ReHacked #174: Details from FBI Raid of U.S. Private Vaults Being Kept from Public, Steven Donziger Chevron Ecuador Case, Space mission to the focal region of the solar gravitational lens and more

ReHacked #174: Details from FBI Raid of U.S. Private Vaults Being Kept from Public, Steven Donziger Chevron Ecuador Case, Space mission to the focal region of the solar gravitational lens and more
NuScale's reactor-in-a-can.
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Details from FBI Raid of U.S. Private Vaults Being Kept from Public #privacy #society

First, the FBI raided a private business to seize safe deposit boxes and assets belonging to hundreds of people who were not suspected of having committed any crimes.

Now, prosecutors are trying to keep the public in the dark about why the brazen forfeiture effort was undertaken in the first place—and are offering little justification for why such secrecy is necessary.

Four depositions that could be crucial to understanding the motivations and intentions behind the FBI's March 2021 raid of U.S. Private Vaults, a Beverly Hills–based safe deposit box storage business, are being kept confidential at the request of federal prosecutors. Attorneys representing some victims of the raid say the depositions could contain important information about how and why the FBI decided to seize and catalog the private belongings of U.S. Private Vault's customers. They have asked the federal judge handling the case to allow the transcripts of those depositions—including one interview with Lynn Zellhart, the FBI's lead agent in the case—to be filed in their entirety.

[2207.03005] A mission architecture to reach and operate at the focal region of the solar gravitational lens #space #nature #science

We present initial results of an ongoing engineering study on the feasibility of a space mission to the focal region of the solar gravitational lens (SGL). The mission goal is to conduct exoplanet imaging operations at heliocentric distances in the range ~548-900 astronomical units (AU). Starting at 548 AU from the Sun, light from an exoplanet located behind the Sun is greatly amplified by the SGL. The objective is to capture this light and use it for multipixel imaging of an exoplanet up to 100 light years distant. Using a meter-class telescope one can produce images of the exoplanet with a surface resolution measured in tens of kilometers and to identify signs of habitability. The data are acquired pixel-by-pixel while moving an imaging spacecraft within the image. Given the long duration of the mission, decades to 900 AU, we address an architecture for the fastest possible transit time while reducing mission risk and overall cost. The mission architecture implements solar sailing technologies and in-space aggregation of modularized functional units to form mission capable spacecraft. The study reveals elements of such a challenging mission, but it is nevertheless found to be feasible with technologies that are either extant or in active development.

Steven Donziger Chevron Ecuador Case: Q&A With Human Rights Lawyer Under House Arrest #business #bigcorp #society

Walk me through what’s happened since you won the case in Ecuador.

Basically, since we won the case in Ecuador, I've been targeted with probably the most vicious corporate counterattack in American history involving dozens of law firms, 2,000 lawyers, probably a billion-plus dollars in professional fees. All with the express purpose by Chevron to demonize me, rather than pay the Ecuador judgment that the company owes to the Indigenous peoples of the Amazon.

Yes, Social Media Really Is Undermining Democracy - The Atlantic #society #internet #socialnetworks

Within the past 15 years, social media has insinuated itself into American life more deeply than food-delivery apps into our diets and microplastics into our bloodstreams. Look at stories about conflict, and it’s often lurking in the background. Recent articles on the rising dysfunction within progressive organizations point to the role of Twitter, Slack, and other platforms in prompting “endless and sprawling internal microbattles,” as The Intercept’s Ryan Grim put it, referring to the ACLU. At a far higher level of conflict, the congressional hearings about the January 6 insurrection show us how Donald Trump’s tweets summoned the mob to Washington and aimed it at the vice president. Far-right groups then used a variety of platforms to coordinate and carry out the attack.

The man who made the “worst” video game in history - The Hustle #software #history

On April 25, 2014, a bulldozer ripped into a landfill in Alamogordo, New Mexico, and unearthed a trove of 30-year-old Atari video games.

As a dust storm swept across the desert plains, a small gathering of intrepid nerds huddled by a chain-link fence to survey the find. They were there to get a glimpse of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial — a game so bad that it was blamed for toppling the $3.2B video game industry in 1983.

For the game’s creator, Howard Scott Warshaw, it was an excavation of his past.

Once the most highly coveted game developer — a hit-maker with the Midas touch — he had been immortalized as the man who created E.T., the “worst” video game in history.

Necrobotics: Dead Spiders Reincarnated as Robot Grippers - IEEE Spectrum #robotics

Bugs have long taunted roboticists with how utterly incredible they are. Astonishingly mobile, amazingly efficient, super robust, and in some cases, literally dirt cheap. But making a robot that’s an insect equivalent is extremely hard—so hard that it’s frequently easier to just hijack living insects themselves and put them to work for us. You know what’s even easier than that, though?

Hijacking and repurposing dead bugs. Welcome to necrobotics.

I Looked Into 34 Top Real-World Blockchain Projects So You Don’t Have To | Niko’s Blog #blockchain

The top #1 Google result for “blockchain production users” (and related queries) lists 34 individual “real world blockchain” projects. One would expect some actual functioning projects that have an impact on every-day consumers — outside of cryptocurrency & NFTs. Looking into all 34, I found that 13 are already dead (including one that has been killed by the SEC), 6 are only useful within the crypto & NFT ecosystems and not in the “real world” and 14 use Blockchain in a way where removing the blockchain would not impact functionality at all, or make the product better. The remaining project is Chainalysis, which has real-world impact by helping law enforcement de-anonymizing blockchain users.

Who Is Collecting Data from Your Car? – The Markup #privacy

Most drivers have no idea what data is being transmitted from their vehicles, let alone who exactly is collecting, analyzing, and sharing that data, and with whom. A recent survey of drivers by the Automotive Industries Association of Canada found that only 28 percent of respondents had a clear understanding of the types of data their vehicle produced, and the same percentage said they had a clear understanding of who had access to that data.

Aldous Huxley’s Version of the Disney “Alice” #culture #history

In the fall of 1945, Walt Disney brought in writer Aldous Huxley to work on the live action/animation script for what was to become Alice and the Mysterious Mr. Carroll. Huxley was a well-known and prolific English writer probably best remembered for his novel Brave New World.

The Disney Studio agreed to pay Huxley $7,500 to write the treatment for the film. They paid him $2,500 on October 18, 1945 with the balance to be paid on the delivery of the final treatment no later than January 15, 1946.

Huxley delivered his fourteen page treatment on November 23, 1945. The Disney Studio also took out an option for Huxley to do the final screenplay for $15,000 that would have included “all additions, changes and revisions.” The first draft of the script was delivered December 5, 1945.

US regulators will certify first small nuclear reactor design | Ars Technica #engineering

On Friday, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that it would be issuing a certification to a new nuclear reactor design, making it just the seventh that has been approved for use in the US. But in some ways, it's a first: the design, from a company called NuScale, is a small modular reactor that can be constructed at a central facility and then moved to the site where it will be operated.

The move was expected after the design received an okay during its final safety evaluation in 2020.

Small modular reactors have been promoted as avoiding many of the problems that have made large nuclear plants exceedingly expensive to build. They're small enough that they can be assembled on a factory floor and then shipped to the site where they will operate, eliminating many of the challenges of custom, on-site construction. In addition, they're structured in a way to allow passive safety, where no operator actions are necessary to shut the reactor down if problems occur.

Nichelle Nichols Dead: Uhura in Original 'Star Trek' Series Was 89 - Variety #promemoria

Nichelle Nichols, who portrayed communications officer Uhura on the original “Star Trek” series, died Saturday night in Silver City, N.M. She was 89 years old.

Nichols’ death was confirmed by Gilbert Bell, her talent manager and business partner of 15 years.

Nichols shared one of the first interracial kisses in television history on “Star Trek.” That moment, with her co-star William Shatner, was a courageous move on the part of her, “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry and NBC considering the climate at the time, but the episode “Plato’s Stepchildren,” which aired in 1968, was written to give all involved an out: Uhura and Captain Kirk did not choose to kiss but were instead made to do so involuntarily by aliens with the ability to control the movements of humans. Nevertheless, it was a landmark moment.

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