Threats

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New Virus More Deadly Than SARS

The too-smart city

The smart city has become a buzzword in urban planning and university engineering departments, and a topic of breathless coverage in science and business magazines. Although today the vision exists more in the realm of promise than reality, cities such as Boston have begun to invest time and chunks of their budget to laying the groundwork.

Privacy for the Other 5 Billion

This vigorous adoption of technologies for collecting, processing, tracking, profiling, and managing personal data—in short, surveillance technologies—risks centralizing an increasing amount of power in the hands of government authorities, often in places where democratic safeguards and civil society watchdogs are limited. While these initiatives may be justified in certain cases, rarely are they subject to a rigorous assessment of their effects on civil liberties or political dissent. On the contrary, they often seek to exploit the lack of scrutiny: Nilekani recommended in another recent speech that biometric proponents work “quickly and quietly” before opposition can form. The sensitivity of the information gathered in aid programs is not lost on intelligence agencies: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Mark Mazzetti recently revealed that the Pentagon funded a food aid program in Somalia for the express purpose of gathering details on the local population. Even legitimate aid programs now maintain massive databases of personal information, from household names and locations to biometric information.  

[From Privacy for the Other 5 Billion]

Carbon Dioxide in Atmosphere at 400 PPM for First Time in Human History

In 1958, when scientists began measuring average carbon dioxide levels at an observatory on Mauna Loa in Hawaii, that figure was around 320 ppm. This week, for the first time, the sensors at Mauna Loa have measured a daily average of more than 400 ppm. The last time carbon dioxide levels were this high, Australopithecus was sharing the earth with mammoths and saber-tooth tigers.

Before the industrial revolution, the proportion of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere hovered around 280 parts per million. In 1958, when scientists began measuring average carbon dioxide levels at an observatory on Mauna Loa in Hawaii, that figure was around 320 ppm. This week, for the first time, the sensors at Mauna Loa have measured a daily average of more than 400 ppm. The last time carbon dioxide levels were this high, Australopithecus was sharing the earth with mammoths and saber-tooth tigers.

[From Carbon Dioxide in Atmosphere Hits 400 PPM for First Time in Human History]

The Golden Age of Privacy Is Over

Domestic deployment of drones is causing substantial concern, especially regarding the implications for privacy. The American Civil Liberties Union, for example, fears that “routine aerial surveillance would profoundly change the character of public life in America” and demands rules and regulations so that we can avoid “a ‘surveillance society’ in which our every move is monitored, tracked, recorded, and scrutinized by the government.” Glenn Greenwald warns about the arrival of the “Surveillance State,” and somewhat dramatically suggests drones will “psychologically terrorize the population.”

From The Golden Age of Privacy Is Over

The Elephants in the Room: Citizens United, Trade and Corporate Ownership of Our Natural Resources

How has consolidation enabled Monsanto, Tyson, Nestle, Kraft, Cargill, McDonalds and other food/ag/chemical companies to write our food policy, and why is about to get worse? The disastrous decision in the landmark Citizens United case now allows corporations to spend unlimited sums of money to buy the political system.

...[From The Elephants in the Room: Citizens United, Trade and Corporate Ownership of Our Natural Resources ]

How Resource Scarcity and Climate Change Could Produce a Global Explosion

Two nightmare scenarios — a global scarcity of vital resources and the onset of extreme climate change — are already beginning to converge and in the coming decades are likely to produce a tidal wave of unrest, rebellion, competition, and conflict. Just what this tsunami of disaster will look like may, as yet, be hard to discern, but experts warn of “water wars” over contested river systems, global food riots sparked by soaring prices for life’s basics, mass migrations of climate refugees (with resulting anti-migrant violence), and the breakdown of social order or the collapse of states. At first, such mayhem is likely to arise largely in Africa, Central Asia, and other areas of the underdeveloped South, but in time all regions of the planet will be affected.

Ukrainian aircraft design expertise to the highest bidder

Ukraine exported major conventional arms worth $1.344 billion in 2012 becoming the fourth largest arms exporter in the world, according to the data published by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Three largest suppliers of major conventional weapons in 2012 were the United States ($8.760 billion), Russia ($8.003 billion), and China ($1.783 billion).

Antonov State a global leader in aircraft design

A major export is military aircraft designs. China bought the services of Antonov State to help build the Y-20 transport aircraft. The Antonov State Company, is a Ukrainian aircraft manufacturing and services company based in Kyiv. Antonov's particular expertise is in the fields of very large airplanes and airplanes insensitive to runway quality. Antonov is the most common airplane brand on the planet, with total of 22,000 aircraft built and thousands of planes currently operating in the former Soviet Union and the developing countries.

The Antonov 124 is the largest airplane that was ever mass produced and there are versions that can carry 150 tons.

Oleg Antonov died in 1984 but he left a legacy of superior aircraft design capability in the Ukrainian company.

China's Y-20 66 ton transport

Who Owns Your Future?

This is video of how it is possible to completely and unnoticably compromise an electronic voting machine in under a minute.

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