Apple removes an app that tracks U.S. military drone strikes from its store


The Metadata+ app which tracks U.S. military drone strikes by was created by Josh Begley, research editor for The Intercept. Begley changed its name from Drones+ after it was rejected as "objectionable" by Apple five times. Read the rest

Playful, pacifist IEDs


Sculptor Petros Eftstathiadiadis makes these "pacifist bombs" as a commentary on the Greek political/economic situation, constructing them from materials chosen to seem absurd, playful and harmless. Despite that, a few of these look somewhat alarming to me, possibly because of Eftstathiadiadis's (admirable) lack of knowledge about antipersonnel weaponry -- the soap immediately makes me think of jellied gasoline, for example. Read the rest

For the first time ever, a judge has invalidated a secret Patriot Act warrant


Calyx is a privacy-oriented ISP. In 2004, the FBI brought its owner, Nicholas Merrill, a National Security Letter -- one of the USA Patriot Act's secret search warrants, which comes with a gag order prohibiting the recipient from ever disclosing its existence.

Merrill has fought the gag order for 11 years, refusing to give up despite government attempts to get the case booted and to run up the court costs beyond Merrill's ability to pay.

He had a partial victory in 2010, when he and the ACLU won a court victory that allowed him to disclose some elements of the NSL, but left important details -- including the categories of information the FBI believes it can request under an NSL -- still secret. This latest victory overturns that restriction.

The judge in this case, Judge Victor Marrero, also presided over a 2007 case that overturned part of the Patriot Act, requiring investigators to go through the courts in order to get NSLs. In his Calyx decision, he condemned the government's secrecy as "extreme and overly broad."

U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero’s decision invalidated the gag order in full, finding no “good reason” to prevent Merrill from speaking about any aspect of the NSL, particularly an attachment to the NSL that lists the specific types of “electronic communication transactional records” (“ECTR”) that the FBI believed it was authorized to demand. The FBI has long refused to clarify what kinds of information it sweeps up under the rubric of ECTR, a phrase that appears in the NSL statute but is not publicly defined anywhere.

Read the rest

Making while brown: Texas schoolchild arrested for bringing homemade clock to school UPDATED


Ahmed Mohamed is a gifted, driven maker-kid who's in the ninth grade at MacArthur High in Irving, Texas. When he showed the homemade clock he soldered and pieced together to his engineering teacher, he was told to keep it in his bag. But when the alarm went off in English class, his teacher accused him of bringing a bomb to school.

He told the teacher, and then the principal, and then the police offers who'd been summoned, that it was a digital clock he'd made and brought to school to show as evidence of the kinds of things he was making. He'd loved robotics club in middle school and was hoping to connect to a similar peer group in his new high school.

He was arrested, handcuffed, and paraded through the school with an officer on each arm, wearing his NASA shirt.

When he was brought before the school police, the officer who arrested him looked at him and said, "Yup. That’s who I thought it was." Ahmed Mohamed and his family (and the Council on Islamic American Relations) believe that the officer was referring to the color of his skin and his name.

Police spokesman James McLellan admits that Mohamed always maintained that the device was a clock, not a bomb, "but there was no broader explanation." When the Dallas Morning News asked him what "broader explanation" he was looking for, McLellan said, “It could reasonably be mistaken as a device if left in a bathroom or under a car. Read the rest

New Zealand gov't promises secret courts for accused terrorists

Juha sez, "The Law Society of NZ is alarmed at government proposals to introduce secret courts where defendants have no right to attend hearings and see all the evidence against them." Read the rest

Louisiana townsfolk terror-freak over Hebrew "welcome home" sign

Several residents of Rapides Parish called the sherriff's office to report a "terror message" on a sign that actually said "Welcome home, Yamit," in Hebrew. Read the rest

Pre-crime: DHS admits that it puts people on the no-fly list based on "predictive assessment"

A DoJ filing in an ACLU lawsuit in Oregon admits that you can be put on a no-fly list based on "predictive assessments about potential threats," as opposed to threatening or dangerous things you've actually said or done. Read the rest

Actual questions from my Green Card questionnaire

Not even kidding. Read the rest

Idaho court strikes down anti-whistleblower "ag-gag" law

Many agriculture-heavy states have passed laws criminalizing recording videos of animal cruelty and illegal workplace and food hygiene practices, but one judge in Idaho isn't having any of it. Read the rest

London terror cops forced to admit they're still investigating journos who reported Snowden leaks

London Metropolitan Police anti-terror squad had refused to make any comment on whether they were investigating the reporters who broke the Snowden story for two years, but now a court has ordered them to answer -- and they've copped to it. Read the rest

Laura Poitras sues the US Government to find out why she was repeatedly detained in airports

The Oscar-winning documentarian, who directed Citizenfour, was detained and searched over 50 times, but the breaking-point was when the US Government refused to respond to her Freedom of Information Act request for the reasons for her harassment. Read the rest

All 40 of the FBI & DHS's post-9/11 terror attack warnings fizzled

And yet, the press keeps on reporting these "reliable intelligence-based" reports of impending attacks on the "homeland" as though you should believe them. Read the rest

How the NSA searches the world's intercepted private communications

XKEYSCORE is a secret NSA program that indexes data slurped up from covert fiber-taps, hacked systems, and smartphones, including "full take" data and metadata. Read the rest

CNN mistakes a Pride Parade flag covered in dildos for the ISIS flag

A CNN reporter filed an "exclusive" story about a person carrying an "ISIS flag" at yesterday's Pride Parade in London. Read the rest

John Oliver commissions Helen Mirren to narrate an audiobook of the CIA Torture Report

Despite a hard-fought battle to publish the CIA Torture Report, very few people have read it, including some of the report's starring villains. Read the rest

Memoir of a Mormon missionary expelled from Canada as a terrorist

Science fiction writer William Shunn is at long last releasing his memoir, The Accidental Terrorist, in book form. Revised and expanded from his popular podcast, it tells the story of how he was expelled from Canada for terrorism as a young Mormon missionary. Read the rest

UK schools using spyware to monitor students' ideology

The software monitors students' communications looking for "extremist" language like "jihobbyist," "YODO" (you only die once), and "jihadi bride." Read the rest

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