Sonnet Ehlers, a doctor in South Africa, has designed, patented, and manufactured an "anti-rape female condom" with the unambiguous brand name Rape-aXe. Women who believe they are at high risk of being raped insert the device into themselves like a tampon, and wear it around indefinitely as a form of protection when anticipating risk. The "teeth" inside cause intense pain and potential injury to a male upon penetration, and basically clamp down, making exit from the device painful. The thing does leave damage. Snip:
I'm not sure how I feel about this. The design is ingenious, and it's certainly an interesting thing to talk about in a blog post. But I think I agree with the concerns of critics who say the device isn't a real solution to the problem of rape, and I worry that it could place the women who use it at higher risk for violence from men who find their "parts" trapped in the thing. Without getting too graphic here—other forms of sexual assault are still possible. And beyond that, the idea of carrying this thing around inside one's body is very strange:
Ehlers said she sold her house and car to launch the project, and she planned to distribute 30,000 free devices under supervision during the World Cup period. "I consulted engineers, gynecologists and psychologists to help in the design and make sure it was safe," she said. After the trial period, they'll be available for about $2 a piece. She hopes the women will report back to her.
It's also a form of "enslavement," said Victoria Kajja, a fellow for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the east African country of Uganda. "The fears surrounding the victim, the act of wearing the condom in anticipation of being assaulted all represent enslavement that no woman should be subjected to."
"It not only presents the victim with a false sense of security, but psychological trauma," she added. "It also does not help with the psychological problems that manifest after assaults."
Read the rest
Christ, what an asshole. Zachary Chesser, an unemployed 20-year-old man in Virginia who this year threatened South Park's creators over an episode featuring the Prophet Muhammad dressed in a bear suit, has been arrested on federal charges "after speaking openly to the FBI about his connection to a terror organization and his plans to travel overseas to fight with the group."
The organization known as Al-Shabaab (the longer version of their name means "Movement of Warrior Youth") is identified by the US as a terror group affiliated with al-Qaeda. Mr. Chesser was Jewish, but converted to a wacked-out, militant crazystrain of Islam that involves uploading jihadi videos to YouTube and invoking assassination unto the creators of Cartman and Butters. Snip from TSG:
View the documents at Smoking Gun. (thanks, Martha Clayton!)
According to the below affidavit sworn by FBI Agent Mary Brandt Kinder, Chesser, a convert to Islam, spoke at length with agents about his attempts to travel to Kenya and Somalia to join Al-Shabaab and his devotion to jihad, which has included his operation of web sites and a You Tube channel stocked with jihadi propaganda. Through the revolutionmuslim.com site, Chesser remarked in April that "South Park" creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker would "probably end up" like a Dutch filmmaker who was murdered in retaliation for a film critical of the treatment of Islamic women. Along with focusing the public's attention on his extremist beliefs, Chesser's "South Park" threat resulted in fallout within his family. After his mother received death threats following the "South Park" remarks, Chesser told the FBI, "he was no longer on speaking terms with his parents." During one of his interviews with federal agents, Chesser explained how he came up with the YouTube user ID, LearnTeachFightDie: "learn Islam, teach Islam, fight for Islam, and die in the name of Islam."
I believe there is a good case to be made that having lots of cameras in the hands of citizens makes us more, rather than less, safe. Here's how bad it has gotten: Not long ago, an Amtrak representative did an interview with local TV station Fox 5 in Washington, D.C.'s Union Station to explain that you don't need a permit to take pictures there--only to be approached by a security guard who ordered them to stop filming without a permit.Taking Photos In Public Places Is Not A Crime: Analysis (popularmechanics.com, Illustration by Rui Ricardo, courtesy Popular Mechanics)
Legally, it's pretty much always okay to take photos in a public place as long as you're not physically interfering with traffic or police operations. As Bert Krages, an attorney who specializes in photography-related legal problems and wrote Legal Handbook for Photographers, says, "The general rule is that if something is in a public place, you're entitled to photograph it." What's more, though national-security laws are often invoked when quashing photographers, Krages explains that "the Patriot Act does not restrict photography; neither does the Homeland Security Act." But this doesn't stop people from interfering with photographers, even in settings that don't seem much like national-security zones.
The Washington Post today unveiled a two-year investigative journalism project, "Top Secret America."
To ensure that the country's most sensitive duties are carried out only by people loyal above all to the nation's interest, federal rules say contractors may not perform what are called "inherently government functions." But they do, all the time and in every intelligence and counterterrorism agency, according to a two-year investigation by The Washington Post.Top Secret America project home. Story archive here, and interactive map here. More about the project here.
What started as a temporary fix in response to the terrorist attacks has turned into a dependency that calls into question whether the federal workforce includes too many people obligated to shareholders rather than the public interest -- and whether the government is still in control of its most sensitive activities. In interviews last week, both Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and CIA Director Leon Panetta said they agreed with such concerns.
The Post investigation uncovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America created since 9/11 that is hidden from public view, lacking in thorough oversight and so unwieldy that its effectiveness is impossible to determine.
Dubai airports nix full-body scanners "out of respect for privacy of individuals and personal freedom"
Full-body scanners will not be used in Dubai airports because the systems "contradict Islam, and out of respect for the privacy of individuals and their personal freedom," said the head of the Dubai police force airport security division, in a Dubai newspaper. Brigadier Pilot Ahmad Mohammad Bin Thani added, "The scanners will be replaced with other inspection systems that reserve travellers' privacy."
- Naked airport scanner catches cellphone, misses bomb components ...
- Naked scanner reveals airport screener's tiny penis, sparks steel ...
- Airport worker caught photographing screen as female worker passed ...
- Creepy "naked scanners" violate child porn laws in UK
- What the TSA's new body scanner images look like
- Airport scanners aren't a major health risk
- TSA lied: naked-scanners can store and transmit images
- Millimeter wave scan machine at Denver Airport
A freelance photographer who was taking pictures of a BP refinery in Texas was detained by a BP security official, local police and a man claiming to be with the Department of Homeland Security, according to nonprofit news org ProPublica. The photographer was working on a story about multiple large toxic releases at the BP refinery which happened just before the big Gulf oil blowout. From NBC News:
The photographer, Lance Rosenfield, said he was confronted by the officials shortly after arriving in Texas City, Texas, to work on a story that is part of an ongoing collaboration between PBS and ProPublica.Photographer detained by police, BP employee near refinery (NBC Field Notes)
Rosenfield was released after officials looked through the pictures he had taken and took down his date of birth, Social Security number and other personal information, the photographer said. The information was turned over to the BP security guard who said this was standard procedure, ProPublica quoted Rosenfield as saying.
Rosenfield, a Texas-based freelance photographer, said he was followed by a BP employee after taking a picture on a public road near the refinery, and then cornered by two police cars at a gas station. The officials told Rosenfield they had the right to look at the pictures taken near the refinery and if he did not comply he would be "taken in," the photographer said according to ProPublica.
Image: The BP refinery in Texas City, one of the largest in the country, is nearly two square miles. (Lance Rosenfield)
Why We Talk to Terrorists: response to Supreme Court ruling on "material support" of foreign terrorist groups
From Atran and Axelrod's Edge essay:
In the course of this work and in our discussions with decision makers in the Middle East and elsewhere we have seen how informal meetings and exchanges of knowledge have borne fruit. It's not that religious, academic or scientific credentials automatically convey trust, but when combined with a personal commitment to peace, they often carry weight beyond mere opinion or desire.Edge 321 -- July 8, 2010 (Edge.org)
So we find it disappointing that the Supreme Court, in Holder vs. Humanitarian Law Project, ruled that any "material support" of a foreign terrorist group, including talking to terrorists or the communication of expert knowledge and scientific information, helps lend "legitimacy" to the organization. Sometimes, undoubtedly, that is the case. But American law has to find a way to make a clear distinction between illegal material support and legal actions that involve talking with terrorists privately in the hopes of reducing global terrorism and promoting national security.
The U.S. Military's new "Cyber Command" logo contains a hidden code. Noah Shachtman at Wired News says, "Help us crack it!"
Related reading today: Bruce Schneier says "The Threat of Cyberwar Has Been Grossly Exaggerated."
Illustration: Rob Beschizza
Earlier today, Boing Boing reported news that the U.S. has filed formal charges against Pfc. Bradley Manning, the 22-year-old Army Intelligence Specialist who is believed to have leaked damning classified data to Wikileaks.Read the rest
"If he really had access to these cables, we've got a terrible situation on our hands," said an American diplomat. "We're still trying to figure out what he had access to. A lot of my colleagues overseas are sweating this out, given what those cables may contain."The State Department's Worst Nightmare (Daily Beast)
He said Manning apparently had special access to cables prepared by diplomats and State Department officials throughout the Middle East regarding the workings of Arab governments and their leaders. The cables, which date back over several years, went out over interagency computer networks available to the Army and contained information related to American diplomatic and intelligence efforts in the war zones in Afghanistan and Iraq, the diplomat said.
He added that the State Department and law-enforcement agencies are trying to determine whether, and how, to approach Wikileaks to urge the site not to publish the cables, given the damage they could do to diplomatic efforts involving the United States and its allies.
Wired News reporters Kim Zetter and Kevin Poulsen (who first broke the story that Manning had been outed by hacker Adrian Lamo and was now jailed in Kuwait) have posted an update story with more details on the State Department's concerns.
SPC Bradley Manning [ at left ], 22, of Potomac, Maryland, was stationed at Forward Operating Base Hammer, 40 miles east of Baghdad, where he was arrested nearly two weeks ago by the Army's Criminal Investigation Division. A family member says he's being held in custody in Kuwait, and has not been formally charged.That "former hacker," now said to be a US government informer, is Adrian Lamo (seen in this photo with Poulsen). You may remember Lamo's name from the big legal case surrounding his break-ins to computer networks at The New York Times, Microsoft, Yahoo!, and MCI WorldCom. He cut a deal with the Feds in 2004 to avoid prison time. He was recently institutionalized with Asperger's (as reported by Poulsen, for Wired), and has previously been accused of stalking a former girlfriend. Mr. Lamo is said to identify himself now as an "award-winning journalist."
Manning was turned in late last month by a former computer hacker with whom he spoke online. In the course of their chats, Manning took credit for leaking a headline-making video of a helicopter attack that Wikileaks posted online in April. The video showed a deadly 2007 U.S. helicopter air strike in Baghdad that claimed the lives of several innocent civilians.
"United States Division-Center is currently conducting a joint investigation" says the statement, which notes that Manning is deployed with 2nd Brigade 10th Mountain Division in Baghdad. "The results of the investigation will be released upon completion of the investigation."Wikileaks apparently didn't respond to Wired News requests for comment before the story ran, but they did reply publicly to the story on Twitter...
Here's a mid-1980s CBC News scare-story about Dungeons and Dragons driving kids to suicide featuring (at 2:49 onwards) me and my classmates (the video is dated 1985, but I'm pretty sure this couldn't have been later than my graduation from Junior High in 1984). Ignoring the crazy-ass fearmongering, it's incredibly nostalgic to see all those kids I grew up with, playing with their minis and rolling their dice.
TSA, meet Archimedes. He lived over 2,000 years ago and figured out how to calculate the volume of a object by measuring its displacement. If you actually believe that 3 oz is a magical high-danger threshold, please consider adding a delightful, hallucinatory element of science to your pseudoscience by putting an Archimedes tank at the checkpoint. It would be a lovely counterpoint to your other scientific tests, such as the ducking stool and the spirit-rattles.
Snow globes? TSA will likely just say 'no' (via MeFi)
"Snow globes are not permitted to be carried through security checkpoints," said Transportation Security Administration spokesman Dwayne Baird.
The reason is that the globes contain liquids, and TSA rules say that only liquids, gels or aerosols in containers of three ounces or less are allowed through security in carry-on bags...
"I would think they would just say 'no,' because they can't really determine how many ounces are in there," Baird said.
- Schneier: Fix US airport security by making TSA more transparent ...
- Toy airport security machine to help kids grow up accepting ...
- Airport shoe-scanner device could prevent stupid shoe-removal ...
- TSA responds to The Atlantic's article on airport security ...
- RyanAir: Airport security is like a strip-search - Boing Boing
- Van driven onto Sea-Tac runway. Nobody notices, cares. - Boing Boing
If you've always wondered how AES -- the Advanced Encryption Standard, the gold-standard for crypto -- works, and if you enjoy explanations in stick-figure cartoon form, you are in luck, for Moserware's "A Stick Figure Guide to the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)" is funny, lucid and fascinating.
BB pal Sean Bonner is traveling in Thailand, and spotted this street hawker selling fake identification cards. "Check it," he emails, "For the low price of 3,000 baht I could have bought a California Drivers License!" I dig the assortment of press passes. Pick me up one, Sean, but make sure mine also has the bald white dude's photo on it, just like the one belonging to "Miss Heather Roberts," below (click to enlarge). Flickr image link.
Here's what DPA, Germany's national news wire reported this past September
A terrorist attack occurred in the city of Bluewater, California. The suicide bombers were German rappers, the "Berlin Boys".
A half hour later DPA issued a correction: there had been no bombing. The "Berlin Boys" are not a rap group. The city of Bluewater does not exist.
It was all an elaborate publicity stunt to promote the satirical German film Short Cut to Hollywood. Filmmaker Jan Henrik Stahlberg and his team fooled their entire nation by creating fake websites and videos:
Here's the fake city of Bluewater (link).
Here's the fake local Bluewater news station, KVPK (link).
And here are the "Berlin Boys" with their club hit "Hass":
Wired has a detailed report (link).
John Schwartz at the New York Times has filed a more thorough report than the AP item I blogged. His piece includes details about the Kansas-born man who filed the lawsuit, with representation from the ACLU. Snip:
The lawsuit was brought in 2005 by Abdullah al-Kidd, who was born Lavoni T. Kidd in Kansas and converted to Islam in college. He was arrested in 2003 at Dulles Airport as he prepared to fly to Saudi Arabia for graduate work in Islamic studies, and was held for weeks under a law that allows the indefinite detention of material witnesses to a crime. After his detention, he was ordered to stay with his in-laws in Las Vegas; his travel was restricted over the next year.Panel Rules Against Ashcroft in Detention Case (NYT)
Mr. Kidd, who was not called as a witness in the case in which he was detained and was never charged with a crime, sued Mr. Ashcroft and other officials in 2005, challenging his detention as unconstitutional and saying it cost him his marriage and his job. His lawyers argued that he was held as part of a secret Bush administration policy to use the material witness statute as a tool to detain and interrogate people when there was insufficient evidence to charge them with a crime.
"The trucks carrying nuclear weapons and dangerous materials such as plutonium pass through cities and neighborhoods all the time and the public should be aware of what they look like," says Tom Clements of the Friends of the Earth group based in Columbia, South Carolina, which obtained the photos through a Freedom of Information Act request. "Release of these photos will help inform the public about secretive shipments of dangerous nuclear material that are taking place in plain view."Here's the original news on the Friends of the Earth website.
Above: Gary McKinnon and his mother, Janis Sharp. Below, a guest opinion post by Oxblood Ruffin, a writer and human rights activist based in Munich, Germany.
Gary McKinnon is a Scottish technical expert, or as he is referred to by US federal prosecutors, the perpetrator of "the greatest military hack of all time." This claim is "total fucking bullshit", a phrase common amongst information security professionals.
Although Mr. McKinnon has high name-recognition factor in the United Kingdom he is virtually unknown to the American public. He is a mentally challenged hacker who waltzed through ninety-seven US military Web sites before being caught. Mr. McKinnon was looking for evidence of UFOs. He has Asperger Syndrome, a form of autism. It doesn't make him Rain Man but it does create a different perceptual framework.
Gary McKinnon was arrested in the UK in November 2002 after a thirteen month hacking spree into US military networks. He was eventually caught because he used his own email address to download a program called RemotelyAnywhere. Before the bust McKinnon had been under surveillance by Britain's High Tech Crime Unit. But then he did that, dare I say, retarded thing.
Gary McKinnon left his email address plus a number of taunting messages such as, "Your security is crap" on US military servers. Personally, I think the messages were on the polite side. America's military network security is the cyber equivalent of Swiss cheese. My granny could have pulled off McKinnon's hacks and she was well in the grave before they even transpired. Because remember, if you wanted to intrude into US military sites in 2001 all you had to do was key in: user = guest; password = hello.
And so Gary McKinnon was arrested by the High Tech Crime Unit in Britain. He detailed everything and confessed without an attorney being present. Now bear in mind, this is a guy who has Asperger and didn't fully comprehend the consequences of what he had done. Yet his confession was signed-off on, and the process began. Read the rest
Read the rest
A followup on this earlier BB post about the wacko blog and gadget hallucinations of kidnapper/rapist (now also a murder suspect) Phillip Garrido.
Weighing in on that post, an astute BB commenter noticed that if you do a Google Maps search for 1554 Walnut Avenue, Antioch, CA -- the address of the Antioch home where Garrido detained Jaycee Dugard (and her children, fathered by rape) -- you can see an overhead view of all the tents, tarps and sheds that Garrido's parole officer(s) and local police were too incompetent to bother checking, despite the fact that the guy was a convicted rapist. The overhead view in Google Maps has since been widely reported and blogged, so that's old news 4 days later.
But not this. Check out what another commenter noticed. When you're at that address in Google Maps, switch over to Street View mode. You'll see something chilling. Right in the 1554 Walnut Avenue driveway, you see a beat-up van with a rusty, trashed exterior, and what looks like a man behind the steering wheel. Follow the van. Read the rest
Read the rest
While the details are unknown, credible evidence indicates that billions of everyday communications of ordinary Americans are swept up by government computers and run through a process that includes both data-mining and review of content, to try to figure out whether any of us were involved in illegal or terrorist-related activity. That means that even the most personal and private of our electronic communications - between doctors and patients, between husbands and wives, or between children and parents - are subject to review by computer algorithms programmed by government bureaucrats or by the bureaucrats themselves.Lawless Surveillance, Warrantless Rationales (via Rebecca McKinnon)
It's a bizarre turn of events, these unwarranted general searches. Our country was founded on the rejection of "general warrants" - pieces of paper that gave the Executive (then the King) unchecked power to search colonial Americans without cause. The Fourth Amendment was adopted in part to stop these "hated writs" and to make sure that searches of the papers of Americans required a probable cause showing to a court. The warrantless surveillance program returns us to the policies of King George III only with a digital boost. It subjects a huge number our daily digital papers to threshold surveillance, then adding subsequent, more intrusive warrantless surveillance if faceless government computers and bureaucrats determine that our communications or communications patterns merit further scrutiny.
Both Yoo and Hayden draw from a similar bag of tricks to defend the surveillance programs, including claims that there was a "gap" between our domestic surveillance and our foreign intelligence surveillance.
- EFF sues Cheney, Bush, and the NSA to stop illegal wiretapping ...
- California Lawyer on EFF versus AT&T
- Telecom Spy Suits Dismissed / UPDATE: EFF, ACLU Plan Appeal ...
- BBtv vlog (Xeni): ATT-NSA whistleblower Mark Klein, EFF legal ...
- EFF suing AT&T for helping NSA illegally spy on Americans
- Court says EFF *can* use AT&T docs for surveillance lawsuit ...
- iPhone + EFF + ATT + NSA = funny photo
The news came on the same day the ACLU released documents obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request which detail acts of torture committed against detainees held by the United States, domestically and in overseas "black sites."
In related news, the ACLU is protesting an agreement between the US and Britain which may lead to hacker Gary McKinnon being extradited to the US, after he penetrated the defenses of poorly secured US Government computers. According to reports, McKinnon suffers from Asperger's Syndrome, and has testified that he was searching for evidence of extra-terrestrials and UFO activity.
- Highlights of the Inspector General's torture report - Boing Boing
- Profiteering torture teachers modeled US techniques after those of ...
- Boing Boing Video: "OUTLAWED" excerpts, pt. 1 -- Guantánamo ...
- Boing Boing Video: "OUTLAWED" excerpts, pt. 2 -- Khaled El-Masri ...
- BB Video: How you can get involved in the torture cases documented ...
Well, this little viral number didn't take long to become the stuff of screaming Drudge sirens. So, over at CNET, Declan McCullagh wrote about an update to a cybersecurity bill that first circulated this spring. In his interpretation of the bill (which I haven't read in entirety, full disclosure), Declan says the bill gives the White House new power to unplug private-sector computers from the Internet in the case of national emergency. Snip:
[Critics of the earlier bill are] not much happier about a revised version that aides to Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, have spent months drafting behind closed doors. CNET News has obtained a copy of the 55-page draft of S.773 (excerpt), which still appears to permit the president to seize temporary control of private-sector networks during a so-called cybersecurity emergency.Bill would give president emergency control of Internet (CNET).
The new version would allow the president to "declare a cybersecurity emergency" relating to "non-governmental" computer networks and do what's necessary to respond to the threat. Other sections of the proposal include a federal certification program for "cybersecurity professionals," and a requirement that certain computer systems and networks in the private sector be managed by people who have been awarded that license.
Commenting on this article, ZDNET's Sam Diaz argues that the White House is not equipped to hold the keys (where are these magical keys, btw?). "The argument that the government is ill-equipped and shouldn't be trusted with the such far-reaching power is no joke."
At the Atlantic, Mark Armbinder counters that Skepticism [is] Warranted -- But Nuance Needed.
A few things to keep in mind. One: the president already has the authority to shut down parts of the Internet in emergencies.
Read the rest