Canadian Wifi spying: Harper's secretary spins, lies, and slanders in Parliament

Following on this week's Snowden leak detailing how Canadian spy agency CSEC illegally intercepted free airport Wifi and used it to track Canadians as they moved around the country, Paul Calandra, parliamentary secretary to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, stood up in Parliament and issued a non-denial saying that the CBC had it all wrong, but not saying in what way.

The most shameful part of this was when Calandra used ad hominem to distract his audience from his government's criminal acts, slandering journalist Glenn Greenwald by calling him a "porn-spy," incorrectly stating that Greenwald had sold the leaked documents to the CBC, and then making a big deal out of the fact that Greenwald's bank account is in Brazil. The last part would be a bit mysterious, except for the fact that Greenwald lives in Brazil.

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Video of the ritual destruction of a Guardian laptop with the Snowden leaks, as ordered by Prime Minister David Cameron


Remember when UK Prime Minister David Cameron ordered government officials to go to the offices of the Guardian in London and demand the symbolic destruction of a laptop with the Edward Snowden leaks on it? It was a bizarre kind of high-tech exorcism, a bizarre ritual in which one of many, many copies of the Snowden documents were ritually destroyed, because, in the Prime Minister's words, "We've had enough debate about them."

The Guardian has posted a video of the exorcism, showing how the stern officials oversaw the piece-by-piece systematic destruction of the machine. It's not embeddable, but it's a remarkable piece of footage that you should really go and watch.

Revealed: the day Guardian destroyed Snowden hard drives under watchful eye of GCHQ – video

(via Techdirt)

890 word Daily Mail immigrant panic story contains 13 vile lies


The Daily Mail is an awful, racist, hard-right UK newspaper, notorious for scare stories (see, for example, this exhaustive index of things that the Fail claims will give you cancer) and generally terrible reporting.

But even in amidst all that notorious history of deceit and hate, the Mail attained something of a new low recently, with its "reporting" on the supposed wave of Bulgarian and Romanian immigrants. According to the Mail, these people were poised to invade the UK on January 1, 2014, when those countries' EU membership would entitle their citizens travel throughout the EU and seek work without visas.

Jon Danzig, an investigative BBC journalist, plucked one of the many such stories out of the paper's pages, a mere 890 words' worth, and, with the help of a colleague in Romania, found 13 lies. He pressed the Mail to substantiate its story, and, failing to receive a satisfactory reply, he filed a formal complaint with the Press Complaints Commission.

The Mail's xenophobic campaign against Bulgarians and Romanians has been instrumental in shifting both Labour and the Tories to adopting inhumane policies, in order to pander to people who've been terrorised into a false belief that somehow migrants are coming to both take away British jobs and collect benefits (that is, to work and not work simultaneously).

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How to talk about race, productively

Introducing Moving the Race Conversation Forward, a new research report by Race Forward, the amazing Jay Smooth talks about one way that we can talk about race productively: by focusing on systems, rather than individuals.

Moving The Race Conversation Forward (via Waxy)

"Content" has the stink of failure (and it's a lie, besides)

Tim Bray's "Content-free" is a great piece on why the term "content" is so objectionable. He raises some good arguments, but misses my favorite one -- one of the origins of the term "content" in technical speech is the idea that you can separate the "content" of a Web-page from the "presentation." Indeed, scripts that present "content" to users are sometimes called "decorators."

Now that the Web's in its second decade of common use, it's pretty clear that "content" and "presentation" are never fully separable. This is a lesson that was already learned in other media -- for example, when movies progressed from being a single, locked-off camera recording a stage-play and instead began to integrate the limitations and the capabilities of film into the "content" of that film.

John Perry Barlow made this point well in his introduction to my essay collection Content (a title chosen for largely ironic reasons). It's also a point that David Byrne makes very well in the brilliant How Music Works, where he discusses the move to record each musician separately and mix the "content" in the studio, and how that produced a manifestly different kind of music than music where all the musicians played together.

In other words, "content" isn't just pernicious for Tim Bray's excellent reason ("'Content' has the stink of failure; of hustlers building businesses they don't actually care about"), but because it implies a harmful untruth: that there is a clean line that can be drawn between "content" and "form." Where this untruth flourishes, people who produce "content" that is, in fact, optimized for the form of "content whose form will be determined later" go about claiming that they have found the neutral, form-free, platonic ideal of content. Instead, they've constrained their content by eliminating all the form-dependent elements, and thereby constrained their ability to communicate the full range of human ideas.

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Lies of the Daily Mail

Yesterday's New Statesman published a long, nuanced profile of Paul Dacre, editor-in-chief of the despicable Daily Mail. Dacre's a remarkable and contradictory character, profiled with some sympathy but no white-washing by Peter Wilby, but the most striking moment of the piece comes in the first third, when Wilby lays out all the admitted falsehoods and libels published by the Daily Mail -- a list that is incomplete because it only consists of those where retractions, legal action, or other visible signals of falsehood were raised. There's a much longer list of smears and lies about people who couldn't afford to defend themselves from the paper (or couldn't bear to). Still, it's a hell of a list:

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Glenn Greenwald's must-watch 30C3 keynote

Yesterday in Hamburg, Glenn Greenwald gave an astounding, must-watch keynote address to the gathered hackers at the 30th Chaos Communications Congress, or 30C3 (Greenwald starts at 4:36). Greenwald excoriated the press for failing to hold the world's leaders to account, describing what he did with the Snowden leaks as challenge to the journalistic status quo as well as the political status quo. This is a leaping-off point for an extended riff on the active cooperation between the press and the national security apparatus, an arrangement calculated to give the appearance of oversight on surveillance activities without any such oversight (for example, BBC reporter expressed shock when he said that the role of the press should be to root out lies from senior spies, saying that generals and senior officials would ever lie to the public).

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Bob Basset's brutal repression mask auctioned to benefit independent Ukrainian media outlet


Ukrainian mask-maker Bob Basset made this grotesque mask depicting a baton smashing the wearer's face; it symbolizes political repression in Ukraine, and is being auctioned to benefit Hromadske.tv, a news outlet Basset calls "one of the last outposts" of "truly independent journalism" in Ukraine.

For more on the political situation in Ukraine, see our feature EuroMaidan: a Facebook revolution in the streets of Kiev .

Bob Basset for Hromadske.tv

60 Minutes attains new journalistic low with NSA puff-piece


This week's special on the NSA from CBS's "60 Minutes" was a complete disaster. Conducted by a former US bureaucrat who'd overseen NSA activities and who is about to take a job working for NYPD intelligence (where he'd previously worked, in a scandal-haunted stint punctuated by liberal use of falsehoods), it was a total failure of journalistic integrity, filled with softball questions and straw-men, and lacking in commentary from a single NSA critic. This is a new low for 60 Minutes and CBS as a news entity. Mike Masnick has detailed analysis.

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Rob Ford implies journalist is a pedophile

Just when you thought Toronto Mayor Rob Ford couldn't sink any lower, he implied that a Toronto Star reporter was a pedophile. The reporter he targeted is a particular thorn in the mayor's side, having gone to the mayor's house to investigate an adjacent property that he'd pulled strings to buy. Cory 32

WSJ columnist L. Gordon Crovitz is dead wrong about NSA spying

L. Gordon Crovitz is a Wall Street Journal columnist who has written about the Snowden leaks, and what they show about the NSA's operations, making extensive reference to documents secured by the Electronic Frontier Foundation in a lawsuit against the US government. Throughout his article, he gets it grossly, extravagantly wrong.

Trevor Timm from EFF has taken the time to comprehensively correct Mr Crovitz's assertions about the documents from EFF's lawsuit and what they say about the NSA.

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All-purpose apology for corrupt, inept, thieving, substance-abusing Canadian politicians


It's not just Toronto mayor Rob "Laughable Bumblefuck" Ford: Canada's politicians at all levels are in trouble, though senators, mayors and the Prime Minister and his cronies are leading the pack for corruption, scandal, thieving, criminality, and prevarication. And none of them, not one, knows how to say sorry. Noting this, Andrew Coyne has penned an all-purpose apology for Canadian pols to use as a template when the inevitable comeuppance arrives:

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Toronto's crack-smoking mayor, covered in the style of foreign affairs

WashPo's Max Fisher reports on Toronto's crack-smoking Mayor Rob "Laughable Bumblefuck" Ford, using the conventions of the western press when it reports on poor countries. Here's part of the lede: "In a country where dissent is limited by traditional mores, the transgression has sparked rare public outrage and raised concerns about the stability of the Canadian regime."

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David Cameron threatens injunction against the Guardian to stop further Snowden leak publications

UK prime minister David Cameron has threatened to get a court order against the Guardian if it continues to publish the Snowden leaks. He accused the Guardian of having a "lah-di-dah, airy-fairy view" about the dangers of leaks, and said the if the paper didn't voluntarily censor itself out of a sense of "social responsibility" he would seek court injunctions against it.

The majority of the Snowden leaks have revealed crimes -- illegal spying, lying to Congress and Parliament, violation of international law. That these crimes were committed with the knowledge and approval of the highest levels of the US and UK government doesn't make them any less criminal. And what wasn't criminal was absolutely depraved in its indifference to the public good: for example, the UK government's Edgehill programme, which, with the US government's Bullrun program, sabotaged the security of software, hardware and cryptographic standards to the tune of USD250M/year.

There is nothing more cowardly and corrupt than a lawbreaking political leader who threatens the free press when they call him to account. I never liked Cameron, but with this, he's taken the Tories beyond their reputation of being "the nasty party" and turned them into full-blown Stalinists.

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OMG Nipple! cake in honor of Amanda Palmer's Daily Mail song

A sugary-sweet coda to Amanda Palmer's song for the Daily Mail with its climactic "OMG NIPPLE!" Some of Amanda's fans in Minnesota baked her a nipple-cake [link NSFW, especially if you W at the DM] sporting "5 different skin tones, 2 piercings, 2 tattoos, a mastectomy scar, a tan line, freckles, and a birth mark."

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