Say Cheese! Keep Your Digital Photos from Revealing Your Location

A picture might be worth a thousand words, but some can also pinpoint you on a map—even if you’d prefer otherwise. Just ask Internet security mogul John McAfee, creator of the famous McAfee Virus Scan software. He’s the poster boy that illustrates how data embedded in digital photographs can lead to big trouble. And here’s his story of Betrayal by Photo.
After making millions from the sale of his software company, the eccentric McAfee left the rat race and built a beachfront pleasure palace in Belize. There the sexagenarian reportedly experimented with drugs, entertained young women, kept noisy dogs, and generally did his own thing. He admits his dogs annoyed the community, including his closest neighbor Gregory Faull, who often complained about the constant barking.
When Faull was found murdered in 2012, the Belize authorities fingered McAfee (whom they considered a gun-toting, drug-crazed madman) as a prime suspect.
McAfee hightailed it out of Belize to avoid arrest, using his fame and press connections to make highly publicized jabs at the police along the way. These  taunts included an article in the online publication Vice Magazine titled, We Are With John McAfee Right Now, Suckers. The story featured a picture of McAfee on the lam at an undisclosed jungle location.
Within hours of his photo being posted online, authorities homed in on McAfee’s precise location — in Guatemala — because the magazine forgot to remove the picture’s embedded GPS metadata. When photographer Robert King snapped the photo on his iPhone, the device imprinted it with the coordinates of a pool-side restaurant at the Parque Nacional Rio Dulce. While McAfee sipped cool drinks and basked in the jungle paradise, Guatemalan police moved in for the arrest.
Metadata is simply data that tells more about other data. In the case of photographs, metadata embedded in an image is called EXIF data. This EXIF data can include details like the kind of camera used, a time stamp for the photograph, and GPS coordinates of the place where the photo was taken. These location coordinates (“geotags”) can often be viewed by simply right clicking on a photograph and examining its properties. Continue reading

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Microsoft to Slash 18,000 Jobs Week After Bill Gates Pushed for Unlimited Guest-Worker Visas

On Thursday, a week after former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates argued for amnesty and for an unlimited number of high-tech guest-worker visas, Microsoft announced it would slash 18,000 jobs.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella promised his employees that "we will go through this process in the most thoughtful and transparent way possible." Analysts told USA Today that the number being let go was "larger than expected."

The "vast majority" of employees will reportedly be notified "within the next six months" and "earn severance and job transition help in many locations." Microsoft employs 125,000 people.

Bill Gates, along with Sheldon Adelson and Warren Buffett, advocated removing "the worldwide cap on the number of visas that could be awarded to legal immigrants who had earned a graduate degree in science, technology, engineering or mathematics from an accredited institution of higher education in the United States."

However, numerous nonpartisan scholars and studies have determined that there is a surplus – not a shortage – of American high-tech workers. Moreover, after a recent Census report found that "74% of those with a bachelor's degree in these subjects don't work in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) jobs," the mainstream media may finally be catching on and taking away the high-tech industry's "free pass." CBS News, for instance, concluded that the Census data suggest the high-tech industry's contention that there is a shortage of American high-tech "is largely a myth." Continue reading

When Rhode Island accidentally legalized prostitution, rape decreased sharply

The number of rapes reported in Rhode Island over time is compared that in to three similar states. The red line marks the de facto decriminalization of prostitution. (NBER)

For decades, few people noticed that legislators in Providence had deleted crucial language from Rhode Island state law in 1980. It wasn't until a 2003 court case that police, to their chagrin, discovered they couldn't prevent prostitutes and their customers from engaging in commercial exchange.

For the next six years until legislators corrected their error, the oldest profession was not a crime in Rhode Island -- and public health and public safety substantially improved as a result, according to a new working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research. The statewide incidence of gonorrhea among women declined by 39 percent, and the number of rapes reported to police in the state declined by 31 percent, according to the paper.

The study by Baylor University's Scott Cunningham and Manisha Shah of the University of California, Los Angeles contributes to an impassioned, long-running debate about prostitution among advocates for women's rights. Their work appears to be the first quantitative evidence that removing criminal penalties for prostitutes can reduce violence against women and curtail sexually transmitted infections in society generally -- and dramatically so. Yet opponents argue that legal prostitution would encourage traffickers to kidnap women and girls into lives of sexual slavery.

Shah and Cunningham did not explore this question in their paper, due to a lack of data.

"Operation Rubdown"

Lawmakers revised the state statute on prostitution in 1980, concerned that it was overly broad and could infringe on First Amendment freedoms. They went too far, accidentally removing the section defining the act itself as a crime. Other associated activities, such as streetwalking, pimping and trafficking, remained illegal.

Since prostitutes couldn't walk the streets, they had few opportunities to take advantage of the mistake until the advent of the Internet gave them another way to advertise. In 2003, police in Providence hit two spas in a sting officially called "Operation Rubdown." The women were staying off the street, and a judge ruled in their favor. Legislators revised the law in 2009.

There are a number of reasons to think that making prostitution legal might improve working conditions for prostitutes. If they were having a problem with a client, they could threaten to call the police. Not only could this threat reduce the risk of physical violence, but it could also allow them to demand that their clients use condoms. Continue reading

Fish Oil May Benefit Alcohol Abusers

Newswise — MAYWOOD, Ill-- Omega-3 fish oil might help protect against alcohol-related neurodamage and the risk of eventual dementia, according to a study published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Many human studies have shown that long-term alcohol abuse causes brain damage and increases the risk of dementia. The new study found that in brain cells exposed to high levels of alcohol, a fish oil compound protected against inflammation and neuronal cell death.

The study was conducted by Michael A. Collins, PhD, Edward J. Neafsey, PhD, and colleagues at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, and collaborators at the University of Kentucky and the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).
Collins and colleagues exposed cultures of adult rat brain cells over several days to concentrations of alcohol equivalent to about four times the legal limit for driving – a concentration seen in chronic alcoholics. These brain cultures were compared with cultures exposed to the same high levels of alcohol, plus a compound found in fish oil called omega-3 docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

Researchers found there was up to 90 percent less neuroinflammation and neuronal death in the brain cells exposed to alcohol plus DHA than in the cells exposed to alcohol alone.
An earlier meta-analysis by Collins and Neafsey, which pooled the results of about 75 studies, found that moderate social drinking may have the opposite effect of reducing the risk of dementia and/or cognitive impairment during aging. (Moderate drinking is defined as a maximum of two drinks per day for men and 1 drink per day for women.)

It appears that limited amounts of alcohol might, in effect, tend to make brain cells more fit. Alcohol in moderate amounts stresses cells and thus toughens them up to cope with major stresses and insults down the road that could cause dementia. But too much alcohol overwhelms the cells, leading to neuroinflammation and cell death.

Further studies are needed to confirm whether fish oil protects against alcohol-related cognitive injury and dementia in adult rodent models. "Fish oil has the potential of helping preserve brain integrity in chronic alcohol abusers," Collins said. "At the very least, it is unlikely that it would hurt them."

But Collins added that the best way for an alcohol abuser to protect the brain is to cut back to low or moderate amounts or quit entirely. "We don't want people to think it is okay to take a few fish oil capsules and then continue to go on abusing alcohol,” he said.
PLOS ONE is an international, peer-reviewed, open-access online journal. Collins earlier reported findings at the 14th Congress of the European Society for Biomedical Research on Alcoholism in Warsaw.

Collins, principal investigator of the study, is a professor in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Therapeutics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. Co-authors are Neafsey, Nuzhath Tajuddin, MS, and Kwan-Hoon Moon, PhD, of the Stritch School of Medicine; Kimberly Nixon, PhD, of the University of Kentucky; and Hee-Yong Kim, PhD, of the NIAAA. The research was funded by grants from the NIAAA at the National Institutes of Health.

NSA stores 80% of Americans' phone conversations, claims NSA whistleblower

The NSA collects and stores most Americans’ phone conversations, according to NSA whistleblower William Binney. At Timetable 2014, a Center for Investigative Journalism conference, Binney said, “At least 80% of fiber optic cables globally go via the U.S. This is no accident and allows the U.S. to view all communication coming in. At least 80% of all audio calls, not just metadata, are recorded and stored in the U.S. The NSA lies about what it stores.” Also according to The Guardian, Binney stated, “The ultimate goal of the NSA is total population control, but I’m a little optimistic with some recent Supreme Court decisions, such as law enforcement mostly now needing a warrant before searching a smartphone.” Binney’s claim of the NSA recording and storing calls falls in line with what former FBI counterterrorism agent Tim Clemente told CNN after the Boston marathon bombings last year. Clemente claimed that in the course of a national security investigation, law enforcement could find out what was said in phone conversations between Katherine Russell and Tamarlan Tsarnaev. When CNN asked if FBI could “actually get that,” Clemente responded, “Welcome to America. All of that stuff is being captured as we speak whether we know it or like it or not.” When asked about it the next day, if Clemente had meant voice mail audio recordings to determine if Tsarnaev’s widow knew about the bombing, Clemente clarified: I'm talking about all digital communications are -- there's a way to look at digital communications in the past. I can't go into detail of how that's done or what's done. But I can tell you that no digital communication is secure. So these communications will be found out. The conversation will be known. The NSA wants “total information control” over American citizens “in breach of the U.S. Constitution,” Binney testified before the German parliament this month. The NSA represents “the ‘greatest threat’ to American society since the US Civil War of the 19th century.” How many times do we need to hear this to believe it? Over a year ago, there was more than enough leaked information to apply the Rule of Seven to domestic surveillance. Snowden’s leaks may have put NSA spying in the headlines and gained mainstream media attention, but Binney has been sounding the alarm for years. Binney came forward in 2012 at the last Hackers on Planet Earth (HOPE) conference to say the NSA has dossiers on nearly every U.S. citizen. Later that year, Binney claimed everyone in the U.S. is under virtual surveillance. "Where I see it going is toward a totalitarian state," Binney previously told Reason. "You've got the NSA doing all this collecting of material on all of its citizens - that's what the SS, the Gestapo, the Stasi, the KGB, and the NKVD did." Continue reading