Islamic State Issues Video Challenge to Obama – By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT SEPT. 17, 2014

WASHINGTON — In one of the Islamic State’s first responses to President Obama’s declaration that he would “degrade and ultimately destroy” it, the group released a short video late Tuesday in which it appeared to say that its militants would kill American ground forces should President Obama deploy them.

The timing of the video’s release was curious. Just hours earlier, President Obama’s top military adviser had told Congress that he would recommend calling out American troops against the Islamic State if the current airstrike campaign was not sufficient — even though Mr. Obama has ruled out that option.

The clip is only 52 seconds long and is billed as a preview for a longer video. With slow-motion replay, quick edits and high-quality video images, it looks like a Hollywood trailer.

It begins with American tanks and troops under attack by fire and American soldiers carrying a wounded comrade into an armored vehicle. The images flick by, including a shot of the “Mission Accomplished” banner that served as a backdrop on the day President George W. Bush landed on an aircraft carrier six weeks after the United States invaded Iraq in 2003. That is followed by shots of Mr. Obama and the White House at night.

In the background, Mr. Obama is heard saying, “American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq.” The screen goes dark, followed by a clip of what appears to be a militant for the group who is preparing to kill men on their knees.

The words “Flames of War” appear, with the phrase “Fighting has just begun” below. It ends: “Coming Soon.”

In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the United States and a coalition of nations would defeat the Islamic State, also known by the acronyms ISIS and ISIL, which has seized territory across Syria and northern Iraq. But he would not rule out asking Mr. Obama to send American troops to fight the militants on the ground.

In an attempt to quell fears of another Iraq war, President Obama promised in his address to the nation last Wednesday that American ground troops would not be involved in the fighting.

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Vikings: Adrian Peterson won’t play until legal issues are resolved – By Ed Payne, CNN updated 3:52 AM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at Sep 17, 2014 2.39

(CNN) — Running back Adrian Peterson will not play for the Minnesota Vikings until his legal issues are resolved, the team said early Wednesday.

It’s a reversal of course for the Vikings. The team had earlier said that Peterson, who is facing a child abuse charge, would practice this week and could play in Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints

In a statement early Wednesday, the team said Peterson has been placed on the NFL’s Exempt/Commissioner’s Permission list, which will require him to “remain away from all team activities.”

“While we were trying to make a balanced decision (Monday), after further reflection we have concluded that this resolution is best for the Vikings and for Adrian,” said a statement from owners Zygi and Mark Wilf. “We want to be clear: we have a strong stance regarding the protection and welfare of children, and we want to be sure we get this right.”

Peterson is considered one of the best running backs in the NFL — if not the best. His absence was probably felt during the Vikings’ 30-7 loss to the Patriots last Sunday.

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Advocate for domestic worker rights wins MacArthur ‘genius’ award – by E. Tammy Kim   September 17, 2014 12:01AM ET

Ai-jen Poo of the National Domestic Workers Alliance receives $625,000 to expand movement of nannies, cleaners and aides

In 2011, a year after the nation’s first domestic workers’ bill of rights became law in New York and a year before she was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people, Ai-jen Poo was profiled in the New York Times as “The Nannies’ Norma Rae.” It was a catchy, recognizable headline that missed the radical nature of her project: Everyone has heard of a unionized factory, but was it possible to organize a dispersed, isolated workforce of nannies, house cleaners and home care attendants?

Poo, winner of a 2014 “genius” award, has spent over 15 years figuring out how. She now joins the esteemed MacArthur Fellows Program, which recognizes “exceptionally creative individuals with a track record of achievement and the potential for even more significant contributions in the future.” Recipients since the prize’s inception in 1981 include the novelist Edward P. Jones, scientist Stephen Jay Gould and maestro Marin Alsop.

As director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and co-director of Caring Across Generations, Poo is a powerful, unconventional labor leader. The daughter of Taiwanese-American academics, she had a comfortable, peripatetic childhood and earned a bachelor’s degree in women’s studies and literature at Columbia University. During and after college, she worked at the grassroots non-profit CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities to mobilize immigrant women, and, in 2000, co-founded Domestic Workers United, a multicultural association of home-based laborers.

Meet PsiKick, The Startup Whose Energy-Saving, Batteryless Chips Could Soon Power The Internet Of Things

In the beginning, it was speed and performance. In the past, we loved our electronic gadgets and PCs to be fast and furious, no matter if the energy consumption was over the top. The industry responded accordingly: the circuit design universe focused on speed and performance, so following Moore’s Law, doubling transistor density every 24 months, the goal was always to make things faster and more frequent, and laptops becoming more robust and being able to run bigger programs.

Now, things are starting to change: as we move into a mobile world, first with laptops, and then with phones, and now smartphones and tablets, people are all of a sudden aware of power issues. Desperately seeking a plug to save your device from a sudden death has become a common habit. And it’s only going to get worse: soon everything will be computing something and wirelessly communicating.

The Internet of Things holds a lot of promises, but if this means having to charge dozens of gadgets, from your smartwatch to thermostats, it could easily turn into a nightmare. Not to mention the energy bill at the end of the month. Luckily, it doesn’t necessarily have to be this way. Charlottesville based company Psikick has been working on a technique called sub threshold processing, that could solve this kind of problems and provide us a battery-less future.

“Subthreshold processing” – the company’s Ceo and co-founder Brendan Richardson tells me – “has been theorized and known about since the ’70s. Some of the early digital watches employed subthreshold circuits to conserve power and run on battery power quite efficiently. But it was never widely explored because until very recently power was not the focus of circuit design”.

Image credit: University of Virginia - Dan AddisonImage credit: University of Virginia – Dan Addison

How does it work? The underlying concept is that, while transistors in a circuit with a supply voltage below a certain threshold are traditionally considered to be always off, there’s actually still a small current flowing, a leakage that could be exploited to perform useful operations. Enough to power EKG monitoring, wireless sensing applications, vibrations monitoring and other similar activities that need only a few tens of megahertz to run.

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Border War: Pentagon Program Sends Military Gear South – By Lauren Fox and Lindsey Cook Sept. 17, 2014 | 12:01 a.m. EDT

When unarmed black teenager Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Missouri, by a white police officer in August, images of cops in battle gear spraying protesters with tear gas circulated on television screens and splashed across magazine pages. Suddenly, concerns over the militarization of local police forces became a point of contention and national debate.

Data from 2006 to May 2014 show counties across the U.S. possess military-type weapons ranging from grenade launchers to bayonets. And as the Obama administration reviews the transfer of military equipment from the Pentagon to law enforcement and Department of Homeland Security agencies under what’s known as the 1033 program, civil liberties activists along the southern border finally see an opportunity to address the rapid rise of border militarization in their own communities.

Before Ferguson-area authorities used military equipment against protesters, and before mine-resistant vehicles, riot gear, 8,909 bayonets and 228 grenade launchers flowed to local communities, surplus military equipment went to the border. The 1033 transfer program was authorized by Congress for the 1990-1991 fiscal year, but until 1997, only federal and state agencies could request equipment for “use in counter-drug activities.” From the early days of the program, counter-drug activities were mostly synonymous with “the border,” according to a U.S. News analysis of data from The New York Times and the Defense Department’s Law Enforcement Support Office, which is part of the Defense Logistics Agency.

[DATA MINE: 1033 Program Data Is Terrible]

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A Military-Grade Drone That Can Be Printed Anywhere BY JORDAN GOLSON 09.16.14 | 6:30 AM

We have 3-D printed keysguns and shoes—now a research team at the University of Virginia has created a 3D printed UAV drone for the Department of Defense.

In the works for three years, the aircraft, no bigger than a remote-controlled plane, can carry a 1.5-pound payload. If it crashes or needs a design tweak for a new mission, another one can be printed out in a little more than a day, for just $2,500. It’s made with off-the-shelf parts and has an Android phone for a brain.

“We weren’t sure you could make anything lightweight and strong enough to fly,” says David Sheffler, who led the project. Sheffler is a former engineer for Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce who now teaches at the university. After he created a 3-D printed jet engine in one of his classes, the MITRE Corporation, a DoD contractor, asked him to create a 3-D printed UAV that could be easily modified and built with readily available parts.

The first prototype, the orange and blue model seen in the video above, was based on a conventional radio-controlled (RC) aircraft made of balsa wood, which is much lighter and stronger than the ABS plastic used in the university’s 3-D printers. The same plane made of plastic would have weighed five times as much as the wood version. “You’re printing out of a material that’s really not well-suited to making an airplane,” Sheffler explains. On top of that, the way 3-D printing works—building things in layers—led to structural weaknesses in the aircraft.

To account for those downsides, Sheffler’s team reworked the design. They settled on a “flying wing” design, in which the whole aircraft is basically one big wing, and called it the Razor. The latest (third) prototype is made of nine printed parts that click together like LEGO. The center of the plane is all one piece, with a removable hatch that offers access the inner cargo bay. All of the electronics live in there, including a Google Nexus 5 smartphone running a custom-designed avionics app that controls the plane, and an RC-plane autopilot that manages the control surfaces with input from the phone. The Razor’s wing structure is one piece, with an aileron, winglets, and mount for the small jet engine that clip on.

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More Than Scottish Pride – By Jack Shenker SEPT. 16 2014 4:08 PM

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself.

Pro independence supporters march through Glasgow on Sept. 14, 2014.
Photo by Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images

GLASGOW, Scotland—Something strange is happening in Scotland, and it has little to do with nationalism. On streets that are normally lined only with chain shops, budget shoppers, and retail workers, there are now noisy crowds with drums and megaphones, impromptu dancing, and trestle tables stacked with political literature that keep shedding leaflets into the wind.

The trestle tables are everywhere: rickety, colorful little embassies of something messy, grounded, and different, all parked haphazardly below the giant identikit glass-fronted retail windows that are the familiar backbone of every British high street, and all drawing crowds. They are run by groups with names like Women for Independence, Scottish Pensioners for Independence, and Scots Asians for Yes. Security guards keep coming out of the shops and politely warning those manning these stalls that their banners and volunteers are encroaching on what is technically private land. Those in the street take no notice. They are too many in number, and too high in passion, to be corralled back into sanctioned spaces now.

The story of Scotland’s forthcoming referendum on independence, which takes place on Thursday, is about many different things—the majority of which have received very little attention from a mainstream press determined to interpret the debate through a tired prism of establishment parties, establishment politicians, and establishment narratives. One of those things is about what happens when big, nominally social-democratic political institutions—in Britain’s case, the pro-union Labour Party—sign up to the prevailing economic orthodoxy, leaving those who feel excluded by a doctrine of free-market fundamentalism with no one to represent them. Another is about the cracks that open up when an era of widespread, popular disillusionment with authority coincides with a vote in which almost every organ of authority—be it political, financial, or editorial—is advocating on one side of the argument, while all the popular momentum lies with the other.