Crowdfunding a bike-lock that squirts vomit-inducing antipersonnel gas when cut


The Skunklock is a $109 crowdfunded gadget that contains pressurized vomit-inducing gas the creators call "Formula D_1," and which is intended to induce immediate vomiting when inhaled, as well as difficulty breathing, "A lot of similar symptoms to pepper spray." Read the rest

By stealing from innocents, Chicago PD amassed tens of millions in a secret black budget for surveillance gear


Since 2009, the Chicago Police Department has seized $72M worth of property from people who were not convicted of any crime, through the discredited civil forfeiture process, keeping $48M worth of the gains (the rest went to the Cook County prosecutor's office and the Illinois State Police) in an off-the-books, unreported slush fund that it used to buy secret surveillance gear. Read the rest

Company suspected of blame in Office of Personnel Management breach will help run new clearance agency


In 2014, the US Office of Personnel Management was hacked (presumably by Chinese spies), and leaked 22,000,000+ records of Americans who'd applied for security clearance, handing over the most intimate, compromising details of their lives (the clearance process involves disclosing anything that could be used to blackmail you in the future). This didn't come to light until 2015. Read the rest

Yahoo says hack of 500 million users "state-sponsored," but a security firm calls bullshit

Yahoo logo at Mobile World Congress in Spain. February 24, 2016. REUTERS

So, that huge hack of 500 million Yahoo user accounts last week that Yahoo blamed on a "state-sponsored actor"? A private internet security firm is calling bullshit on the "state-sponsored" part.

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Polar bears hold Russian scientists hostage on tiny Arctic island

A group of Russian scientists have been trapped for two weeks by polar bears at an Arctic island weather station. The scientists face a month-long wait for a rescue.

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Five government contractors account for 80% of America's surveillance workforce


When Edward Snowden came in from the cold, it catapulted his employer, Booz Allen Hamilton -- a giant military/intelligence contractor -- into the public eye, but Booz is small potatoes, one of the Big Five in the intelligence contractor industry, but it's dwarfed by Leidos Holdings, which recently merged with Lockheed's  Information Systems & Global Solutions to become the largest business in the $50B industry. Read the rest

ISIS left behind at least 14,000 landmines when it retreated from Manbij

Once it became clear that a US-backed militia coalition was going to chase Isis out of the northern Syrian city of Manbij, Isis planted at least 14,000 mines, boobytrapping refrigerators, onion-baskets, rocks, appliances, tea-kettles, "everything." Read the rest

Woman sues cops because they destroyed her empty house, thinking a suspect was hiding in it

Shaniz West house 1

The police in Caldwell, Idaho told Shariz West that they thought her ex-boyfriend might have run into her house and they asked for permission to look inside; she said yes, but then the cops engaged in a 10-hour armed standoff against her empty home (the family dog was inside, but there were no humans), blasting holes in the walls, crashing through the ceilings, smashing out the windows, and filling the house with tear-gas, which destroyed most of the family's possessions. Read the rest

US Army committed $6.5 trillion in accounting fraud in one year


In June, the Defense Department’s Inspector General released a report on the US Army's accounting, revealing that the Army had invented $6.5 trillion in "improper adjustments" ($2.8T in one quarter!) to make its books appear balanced though it could not account for where the funds had gone. Read the rest

It's pretty easy to hack traffic lights

DCF 1.0

Researchers from the University of Michigan EE/Computer Science Department (previously) presented their work on hacking traffic signals at this year's Usenix Security Symposium (previously), and guess what? It's shockingly easy to pwn the traffic control system. Read the rest

If the 2016 election is hacked, it's because no one listened to these people

Ever since the Supreme Court ordered the nation's voting authorities to get their act together in 2002 in the wake of Bush v Gore, tech companies have been flogging touchscreen voting machines to willing buyers across the country, while a cadre computer scientists trained in Ed Felten's labs at Princeton have shown again and again and again and again that these machines are absolutely unfit for purpose, are trivial to hack, and endanger the US election system. Read the rest

2 Muslim women kicked off American Airlines flight in Miami

Niala Mohammad Khalil

Two Muslim-American women were kicked off an American Airlines flight this week, basically for flying while Muslim.

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Zika hits the US military: 33 service members now have virus, says Pentagon

Pentagon officials told reporters today that at least 33 active-duty American service members, one of whom is a pregnant woman, have Zika.

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Chelsea Manning cut off from contact with lawyers after medical emergency


U.S. military officials are preventing imprisoned whistleblower Chelsea Manning from having contact with her legal team or her friends, following unconfirmed reports that she was hospitalized after a health crisis.

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Claude Shannon, MOOCs, and nanoassembly: what 3D printing is really about


Neal Gershenfeld, founder of MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms, has been talking about making digital things physical and physical things digital longer than almost anyone, and his books -- notably FAB: The Coming Revolution on Your Desktop -- are visionary and inspirational ways to think about how information technology has changed our species' relationship with the universe; while the Fab Labs he helped invent represent the best and most thoughtful way that a makerspace can be built to suit local community needs. Read the rest

UK cops routinely raided police databases to satisfy personal interest or make money on the side


Between 2011-2015, there were more than 800 individual UK police personnel who raided official databases to amuse themselves, out of idle curiosity, or for personal financial gain; and over 800 incidents in which information was inappropriately leaked outside of the police channels. Read the rest

White House plan to use data to shrink prison populations could be a racist dumpster fire


The US imprisons more people than any other country in history, both as a total number and as a proportion of its population; a White House data-mining effort proposes to set free prisoners who are "low risk," which is something we can all get behind. Read the rest

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