E-waste, the term given to discarded electronic appliances, is often shipped by developed nations to poorer countries such as Ghana. RTD visits the country’s most infamous dumping ground, Agbogbloshie. Locals call it “Sodom and Gomorrah” after the infamous Biblical sin cities. Its air and soil are polluted with toxic chemicals, while extreme poverty, child labour and criminal gangs are also rife.

Read more

UN delay could open door to robot wars, say experts

The United Nations has been warned that its protracted negotiations over the future of lethal autonomous weapons – or “killer robots” – are moving too slowly to stop robot wars becoming a reality.

Lobbying for a pre-emptive ban on the weapons is intensifying at the UN general assembly in New York, but a deal may not emerge quickly enough to prevent devices from being deployed, experts say.

Read more

Drone drops leaflets over NSA facility in Germany

The airborne leaflet operation at the Dagger Complex in Germany was successful!

The Dagger Complex in Darmstadt, Germany acts as a central point of the NSA’s surveillance and espionage activity in Europe. On Friday Intelexit supporters, the initiative helping people break free from the secret services, dropped information flyers to the 1100 employees working there.

Read more

The Era Of Automatic Facial Recognition And Surveillance Is Here

ID checks were a common response to the terrorist attacks of 9/11, but they’ll soon be obsolete. You won’t have to show your ID, because you’ll be identified automatically. A security camera will capture your face, and it’ll be matched with your name and a whole lot of other information besides. Welcome to the world of automatic facial recognition. Those who have access to databases of identified photos will have the power to identify us. Yes, it’ll enable some amazing personalized services; but it’ll also enable whole new levels of surveillance. The underlying technologies are being developed today, and there are currently no rules limiting their use.

Read more

Snowden: ‘Smartphones can be taken over’

Smartphone users can do “very little” to stop security services getting “total control” over their devices, US whistleblower Edward Snowden has said.

The former intelligence contractor told the BBC’s Panorama that UK intelligence agency GCHQ had the power to hack into phones without their owners’ knowledge.

Mr Snowden said GCHQ could gain access to a handset by sending it an encrypted text message and use it for such things as taking pictures and listening in.

Read more

UK and Saudi Arabia ‘in secret deal’ over human rights council place

Britain conducted secret vote-trading deals with Saudi Arabia to ensure both states were elected to the UN human rights council (UNHRC), according to leaked diplomatic cables.

The elevation of the Saudi kingdom to one of the UN’s most influential bodies in 2013 prompted fresh international criticism of its human rights record.

Read more

Profiled – Karma Police

THERE WAS A SIMPLE AIM at the heart of the top-secret program: Record the website browsing habits of “every visible user on the Internet.”

Before long, billions of digital records about ordinary people’s online activities were being stored every day. Among them were details cataloging visits to porn, social media and news websites, search engines, chat forums, and blogs.

Read more

Cyborg Combat Critters

Anthes visits the team led by electrical engineer Michel Maharbiz at the University of California, Berkeley, which has successfully turned the Mecynorrhina torquata (flower beetle) into a DARPA-funded flying machine. First they anaesthetized the beetle in a freezer, then punctured its exoskeleton and threaded steel wire into its brain and basalar muscles, which regulated its wings. Connecting the wires to an insect ‘backpack’ crammed with a circuit board, a battery and a tiny radio receiver, the system could be used to shock the beetles into veering left or right during flight, or dropping from the air entirely.

Read more

U.S. Soldiers Told to Ignore Sexual Abuse of Boys by Afghan Allies

In his last phone call home, Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley Jr. told his father what was troubling him: From his bunk in southern Afghanistan, he could hear Afghan police officers sexually abusing boys they had brought to the base.

“At night we can hear them screaming, but we’re not allowed to do anything about it,” the Marine’s father, Gregory Buckley Sr., recalled his son telling him before he was shot to death at the base in 2012. He urged his son to tell his superiors. “My son said that his officers told him to look the other way because it’s their culture.”

Read more

Analysis of Antidepressant Paxil Finds Data on Teen Risk Was Held Back

A medical journal criticised British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline on Thursday for delaying access to key data from a trial of its antidepressant paroxetine (Seroxat, Paxil) that would have shown earlier that it is neither safe or effective in adolescents.

The widely used medicine is linked to an increased risk of suicide in young people and has carried a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “black box warning” advising against its use in adolescents since 2004.

Read more