The Skunk, a drone from South African company Desert Wolf, is billed as the first riot-control drone -- it fires dye-balls, pepper spray and rubber bullets at protesters, blinds them with strobes, broadcasts control messages to them, and records them. Its first customers are South African mine-owners wishing to target striking workers.
The Izolyatsia makerspace in Donetsk, Ukraine, has been seized by armed, masked Russian separatists from the Donetsk People's Republic, who denounced it as "decadent" and accused it of being "an American-funded anti-Russian organisation which supports fascism and develops decadent kind of arts." Izolyatsia is the first hackerspace to be occupied by an armed militia.
Rural counties across Indiana have been purchasing Afghanistan-surplus tanks with gunner turrets and heavy armour; most recently, it was Johnson County, whose Sheriff, Doug Cox, justified the purchase by saying, "The United States of America has become a war zone."
The 55,000lb "mine resistant ambush protected" tank (MRAP) was a steal at $5,000 (original price: $733,000), part of a bizarro-world peace dividend from the Afghanistan and Iraq drawdown, which sees the toolsuite of a military occupying force being flogged at knock-down rates to macho shithead sheriffs across the American heartland for deployment against American civilians.
For example, Johnson County SWAT used their MRAP to break up a fight between two drunks, and in Morgan County, the requisition for their MRAP said it was to be used for a variety of purposes, including "drug search warrants and felony arrest warrants." By and large, counties acquiring these tanks have no formal policy about when and how they can be used.
A hacking incident may have affected the personal data of thousands of South Koreans employed by the US military. "Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, commander of U.S. Forces in South Korea, apologized Thursday for the 'possible theft' from two databases of private details of South Koreans such as names, contact information and work history," reports AP. Roughly 16,000 current and past workers and others who have sought jobs with the U.S. military in South Korea, are affected.
"The U.S. Army is quietly putting the word out to commands that it is replacing its current Universal Camouflage Pattern with a pattern the service has owned for more than a decade," reports military.com.
Senior leadership chose 'Scorpion,' a pattern similar to the MultiCam pattern designed circa 2002. The story behind how these patterns are designed, how they're selected, and what the design contractors charge (or try to get away with charging!) the military is very interesting.
The US government may use visa restrictions to ban hackers from China from participating in the 2014 Defcon hacker conference in Las Vegas. The move is part of a larger effort by the US to combat Chinese internet espionage.
Army Staff Sgt. Sam Shockley, who was injured in Afghanistan when he stepped on a buried bomb, prepares to work on his balance and on walking with prosthetic legs at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda. Matt McClain/The Washington Post
From the sixth in a 6-part Washington Post series on war and disability: "The longest stretch of fighting in American history is producing disability claims at rates that surpass those of any of the country’s previous wars. Nearly half of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are filing for these benefits when they leave the military — a flood of claims that has overwhelmed the VA and generated a backlog of 300,000 cases stuck in processing for more than 125 days. Some have languished for more than a year." The flood of claims peaked last year at 611,000.
A map of China is seen through a magnifying glass on a computer screen showing binary digits in Singapore in this January 2, 2014 photo illustration. Picture taken January 2, 2014. REUTERS/Edgar Su.
The Justice Department this week indicted five hackers linked to China’s People’s Liberation Army. The hackers are accused of stealing data from six US companies, and represent a "cyberwar" escalation with China: what was a diplomatic discomfort is now a criminal matter. "But cybersecurity policy-watchers say that the arrival of the indictments in the wake of Snowden’s serial revelations could both lessen the charges’ impact and leave American officials open to parallel criminal allegations from Chinese authorities," writes Wired's Andy Greenberg.
China's air force has trained macaques to fight off birds nesting at an air base. The risk is that birds could interfere with the planes' engines. According to a CNN translation of a post on the People's Liberation Army Air Force site, "The monkeys are loyal bodyguards who defend the safety of our comrades."
More than two years after the repeal of the law that barred gay men and lesbians from serving in the military openly, transgender service members can still be dismissed from the force without question, the result of a decades-old policy that dates back to an era when gender nonconformity was widely seen as a mental illness.... Transgender service members are increasingly undergoing procedures to align their bodies more closely with the genders with which they identify. Medical experts, meanwhile, are urging the Defense Department to rescind a policy they view as discriminatory and outdated, noting that some of America’s closest allies, including Canada, Britain and Australia, have done so seamlessly.
Dave from the Electronic Frontier Foundation sez, "The government often makes itself more accessible to businesses than the general public. For Sunshine Week, we compiled this guide to using FedBizOpps to keep an eye on surveillance technology contracts."
Fedbizopps is a weird, revealing window into the world of creepy surveillance, arms, and technology contractors who build and maintain the most oppressive and unethical parts of the apparatus of the US government. Everything from drone-testing of biological and chemical weapons to license plate cameras to weaponized bugs and other malware are there. The EFF post also has links to data-mining tools that help estimate just how much money the private arms dealers extract from the tax-coffers.
Journalist Glenn Greenwald after being reunited with his partner, David Miranda, in Rio de Janeiro's International Airport after British authorities used anti-terrorism powers to detain Miranda. RICARDO MORAES/REUTERS
In a disturbing ruling for democracy, a lower court in United Kingdom announced today that the detainment of journalist Glenn Greenwald’s partner David Miranda was lawful under the Terrorism Act, despite the fact that the UK government knew Miranda never was a terrorist. This disgraceful opinion equates acts of journalism with terrorism and puts the UK on par with some of the world’s most repressive regimes. Miranda has vowed to appeal the ruling.