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Brisbane on edge ahead of catastrophic flood peak

January 11, 2011 Comments off

Authorities are urging people to stay calm as Brisbane and Ipswich prepare for unprecedented flooding over the next two days.

Heavy rain, releases from the giant Wivenhoe Dam and high tides will combine to cause major flood peaks in both cities in the next couple of days, with river levels rising above the historic 1974 floods.

And a four-year-old boy’s death in Ipswich has taken the Queensland floods death toll to 10.

“We are facing one of our toughest ever tests, we will only pass this test if we are calm,” Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said.

“Now is not a time for panic, it is a time for us to stick together.”

Authorities say about 6,500 properties could be flooded as the Bremer and Brisbane rivers hit hits record levels over the next two days.

As panicked residents strip supermarket shelves bare, Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson says people should stay calm.

“Stay calm but act wisely and if you’re in doubt, evacuate to friends or evacuate, don’t take any unnecessary risks,” he said.

The Brisbane River is predicted to rise to 3 metres tonight, 4.5 metres tomorrow and is likely to peak higher than the 1974 floods that reached 5.45 metres.

Large parts of Brisbane are already affected by flooding. A number of shops Read more…

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Big Brother

January 11, 2011 3 comments

When you hear the phrase “Big Brother is watching you,” you probably think of two countries in particular: China and the former Soviet Union. Technology has changed the game. Although the Big Brother approach was effective, due to today’s technology alone privacy is almost nonexistent.

Do you know where your children are? Or your wife who says she has gone shopping or the spouse who claims to be “working late”? How about the whereabouts of your pet? Even in Turkey pet owners are required to make sure their pets have their own microchip. My pets each have a chip in case they go astray. Global Positioning System technology, more commonly known as GPS, is making it easier than ever to find stolen cars or track down missing people or Fido when he gets lost. Who would have ever imagined 50 years ago that you could be found, maybe in some cases somewhere you would not want to be Read more…

Soon coupons (or Big Brother) will find you at the store

January 11, 2011 Comments off
Shana Rose
Coupons, long the staple of the Sunday paper, are going high tech and with the popularity of smartphones, more young people and men are now using digital coupons. But soon technology will progress further and manufacturers will be able to target shoppers right in the store. 

The technology is coming which will pinpoint your exact location in the store. The GPS current phones use doesn’t work indoors, but there are companies hard at work, developing software that will create a detailed map of the store and assign location points throughout the store.

It’s called geotagging.

Companies will be able to geotag consumers with a smartphone. The goal: to send a coupon for an item you wouldn’t normally buy, while you’re near it or standing in front of it in the aisle.

And if you’ve downloaded shopping list apps, or coupon apps, it’s likely the manufacturers or stores will know what kind of items you normally buy, and figure out if they want to offer you a discount to try another brand or an item you might not necessarily buy regularly. Most companies don’t like to give out coupons for items you are going to buy anyway.

The folks I talked to at a grocery store in Metairie say they’d love the savings, but are concerned about having their location pinpointed at all times.

WikiLeaks to speed release of leaked docs

January 11, 2011 Comments off

In the event of his untimely death or long-term incarceration, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange would make public all the leaked documents his group has.

LONDON – WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange vowed Tuesday to step up his site’s release of secret documents while he fights extradition to Sweden, as his lawyers argued that sending him to Stockholm could land him in Guantanamo Bay or even on U.S. death row.

That claim, regarded by many legal experts as extremely unlikely, is part of a preliminary defense argument released by Assange’s attorneys ahead of a court hearing next month.

The Australian computer expert is wanted in Sweden to answer sex-crimes allegations. American officials also are trying to build a criminal case against WikiLeaks, which has published a trove of leaked diplomatic cables and secret U.S. military files on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Assange’s lawyers are seeking to link the two issues, claiming the Swedish prosecution is politically motivated — an allegation that Sweden strongly denies.

Assange’s defense claims “there is a real risk that, if extradited to Sweden, the U.S. will seek his extradition and/or illegal rendition to the USA, where there will be a real risk of him being detained at Guantanamo Bay or elsewhere.”

The document, prepared by Assange’s lead lawyer, Geoffrey Robertson, adds that “there is a real risk that he could be made subject to the death penalty” if sent to the United States.

Under European law, suspects cannot be extradited to jurisdictions where they may face the death penalty.

It also is not clear what, if any, charges U.S. authorities could bring against Assange, and unclear how he could be classed as an “unlawful enemy combatant,” which could expose him to detention at Guantanamo Bay.

“Mr. Assange would not be sent to Guantanamo,” said John Bellinger, a former legal adviser to the U.S. State Department. “He would be prosecuted in U.S. federal court. He would not be treated as an enemy combatant. Read more…

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Could the U.S. central bank go broke?

January 11, 2011 Comments off

Reuters

The U.S. Federal Reserve’s journey to the outer limits of monetary policy is raising concerns about how hard it will be to withdraw trillions of dollars in stimulus from the banking system when the time is right.

While that day seems distant now, some economists and market analysts have even begun pondering the unthinkable: could the vaunted Fed, the world’s most powerful central bank, become insolvent?

Almost by definition, the answer is no.

As the monetary authority, the central bank is the master of the printing press. It can literally conjure up money at will, and arguably did exactly that when it bought about $2 trillion of mortgage-backed securities and U.S. Treasuries to push down borrowing costs and boost the economy.

The Fed’s unorthodox steps helped it generate record profits in 2010, allowing it to send $78.4 billion to the U.S. Treasury Department. But its swollen balance sheet leaves the central bank unusually exposed to possible credit losses that could create a major headache at a time of increasing political encroachment on the Fed’s independence. Read more…

Device Records Your Driving Habits

January 11, 2011 Comments off

It will be just a matter of time until this technology will be mandatory with ALL driver insurance companies.  Big brother is watching…

Progressive Auto Insurance SnapShot Device Analyzes Safety of Driving Patterns

Summary. Progressive offers auto insurance discounts based on an analysis of your driving habits over a thirty-day period.

To do this, they use a small transmitter device (SnapShot) that plugs into your cars computer interface.

The car’s computer provides the SnapShot transmitter with date, time, speed, and other information about your car’s operation. Read more…

Mobile Body Scanners :Backscatter Vans

January 11, 2011 1 comment

X-Ray “Backscatter Vans” Can See in your Car and Home, Feds are Radiating Americans “And not only are you no longer secure in your home but they can see your hidden guns in the wall or in the floor along with your precious metals. American Science & Engineering, a company based in Billerica, Massachusetts, has sold U.S. and foreign government agencies more than 500 backscatter x-ray scanners mounted in vans that can be driven past neighboring vehicles to see their contents, Joe Reiss, a vice president of marketing at the company told me in an interview. While the biggest buyer of AS&E’s machines over the last seven years has been the Department of Defense operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, Reiss says law enforcement agencies have also deployed the vans to search for vehicle-based bombs in the U.S.

“This product is now the largest selling cargo and vehicle inspection system ever,” says Reiss.

The Z Backscatter Vans, or ZBVs, as the company calls them, bounce a narrow stream of x-rays off and through nearby objects, and read which ones come back. Absorbed rays indicate dense material such as steel. Scattered rays indicate less-dense objects that can include explosives, drugs, or human bodies. That capability makes them powerful tools for security, law enforcement, and border control. Read more…