Tag Archives: US

Russia arrests American citizen on suspicion of spying

MOSCOW — An American citizen has been arrested in Moscow on suspicion of espionage, Russia’s domestic security service, the FSB, said on Monday.

The agency identified the man as Paul Whelan. A criminal case has been opened against him.

www.washingtonpost.com/…

Tit for tat to get back at US for arresting Russian gun rights activist Maria Butina?

As Israel Prospers, Obama Set to Give Billions More in Aid While Netanyahu Demands Even More

Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept:

For all the chatter about animosity between U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, The Washington Post reports that “a senior Israeli official will arrive in Washington next week for a final round of negotiations involving the largest military aid package the United States has ever given any country and that will last more than a decade after President Obama leaves office.” The U.S. already transfers $3.1 billion in taxpayer money every year to Israel – more than any other country by far – but the new agreement Obama is set to sign “significantly raises” that amount, and guarantees it for 10 years.

In response to this massive windfall, Netanyahu is angry that he is not getting even more.

As Israel Prospers, Obama Set to Give Billions More in Aid While Netanyahu Demands Even More

Israelis enjoy universal health care coverage, while 10.4% of the US population is without health insurance — Israelis get better care for less money than we spend, Greenwald notes. They have longer life expectancies and better infant mortality.

Maybe Israel ought to be sending money to the US?

Link

Robert Kosara, a research scientist at data visualization software company Tableau, has been solving puzzles using the US’s nearly 4,2000 ZIP codes for years, writes Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post. Kosara had a question:

What would it look like if you drew a single line through all Zip codes in the lower 48 in numeric order? Kosara wrote some code and let it rip, and what he ended up with was a map that clearly delineated state boundaries and gave a reasonable approximation of population density to boot. Since it looked as though it were created by scribbling in arbitrary regions of a U.S. map, he dubbed it the ZIPScribble map.

Kosara ran some calculations and discovered that if you started at the lowest-numbered Zip code (00544, Holtsville, NY) and walk through every Zip code in the continental U.S. in numeric order all the way up to the highest-numbered Zip code (99403, Clarkston, WA), the path you’d need to take would be roughly 1,155,268 miles long. Which naturally brought up a second question: What would be the shortest route you could take through all 37,000 of those zip codes?

This type of problem actually has a storied history in computer science. It’s known as the Traveling Salesman Problem: Say a salesman has a bunch of cities in his route — what’s the shortest trip he can take through all of them? This type of computation is used as a benchmark in computer science because it has a lot of applications, from route-finding to the creation of circuit boards, and because it gets complicated really, really quickly. For instance, a network of only 20 points contains roughly 1.2 quintillion(1,200,000,000,000,000,000) possible solutions, only one of which can be the shortest. That’s on the order of magnitude of the number of grains of sand on earth.

What, then, of a traveling salesman problem with more than 37,000 points?

Kosara took a crack at it. He called it the Traveling Presidential Candidate Problem, after a hypothetical presidential candidate who wanted to visit all 37,000 contiguous Zip codes to clinch the nomination.

Link

Use of police robot to kill Dallas shooting suspect believed to be first in US history:

[Elizabeth Joh, law professor at the University of California, Davis] said she was worried that the decision by police to use robots to end lives had been arrived at far too casually. “Lethally armed police robots raise all sorts of new legal, ethical, and technical questions we haven’t decided upon in any systematic way,” she said. “Under federal constitutional law, excessive-force claims against the police are governed by the fourth amendment. But we typically examine deadly force by the police in terms of an immediate threat to the officer or others. It’s not clear how we should apply that if the threat is to a robot – and the police may be far away.” That, Joh added, is only one condition for the use of lethal force. “In other words, I don’t think we have a framework for deciding objectively reasonable robotic force. And we need to develop regulations and policies now, because this surely won’t be the last instance we see police robots.”

How is this situation ethically or legally different from taking out a criminal with a sniper?

How a US civil war could start in the fall. Blame direct marketing.

Disruptive Robocalling

John Robb says attackers would just need to use robodialers to phone in terrorism threats to heavily partisan electoral districts. The candidate for the other side wins the White House in a landslide. The losing candidate’s supporters take to the streets. Rioting, bloodshed, dogs and cats living together.

Possible because the direct marketing and debt collections industry has made sure the phone system is easy to hack.

Stay-put nation

How America Lost Its Nerve – Derek Thompson, The Atlantic

Americans today are strangely averse to change. They are less likely to switch jobs, or move between states, or create new companies than they were 30 years ago.

Increasing housing prices are keeping Americans where they are, and when they do move they move from wealthier areas – where housing is more expensive – to poorer areas, where housing is cheaper. That’s the opposite of the pattern through the 19th and 20th Centuries, when Americans moved to find work and prosperity in wealthier areas.

Moreover, entrepreneurship is concentrating in wealthier areas, widening the wealth gap.