iPhone a Trojan Horse For Government Surveillance?

Backdoor spyware module allows state, corporations and hackers to listen in

Paul Joseph Watson

An alarming white paper concludes that the Apple iPhone contains a backdoor spyware module that allows hackers or the government to conduct secret surveillance of the user, part of an established trend of corporations and the state working hand in hand to eavesdrop on citizens via widely-used software and hardware products.

Earlier this week, a technology group in Russia released the results of their attempts to reverse engineer the iPhone, concluding that the product has "A built-in function which sends all data from an iPhone to a specified web-server. Contacts from a phonebook, SMS, recent calls, history of Safari browser - all your personal information can be stolen."

The module could act as a backdoor for trojan developers or AT & T, said the report, adding that "government structures" would have access to the information.

Since AT & T displayed no hesitation in handing over information about their subscribers to the U.S. government as part of the controversial and illegal NSA wiretapping scandal, it would be no surprise to learn that included in the trendy new must-have gadget is a spyware module that allows the government to listen in to your conversations.

AT & T were chosen by Apple as the exclusive service provider for the iPhone, at present all other cellphone companies are blocked from offering any kind of service compatible with the iPhone.

The revelation is also not without precedent - a plethora of companies now include backdoor access in both software and hardware products that allow the state to step in and conduct warrantless covert surveillance, a blanket violation of the 4th Amendment.

Digital cable TV boxes, such as Scientific Atlanta, have had secret in-built microphones inside them since their inception in the 1990's and these originally dormant devices were planned to be activated when the invasive advertising revolution arrived - 2006 marked that date.

The advent of digital video recording devices such as TiVo (Sky Plus in the UK) introduced the creation of psychological algorithm profiles - databases on what programs you watched, how long you watched them for, which adverts you liked or didn't like. This information was retained by TiVo and sold to the highest bidders - an example being Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction during the 2003 Super Bowl half-time show - TiVo were able to compile lists of how many people had rewound the clip and how many times they had replayed it.

Two way communications systems like OnStar also have the ability to tap into private conversations as Americans become increasingly conditioned, by means of the private sector, to having their every movement, web session and conversation tracked and catalogued by big brother.

Last year we reported on how Google were planning to use microphones in the computers of an estimated 150 million-plus Internet active Americans to spy on their lifestyle choices and build psychological profiles which will be used for surveillance and minority report style invasive advertising and data mining.

"The idea is to use the existing PC microphone to listen to whatever is heard in the background, be it music, your phone going off or the TV turned down. The PC then identifies it, using fingerprinting, and then shows you relevant content, whether that's adverts or search results, or a chat room on the subject," reported the Register.

The report cites the inevitability that the use and abuse of this technology will eventually be taken over by the state.

"Pretty soon the security industry is going to find a way to hijack the Google feed and use it for full on espionage."

The Echelon program has collected information in violation of the 4th Amendment from American citizen's phone calls since the early 90's at least. In addition, a 2001 European Parliament report stated that "within Europe all e-mail, telephone and fax communications are routinely intercepted" by the NSA.

The fact that Echelon barely even merited a mention during the recent furore created by the original USA Today NSA spying piece goes to show how utterly useless our media are in recalling what has already been admitted and proven.

In 1999 the Australian government admitted that they were part of an NSA led global intercept and surveillance grid in alliance with the US and Britain that could listen to "every international telephone call, fax, e-mail, or radio transmission."

The use of the iPhone as another means of carte-blanch invasive surveillance underscores the fact that corporations and government are joined at the hip when it comes to their disregard of the right to privacy as enshrined in the 4th Amendment to the Constitution.

Researchers Look at Prayer and Healing

Conclusions and Premises Debated as Big Study's Release Nears

By Rob Stein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 24, 2006; Page A01

from here

At the Fairfax Community Church in Virginia, the faithful regularly pray for ailing strangers. Same goes at the Adas Israel synagogue in Washington and the Islamic Center of Maryland in Gaithersburg.

In churches, mosques, ashrams, "healing rooms," prayer groups and homes nationwide, millions of Americans offer prayers daily to heal themselves, family, friends, co-workers and even people found through the Internet. Fueled by the upsurge in religious expression in the United States, prayer is the most common complement to mainstream medicine, far outpacing acupuncture, herbs, vitamins and other alternative remedies.

"Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism -- every religion believes in prayer for healing," said Paul Parker, a professor of theology and religion at Elmhurst College outside Chicago. "Some call it prayer, some call it cleansing the mind. The words or posture may vary. But in times of illness, all religions look towards their source of authority."

The outpouring of spiritual healing has inspired a small group of researchers to attempt to use the tools of modern science to test the power of prayer to cure others. The results have been mixed and highly controversial. Skeptics say the work is a deeply flawed and misguided waste of money that irresponsibly attempts to validate the supernatural with science. And some believers say it is pointless to try to divine the workings of God with experiments devised by mortals.

Proponents, however, maintain the research is valuable, given the large numbers of people who believe in the power of prayer to influence health. Surveys have found that perhaps half of Americans regularly pray for their own health, and at least a quarter have others pray for them.

"It's one of the most prevalent forms of healing. Open-minded scientists have a responsibility to look into this," said Marilyn J. Schlitz of the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco.

The contentious enterprise is at something of a crossroads. Two new studies are about to report no benefit of having people pray for the sick, the only study underway is nearing completion, and the largest, best-designed project is being published in two weeks. Its eagerly awaited findings could sound the death knell for the field, breathe new life into such efforts, or create new debate.

"I will guarantee you that study will have a very interesting impact on a lot of people's thinking," said Mitchell W. Krucoff of Duke University, who wrote an editorial that will accompany the closely guarded findings in the American Heart Journal. "But how you interpret the results will probably depend on your point of view."

Many studies done over the years indicate that the devout tend to be healthier. But the reasons remain far from clear. Healthy people may be more likely to join churches. The pious may lead more wholesome lifestyles. Churches, synagogues and mosques may help people take better care of themselves. The quiet meditation and incantations of praying, or the comfort of being prayed for, appears to lower blood pressure, reduce stress hormones, slow the heart rate and have other potentially beneficial effects.

But the most controversial research focuses on "intercessory" or "distant" prayer, which involves people trying to heal others through their intentions, thoughts or prayers, sometimes without the recipients knowing it. The federal government has spent $2.2 million in the past five years on studies of distant healing, which have also drawn support from private foundations.

San Francisco cardiologist Randolph Byrd, for example, conducted an experiment in which he asked born-again Christians to pray for 192 people hospitalized for heart problems, comparing them with 201 not targeted for prayer. No one knew which group they were in. He reported in 1988 that those who were prayed for needed fewer drugs and less help breathing.

William S. Harris of St. Luke's Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., and colleagues published similar results in 1999 from a study involving nearly 1,000 heart patients, about half of whom were prayed for without their knowledge.

But these and other studies have been called deeply flawed. They were, for example, analyzed in the most favorable way possible, looking at so many outcomes that the positive findings could easily have been the result of chance, critics say.

"It's called the sharpshooter's fallacy," said Richard Sloan, a behavioral researcher at Columbia University. "The sharpshooter empties the gun into the side of a barn and then draws the bull's-eye. In science, you have to predict in advance what effect you may have."

Other studies have been even more contentious, such as a 2001 project involving fertility patients that became mired in accusations of fraud.

"I would like to see us stop wasting precious research dollars putting religious practices to the test of science," Sloan said. "It's a waste of money, and it trivializes the religious experience."

Even some advocates of incorporating more prayer and spirituality into medicine agree.

"I don't see how you could quantify prayer -- either the results of it or the substance of it," said the Rev. Raymond J. Lawrence of New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center. "God is beyond the reach of science. It's absurd to think you could use it to examine God's play."

Perhaps most important, many scientists say, is that there is no rational explanation for how this kind of prayer might work.

"There's nothing we know about the physical universe that could account for how the prayers of someone in Washington, D.C., could influence the health of a group of people in Iowa -- nothing whatsoever," Sloan said.

But supporters say that much about medicine remains murky or is explained only over time. They say, for example, that it was relatively recently that scientists figured out how aspirin works, although it has been in use for centuries.

"Yesterday's science fiction often becomes tomorrow's science," said John A. Astin of the California Pacific Medical Center.

Proponents often cite a phenomenon from quantum physics, in which distant particles can affect each other's behavior in mysterious ways.

"When quantum physics was emerging, Einstein wrote about spooky interactions between particles at a distance," Krucoff said. "That's at least one very theoretical model that might support notions of distant prayer or distant healing."

Krucoff, a cardiologist, published a study last summer involving 748 heart patients at nine hospitals. That study failed overall to show any benefit. But Krucoff said he did find tantalizing hints that warrant follow-up: A subset of patients who had a second group of people praying that the prayers of the first group would be answered may have done better.

That underscores one of the many difficulties that critics and advocates say makes studying prayer problematic: There is no way to quantify the "dose," and no way to know whether people outside the study may be praying for its subjects, diluting the effects.

Two smaller, more recently completed studies illustrate yet another problem. Each involved about 150 patients with brain tumors or AIDS. Only some were targeted by "distant healing" and only some knew they were the recipients. But in addition to traditional prayers, many of the dozens of "healers" used other approaches, such as visualizing patients and sending a "healing intention" or "energy" or "light." Both studies, which will be published later this year, did not show any effect. But neither of the researchers who led them is advocating giving up, saying their studies may have been doomed by including too many healing variations.

The only ongoing study is also testing whether a spectrum of healers can help -- in this case, women who are recovering from reconstructive surgery after breast cancer. Doctors are inserting tiny tubes under the skin of about 90 women to measure the growth of collagen, which is necessary for healing, to see if those targeted by healers accumulate more than those who do not. The study will end this spring.

Krucoff and others say it is also important to study prayer as an adjunct -- not a replacement -- to standard medical care, to make sure it is safe.

"Human physiology is a very delicate equilibrium. When you throw energy you don't understand into this, it would be naive to think you could only do good," he said.

In the hope of shedding light on that and other questions, researchers are awaiting the results of the study led by Herbert Benson of Harvard University, which involved about 1,800 heart-bypass patients at six centers who were divided into three groups. Only some of them knew whether they were receiving prayer.

"What that study finds will help tell us which way to go -- whether there are intriguing findings or the book ought to be closed on this topic," said Harold Koenig of Duke University.

But researchers on both sides, as well as those who believe in prayer, say the results of that and other studies are unlikely to change many minds.

"I don't think it will alter my beliefs one way or the other," said Trish Lankowski, who started a healing room at Immanuel's Church in Silver Spring this past Sunday night. "I believe in the power of prayer wholeheartedly. I know it works."

Top Construction Firm: WTC Destroyed By Controlled Demolition

Paul Joseph Watson
Prison Planet.com
Wednesday, May 26, 2010

play the link

(the discussion starts around 35 minutes)

Respected Middle East expert and former BBC presenter Alan Hart has broken his silence on 9/11, by revealing that the world’s most prominent civil engineering company told him directly that the collapse of the twin towers was a controlled demolition.

Speaking on the Kevin Barrett show yesterday, Hart said he thought the 9/11 attack probably started as a Muslim operation headed up by Osama Bin Laden but that the plot was subsequently hijacked and carried out by Mossad agents in collusion with elements of the CIA, adding that since its formation, Israel has penetrated every Arab government and terrorist organization.

“My guess is that at an early point they said to the bad guys in the CIA – hey this operation’s running what do we do, and the zionists and the neo-cons said let’s use it,” said Hart, making reference to how top neo-cons like Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and their fellow Project For a New American Century authors had called for a “catastrophic and catalyzing event––like a new Pearl Harbor,” the year before 9/11.

“The twin towers were brought down by a controlled ground explosion, not the planes,” said Hart, adding that this view was based on his close friendship with consultants who work with the world’s leading civil engineering and construction firm.

Hart asked the company to study the collapse of the twin towers, after which they told him directly, “There’s absolutely no doubt whatsoever that the towers were brought down by a controlled ground explosion.”

Hart then explained how the five dancing Israelis seen celebrating the attack on the World Trade Center in New Jersey as it unfolded, who turned out to be Mossad agents, proves at at a minimum Israel knew the attack was going to happen. Hart went further in speculating that the planes had been fitted with transponders and that the Israelis were guiding them in to the towers.

Host Barrett pointed out that to carry out the successful controlled demolition of three of the biggest buildings in history, the conspirators would have to ensure that they were hit, making the use of remote controlled airliners a distinct possibility. In addition, Barrett mentioned the fact that he had interviewed numerous pilots who dismissed the chances of accurately guiding a huge commercial airliner into a building while flying at sea level at around 600 miles per hour, especially considering the alleged 9/11 hijackers struggled to even fly basic Cessna light aircraft.

“Sounding a chilling note, Hart added that the U.S. is in grave danger of an Israeli-instigated false-flag nuclear attack, perhaps using an American nuclear weapon stolen from Minot Air Force Base during the “loose nukes” rogue operation of August, 2007. The motive would be to trigger a U.S. war with Iran, and perhaps to finish the ethnic cleansing of Palestine under cover of war–which Hart is convinced the Zionists are planning to do as soon as the opportunity presents itself,” writes host Barratt.

Given his biography and standing, Hart’s comments are not to be taken lightly. Hart is a former Middle East Chief Correspondent for ITN News and has also presented for BBC Panorama specializing in the Middle East. He was also a war reporter in Vietnam and the first journalist to reach Suez Canal with the Israeli army in 1967. Over the decades, Hart has developed close relationships with numerous high profile political figures, including the Shah of Iran, Yasser Arafat and Shimon Peres.

Hart has been a successful author for years and has no reason to fabricate the fact that a top construction firm told him point blank that the towers were brought down in a controlled demolition.

In forwarding this information, Hart joins legions of other credible experts who to some extent or other have all publicly challenged the official 9/11 story, with many outright stating that the attacks were an inside job, people like 20-year decorated CIA veteran Robert Baer, who told a radio host that “the evidence points at” 9/11 having had aspects of being an inside job.

In addition, no less than 1198 architectural and engineering specialists have signed a petition demanding Congress re-open an official investigation into the 9/11 attack and the collapse of the twin towers.

Phil Schneider talks

A message from Cynthia Drayer

My name is Cynthia Drayer, I live in Portland, Oregon, and I am the
ex-wife of Philip Schneider. Philip and I met in 1986, were married in
Carson City, Nevada, and had a daughter, Marie, in 1987. We were
divorced in 1990 and lived in separate residences. Philip lived in an

apartment complex in Wilsonville, Oregon. On 1/17/1996 I received a
call that Philip was dead in his apartment and apparently had died up

to a week before his body was discovered. At the time of the removal
of his body, his cause of death was by a stroke. When I went to the
funeral home I had feelings of discomfort about his death. I asked to

view the body, but due to decomposition, the funeral director
suggested otherwise. I wanted to be sure, in my own mind,. that Philip
had not died under "unnatural causes". For the last two years of his
life, Philip had been on the "lecture tour" throughout the United
States, talking out about government coverups. You name it, he was
talking about it: Aliens (treaties and abductions), UFO's, the One
World Government, Black Budgets, Underground Mountain Bases, CIA
involvement in civilian murders and drugs, Stealth technology, the
Philadelphia Experiment, Operation Crossroads (Bikini Island A-bomb
experiments), Dulce Fire Fight, the Oklahoma bombing, the World Trade

Center bombing, missing children, Gunderson Freight Cars, the opening
of concentration camps and Marshal Law/UN involvement, man-made
viruses and earthquakes, etc.etc.

A day later, I received a call from the Clackamas County Detectives,
that the funeral director had found "something" around Philip's neck.

An autopsy was performed at the Multnomah County Medical Examiner's
office (in Portland, Oregon) by Dr. Gunson, and she determined that
Philip had committed suicide by wrapping a rubber cathater hose three
times around his neck, and half-knotting it in front. There are
several reasons why I believe that Philip did not commit suicide, but
was murdered:

1. There was no suicide note.
2. Philip always told his friends and relatives, that if he ever
"committed suicide" you would know that he had been murdered.
3. From a number of sources, including his taped lectures (video and
audio), and statements to his friends, and the borrowing of a 9mm
gun, Philip felt that he and his family were being threatened and
were in danger because of his lecutres.
4. All of his lecture materials, alien metals, higher math books,
photographs of UFO's coming out of the Operation Crossroad
A-Bomb, notes for his book on the alien agenda, were missing.
(Everything else in the apartment was still there, including gold
coins, wallet with hundreds of dollars, jewelry, mineral
specimens, etc.)
5. No coroner ever came out to his apartment after his body was
found (against Oregon Law) - and a police investigation never
took under consideration that items were missing from his
apartment - it was considered a suicide, plain and simple
6. The medical examiner took blood and urine samples at the autopsy

but REFUSED to analyze them, saying that the county would not
"waste their money on a suicide". Although I was assured that
the samples would be kept for 12 months, when I asked for these
samples to be sent to an independent lab 11 months later they
were "missing" and presumed "destroyed".
7. Philip had missing fingers on his left hand, and limited motion
in his shoulders. I believe that it was physically impossible for
Philip to have held the rubber hose in his left hand with missing
fingers and then wrap the hose three times with shoulders that
had limited motion. In order to end up where his body was, he had
to sit on the edge of his bed, wrap the hose around his neck,
slowly and painfully strangle to death, and fallen head first
into a wheel chair.
8. Philip was an expert in chemicals and his own medical needs. He
had multiple pills at hand that could have ended his life quickly
and painlessly. He also had a 9mm gun that he had borrowed to
protect himself. Why strangle himself in such an unusual manner?

9. Philip was very religious, and did not believe in suicide. He had
intense chronic pain all of the time I knew him. At the time of
his death, he was on disability, had a housekeeper, and had
cancer. The operation to help him with his back pain did not
alleviate the pain and he had brittle bone syndrome
(osteoperosis). He struggled every day, not to die, but to live.

He felt that these lectures he gave was making a difference, and
was looking forward to giving more. In fact he was scheduled for
another lecture tour that started 1/16/96 in Tampa, Florida. He
had just found a friend who was going to help him write a book
about the New World Order, and he was enjoying his time with his

10. Philip was undergoing "injections" of "Beta Serone" every week in
an experiment to stop his multiple sclerosis. After his death I
contacted the only agency that conducted these experiments to
obtain his medical record (OHSU). They had never heard of him,
and he was not a part of their experiments. This would suggest
people unknown were injecting him on a weekly basis with an
unknown substance. He often times called me after these "shots"
to tell me that he was too sick for his daughter to come and
visit. I believe that the shots that Philip thought were being
given to him to help him back to health, were actually being
given to him to make him sick.
11. Philip was seen with an "unknown blonde haired woman" for several
months before his death. Several times this same individual was
seen or talked about and her mysterious presence only leads one
to wonder if she had anything to do with his "suicide".
12. Several people with psychic abilities have indicated that Philip
did not commit suicide, but was murdered (some say by 5 people: 4
men and 1 woman, 4 directly and one by taking out a "contract".

It is perhaps important to know WHY Philip began lecturing.
Firstly: His background was as a Structural Engineer. He was an expert
on explosives and their effects on geologic structures. He worked
under two social security numbers. Most of his early work in
underground mountain bases with Morrison-Knudsen was done using the
wrong social security number. I was later able to prove that he had
two numbers through the social security office when I applied for his
daughter's death benefits. He worked for the Army Corps of Engineers
and U.S. Navy with the same wrong number. Only after he obtained SSI
in 1981 did his "real" number come into play. He always told me that
he had a Rhyolitic Clearance and that his father had a Cosmic
Clearance from his work with NATO. And that is the second reason why
Philip began lecturing.

Secondly: On top of his first hand knowledge about underground
mountain bases and government black budgets, and the alien agend as (he
was one of the survivors of the Dulce Fire Fight with aliens in New
Mexico) his father was also involved in government black projects.
When Philip's father, Captain Oscar Schneider, Medical Doctor, United

States Navy, died in 1993, Philip discovered documents and photographs
in his father's basement which proved that Oscar had been involved in
both the Philadelphia Experiment and Operation Crossroads. Philip now
had letters written in the 1940's and 1950's showing that Oscar helped
to isolate the crewmembers of the Philadelphia Experiment and that
Oscar later autopsied them as they died. He also had photographs of
UFO's fleeing through mushroom clouds after the A-bomb was dropped
above the lagoon at Bikini Atoll. This was "Operation Crossroads" and

Oscar was involved in medical examinations of the animals and humans
exposed to radiation after the bomb was dropped.

Thirdly: I believe the main reason why Philip began to lecture was due
to the "murder" of his friend Ron Rummel. Ron was found in a park in
Portland in Sept. 1993. The police believed that he had committed
suicide by shooting himself in the mouth. However, if you read the
detectives report, there is blow-back blood on Ron's hand, but NO
BLOW-BACK BLOOD ON THE GUN. The only way this could happen is if Ron
had wiped the gun off AFTER he had shot himself in the mouth. Ron,
Philip, and 5 other people had been collaborating on a little magazine
called "The Alien Digest". It was starting to get a fairly wide
circulation, when Ron was found in the park. Philip felt that his
friend had been murdered, and decided that it was time to get
everything out into the open, so he began "spilling the beans", and
ripped up his security clearance card.

Pufori, through Jeroen Wierda, is one of several agencies and
individuals that have taken up the call for justice in Philip's death.

My hopes are:

1. That Philip's death certificate will eventually be amended with
the true cause of his death: murder.
2. That the world will come to know the truth about aliens, UFO's,
the government cover-ups, black budgets, etc. and how they are
affecting us.
3. That assets that belong to his only heir, Marie, can be located
and turned over to her.
4. That Philip's true work quarters can be proven by people coming
forward with information about knowing him before 1981, and that
his daughter can eventually obtain the death benefits she
5. That no more "murders by suicide" ever occur to another

Please look over the information contained in this website. The "truth
is out there" and it is here.

Sincerely, Cynthia Schneider Drayer

The High Price of Facebook

click here for the article

If you don't spend your days glued to tech blogs, you might not know about the latest trend among hipster techies: quitting Facebook. These folks, including a bunch of Google engineers, are bailing out because Facebook just changed its rules so that much of your personal profile information, including where you work, what music you like, and where you went to school, now gets made public by default. Some info is even shared with companies that are special partners of Facebook, like Yelp, Pandora, and Microsoft. And while there are ways to dial back on some of this by tinkering with your privacy settings, it's tricky to figure out—intentionally so, according to cynics.

The fear is that people are being lured into Facebook with the promise of a fun, free service, and don't realize that they're paying for it by giving up loads of personal information. Facebook then attempts to "monetize" one's data by selling it to advertisers that want to send targeted messages.

Most folks using Facebook have no idea this is happening. Even if you're very tech-savvy and do know what the company is up to, you still have no idea what you're paying for Facebook, because people don't really know what their personal data is worth.

The biggest problem, however, is that the company keeps changing the rules. Early on, you could keep everything private. That was the great thing about Facebook—you could create your own little private network. Last year, the company changed its privacy rules so that a lot of things—your city, your profile photo, the names of your friends—were set, by default, to be shared with everyone on the Internet. Sure, you could change everything back and make it private. But most people probably didn't bother. Now Facebook is going even further by insisting that unless you agree to make things like your hometown, interests, and friends' names public, then you can't list them at all.

The whole kerfuffle is a misunderstanding, according to Elliot Schrage, Facebook's vice president of communications and public policy. In his version of events, the company is simply making changes to improve the service it provides to users by giving them more "granular" control over what they share, and if people don't share information they have a "less satisfying experience." Facebook is innovating so rapidly, he says, that people don't fully understand what the company is doing, and that change is scary.

finding lance spicy peanuts at a quicktrip

Top Ten Reasons You Should Quit Facebook

by Dan Yoder

After some reflection, I've decided to delete my account on Facebook. I'd like to encourage you to do the same. This is part altruism and part selfish. The altruism part is that I think Facebook, as a company, is unethical. The selfish part is that I'd like my own social network to migrate away from Facebook so that I'm not missing anything. In any event, here's my "Top Ten" reasons for why you should join me and many others and delete your account.
10. Facebook's Terms Of Service are completely one-sided

Let's start with the basics. Facebook's Terms Of Service state that not only do they own your data (section 2.1), but if you don't keep it up to date and accurate (section 4.6), they can terminate your account (section 14). You could argue that the terms are just protecting Facebook's interests, and are not in practice enforced, but in the context of their other activities, this defense is pretty weak. As you'll see, there's no reason to give them the benefit of the doubt. Essentially, they see their customers as unpaid employees for crowd-sourcing ad-targeting data.
9. Facebook's CEO has a documented history of unethical behavior

From the very beginning of Facebook's existence, there are questions about Zuckerberg's ethics. According to BusinessInsider.com, he used Facebook user data to guess email passwords and read personal email in order to discredit his rivals. These allegations, albeit unproven and somewhat dated, nonetheless raise troubling questions about the ethics of the CEO of the world's largest social network. They're particularly compelling given that Facebook chose to fork over $65M to settle a related lawsuit alleging that Zuckerberg had actually stolen the idea for Facebook.
8. Facebook has flat out declared war on privacy

Founder and CEO of Facebook, in defense of Facebook's privacy changes last January: "People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people. That social norm is just something that has evolved over time." More recently, in introducing the Open Graph API: "... the default is now social." Essentially, this means Facebook not only wants to know everything about you, and own that data, but to make it available to everybody. Which would not, by itself, necessarily be unethical, except that ...
7. Facebook is pulling a classic bait-and-switch

At the same time that they're telling developers how to access your data with new APIs, they are relatively quiet about explaining the implications of that to members. What this amounts to is a bait-and-switch. Facebook gets you to share information that you might not otherwise share, and then they make it publicly available. Since they are in the business of monetizing information about you for advertising purposes, this amounts to tricking their users into giving advertisers information about themselves. This is why Facebook is so much worse than Twitter in this regard: Twitter has made only the simplest (and thus, more credible) privacy claims and their customers know up front that all their tweets are public. It's also why the FTC is getting involved, and people are suing them (and winning).

Check out this excellent timeline from the EFF documenting the changes to Facebook's privacy policy.
6. Facebook is a bully

When Pete Warden demonstrated just how this bait-and-switch works (by crawling all the data that Facebook's privacy settings changes had inadvertently made public) they sued him. Keep in mind, this happened just before they announced the Open Graph API and stated that the "default is now social." So why sue an independent software developer and fledgling entrepreneur for making data publicly available when you're actually already planning to do that yourself? Their real agenda is pretty clear: they don't want their membership to know how much data is really available. It's one thing to talk to developers about how great all this sharing is going to be; quite another to actually see what that means in the form of files anyone can download and load into MatLab.
5. Even your private data is shared with applications

At this point, all your data is shared with applications that you install. Which means now you're not only trusting Facebook, but the application developers, too, many of whom are too small to worry much about keeping your data secure. And some of whom might be even more ethically challenged than Facebook. In practice, what this means is that all your data - all of it - must be effectively considered public, unless you simply never use any Facebook applications at all. Coupled with the OpenGraph API, you are no longer trusting Facebook, but the Facebook ecosystem.
4. Facebook is not technically competent enough to be trusted

Even if we weren't talking about ethical issues here, I can't trust Facebook's technical competence to make sure my data isn't hijacked. For example, their recent introduction of their "Like" button makes it rather easy for spammers to gain access to my feed and spam my social network. Or how about this gem for harvesting profile data? These are just the latest of a series of Keystone Kops mistakes, such as accidentally making users' profiles completely public, or the cross-site scripting hole that took them over two weeks to fix. They either don't care too much about your privacy or don't really have very good engineers, or perhaps both.
3. Facebook makes it incredibly difficult to truly delete your account

It's one thing to make data public or even mislead users about doing so; but where I really draw the line is that, once you decide you've had enough, it's pretty tricky to really delete your account. They make no promises about deleting your data and every application you've used may keep it as well. On top of that, account deletion is incredibly (and intentionally) confusing. When you go to your account settings, you're given an option to deactivate your account, which turns out not to be the same thing as deleting it. Deactivating means you can still be tagged in photos and be spammed by Facebook (you actually have to opt out of getting emails as part of the deactivation, an incredibly easy detail to overlook, since you think you're deleting your account). Finally, the moment you log back in, you're back like nothing ever happened! In fact, it's really not much different from not logging in for awhile. To actually delete your account, you have to find a link buried in the on-line help (by "buried" I mean it takes five clicks to get there). Or you can just click here. Basically, Facebook is trying to trick their users into allowing them to keep their data even after they've "deleted" their account.
2. Facebook doesn't (really) support the Open Web

The so-called Open Graph API is named so as to disguise its fundamentally closed nature. It's bad enough that the idea here is that we all pitch in and make it easier than ever to help Facebook collect more data about you. It's bad enough that most consumers will have no idea that this data is basically public. It's bad enough that they claim to own this data and are aiming to be the one source for accessing it. But then they are disingenuous enough to call it "open," when, in fact, it is completely proprietary to Facebook. You can't use this feature unless you're on Facebook. A truly open implementation would work with whichever social network we prefer, and it would look something like OpenLike. Similarly, they implement just enough of OpenID to claim they support it, while aggressively promoting a proprietary alternative, Facebook Connect.
1. The Facebook application itself sucks

Between the farms and the mafia wars and the "top news" (which always guesses wrong - is that configurable somehow?) and the myriad privacy settings and the annoying ads (with all that data about me, the best they can apparently do is promote dating sites, because, uh, I'm single) and the thousands upon thousands of crappy applications, Facebook is almost completely useless to me at this point. Yes, I could probably customize it better, but the navigation is ridiculous, so I don't bother. (And, yet, somehow, I can't even change colors or apply themes or do anything to make my page look personalized.) Let's not even get into how slowly your feed page loads. Basically, at this point, Facebook is more annoying than anything else.

Facebook is clearly determined to add every feature of every competing social network in an attempt to take over the Web (this is a never-ending quest that goes back to AOL and those damn CDs that were practically falling out of the sky). While Twitter isn't the most usable thing in the world, at least they've tried to stay focused and aren't trying to be everything to everyone.

I often hear people talking about Facebook as though they were some sort of monopoly or public trust. Well, they aren't. They owe us nothing. They can do whatever they want, within the bounds of the laws. (And keep in mind, even those criteria are pretty murky when it comes to social networking.) But that doesn't mean we have to actually put up with them. Furthermore, their long-term success is by no means guaranteed - have we all forgotten MySpace? Oh, right, we have. Regardless of the hype, the fact remains that Sergei Brin or Bill Gates or Warren Buffett could personally acquire a majority stake in Facebook without even straining their bank account. And Facebook's revenue remains more or less a rounding error for more established tech companies.

While social networking is a fun new application category enjoying remarkable growth, Facebook isn't the only game in town. I don't like their application nor how they do business and so I've made my choice to use other providers. And so can you.

Apple v Gizmodo: Gawker's Nick Denton on the battle over the lost iPhone

Ed Pilkington
The Guardian, Monday 3 May 2010

It is late morning in the New York headquarters of Gawker Media, the network of 10 savvy and gossipy websites that between them act as irritant-in-chief to the US establishment. Above the reception desk there's a flat-screen TV displaying automatically updated data about the network's traffic: Gawker's so-called Big Board lists the 10 posts across the Gawker Media empire that are at any moment attracting most reader attention. The No 1 slot today is an item headlined The Washington Post Cannot Tell Obama From Malcolm X, which the board shows has received 3,725 visits in the past hour. Second slot goes to Funeral Home Displays Shooting Victim, followed by Bigots Now Targeting Lesbian Teen's Graduation. But it's the article in fourth place that catches the eye – This Is Apple's Next iPhone. It has attracted a modest 2,032 visits over the past hour, but an astonishing 4,014,535 since it was first put up two weeks ago.

That Big Board figure is testimony to the extraordinary saga that has recently gripped the world of Gawker Media, bringing it head-to-head with one of the world's most powerful corporations and culminating in a late-night police raid backed by the threat of criminal prosecution. It has been a David and Goliath confrontation set in motion by the audacious move by Gawker's technology arm, Gizmodo, to acquire a prototype of Apple's upcoming 4G iPhone and disclose its highly secret make up two months before its official launch. The breach of Apple's legendary wall of security revealed a great deal about the state of new media in the US today.

Beautiful products

At the centre of the conflict stands Nick Denton, a British web entrepreneur who has injected his irreverent brand of journalism into the US media for eight years. We meet in his apartment near Gawker's SoHo offices. He is playing last night's episode of John Stewart's Daily Show featuring the Apple v Gawker battle, on an iPad. For a man who has faced the ire of the great Apple Corporation, he is steeped in Apple admiration. "Apple makes beautiful products. I own a Mac Pro, a Mac Book, a Mac Mini, an iPad, an iPhone, pretty much the entire collection," he says. The office is full of Macs and other Apple products.

But, over the past weeks, Denton has witnessed a different side to the Apple behemoth. It began on 18 March when Gray Powell, an Apple software engineer, was drinking in Redwood City, California, to celebrate his 27th birthday. Somehow he left the prototype of the next generation iPhone in the bar. It was picked up by another drinker who took it home when nobody claimed it. The next day the phone wasn't working, but when its finder tinkered with it he found that its thin outer shell – in the guise of an old iPhone – peeled off to reveal a shiny square object unlike anything he had seen before. He contacted Apple helplines, but no one took him seriously, and eventually he went to Gizmodo and sold it to them for $5,000.

Gizmodo's editor, Jason Chen, and his team deconstructed the machine, analysed it, became convinced it was a genuine prototype, and posted articles about it.

It was an almost unheard-of blow for Apple, whose security is renowned. Denton says: "They have these incredible devices that everyone wants to buy and read about, and that gives them the power to be so controlling of their marketing."

But for once, such control was smashed by a determined media outlet. The backlash was quick and stunning. Steve Jobs himself reportedly called Gawker executives to demand the phone's return, and there was a flurry of legal letters. Then, four days after Gizmodo posted the story, Chen and his wife returned home to find police in their apartment, investigating, they said, a possible criminal offence relating to the receipt of stolen property.

The raid, in which Chen's computers were seized, was conducted by officers of the Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team (React), a taskforce set up a few years ago to deal with computer crime tied to Silicon Valley. It was later revealed that Apple Inc sits on React's steering committee.

"It is strange," Denton says, clearly measuring his words in the light of the ongoing legal argument. "It's extraordinary that one would have a police force that was so aligned with corporate interests." Denton, a steely character of part-Jewish, part-Hungarian extraction, goes on: "Jason Chen, one of our bloggers, had his house broken into by a police force close to Apple. I'm not usually flummoxed, but when I had a call in the middle of the night, I was absolutely shocked."

The police action, and the threat of possible charges, has raised a central question of this media age: are bloggers journalists? Under California and federal law, journalists are shielded from prosecution if they are protecting their sources from identification. But does that apply to bloggers?

Denton believes the authorities are unlikely to attempt to trample over the rights of bloggers on the grounds that they are not journalists. "Chen does more real tech journalism than 90% of the hacks in the valley who rely on doled-out press releases. I think it will be discussed, but resolved fairly quickly."

Denton refuses to comment on the possibility that Apple will take out a civil action against Gizmodo. His legal difficulties seemed likely to ease once it became clear that both Apple and the police have discovered the identity of Gizmodo's source – the drinker who found the lost iPhone – and have approached him, although he has not been named. That takes away the onus on Gawker Media to protect its source.

But Gizmodo has come under fire for naming Powell as the Apple engineer who lost the iPhone in the first place. One of Gizmodo's bloggers complained that this had been "tackily done". There has been further criticism of the $5,000 the blog paid for the phone, an action that has been derided as chequebook journalism.

Soul brothers

But Denton remains utterly unrepentant. "Powell lost the phone!" he says, in response to those who quibble with the decision to name the engineer. He wrote on his Twitter feed, nicknotned: "Yes, we're proud practitioners of checkbook journalism. Anything for the story!"

The peculiarity of the face-off between Apple and Gawker is that in many ways they are soul brothers: they have both cultivated a youthful, futuristic, hip image and enjoy an overlapping following. Gawker readers are three times more likely than the average person to own an Apple product.

But the iPhone saga and the raid have underlined for Denton the contrast between what he describes as the mischievousness of Gawker and Apple's control-freakery. He doesn't blame Apple for wanting to shape its own coverage – that's what corporations do, he says. He reserves his disdain for the technology reporters who are prepared to go along with Apple's dictates in the hope of being thrown crumbs from Jobs.

Denton calls it "access journalism" and says he has been allergic to it since he first moved to the US in the 1990s to report on Silicon Valley for the Financial Times. "A few clueless geeks believe 'real journalists' wait for Steve Jobs or his publicists to make an announcement," he tweeted. "Screw that."

It's that kind of independence of spirit that has earned Gawker Media a loyal and growing support base of around 28 million unique visitors a month and revenue that analysts put at about $20m a year (Denton won't confirm this). That same spirit has informed Gizmodo's coverage of the iPhone drama - the site has continued to poke fun at Jobs, posting a Photoshopped image of Chen in chains in a torture chamber, even as the threat of criminal proceedings continues to hang over it. "It's been important throughout this to retain a sense of the ridiculousness of the whole affair," Denton says. "This is about a guy who lost a phone – admittedly a very important phone – after a night out celebrating his birthday. It's kind of preposterous that it's turned into such a gigantic deal."

Three articles on the Times Square Bomb that you won't find most other places


Times Square bomb: terrorism or PR?

Israeli Uncensored News
May 2, 2010

In what might be a watershed development, police defused a car bomb at New York’s Times Square. The bomb was of the classical Iraqi type: propane cylinders and gasoline. Fireworks were used instead of explosives. Amateurish, yes, but simple and efficient.

If the car bomb was planted by Muslims, that might be a harbinger of Pearl Harbor proportions. The 9/11-type hijacking is a relatively sophisticated affair, but Muslim saboteurs can easily plant any number of car bombs anywhere in America. Unless the American national spirit has changed drastically in the seven decades, such ubiquitous attacks would push the US public opinion toward an all-out war against terrorist supporting regimes – naturally, Muslim regimes.

Quantity is the real test. If car bombs start popping out in US cities, we can assume the Times Square bombing attempt was for real. Some details are immediately suspect. Why would the terrorists use a false license plate instead of renting a legitimate car? How did they get hold of a license plate which the owner had sent for scrapping? Why use an SUV instead of a roomy mini-van – a standard car for bombings, and less conspicuous for parking? Not the least, technical failures are extremely uncommon in car bombs which are carefully assembled in suitable conditions.


Will Feds Blame Car Bomb On Patriots?

NY’s Times Square Car bomb made safe

ITN News
Sunday, May 2, 2010

Police have “rendered safe” a car bomb found inside a sport utility vehicle that triggered the evacuation of New York’s Times Square on Saturday night.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has told a news conference it could have turned into a very deadly event.

“We have no idea who did this and why.” He said the bomb appeared to have been made in an amateurish manner.

The device is being dismantled and kept for forensic study. Mr Bloomberg says the black coloured vehicle was filled with explosive materials.

Police were alerted to the smoking vehicle by a street vendor. The car had also emitted a small "flash".

Authorities are checking CCTV footage from around the area in Manhattan to see whether they can work out who was with the vehicle and reports that a man was seen running away from it.

Saturday is Broadway's busiest night and many people were left watching from behind cordons as events unfolded.

New York authorities have remained on high alert for another attack since the Sept 11 2001 attacks in which hijacked airliners toppled the World Trade Center's twin towers.

Last year police said they thwarted a plot to bomb the New York subway system and arrested a number of suspects in a case that has led to some guilty pleas


Media Speculates Car Bomb Was Reprisal For South Park Controversy

Nick Allen
London Telegraph
May 2, 2010

“Luckily, no one is hurt, and now the full attention of city, state and federal law enforcement will be turned to bringing the guilty party to justice in this act of terrorism,” New York Governor David Paterson said.

The bomb, which failed to detonate, was left in a sport utility vehicle close to a Broadway theatre where a production of The Lion King was showing.

It contained three propane tanks, fireworks, two five gallon gasoline containers, two clocks with batteries, electrical wires and a 4ft by 2ft metal box.

The dark green Nissan Pathfinder with tinted windows was parked near the junction of 45th Street and Broadway.

The location is also adjacent to the Viacom building, fuelling speculation that it might be linked to the company’s controversial South Park cartoon which recently depicted Prophet Muhammad in a bear suit.