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

Wells Fargo won't claw back $125m retirement bonus from exec who oversaw 2m frauds

Carrie Tolstedt is the Wells Fargo executive who presided over a titanic, multi-year fraud through which at least 5,300 of the employees who reported to her opened up fake accounts in Wells' customers' names, racking up fees and fines, trashing the customers' credit ratings, and, incidentally, pulling in record revenues for Tolstedt's department, which Wells' management recognized by giving her a $125M parting gift when she left the company at the end of July, just weeks before the scandal broke. Read the rest

The DEA just added a promising anti-opioid addiction herb to Schedule 1, because reasons

Kratom is a herb that has been in widespread use in Southeast Asia for centuries; it is chewed for to increase stamina, induce gentle euphoria and relaxation, and it has also been used with unheard-of success to help people kick their addictions to opioid painkillers. Read the rest

California's "gang" database is a sick joke; today, you can do something about it

Dave Maass from Electronic Frontier Foundation writes, "A coalition of social justice and digital rights groups are tweeting at Gov. Jerry Brown today to demand he sign A.B. 2298, a bill that would bring new accountability measures to CalGang, the state's troubled gang database. Read the rest

It's really easy for fired, dirty cops to walk into a new police job in a new town

Sean Sullivan was fired from his police job in Oregon in 2004 for sexual contact with a 10 year old girl; in 2005, Cedar Vale, KS hired him to be their police chief, where he was accused of having sexual contact with another young girl, and eventually convicted of burglary and criminal conspiracy -- he's currently doing time in a Washington state prison for meth possession and identity theft. Read the rest

Autocratic regimes systematically deny internet access to opposition ethnic groups

In Digital discrimination: Political bias in Internet service provision across ethnic groups (Sci-hub mirror), a new paper in Science, political scientists from the University of Konstanz and elsewhere document the practice of "ethnic favoritism" in internet provision, through which autocratic regimes use telcoms policies to discriminate against opposition groups. Read the rest

Top Russian anti-corruption official had $120M in cash in his apartment

Dmitry Zakharchenko, the deputy head of the Energy Industry Department of the General Administration of Economic Security and Combating the Corruption, also had €2m in cash. Read the rest

Chelsea Manning on hunger strike, demanding treatment for gender dysphoria

Today, days before she is to face an administrative board who will punish her for her recent suicide attempt, whistleblower Chelsea Manning has announced that she will go on hunger strike until she receives treatment for her gender dysphoria. Read the rest

It seems like Trump bribed the Florida attorney general

Stephen Colbert looks into Florida attorney general Pam Bondi's decision not to join other states in prosecuting Trump University.

Read the rest

The US Copyright Office is the poster child for regulatory capture

Public Knowledge's new report, Captured: Systemic Bias at the US Copyright Office makes a beautifully argued, perfectly enraging case that the US Copyright Office does not serve the public interest, but rather, hands out regulatory favors to the entertainment industry. Read the rest

Watch: leaked demo of malware offered to spying governments

Someone captured and leaked a live presentation by an RCS sales tech, demonstrating his company's cyber-weapon for spying on dissidents, criminals, and whomever else the customer wanted to infect. Read the rest

The privacy wars have been a disaster and they're about to get a LOT worse

In my latest Locus column, The Privacy Wars Are About to Get A Whole Lot Worse, I describe the history of the privacy wars to date, and the way that the fiction of "notice and consent" has provided cover for a reckless, deadly form of viral surveillance capitalism. Read the rest

Why Trump's naked corruption is less interesting than conspiracy theories about Clinton

Yesterday, Paul Krugman wrote that he expects Hillary Clinton will get "Gored" by press innuendo over the next few weeks. Today, The Washington Post's Paul Weldman wonders why Read the rest

Weapons of Math Destruction: invisible, ubiquitous algorithms are ruining millions of lives

I've been writing about the work of Cathy "Mathbabe" O'Neil for years: she's a radical data-scientist with a Harvard PhD in mathematics, who coined the term "Weapons of Math Destruction" to describe the ways that sloppy statistical modeling is punishing millions of people every day, and in more and more cases, destroying lives. Today, O'Neil brings her argument to print, with a fantastic, plainspoken, call to arms called (what else?) Weapons of Math Destruction.

Police unions are a public enemy

Thanks the the contracts police unions get from local governments, it's not only hard to get rid of violent, corrupt cops, but investigating them in the first place is made nigh-impossible. They beat, steal and grift with impunity. The New York Times' editorial board says it's time for legislators to rip up these agreements and force the rule of law on those who represent it.

Across the country, municipal governments have signed contracts with police unions including provisions that shield officers from punishment for brutal behavior as well as from legitimate complaints by the citizens they are supposed to serve.

That may soon change, as public outrage over police killings of civilians is ratcheting up pressure on elected officials to radically revise police contracts that make it almost impossible to bring officers to justice.

The most striking case in point is Chicago, which has been roiled by a police scandal stemming from a cover-up in the case of a 17-year-old named Laquan McDonald, who was executed by a police officer nearly two years ago.

What's changed? Even old white folks are becoming scared of the cops. If it shows just how bad this problem has gotten, it's also a bitter reminder of what it takes to get something done about it. Read the rest

Young Conservatives' "leadership seminar" featured food & water deprivation, sexist epithets, physical abuse

The Ontario Progressive Conservative Party has issued an apology to attendees at a 3-day, $300-400 Conservative Leadership Foundation seminar where attendees experienced sexist epithets, thrown shoes, and denial of food and drink. Read the rest

Florida prosecutor who bumbled George Zimmerman trial is really good at putting children in adult prisons for life

Angela Corey is state attorney for Florida's 4th Circuit, where she's put children as young as 12 on trial as adults, facing life in prison -- in solitary, because children can't be mixed with adult populations -- without counseling, education, or any access to family. Read the rest

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