Time was when it took a fair amount of expertise to launch the kinds of illegal computer attacks that have become the hallmarks of "hacktivist" groups like Anonymous.
Today, just about anyone can download user-friendly software capable of crippling websites. One such tool is LOIC [Low Orbit Ion Cannon], which was used in Anonymous' attack on MasterCard, Visa and other companies late last year.
It's rumored that the group will release another weapon, called #RefRef, on Saturday.
Originally published on Tue September 20, 2011 11:15 am
One of the most popular sports in Ireland is the rough contact game of hurling.
It was created by ancient Celtic warriors, and now it's found a niche following among some soldiers in the U.S. A group of National Guardsmen in New Hampshire formed a hurling team to stay in shape after Middle East deployments.
Statistics released today by the Justice Department show that the number of violent crimes in the country continued their downward trend, dropping a surprising 12 percent in 2010.
The AP reports:
The Bureau of Justice Statistics reported there were 3.8 million violent crimes last year, down from 4.3 million in 2009. Experts aren't sure why. The expectation had been that crime would increase in a weak economy with high unemployment like that seen in 2010.
The Davis-Monthan Air Force base in Tucson, Ariz. is on lockdown. The AP, as well as local news outlets, report the Air Force base has confirmed that it has stepped up security, but it refused to give details of the situation.
The AP reports:
Senior Airman Timothy Dunaway says traffic has been reduced to a single point entry but he refused to elaborate.
He says the Sonoran Science Academy on the base is on lockdown.
Originally published on Tue September 20, 2011 11:15 am
The most dramatic moment of the GOP debate in Florida last Monday revolved around Gov. Rick Perry and his 2007 executive order mandating that all 11- and 12-year-old girls in Texas get the HPV vaccine. The human papillomavirus vaccine protects women and teens against a sexually transmitted disease that causes cervical cancer.
During the debate, presidential candidate Michele Bachmann called Perry's executive order an example of crony capitalism.
This week brought another slew of bad political news for President Obama. The Democrats lost two special elections: one in a Republican-leaning district in Nevada, and one in a Democratic stronghold in New York.
There are also new polls showing the president's support weakening among Democratic voters in blue states.
Kweku Adoboli, the 31-year-old rogue trader who lost $2 billion of Swiss bank UBS' assets, was the one who alerted the bank to what was going on, reports the BBC.
To catch you up on the story: Yesterday, UBS announced that it may have to post a quarterly loss because one man made a series of bad trades. As the AP reported, yesterday, Adoboli proved that banks remain vulnerable even after safeguards against rogue traders were put in place.
Wildlife biologists on Friday will evacuate two species of minnows from the shrinking waters of a West Texas river in the first of what could be several rescue operations involving fish affected by the state's worst drought in decades.
This week, House Speaker Boehner responded to President Obama's jobs plan; Republicans won both special congressional elections in New York and Nevada; and a former Obama administration member announced her bid for a U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts. GOP strategist Ron Christie and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Cynthia Tucker weigh in.
Originally published on Fri September 16, 2011 9:39 am
Late last night, Soyuz TMA-21 made it back to Earth safely. The three astronauts on board are all safe. But before the capsule touched down in Kazakhstan, mission control and those watching live were treated to some heart-stopping moments.
Originally published on Fri September 16, 2011 8:13 am
Giant African Snails, "one of the most damaging land snails in the world," have invaded a southwest Miami subdivision and are now the focus of "a time-consuming expensive counter-attack" by authorities, the Miami Herald reports.
Here's a boo-boo that you just don't expect to happen at a company making prescription medicines — especially a firm called Qualitest Pharmaceuticals.
The Alabama-based maker of generic drugs apparently didn't do enough quality testing. It's recalling a slew of birth control pills because a mistake in the factory put pills in the wrong places inside plastic packages.
Journalist Ron Suskind had already said that his new book about the Obama administration's response to the 2008-2009 financial crisis would reveal "bitter disputes" among the president's economic advisers.
Originally published on Fri September 16, 2011 6:32 am
"A White House official fretted privately that the Obama administration could suffer serious political damage if it gave additional taxpayer support to the beleaguered solar-panel company Solyndra, according to newly released emails," The Washington Post write
Duane Buck, "a black man convicted of a double murder in Texas 16 years ago was at least temporarily spared from lethal injection" on Thursday when the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to "his lawyers' claims that race played an improper role in his sentencing," The Associated Press writes.
Originally published on Sun September 18, 2011 4:55 pm
Part two of a two-part report.
The gap in the wealth of white families and what's owned by blacks and Hispanics has widened in recent years. Researchers say it will widen even more unless steps are taken to break what's become a vicious cycle — the rich getting richer and the poor struggling to keep from falling further behind.
The city of San Francisco is taking one step to help even the playing field. Children entering the city's kindergartens are getting their own college savings accounts.
Napoleon declared that "an army marches on its stomach," and Gen. Omar Bradley said, "amateurs talk strategy, professionals talk logistics." Successful military commanders have long recognized that few requirements rank higher in wartime than the need to maintain reliable supply lines.
Nowhere is that adage more relevant than in Afghanistan, a landlocked country flanked by hostile or wary neighbors. The shipment of supplies and equipment to U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan over the last 10 years has been handicapped by high costs, pilferage, and the threat of ambush.
California is spending more than $7 billion building what it says will be an architectural marvel: the new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. But the state saved a lot of money sending some of the construction work overseas.
The new eastern span of the Bay Bridge will have a distinctive design to rival its more famous cousin, the Golden Gate Bridge.
Bart Ney, a spokesman for the project, recently stood near the top of a gleaming white tower, more than 500 feet above the San Francisco Bay.
Originally published on Fri September 16, 2011 10:00 pm
Ice on the Arctic Ocean has melted to its second-lowest level on record, according to researchers in Colorado who track this trend. The summertime melt coincides with a dramatic warming over the past decade, and it's already affecting wildlife in the Arctic Ocean.
The Arctic ice comes and goes with the seasons; typically about half of the wintertime ice melts away by mid-September. After that low point, the ice regrows. In 2007, the amount of ice left in September hit a dramatic low.
The newly formed congressional supercommittee's 12 members are charged with finding more than $1 trillion in budget savings this fall. Their clout could attract more campaign contributions, and lawmakers are demanding greater accountability for the money the panel's members take in.
Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) has a mixed voting record when it comes to campaign finance reform, but he is adamant about making the six Republicans and six Democrats on the deficit-reduction supercommittee more accountable.
Originally published on Fri September 16, 2011 10:49 am
The families of two American hikers imprisoned in Iran received hopeful, and then wrenching news this week. Iran's president announced the two would be released, only to have the judiciary deny it the next day.
As President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad prepares to visit New York for the United Nations General Assembly, the political infighting among Iranian conservatives seems to be intensifying.
A partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration was averted right around 6:30 p.m., EST. That's when the U.S. Senate voted 92-6 in favor of a bill to temporarily extend funding for both the FAA and highway projects.