Mar 28, 2012
Mar 26, 2012
The new Samsung HDTV has hard-wired camera and microphone, plus face recognition and other unprecedented features.
Samsung’s 2012 top-of-the-line plasmas and LED HDTVs offer new features never before available within a television including a built-in, internally wired HD camera, twin microphones, face tracking and speech recognition. While these features give you unprecedented control over an HDTV, the devices themselves, more similar than ever to a personal computer, may allow hackers or even Samsung to see and hear you and your family, and collect extremely personal data.
While Web cameras and Internet connectivity are not new to HDTVs, their complete integration is, and it's the always connected camera and microphones, combined with the option of third-party apps (not to mention Samsung's own software) gives us cause for concern regarding the privacy of TV buyers and their friends and families.
Samsung demoed these features to the press earlier this month. The camera and microphones are built into the top if the screen bezel in the 2012 8000-series plasmas and are permanently attached to the top of the 7500- and 8000ES-series LED TVs. A Samsung representative showed how, once set up and connected to the Internet, these models will automatically talk to the Samsung cloud and enable viewers to use new and exciting apps.
These Samsung TVs locate and make note of registered viewers via sophisticated face recognition software. This means if you tell the TV whose faces belong to which users in your family, it personalizes the experience to each recognized family member. If you have friends over, it could log these faces as well.
In addition, the TV listens and responds to specific voice commands. To use the feature, the microphone is active. What concerns us is the integration of both an active camera and microphone. A Samsung representative tells us you can deactivate the voice feature; however this is done via software, not a hard switch like the one you use to turn a room light on or off.
And unlike other TVs, which have cameras and microphones as add-on accessories connected by a single, easily removable USB cable, you can't just unplug these sensors.
During our demo, unless the face recognition learning feature was activated, there was no indication as to whether the camera (such as a red light) and audio mics are on. And as far as the microphone is concerned the is no way to physically disconnect it or be assured it is not picking up your voice when you don’t intend it to do so.
Samsung does provide the ability to manually reposition the TV's camera away from viewers. The LED TV models allow you to manually point it upward, facing the ceiling; the plasma’s camera can be re-aimed to capture objects in the rear of the TV according a Samsung spokesperson.
We began to wonder exactly what data Samsung collects from its new “eyes and ears” and how it and other companies intend use it, which raises the following questions:
•Can Samsung or Samsung-authorized companies watch you watching your Samsung TV?
•Do the televisions send a user ID or the TV’s serial number to the Samsung cloud whenever it has an Internet connection?
•Does Samsung cross reference a user ID or facial scan to your warranty registration information, such as name, address etc.?
•Can a person or company listen to you, at will, via the microphone and Internet connection?
•Does Samsung’s cloud store all this information? How secure is this extremely personal data?
•Can a hacker intercept this data or view you via the built in camera?
•Can a third-party app program do any of the above?
•Exactly what information does the TV send to Samsung or other parties?
•Does Samsung intend to sell data collected by its Smart TV owners, such as who, what and when one is viewing?
Companies desiring to provide highly targeted advertisements to you via the TV screen or external marketing would find this data extremely valuable. “Hey, you look a little tired, how about some Ambien? I’m seeing a little grey, have you tried Grecian Formula? Joe, it looks like you packed on a few pounds recently, here’s information from Weight Watchers. Hey kids, you look bored, look at these TOYS!”
So what, if any, privacy does Samsung promise by way of a stated policy?
Weeks have passed since we formally requested answers to these questions from Samsung asking what if any privacy assurances Samsung provides. To date no privacy statement has been furnished to HD Guru or end users. The first models with these features arrived on dealer’s shelves over two weeks ago. All that we’ve been told is that when connecting to the Internet, the TVs first connect to the Samsung cloud, and from there, they connect to the various streaming video services and other apps for activation.
Samsung induces its new Smart TV owners to register online by offering a free three-month extension of the TV’s warranty. This would couple user names and addresses to their TV serial numbers, if the company so desired.
Want to read the owner’s manual for your new Samsung TV? This is accomplished by download, as Samsung stopped including printed owner’s manuals at least two years ago. However, before you may download the manual, you must first agree to the following online statement:
Samsung assumes no responsibility, and shall not be liable, in connection with whether any such products or services will be appropriate, functional or supported for the Samsung products or services available in your country.
We asked Samsung to define “appropriate” but to date have not received a response. We will update readers with a response or a privacy statement if and when Samsung chooses to provide one.
Flesh Eating Disease In Cocaine Found In New York, Los Angeles – Cocaine Supply Of Entire Nation May Be Affected
Posted by Alexanderhiggins.com
Cocaine cut with the veterinary drug levamisole could be the culprit in a flurry of flesh-eating disease in New York and Los Angeles.
The drug, used to deworm cattle, pigs and sheep, can rot the skin off noses, ears and cheeks. And over 80 percent of the country’s coke supply contains it.
“It’s probably quite a big problem, and we just don’t know yet how big a problem it really is,” said Dr. Noah Craft, a dermatologist with Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute.
In a case study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, Craft describes six cocaine users recently plagued by the dark purple patches of dying flesh. And while they happened to hail from the country’s coastlines, the problem is national.
“It’s important for people to know it’s not just in New York and L.A. It’s in the cocaine supply of the entire U.S.,” Craft said.
Craft is one of several doctors across the country who have linked the rotting skin to tainted coke. The gruesome wounds surface days after a hit because of an immune reaction that attacks the blood vessels supplying the skin. Without blood, the skin starves and suffocates.
Eighty-two percent of seized cocaine contains levamisole, according to an April 2011 report by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Why dealers would stretch their stash with levamisole instead of the more traditional fillers, like baking soda, is unclear, although studies in rats suggest the drug acts on the same brain receptors as cocaine. So it might be added to enhance or extend the cocaine’s euphoric effects on the cheap.
There are now 61,570 schoolchildren in the state-funded sector that have been recorded as having some kind of autistic spectrum disorder and they make up almost one percent of the entire school population.
Just five years ago, the number of children classified as being autistic was just 39,465 and they accounted for just 0.5 per cent of the school population.
The Government's definition of autism is a lifelong condition that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people, and how a person makes sense of the world around them.
The term is used to cover a variety of autistic conditions including Asperger's syndrome. Data from the Department of Education shows that in 2006 autistic children made up just one in every 200 pupils.
The latest figures put that ratio at one in every 125 children. Autism can cause learning problems for children.
Around 20percent of autistic pupils have been suspended from school more than once and around 50percent say they have been bullied at school.
The USA has seen a similar rise in the number of children with autism. Its Government estimates the cost of schooling a child with the condition is treble the figure for a child that does not need any extra assistance.
Some experts fear the sharp rise in autism may be more down to parents trying to seek an advantage for their child rather than a genuine ailment.
Sociology professor Frank Furedi, who wrote Wasted: Why Education Isn't Educating, said: "There has been a proliferation for dispensation on the grounds of autism.
"It is unlikely to be a genuine unprecedented increase in autism, rather an institutional use of this condition to allow people to get easier access to resources.
"This activity ends up trivialising what is a very serious condition for some children."
Statistics from schools in England shows that in the same five year period that has seen autism rise, there has also been an increase on 15percent in the numbers of children registered as having behavioural, emotional or social difficulties to a total of 158,015.
It means that in total there are now 701,000 children, almost one in ten schoolchildren, who are classified as having some kind of special needs.
Nick Seaton, a spokesman for the Campaign for Real Education, said: "Obviously children with autism need special treatment.
"But the rapid increase does suggest that perhaps the figures should be looked at again.
"Children should not be classified as having special needs too easily. The rise should be examined closely because it has a knock-on effect for teachers, schools and the pupils themselves."
Caroline Hattersley, Head of Information, Advice and Advocacy at The National Autistic Society, said: “A recent NHS study revealed that the prevalence of autism is 1 in 100 and that the same rate applies for adults as for children. We know that with accurate diagnosis the right support can be put in place so that children with autism can reach their full potential.
"It’s very likely that all teachers and school staff will come into contact with children with autism at some stage during their teaching career, so it’s vital that they receive quality training and strategies to support these children in the classroom.”
A Department of Education spokesman said: "Schools receive funding to meet their duty to support any child with special educational needs, including autism.
In addition, through the Autism Education Trust, we are funding autism training for teachers. "We're proposing the biggest programme of reforms in 30 years to help children and young people with special educational need or disabilities, including those with autism.
"We recently announced 20 pathfinder areas that will be testing out some of the main proposals from the Special Educational needs and disability Green Paper. This includes trialling a new, single education, health and care plan that can cover children and young people aged birth to 25."
Posted by The Extinction Protocol
March 26, 2012 – Santiago de Chile – Chilean authorities maintain state of alert in the Araucania region, due to increased seismic activity at Llaima volcano, one of the most active in the country and in South America. The regional governor, Andres Molina, confirmed that a yellow alert continues to be in effect for the communities of Melipeuco, Cunco, Vilcún, Curacautín and Lonquimay, because there are clear signs of “out-gassing in the inner perimeter” of the Llaima. Molina said that on Monday will meet the emergency committee to assess the status of the volcano, then it is found that in recent weeks the number quakes have tripled within the massif, which is located in the Andes, about 600 kilometers south of this capital. In geology, a massif is a section of a planet’s crust that is demarcated by faults or flexures. The regional authority also noted that access was restricted in a radius of four kilometers around the volcano, especially in the tourist area of Conguillío Park, where last weekend, authorities evacuated over a hundred people. According to records provided by the expert technicians Fernando Gil, Volcano Observatory of the Southern Andes, one cannot rule out an eruption and although volcanic activity cannot be perceived by the inhabitants of the towns that are on yellow alert. The Llaima, more than three thousand meters in elevation, is located 76 kilometers northeast of the city of Temuco, capital of the region of La Araucania. The Llaima volcano last erupted in 2009. On March 25, a 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck northeast of the region at a depth of about 35 km (21 miles) and this may further acerbate the volcanic belt of this region of Chile. –Prensa Latina (translated)
Posted by The Extinction Protocol
Could the next great war actually start in Asia?
March 26, 2012 – SEOUL – South Korea has warned it might shoot down a North Korean rocket if it passes over its territory, as worries about what Washington calls a long-range missile test overshadowed an international nuclear security summit. “We are studying measures such as tracking and shooting down [parts] of a North Korean missile in case they stray out of their normal trajectory” and violate South Korean territory, said Yoon Won-shik, a spokesman at the South’s defence ministry. He called the launch “a very reckless, provocative act” that undermines peace on the Korean peninsula. Yoon said North Korea had moved the main body of the rocket into a building at a site near the village of Tongchang-ri in North Phyongan province and that it was making preparations for a launch. The South Korean and U.S. military were closely monitoring the situation, he added. Nearly 60 world leaders have gathered in Seoul to talk about ways to keep nuclear material out of the hands of terrorists. But North Korea has dominated attention since announcing this month it would send a satellite into space aboard a long-range rocket. North Korea calls the launch part of its peaceful space program and says a new southerly flight path is meant to avoid other countries; previous rockets have been fired over Japan. Washington and Seoul, however, say the multistage rocket is meant to test delivery systems for long-range missiles that could be mounted with nuclear weapons. Barack Obama and his South Korean counterpart, Lee Myung-bak, urged North Korea in a joint news conference on Sunday to immediately halt its launch plans, warning they would deal sternly with any provocation. Obama said the move would jeopardise a deal settled last month in which the US would ship food aid to the North in exchange for a nuclear freeze. The launch preparations come as North Koreans and new leader Kim Jong-un mark 100 days since the death of Kim’s father, Kim Jong-il, and prepare to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the late Kim Il-sung, the North Korean founder, on 15 April. –Guardian
Patriot missiles to be deployed in Tokyo: Japan is to deploy surface-to-air missiles in central Tokyo in readiness for North Korea’s planned rocket launch, its defense minister said today. The deployment of an anti-missile battery in the densely packed capital city would be in addition to facilities on the southern island chain of Okinawa Naoki Tanaka told lawmakers. “We are working on procedures to deploy the Patriot in the Tokyo metropolitan area, acting on precedent,” Tanaka told upper house members, referring to the PAC-3 surface-to-air missile defense system. “We are also preparing to deploy the Patriot in the Nansei (southwestern) islands including Okinawa,’ as the second stage of North Korea’s rocket is expected to fly over Japan’s southernmost island chain, Tanaka added. The nuclear-armed North has announced it will launch a rocket in mid-April to put a satellite into orbit, a move the United States, South Korea and other nations see as a pretext for a long-range missile test banned by the UN. Tanaka said on Friday he was readying Japan’s missile defense systems to shoot down the rocket if it looked set to fall on the country, a move similar to measures Japan took in 2009 before Pyongyang’s last long-range rocket launch. –Indian Express
Posted by The Extinction Protocol
March 26, 2012 – VIRGINA – Once again, an aftershock from last summer’s earthquake prompted operators at North Anna Power Station in Louisa County to report an “unusual event” to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Richard Zuercher, a spokesman for Dominion power, says a report is filed with the NRC if the tremor is felt in the control room. An inspection was done after the magnitude-3.1 aftershock hit at 11:21 p.m. Sunday, and no damage was discovered. Unit 1 is shut down for refueling; Unit 2 continues to operate at full power. The last unusual event declared after a magnitude 3.2 aftershock in January. There have been dozens of aftershocks in excess of magnitude 2.0, since the 5.8-magnitude earthquake last Aug. 23. The plant sits about 11 miles from the epicenter near Mineral. -Fredricksburg
March 26, 2012 – INDONESIA – According to the regional VAAC, the Batu Tara volcano has erupted and is emitting a dense ash cloud. The aviation alert-status for the region has been raised to orange. Batu Tara volcano is located 50 km north of Pulau Lembata in the Flores Sea. The crater is in the middle of the island with dimensions of 900 m x 700 m. The uninhabited island of Batu Tara is the steep-sided summit of an active stratovolcano and has a small summit crater which is open to the east. The base of the island lies about 3,000 meters below sea level. Batu Tara is the northern-most active volcano in the Adonara Pantar sector of the Sunda arc. This is at the boundary of the collision of the north moving Australia tectonic plate, and the Sunda-Banda arc. Batu Tara volcano is located 230 km above the Benioff zone in a region where the arc crust is relatively young and thin. Rocks from Batu Tara contain crystals that formed in different magmas. Batu Tara last eruption was in 2010. –The Extinction Protocol
Posted by The Extinction Protocol
March 26, 2012 – FRANCE – A mountain looming over a French commune with a population of just 200 is being touted as a modern Noah’s Ark when doomsday arrives – supposedly less than nine months from now. A rapidly increasing stream of New Age believers – or esoterics, as locals call them – have descended in their camper van-loads on the usually picturesque and tranquil Pyrenean village of Bugarach. They believe that when apocalypse strikes on 21 December this year, the aliens waiting in their spacecraft inside Pic de Bugarach will save all the humans nearby and beam them off to the next age. As the cataclysmic date – which, according to eschatological beliefs and predicted astrological alignments, concludes a 5,125-year cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar – nears, the goings-on around the peak have become more bizarre and ritualistic. For decades, there has been a belief that Pic de Bugarach, which, at 1,230 meters, is the highest in the Corbières mountain range, possesses an eerie power. Often called the “upside-down mountain” – geologists think that it exploded after its formation and the top landed the wrong way up – it is thought to have inspired Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth and Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Since the 1960s, it has attracted New Agers, who insist that it emits special magnetic waves. Upwards of 100,000 people are thought to be planning a trip to the mountain, 30 miles west of Perpignan, in time for 21 December, and opportunistic entrepreneurs are shamelessly cashing in on the phenomenon. While American travel agents have been offering special, one-way deals to witness the end of the world, a neighboring village, Saint-Paul de Fenouillet, has produced a wine to celebrate the occasion. Jean-Pierre Delord, the perplexed mayor of Bugarach, has flagged up the situation to the French authorities, requesting they scramble the army to the tiny village for fear of a mass suicide. –Independent
Posted by The Extinction Protocol
March 26, 2012 – MEXICO - The National Center for Disaster Prevention (Cenapred) reported that in the last 24 hours the Popocatepetl volcano registered 33 exhalations of low intensity, accompanied by emissions of water vapor and gas. The body of the Ministry of the Interior (Interior Ministry) explained that on Saturday one of these incidents occurred at 22:29, 23:21 and 23:56 hours on Sunday while they were at 5:14, 5:41 and 8:32 hours. In a statement, adding that Cenapred at 08:42 hours, an earthquake of low magnitude was followed by 96 minutes of spasmodic tremor segments, while the other parameters concerning the volcano remain unchanged. On Saturday night, there were numerous reports of incandescence material seen glowing in the mouth of the crater, though clouds made visibility poor for portions of the evening. The volcanic alert remains at phase two and yellow. Moderate exhalations are likely, some with ash emissions, sporadic bursts of low to moderate probability of emission of incandescent fragments short and a mild glow of the volcano in the crater may also be likely. The Cenapred recommended maintaining the safety radius of 12 kilometers. -Cronica (translated)
March 25, 2012 – CHILE – A magnitude 7.1 earthquake hit central Chile on Sunday, 64 miles (103 kim) west north west of the town of Talca, the U.S. Geological Survey said. The quake was at a depth of 6.2 miles (10 km). Magnitude 7.0 earthquakes or greater are capable of causing widespread and heavy damage. The epicenter of the earthquake was 219 km (136 miles) from Santiago, Chile- near the vicinity of a moderate 5.1 magnitude earthquake that struck the region on yesterday. Seismic tension has been mounting over some of the world’s most dangerous subduction regions in recent weeks and stress eruptions may not be over yet. This is the second 7.0 + magnitude earthquake to strike the world in 5 days, provided the USGS doesn’t downgraded the earthquake. On March 20, a 7.4 magnitude earthquake struck the western coast of Oaxaca, Mexico. Chile in on the front-line of the Nazca plate, one of the most dangerous subductive plate boundaries in the world. A 9.5, the strongest earthquake ever recorded in modern history, devastated Chile in 1960. –The Extinction Protocol