Saturday, January 24, 2015


1. If you don't know who Barrett Brown is, what multiple governments claim he did, and the ridiculously severe penalties he has been forced to pay - and might be forced to continue paying - for said crimes... well then, I suggest you read on.
After spending more than two years of behind bars, Barrett Brown will learn his fate this morning in a Dallas, Texas, court room. His original indictment carried a maximum sentence of 105 years. But as per the terms of a 2014 plea deal, the journalist and firebrand now faces a maximum sentence of eight and half years in prison. Charges against Brown stem from his association with the FBI’s then-most wanted hacker, Jeremy Hammond, who in 2011 exfiltrated private data from Austin-based intelligence firm, Stratfor.
During a hearing last month, Assistant U.S. Attorney Candina Heath revived arguments based on the original 105-year indictment—that Brown may have broken the law by sharing a hyperlink in a public chat room to a file containing Stratfor's stolen credit cards. In early 2014, the government abandoned a related indictment, widely portrayed by supporters and journalists as an attack on the freedom of the press. However, federal sentencing guidelines require judges to hear the prosecution’s arguments regardless of whether or not the pertinent charges were dropped.
Kevin Gallagher, director of Brown’s defense fund, said in a statement Wednesday that supporters are hoping for a sentence of time served. “Every journalist in the world should be paying attention to what happens here, because it affects them directly,” he said. Brown will address presiding U.S. District Judge Sam A. Lindsay before his ruling for the last time on Thursday. The complete text of his prepared statement is published here.
Find out what happened at Brown's sentencing hearing at the link provided directly above. Then, start considering cloaking your online activities behind a robust and muscular encryption. And always remember, just because you think you've got nothing to hide, that doesn't mean THEY can't nail you for some stupid thing or other.

2. Speaking of privacy and security, Gizmodo's annual list of the year's Top 25 Most Popular Passwords continues to amaze, delight, and stupefy. Here's how it starts off, along with position changes from last year:

25. trustno1 (Down 1)
24. batman (New)
23. 123123 (Down 12)
22. 696969 (New)
21. superman (New)
20. michael (New)
19. master (New)
18. shadow (Unchanged)
17. access (New)
16. mustang (New)
15. 111111 (Down 8)

If you think these passwords are stupid, wait until you get a load of the rest of the list.

3. Via Sploid I just found out that a "controversial" American research biologist has created a strain of influenza that can cut through the human body's defense mechanisms the way bullets sprayed from a helicopter-mounted 50 calibre machine gun cut through men, women, children and cattle during the Vietnam war. The London Independent explains:
Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin-Madison has genetically manipulated the 2009 strain of pandemic flu in order for it to “escape” the control of the immune system’s neutralising antibodies, effectively making the human population defenceless against its reemergence.
Most of the world today has developed some level of immunity to the 2009 pandemic flu virus, which means that it can now be treated as less dangerous “seasonal flu”. However, The Independent understands that Professor Kawaoka intentionally set out to see if it was possible to convert it to a pre-pandemic state in order to analyse the genetic changes involved.
The study is not published, however some scientists who are aware of it are horrified that Dr Kawaoka was allowed to deliberately remove the only defence against a strain of flu virus that has already demonstrated its ability to create a deadly pandemic that killed as many as 500,000 people in the first year of its emergence.
Professor Kawaoka has so far kept details of the research out of the public domain but admitted today that the work is complete and ready for submission to a scientific journal.
I have nothing to add to this story, other than to ask, why is it that so many smart people are such absolute fucking IDIOTS a lot of the time?!

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