Xeni Jardin

Boing Boing editor/partner and tech culture journalist Xeni Jardin hosts and produces Boing Boing's in-flight TV channel on Virgin America airlines (#10 on the dial), and writes about living with breast cancer. Diagnosed in 2011. @xeni on Twitter. email: xeni@boingboing.net.

Al Qaeda expert credited with designing deception of CIA torture program

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Matthew Cole at NBC News reports that a senior CIA expert on al Qaeda who remains in a senior position at the agency “was a key architect of the agency's defense of its detention and 'enhanced interrogation' program for suspected terrorists, developing oft-repeated talking points that misrepresented and overstated its effectiveness.” Information about her role was revealed in the Senate Intelligence Committee's report released last week.

After the 9/11 attacks, this same expert came under fire for “countenancing a subordinate's refusal to share the names of two of the hijackers with the FBI.” For this, she was not punished. She was promoted.

The report singles out the female expert as a key apologist for the program, stating that she repeatedly told her superiors and others — including members of Congress — that the "torture" was working and producing useful intelligence, when it was not. She wrote the "template on which future justifications for the CIA program and the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques were based," it said.

The expert also participated in "enhanced interrogations" of self-professed 9-11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, witnessed the waterboarding of terror suspect Abu Zubaydah and ordered the detention of a suspected terrorist who turned out to be unconnected to al Qaeda, according to the report.

"Bin Laden Expert Accused of Shaping CIA Deception on 'Torture' Program" [via]

NBC News doesn't name her, but other sources have: Alfreda Frances Bikowsky.

I'm dreaming of a Cat Christmas

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A photo shared in our Flickr Pool by Jason Litten.

Cowardly U.S. theaters refuse to show 'The Interview' after free speech threats

 Security guards stand at the entrance of United Artists theater during the premiere of the film "The Interview" in Los Angeles, California December 11, 2014.  REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian



Security guards stand at the entrance of United Artists theater during the premiere of the film "The Interview" in Los Angeles, California December 11, 2014. REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian

Free speech must be defended even when the speech at issue is a sure-to-be-shitty comedy vehicle starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, poking fun at tired ethnic stereotypes.

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Do not Photoshop headphones on Buddha in Burma, unless you enjoy meditating in prison

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"A New Zealander and two Burmese men are facing trial in Burma after being accused of insulting Buddhism," the Washington Post reports.

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A reporter looked into how headlines change our thinking. You won't believe what happened next.

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"By now, everyone knows that a headline determines how many people will read a piece, particularly in this era of social media," writes Maria Konnikova at the New Yorker. "But, more interesting, a headline changes the way people read an article and the way they remember it." A great read for anyone who works in social media.

Report: 66 journalists killed, 119 kidnapped, 853 arrested in 2014

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Reporters Without Borders today published its 2014 tally of abuses against journalists.

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Woman takes her two cats to visit Santa Claus, all does not go well

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I could not find the origin of this classic viral photo, but it's very funny.

'Food Warriors' NYC street eats video tutorial: a season finale on Nostrand Avenue

The Food Warriors, aka Dallas Penn and Rafi Kam, ride the A-train from uptown in Harlem to Bed Stuy out in Brooklyn.

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Only 55% of food-crop calories are consumed directly by humans. The rest: fuel and feed.

Crops grown for food (green) versus for animal feed and fuel (purple) . Image: National Geographic.


Crops grown for people to eat (green) versus for biofuel, or for animals to eat (purple). Image: National Geographic.

In this National Geographic feature on the future of food, a map that illustrates how much of the world's crops are grown for people to eat directly (green), compared to crops grown for biofuel or to feed animals.

“Only 55 percent of food-crop calories directly nourish people. Meat, dairy, and eggs from animals raised on feed supply another 4 percent.”

As advocates of plant-based diets have long argued, we could feed more humans by shifting our diets away from animal products, which consume more land, more fuel, and produce more emissions and pollution that adversely affect climate and environment.

[nationalgeographic.com]

Hanukkah + hip-hop = Dr. Dreidel

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A clever tchotchke created by Hannah Rothstein.

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Is it ethically okay for journalists to mine hacked Sony emails for stories?

Screen shot from an internal audit report allegedly stolen from Sony and circulating on file-trading networks.


Screen shot from an internal audit report allegedly stolen from Sony and circulating on file-trading networks.

"There are journalism ethics to mining emails hacked by someone else," writes Kelly McBride at poynter.org. "But the question is not whether or not to mine them, but rather how."

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Apple wins antitrust case over iPod music and DRM

June 7, 2010: Apple CEO Steve Jobs poses with the new iPhone 4 during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, California. [Reuters]


June 7, 2010: Apple CEO Steve Jobs poses with the new iPhone 4 during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, California. [Reuters]

A jury today ruled in favor of Apple in a long-running, class-action lawsuit that charged the tech giant with antitrust law violations over suppressing competition for iPod music devices.

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How to gift-wrap a cat for Christmas

"Many cats have an aversion to being wrapped or being dressed up and are not toys. Please do not attempt to recreate this scene if your pet is unwilling to remain still."

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As ruble value plummets, Apple halts online sales in Russia

The Apple logo is illuminated in red at the Apple Store on 5th Avenue to mark World AIDS Day, in the Manhattan borough of New York December 1, 2014. [Reuters]


The Apple logo is illuminated in red at the Apple Store on 5th Avenue to mark World AIDS Day, in the Manhattan borough of New York December 1, 2014. [Reuters]

Apple today stopped all online sales in Russia, citing “extreme” ruble fluctuations.

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What torture sounds like

“Have you heard the screams of a prisoner who is being tortured in America’s war on terror? I can’t forget them,” writes Peter Maass at The Intercept.

They pierced the walls of a detention center I visited in Samarra during an offensive by American and Iraqi forces in 2005. In a small room, I was interviewing a frightened detainee whose head was bandaged from an injury he unconvingly attributed to a car accident during his capture. Bloodstains dripped down the side of a desk, and there was an American military adviser with us, as well as a portly officer of Iraq’s special police commandos.

Suddenly there was a chilling scream.

“Allah,” someone wailed. “Allah! Allah!”