The College-Industrial Complex.
Consider this: You have just paid about three times as much for your degree as did someone graduating 30 years ago. That’s in constant dollars — in other words, after accounting for inflation. There is no evidence that you have received a degree three times as good. Some would wonder if you have received a degree even one times as good.
According to the College Board, in 1983 a typical private American university managed to provide a bachelor’s-degree-level education to young people just like you for $11,000 a year in tuition and fees. That’s in 2012 dollars.
Some members of the College-Industrial Complex are talking about a new solution to bring down costs. They want to reduce, or eliminate, the amount spent on the actual teaching. Instead, students will watch online videos. Perhaps these will be on YouTube, or TED. It sounds like a column by the late, great Art Buchwald: “For $30,000 a year we can provide you with a top-of-the-range B.A. degree, just without any actual teaching.” You couldn’t make this up. But we’re already halfway there anyway. Even today most undergraduates don’t get within a million miles of the big-name professors they’re paying for.
Today’s graduates, so badly served by comparison with their parents and grandparents, may actually look lucky to those who come later. Costs are probably going to keep rising. The super-rich can bid up prices, just as they do for real estate in New York or London. (The difference is that you don’t have to live in New York or London, but you do have to get a degree: Unemployment rates for those without a bachelor’s degree are twice as high as for those who have one.) The conspiracy will keep pushing for more federal support.
How high will it go? Try this: The College-Industrial Complex says that degrees are still worth it because those with B.A. degrees will earn a lot more over the course of their lifetimes, and should pay for that. They point to U.S. Census data showing those with bachelor’s degrees earning on average $26,000 a year more than those with just a high-school diploma.
Using that logic, they could justify charges approaching $500,000 for a college degree. With the interest rate on subsidized student loans down to 3.4%, the net present value of those future earnings is, theoretically, very high.
No one is going to slap that price tag on a degree in public. Not yet.