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Three inmates hold officer hostage in Ohio jail

RT -

UPDATE: Hostage situation declared over at approximately 9pm EDT. The three suspects were taken into custody and their hostage was unhurt, according to WTVM.

Trumbull County deputies confirmed the hostage situation, which began at approximately 3:30pm EDT, but did not offer any details, according to WOIO-TV.

The inmates were identified David Martin, Richard Ware, and Kevin Johns, according to reports.

Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office Major Thomas Stewart said they had cornered Officer Joe Lynn in a holding area. The inmates have covered the door of the room with sheets and tied them to the table so that should anyone try to enter, the sheets tighten, WKBN-TV reported.

Trumbull County Sheriff Thomas Altiere told WFMJ-TV that the inmates tackled and handcuffed the officer on the third floor of the jail.

— NewsBreaker (@NewsBreaker) April 23, 2014

A hostage negotiator with the Ohio State Patrol is trying to resolve the situation, according to WOIO. The FBI, Ohio State Patrol, SWAT, and Youngstown Police are also assisting.

Martin, from the Cleveland area, is facing a murder charge. Johns was recently convicted on rape and kidnapping charges. Ware is in jail on aggravated robbery charges. His pre-trial is set to begin on May 20, according to WKBN.

Some jail employees were evacuated from the facility, WKBN reported.

Martin called WOIO-TV and told a reporter that he had “nothing to lose” and wanted "his story told” according to the New York Daily News, although that information could not be immediately verified.


​Britain wasted £34 billion on military interventions since Cold War

RT -

The vast majority of money spent by the UK in overseas military operations was in Iraq and Afghanistan the study, Wars in Peace, by RUSI, a British defense and security think tank says.

The figures, which were collated under freedom of information requests from the Ministry of Defense, show that if compensation payments as a result of injury and death are included then the total cost of UK military conflict since 1990 could be as much as £42 billion ($70 billion), while a further £30 billion ($50.3 billion) may have been spent on long term care for veterans, the Guardian reports.

The campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, which the study says were judged to be “strategic failures,” accounted for 84 percent of all military interventions costs since 1990.

The study also notes that “there is no longer any serious disagreement” over the fact that the Iraq war actually served to channel and increase the radicalization of young Muslims in the UK. The study refers to estimates that some 100,000 Iraqis died as a result of the second Iraq War and two million refugees flooded into neighboring countries.

The study notes that by 2002, a year before the Iraq war, Saddam Hussein no longer posed any serious threat and that now the threat from Iraq is much greater.

“Today radical jihadist groups stretching across the Iraqi-Syrian border, pose new terrorist threats to the UK and its allies that might not have existed, at least in this form, had Saddam remained in power,” the book says.

Malcolm Chalmers, the RUSI research director, notes that Britain’s disastrous mission in Helmand, southern Afghanistan was plagued by a number of poor decisions. The dismissing of the regional governor Sher Mohammad Akhundzada drove many members of his militia to join the insurgency and Taliban foot soldiers were mainly recruited locally and were “motivated much more by opposition to foreign intervention than by global jihadism.” He also notes that opium cultivation is much higher now than it was before the intervention.

Overall the RUSI research gives British military interventions a six out of ten, citing the first Iraq War of 1991, and smaller scale interventions in Kosovo, Bosnia in the 1990’s and Sierra Leone in 2000 as having more success.

The figures are the net additional costs of operations and do not include what the armed forces would have spent anyway on training exercises and salaries etc.

At a time when the UK is undergoing severe defense cuts and many servicemen and women are losing their jobs, the findings of the study will question the wisdom behind expensive military campaigns which have not been a success. “Have Britain’s military endeavours made it, and the world, a safer place – and at what cost?” is the question raised by the books authors.

FCC planning new Internet rules that would gut Net Neutrality. Get ready to pay more for the stuff you love online.

Boing Boing -

The Wall Street Journal reports that The Federal Communications Commission will propose new open Internet rules this Thursday that will allow content companies to pay Internet service providers "for special access to consumers."

Under the new rules, service providers may not block or discriminate against specific websites, but they can charge certain sites or services for preferential traffic treatment if the ISPs' discrimination is "commercially reasonable."

Bye-bye, Net Neutrality.

For what it's worth: The FCC's current Chairman, Tom Wheeler, previously worked as a VC and lobbyist for the cable and wireless industry.

From the New York Times: The new rules, according to the people briefed on them, will allow a company like Comcast or Verizon to negotiate separately with each content company – like Netflix, Amazon, Disney or Google – and charge different companies different amounts for priority service. That, of course, could increase costs for content companies, which would then have an incentive to pass on those costs to consumers as part of their subscription prices.

Electric car maker Tesla said to be planning new factory in California

Boing Boing -

The Tesla Model S.

Tesla Motors reps won't tell the Los Angeles Times, but city officials in the small California town of Lathrop told a reporter that "work is underway converting a 431,000-square-foot facility that once housed a Chrysler-Daimler distribution center into a Tesla factory." More: Is Tesla planning another electric car factory in California? [latimes.com]

F.C.C., In Net Neutrality Turnaround, Plans To Allow Fast Lane

Slashdot -

Dega704 (1454673) writes in with news of the latest FCC plan which seems to put another dagger in the heart of net neutrality. "The Federal Communications Commission will propose new rules that allow Internet service providers to offer a faster lane through which to send video and other content to consumers, as long as a content company is willing to pay for it, according to people briefed on the proposals. The proposed rules are a complete turnaround for the F.C.C. on the subject of so-called net neutrality, the principle that Internet users should have equal ability to see any content they choose, and that no content providers should be discriminated against in providing their offerings to consumers."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Country’s harshest anti-abortion law signed in Mississippi

RT -

The bill, signed into law by Gov Phil Bryant on Wednesday and going into effect July 1, calculates conception from the first day of a woman’s last period rather than when the egg becomes fertilized and implanted in the uterus.

The controversial new legislation does not contain exceptions for cases of rape or incest. It does, however, have exceptions for the life of the mother or if the fetus has no chance of survival, the Clarion Ledger reports.

Several states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas have bans at 20 weeks, when the National Right to Life Committee says fetuses can begin to feel pain. However, the Journal of American Medicine collected studies that show that fetal pain is unlikely before 23 to 30 weeks.

Mississippi is the only state to start the abortion clock based on the menstrual cycle, or two weeks before gestation actually begins. That has the effect of banning abortions after 18 weeks in the state, according to the Associated Press.

Bryant, the first-term Republican governor, has often said he wants to end all abortion in Mississippi. “This measure represents a great effort to protect the unborn in Mississippi," he said in a statement after the bill was passed on Tuesday.

Diane Derzis, owner of the only abortion clinic in the state, says that the law will not actually affect Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

"That's a totally irrelevant piece of legislation that I'm sure was aimed at the clinic. The clinic goes to 16 weeks, so what difference does that bill make?" Derzis told the Jackson Free Press in early March. "They have been posturing and wasting the taxpayers' money for the last month on that piece of legislation, and every legislator there knows that."

Opponents bashed the lack of rape and incest exceptions in the bill, according to the JFP. “A young woman who is a victim of incest or rape may not know she is pregnant, or may hide a pregnancy due to fear and stigma,” Felicia Brown-Williams, director of public policy for Planned Parenthood Southeast, wrote in a press release. “And no woman who has been raped should be forced to carry a pregnancy that is a result of an attack."

Democratic State Sen. Deborah Dawkins slammed the bill’s passage. “It occurs to me the past few years that a lot of men do not understand how the female body works,” she said, according to the Ledger. “This is about removing the rights of women without means, whether anybody here is willing to admit it or not.”

House Democratic Leader Bobby Moak noted that the bill opens the state up to lawsuits. “Are we about to go to federal court, the same way we’ve been in federal court since we passed our last abortion law three years ago?” he said.

Supporters of the Mississippi law point out that Mississippi is in the conservative-leaning 5th Circuit federal appeals court district, the AP reports. The 5th Circuit upheld a similar 20-week ban in Texas last week, but the 9th Circuit struck down a virtually identical bill in Arizona last year. The Arizona bill calculated length of pregnancy from the start of the last menstrual cycle, while the Texas bill calculated gestational age from the time of fertilization.

The Supreme Court ruled in 1973 that abortions cannot be banned before the fetus is viable, which is believed to be between 22 and 24 weeks of pregnancy. Nationwide, only 1.5 percent of abortions happen after 20 weeks, according to a NARAL Pro-Choice America fact sheet.

Dawkins said the bill was passed based on politics, not on established medical evidence. "Because this is women's bodies, and they're used to controlling women in so many other ways, they're very comfortable with it," she said, the JFP reports.

But Republican State Sen. Angela Hill responded, "This is not about a woman's body. This is about the life of an unborn 20-week baby," according to the Huffington Post.

Interview with James Mitchell, psychologist credited with designing CIA torture program

Boing Boing -

James ("Jim") Mitchell, frame grab from ABC video (4/2009). ABC News, via New York Times.

Journalist Jason Leopold tells us, Recently, I conducted a wide-ranging, two hour interview with retired Air Force psychologist James Mitchell, who is credited with being the architect of the CIA's torture program. Mitchell and his partner, Dr. Bruce Jessen, are featured prominently in the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on the CIA's detention and interrogation program. This is the first time Mitchell has spoken at length about interrogation since he was linked to the program by Jane Mayer in 2005.

Check out Jason's reports in The Guardian, which also feature audio clips of an interview with Mitchell -- who is said to have waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. He defends torture as having been neccesary to "defend the country."

In the interview, Mitchell reveals that he is very fond of the phrase “threat matrix,” believes global warming is bogus, and believes the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, is a “shit sandwich.”

See also this related New York Times story from 2009, profiling Mitchell and his colleagues.

Detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Image: US Department of Defense.

Mobile Game Attempts To Diagnose Alzheimer's

Slashdot -

the_newsbeagle writes "Currently, the best way to check if a person has a high likelihood of developing Alzheimer's is to perform a PET scan to measure the amount of amyloid plaque in his or her brain. That's an expensive procedure. But a startup called Akili Interactive says it has developed a mobile game that can identify likely Alzheimer's patients just by their gameplay and game results. The game is based on a neuroscience study which showed that multitasking is one of the first brain functions to take a hit in Alzheimer's patients. Therefore the game requires players to perform two tasks at the same time."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

TryStack makes OpenStack experimentation easy

LXer -

When it comes to software, the best way to learn something new, or even just figure out if it's the right tool for you, is to dig your hands in, get dirty, and try it out. For the OpenStack universe, this is where TryStack comes in.

Bitcoin’s future may lie in space

RT -

Jeff Garzik, a core bitcoin developer, issued a press release Wednesday saying that his company (Dunvegan Space Systems) had teamed up with Deep Space Industries to draw up a preliminary design plan that would “develop an orbital system” for a new, non-profit project called BitSat. If successful, a constellation of BitSat systems will float around earth broadcasting a signal that will essentially act as a backup system for the existing bitcoin network.

The BitSat itself is a small 10 centimeter box that could be attached to other spacecraft being sent into space.

Private spaceflight is breaking big, driving down costs so that great ideas like BitSats are within reach of even volunteer nonprofits,” said Garzik, who is seeking donations to build the space program. “We want to keep bitcoin healthy and free by finding ways to distribute block chain data.”

BitSats’ developers purport that the project, once in motion, will provide an extra verification layers for encoded blocks of bitcoin, thus making transactions more reliable and perhaps eventually more legitimate in the eyes of the international public.

Deep Space is about using space resources – including space itself,” said Rick Tumlinson, chairman of DSI. “BitSat is actually very much in line with our spacecraft development plans, including another private system we will be announcing in a few months using many of the same components and systems. This means much lower costs – very important for the BitSat effort.”

Garzik simplified his new colleague’s sentiment: “I believe space is the future, and can also be useful right now.”

He estimated that the project will cost somewhere near $2 million, with just over $100 already donated just hours after news of the BitStats plan was made public. More details, including architecture and spacecraft design, operations concept, and the like, will be made public later this summer on BitSats’ Google Group.

The announcement comes at a curious time for the increasingly popular currency, with some experts wondering if bitcoin’s own success will ultimately lead to its demise. Governments and financial institutions have not been more encouraging, with the IRS announcing bitcoin would be regulated as a commodity rather than a currency, and the CEO of Chase bank questioning if users should trust bitcoin (price fluctuated from $230 in April 2013 to below $70 in July, then surpassing $600 in November).

The rules of the system are not set in stone,” Mike Hearn, a volunteer who helps maintain bitcoin software, told the Economist.

It’s got this kind of watch-like feel to it,” he said, adding that bitcoin may continue ticking, but “a mechanical watch is fragile and can be smashed.”

​Family awarded $3 million in first US fracking trial

RT -

A Dallas jury ruled Tuesday in favor of the Parr family, which sued Aruba Petroleum in 2011 after each member of the family noticed a decline in health that, their attorneys argued in court, was the result of dozens of gas wells surrounding their home in Wise County, Texas.

The family was awarded nearly $3 million in what is believed to be the first fracking trial in US history.

“They’re vindicated,” the family’s attorney David Matthews wrote in a blog post. “I’m really proud of the family that went through what they went through and said, ‘I’m not going to take it anymore’. It takes guts to say, ‘I’m going to stand here and protect my family from an invasion of our right to enjoy our property.’

“It’s not easy to go through a lawsuit and have your personal life uncovered and exposed to the extent this family went through.”

Aruba Petroleum will appeal the jury’s decision, according to MSNBC. The company argues that there are dozens of gas-drilling operations in the area, thus it is difficult to tell who is responsible for the family’s degenerative health.

Other companies that own wells around the Parr’s home settled with the family, EcoWatch reported.

The Parrs – Bob, Lisa, and their daughter Emma – said their health suffered beginning just months after hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, operations started in their area, which was in 2008. Lisa said her breathing was impaired, and she was inflicted with nausea and headaches. Bob reported suddenly having around three nosebleeds per week, an anomaly compared to the rest of his life, he said. And Emma also reported nosebleeds, as well as nausea and rashes. She was diagnosed with asthma soon after the drilling began.

“We can’t drink our well water,” Bob Parr told Dallas’ FOX 4 in 2011. “We can’t breathe the air without getting sick.”

The lawsuit was definitely not the first levied against a fracking company over health impacts, though it has been common for plaintiffs in such cases to settle with companies along with agreeing to strict gag orders.

Last year, a Pennsylvania family reached a $750,000 settlement with gas companies – Range Resources Corporation, Williams Gas/Laurel Mountain Midstream, and Markwest Energy – after suing them for environmental and health impacts caused by their fracking operations near the gas-rich Marcellus Shale. In exchange for the award, however, Chris and Stephanie Hallowich agreed that no member of their family – even their 7- and 10-year-old children - could comment on the case “in any fashion whatsoever.”

Anti-fracking advocates see the Parr’s victory as a sign that energy companies, which have worked obsessively to shield themselves from the public harms associated with fracking, may not hold as much sway in the future.

“When evidence of fracking’s impacts are [sic] shown to an impartial jury in a court of law, they find them to be real and significant,” Earthworks Energy Program Director Bruce Baizel said in a statement. “And it shows why the fracking industry is reluctant to allow lawsuits of this type to go to trial.”

Baizel said companies attempt to settle out of court, but only with an accompanying gag order that helps hide fracking’s effects. Meanwhile, he said, industry and government continue to insist fracking is harmless.

“We hope this lawsuit will make regulators, in Texas and around the country, reexamine their assumptions about fracking’s dangers, and their responsibility to keep the public safe,” Baizel said.

To unleash natural gas deep underground, fracking requires large volumes of water, sand, and chemicals to be pumped underground. This process has been linked to groundwater contamination, seismic activity, and a laundry list of health concerns for humans and the local environment.

OpenSSL: the New Face of Technology Monoculture

Slashdot -

chicksdaddy writes: "In a now-famous 2003 essay, 'Cyberinsecurity: The Cost of Monopoly,' Dr. Dan Geer argued, persuasively, that Microsoft's operating system monopoly constituted a grave risk to the security of the United States and international security, as well. It was in the interest of the U.S. government and others to break Redmond's monopoly, or at least to lessen Microsoft's ability to 'lock in' customers and limit choice. The essay cost Geer his job at the security consulting firm AtStake, which then counted Microsoft as a major customer. These days Geer is the Chief Security Officer at In-Q-Tel, the CIA's venture capital arm. But he's no less vigilant of the dangers of software monocultures. In a post at the Lawfare blog, Geer is again warning about the dangers that come from an over-reliance on common platforms and code. His concern this time isn't proprietary software managed by Redmond, however, it's common, oft-reused hardware and software packages like the OpenSSL software at the heart (pun intended) of Heartbleed. 'The critical infrastructure's monoculture question was once centered on Microsoft Windows,' he writes. 'No more. The critical infrastructure's monoculture problem, and hence its exposure to common mode risk, is now small devices and the chips which run them.'"

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

How Iran's Gadget Bloggers Became Victims of the Revolutionary Guard

EFF's Deeplinks -

Narenji ("Orange") was Iran's top website for gadget news, edited daily by a team of tech bloggers who worked from a cramped office in the country's city of Kerman. The site was targeted at Iran's growing audience of technology enthusiasts. Like Gizmodo or Engadget in the United States, it had a simple but popular formula: mixed reviews of the latest Android and iPhones, summaries of new Persian-language apps and downloads, as well as the latest Internet memes (such as the ever-popular "An Incredible Painted Portrait of Morgan Freeman Drawn with a Finger on the iPad").

But now it’s gone. Narenji's front page is stuck in time as it was on December 3, when the entire Narenji team was rounded up by Iran's Revolutionary Guard and thrown into jail. Frozen, too, are Narenji's sister sites—Nardebaan and Negahbaan—that the start-up was beginning to build from Narenji's earlier success.

Narenji's founder, Aliasghar Honarmand, and senior editor Abbas Vahedi, had some reason to be excited for the future.  The current President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, has made encouraging tech entrepreneurism as part of his government's platform, with a $1 billion innovation fund for developing the "knowledge economy." His government has also worked hard to negotiate to lift Western sanctions against the country, boosting the economy and allowing more gadgets to reach Iran's middle class.

Here's the video, broadcast on Iranian state television, of the Narenji team being detained:

Privacy info. This embed will serve content from youtube.com

The report stated that the bloggers had been funded and trained by "espionage networks…aiming for a 'soft overthrow' of the Iranian regime."

It seems that the Iranian prosecutors believed that one or more of the team had received journalistic training from the BBC while in London, and this was enough to trigger the crackdown. While other bloggers in the same round-up have been released, the majority of Narenji's team are still behind bars, including:

* Aliasghar Honarmand (Founder of Narenji & Owner of Paat Shargh Govashir, the company which owns Narenji)
* Abbas Vahedi (Editor of Narenji)
* Hossein Nozari (Director of Paat Shargh Govashir)
* Reza Nozari (Tech blogger of Nardebaan, sister website of Narenji)
* Ehsan Paknejad (Tech blogger on Narenji)

(The Guardian reported a slightly different list of names: Aliasghar Honarmand, Abbas Vahedi, Alireza Vaziri, Nasim Nikmehr, Malihe Nakhaie, Mohammadhossein Mousavizadeh and Sara Sadjadpour.)

Of these, only Vahedi and Nozari were recently released on bail, with the expectation that they and the others will face a court hearing next month.

The Narenji team's treatment is another example of how technologists are targeted by governments worldwide as a result of their work. It doesn't matter if you're writing a blog about Android development or distributing anti-censorship proxies: to many governments, simply being well-known online or having a latent power to influence or change society through your technical knowledge can quickly turn you into an unacceptable threat to the social order.

Popular but apolitical bloggers like Narenji’s also risk being caught in internecine battles over which they have no control. Iranian political experts we've spoken to consider that Narenji's arrest by the local Kermani Revolutionary Guard may be a deliberate response by local radicals against the Rouhani administration's encouragement of tech entrepreneurs: a signal that makes clear that Tehran should not go too far in its moderation. Narenji's high visibility may not have given them protection against the Revolutionary Guard; rather, it may have made them more of a target.

Predations on the technical community have a long, sad, history. EFF's own birth began with an ignorant and fearful crackdown marshalled against hackers in the United States; politically-motivated prosecutions of techno-activists like Aaron Swartz continue to this day. If we're to stop them from taking place anywhere, whether in the United States, Iran, or Russia, we need to unite to protect and publicize the unjust detention and intimidation of technologists everywhere.

You can help by signing this petition to the Iranian government to release the Narenji team, or raise awareness of their case on social media, using the hashtags #Narenji and #نارنجی.  More importantly, spread the word of their case among your own community. The more publicity Narenji gains from ordinary people, the greater the likelihood they will be kept safe in jail, and treated quickly.

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