Thursday, February 21, 2008
posted by @netwurker at 9:59 am
"Something is in the air these days because in two separate cases, federal court judges have issued rulings that do some damage to the First Amendment right to free speech. In the first case Judge Jeffrey S. White of the Federal District Court in San Francisco issued last week what the Citizen Media Project calls a "stunningly broad injunction" against web site Wikileaks.

Wikileaks says it's an "uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis," and has actively published a number of purloined documents submitted to it, including the secret censorship lists of Thailand's military Junta and files that purported to expose money-laundering by the former president of Kenya, Daniel Arap Moi.

This go-around Wikileaks published documents regarding a Cayman Islands bank Julius Baer Bank and Trust Company. Julius Baer asked first for a temporary restraining order against Wikileaks and then received a permanent injunction against the web site because, it argued, a disgruntled ex-employee has provided the site with stolen documents that violate a confidentiality agreement and banking laws. Judge White issued an order not to the site itself but to Wikileaks domain registrar Dynadot to disable the entire domain name and account and remove all DNS hosting records."

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008
posted by @netwurker at 12:57 pm
by Ian Sample

"A 2,000-year-old mechanical computer salvaged from a Roman shipwreck has astounded scientists who have finally unravelled the secrets of how the sophisticated device works.

The machine was lost among cargo in 65BC when the ship carrying it sank in 42m of water off the coast of the Greek island of Antikythera. By chance, in 1900, a sponge diver called Elias Stadiatos discovered the wreck and recovered statues and other artifacts from the site.

The machine first came to light when an archaeologist working on the recovered objects noticed that a lump of rock had a gear wheel embedded in it. Closer inspection of material brought up from the stricken ship subsequently revealed 80 pieces of gear wheels, dials, clock-like hands and a wooden and bronze casing bearing ancient Greek inscriptions.

Since its discovery, scientists have been trying to reconstruct the device, which is now known to be an astronomical calendar capable of tracking with remarkable precision the position of the sun, several heavenly bodies and the phases of the moon. Experts believe it to be the earliest-known device to use gear wheels and by far the most sophisticated object to be found from the ancient and medieval period."

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posted by @netwurker at 12:55 pm
"from the seems-excessive dept

Over a year ago, we wrote about the Wikileaks project, designed to allow government and company officials to anonymously leak documents as a way of whistleblowing questionable activities. Apparently, it's been quite successful at times. However, in doing so, it's also building up a list of enemies, including one who has apparently convinced a California court to make the entire site disappear in the US. The Swiss banking group, Julius Baer, was upset by documents found on the site that they believe were posted by a former VP at the bank, alleging that the bank was involved in money laundering operations. Julius Baer's lawyers claim that having these documents public could influence ongoing litigation in Switzerland (one assumes having to do with money laundering). While it's understandable that the bank might not want those documents online, or that those documents might impact current litigation, that doesn't explain why the California court ordered the entire site offline, demanded that its registrar block the transfer of the domain, force the registrar to point all visitors to a blank page and also having the registrar hand over all information on IP addresses of people who accessed the wikileaks site. All of that seems rather excessive, and of questionable legality. After all, doesn't Section 230 of the CDA provide safe harbor for the service provider? I could see an order demanding the specific documents be taken down, but the rest of the order seems to go well beyond what's both reasonable and standard in cases of this nature. The folks behind Wikileaks are equally perplexed, noting that they were only given a few hours warning before the hearing, meaning they were unable to attend or send representation. All in all this seems rather excessive, especially compared to existing similar cases on record. Even odder about all of this is that since the court went after the registrar, not whoever is actually hosting the site, you can apparently still reach the actual site if you know the IP address."


posted by @netwurker at 12:49 pm
By Helen Briggs

"US scientists are taking the first step towards testing potentially hazardous chemicals on cells grown in a laboratory, without using live animals.

Two government agencies are looking into the merits of using high-speed automated robots to carry out tests.

The long-term goal is to reduce the cost, time and number of animals used in screening everything from pesticides to household chemicals.

The move follows calls for scientists to rely less on animal studies.

Robots would be able to carry out hundreds of thousands of chemical tests a day to identify chemicals with toxic effects.

Details were published in the journal Science and discussed at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Boston."

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