Posts tagged USA

Confronting a Nightmare for Democracy

Medium, politics, data collection, privacy, data protection, EU, USA, Cambridge Analytica, Facebook, Google, 2017

What we fear is a future in which potent personal data is combined with increasingly sophisticated technology to produce and deliver unaccountable personalized media and messages at a national scale. Combined with data-driven emerging media technologies, it is clear that the use of behavioral data to nudge voters with propaganda-as-a-service is set to explode. Imagine being able to synthesize a politician saying anything you type and then upload the highly realistic video to Facebook with a fake CNN chyron banner. Expect the early versions of these tools available before 2020. At the core of this is data privacy, or as they more meaningfully describe it in Europe, data protection. Unfortunately, the United States is headed in a dangerous direction on this issue. President Trump’s FCC and the Republican party radically deregulated our ISP’s ability to sell data monetization on paying customer data. Anticipate this administration further eroding privacy protections, as it confuses the public interest for the interests of business, despite being the only issue that about 95% of voters agree on, across every partisan and demographic segment according to HuffPo/YouGov. We propose three ideas to address these issues, which are crucial to preserving American democracy.

via https://medium.com/@profcarroll/confronting-a-nightmare-for-democracy–5333181ca675

Understanding United 3411

Medium, united airlines, USA, authoritarianism, law, United 3411, civil law, criminal law, aviation law, air travel, post 911

Once you’re boarded, united may not take your seat for overbooking reasons. You are not obligated to follow any unreasonable or illegal crewmember instruction. The police should not enforce civil contracts without a court order, and they took United’s side when clearly they were in the wrong. Aviation is a special case in many ways, but we don’t abdicate our rights or reason when we decide to fly. Everyone at united — from the CEO on down — has demonstrated a marked lack of thought, compassion and contrition. They deserve the maximum punishment that is possible.

via https://medium.com/@gzicherm/understanding-united–3411–51f196c2276b

How Yugoslavia was Syrianized 25 years ago

Yugoslavia, NAM, NATO, USA, USSR, EU, proxy-wars, Syria, Atlantic-Brigade, KLA, crisis-capitalism

united nation of Yugoslavia was not easy prey for imperialist intentions like we see taking place today. It is a fact, that after World War II, socialist Yugoslavia became something of a European success story. Between 1960 and 1980 the country had one of the most vigorous growth rates in the world: a decent standard of living, free medical care and education, a guaranteed right to a job, one-month vacation with pay, a literacy rate of over 90 percent, and a life expectancy of 72 years. To my knowledge, not one of the Balkans states that were created can claim half this prosperity.

via http://moderndiplomacy.eu/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=1257%3Ahow-yugoslavia-was-syrianized–25-years-ago&Itemid=132#.WPA-g8tSCVU.twitter

Situational Assessment 2017: Trump Edition

Medium, 2017, Trump Insurgency, politics, USA

While many things have changed in the world in the past two years, 2016 saw what looks like a phase transition in the political domain. While the overall phenomenon is global in scale and includes Brexit and other movements throughout Europe, I want to focus specifically on the victory of the “Trump Insurgency” and drill down into detail on how this state change will play out.
This war is about much more than ideology, money or power. Even the participants likely do not fully understand the stakes. At a deep level, we are right in the middle of an existential conflict between two entirely different and incompatible ways of forming “collective intelligence”. This is a deep point and will likely be confusing. So I’m going to take it slow and below will walk through a series of “fronts” of the war that I see playing out over the next several years. This is a pretty tactical assessment and should make sense and be useful to anyone. I’ll get to the deep point last — and will be going way out there in an effort to grasp “what is really going on”.

via https://medium.com/rally-point-journal/situational-assessment–2017-trump-edition-d189d24fc046

Facial recognition database used by FBI is out of control

facial-recognition, pattern-matching, bias, FBI, USA, policing, errorism

Approximately half of adult Americans’ photographs are stored in facial recognition databases that can be accessed by the FBI, without their knowledge or consent, in the hunt for suspected criminals. About 80% of photos in the FBI’s network are non-criminal entries, including pictures from driver’s licenses and passports. The algorithms used to identify matches are inaccurate about 15% of the time, and are more likely to misidentify black people than white people.

via https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/mar/27/us-facial-recognition-database-fbi-drivers-licenses-passports

“Otra Nation is the shared co-nation open to citizens of both Mexico and the United Stated and co-maintained by respective…

Otra, USA, Mexico, bi-national socio-ecotone, post-westphalia, nationalism, borders

“Otra Nation is the shared co-nation open to citizens of both Mexico and the United Stated and co-maintained by respective governments. Physical land and the initial investment will be provided by both countries and the infrastructure and services will be built with a workforce of 50% Mexico and 50% American. Otra Nation is the worlds’ first continental bi-national socio-ecotone.

The 19th century brought us boundaries, the 20th century we built walls, the next will bridge nations by creating communities based on shared principles of economic resiliency, energy independence and a trust based society.”

(via http://www.otranation.com/proposal)

Digital Privacy at the U.S. Border: Protecting the Data On Your Devices and In the Cloud

EFF, privacy, security, travel, US, USA, data, borders

The U.S. government reported a five-fold increase in the number of electronic media searches at the border in a single year, from 4,764 in 2015 to 23,877 in 2016.1 Every one of those searches was a potential privacy violation. Our lives are minutely documented on the phones and laptops we carry, and in the cloud. Our devices carry records of private conversations, family photos, medical documents, banking information, information about what websites we visit, and much more. Moreover, people in many professions, such as lawyers and journalists, have a heightened need to keep their electronic information confidential. How can travelers keep their digital data safe? This guide (updating a previous guide from 20112) helps travelers understand their individual risks when crossing the U.S. border, provides an overview of the law around border search, and offers a brief technical overview to securing digital data.

via https://www.eff.org/wp/digital-privacy-us-border–2017

On the Milo Bus With the Lost Boys of America’s New Right

Medium, Laurie Penny, alt-right, Milo Yiannopoulos, USA, nationalism, fear, fragile masculinity, trolls, rascism

This is a story about truth and consequences. It’s a story about who gets to be young and dumb, and who gets held accountable. It’s also a story about how the new right exploits young men — how it preys not on their bodies, but on their emotions, on their hurts and hopes and anger and anxiety, their desperate need to be part of a big ugly boys’ own adventure. It’s a story about how so many of us have suffered the consequences of that exploitation. And it’s a story about how consequences finally came for Milo Yiannopoulos too — the worst kind of consequences for a professional troll. Consequences that nobody finds funny. Consequences that cannot be mined for fame and profit.

via https://psmag.com/on-the-milo-bus-with-the-lost-boys-of-americas-new-right–629a77e87986

I’ll never bring my phone on an international flight again. Neither should you.

Medium, privacy, security, state surveillance, USA, authoritarianism, search and destroy, borders, border security, law, lawnessness

How many potentially incriminating things do you have lying around your home? If you’re like most people, the answer is probably zero. And yet police would need to go before a judge and establish probable cause before they could get a warrant to search your home. What we’re seeing now is that anyone can be grabbed on their way through customs and forced to hand over the full contents of their digital life.

via https://medium.freecodecamp.com/ill-never-bring-my-phone-on-an-international-flight-again-neither-should-you-e9289cde0e5f

Make America Bohemian Again

Medium, USA, NYC, art, bizniz, The Chelsea Hotel, co-working, co-living, communal production, value creation, economics, bohemian, MABA, culture

The Chelsea thrived because it stuck to Philip Hubert’s original vision: to house and nurture New York’s creative community — and do so while still being affordable and open to all. It is unlikely that the Chelsea will house the next wave of American creativity (the hotel was closed in 2011, and the new owners are converting it into a pricey boutique hotel. Many of the rooms, including Bob Dylan’s, have since been destroyed.) Yet while New York city’s greatest art colony is all but dead, its structure and ethos continue to enrich American culture — albeit in a different way, and on an entirely different coast.

Yet despite the lucrative returns of Y Combinator and other startup accelerators sprouting up around the USA (like TechStars, 500 Startups, AngelPad and SeedCamp) no ambitious community-building projects exist for American arts like they do for American tech. While most talented tech gurus can find a startup accelerator to join (and fund them), aspiring artists are told to get a bedroom in Brooklyn or move to Iowa for an MFA — both of which cost upwards of $40,000 a year and don’t come with a patron.

Summing up the net worth of the Chelsea’s most famous residents […] the Chelsea Hotel was responsible for more than 2.1 billion dollars of value creation while it was open. That estimate is only going off of the net worth of the artists themselves — not all of the downstream albums or paintings or ticket sales they contributed to (i.e. a single painting by Pollock fetched $200M and Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey took in more than $190M at the box office. A single room of de Kooning paintings was estimated to be worth as much as $4B.) The funny thing? Despite their obsession with wealth, most startup accelerators don’t even come close to matching the economic impact of the Chelsea Hotel — much less its cultural impact.


via https://medium.com/@bagelboy/make-america-bohemian-again-de846e35d757

Trial Balloon for a Coup?

Medium, Yonatan Zunger, USA, politics, coup d’état, coup

That is to say, the administration is testing the extent to which the DHS (and other executive agencies) can act and ignore orders from the other branches of government. This is as serious as it can possibly get: all of the arguments about whether order X or Y is unconstitutional mean nothing if elements of the government are executing them and the courts are being ignored. Yesterday was the trial balloon for a coup d’état against the United States. It gave them useful information.

via https://medium.com/@yonatanzunger/trial-balloon-for-a-coup-e024990891d5

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