High-Technology


This section of Graphic Humor in political-economic, national or international issues, are very ingenious in describing what happened, is happening or will happen. It also extends to various other local issues or passing around the world. There are also other non-political humor that ranges from reflective or just to get us a smile when we see them. Anyone with basic education and to stay informed of important news happening in our local and global world may understand and enjoy them. Farewell!. (CTsT)

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A photo of a desperate young Palestinian boy, badly wounded and screaming for his father as he clutches at the shirt of a paramedic in a hospital, has captured the tragic and bloody tension of the Gazan conflict.

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Shirtless and with cuts to his face, torso, arms and legs, the child clings to the hospital worker who is attempting to lay him flat on a girdle.

The Electronic Intifada, a pro-Palestinian publication, reports the photo, taken at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City last Thursday, was captioned with the boy’s desperate cry: ‘I want my father, bring me my father’, according to Fairfax.

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The Palestinian paper claims the young boy was one of four siblings brought to the hospital wounded, two of them just three years old.

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It comes as grinning Israeli tank commanders were pictured flashing the victory signs as they blast their way through Gaza in the bloodiest day of the offensive so far – as one resident of the troubled region said: ‘The gate of hell has opened.’

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At least 65 people have been killed since this yesterday’s dawn strike on Gaza City’s Shijaiyah neighbourhood – including the son, daughter-in-law and two small grandchildren of a senior Hamas leader.

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Hamas says it has captured an Israeli soldier – a scenario that has proven to be fraught with difficulties for the country in the past – but Israel’s U.N. Ambassador has denied the claims.

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The neighbourhood has come under heavy tank fire as Israel widened its ground offensive against Hamas, causing hundreds of residents to flee.

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The dead and wounded – including dozens of women and children – have reportedly been left in streets, with ambulances unable to approach.

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Source: (July 21, 2014)

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2699772/This-desperate-little-boy-face-tragedy-Palestinian-toddler-clutches-shirt-hospital-worker-screaming-I-want-father-bring-father.html?ito=social-facebook

The US National Security Agency (NSA) has upset a great many people this year. Since June, newspapers have been using documents leaked by former intelligence worker Edward Snowden to show how the secretive but powerful agency has spied on the communications of US citizens and foreign governments. Last month, the media reported that the NSA, which is based in Fort Meade, Maryland, had undermined Internet security standards. The revelations have sparked international outrage at the highest levels — even the president of Brazil cancelled a visit to the United States because of the spying.

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Yet amid the uproar, NSA-supported mathematicians and computer scientists have remained mostly quiet, to the growing frustration of others in similar fields. “Most have never met a funding source they do not like,” says Phillip Rogaway, a computer scientist at the University of California, Davis, who has sworn not to accept NSA funding and is critical of other researchers’ silence. “And most of us have little sense of social responsibility.”

Mathematicians and the NSA are certainly interdependent. The agency declares that it is the United States’ largest maths employer, and Samuel Rankin, director of the Washington DC office of the American Mathematical Society, estimates that the agency hires 30–40 mathematicians every year. The NSA routinely holds job fairs on university campuses, and academic researchers can work at the agency on sabbaticals. In 2013, the agency’s mathematical sciences programme offered more than US$3.3 million in research grants.

Furthermore, the NSA has designated more than 150 colleges and universities as centres of excellence, which qualifies students and faculty members for extra support. It can also fund research indirectly through other agencies, and so the total amount of support may be much higher. A leaked budget document says that the NSA spends more than $400 million a year on research and technology — although only a fraction of this money might go to research outside the agency itself.

 

Many US researchers, especially those towards the basic-research end of the spectrum, are comfortable with the NSA’s need for their expertise. Christopher Monroe, a physicist at the University of Maryland in College Park, is among them. He previously had an NSA grant for basic research on controlling cold atoms, which can form the basis of the qubits of information in quantum computers. He notes that he is free to publish in the open literature, and he has no problems with the NSA research facilities in physical sciences, telecommunications and languages that sit on his campus. Monroe is sympathetic to the NSA’s need to track the develop­ment of quantum computers that could one day be used to crack codes beyond the ability of conventional machines. “I understand what’s in the newspapers,” he says, “but the NSA is funding serious long-term fundamental research and I’m happy they’re doing it.”

Dena Tsamitis, director of education, outreach and training at Carnegie Mellon University’s cybersecurity research centre in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, also wants to maintain the relationship. She oversees visitors and recruiters from the NSA but her centre gets no direct funding. She says that her graduate students understand the NSA’s public surveillance to be “a policy decision, not a technology decision. Our students are most interested in the technology.” And the NSA, she says — echoing many other researchers — “has very interesting technology problems”.

 

The academics who are professionally uneasy with the NSA tend to lie on the applied end of the spectrum: they work on computer security and cryptography rather than pure mathematics and basic physics. Matthew Green, a cryptographer at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, says that these researchers are unsettled in part because they are dependent on protocols developed by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to govern most encrypted web traffic. When it was revealed that the NSA had inserted a ‘back door’ into the NIST standards to allow snooping, some of them felt betrayed. “We certainly had no idea that they were tampering with products or standards,” says Green. He is one of 47 technologists who on 4 October sent a letter to the director of a group created last month by US President Barack Obama to review NSA practices, protesting because the group does not include any independent technologists.

Edward Felten, who studies computer security at Princeton University in New Jersey, says that the NSA’s breach of security standards means that cryptographers will need to change what they call their threat model — the set of assumptions about possible attacks to guard against. Now the attacks might come from the home team. “There was a sense of certain lines that NSA wouldn’t cross,” says Felten, “and now we’re not so sure about that.”

 

Ann Finkbeiner, Nature,  October 8, 2013

WHEN the police arrived last November at the ransacked mansion of the millionaire investor Raveesh Kumra, outside of San Jose, Calif., they found Mr. Kumra had been blindfolded, tied and gagged. The robbers took cash, rare coins and ultimately Mr. Kumra’s life; he died at the scene, suffocated by the packaging tape used to stifle his screams. A forensics team found DNA on his fingernails that belonged to an unknown person, presumably one of the assailants. The sample was put into a DNA database and turned up a “hit” — a local man by the name of Lukis Anderson.

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Bingo. Mr. Anderson was arrested and charged with murder.

There was one small problem: the 26-year-old Mr. Anderson couldn’t have been the culprit. During the night in question, he was at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, suffering from severe intoxication.

Yet he spent more than five months in jail with a possible death sentence hanging over his head. Once presented with Mr. Anderson’s hospital records, prosecutors struggled to figure out how an innocent man’s DNA could have ended up on a murder victim.

Late last month, prosecutors announced what they believe to be the answer: the paramedics who transported Mr. Anderson to the hospital were the very same individuals who responded to the crime scene at the mansion a few hours later. Prosecutors now conclude that at some point, Mr. Anderson’s DNA must have been accidentally transferred to Mr. Kumra’s body — likely by way of the paramedics’ clothing or equipment.

This theory of transference is still under investigation. Nevertheless, the certainty with which prosecutors charged Mr. Anderson with murder highlights the very real injustices that can occur when we place too much faith in DNA forensic technologies.

In the end, Mr. Anderson was lucky. His alibi was rock solid; prosecutors were forced to concede that there must have been some other explanation. It’s hard to believe that, out of the growing number of convictions based largely or exclusively on DNA evidence, there haven’t been any similar mistakes.

In one famous case of crime scene contamination, German police searched for around 15 years for a serial killer they called the “Phantom of Heilbronn” — an unknown female linked by traces of DNA to six murders across Germany and Austria. In 2009, the police found their “suspect”: a worker at a factory that produced the cotton swabs police used in their investigations had been accidentally contaminating them with her own DNA.

Contamination is not the only way DNA forensics can lead to injustice. Consider the frequent claim that it is highly unlikely, if not impossible, for two DNA profiles to match by coincidence. A 2005 audit of Arizona’s DNA database showed that, out of some 65,000 profiles, nearly 150 pairs matched at a level typically considered high enough to identify and prosecute suspects. Yet these profiles were clearly from different people.

There are also problems with the way DNA evidence is interpreted and presented to juries. In 2008, John Puckett — a California man in his 70s with a sexual assault record — was accused of a 1972 killing, after a trawl of the state database partially linked his DNA to crime scene evidence. As in the Anderson case, Mr. Puckett was identified and implicated primarily by this evidence. Jurors — told that there was only a one-in-1.1 million chance that this DNA match was pure coincidence — convicted him. He is now serving a life sentence.

But that one-in-1.1 million figure is misleading, according to two different expert committees, one convened by the F.B.I., the other by the National Research Council. It reflects the chance of a coincidental match in relation to the size of the general population (assuming that the suspect is the only one examined and is not related to the real culprit). Instead of the general population, we should be looking at only the number of profiles in the DNA database. Taking the size of the database into account in Mr. Puckett’s case (and, again, assuming the real culprit’s profile is not in the database) would have led to a dramatic change in the estimate, to one in three.

One juror was asked whether this figure would have affected the jury’s deliberations. “Of course it would have changed things,” he told reporters. “It would have changed a lot of things.”

DNA forensics is an invaluable tool for law enforcement. But it is most useful when it corroborates other evidence pointing to a suspect, or when used to determine whether any two individual samples match, like in the exonerations pursued by the Innocence Project.

But when the government gets into the business of warehousing millions of DNA profiles to seek “cold hits” as the primary basis for prosecutions, much more oversight by and accountability to the public is warranted. For far too long, we have allowed the myth of DNA infallibility to chip away at our skepticism of government’s prosecutorial power, undoubtedly leading to untold injustices.

In the Anderson case, thankfully, prosecutors acknowledged the obvious: their suspect could not have been in two places at once. But he was dangerously close to being on his way to death row because of that speck of DNA. That one piece of evidence — obtained from a technology with known limitations, and susceptible to human error and prosecutorial misuse — might mistakenly lead to execution at the hands of the state should send chills down every one of our spines. The next Lukis Anderson could be you. Better hope your alibi is as well documented as his.

By OAGIE K. OBASOGIE, New York Times, July 24, 2013

Osagie K. Obasogie, a professor of law at the University of California, Hastings, and a senior fellow at the Center for Genetics and Society, is the author of the forthcoming book “Blinded by Sight: Seeing Race Through the Eyes of the Blind.”