Laura Poitras’s Edward Snowden Documentary Is Being Released

Laura Poitras’s Edward Snowden Documentary Is Being Released
By Jack Mirkinson
Sep 16 2014

By now, the story of how a team of journalists met Edward Snowden in a Hong Kong hotel has become the stuff of legend, a modern-day update to Bob Woodward and Deep Throat in the parking garage.

But the Snowden story has something Woodward’s didn’t: video footage of the encounter. The video is part of a new documentary called “CITIZENFOUR,” by Laura Poitras, one of the journalists who met Snowden on that fateful day in 2013. On Tuesday, the New York Film Festival made a surprise announcementthat the film will be a part of its 2014 lineup.

It marked the first time that the storied festival has ever added a title to its slate after its schedule had already been announced. “CITIZENFOUR” will screen on October 16th, and will be released in theaters on October 24th.

In a press release, the NYFF said (perhaps with a fair amount of hype) that “CITIZENFOUR” was “absolutely sui generis in the history of cinema: a 100% real-life thriller unfolding minute by minute before our eyes.”

The documentary will doubtless be eagerly anticipated, not least because it marks the most high-profile intervention by Poitras into the ongoing Snowden journalism. Though it was she who instigated the initial meeting with Snowden, her story has taken something of a back seat to that of Glenn Greenwald, who has become the undisputed public face of the Snowden saga. A steady stream of journalists has traveled to Greenwald’s home in Brazil to interview him, and he has been a constant presence on television; Poitras has been much more behind-the-scenes, with some notable exceptions.

Fast Food Franchise Owners Ask Congress For Help To Stop Worker Campaign For Wages, Union

Fast Food Franchise Owners Ask Congress For Help To Stop Worker Campaign For Wages, Union
Sep 16 2014

The fast food industry is hoping that a day of lobbying on Capitol Hill can blunt the momentum that fast food workers have gained through nearly two years of strikes and multiple lawsuits.

The International Franchise Association (IFA) is flying fast food store owners and other franchisees into Washington on Tuesday to drum up congressional opposition to a recent legal decision that could make corporations liable for how franchise employees are treated. The trade group expects more than 350 business owners from both the franchisee and franchisor sides of the business model to show up at its event this week, according to The Hill. Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and former Republican Governors Association head and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour are scheduled to speak to the group, and the paper reports that top Senate Republicans will introduce legislation targeting federal labor regulators in general later this week.

The top attorney for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) determined in July that McDonald’s exerts so much control over how franchisees operate that they are responsible for labor law violations committed by franchise owners. That finding has yet to be tested in court, but if it holds up and is applied beyond the nation’s largest fast food chain, it would make it much harder for industries that rely on franchising to stymie workers’ attempts to exercise their labor rights.

IFA President Steve Caldeira said the board’s decision about McDonald’s franchisees “would essentially take away their autonomy to run their own business.” But franchisees enjoy little autonomy under the restrictive agreements they sign with the corporation now.

McDonald’s sends both formal company inspectors and secret shoppers into some of its stores to verify that the owners are keeping up with the exacting requirements of its contracts. It installs a computer system that monitors the money coming in and going out of each store at all times, automatically alerting managers if their labor costs get too high — an occurrence that can trigger labor law violations such as requiring workers to clock out but keep working or remain on-site without pay until the computer system reports that the store is back in the black.


Report: Malware infections spiking on mobile devices

[Note:  This item comes from friend Steve Goldstein.  DLH]

Report: Malware infections spiking on mobile devices
By Judy Mottl
Sep 12 2014

Security threats to mobile devices is spiking as malicious software infections increased 17 percent in the first half of this year, which is nearly double the rate of 2013, according to new Alcatel-Lucent Kindsight Security Lab data.

A report by the organization reveals an estimated 15 million mobile devices are infected with malware, compared to 11.3 million at the end of 2013, and the majority (60 percent) are Android OS devices. The infection rate in the first six months was 0.65 compared to 0.55 at the end of last year.

“Android smartphones are the easiest malware target, but Windows laptops are still the favorite of hard core professional cybercriminals,” Kevin McNamee, security architect and director of Alcatel-Lucent’s Kindsight Security Labs, said in an announcement. “The quality and sophistication of most Android malware is still behind the more mature Windows PC varieties. Android malware makes no serious effort to conceal itself and relies on unsuspecting people to install an infected app.”

The news doesn’t bode well for the healthcare segment as mobile devices are gaining greater traction by care providers and patients, and security protection for sensitive and confidential data is already a big concern. A new Forrester report notes that just 59 percent of mHealth device users are using full-disk encryption or file-level encryption on mHealth computing devices used at work. An earlier IDG Connect research report declared the global healthcare industry is not keeping pace with mobile device security and unauthorized device use and data leaks are top worries, beating out potential phishing and targeted attacks.

Healthcare data stored on mHealth devices is a lucrative target for hackers and malware writers. A single health record is worth $20, and a patient dossier goes for $500 on the black hacker market, according to a Forrester analyst cited in a Wall Street Journal report.

According to the Kindsight report, 40 percent of the malware is coming from Windows laptops connected to a phone or connected directly through a mobile USB stick or MIFI hub. Infections on iPhone and BlackBerry devices accounted for less than 1 percent.

Most malware is being acquired through Trojan apps downloaded from third-party app stores or phishing scams, according to Kindsight.

“The best defense against infection is network-based malware detection,” McNamee adds. “People frequently don’t take appropriate security precautions for their devices, and even when they do a malicious app can easily evade detection by device-based anti-virus. Network based anti-virus embedded on an operator’s network cannot be disabled by cybercriminals, is always on and up to date.”


World’s First 3D Printed Car Took Years to Design, But Only 44 Hours to Print

World’s First 3D Printed Car Took Years to Design, But Only 44 Hours to Print
Sep 16 2014

One day, in the not-too-distant future, you’ll be able to walk into a car dealership, choose a design — including the number of seats — and have a 3D printed car by the end of the day.

This is Jay Rogers’ vision. Rogers is the CEO of Local Motors, the company that just built the world’s first 3D printed car known as the Strati. The electric, pint-sized two-seater was officially unveiled last week at the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) in Chicago, Illinois.

“Telsa made the electric drive train famous, we’re changing the whole car,” Rogers told Mashable, clearly still relishing his community-based design and his company’s moment in the 3D manufacturing sun.

According to Ford Motors, most cars have somewhere between 5,000 and 6,000 parts. The Strati has just 49, including its 3D printed body (the largest part), plus more traditional components like the motor, wheels, seats and windshield. While many 3D printed car models exist, there haven’t been any other drivable ones that we could find.

The original design for Strati, which means “layers” in Italian, did not bubble up directly from Local Motors. Rather, the company — similar to the inventions company Quirky — encourages members to share vehicle design ideas, which the community then works to perfect and productize. The finished products are then sold online and in retail stores by Local Motors.

Local Motors launched a project 18 months ago that sought to simplify the car design and manufacturing process through Direct Digital Manufacturing. When it put out the call for workable 3D printed car designs, it received more than 200 submissions, ultimately choosing a design by Michele Anoe, who is based in Italy.

Rogers said Anoe’s design stood out because it fit perfectly with Local Motors’ desired production technique, combining 3D printing and a subtractive machining.


IBM goes freemium with new natural language analytics service

IBM goes freemium with new natural language analytics service
By Derrick Harris
Sep 16 2014

IBM is getting into the freemium space, targeting individual business users with a new data analysis service called Watson Analytics. It helps users analyze data using natural language queries, and could help IBM fend off the myriad products threatening its analytics business from the bottom up.

IBM is known as an enterprise IT company. In fact, it’s known as the enterprise IT company. But the company made an interesting adjustment to its strategy on Tuesday, announcing a new data analysis tool, called Watson Analytics, that’s offered as a freemium cloud service and targets users from secretaries up to CEOs.

It’s a wise decision for a company that touts itself as the world’s biggest and best analytics vendor, but has also watched others own the discussion about data-driven companies and employee empowerment via data. Microsoft, for example, has been releasing feature after feature to make Excel easier and more powerful, and even released one, called Q&A, that’s not too dissimilar from Watson Analytics. There are also startups upon startups — including DataRPMThoughtSpot and UpShot Data — pushing tools for simplifying business analytics, increasingly incorporating natural language queries as a way to save users from having to understand SQL or data structures.

Although it doesn’t do natural language, it’s safe to assume Tableau’s success in offering free and desktop versions of its analytics software — and its move into the mobile software — hasn’t escaped IBM, either. Even Google, which already has some powerful big data services, could become a threat as it moves to court smaller businesses and individual users, possibly with better tools for analyzing their smaller data.

WikiLeaks posts ‘weaponized malware’ for all to download

[Note:  This item comes from friend Bob Frankston.  DLH]

WikiLeaks posts ‘weaponized malware’ for all to download
Summary: The long and sordid story of WikiLeaks takes an astonishingly irresponsible and very dangerous turn.
By David Gewirtz
Sep 16 2014

Sometimes when we seek to understand the impact of a digital scenario, we recast it in meatspace and describe an analogous situation. In seeking to understand the most recent (and probably most epically irresponsible) WikiLeaks posting, the meatspace analogy will come in handy.

Imagine, if you will, that a company located in Germany was doing biological warfare research, possibly under the guidance and using the funding of various allied governments.

As part of their research, the company has produced a strain of virus that’s Ebola-dangerous and Ebola-virulent, that might be used by the varied governments to fulfill certain unspecified and undisclosed objectives.

Now imagine that a group of concerned scientists discovers this research and illegally gets their hands on vials containing the biowarfare agent. Their justification in this theft is the desire to develop a defense against it, in case it is loosed upon an unsuspecting public.

At this point, you might side with the scientists. After all, biological warfare is nasty stuff, and protecting the public from exposure and harm is a laudable goal.

What if the thieves aren’t biological scientists? They’re violent activists. Similarly disturbed about the activities going on in the biowarfare lab, they also manage to get a sample of the deadly biological agent.

However, instead of securely and safely transporting the deadly biohazard back to a lab for safe and secure analysis leading to an antidote agent, the thieves inexplicably set up a kiosk at a local mall. And instead of securely managing the biohazard, they give out sample vials of the biohazard to anyone who wants one.

Anyone with a brain would immediately call the authorities and insist that this incredibly dangerous behavior be stopped, and that all the loose vials of biological warfare agent be rounded up and secured or destroyed.

There’s your meatspace analogy. Now, let’s look at what WikiLeaks is doing. WikiLeaks has released a trove of documents about a dangerous spyware program called FinFisher, produced by a German company named Gamma Group International. And no, I’m not posting a link. My reasoning will become crystal clear in a few paragraphs.

According to reporting by our own Chris Duckett, Gamma Group International has been selling FinFisher to “the police forces of the Netherlands and New South Wales, and the intelligence arms of the Hungarian, Qatari, Italian, and Bosnian governments.”


Goodbye, Organization Man

[Note:  This item comes from friend Bob Frankston.  Bob's comment:'Not every problem is solved by another startup.'  DLH]

Goodbye, Organization Man
By David Brooks
Sep 15 2014

Imagine two cities. In City A, town leaders notice that every few weeks a house catches on fire. So they create a fire department — a group of professionals with prepositioned firefighting equipment and special expertise. In City B, town leaders don’t create a fire department. When there’s a fire, they hurriedly cobble together some people and equipment to fight it.

We are City B. We are particularly slow to build institutions to combat long-running problems.

The most obvious example is the fight against jihadism. We’ve been facing Islamist terror for several decades, now, but every time it erupts — in Lebanon, Nigeria, Sudan, Syria and beyond — leaders start from scratch and build some new ad hoc coalition to fight it.

The most egregious example is global health emergencies. Every few years, some significant epidemic strikes, and somebody suggests that we form a Medical Expeditionary Corps, a specialized organization that would help coordinate and execute the global response. Several years ago, then-Senator Bill Frist went so far as to prepare a bill proposing such a force. But, as always, nothing came of it.

The result, right now, is unnecessary deaths from the Ebola virus in Africa. Ebola is a recurring problem, yet the world seems unprepared. The response has been slow and uncoordinated.

The virus’s spread, once linear, is now exponential. As Michael Gerson pointed out in The Washington Post, the normal countermeasures — isolation, contact tracing — are rendered increasingly irrelevant by the rate of increase. Treatment centers open and are immediately filled to twice capacity as people die on the streets outside. An Oxford University forecast warns as many as 15 more countries are vulnerable to outbreaks. The president of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, warned: “At this rate, we will never break the transmission chain, and the virus will overwhelm us.”

The catastrophe extends beyond the disease. Economies are rocked as flights are canceled and outsiders flee. Ray Chambers, a philanthropist and U.N. special envoy focused on global health, points out the impact on health more broadly.  For example, people in the early stages of malaria show similar symptoms to Ebola and other diseases. Many hesitate to seek treatment fearing they’ll get sent to an Ebola isolation center. So death rates from malaria, pneumonia and other common diseases could rise, as further Ebola cases fail to be diagnosed.

The World Health Organization has recently come out with an action plan but lacks logistical capabilities. President Obama asked for a strategy, but that was two months ago and the government is only now coming up with a strong comprehensive plan. Up until now, aid has been scattershot. The Pentagon opened a 25-bed field hospital in Liberia. The U.S. donated five ambulances to Sierra Leone. Coordination has just not been there.