"Reporter" who wrote ridiculous story about Snowden leaks in China admits he was just acting as a government stenographer

Tom Harper wrote the ridiculous cover story in the Sunday Times in which anonymous government sources claimed that the Russians and Chinese had somehow gained the power to decrypt copies of the files Edward Snowden took from the NSA, depite the fact that these files were never in Russia and despite the fact that the UK government claims that when criminals use crypto on their communications, the state is powerless to decrypt them. Read the rest

Translation: once they learn the truth, techies hate and fear us

US Defense Secretary: Snowden Caused Tensions With Techies Read the rest

SF Muni spends anti-terror money on fare evaders because it's a gateway to terrorism

Cmdr. Mikail Ali, the former top transit police officer in San Francisco, justified spending anti-terror funding on fare evaders because "Fare evasion is the nexus by which we make those initial contacts [with criminals]" and cracking down on it lets them find terrorists. Read the rest

NSA can't find any emails from Snowden, then it can (convenient, no?)

Yesterday, the NSA released an email from Edward Snowden to his superiors asking about the legality of NSA spying, claiming it was the only evidence they had that he ever tried to go through channels before turning leaker; on its face, this is pretty damning. But there's one problem: six months ago, the NSA claimed that they had no emails of the sort from Snowden, and then this one happened to turn up just in time to counter Snowden's allegations on US TV that he'd tried to blow the whistle from inside. My guess? Someone as canny as Snowden kept copies of all the communiques he made and flags he raised, and will be shortly making the NSA look like pathetic liars (again). Read the rest

De-obfuscating Big Cable's numbers: investment flat since 2000

The cable lobby group NCTA claims the industry has been investing record amounts in network upgrades, which will dry up if they are forced to endure Net Neutrality. Techdirt points out that Big Cable's numbers are cumulative, and re-runs them year on year. Turns out investment has been flat since about 2000. Read the rest

Irony not dead: Comcast claims it is Net Neutrality's best friend

Since Netflix CEO Reid Hastings published a statement on Net Neutrality and Comcast (whom Netflix has had to bribe in order to secure normal service for its users), Comcast has gone on a charm offensive. The company sent a statement to Consumerist in which it asserts an imaginary history of championing Net Neutrality, a work of Stalin-grade reality-denying fiction that has Consumerist's Chris Morran practically chewing the keyboard in rage: Read the rest

NSA: We lack the capability to search our own email

The NSA turned down a ProPublica Freedom of Information Act request because it says it lacks the ability to search all the email within its internal network, so it can't answer a question like "What conversations took place between the NSA and National Geographic in the lead-up to a positive story about the Agency?" It can only search one user's mail at a time, not all 30,000 NSA employees.

"There's no central method to search an email at this time with the way our records are set up, unfortunately," NSA Freedom of Information Act officer Cindy Blacker told me last week.

The system is “a little antiquated and archaic," she added.

NSA Says It Can’t Search Its Own Emails (via Reddit) Read the rest

Citigroup leads finance world in bullshit-generating capacity

The Atlantic's Derek Thompson has located a truly world-beating piece of obfuscated corporate bullshit, courtesy of Citi, who took 86 words to convey a simple fact: "Citigroup today announced [lay offs]. These actions will [save money]."

Citigroup today announced a series of repositioning actions that will further reduce expenses and improve efficiency across the company while maintaining Citi's unique capabilities to serve clients, especially in the emerging markets. These actions will result in increased business efficiency, streamlined operations and an optimized consumer footprint across geographies.

Citigroup Eliminates 11,000 Jobs in History's Most Corporate-Jargony Paragraph Ever (via Making Light)

(Image: Muddy Maher's, Kinsale, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from ujh's photostream) Read the rest

New domain name suffix applications published

Applicants for "bespoke" top-level domains--which will cost more than $100,000--were published by Icann. Looking foward to .bbc, .ninja and .walmart? Go go gadget real estate! [BBC] Read the rest

Rick Santorum doesn't understand sex

Over at Psychology Today, psychologist Christopher Ryan states the obvious. My favorite part: Given the number of days a human female is actually fertile each month, it's a pretty safe bet that the Santorums have had their fair share of non-reproductive sex over the years. (Thanks to CB!) Read the rest

The truth is the best bullshit

Instapaper developer Marco Arment nails three companies -- Apple, Google and Facebook -- for spreading bullshit. "Everyone has their bullshit," he writes. "You can simply decide whose you’re willing to tolerate."

Percolate's Noah Brier, however, takes issue with one of Marco's picks; namely, Facebook's claim that "users want to interact with brands." Brier believes that it's true, and offers some evidence why it is so.

It's easy to get snarled up arguing over branding, advertising and whether people like it, hate it, or just play along. But even if Brier is right, I think he's missed the point.

There's a reason Marco calls these slogans "bullshit" instead of "lies." It's because there's a subtle difference between the two. Bullshit creates a particular impression regardless of the truth, whereas lies are explicitly untrue. If you look at each of the items in his list, you'll see that all of them are just as true, literally speaking, as the one that Brier pointed out.

What makes them bullshit is the context—in this case, the economic incentives that each of the three companies have to select these literal truths as marketing messages. Marco's intention, if he'll forgive me for presuming, is surely to point out that each of these messages serve to mislead consumers, not that they are untrue in an absolute sense.

For example, Android is certainly an open-source operating system, and its success is of great value to the free and open-source software movement. Google's incentive to develop it, however, is to increase advertising revenues, a core business which benefits when users disregard their privacy. Read the rest