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02 Mar 2012 20:16


Tech: NASA skimps on cyber security, China hacks us regularly as a result

  • 3.9% of NASA’s IT budget is allocated to cyber security
  • 13 successful hacking attempts were carried out against NASA last year source
  • » You get what you pay for: Really, guys? Thirteen times in a year? This means NASA gets hacked more often than I pay my phone bill. But maybe that’s to be expected when you spend so little on cyber security. This is all based on testimony from the agency’s inspector general, Paul Martin, and the rest of his testimony is quite terrifying. For example, Martin says that hackers working through Chinese IP addresses were able to gain full system access to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, steal user credentials from over 150 NASA employees, and modify system logs to cover up their tracks. Let’s hope it was just a couple of bored middle schoolers.

01 Feb 2012 20:12


World: Sec. of State Clinton makes case to UN on Syria

  • Every member of the Council has to make a decision: Whose side are you on? Are you on the side of the Syrian people? Are you on the side of the Arab League? Are you on the side of the people of the Middle East and North Africa who have during this past year spoken out courageously and often for their rights? Or are you on the side of a brutal, dictatorial regime?
  • U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton • Stating her case to the UN Security Council, on the matter of the violent turmoil that continues in Syria. Clinton is clearly arguing on somewhat simplistic moral grounds, trying to put more pressure on Russia, which has said they’ll veto a resolution if it mandates that Bashar al-Assad step down from power. In particular, memory of the NATO mission in Libya is likely in play — Russia approved a resolution to protect Libyan civilians, only to see it broaden into a mission to depose dictator Muammar Gaddafi, which they opposed. Consequently, they’re now unwilling to agree to a resolution that carries either the overt or implied goal of regime change. source

21 Jan 2012 17:01


Tech: On Apple, the U.S. economy, and China’s manufacturing prowess

  • The U.S. factories couldn’t get close enough to perfection for Steve Jobs. So Apple went to China. In perhaps the broadest profile you’ll read about the manufacturing process that creates most of the electronics you use today, The New York Times’ analysis of the structural reasons why the iPhone isn’t made in the U.S. manages to pull off a surprising trick: It turns a story which on the surface is about one of the world’s largest corporations into a story which shows weaknesses in the recession-laden U.S. economy. A quick roundup of what we learned from this article:
  • one Apple was a late-comer to the international manufacturing racket, and as recently as 2003 built their products in California. Before they went to Asia, they struggled to keep up with the rest of the tech industry, which used the kinds of contractors Apple uses now.
  • two In Asia, it’s much easier to get all their ducks in a row in terms of supply chain management. The lower labor cost helps, but it’s the ability to turn on a dime — such as when Apple changed its iPhone screen from plastic to glass — that really makes a difference in terms of cost.
  • three Despite the outsourcing, an important point to keep in mind is that Apple’s success does create jobs in the U.S., both directly — 8,000 in the past year alone — and indirectly, with companies like FedEx and UPS adding many jobs based solely on Apple’s needs. source
  • » What it means for the U.S. economy: With speed, flexibility and manufacturing prowess better in China, Apple’s move abroad has taken two types of jobs out of play: One, the low-paid but stable manufacturing job (which FoxConn offers both to Apple and numerous other manufacturers); and two, the mid-level engineer, which the article suggests is hard to find in the U.S., but easy to find in China. In fact, the story features a fascinating anecdote about a mid-level engineer who once worked a well-paying job at a U.S. Apple factory, only to get laid off and, years later, work another Apple job he was overqualified for — at a much lower salary. That’s the real story. Look past Apple. They’re the hook of the article, but the real story is how the U.S. economy is no longer the best spot for these kinds of jobs. How can the U.S. change that?

13 Dec 2011 15:06


World: Russia says criticism of its defense of Syria “immoral”

  • UN action on Syria blocked by Russia, China: It was just over a month ago that Syria claimed to accept a deal with the Arab League to halt attacks and killings of citizens (and allow free media observers into the country), before flaunting their violation of the deal the next day by killing eleven people. They’ve since talked about another deal with the League, similar to the terms of the last one, but it’s rather impossible to take that seriously at this point. Many UN states would like to recommend Syria to the International Criminal Court in the Hague for crimes against humanity, but Security Council members China and Russia refuse to issue any condemnation of the Assad government — Russia, further, has referred to western criticism of their defense of Syria as “immoral.” source

08 Dec 2011 14:14


World: Inaction feared at climate change conference in Durban, South Africa

  • In a time of constraints, in a time of crisis, in a time of tough budgets, people are saying that charity starts at home, that we cannot deal with something noble but medium and long-term like the environment.
  • Angel Gurria, chief of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development • Discussing the stumbling inaction by the global community in adequately addressing the issue of climate change. 194 nations are currently convened in Durban, South Africa for a major conference on climate change, one which strives to reach agreements on carbon control to continue the process begun by the 1997 Kyoto Protocol; the EU has said they will not renew their emissions reduction standards unless measures are adopted so that all countries (most importantly the United States and China, the world’s worst polluters) must hold to certain emissions standards as well. This has caused turmoil in the discussions, as many less developed nations insist they haven’t been to blame for the surge in carbon to date, and thus shouldn’t be penalized as they now strive to industrialize. source

08 Nov 2011 10:52


World: So, humans could be going to Mars soon. That would be a truly giant leap.

  • Over a period of 17 months, everything was strictly regimented. Now they are returning to a life where they must deal with family and professional problems.
  • Mars500 project director Boris Morukov • Talking about the crew of “astronauts” after a 520 day simulated mission to Mars. The mission intended to answer the question: ” can people stay healthy and sane during six months rocketing to the Red Planet?” The participants, from countries like Europe, Russia and China, are expected to have problems adjusting to the “noise and activity of ordinary life.” Still, it seemed to go much better than this experiment in 2000, which ended “in drunken disaster when two participants got into a fistfight and a third tried to forcibly kiss a female crew member.” We would be a little frazzled, too, after hundreds of days of isolation and terrible food. source

08 Nov 2011 10:47


Tech: iPhone sales: Hong Kong really wants to try out Siri, apparently

  • 10 minutes to sell out iPhone 4S pre-orders in Hong Kong source
  • » Want to pre-order the iPhone 4s in Hong Kong? Too late. You’re stuck waiting in line. The phone will be available in stores this Friday and analysts are expecting “long lines and serial stock outs.” It’s a good sign for when the phone hits mainland China — a date for which has not been announced. It’s led to a black-market Apple-smuggling industry between Hong Kong and China, which is likely to only continue with the iPhone 4S

06 Nov 2011 21:21


World: Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, stuck with huge tax bill, gets huge donations

  • $2.4M the size of the fine China gave to firebrand artist Ai Weiwei — to be paid in just 15 days
  • 20k number of people who have offered Weiwei donations to help pay this insane tax bill
  • $550k amount of money these people have given the artist in just five days; impressive source
  • » This on top of a long arrest earlier this year: Ai Weiwei spent 81 days in jail on tax evasion charges, but claims all authorities wanted to talk about was his pro-democracy record. The fine Ai has been forced to pay is more than three times the size of his tax bill — and he needs help paying. The surprising part is that he actually got said help. “It’s surprising; it has really changed my perspective on people,” he said, noting that people traveled long distances to give him financial help — in person. Ai prefers to think of the payments as loans, and turned down a $157,000 payment from a businessman, saying he preferred smaller loans.

31 Oct 2011 23:21


World: Milestone? China could send its first female astronaut into space

  • We suppose a Chinese space station would be a real blast to reside in. China will be sending a spacecraft up soon to collect data regarding a future space station. “Although Shenzhou-8 is unmanned, we equipped the spacecraft with devices recording real images and mechanical parameters during its flight, both of which are vital to future manned missions,” said Wu Ping, a spokesperson for the Chinese space program. If this flight proves successful, China will send up two more missions next year; one of those missions will be manned. There are currently two female astronauts being trained by China, and if one of them is picked, they’ll be the first Chinese woman in space. Is this about time, or does no one really care who China sends into space?  source

30 Sep 2011 16:52


Biz: Stock market suckage: A crappy quarter, put to bed by a crappy day

  • bad Today was not a good day for the stock market in general, with all three major indexes down more than two percent amid negative economic data from China, which raised fears that another economic slowdown was coming.
  • worse This is the final day of the quarter on Wall Street, and the results aren’t very good. The S&P, for example, lost more than 14 percent this quarter. Fears of an economic slowdown weighed on investors’ minds after the 2008 crisis. source