Monthly Archives: February 2012

Obama asks for $770m for Arab Democracy

My oh my… Check this out. Obama asking for nearly $800 million for Arab nation building (and another $1.3 billion for Egypt). Um… don’t we have enough of our own economic problems without just tossing massive amounts of our taxpayer’s money at the Middle East?

Obama
WASHINGTON — US President Barack Obama’s administration on Monday requested a fund of nearly $800 million to boost political and other reforms in Arab countries undergoing pro-democracy revolutions.

The new fund is part of $51.6 billion requested for the State Department and US Agency for International Development in 2013, which amounts to around 1.4 percent of the government’s entire budget, the State Department said.

The department said it requested “$770 million for a new Middle East and North Africa Incentive Fund to respond strategically to the historical changes taking place across the region.”

US officials said all but $70 million is new money.

“The fund will incentivize long-term economic, political and trade reforms — key pillars of stability — by supporting governments that demonstrate a commitment to undergo meaningful change and empower their people,” it said.

US officials told reporters on condition of anonymity that the funds could be used for countries such as Syria, Yemen, Tunisia and Morocco, and at this point it was unclear how the money would be allocated.

In Syria, President Bashar al-Assad is accused of resorting to violence to stay in power. In Yemen and Tunisia, transitions are under way with the exits of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. In Morocco, King Mohammed VI has introduced constitutional reforms.

The new fund will be in addition to existing bilateral assistance between the United States and individual Arab countries, officials said.

The State Department said the United States re-allocated around $500 million in existing funds to help transitions in 2011.

The State Department also pointed out that the Obama budget retained $1.3 billion in military assistance for Egypt, even though the administration has warned such aid will be reviewed in the current year amid a dispute with Cairo over a crackdown on US-funded pro-democracy groups.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the warning for 2012 remained in place, noting that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had to certify first whether Egypt is making progress toward democracy.

But she added: “Let’s hope we’re still not in this situation in 2013.

“We do have concerns that if we can’t resolve this situation it could have implications for the whole relationship with Egypt, including what we would like to do together and how we would like to support them.”

The proposed budget also contains requests of $3.1 billion in military assistance for Israel and $300 million in such aid for Jordan.

Fiscal year 2013 begins in October this year.

The State Department said the request contains a core budget of $43.4 billion for funding the long-term national security mission of the State Department and USAID.

A further $8.2 billion is requested to support “the extraordinary and temporary costs of civilian-led programs and missions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

The Obama budget is seen as having little chance of being voted into law.

Source

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What really happened…

I was a little bored and felt creative earlier yesterday, and I thought this was hilarious… sadly no one else does… but it’s hilarious, damn it!

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Senate sneaks in SOPA under a new name


U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. (REUTERS / Yuri Gripas)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) launches a second round of attacks in an attempt to censor the Internet.

After trying to adopt Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA), both pieces of legislation turned out to be a disaster, causing outrage among Internet giants and ordinary users alike. Congress had to retreat. However it’s determined to get what it wants this time.

After the shelving of SOPA and PIPA back in January Reid stated,“There is no reason that the legitimate issues raised by many about this bill cannot be resolved.”

As RT reported last month, Senator Reid added that lawmakers will“continue engaging with all stakeholders to forge a balance between protecting Americans’ intellectual property, and maintaining openness and innovation on the Internet.”

The vote on the anti-piracy legislation was postponed from its January 24date after Wikipedia and other popular websites went dark to protest the draft law.

Now the battle for online freedom continues.

The rebuttal to push Internet-regulating legislation has transformed into a new cybersecurity bill. The particulars of the latest attempt by senators to censor the Internet have not been disclosed to the public.

However some leaks suggest that the bill will grant the authority to crack down on the Internet to the executive branch of power, namely the White House. It looks highly possible taking into consideration that the legislation has to come out of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, chaired by Connecticut Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman.

The same Lieberman who earlier co-sponsored the so called Kill Switch bill that could allow the president of the United States to “declare a cybersecurity emergency,” and practically shut down the Internet.

After outrage from Internet advocacy groups, Kill Switch never made it in the Senate. This time it may be back under a new name.

Source: RT

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And so it starts…

Oakland Police Chief calls Anonymous’ recent actions “cyberterrorism” (Source) – that, by the way, has to be one of the most hilarious articles I’ve ever read.

“Although the posting Tuesday morning to the file-sharing website Pastebin.com quickly made headlines,”

“the file-sharing website Pastebin.com”

Pastebin.com

Why do I say this, you ask? The NDAA, of course.

We can indefinitely detain, without trial, any suspected terrorist. Even American citizens.

Anonymous = terrorists?
Government’s problem goes away.

And so it starts…

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Internet 1. RIAA/MPAA 0.

Okay okay, so there was the whole MegaUpload thing… a-aand… Napster… ahem… But this is an assured victory for the Internet!

Tribler Makes BitTorrent Impossible to Shut Down

While the file-sharing ecosystem is currently filled with uncertainty and doubt, researchers at Delft University of Technology continue to work on their decentralized BitTorrent network. Their Tribler client doesn’t require torrent sites to find or download content, as it is based on pure peer-to-peer communication. “The only way to take it down is to take the Internet down,” the lead researcher says.

The Tribler BitTorrent client is no newcomer to the BitTorrent scene. It has been in development for more than 5 years and has delivered many innovative features, which have mostly been ignored by the masses.

Today, however, Tribler is more relevant than ever before.

Developed by a team of researchers at Delft University of Technology, the main goal is to come up with a robust implementation of BitTorrent that doesn’t rely on central servers. Instead, Tribler is designed to keep BitTorrent alive, even when all torrent search engines, indexes and trackers are pulled offline.

“Our key scientific quest is facilitating unbounded information sharing,” Tribler leader Dr. Pouwelse tells TorrentFreak.

“We simply don’t like unreliable servers. With Tribler we have achieved zero-seconds downtime over the past six years, all because we don’t rely on shaky foundations such as DNS, web servers or search portals.”

So how does it work?

Like many other BitTorrent clients, Tribler has a search box at the top of the application. However, the search results that appear when users type in a keyword don’t come from a central index. Instead, they come directly from other peers.

Tribler’s decentralized search results

Downloading a torrent is also totally decentralized. When a user clicks on one of the search results, the meta-data is pulled in from another peer and the download starts immediately. Tribler is based on the standard BitTorrent protocol and uses regular BitTorrent trackers to communicate with other peers. But, it can also continue downloading when a central tracker goes down.

The same is true for spam control. Where most torrent sites have a team of moderators to delete viruses, malware and fake files, Tribler uses crowd-sourcing to keep the network clean. Content is verified by user generated “channels”, which can be “liked” by others. When more people like a channel, the associated torrents get a boost in the search results.

The latest addition to Tribler is a Wikipedia-style editing system dubbed “Open2Edit,” where users have the option to edit names and descriptions of torrents in public channels. All without a central server, totally decentralized.

open2Edit

According to Dr. Pouwelse, Tribler is fully capable of resisting any pressure from outside, and it will still work when all torrent sites and trackers are gone. It simply can’t be shutdown, blocked or censored, whatever laws politicians may come up with.

“The only way to take it down is to take The Internet down.” Pouwelse told us.

One thing that could theoretically cause issues, is the capability for starting users to find new peers. To be on the safe side the Tribler team is still looking for people who want to act as so called bootstraptribler peers. These users will act as superpeers, who distribute lists of active downloaders.

“Together with software bugs and a code cleanup, that is now our last known weakness,” says Pouwelse.

While the Tribler client only has a few thousand users at the moment, for avid file-sharers it must be a relief to know that it’s out there. No matter what crazy laws may pass in the future, people will always be able to share.

Those who want to give it a spin are welcome download Tribler here. It’s completely Open Source and with a version for Windows, Mac and Linux.

Source

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Afraid of The Pirate Bay going away? It’s only 90 MB – Download it!

TPB Logo
Soon The Pirate Bay will stop linking to .torrent files. Instead, the world’s largest BitTorrent site will only list so-called magnet links. One of the advantages of the switch is that The Pirate Bay will be much more portable, and easier to copy. A new torrent listing all titles and magnet links on The Pirate Bay proves this point, as the public can download a copy that fits easily on a small USB stick – or even a few dozen floppies.

Last month The Pirate Bay announced that it will stop hosting torrents in the very near future.

This change is expected to go into effect before the end of the month. From then on, Pirate Bay users can only download files through magnet links.

The Pirate Bay team told TorrentFreak that one of the advantages of the transition to a “magnet site” is that it requires relatively little bandwidth to host a proxy site. This is needed, because The Pirate Bay is currently blocked in several countries, and more are bound to follow in the months to come.

Without torrents, the Pirate Bay also becomes extremely portable which makes it possible for people to download a personal backup. As we said before, such a copy would easily fit on a thumb drive. Pirate Bay user “allisfine” was intrigued by this idea and decided to find out how small a copy of the torrents site would be.

“I did a complete snapshot of ALL the Pirate Bay torrents, in case somebody wants to close it or something similarly crazy,” he told TorrentFreak.

Using this script, “allisfine” managed to copy the title, id, file size, seeds, leechers and magnet links of 1,643,194 torrents. Comments were not copied to keep the files as small as possible, and the end result is a full copy of all magnet links on The Pirate Bay in a 90 megabytes file, 164 megabytes unzipped.

A copy of The Pirate Bay
TPB copy

There is some confusion as to whether the 1,643,194 torrents are indeed a full copy of the site, as The Pirate Bay itself lists 4,199,832 torrents in the footer link on its site. However, the latter stats apply to the number of torrents that are available on several public trackers, The Pirate Bay itself only hosts a fraction of those.

With the release of the copy everyone can now download a personal backup of The Pirate Bay in a few minutes. Although searching the copy isn’t as convenient as using The Pirate Bay itself, there is little doubt that someone else will soon come up with another script that solves this problem.

Recent history has shown that when a site is threatened with shutdown, or censored, the Internet is very quick to come up with a workaround. And with thousands of backups of The Pirate Bay floating around, it will be very hard at this point to get rid of the famous torrent site.

What’s perhaps even more striking is that the greatest arch rival of a billion dollar entertainment industry is nothing more than 164 megabytes of text. Something to think about.

The above was reposted from TorrentFreak.

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Firefox 10 & Woes

I just upgraded from Firefox 9.0.1, because apparently Firefox 10 came out Feburary 1st (where was I when this happened..?). Anyways, it never told me there was an update, but I found out that it had coinsidentally while googling a problem I’ve been having since Firefox 7.

But before I tell you about the problem I’ve been having, I should probably talk about Firefox 10.

It’s Firefox 9 with a new number. Excited? I wasn’t either. Yeah okay there was some small crap hardly anyone will care about, like a forward button that will only appear if you’ve gone back, and only appears using the regular size icons. I don’t even know about any of that crap since mine doesn’t use it. I guess I’m using a custom theme or something. And I guess Firefox Sync is easier now, and Firefox 10 has support for a year now, multi-touch gesture support for the mobile version, and anti-aliasing in webGL. I’m pretty sure I keep webGL disabled because of that horrendous security concern that could melt your computer if someone exploited it – which, by the way, was never fixed.

Oh. There were two things I liked. “Firefox 10 assumes that extensions are compatible, even if they haven’t been specifically updated for it. The browser will only reject extensions that have been specficially marked as incompatible.” and “Add-ons can now hotfix update themselves to address minor issues.” These two things seem useful. Extension incompatibility with all of these rapid releases was a major pain in the ass. I actually had to manually edit the versions on some of them to make them keep working.

Anywho… onto my problem.

Bug 702748. Such a cute little name, isn’t it? No? Not really? Well lemme tell ya, it’s a major pain in my ass. Here’s a little explanation of the problem. But lemme break it down for ya…

“Save Image As” keeps changing directories on a per site/server basis, rather than staying consistent until I change it.

Let’s say I’m just browsing some image boards, blogs or forums with images, and I’m saving images – something I’ve done since the dawn of time, and I’m sure a lot of others have done too. Well, it seems that starting in Firefox 7, a new “feature” was introduced that changes the download directory per server. So when you have one link like “i32.site.com” then another on “m22.site.com” that these pictures are being fetched from, guess what? The next time you get a picture from either of those servers, it’s going to remember the last directory you saved to for that server. Stay with me here. Let’s say we’re browsing something about kittens, we save a bunch of pictures. Then later, maybe we’re looking at pictures of rabbits. We have our folders very organized like “Pictures/Animals/Cats/Kittens”, “Pictures/Animals/Rabbits”, and what have you. So we start saving the rabbit pictures and then suddenly we realize that some of them (not even all of them, just some) are going to the Kittens folder. No, what’s worse is that some are going to maybe Giraffes, or Whales, Sharks, Lions, or who the fuck knows what! This is really fucking stupid, man. Whoever made this “feature” deserves a nice good ass chewing, I can tell you that much.

No… Since we’ve had it now for what, 5 months now? And we’re going to have it for another… 1? At least? This guy deserves to get his ass kicked. No permanent damage or anything, just a nice good old fashioned playground ass kicking. Fucking idiots, I swear to the flying spaghetti monster

Anyways…

  • Intentional change: Bug 536503 – Last downloaded-to directory should be remembered on a site-by-site basis
    • and note also Bug 693153 – “arbitrary” selection of download directory in multiple tabs (tabs with different server name)

Firefox 11 will fix this issue by adding a pref browser.download.lastdir.savePerSite

  • Bug 702748 – Use a pref for disabling per-site remembering of download directory

Unfortunately, if you check their release schedule… it isn’t planned to be released until March-something. What’s 6 weeks from Feb 1? March 7th? So March 7th I guess.

Anyways, when Firefox 11 rolls around you’re going to have to go to about:config then create a new bool entry: browser.download.lastDir.savePerSite, and set that to false. Till then, I hope some asshole makes an extension that hotfixes this, cause it’s really fucking shit up. I don’t even know where my pictures are anymore…

Someone suggested just downgrading to Firefox 6.0.2 until we get the fix, and I dunno if I’m gonna do that. I’m considering using another browser for a month possibly though. Eh, if I can find add-ons for it.

If you wanna downgrade, here it is from the official Mozilla FTP: ftp://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/mozilla.org/firefox/releases/6.0.2/

Here’s some English specific links:
Win-32 Eng-US
Mac En-US
Linux i686 En-US
Linux x86-64 En-US

But from what I hear, there are security problems to worry about. So it’s better to go for the 3.6.x branch which is kept updated instead, since it’s still supported. The 6.x.x branch isn’t.

Here’s 3.6.9, I don’t know if it fixes this or not or if it’s the latest on the 3.6.x branch, but here’s a link: ftp://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/mozilla.org/firefox/releases/3.6.9/; Now, someone did report that 3.6.3 didn’t have the issue and that was 3 weeks ago, so if 3.6.9 doesn’t work, then here’s a link to 3.6.3: ftp://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/mozilla.org/firefox/releases/3.6.3/

Update#1
It seems there’s a temporary fix for this. Here’s the procedure:

  1. Select Tools | Option and choose Privacy tab
  2. Click on “clear your recent history”
  3. Time range to clear : choose Everything (last option in the listbox)
  4. Click on Details if necessary
  5. **Uncheck** all options **except** Site Preferences (thus only Site Preferences is checked at the end).
  6. And apply with Clear Now !

The folder proposed by Save Image As should now be the session’s last downloaded-to folder (no longer the site’s).

Now where does the magic come from ? Starting indeed with FF 7, someone has decided that “Last downloaded-to directory should be remembered on a site-by-site basis” (as noted here by John99. It’s in bug#536503).

And… it was added. Ugh…

And documented in Using_content_preferences (look for the table entitled “Build-in site-specific preferences”, the preference browser.download.lastDir is stamped “New in Firefox 7”). As a techie can see there, the information is stored in a file named content-prefs.sqlite (a database file stored in your profile — a brutal workaround would be to delete or rename this file, but I discourage such manipulation while FF is running)(BTW if you delete it when FF is not running, the file is recreated when FF is launched).

The workaround I propose simply resets the content preferences, meaning that you will get rid of current site-download folder mappings (good news !) but also of upload site-folder mappings and site-zoom preferences. Which may be a problem depending on your needs…

If someone could find a javascript snippet that could remove only site-download folder mappings from the content preference database, that would really fix all these problems.

What I’ve been doing in the meantime is just copying the full path to the folder I want to be saving to and pasting it up in the top part before I save. It’s inconvenient at best, but it works and it’s better than manually browsing to the right folder again.

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BTJunkie shut down

It seems that BTJunkie has decided to voluntarily shut down.

BTJunkie goodbye

Damn… I never used them personally, but… that all of this nonsense cropping up ever since the MU incident is affecting so many… so many sites going dark, going offline… I can’t say I feel good about it.

BTJunkie was an advanced BitTorrent search engine operating between 2005 and 2012. It used a web crawler (similar to Google) to search for torrent files from other torrent sites and store it in its database. It had nearly 4,000,000 active torrents and about 4,200 torrents added daily (compared to runner-up Torrent Portal with 1,500), making it the largest torrent site indexer on the web. During 2011, BTJunkie was the 5th most popular BitTorrent site.

On 5 February 2012, BTJunkie decided to voluntarily shut down and left a notice on its front web page that reads “This is the end of the line my friends. The decision does not come easy, but we’ve decided to voluntarily shut down. We’ve been fighting for years for your right to communicate, but it’s time to move on. It’s been an experience of a lifetime, we wish you all the best!”

Information borrowed from Wikipedia.

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Facebook E-Mail Notifications

Do they annoy the shit out of you? Well, they annoy the shit out of me, lemme tell ya. The first thing you probably tried is this:

Account Settings > Notifications > then Edited each one and removed all of them.

Well, you probably found out by now that it doesn’t freakin’ work. At all. So at this point you’ve probably tried everything you can think of to make the e-mails stop rolling in every time someone decides to do practically anything…

Well, here’s how:
1. Subscriptions
2. # Friend Subscriptions
3. Subscribed > Unsubscribe; do for all Subscribed friends.

Hopefully you weren’t subscribed to a ton. In the future, set up a Group called something like “No Subscription” and make sure that the subscriptions are all turned off for that group. That way, you won’t get subscribed when adding people in the future.

And because I’m so wonderfully nice, I made a step-by-step visual tutorial for you. Check it out if you can’t figure it out:

Step 1-2
Step 3

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Iran vs Israel?!

Looks like these guys are dead set on starting something… Check it out:

Iran’s supreme leader threatened to attack Israel yesterday in retaliation for Western sanctions against the Islamic Republic, warning that “threatening Iran and attacking Iran will harm America”. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s declaration came as apprehension of possible conflict was intensified by a report suggesting that the US Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta, believes Israel could strike nuclear targets in Iran before the summer after concluding that military action might be needed before it was “too late” to stop Tehran’s nuclear programme.

The Ayatollah used a televised sermon to warn that threats of war – which would be “ten times against the interests of the US itself” – would not deter Iran from its “nuclear course”. And he declared the Tehran regime’s backing for “any nation or group” that wants “to confront and fight” against Israel. He also said that Tehran was seeking to “extract a price” from Israel for the assassination of four nuclear scientists since November 2010.

The threat from Iran is apparently being taken seriously in Israel. Yoram Cohen, the head of the domestic intelligence agency Shin Bet, was reported as having told a closed meeting in Tel Aviv this week that Iran was seeking to strike Israeli targets around the world in an attempt to stem the assassinations of scientists.

Mr Cohen was quoted by the liberal newspaper Haaretz as having cited “three serious attacks” since last summer that had been thwarted as they were “on the verge of being carried out,” against the Israeli consul general in Istanbul, in Baku, Azerbaijan, and two weeks ago in Thailand.

The Shin Bet head said that Iran believed Israel was behind the attacks on its scientists and added: “It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not that Israel took out the nuclear scientists. A major, serious country like Iran cannot let this go on. They want to deter Israel and extract a price so that decision makers in Israel think twice before they order an attack on an Iranian scientist.”

The main media focus in Israel, however, were the fears attributed to Leon Panetta in a report in The Washington Post – which Mr Panetta has not denied – that Israel might launch a strike on Iran’s nuclear plants in April, May or June before Iran enters what his Israeli counterpart, Ehud Barak, this week called the “immunity” zone.

Mr Barak has coined the term to describe the point from which Iran will have developed sufficient knowledge and material so successfully that an external attack would be unable derail any ambition it may have to attain a nuclear weapon.

The administration in Tehran have denied that its nuclear programme is for anything other than peaceful energy purposes. Speaking in Germany yesterday Mr Panetta said that “all options” remained on the table. But he said “the most important thing” was to maintain unified global support for tough economic sanctions.

The public statements followed a week of intense discussion about Iran’s perceived nuclear threat at the annual conference of Israel’s security establishment at the Inter-Disciplinary Centre in Herzilya. Despite unanimity among prominent intelligence, military and political leaders about the need to halt the threat, there were also strong signs of what Mr Barak in his keynote address openly acknowledged were “disagreements among us” about how to do it.

One of the emerging areas of disagreement appears to be the vulnerability of Iranian sites to bunker-buster bombing raids. The Vice Prime Minister, Moshe Yaalon, while saying that “one way or the other” the “messianic-apocalyptic” Iranian regime’s “nuclear project” had to be stopped, went out of his way to reject claims that Iran’s underground facilities might be invulnerable to “bunker-buster” bombs.

In remarks that appeared to run counter to Mr Barak’s warning that it might soon become “too late” to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, Mr Yaalon added: “Any facility that is protected by humans can be penetrated by humans. Every military facility in Iran can be hit, and I say this from my experience as [military] chief of staff.”

Equally, the current military chief of staff, Benny Gantz, did not refer to the “immunity zone”, pointing instead to the strategy of “continuing to disrupt Iran’s attempts to attain nuclear weapons” and adding that it was important “to continue to build strong, reliable, impressive military capabilities, and to be prepared to use them if and when the need arises”.

Source: The Independant

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