Topic: United States
Edward Joseph Snowden (born June 21, 1983) is an American whistleblower who copied and leaked highly classified information from the National Security Agency (NSA) in 2013 when he was a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employee and subcontractor. His disclosures revealed numerous global surveillance programs, many run by the NSA and the Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance with the cooperation of telecommunication companies and European governments, and prompted a cultural discussion about national security and individual privacy.
In 2013, Snowden was hired by an NSA contractor, Booz Allen Hamilton, after previous employment with Dell and the CIA. Snowden says he gradually became disillusioned with the programs with which he was involved and that he tried to raise his ethical concerns through internal channels but was ignored. On May 20, 2013, Snowden flew to Hong Kong after leaving his job at an NSA facility in Hawaii, and in early June he revealed thousands of classified NSA documents to journalists Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, and Ewen MacAskill. Snowden came to international attention after stories based on the material appeared in The Guardian and The Washington Post. Further disclosures were made by other publications including Der Spiegel and The New York Times.
On June 21, 2013, the United States Department of Justice unsealed charges against Snowden of two counts of violating the Espionage Act of 1917 and theft of government property, following which the Department of State revoked his passport. Two days later, he flew into Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport, where Russian authorities noted that his U.S. passport had been cancelled, and he was restricted to the airport terminal for over one month. Russia later granted Snowden the right of asylum with an initial visa for residence for one year, and repeated extensions have permitted him to stay at least until 2020. In early 2016, he became the president of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, a San Francisco-based organization that states its purpose is to protect journalists from hacking and government surveillance.
On September 17, 2019, his memoir Permanent Record was published. On the first day of publication, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a civil lawsuit against Snowden over publication of his memoir, alleging he had breached nondisclosure agreements signed with the U.S. federal government. Former The Guardian national security reporter Ewen MacAskill called the civil lawsuit a "huge mistake", noting that the "UK ban of Spycatcher 30 years ago created huge demand". The memoir was listed as no. 1 on Amazon's bestseller list that same day. In an interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! on September 26, 2019, Snowden clarified he considers himself a "whistleblower" as opposed to a "leaker" as he considers "a leaker only distributes information for personal gain".
- "Senate IP linked to edits in Snowden's wikipedia page" | 2013-08-06 | 120 Upvotes 55 Comments
The 100 Year Starship (100YSS) is a joint U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) grant project to a private entity. The goal of the study is to create a business plan that can foster the research and technology needed for interstellar travel within 100 years.
- "The 100 Year Starship" | 2020-01-17 | 39 Upvotes 57 Comments
The 1961 Goldsboro B-52 crash was an accident that occurred near Goldsboro, North Carolina, on 23 January 1961. A Boeing B-52 Stratofortress carrying two 3–4-megaton Mark 39 nuclear bombs broke up in mid-air, dropping its nuclear payload in the process. The pilot in command, Walter Scott Tulloch, ordered the crew to eject at 9,000 feet (2,700 m). Five crewmen successfully ejected or bailed out of the aircraft and landed safely, another ejected, but did not survive the landing, and two died in the crash. Information declassified in 2013 showed that one of the bombs came very close to detonating.
- "1961 Goldsboro B-52 crash" | 2016-12-16 | 10 Upvotes 3 Comments
The 1984 Rajneeshee bioterror attack was the food poisoning of 751 individuals in The Dalles, Oregon, through the deliberate contamination of salad bars at ten local restaurants with Salmonella. A group of prominent followers of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (later known as Osho) led by Ma Anand Sheela had hoped to incapacitate the voting population of the city so that their own candidates would win the 1984 Wasco County elections. The incident was the first and is the single largest bioterrorist attack in United States history.
Having previously gained political control of Antelope, Oregon, Rajneesh's followers, who were based in nearby Rajneeshpuram, sought election to two of the three seats on the Wasco County Circuit Court that were up for election in November 1984. Fearing they would not gain enough votes, some Rajneeshpuram officials decided to incapacitate voters in The Dalles, the largest population center in Wasco County. The chosen biological agent was Salmonella enterica Typhimurium, which was first delivered through glasses of water to two County Commissioners and then, on a larger scale, at salad bars and in salad dressing.
As a result of the attack, 751 people contracted salmonellosis, 45 of whom were hospitalized, but none died. Although an initial investigation by the Oregon Public Health Division and the Centers for Disease Control did not rule out deliberate contamination, the agents and contamination were only confirmed a year later. On February 28, 1985, Congressman James H. Weaver gave a speech in the United States House of Representatives in which he "accused the Rajneeshees of sprinkling Salmonella culture on salad bar ingredients in eight restaurants".
At a press conference in September 1985, Rajneesh accused several of his followers of participation in this and other crimes, including an aborted plan in 1985 to assassinate a United States Attorney, and he asked state and federal authorities to investigate. Oregon Attorney General David B. Frohnmayer set up an interagency task force, composed of Oregon State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and executed search warrants in Rajneeshpuram. A sample of bacteria matching the contaminant that had sickened the town residents was found in a Rajneeshpuram medical laboratory. Two leading Rajneeshpuram officials were convicted on charges of attempted murder and served 29 months of 20-year sentences in a minimum-security federal prison.
- "1984 Rajneeshee bioterror attack" | 2018-05-13 | 44 Upvotes 16 Comments
The 2009 flu pandemic or swine flu was an influenza pandemic that lasted from January 2009 to August 2010, and the second of the two pandemics involving H1N1 influenza virus (the first being the 1918–1920 Spanish flu pandemic), albeit a new strain. First described in April 2009, the virus appeared to be a new strain of H1N1, which resulted from a previous triple reassortment of bird, swine, and human flu viruses further combined with a Eurasian pig flu virus, leading to the term "swine flu". According to WHO, the laboratory confirmed death toll is more than 18,036. Meanwhile, some studies estimated that 11 to 21 percent of the global population at the time – or around 700 million to 1.4 billion people (out of a total of 6.8 billion) – contracted the illness. This was more than the number of people infected by the Spanish flu pandemic, but only resulted in about 150,000 to 575,000 fatalities for the 2009 pandemic. A follow-up study done in September 2010 showed that the risk of serious illness resulting from the 2009 H1N1 flu was no higher than that of the yearly seasonal flu. For comparison, the WHO estimates that 250,000 to 500,000 people die of seasonal flu annually.
Unlike most strains of influenza, the Pandemic H1N1/09 virus does not disproportionately infect adults older than 60 years; this was an unusual and characteristic feature of the H1N1 pandemic. Even in the case of previously very healthy people, a small percentage develop pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). This manifests itself as increased breathing difficulty and typically occurs three to six days after initial onset of flu symptoms. The pneumonia caused by flu can be either direct viral pneumonia or a secondary bacterial pneumonia. A November 2009 New England Journal of Medicine article recommended that flu patients whose chest X-ray indicates pneumonia receive both antivirals and antibiotics. In particular, it is a warning sign if a child (and presumably an adult) seems to be getting better and then relapses with high fever, as this relapse may be bacterial pneumonia.
- "Wikipedia: The 2009 H1N1 flu outbreak" | 2009-04-25 | 57 Upvotes 42 Comments
The 2009 flu pandemic in the United States was a novel strain of the Influenza A/H1N1 virus, commonly referred to as "swine flu", that began in the spring of 2009. The virus had spread to the US from an outbreak in Mexico.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that from April 12, 2009 to April 10, 2010, there were 60.8 million cases, 274,000 hospitalizations, and 12,469 deaths (0.02% infection fatality rate/Mortality rate) in the United States due to the virus.
- "2009 flu pandemic in the United States" | 2020-03-16 | 33 Upvotes 76 Comments
The 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic is an ongoing pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The outbreak was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei, China, in December 2019, and was recognized as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on 11 March. As of 28 March 2020, more than 663,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in over 190 countries and territories, resulting in approximately 30,800 deaths. More than 141,000 people have since recovered.
The virus is mainly spread during close contact and via respiratory droplets produced when people cough or sneeze. Respiratory droplets may be produced during breathing but the virus is not considered airborne. People may also catch COVID-19 by touching a contaminated surface and then their face. It is most contagious when people are symptomatic, although spread may be possible before symptoms appear. The time between exposure and symptom onset is typically around five days, but may range from 2 to 14 days. Common symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Complications may include pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome. There is no known vaccine or specific antiviral treatment. Primary treatment is symptomatic and supportive therapy. Recommended preventive measures include hand washing, covering one's mouth when coughing, maintaining distance from other people, and monitoring and self-isolation for people who suspect they are infected.
Efforts to prevent the virus spreading include travel restrictions, quarantines, curfews, workplace hazard controls, event postponements and cancellations, and facility closures. These include the quarantine of Hubei, national or regional quarantines elsewhere in the world, curfew measures in China and South Korea, various border closures or incoming passenger restrictions, screening at airports and train stations, and outgoing passenger travel bans. Schools and universities have closed either on a nationwide or local basis in more than 160 countries, affecting more than 1.5 billion students.
The pandemic has led to severe global socioeconomic disruption, the postponement or cancellation of sporting, religious, and cultural events, and widespread fears of supply shortages which have spurred panic buying. Misinformation and conspiracy theories about the virus have spread online, and there have been incidents of xenophobia and racism against Chinese and other East and Southeast Asian people.
A Trip Down Market Street is a 13-minute actuality film recorded by placing a movie camera on the front of a cable car as it traveled down San Francisco’s Market Street. The film shows many details of daily life in a major early 20th century American city, including the transportation, fashions and architecture of the era. The film begins at 8th Street and continues eastward to the cable car turntable, at The Embarcadero, in front of the Ferry Building. Landmarks passed in the latter part of the first half include the Call Building (then San Francisco's tallest) and the Palace Hotel (both on the right; Lotta's Fountain is on the left between the two but is in the shade). The film was produced by the four Miles brothers: Harry, Herbert, Earle and Joe. It is notable for capturing San Francisco four days before the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, which started on the morning of Wednesday, April 18, 1906.
The Miles brothers had been producing films in New York including films shot in San Francisco. In September 1905 they shot the fight between Oscar "Battling" Nelson and Jimmy Britt in Colma, California, just south of San Francisco city limits. The Miles brothers established a studio at 1139 Market Street in San Francisco in early 1906. They shot a railroad descent down Mount Tamalpais as well as the Market Street film. On April 17, Harry and Joe Miles boarded a train for New York, taking the two films with them, but they heard about the earthquake and sent the films to New York while they boarded another train headed back to San Francisco. The Turk Street house of Earle Miles survived the earthquake and subsequent catastrophic fire but the studio did not. The Miles brothers based their business out of Earle's home, and shot more film of post-earthquake scenes; some of this footage, including that of a second trip down a now devastated Market Street, reemerged in 2016. It is likely that the Market Street film survives today because it was sent away before the fire.
Several 35mm prints exist with slight changes in footage. Copies are held at the Library of Congress and the Prelinger Archives. A digital version is viewable online at Internet Archive, YouTube and Wikimedia Commons. In 2010, the film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.
- "A Trip Down Market Street" | 2017-12-17 | 45 Upvotes 10 Comments
Acoustic Kitty was a CIA project launched by the Central Intelligence Agency Directorate of Science & Technology, which in the 1960s intended to use cats to spy on the Kremlin and Soviet embassies. In an hour-long procedure a veterinary surgeon implanted a microphone in the cat's ear canal, a small radio transmitter at the base of its skull and a thin wire into its fur.
This would allow the cat to innocuously record and transmit sound from its surroundings. Due to problems with distraction, the cat's sense of hunger had to be addressed in another operation. Victor Marchetti, a former CIA officer, said Project Acoustic Kitty cost about $20 million.
The first Acoustic Kitty mission was to eavesdrop on two men in a park outside the Soviet compound on Wisconsin Avenue in Washington, D.C. The cat was released nearby, but was hit and allegedly killed by a taxi almost immediately. However, this was disputed in 2013 by Robert Wallace, a former Director of the CIA's Office of Technical Service, who said that the project was abandoned due to the difficulty of training the cat to behave as required, and "the equipment was taken out of the cat; the cat was re-sewn for a second time, and lived a long and happy life afterwards". Subsequent tests also failed. Shortly thereafter the project was considered a failure and declared to be a total loss. However, other accounts report more success for the project.
The project was cancelled in 1967. A closing memorandum said that the CIA researchers believed that they could train cats to move short distances, but that "the environmental and security factors in using this technique in a real foreign situation force us to conclude that for our (intelligence) purposes, it would not be practical." The project was disclosed in 2001, when some CIA documents were declassified.
In the history of artificial intelligence, an AI winter is a period of reduced funding and interest in artificial intelligence research. The term was coined by analogy to the idea of a nuclear winter. The field has experienced several hype cycles, followed by disappointment and criticism, followed by funding cuts, followed by renewed interest years or decades later.
The term first appeared in 1984 as the topic of a public debate at the annual meeting of AAAI (then called the "American Association of Artificial Intelligence"). It is a chain reaction that begins with pessimism in the AI community, followed by pessimism in the press, followed by a severe cutback in funding, followed by the end of serious research. At the meeting, Roger Schank and Marvin Minsky—two leading AI researchers who had survived the "winter" of the 1970s—warned the business community that enthusiasm for AI had spiraled out of control in the 1980s and that disappointment would certainly follow. Three years later, the billion-dollar AI industry began to collapse.
Hype is common in many emerging technologies, such as the railway mania or the dot-com bubble. The AI winter was a result of such hype, due to over-inflated promises by developers, unnaturally high expectations from end-users, and extensive promotion in the media . Despite the rise and fall of AI's reputation, it has continued to develop new and successful technologies. AI researcher Rodney Brooks would complain in 2002 that "there's this stupid myth out there that AI has failed, but AI is around you every second of the day." In 2005, Ray Kurzweil agreed: "Many observers still think that the AI winter was the end of the story and that nothing since has come of the AI field. Yet today many thousands of AI applications are deeply embedded in the infrastructure of every industry."
Enthusiasm and optimism about AI has increased since its low point in the early 1990s. Beginning about 2012, interest in artificial intelligence (and especially the sub-field of machine learning) from the research and corporate communities led to a dramatic increase in funding and investment.