Wednesday, March 4, 2015

This family lives on a floating fortress of greenhouses in the middle of the ocean

Freedom Cove

In Clayoquot Sound, BC, tucked away in the coastal inlets of Cypress Bay, and about a half-hour by boat off the coast of Tofino, live Catherine King and Wayne Adams—the owners and operators of Freedom Cove.
Freedom Cove is a magnificently constructed and colourful off-grid float-home and garden, only accessible by boat. If your ambition is to go off grid, Wayne and Catherine—along with their two kids, Eleanor and Alistair—have more or less developed the perfect system.
Their floating home and garden system includes about twelve platforms, supporting a number of wooden structures, living spaces, and greenhouses—all interconnected through a wooden pathway system. The rainy winter season takes care of the water supply during colder months, while in the summer the majority of their supply comes from a waterfall across the bay.
The couple also used to have a hen house on the property; however their ambitions were spoiled by the increasing attention they received from predatory sea-animals in the area. The electricity is also largely supplied through solar panels and photovoltaic energy generators. The numerous greenhouses produce veggies and fruit all year round, allowing Wayne and Catherine to be completely self-sustainable. In fact, this system has been sustaining itself for the last 20 years.
2_Freedom Cove BC
Wayne and Catherine’s home also is situated in the thick of a lively ecosystem, sharing their slice of land (or water, rather) with deer, wolves, otters and a plethora of large coastal birds. However, according to Wayne, the otters are little more than “30-pound rats” that frequently gnaw away at his foundations.

The two are also respected artists within their surrounding community; their carvings and candles can be found in various gift shops across Tofino, particularly around the Long Beach area. Wayne is typically behind the carvings and crafts, while Catherine—formerly a professional dancer—is now predominantly the mastermind behind their gardening initiatives. Catherine is also a painter, writer and wood carver.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Police talk about use of “stingrays,” but aren’t saying anything

In new e-mail, Seattle cop says it's vital to keep spy technique "confidential."

newly published e-mail from a Seattle police detective illustrates the bizarre situation that law enforcement finds itself in these days: apparently everyone knows about the cops’ use of stingrays, and yet no one can explain it.
The e-mails were published over the weekend by Andrew Charles Hendricks, a local privacy activist.
Stingrays, the common name for “cell-site simulators,” can be used to determine a phone’s location, but they can also intercept calls and text messages. During the act of locating a phone, stingrays also sweep up information about nearby phones—not just the target phone. Earlier this month, Ars reported on how the FBI is actively trying to “prevent disclosure” of how these devices are used in local jurisdictions across America.
As Detective Len Carver, who is also on an FBI task force, wrote to his colleagues in May 2014:
During a debrief with some of our group here, we learned that law enforcement's use of the "phone ping" in yesterday's abduction was released to the media. And, it was widely reported. Certainly, we (and the general public too) understand that law enforcement has the ability to "ping" a cell phone for its location; however, use of the technology is considered a sophisticated technique as well as "Law Enforcement Sensitive / Classified."
It is important for us to keep this sophisticated technique confidential. In fact, RCW 9.73.260requires the pleadings (and subsequent technique) to be filed under seal until further ordered by the court. Publicly discussing the technique is considered a substantial threat to the interests of effective law enforcement, to public safety, and, depending on the case, to victims or witnesses. By their very nature, authority to use the tools (pings and tracking) must remain covert to be effective. Public disclosure of the technique could render this investigative tool useless.
It is standard practice for the FBI to require a law enforcement agency to complete a non-disclosure agreement prior to utilizing a sensitive and sophisticated technique. While there was no agency agreement in the referenced abduction matter, we do have a standing written non-disclosure agreement with the King County Prosecutor's Office.
In an e-mail to Ars, Carver wrote "I am not authorized to speak publicly about the investigative technique to which you referred in your voicemail," and suggested that we speak with a spokeswoman.

“Relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation”

In a later e-mail that was part of the same set of disclosed messages, one August 2014 e-mail from Detective Ed Troyer, a spokesman for the nearby Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, wrote to his colleagues: “If you don’t know [about] Stingray, PenLink and how we ping phones you should learn. All three are completely different ways of obtaining and using data.”
It’s not immediately clear how the Tacoma Police’s cellphone pings are taking place, or what device is being used to send them—it’s likely that it was through the stingray itself.
Troyer did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment, either.
Relatively little is known about how, exactly, the stingrays are used by law enforcement agencies nationwide, although documents have surfaced showing how they have been purchased and used in some limited instances. In 2013, Ars reported on leaked documents showing the existence of a body-worn stingray. Back in 2010, Kristin Paget famously demonstrated a homemade device built for just $1,500.
Worse still, cops have lied to courts about the use of such technology. In January 2015, two US senators made public the FBI’s position that the agency could use stingrays in public places without a warrant. The largest manufacturer of the devices, the Harris Corporation, has been tight-lipped about its hardware capabilities.
While the Tacoma Police Department has claimed that itgets a warrant every time it uses its stingray, it’s more likely that they are simply asking a judge to sign off on a “pen register, trap and trace order.”
In the pre-cellphone era, a “pen/trap order” allowed law enforcement to obtain someone's calling metadata in near real-time from the telephone company. Now, that same data can also be gathered directly by the cops themselves through the use of a stingray. In some cases, police havegone to judges asking for such a device or have falsely claimed a confidential informant, but in fact have deployed this particularly sweeping and invasive surveillance tool.
Most judges are likely to sign off on a pen register application, not fully understanding that police are actually asking for permission to use a stingray. Under both Washington state law and federal law, pen registers are granted under a very low standard: authorities must simply show that the information obtained from the pen register is “relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation.”
Getting a judge to sign off on a pen register is a far lower standard than being forced to show probable cause for a search warrant or wiretap order. A wiretap requires law enforcement to not only specifically describe the alleged crimes but also to demonstrate that all other means of investigation had been exhausted or would fail if they were attempted.
In the wake of the Tacoma News Tribune’s reporting on stingray use in Tacoma, in November 2014, judges there imposed stricter standards.
This past week, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) in North Carolina—one of the largest local police departments in the American South—revised its surveillance applications to judges, making its judicial requests to use cell-site simulators much more explicit for the first time.
Cyrus Farivar / Cyrus is the Senior Business Editor at Ars Technica, and is also a radio producer and author. His first book, The Internet of Elsewhere, was published in April 2011.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Make a covert radio pen with bone conduction speaker

My favorite maker of cool stuff is Ben Krasnow. He made an electron scanning microscope from scratch, and makes astronaut ice cream in his backyard laboratory. He's also a great explainer of how he makes he things. In this video, Ben explains how to make a covert radio pen with a bone conduction speaker.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Feral House

Another amazing publisher following in the footsteps of Loompanics, to the point of moving to Port Townsend even!

Adam and Jessica Parfrey have a smooth operation, providing a plethora of fringe info on obscure topics.


Feral House has been publishing innovative and celebrated non-fiction books since 1989. Movies have been made, cultural trends influenced and political crimes exposed by our small, independent press. Headquartered in Port Townsend, WA, Feral House publisher Adam Parfrey has also co-founded the new imprint, Process Media, with Jodi Wille, formerly of Dilettante Press.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Science Frontiers - awesome publishers of strange science and the unexplained!

Science Frontiers
The Unusual & Unexplained

Strange Science * Bizarre Biophysics * Anomalous astronomy
From the pages of the World's Scientific Journals

Archaeology Astronomy Biology Geology Geophysics Mathematics Psychology Physics

Sunday, December 7, 2014

FBI releases files on controversial booksellers Paladin and Loompanics

 at 1:06 pm Wed, Jul 20, 2011

     The FBI has released its files on two famously controversial publishers, Paladin Press and Loompanics Unlimited, following a FOIA request filed by Government Attic. The files suggest that the booksellers' huge libraries of books on drugs, guns and other ultra-libertarian issues only rarely drew the FBI's attention. Though their catalogs were similar, Loompanics stood out for its countercultural style, whereas Paladin specialized in republishing declassified military guidebooks and the like. When Loompanics wound up operations in 2006, Paladin acquired part of its back catalog. 
     The FBI's files on Paladin Press date back some forty years, and reveal an early 1970s investigation into the classification status of the U.S. government materials that Paladin republished. Since then, however, the release shows that the bureau took little interest in it except to execute procedural inquiries on behalf of foreign investigators. The Loompanics file is much the same. Concluding that the organization and its publications were legal, the FBI only revisited it to conduct inquiries triggered by hand-wringers and foreign cops. 

Paladin Highlights • 
     In the early 1970s, the FBI looked into of how Paladon got hold of various government documents. A la "Wow, we declassified that? Huh." • In 1983, a recipient of an unsolicited catalog for Paladin's books sends an angry letter to their senator, expressing disbelief "that something like this could exist in this country." The senator asks the FBI to investigate it "because of the desire of my office to be responsibe to all inquiries." The FBI: "Our review failed to find any violation of federal law ... the Paladin press has been brought to our attention in the past." • After a Paladin video tape was found in the possession of a murder victim in Liverpool in 1997, the coppers there ask the U.S. Embassy if these guys ship guns or silencers to England or something. The FBI checks it out. Paladin says it only sells media, and refuses to provide general customer info on privacy grounds, but will do so for specifically-named suspects or victims. Once given the info, it reports that it has no records of any of them. • Australia gets upset when Paladin republishes stuff from its classified military manuals. The resulting FBI investigation asks Paladin, where did you get that? Paladin says it bought the original manuals in a bookstore in Sidney, Australia. The FBI takes a motrin and fixes itself a drink. 

Loompanics Highlights • 
     A typical FBI response to an inquiry from whomever: "AGAIN THIS IS NOT CLASSIFIED OR RESTRICTED MATERIAL ... THESE ITEMS ARE POSSIBLY OF INTEREST TO TERRORISTS OR EXTREMISTS, BUT, AS ALL ARE IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN OF THE U.S., POSSESSION OF SUCH ITEMS CONSTITUTE NO VIOLATION OF LAW." • In 1984, the FBI interviewed the "owner" of Loompanics (i.e. Mike Hoy) in order to identify a particular subscriber to Loompanics who was a suspect in a criminal investigation. He was concerned about government intervention in his business but "reluctantly" advised that in order to get on the subscriber list, you had to buy a book. The FBI concluded that he violated no laws through the operation of his mail-order bookselling business. • In the 1980s, police in Germany make an inquiry about the origins of Loompanics materials owned by locals who, "with the help of these materials ... have been attempting to create dissention." The books were "Total Resistance", "Psychedelic Chemistry" and "CIA Improvised Sabotage Devices". You can download the files at Government Attic's Department of Justice documents page.