Posts tagged USA

James Clapper on the Future of Cyberwar and Surveillance

Clapper, USA, NSA, CIA, IC, law, ethics, surveillance, warfare, Snowden, stuxnet, internment, tortur

While Clapper grudgingly accepts the damage the Snowden affair has done to his own reputation, he worries more deeply about the impact it’s had on the intelligence workforce. He hates the thought that America might turn on his employees. He fears that, in the same way the nation and Congress turned their backs on the CIA officers who ran the agency’s “black sites” and torture program in the wake of 9/11, the country will one day turn on the people who carry out drone attacks. “I worry that people will decide retroactively that killing people with drones was wrong, and that will lead us to criticize, indict, and try people who helped kill with drones,” he says. “I find it really bothersome to set a moral standard retrospectively,” he says. “People raise all sorts of good questions about things America has done. Everyone now agrees that interning Japanese [Americans] in World War II was egregious—but at the time it seemed like it was in the best interests of the country.”

via https://www.wired.com/2016/11/james-clapper-us-intelligence/

Tor’s Branding Pivot is Going to Get Someone Killed

Medium, Tor, privacy, transparency, human rights, politics, USA

In western liberal democracies (where Tor is overwhelmingly based, and by raw numbers, largely serves) human-rights advocacy has better optics than privacy. But the opposite is true in the regions that Tor aims to serve. Privacy empowers the individual. Empowering the individual naturally dovetails with human rights, so its plausible that greater human rights is a natural byproduct of privacy advocacy. However, Tor’s pivot from “Privacy Enthusiasts” to “Human Rights Watch for Nerds” substantially increases the risk of imprisonment to those operating a Tor relay or using the Tor Browser Bundle from less HR-friendly regions.

via https://medium.com/@virgilgr/tors-branding-pivot-is-going-to-get-someone-killed–6ee45313b559

Check Out This Unbelievable Photo of the Southern California Wildfire

fire, climate change, new normal, weather, USA

rjzimmerman:

Photo of smoke from the Sand Fire from the Santa Monica Pier. Photo by Rob Dionne.

Here’s Jason Mark, the editor of Sierra, describing his reaction to this photo. The Sand Fire and the Soberanes fires are probably still smoldering, but when this photo was taken and Jason Mark saw it, the fires were raging. So keep that in mind as you read Jason’s short piece.

Hieronymus Beach. That’s what popped into my mind when I saw Rob Dionne’s unnerving photograph, captured last weekend as he stood on the Santa Monica Pier. The sky choked with a cloud of brown smoke, the babel-like crowds in the foreground, the broodiness of the whole scene—all of it recalled the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch, the 16th-century Dutch artist who is best remembered for the dark allegories he created on canvas.

The sun-dampening smoke cloud came from the Sand Fire, a blaze in the Santa Clarita Hills north of Los Angeles that, since it broke out a week ago today, has scorched roughly 38,000 acres, destroyed 18 homes, and forced the evacuation of some 20,000 people. And that’s the less dangerous of the two wildfires currently tearing through California right now. In Big Sur, the Soberanes fire is barely contained as firefighters contend with the rugged landscape of the Los Padres National Forest. Earlier this week, a bulldozer operator died in the course of fire-containment operations there.

Fire ecologists are increasingly confident in their predictions that global warming is fueling wildfires in the American West as earlier springs, hotter summers, and drought combine to make fires more frequent and more intense. The “fire season”—an annual apocalypse once limited to the summer months—is now a year-round affair in some parts of the West.

That’s worth keeping in mind as you take in this amazing pic. What you’re seeing isn’t some glimpse of dystopia to come. Rather, the smoke eclipse over Santa Monica is part of the new normal, an all-too-ordinary scene of life on this smoldering planet.  

Check Out This Unbelievable Photo of the Southern California Wildfire

Meet Moxie Marlinspike, the Anarchist Bringing Encryption to All of Us

encryption, privacy, security, Moxie, Wired, technology, anarchism, USA

Over the past several years, Marlinspike has quietly positioned himself at the front lines of a quarter-century-long war between advocates of encryption and law enforcement. Since the first strong encryption tools became publicly available in the early ’90s, the government has warned of the threat posed by “going dark”—that such software would cripple American police departments and intelligence agencies, allowing terrorists and organized criminals to operate with impunity. In 1993 it unsuccessfully tried to implement a backdoor system called the Clipper Chip to get around encryption. In 2013, Edward Snowden’s leaks revealed that the NSA had secretly sabotaged a widely used crypto standard in the mid- 2000s and that since 2007 the agency had been ingesting a smorgasbord of tech firms’ data with and without their cooperation. Apple’s battle with the FBI over Farook’s iPhone destroyed any pretense of a truce.

via https://www.wired.com/2016/07/meet-moxie-marlinspike-anarchist-bringing-encryption-us/

Soylent CEO’s shipping container home is a ‘middle finger’ to LA, locals say

Soylent, community, minimalism, sustainability, solutionism, LA, USA

After apparently abolishing the need for food with a meal-substitute drink, which spawned a $100m startup, Rob Rhinehart had another epiphany: plonk a shipping container on a hill overlooking Los Angeles. The red metal hulk would be his home, an eco-abode with solar panels and panoramic views that would set a new benchmark in hip, minimalist living. The 27-year-old CEO and founder of Soylent bought a patch of scrub in an area known as Flat Top to begin an “experiment in sustainable living” early this year. It has not gone well.

via https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jul/27/soylent-ceo-rob-rhinehart-shipping-container-home-la?CMP=share_btn_tw

The NSA’s SKYNET program may be killing thousands of innocent people

Ars Technica, SKYNET, machine learning, warfare, murder, classification, NSA, CIA, USA, metadata

Many facts about the SKYNET program remain unknown, however. For instance do analysts review each mobile phone user’s profile before condemning them to death based on metadata? How can the US government be sure it is not killing innocent people, given the apparent flaws in the machine learning algorithm on which that kill list is based?“On whether the use of SKYNET is a war crime, I defer to lawyers,” Ball said. “It’s bad science, that’s for damn sure, because classification is inherently probabilistic. If you’re going to condemn someone to death, usually we have a ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ standard, which is not at all the case when you’re talking about people with 'probable terrorist’ scores anywhere near the threshold. And that’s assuming that the classifier works in the first place, which I doubt because there simply aren’t enough positive cases of known terrorists for the random forest to get a good model of them.”

http://arstechnica.co.uk/security/2016/02/the-nsas-skynet-program-may-be-killing-thousands-of-innocent-people/

Snowden’s Chronicler Reveals Her Own Life Under Surveillance

Laura Poitras, surveilllance, USA, Art, tor

In the end, Poitras has not only escaped the arrest or indictment she feared, but has become a kind of privacy folk hero: Her work has helped to noticeably shift the world’s view of government spying, led to legislation, and won both a Pulitzer and an Academy Award. But if her ultimate fear was to “become the story,” her latest revelations show that’s a fate she can no longer escape–and one she’s come to accept.

http://www.wired.com/2016/02/snowdens-chronicler-reveals-her-own-life-under-surveillance/

Domestic terrorists threaten us more than Syrian refugees.

USA, US, terrorism, religion, extremism, RWNJ

among the 27 fatal terror attacks inflicted in this country since 9/11, 20 were committed by domestic right-wing extremists. (The other seven attacks were committed by domestic jihadists, not by foreign terrorist organizations.) Of the 77 people killed in these 27 incidents, two-thirds died at the hands of anti-abortion fanatics, “Christian Identity” zealots, white anti-Semites, or other right-wing militants.

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2015/11/robert_lewis_dear_is_one_of_many_religious_extremists_bred_in_north_carolina.html

DEA agents investigating Silk Road were allegedly posing as hitmen, while working as thieves

SIlk Road, Bitcoin, BTC, DEA, USA, corruption, fraud, markets, darknet

On Monday, the Justice Department charged Carl Mark Force IV, a former DEA agent with 15 years of service at the agency, and Shaun Bridges, 32, with committing numerous instances of fraud while playing lead roles in the investigation into Silk Road, the infamous illicit marketplace that sold drugs, guns, and other goods on the so-called “darknet.”

http://fusion.net/story/111691/a-dea-agent-investigating-silk-road-was-allegedly-posing-as-a-hitman-while-working-as-a-thief/

The Silk Road Trial: WIRED’s Coverage

Wired, Silk Road, USA, crime, commerce, trade, black market, legal, illegal

After 13 short days of trial, Ross Ulbricht has been convicted of running the unprecedented, anonymous online black market known as the Silk Road. In terms of drama, those days included everything: a hidden drug empire, a secret journal, lofty ideals, friendship and betrayal, deception, threats of violence, and in the end, a highly coordinated law enforcement sting operation. The jury in Ulbricht’s case deliberated for only three and a half hours before convicting him on all counts, including conspiring to sell narcotics, hacking software and counterfeit documents, and a “kingpin” charge usually reserved for organized crime bosses. But despite that quick outcome, the case will be remembered for delving into issues as varied as bitcoin’s legal status as money, the FBI’s right to warrantlessly hack into foreign servers used by Americans, and the power and limits of anonymity on the internet.

http://www.wired.com/2015/02/silk-road-trial-wireds-full-coverage/

How Anti-Vaxxers Ruined Disneyland For Themselves (And Everyone Else)

disease, epidemic, vaccination, measles, USA, anti-vax, herd immunity, unvaccinated, health, public

There are now 67 confirmed cases of measles in an ongoing outbreak centered in California. According to the California Department of Public Health, 59 of the cases are in-state. Among the 34 California patients for whom vaccination status is known, 28 were unvaccinated and one had received partial vaccination. Only five were fully vaccinated. Forty-two of the California cases have been linked to an initial exposure at Disneyland or Disney California Adventure Park, and while cases were originally tied to people who visited the park in mid-December, state health officials now note other cases visited Disney parks in January. According to the CDC, the majority of measles cases reported so far during 2015 have been part of the “large, ongoing outbreak” connected with these parks.

http://io9.com/how-anti-vaxxers-ruined-disneyland-for-themselves-and–1680970446

The American Oligarchy

US, USA, government, corporatism, democracy, oligarchy, power, infuence, wealth, Princeton

What kind of oligarchy? As Gawker’s Hamilton Nolan explains, Gilens and Page’s findings provide support for two theories of governance: economic elite domination and biased pluralism. The first is pretty straightforward and states that the ultra-wealthy wield all the power in a given system, though some argue that this system still allows elites in corporations and the government to become powerful as well. Here, power does not necessarily derive from wealth, but those in power almost invariably come from the upper class. Biased pluralism on the other hand argues that the entire system is a mess and interest groups ruled by elites are fighting for dominance of the political process. Also, because of their vast wealth of resources, interest groups of large business tend to dominate a lot of the discourse.

http://www.policymic.com/articles/87719/princeton-concludes-what-kind-of-government-america-really-has-and-it-s-not-a-democracy

The Criminalization of Everyday Life

USA, militarization, MRAP, arming, armoring, pentagon, errorism

Sometimes a single story has a way of standing in for everything you need to know. In the case of the up-arming, up-armoring, and militarization of police forces across the country, there is such a story. Not the police, mind you, but the campus cops at Ohio State University now possess an MRAP; that is, a $500,000, 18-ton, mine-resistant, ambush-protected armored vehicle of a sort used in the Afghan War and, as Hunter Stuart of the Huffington Post reported, built to withstand “ballistic arms fire, mine fields, IEDs, and nuclear, biological, and chemical environments.” Sounds like just the thing for bouts of binge drinking and post-football-game shenanigans.

http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175781/

Evidence of a US judicial vendetta against WikiLeaks activists mounts

surveillance, 10GJ3793, USA, iceland, wikileaks, Birgitta Jónsdóttir

Most of us who expose an inconvenient truth know that we will be attacked for it and ridiculed. And every trick in the book of maintaining power will be applied to silence us. It’s no big deal. The beauty of it is that, usually, these attempts gives us a chance to see the actual face of power and to understand, with real-time examples, how healthy or unhealthy our democracies have become.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jul/03/evidence-us-judicial-vendetta-wikileaks-activists-mounts