Icelanders school their PM on solidarity with Syrian refugees


The Prime Minister of Iceland offered to take in 50 Syrian refugees; 10,000 of his countrymen responded to this announcement by offering their homes to house Syrians fleeing horrific violence and danger. Read the rest

John Oliver on racism and the Syrian refugee crisis


This is Oliver at his best, using weaponized bathos that ricochets between rage-making clips of racist political figures trying to terrorize Syrians into staying away with sweet clips of the refugees themselves and an over-the-top, stone-brilliant, pop-culture-infused, heart-rending, laughter-convulsing finale. Read the rest

Dismaland will be dismantled, used for refugee shelters in Calais


Banksy's brilliant piss-take on theme-parks has run its course and will now be dismantled, shipped to Calais and turned into temporary shelters for the refugees massed there. Read the rest

Molly Crabapple's illustrations from Syria


The illustrator collaborated with Syrian writer Marwan Hisham (a pseudonym), who sent her mobile-phone photos from Syria that she used as the basis for a striking and moving series of illustrations for a Vanity Fair feature. Read the rest

Scientists remove first seeds from ‘doomsday’ Arctic seed vault. Why? War in Syria.

The Global Seed Vault in Norway. REUTERS

The ongoing war in Syria has led researchers to make the first withdrawal of seeds from a "doomsday" vault in an Arctic mountainside, to protect global food supplies. Read the rest

We are all refugees: A Serbian on Syria

Once I was a refugee, too. During the fall of former Yugoslavia, I visited many refugees camps all over the war-torn region. I edited a book of refugee stories. Read the rest

Inside Islamic State's spookocracy

The leaked secret strategic plans of Samir Abd Muhammad al-Khlifawi -- who served in the Iraqi army under Saddam and later masterminded the Islamic State -- reveal the surveillance at the heart of Islamic State's military success. Read the rest

The BBC made a 'controversial' new game about Syria


Games aren't just playful -- they let players inhabit characters, visit unfamiliar places or practice problem-solving within complicated systems. Read the rest

Analysis of leaked logs from Syria's censoring national firewall

Syria's brutal Assad government uses censorware from California's Blue Coat System as part of its systematic suppression of dissent and to help it spy on dissidents; 600GB of 2011 logs from Syria's seven SG-9000 internet proxies were leaked by hacktivist group Telecomix and then analyzed by University College London's Emiliano De Cristofaro. Read the rest

Paintings of life in Raqqa, the de facto Isis capital

Molly Crabapple writes, "With the exception of Vice News, ISIS has permitted no foreign journalists to document life under their rule in Raqqa. Instead, they rely on their own propaganda. To create these images, I drew from cell-phone photos an anonymous Syrian sent me of daily life in the city. Like the Internet, art evades censorship." Read the rest

Moving, effective video about kids in war

I was moved to tears by Save the Children's video, which is powerful and beautifully made. I donate to Syrian relief through the UN High Commission on Refugees. Read the rest

Author Neil Gaiman visits a Syrian refugee camp

"We woke up every morning glad we were alive, and went to sleep every night knowing we might not wake in the morning. There are so many ways to die in Syria now," a refugee named Yalda told author Neil Gaiman, during his visit to a camp in Jordan. "Their relatives have been imprisoned, gone missing, been murdered and killed in explosions," he writes in a Guardian essay. Read the rest

Syria's lethal Facebook checkpoints

An anonymous tip from a highly reliable source: "There are checkpoints in Syria where your Facebook is checked for affiliation with the rebellious groups or individuals aligned with the rebellion. People are then disappeared or killed if they are found to be connected. Drivers are literally forced to load their Facebook/Twitter accounts and then they are riffled through. It's happening daily, and has been for a year at least." Anyone have any corroboration for this? Read the rest

Doc film on surveillance seeks fund to film Syrian activist subjected to state surveillance

Charles Koppelman writes, "Zero Day (working title) is a documentary film being produced and directed by Charles Koppelman. BBC Storyville is co-producing and intends to air it. The film begins with the story of a single malware attack by the Assad regime in Syria using Skype as a platform. This targeted phishing attack used a Remote Access Tool (Xtreme RAT) to infect an activist’s computer. He was then tracked surreptitiously by security forces. He suffered very real physical consequences — detention, jail, and torture. His jailers showed him a file with hundreds of pages of email, web posts and surveillance reports on his movements. It is well-documented that he was the first Syrian activist to be attacked in the ongoing cyberwar conducted by the Assad regime. The Assad regime uses this same digital surveillance tool to compromise countless other activists and citizen journalists." Read the rest

Detailed analysis of Syria's network censorship with logs from Blue Coat's surveillance boxes

In Censorship in the Wild: Analyzing Web Filtering in Syria [PDF], researchers from INRIA, NICTA and University College London parse through 600GB worth of leaked logfiles from seven Blue Coat SG-9000 proxies used by the Syrian government to censor and surveil its national Internet connections. They find that the Assad regime's censorship is more subtle and targeted than that of China and Iran, with heavy censorship of instant messaging, but lighter blocking of social media. They also report on Syrians' use of proxies, Tor, and Bittorrent to evade national censorship. It's the first comprehensive public look at the network censorship practiced in Syria.

Censorship in the Wild: Analyzing Web Filtering in Syria [PDF] (Thanks, Gary!) Read the rest

Ukraine government sends text to protesters: "Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance"

Ukraine's dictatorship is revelling in its new, self-appointed dictatorial powers. The million-plus participants in the latest round of protests received a text-message from the government reading Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance. Read the rest

Leaked trove of 55,000 photos detail brutal torture and killing of 11,000 Syrian detainees

A Syrian defector who worked for the regime as a forensic photographer Read the rest

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