Category Archives: News

Second Google Glass Wearer Assaulted

from The Bold Italic – San Francisco

By Jennifer Maerz

Over the weekend, the news made the rounds that a second San Franciscan has been attacked for wearing Google Glass. Journalist Kyle Russell wrote a piece for Business Insider called "I Was Assaulted for Wearing Google Glass in the Wrong Part of San Francisco."  That "wrong part," by the way, was near the 16th and Mission BART station, where Russell says a stranger grabbed the Glass off his face, sprinted off, and then smashed the device to the ground. And although the headline seemed slightly silly to me, I appreciated his bigger view of the assault and the social stigma around Google Glass. 

The piece was all over my Facebook feed over the weekend, posted both by friends who are frustrated with the city’s growing tech industry helping rents to increase and those who are sick and tired of tech being blamed for everything. But Russell’s story was a much tamer telling than Sarah Slocom’s recent publicity grab that backfired into weeks of kicking-the-dead-horse reporting about her infamous night at Molotov’s when she lost her Google Glass. Russell is a journalist who was covering Friday’s housing protest against Jack Halprin, the Google lawyer charged by activists with evicting teachers from their homes, and his sane recounting of what happened to him in the Mission placed the attack in the larger spectrum of people continuing to target the tech industry for much of the city’s problems. 

You could say these two Google Glass attacks are isolated incidents, or that expensive devices get stolen and destroyed in many major metropolitan areas. Fair enough. But as each of these attacks gains national media attention, and both businesses and legislators react to their patrons and constituents with rules about Google Glass, I’m curious what long term conclusions people will make about the product and the company behind it. Earlier this year there were debates happening around the country from states that might restrict people from driving with Google Glass. And of course, the Slocom incident caused a half dozen bars in the city to ban the device. A radio discussion on KQED’s "Forum" this morning exposed the heated opinions people have about Google Glass, both for and against it. I can’t think of another new product in recent history that comes with so much excitement and baggage. 

All this comes, of course, arrives on the heels of Google Glass’s expansion of its "explorer" program for the product, which cracks open the door for purchase to more people tomorrow, April 15, for those who want to get on the list (and then, ideally keep it out of sight if they find themselves in "the wrong part of San Francisco" as well). 

Image from Thinkstock

Google Contact Lenses Are Coming Soon!

from The Bold Italic – San Francisco

By Margaux Poupard

Go ahead and file this new under Google is determined to make the world more and more like real life Futurama. The tech giant is experimenting with computerized contact lenses. This turn of events
shouldn’t be totally surprising; Google is trying to make strapping a computer to your face and
“exploring” cool
. But a single blink taking a picture and sending it to your smartphone? That’s some
Momcorp-level business.

Thanks to Patent Bolt’s detailed report that makes Google Glass look old-fashioned, Google updated their patent application last month, describing a contact lens that would literally take photos by blinking your eyes. That’s not all, Google isn’t only interested in improving the pixel count on your Instagram feed, this eyeball computer is also aimed to help the greater good. 

Similar to when Google proposed glucose-monitoring contact lenses for diabetics, they go on to describe several situations where the computerized contact lens could prove helpful, for disabled and able bodies alike. Imagine a blind person trying to cross a busy street but who can’t spot the car trying to make a right turn ahead of him. The contact lenses would alert him via audio warning sent through his phone. And healthy peeps can experience the Spidey Sense they’ve always wanted, offering a wider peripheral view and focus settings. Although it might be some time before we get the literal “eyePhone,” one thing is for sure, Google engineers want to get real close. Like, in our eyeballs close. Are you onboard with Google contact lenses?

Via: Huffington Post; top image by Valeriya via Thinkstock, patent image via PatentBolt

The Less Americans Know About Geography, The More They Favor American Overseas Military Invasions

from disinformation

american eagleToday’s looming evidence that we are living in the Idiocracy, via the Washington Post:

Our results are clear, but also somewhat disconcerting: The less people know about where Ukraine is located on a map, the more they want the U.S. to intervene there militarily. Even controlling for a series of demographic characteristics and participants’ general foreign policy attitudes, we found that the less accurate our participants were, the more they wanted the U.S. to use force [and] the greater the threat they saw Russia as posing.

On March 28-31, 2014, we asked a national sample of 2,066 Americans what action they wanted the U.S. to take in Ukraine, but with a twist: we also asked our survey respondents to locate Ukraine on a map as part of a larger, ongoing project to study foreign policy knowledge. We wanted to see where Americans think Ukraine is and to learn if this knowledge (or lack thereof) is related to their foreign policy views.

Read the rest

The post The Less Americans Know About Geography, The More They Favor American Overseas Military Invasions appeared first on disinformation.

The Abortion Restriction That’s Too Extreme for Most Pro-Lifers

from The American Prospect

Earlier this month, lawmakers in Kansas ended this session’s debate over abortion on a surprisingly low-key note. The Republican leadership shepherded two minor tweaks to existing abortion policies through the legislature, while staving off a far more contentious measure: a bill that would criminalize abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. The bill’s advocates say they are confident it would have passed, had it reached the floor; Kansas has strong anti-abortion majorities in both houses of the legislature and pro-life crusader Sam Brownback in the governor’s mansion. But the Republican leadership, prompted by the state’s most powerful pro-life group, Kansans for Life, used a legislative loophole to keep their more radical colleagues from attaching the fetal heartbeat proposal.

Why, in a state where nearly every strain of anti-abortion restriction has taken root with ease, are advocates of the fetal heartbeat ban facing such stiff opposition from their fellow abortion opponents? Similar battles played out in Ohio and Alabama this spring, where fetal heartbeat bills were introduced in Republican-controlled legislatures, only to be quashed by the leadership.

These struggles typify a deepening fissure in the pro-life movement. The largest and most powerful anti-abortion organizations are, by and large, incrementalists who favor precisely tailored laws designed to make abortion inaccessible—by closing clinics or creating hurdles for women seeking the procedure—but also stand up to court review. Texas’s law requiring abortion doctors to obtain admitting privileges at local hospitals, a relatively mundane-sounding constraint that has nevertheless managed to close nearly two-dozen clinics in less than a year, is an example of this type of legislation.

A growing number of anti-abortion activists are tiring of this approach. They want to ban abortion once and for all, by introducing laws like the fetal heartbeat ban that could force the Supreme Court to reconsider its decision in Roe v. Wade. Groups like the National Right to Life Committee—of which Kansans for Life is a state affiliate—and Americans United for Life contend that this strategy is dangerously quixotic. If the Supreme Court struck down a ban on first-trimester abortion, it could jeopardize the carefully constructed patchwork of abortion restrictions that do withstand court scrutiny.

Right now, the incrementalists are winning. But maybe not for long.

The fetal heartbeat bill is the brainchild of Janet Folger Porter, a Christian conservative crusader from Ohio. Porter cut her teeth in far-right politics as the legislative director for Ohio Right to Life, where she helped lobby for the country’s first partial-birth abortion ban, which was ultimately upheld by the Supreme Court in 2005. Since then, she’s staked out territory on the fringes of the Christian conservative movement, suggesting that President Obama was a Soviet spy (she’s also an unapologetic birther). After leaving Ohio Right to Life, she moved to Florida to run the Center for Reclaiming America, a now-defunct organization that helped publicize the ex-gay movement.

Back in Ohio under the auspices of her own Christian activist group, Faith2Action, Porter was the driving force behind the introduction, in 2011, of the first fetal heartbeat ban in the country. During hearings on the bill, Porter introduced “testimony” from a nine-week-old fetus, by projecting a color ultrasound of a pregnant woman’s uterus onto a screen for the legislators. “People say you shouldn’t introduce a bill like this because it might fail,” Porter says. “Well, we might still have slavery if we hadn’t gone to extremes to end it. The only way that you’re going to overturn Roe v. Wade is to challenge it with a bill to protect children.”

Ohio Right to Life, Porter’s former employer, disagreed. “They opposed us more strenuously than Planned Parenthood did,” Porter says. In a small grassroots insurrection against Ohio Right to Life’s stance, six county chapters withdrew from the group in outrage. With Porter’s help, the dissident chapters formed the Ohio Pro-Life Coalition, which advocated enthusiastically for the heartbeat ban. The fetal heartbeat ban passed the Ohio House and might have stood a chance in the Senate, had the president—a moderate Republican on the brink of retirement—not refused to bring it up for a vote.

Since then, fetal heartbeat bans have been introduced in a dozen states, but only passed in two: North Dakota and Arkansas. Both laws were almost immediately enjoined; a federal judge struck down the Arkansas law last month. David Brown, a staff attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, a pro-choice organization that litigates against abortion restrictions, says that as a legal strategy, the heartbeat bans don’t stand a chance in court. “Heartbeat bans are essentially absolute bans on abortion before viability,” he says. “It really only leaves about a one-week window that a woman could get an abortion. No court is willing to go that far.”

Opposition from mainstream pro-life groups—who tend to agree with Brown’s analysis—hasn’t stopped the momentum behind the fetal heartbeat bans. Mark Gietzen, the chairman of the Kansas Coalition for Life, the group behind the state’s ban, admits that as the Kansas legislative session winds to a close, there probably won’t be another opportunity to force a vote on the issue this year. But he says fetal heartbeat legislation will remain priority one for his group, the second-largest pro-life organization in Kansas. “We have a House and a Senate who will pass it,” he says. “We have a governor who will sign it. Next year, we’re going to make it clear that this is what the people of Kansas want.”

Elise Higgins, Kansas Manager of Government Affairs at Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, says that although her organization strongly opposes the fetal heartbeat ban, she doubts that Kansans for Life and the Republican leadership will be able to keep it off the floor next year. “There’s a lot of support for it in the House,” she says. “I think it’s likely that it will at least come up for debate.”

The proliferation of fetal heartbeat legislation is due to the growing influence of a certain brand of anti-abortion activist, who sees incrementalism as a morally distasteful compromise. This far-right faction doesn’t just hold sway in Kansas; the National Right to Life Committee recently severed ties with its Georgia affiliate after the group refused to endorse an anti-abortion bill in Congress that included exceptions for rape and incest. "The bottom line is that Georgia Right to Life has protected all classes of pre-born children, regardless of how they were conceived,” said the group’s president, Dan Becker, in a press release.

In some ways, introducing far-reaching legislation like the fetal heartbeat bans can be good for abortion opponents with incremental goals, because it makes other restrictions look mild by comparison. This year, the Republican leadership in Alabama’s legislature blocked a fetal heartbeat bill but passed a law that doubled the waiting period for an abortion from 24 hours to 48 hours.

But it’s also a distraction they can’t always afford. After Ohio’s new Senate president announced that he would not move the fetal heartbeat ban—which was reintroduced last August to much fanfare, including a press conference with the Duggar family of 21 Kids and Counting fame—Porter is unsheathing her knives. Cliff Hite, a Republican state senator who co-sponsored the 2011 heartbeat ban but recently reversed his position, is facing a primary challenger this spring. Porter is leading a campaign against Hite. “What’s saddest in all of this is the pro-life groups and politicians who are content with regulating abortion,” she says. “It’s just gross. They need to stay out of the way of people who are trying to end it for good.”

Police Charge High School Student with Disorderly Conduct for Using an iPad to Prove He’s Being Bullied

from Alternet

The teen sought proof that school administrators were ignoring his plight. So they had him arrested.

Trigger-warning if you hate incompetent bureaucrats and the abuse of power.

Photography Is Not A Crime has flagged a story out of McDonald, Pennsylvania about a high school student whose attempts to prove he was the victim of bullying ended up landing him in front of a judge and charged with disorderly conduct.

According to reports, a high school sophomore at South Fayette High School had grown so sick of having teachers and administrators look the other way whenever he was being bullied that he decided to record some of the routine abuse with his iPad. When school administrators found this out, they took swift action — against him, not his bullies.

Officials at South Fayette High School allegedly told the student to delete the recording and threatened to have him arrested on charges of felony wiretapping. By the time the police arrived at the school, however, the student had already deleted the file.

But rather than leave it there, the police chose to charge the student for disorderly conduct. About a month later, a judge convicted him. No disciplinary actions have been taken against either the administrators and teachers who ignored the bullying or the bullies themselves.

In her remarks defending her decision to convict the bullied child, Judge Maureen McGraw-Desmet claimed that the student’s recording of his abusers’ taunts was an “extreme” move. It would’ve been better, the judge said, if the child had opted to “let the school handle it” instead.

Here’s her full statement, which Photography Is Not A Crime describes as “almost incoherent”:

Normally, if there is — I certainly have a big problem with any kind of bullying at school. But normally, you know, I would expect a parent would let the school know about it, because it’s not tolerated. I know that, and that you guys [school administrators] would handle that, you know. To go to this extreme, you know, it was the only alternative or something like that, but you weren’t made aware of that and that was kind of what I was curious about. Because it’s not tolerated, but you need to go through — let the school handle it. And I know from experience with South Fayette School that, you know, it always is. And if there is a problem and it continues, then it is usually brought in front of me.

Photography Is Not A Crime also notes that the judge is herself the daughter of a judge, a family relationship which likely helped secure her own election to the bench.


Florida House Worries Law Enforcement by Passing Bill to Allow Carrying Concealed Weapons without Permit during Riots

from News – AllGov

Gun-rights advocates in Florida have pushed the issue of gun possession in public to a new—and what law enforcement is calling dangerous—level by adopting legislation that allows the carrying of concealed firearms without a permit during a riot or other declared emergencies.


House Bill 209, which cleared the Florida House of Representatives on an 80-36 vote and now goes on to the state Senate, would allow individuals with no criminal record to carry concealed firearms without a permit during emergencies.


Emergencies, as defined by the legislation, include natural disasters and riots. The bill would allow local officials, as well as the governor, to declare such emergencies.

The Florida Sheriffs Association opposes the bill, and tried for weeks to amend its language.


One sheriff, Bob Gualtieri of Pinellas County, home of St. Petersburg, which saw riots in 1996, called the bill “crazy” and “absurd.” “To allow people to go into a riot while concealing a gun without a permit is the definition of insanity,” he told the Miami Herald.


But supporters of the proposed law, which include the National Rifle Association and other gun groups, say the change is necessary to protect the rights of gun owners during crises.


“The bells of liberty are surely ringing throughout Florida today,” Representative Heather Fitzenhagen (R), the bill’s sponsor, said after the vote. “We are making sure that no Floridian in lawful possession of a firearm must leave it behind while evacuating in an officially declared state of emergency.”


Critics warned the bill is too vague in defining when its protections for gun owners cease during an emergency.


“I have (the gun) on my body because I’m allowed to do it under this new law, and I get to a (hurricane) shelter,” Representative Elaine Schwartz (D) asked Fitzenhagen during the bill’s debate. “What happens to the firearm then?”


Fitzenhagen responded: “The law does not allow you to bring that into a shelter,” she said. “You would be able to put it somewhere else in another person’s car perhaps, or a container.”


The measure doesn’t address a situation in which a gun owner complies with an evacuation order and travels far away from the emergency while remaining in the state.


“It would give me pause, as sheriff, in declaring a state of emergency,” Gualtieri said. “If I know cops would have to deal with god knows what, I now have to worry about making a situation worse.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Florida House Bill Would Allow Carrying Guns without a Permit During Riots, Natural Disasters (by Michael Van Sickler, Tampa Bay Times)

Over Sheriffs’ Objections, House Approves Bill To Allow Concealed Weapons during Emergencies (by Michael Van Sickler, Tampa Bay Times)

Florida Subsidizes Gun Makers while Cutting Spending on Mental Health and School Safety (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Federal Judge Halts Florida Law Prohibiting Doctors from Talking about Guns (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Hillary Clinton Makes Money for Boeing

from News – AllGov

While serving as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton wasn’t representing only the U.S. government. She also spoke for aircraft manufacturer Boeing, which had been trying to sell some of its commercial jetliners to Russia. Clinton traveled to Moscow and lobbied Russian officials to buy billions of dollars worth of 737s. Her business diplomacy worked, giving a big boost in foreign sales for a U.S. corporation that could become a powerful ally for Clinton if she decides to run for president.


During her October 2009 trip to Russia, Clinton made no effort to hide her plans to help Boeing while meeting with the state-owned airline, Rosavia. This strategy was predicated on the knowledge that “state-owned interests that are especially susceptible to high-level diplomatic lobbying,” according to The Washington Post. At the time, she even told the media that she would make “a shameless pitch for Rosavia…to buy Boeing aircraft.”


Her persuasiveness paid dividends for Boeing, which secured a $3.7 billion contract for the planes only months later.


Shortly after completing the deal, Boeing contributed $900,000 to the William J. Clinton Foundation to help rebuild schools in Haiti damaged by the 2010 earthquake. A Clinton Foundation official said the Boeing donation was not connected to the work Hillary Clinton did on behalf of the aircraft maker.


Nevertheless, the “Boeing relationship meshed well with efforts by Clinton to expand the State Department’s advocacy of U.S. economic interests abroad, part of a broader philosophy that has emphasized partnering government with businesses to solve problems,” the Post’s Rosalind S. Helderman wrote.


Boeing also made a $2 million donation to help the United States host a pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai world’s fair. This came despite a State Department decision against soliciting Boeing for donations to the fair because of the company’s dependence on government contracts.


Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said that her lobbying for the Boeing contract was “the job that every Secretary of State is supposed to do and what the American people expect of them—especially during difficult economic times. She proudly and loudly advocated on behalf of American business and took every opportunity to promote U.S. commercial interests abroad.”


The lobbying did produce “a potential side benefit for Clinton” who will need “powerful allies in the business community” for her expected presidential bid in 2016.


Although the Russian deal happened four years ago, the Boeing-Clinton connection hasn’t waned. Earlier this month, Boeing lobbyist Tim Keating, who previously worked in the Clinton White House as a special assistant to the president, co-hosted a fundraiser for a super PAC supporting Hillary Clinton (Ready for Hillary).

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

For Hillary Clinton and Boeing, a Beneficial Relationship (by Rosalind S. Helderman, Washington Post)

Hillary Clinton Pitches Boeing to Russians (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


Bureau of Land Management Gives in to Armed Protestors Supporting Rancher who Stopped Paying Fees to Graze Cattle on Federal Land

from News – AllGov

Confronted by about 1,000 protestors, many of them armed, the federal government backed down in a two-decade-old cattle-grazing controversy in Nevada that threatened to turn violent.


Rancher Cliven Bundy has refused since 1993 to pay the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) so his cattle could graze on public lands in Gold Butte, about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas. His refusal continued even after losing two court battles in 1998 and 2013, as Bundy kept running his herd on the lands managed by BLM without paying the fees required of all ranchers.


He told the Las Vegas Sun: “I abide by almost zero federal laws.”


Bundy also warned that he owned firearms and was willing to “do whatever it takes” to defend his property if the BLM came to his door. That’s what the bureau did, sending in a team of armed rangers to the Bundy ranch to confiscate his cattle.


Bundy soon became the darling of conservative groups, anti-government sympathizers and militia members who rallied behind him. His backers also included local branches of Americans for Prosperity, a right-wing political organization heavily funded by the Koch brothers.


Anti-government protestors flocked to Bundy’s ranch. Many were armed and indicated a willingness to use violence to stop the BLM from taking the herd.


Fearing another Ruby Ridge or Waco fiasco, BLM decided to stop its cattle seizure and return the animals to Bundy.


“Based on information about conditions on the ground and in consultation with law enforcement, we have made a decision to conclude the cattle gather because of our serious concern about the safety of employees and members of the public,” Neil Kornze, the bureau’s director, said in a statement.


BLM says it will try to resolve the matter through administrative means and the courts.

While Bundy and his supporters were thrilled with BLM’s decision, an environmental group was outraged.


The lands where Bundy’s cattle had illegally grazed are home to the federally protected desert tortoise. The Center for Biological Diversity is now threatening to sue BLM if it doesn’t take action to keep Bundy’s cattle from interfering with the tortoise’s habitat.

“The sovereign militias are ruling the day,” Rob Mrowka, senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity, told Reuters. “Now that this precedent has been set and they’re emboldened by the government’s capitulation, what’s to stop them from applying the same tactics and threats elsewhere?”


Indeed, the government capitulation to the threat of violence could lead to other supporters of illegal activities on public lands taking up arms…such as marijuana growers and even prostitutes.


Those on the side of the law got no help from Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval. Earlier last week, Sandoval suggested the federal government had created an atmosphere of “intimidation.” He said in a statement on Saturday that he welcomed the bureau’s retreat. “Given the circumstances, today’s outcome is the best we could have hoped for,” he said.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Feds Turn From Landlords To Warlords: Koch Groups Back Rancher Making Violent Threats Against Federal Gov’t (by Oliver Willis, Media Matters)

Nevada Ranching Family Claims Victory as Government Releases Cattle (by Jennifer Dobner, Reuters)

Nevada Rancher Cliven Bundy: “The Citizens of America” Got My Cattle Back (CBS News/Associated Press)

Lone Rancher is Prepared to Fight Feds for Land (by John M. Glionna, Los Angeles Times)

Creating Peace between Wild Animals and Cattle (by Melanie Young, AllGov)

How the United States Continues to Make Matters Worse in Libya

from Politics | Mother Jones

This story first appeared on the TomDispatch website.

Is the US secretly training Libyan militiamen in the Canary Islands? And if not, are they planning to?

That’s what I asked a spokesman for US Africa Command (AFRICOM). "I am surprised by your mentioning the Canary Islands," he responded by email. "I have not heard this before, and wonder where you heard this."

As it happens, mention of this shadowy mission on the Spanish archipelago off the northwest coast of Africa was revealed in an official briefing prepared for AFRICOM chief General David Rodriguez in the fall of 2013. In the months since, the plan may have been permanently shelved in favor of a training mission carried out entirely in Bulgaria. The document nonetheless highlights the US military’s penchant for simple solutions to complex problems—with a well-documented potential for blowback in Africa and beyond. It also raises serious questions about the recurring methods employed by the US to stop the violence its actions helped spark in the first place.

Ever since the US helped oust dictator Muammar Qaddafi, with air and missile strikes against regime targets and major logistical and surveillance support to coalition partners, Libya has been sliding into increasing chaos. Militias, some of them jihadist, have sprung up across the country, carving out fiefdoms while carrying out increasing numbers of assassinations and other types of attacks. The solution seized upon by the US and its allies in response to the devolving situation there: introduce yet another armed group into a country already rife with them.

The U.S. Government: Paying to Undermine Internet Security, Not to Fix It

from ProPublica: Articles and Investigations

by Julia Angwin

The Heartbleed computer security bug is many things: a catastrophic tech failure, an open invitation to criminal hackers and yet another reason to upgrade our passwords on dozens of websites. But more than anything else, Heartbleed reveals our neglect of Internet security.

The United States spends more than $50 billion a year on spying and intelligence, while the folks who build important defense software — in this case a program called OpenSSL that ensures that your connection to a website is encrypted — are four core programmers, only one of who calls it a full-time job.

In a typical year, the foundation that supports OpenSSL receives just $2,000 in donations. The programmers have to rely on consulting gigs to pay for their work. "There should be at least a half dozen full time OpenSSL team members, not just one, able to concentrate on the care and feeding of OpenSSL without having to hustle commercial work," says Steve Marquess, who raises money for the project.

Is it any wonder that this Heartbleed bug slipped through the cracks?

Dan Kaminsky, a security researcher who saved the Internet from a similarly fundamental flaw back in 2008, says that Heartbleed shows that it’s time to get "serious about figuring out what software has become Critical Infrastructure to the global economy, and dedicating genuine resources to supporting that code."

The Obama Administration has said it doing just that with its national cybersecurity initiative, which establishes guidelines for strengthening the defense of our technological infrastructure — but it does not provide funding for the implementation of those guidelines.

Instead, the National Security Agency, which has responsibility to protect U.S. infrastructure, has worked to weaken encryption standards. And so private websites — such as Facebook and Google, which were affected by Heartbleed — often use open-source tools such as OpenSSL, where the code is publicly available and can be verified to be free of NSA backdoors.

The federal government has spent at least $65 billion between 2006 and 2012 to secure its own governmental networks, according to a February report from the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. And many critical parts of the private sectors — such as nuclear reactors and banking — follow sector-specific cybersecurity regulations.

But private industry has also failed to fund its critical tools. As cryptographer Matthew Green says, "Maybe in the midst of patching their servers, some of the big companies that use OpenSSL will think of tossing them some real no-strings-attached funding so they can keep doing their job."

In the meantime, the rest of us are left with the unfortunate job of changing all our passwords, which may have been stolen from websites that were using the broken encryption standard. It’s unclear whether the bug was exploited by criminals or intelligence agencies. (The NSA says it didn’t know about it.)

It’s worth noting, however, that the risk of your passwords being stolen is still lower than the risk of your passwords being hacked from a website that failed to protect it properly. Criminals have so many ways to obtain your information these days — by sending you a fake email from your bank or hacking into a retailers unguarded database — that it’s unclear how many would have gone through the trouble of exploiting this encryption flaw.

The problem is that if your passwords were hacked by the Heartbleed bug, the hack would leave not trace. And so, unfortunately, it’s still a good idea to assume that your passwords might have been stolen.

So, you need to change them. If you’re like me, you have way too many passwords. So I suggest starting with the most important ones — your email passwords. Anyone who gains control of your email can click "forgot password" on your other accounts and get a new password emailed to them. As a result, email passwords are the key to the rest of your accounts. After email, I’d suggest changing banking and social media account passwords.

But, before you change your passwords, you need to check if the website has patched their site. You can test whether a site has been patched by typing the URL here. (Look for the green highlighted "Now Safe" result.)

If the site has been patched, then change your password. If the site has not been patched, wait until it has been patched before you change your password.

A reminder about how to make passwords. Forget all the password advice you’ve been given about using symbols and not writing down your passwords. There are only two things that matter: Don’t reuse passwords across websites and the longer the password, the better.

I suggest using password management software, such as 1Password or LastPass, to generate the vast majority of your passwords. And for email, banking and your password to your password manager, I suggest a method of picking random words from the Dictionary called Diceware. If that seems too hard, just make your password super long — at least 30 or 40 characters long, if possible.

And if you have extra money lying around, donate to the OpenSSL Software Foundation. It’s long past time for us to stop running Internet security like a Wikipedia volunteer project.