In the News
Tue, 28 Feb 2017 06:00:00 +0100
46 Years Later, Apollo 11 Hits the Road Again
After finding its home at the Smithsonian in Washington for more than four decades, the command module of the historic moon landing spacecraft Apollo 11 is going on "a road trip." The tour, featuring a new exhibit, will visit four cities across the ... Discuss
Tue, 28 Feb 2017 05:00:00 GMT
What Would Life Be Like on the TRAPPIST-1 Planets?
The TRAPPIST-1 system is home to seven planets that are about the size of Earth and potentially just the right temperature to support life. So how would life on these alien worlds be different than life on Earth? Here are some of the major ...
Mon, 27 Feb 2017 05:00:00 GMT
Could a Bumblebee Learn to Play Fetch? Probably
Initially, Clint Perry wanted to make a vending machine for bumblebees. He wanted to understand how they solve problems. Perry, a cognitive biologist at Queen Mary University of London, is interested in testing the limits of animal intelligence. "I ...
Toxic ocean pollution adds to fish woes
The amount of food available in the oceans will decrease by up to 55% this century, starving animals already struggling to adapt to warming oceans. Mon, 27 Feb 2017 00:00:00 +0200
Slice Of Life: No country for good men
"He just said: 'What we need is for you to go back where you come from.' I think about that to this day and I feel bad; so, so bad. Mon, 27 Feb 2017 00:00:00 +0200
On Friday White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer held an informal "gaggle" press briefing but made a point of excluding certain news outlets. The White House's decision has drawn ire from across the field, including organizations invited to the briefing, such as Fox News and The Wall Street Journal.
Spicer held the meeting in his office rather than the usual briefing room. He told the press the smaller gathering was because Trump had already made a large speech earlier in the day. "We want to make sure we answer your questions, but we don't need to do everything on camera every day." However, he also criticized media coverage of the Trump administration, which President Trump has cited as unfair. "We're going to aggressively push back," one reporter recorded him saying at the gaggle. "We're just not going to sit back and let, you know, false narratives, false stories, inaccurate facts get out there."
This meeting took place the day after CNN issued a report claiming the White House had asked high-level employees at the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation to rebut a story in The New York Times about the Trump administration's alleged ties with Russia and Vladimir Putin.
"Apparently this is how they retaliate when you report facts they don't like. We'll keep reporting regardless," said CNN in a statement.
"Nothing like this has ever happened at the White House in our long history of covering multiple administrations of different parties," said New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet. "We strongly protest the exclusion of The New York Times and the other news organizations. Free media access to a transparent government is obviously of crucial national interest."
"While we strongly object to the White House's apparent attempt to punish news outlets whose coverage it does not like," said Buzzfeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith, "we won't let these latest antics distract us from the work of continuing to cover this administration fairly and aggressively."
BBC bureau chief Paul Denahar was more formal: "We understand there may be occasions when, due to space or circumstances, the White House restricts press events to the established pool. However, what happened today did not fit into that pattern. On this occasion selected media were allowed to attend the briefing and the selected media, including the BBC, were not."
National Review contributor David French also criticized the decision: "The only reason to exclude a news organization from a press briefing should be space available, with space allocated on a viewpoint-neutral basis. [...] It's one thing to bash the press. It's another thing entirely to take steps to deny access to disfavored outlets. When it comes to access, Trump needs to be better than Obama, not worse." He combined these remarks with a discussion of the Obama administration's relationship with Fox News.
Some of the news organizations invited to Spicer's meeting also opposed the exclusion of their peers:
"Some at CNN and New York Times stood with Fox News when the Obama admin attacked us and tried to exclude us," said Fox anchor Bret Baier via Twitter, "a White House gaggle should be open to all credentialed orgs."
"The Wall Street Journal strongly objects to the White House's decision to bar certain media outlets from today's gaggle," added a representative for the newspaper. "Had we known at the time, we would not have participated and we will not participate in such closed briefings in the future."
The White House Correspondents' Association took a milder view: "We're not happy with how things went today," said association president Jeff Mason. "I don't think that people should rush to judgment to suggest that this is the start of a big crackdown on media access."
Donald Trump has stated the mainstream media portrayed the first month of his presidency unfairly, calling some of their reports "fake news" and the press themselves the "enemy of the people" and insisting they refrain from using anonymous sources. "I'm against the people that make up stories and make up sources," he told the Conservative Political Action Committee in Washington D.C.
"President Trump's calls for an end to anonymous sources was alarming. It is not the job of political leaders to determine how journalists should conduct their work, and sets a terrible example for the rest of the world, where sources often must remain anonymous to preserve their own lives," said Joel Simon of the Committee to Protect Journalists.
I ask you to work together. I know it's not going to be easy
âStaffan de Mistura, coordinator for the Syrian peace talks
From file, Staffan de Mistura at related talks last month in Astana, Kazakhstan. Image: VOA.
The peace conference is being held at the United Nations Office at Geneva. After an opening ceremony which the opposition delegation nearly missed due to internal disagreements, the UN envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura formally announced the start of the first day of talks. The government and opposition delegations sat opposite each other with a UN assembly serving as a mediator.
The two sides, however, failed to directly talk to the other and no negotiations took place on the first day. Staffan de Mistura separately spoke to the opposing representatives. "I ask you to work together. I know it's not going to be easy to end this horrible conflict and lay the foundation for a country at peace with itself, sovereign and unified", he told the assembly.
The Syrian government delegation was led by Bashar Jaafari, the Syrian representative to the UN. He attended several previous Syrian peace talks.
The opposition delegation mainly consisted of the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), led by Naser al-Hariri. "Today, the real opposition that represents the Syrian people is the HNC. This delegation and the HNC, extends its hand to any national partner that adopts the will of the Syrian people", he said. The HNC is based in Saudi Arabia. However, two other opposition groups also attended the conference, supported by Russia, which is also a major supporter of the Syrian government.
In addition to the two political delegations, a group of several Syrian women were also in Geneva. Some of them had relatives arrested, abducted, or otherwise missing during the war.
This conference takes place nearly a year after the previous round of Syrian peace talks in Geneva collapsed in 2016. "We do know what will happen if we fail once again â more deaths, more suffering, more terrorism, more refugees", said de Mistura.
This Thursday, Google announced that it had performed a successful collision attack on the popular SHA-1cryptographic hash function for the first time â that they know of. The collision attack demonstrated an algorithm for making two distinct inputs map to the same hash output, putting at risk the usage of SHA-1 for verifying data integrity. Google published a blog post and made a website about the collision attack.
An unofficial icon for group SHA1, SHA2, SHA3 family. Image: Krauss.
A successful attacker would be able to add a malicious file to the system to damage a backup relying on SHA-1 for checking data integrity, deliver a malicious update to clients using SHA-1 to verify the update file, attack and decrypt an encrypted connection to a website where the user's browser is using SHA-1 to identify the connection certificate, replace a file revision history using SHA-1 to identify commits, and perform other actions that would substitute for valuable files with something seemingly identical but misleading or malicious in practice. Similar systems not using SHA-1 would not be affected.
To demonstrate the success of the algorithm, Google published two distinct Portable Document Format (PDF) files with identical SHA-1 hash. Google recommended everyone who uses SHA-1 to switch to SHA-256 or SHA-3, stronger cryptographic hash functions.
The group started with a paper published by Marc Stevens in 2013 in which the authors proposed a theoretical algorithm for the collision attack. They chose PDF files as the basis for their attack. They wrote a PDF file prefix on both files and PDF contents which hashed to the same SHA-1 digest. Then they used the Google computing infrastructure to perform more than nine quintillion (upwards of 9,223,372,036,854,775,808) SHA1 computations. They described this as 6,500 years of CPU time distributed in the first phase, then 110 years of graphics processing unit (GPU) time total in the second phase of the attack to reach full collision. They said this new algorithm was 100,000 times faster than the brute-force attack and 50 times faster than a collision attack algorithm proposed in 2005.
The cryptology group at the Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) institute, Netherlands, collaborated with the Google Research Security, Privacy and Anti-abuse Group to achieve the collision. According to a press release, Marc Stevens and Elie Bursztein were the initial leaders of the initiative, Ange Albertini developed the PDF attack code, Pierre Karpman developed the cryptoanalysis, Yarik Markov and Pierre Karpman developed the distributed graphical processing unit (GPU) code, and Clement Baisse checked the reliability of the programs.
Google also provided a collision detector online, where users can upload a PDF file to test whether it was tampered with for reaching a collision. Alex Petit Bianco developed the online file collision detector. Following its security policy, Google set a 90 day delay before release of the source code for the attack.
Operating systems and software rely on SHA-1 for verifying the file integrity when distributing updates to its users and in ISO checksums. Developers use SHA-1 in their file revision control systems, such as git, to verify the files' integrity. Many people install programs that use SHA-1 for detecting duplicate files in storage media and for verifying backups' integrity. People surfing the web see SHA-1 used for verifying the integrity of HTTPS certificates to verify the users' connection with the website is not subject to a man-in-the-middle attack. People also use SHA-1 in email PGP/GPG signatures.
We know who [the perpetrators] are. No need to tell you.
âPolice Chief Khalid Abu Bakar, of a break-in at the mortuary holding the remains of Kim Jong Nam.
"We knew there were attempts by someone to break into the hospital mortuary. We had to take precautions. We will not allow anyone to tamper with the mortuary," Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar told the Malay Mail. He went on to say that the officers investigating the break-in knew who had done it but declined to share that information with the Mail: "We know who they are. No need to tell you," Khalid said.
Malaysian police official Noor Rashid Ibrahim announced on Sunday authorities were cooperating with Interpol in the search for four other North Korean nationals suspected of involvement in Kim's death. According to Ibrahim, the four left Malaysia the day Kim Jong Nam was killed. Yesterday, Chief Khalid said two other people, an Air Koryo employee named Kim Uk Il and a North Korean embassy employee named Hyon Kwang Song have "been called in for assistance."
Ibrahim cautioned listeners against assuming Kim Jong Nam's death was necessarily ordered by his half-brother's government: "the four hold North Korean nationality, that is all."
Four suspects have already been detained: Ri Jong Chol, a North Korean; Siti Aishah, an Indonesian; Muhammad Farid Bin Jalaluddin, a Malaysian; and Doan Thi Huong, who was carrying a Vietnamese passport. According to CCTV footage, two women, ostensibly Aishah and Doan, approached Kim Jong Nam in Kuala LumpurInternational Airport. One of them distracted him while the other administered a fast-acting poison. Kim fell ill and died before he could reach a hospital. One was wearing an "LOL" t-shirt at the time. Aishah told police she thought she had been hired to play a prank for a television show, but Chief Khalid disputed this, saying the two had been trained for their mission and told to wash their hands after handling the liquid.
Kim Jong Nam had once been his father Kim Jong Il's heir apparent but fell out of favor and has been living in Macau with his family.
The Indonesian consulate requested access to Aishah but was refused. According to Malaysian law, no one may speak to the suspects while the investigation is ongoing. The North Korean government has called for the release of Ri Jong Chol and issued a statement saying the two women are also "innocent" and should be released as well. The North Korean ambassador to Malaysia has questioned both the identity of the dead man and the reliability of the Malaysian investigation. Malaysia recalled its ambassador from North Korean on Monday amid increasing tensions between the two countries.
Inspector-General Khalid continued to refer to the deceased as "Kim Chol," one of two names on passports he had with him. Malaysian authorities have refused to release Kim's body to North Korea without a DNA sample from a family member. Khalid has promised police protection for any relative coming to Malaysia to do so.
Current Members of the U.S. House of Representatives
The Republicans currently have top-to-bottom control in 25 states, holding both the governorship and the entire legislature. If we've learned anything from this last election, it's that political complacency is no longer an option. Sun, 26 Feb 2017 16:33:00 GMT
U.S. Senate Seats up for Reelection in 2018
The U.S. Senate elections will be held on November 6, 2018. Thirty-three of the 100 Senate seats are up for reelection. The Republicans will be defending just 8 seats, while the Democrats will be fighting for 23, plus another 2 held by independents. The winners of those seats will serve a six-year term from January 3, 2019, until January 3, 2025. The time to start organizing is now. Fri, 10 Feb 2017 14:26:00 GMT
The Top 5 Places to Work in U.S. Oil and Gas
Anadarko Petroleum, Chevron, Plains All American, Occidental Petroleum and Noble Energy have emerged as the top five "Best Places to Work" in the U.S. oil and gas industry. Tue, 17 Jan 2017 12:01:00 GMT
Child Brides in Zimbabwe
Legal frameworks play a powerful role in transforming norms and protecting girls' rights. Although many African countries have established 18 as the minimum marriage age for girls, weak enforcement has meant these laws have had little impact. Tue, 15 Nov 2016 10:20:00 GMT
Khalid al-Asaad Slaughtered by ISIS
Khalid al-Asaad, an 83-year-old caretaker of antiquities in Syria, was beheaded by ISIS, but did not receive the same attention as a slain lion. Sat, 22 Aug 2015 14:52:00 GMT
Video: Dr. Kizza Besigye sworn in as Uganda’s president on May 11, 2016
Newscast Media KAMPALA—Opposition leader Dr. Warren Kizza Besigye was sworn in today May 11, 2016 as Uganda’s president, with thousands of Forum of Democratic Change (FDC) supporters cheering him. Besigye asserted that any swearing in by his opponent Yoweri Museveni, would be illegitimate because he (Besigye) won the election, and has evidence to support his [...] Tue, 28 Feb 2017 15:32:53 +0100
Senior sheriff official resigns after racist e-mails discovered
Newscast Media LOS ANGELES—A senior official at the Los Angeles County sheriff’s department resigned Sunday following criticism over e-mails he sent disparaging blacks, Muslims, Latinos and women, the department said in a statement. Sheriff Jim McDonnell said he accepted the resignation of his chief-of-staff Tom Angel after the emergence of emails he forwarded from his [...] Tue, 28 Feb 2017 15:32:53 +0100
Venezuela’s Maduro continues to hold the pieces together
Newscast Media CARACAS—It’s a new time in Venezuela. On Sunday, the clocks in the South American country were brought forward to save electricity. The switch to daylight saving time could be a harbinger of political change. Over the past several days, more than 1.5 million Venezuelans have signed a petition for a referendum to recall [...] Tue, 28 Feb 2017 15:32:53 +0100
Massive data leak of offshore intrigues has world leaders panicking
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—World leaders have scrambled to react to the leak of a trove of documents linking many of them to secretive offshore companies that enabled vast sums of money to move around the world hidden from law enforcement and regulators. A massive report called The Panama Papers, published simultaneously by multiple news organizations in [...] Tue, 28 Feb 2017 15:32:53 +0100
Museveni’s men accused of stealing Mbabazi’s evidence
Newscast Media KAMPALA—Opposition group Go Forward, that filed a lawsuit against Uganda’s dictator Yoweri Museveni, on behalf of Amama Mbabazi, has accused the Uganda Police of breaking and entering the offices of lawyers representing Mbabazi. Crucial evidence and numerous computers are now missing, as the case unfolds to determine whether or not Museveni rigged the [...] Tue, 28 Feb 2017 15:32:53 +0100
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