Tuesday, February 28, 2012
COMMENTARY | Jonathon Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, reports on a disturbing case in which a state judge in Pennsylvania threw out an assault case involving a Muslim attacking an atheist for insulting the Prophet Muhammad. Judge Mark Martin, an Iraq war veteran and a convert to Islam, threw the case out in what appears to be an invocation of Sharia law. The incident occurred at the Mechanicsburg, Pa., Halloween parade where Ernie Perce, an atheist activist, marched as a zombie Muhammad. Talaag Elbayomy, a Muslim, attacked Perce, and he was arrested by police. Judge Martin threw the case out on the grounds that Elbayomy was obligated to attack Perce because of his culture and religion. Judge Martin stated that the First Amendment of the Constitution does not permit people to provoke other people. He also called Perce, the plaintiff in the case, a "doofus." In effect, Perce was the perpetrator of the assault, in Judge Martin's view, and Elbayomy the innocent. The Sharia law that the Muslim attacker followed trumped the First Amendment. Words almost fail. The Washington Post recently reported on an appeals court decision to maintain an injunction to stop the implementation of an amendment to the Oklahoma state constitution that bans the use of Sharia law in state courts. The excuse the court gave was that there was no documented case of Sharia law being invoked in an American court. Judge Martin would seem to have provided that example, which should provide fodder for the argument as the case goes through the federal courts. The text of the First Amendment could not be clearer. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof-" It does not say "unless somebody, especially a Muslim, is angered." Indeed Judge Martin specifically decided to respect the establishment of a religion, in this case Islam. That Judge Martin should be removed from the bench and severely sanctioned goes almost without saying. He clearly had no business hearing the case in the first place, since he seems to carry an emotional bias. He also needs to retake a constitutional law course. Otherwise, a real can of worms has been opened up, permitting violence against people exercising free speech. It should be noted that another atheist, dressed as a Zombie Pope, was marching beside the Zombie Muhammad. No outraged Catholics attacked him.
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A post on the Official Gmail Blog has announced that Google Chrome and Chrome OS users can now automatically open mailto links within Gmail, all thanks to HTML5. Content handlers are the web's way of dealing with non-webpage data — be it mailto, webcal, or even magnet links — and the former has a bugbear for Gmail web users. Up until now, they've needed to either install an extension or carefully avoid using the links to prevent the operating system's default mail app loading. It's also worth noting that for Internet Explorer and Firefox users this is nothing new, and it comes a surprise that it has taken Chrome this long to implement the feature.
Next time you visit Gmail in Google Chrome, you'll be prompted by a bar at the top of the page to "Allow Gmail to open all email links," which will then associate the Gmail web interface with any email link. The content handlers also open up the potential for more web apps to integrate throughout Chrome, though for now there's no way to make Gmail the default mail app throughout your system without installing additional software.
Man Walks All Day to Create Spectacular Snow Patterns
Artist Simon Beck must really love the cold weather! Along the frozen lakes of Savoie, France, he spends days plodding through the snow in raquettes (snowshoes), creating these sensational patterns of snow art. Working for 5-9 hours a day, each final piece is typically the size of three soccer fields! The geometric forms range in mathematical patterns and shapes that create stunning, sometimes 3D, designs when viewed from higher levels.
How long these magnificent geometric forms survive is completely dependent on the weather. Beck designs and redesigns the patterns as new snow falls, sometimes unable to finish a piece due to significant overnight accumulations. Interestingly enough, he said, 'The main reason for making them was because I can no longer run properly due to problems with my feet, so plodding about on level snow is the least painful way of getting exercise. Gradually, the reason has become photographing them, and I am considering buying a better camera.” Spectacular art for the sake of exercise!
How Anonymous attacked the VaticanImperva released a report that reveals details on an attack by hacktivist group "Anonymous" against a high-profile unnamed target - revealed as the Vatican and the church's World Youth Day site by the NYT - during a 25-day period in 2011. “Our research shows that Anonymous generally mimics the approach used by for-profit hackers, leveraging widely known methods – SQL injection and DDoS – to carry out their attack. We found that Anonymous, although it has developed some custom attack tools, generally uses inexpensive, off-the-shelf tools as opposed to developing complex attacks,” said Amichai Shulman, Co-Founder and CTO of Imperva. “Our research further shows that Anonymous will try to steal data first and, if that fails, attempt a DDoS attack.” Highlights from the study of the Anonymous attack include:
- The attack was made up of three distinct phases: recruitment and communication, reconnaissance and application layer attacks and, finally, a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack.
- Social media channels, especially Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, were the predominant means for suggesting a target and justifying the attack, as well as recruiting volunteers to participate in the hacking campaign, during the first recruitment and communication phase.
- Sophisticated hackers made up only a small portion of the volunteers and were primarily active during the reconnaissance and application attack phase, tasked with probing for vulnerabilities and waging application attacks like SQL injection to attempt to steal data from the targets.
- Laypeople were leveraged only in the third phase - to help carry out a DDoS attack - since the attempt to steal data through application attacks failed.
- Anonymous has developed some custom attack tools – specifically the low orbit ion cannon (LOIC) and a tool to enable the launch of a DDoS attack from mobile browsers. However, the group also relies on widely available tools for finding and exploiting web application vulnerabilities during the reconnaissance and application attack phase.
- Unlike for profit hackers, Anonymous rarely relies on common hacking techniques such as botnets, malware, phishing or spear phishing.
About MacBook Air EFI Firmware Update 2.4
This update fixes several issues to improve the stability of MacBook Air (Mid 2011) computers and is recommended for all users.
This update improves the reliability of booting from the network, addresses an issue that can prevent HDCP authentication after a reboot, and resolves an issue with boot device selection when a USB storage device is hot-plugged.
The MacBook Air EFI Firmware Update will update the EFI firmware on your computer. Your computer's power cord must be connected and plugged into a working power source. When your MacBook Air restarts, a gray screen will appear with a status bar to indicate the progress of the update. It will take several minutes for the update to complete. Do not disturb or shut off the power on your MacBook Air during this update.