Cyberarms dealer's weapons used against Mexican soda-tax activists

NSO is an Israel cyberarms dealer, which buys or researches vulnerabilities in software and then weaponizes them; claiming that these cyberweapons will only be used by democratic governments and their police forces to attacks serious criminals and terrorists -- a claim repeated by its competitors, such as Italy's Hacking Team and Gamma Group. Read the rest

This dump of Iphone-cracking tools shows how keeping software defects secret makes everyone less secure

Last month, a hacker took 900GB of data from Cellebrite, an Israeli cyber-arms dealer that was revealed to be selling surveillance and hacking tools to Russia, the UAE, and Turkey. Read the rest

Get chai: Israel moving toward marijuana legalization

Yesterday, the Israeli government announced major steps toward legalizing marijuana. Medical cannabis is already a big thing in Israel and permitted by traditional Jewish law. According to Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, the new policy is part of a "shift to decriminalization with responsibility." Progress! Yet, the focus on "treatment" for offending minors seems a bit ridiculous. From CNN:

The new policy would apply to users carrying up to 15 grams, roughly a half-ounce. If passed, first-time offenders would face a fine of 1000 shekels (about $265), with the offense not appearing on their criminal record. Those caught for a second time would see the fine double. If caught a third time, the punishment would be at the discretion of the police. On the fourth offense, the suspect could face criminal prosecution.

Minors caught for the first time with marijuana would be criminally prosecuted only if they refused to take part in a treatment program. The second offense would be closed with a special settlement. The third time could trigger criminal proceedings.

"Israel takes steps to decriminalize marijuana use" (CNN) Read the rest

Feds charge hedge-fund managers with $1B embezzlement

According to a federal indictment, Platinum Partners founder Mark Nordlicht and four others faked the hedge fund's books for years to allow them to siphon off one billion dollars to their personal accounts, swindling 600 investors. Read the rest

Shimon Peres on leaving office

Rest in peace. Read the rest

Shimon Peres, former Israeli PM who worked for peace, has died at 93 after a stroke

One of the great political leaders of Israel, Nobel peace prize laureate Shimon Peres, has died. He was 93 years old. He suffered a stroke two weeks ago.

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The democratization of censorship: when anyone can kill as site as effectively as a government can

On the eve of the Stuxnet attacks, half a decade ago, I found myself discussing what it all meant with William Gibson (I'd just interviewed him on stage in London), and I said, "I think the most significant thing about any of these sophisticated, government-backed attacks is that they will eventually turn into a cheap and easy weapon that technically unskilled people can deploy for petty grievances." We haven't quite got there yet with Stuxnet, but there's a whole class of "advanced persistent threat" techniques that are now in the hands of fringey criminals who deploy them at the smallest provocation. Read the rest

Fansmitter: malware that exfiltrates data from airgapped computers by varying the sound of their fans

In a new paper, researchers from Ben-Gurion University demonstrate a fiendishly clever procedure for getting data off of airgapped computers that have had their speakers removed to prevent acoustic data-transmission: instead of playing sound through the target computer's speakers, they attack its fans, varying their speeds to produce subtle sounds that humans can barely notice, but which nearby devices can pick up through their microphones. Read the rest

Judenstaat: an alternate history in which a Jewish state is created in east Germany in 1948

Theodor Herzl's seminal 1896 essay Der Judenstaat called for the creation of Jewish state as an answer to the ancient evil of antisemitism; its legacy, Zionism, underpinned the creation of Israel; in Judenstaat, Simone Zelitch's beautifully told, thoughtful and disturbing alternate history, the Jewish state is created in Saxony, not Palestine, and takes the place of East Germany. Read the rest

Apple rejects game about Palestine because political messages disqualify games from consideration

Liyla and the Shadows of War (Google Play link) is a game about a child's struggles living in the Gaza strip, and Apple says it is ineligible for consideration for inclusion in the Ios App Store because it would be "more appropriate to categorize your app in News or Reference for example." Read the rest

Changing Minds: NPR series on people who’ve rethought convictions in an era of polarization and extremism

Boing Boing pal Isabel Lara writes to give us a heads up about a new NPR series, “Changing Minds.” NPR launched the project this week and it looks at stories of people who’ve changed their positions in what has become a cultural moment of partisan polarization and extremism. The stories so far focus on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

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Israeli company's product can (allegedly) pwn any nearby mobile phone

The Interapp from Tel Aviv's Rayzone Group is an intrusion appliance that uses a cache of zero-day exploits against common mobile phone OSes and is marketed as having the capability to infect and take over any nearby phone whose wifi is turned on. Read the rest

Hamas claims Israel is using dolphins as spies

According to an article in the Palestinian daily al-Quds, Israel has "recruited a watery pet, the dolphin, known for his friendship with humans, to use for operations to kill Qassam Brigade Naval Commandos." Read the rest

Smoke, Slingshots, and Spongebob: the Middle East crisis in photos

Startling shots from Gaza, Israel, and elsewhere depict despair and outrage at a seemingly-intractable crisis.

Netanyahu briefly follows Persian sex site on Twitter

Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, briefly followed an Iranian "sex feed" over the weekend. At the time, reports Ilan Ben Zion, @PersianHotBook had only 15 followers—and it soon lost its latest fan.

The apparent Twitter faux pas was the second for Netanyahu among Iranians in a little over a week, after he was roundly mocked on social media for telling BBC Persian that Iranians should overthrow their government so they can be free to wear jeans. That comment was followed on Twitter by a groundswell of pictures of ordinary Iranians showing off their denim duds.

The Likud Central Committee said that it runs the account, that it suffered a "malfunction," and that it is investigating the "malfunction." Read the rest

In Israel, new insights on the science of medical Marijuana

A great piece in the NYT by Isabel Kershner on Tikkun Olam, a commercial medical marijuana plantation in Israel. The name is "a reference to the Jewish concept of repairing or healing the world," and while marijuana is illegal in this country, some of the most interesting scientific research into its healing properties is happening here. The last graf is the most amazing. (Thanks, Stoningham!) Read the rest

For the children of Gaza and Israel

The Velveteen Rabbi wrote a beautiful piece, in the form of a psalm, for The Children of Abraham / Ibrahim. Snip: "For every toddler in his mother's arms / behind rubble of concrete and rebar / For every child who's learned to distinguish / "our" bombs from "their" bombs by sound..." (via @ethanz) Read the rest

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