In promoting Cybersecurity National Action Plan, White House conspicuously fails to mention encryption

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The White House released an announcement today on President Obama's Cybersecurity National Action Plan. In thousands of not actually bad at all words about cybersecurity, they managed not to say the word "encryption" once.

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FBI's war on encryption is unnecessary because the Internet of Things will spy on us just fine

Reuters

The war on encryption waged by the F.B.I. and other intelligence agencies is unnecessary, because the data trails we voluntarily leak allow “Internet of Things” devices and social media networks to track us in ways the government can access.

That's the short version of what's in “Don’t Panic: Making Progress on the ‘Going Dark’ Debate,” a study published today by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard.

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President Obama pledges $4 billion for computer science education in schools

President Obama delivers his final State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in Washington January 12, 2016. REUTERS

In his weekly address, President Barack Obama this week pledged $4 billion in federal funding for computer science education in schools throughout the nation.

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President Obama's final State of the Union address

President Obama delivers his final State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in Washington January 12, 2016. REUTERS

President Barack Obama tonight gave the final State of the Union Address of his final presidential term. Here is the full text of those remarks.

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Seinfeld takes Obama for a spin in Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee

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Jerry Seinfeld usually brings along a fellow comedian for a ride with him in a vintage car to a coffee shop, but this time he mixed things up a bit by inviting the President to accompany him. Unfortunately, the Secret Service wouldn't let Seinfeld and Obama drive past the White House gate, so they ended up having coffee in the White House basement, which looks like a set for a 1970s sitcom about an aluminum siding telemarketing boilerhose. There, they had a fun conversation while drinking low-quality coffee made in a Mr. Coffee machine. I'm glad they aren't wasting money on Keurig pods, at least. From Crackle: Just Tell Him You’re the President Read the rest

Obama commutes sentences of 95 prisoners and pardons two

President Obama holds his end of 2015 news conference at the White House, Dec. 18, 2015.    REUTERS

President Barack Obama today announced he has commuted the sentences of 95 federal prisoners, and granted two prisoners pardons. Most of them are nonviolent drug offenders.

This is the most he has done at one time, and more than doubles the number of clemency orders he has granted since taking office. His signature today sets free 40 prisoners who are serving life sentences.

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Obama promises statement on encryption before Xmas (maybe)

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The Obama administration, which has staffed up on savvy pro-privacy technologists, even as its law enforcement arm has called for a "magic pony" that would let Internet users attain technological security without compromising the ability to wiretap them, has promised to release a statement indicating whether it will make policy based on science or fear.

Update: Kevin Bankston clarifies:

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Ralph Peters calls President Obama a "total pussy" on TV

Retired US Army lieutenant colonel and Fox News commentator Ralph Peters's comment on live TV after President Obama's Oval Office address yesterday about ISIS:

"We’re angry. We’re pissed off. We’re furious. We want to see you react. We want you to do something. You’re afraid. I mean, this guy is such a total pussy it’s stunning."

(Washington Post)

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US warplane shot at survivors fleeing Doctors Without Borders hospital bombing, MSF reports

Debris litters the floor in MSF's Kunduz Trauma center. [Photo: MSF]

Doctors Without Borders released an internal report today that claims a U.S. warplane shot at people who were trying to escape the international medical aid group's hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, after the building was bombed by American forces.

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How the White House is celebrating Back to the Future Day!

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Our man in the White House, Tom Kalil, Deputy Director for Policy for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, alerts us to the Administration's celebration of Back To The Future Day that includes:

* The release of President Obama's updated Strategy for American Innovation

* Tom's post on the White House blog about the power of imagination, titled "Science Fiction to Science Fact"

* A series of online conversations with scientists and innovators about the future! Read the rest

Eric Holder: I didn't prosecute bankers for reasons unrelated to my $3M/year law firm salary

Scrooge

The Intercept's Dan Froomkin played turd-in-the-punchbowl at outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder's victory lap party at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press reception on Wednesday, asking why Holder had declined to put one single banker in jail for the monumental frauds that collapsed the world's economy in 2007-9. Read the rest

Obama apologizes to aid group for bombing hospital. MSF: Thanks, but we want an investigation

Francoise Saulnier, MSF  legal counsel, next to Joanne Liu, President of MSF International. [REUTERS]

Doctors Without Borders received an apology from President Barack Obama today for the deadly U.S. bombing of its hospital in northern Afghanistan.

The international medical aid organization released a statement today:

"We reiterate our ask that the U.S. government consent to an independent investigation led by the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission to establish what happened in Kunduz, how it happened, and why it happened," said Dr. Joanne Liu, international president of the group, also known as Doctors Without Borders.

MSF headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland October 7, 2015. REUTERS

The aid group, also known also as Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF, said the proposed commission would gather evidence from the United States, NATO and Afghanistan. After that, the charity would decide whether to seek criminal charges for loss of life and damage.

“If we let this go, we are basically giving a blank check to any countries at war,” MSF International President Joanne Liu told reporters in Geneva. But she noted there was no commitment yet on official cooperation with an independent investigation.

The U.S. air attack Saturday killed 22 patients and medical staffers, including three children, in the northern Afghanistan city of Kunduz, which had been overrun by Taliban militants. Thirty-seven people were injured, including 19 staff members, the charity said.

Aid group seeks independent probe into U.S. attack on Afghan hospital

Afghan guards stand at the gate of MSF hospital after an air strike in the city of Kunduz. REUTERS Read the rest

Right to Encrypt is under fire in America. Savecrypto.org is fighting for your crypto rights.

SAVECRYPTO.ORG

The Intercept just published an amazing article by Jim Bamford yesterday talking about how the NSA exploited a backdoor in Vodafone to spy on Greek politicians and journalists during the 2004 Olympics.

Bamford is an American author and journalist best known for his writing about United States intelligence agencies, and in particular the National Security Agency.

In a meticulous investigation, Bamford reports at the Intercept that the NSA was behind the notorious, legendary “Athens Affair”. After the 2004 Olympics, the Greek government discovered that an unknown attacker had hacked into Vodafone’s “lawful intercept” system, the phone company’s method of wiretapping voice calls. The attacker spied on phone calls of the president and other Greek politicians and journalists before the hack was found out.

Freedom of the Press Foundation director Trevor Timm wrote for the Guardian about why this is exactly why encryption backdoors are so dangerous.

What are encryption backdoors? For non-techie readers, basically these are ways the government can unencrypt your "locked" communications if they decide they want to see your private material for any secret reason.

And in related news, rumor has it the White House is nearing a decision on whether to embrace the right to encryption for American citizens, or join the FBI in calling for backdoors.

Dozens of civil liberties groups, including Freedom of the Press Foundation, launched this site and petition today that feeds into the White House petition system: savecrypto.org.

If you care about this issue, right now is the time to take action. Read the rest

Obama and China's Xi Jinping make a deal on commercial cyber espionage

reuters
The Financial Times reports that U.S. President Barack Obama has negotiated a commitment from Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping that China will not conduct commercial cyber espionage. In what were reportedly tense, prolonged talks, Obama communicated to the Chinese leader that the United States was ready to impose sanctions on Chinese companies accused of profiting from stolen industrial secrets. Read the rest

Surely this is the most Norman Rockwell photo ever taken of President Obama meeting a little boy

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“President Barack Obama meets 4-year-old Malik Hall during departure photos with Malik's uncle, Maurice Owens, center, in the Oval Office, Sept 4, 2015.” Read the rest

Salmon splooges on President Obama's shoes

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Awkward.

Listen to President Obama's summer playlists

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President Obama posted two Spotify summer playlists, one for day and another for night. Some nice soul and jazz cuts on there from Coltrane, The Temptations, Al Green Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, and Miles. Also, the Stones, Dylan, and Joni Mitchell. I clicked right past the Beyonce and Justin Timberlake tracks though.

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