Boing Boing 

Anita Sarkeesian cancels Utah campus appearance after threats of a "Montreal-style massacre"

Sarkeesian was willing to go on with the show at Utah State University -- as she's done after all the other death threats that she's received as a speaker -- but wanted attendees checked for firearms. Ogden, UT cops refused, citing Utah's open-carry firearms law. At least one of the threats cited Gamergate.

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Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 reported shot down in Ukraine near Russian border

Around 11:00AM ET today, Interfax, CNN, and other news agencies began reporting that Malaysia Airlines flight 17, heading from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, crashed in eastern Ukraine.

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Obama administration proves why we need someone to leak CIA Torture Report

image: Reuters


image: Reuters

It’s now been over a month since the Senate Intelligence Committee voted to force the Obama administration to declassify parts of the Committee’s landmark report on CIA torture, and the public still has not seen a word of the 6,000 page investigation.

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Will US condemn UK for using terrorism laws to suppress journalism?


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.

Glenn Greenwald has much more on what this means for press freedom, but I’d like to expand on one particular point:

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Doctors were compelled by US military and CIA to harm detainees, report says


A guard walks through a cellblock inside Camp V, a prison used to house detainees at Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, March 5, 2013. Photo: Reuters.

Post-9/11 detainee interrogration policies of the US Defense Department and CIA forced medical professionals to abandon the ethical obligation to "do no harm" to the humans in their care, and engage in prohibited practices such as force-feeding of hunger strikers, according to a report out this week. "Ethics Abandoned: Medical Professionalism and Detainee Abuse in the War on Terror" [PDF Link] was produced by 19-member task force of Columbia University's Institute on Medicine as a Profession and the Open Society Foundations. The LA Times has a summary here.

Why terrorist bosses are micro-managing dicks

Jacob N. Shapiro, author of The Terrorist's Dilemma: Managing Violent Covert Organizations , sets out his thesis about the micromanagement style of terrorist leaders in a fascinating piece in Foreign Affairs. It comes down to this: people willing to join terrorist groups are, by definition, undisciplined, passionate, and unbalanced, so you have to watch them closely and coordinate their campaigns. From the IRA to al Qaeda, successful terrorist leaders end up keeping fine-grained records of who's getting paid, what they're planning, and how they're spending. This means that in many cases, the capture of terrorist leaders leads to the unraveling of their organizations, but the alternative is apparently even worse -- a chaotic series of overlapping, self-defeating attacks and out-of-control spending.

Recall that Moktar Belmoktar was hounded out of the Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in part over his sloppy expense reporting, and that he went on to found the group that took more than 800 hostages in a gas plant in Algeria. This kind of budget-niggling is apparently common: Ayman al-Zawahiri, leader of al Qaeda since 2011, was reportedly furious that Yemeni affiliates had bought a new fax machine, because the old one worked just fine.

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When all the cool kids were hijacking airplanes

Between 1968 and 1973, somebody hijacked a commercial airliner nearly every week.

Why armed lockdown in Boston after the Marathon Bombings was a bad idea

"A large percent of the reaction in Boston has been security theater," writes Popehat. "'Four victims brutally killed' goes by other names in other cities. In Detroit, for example, they call it 'Tuesday.'...and Detroit does not shut down every time there are a few murders. 'But Clark,' I hear you say, 'this is different. This was a terrorist attack.'

Report: Russia warned FBI in 2011 about Boston bombing suspect Tsarnaev

The Boston Globe is among many media outlets to report this weekend that Russia was surveilling suspected bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev in 2011, and "warned the FBI of the alleged bomber’s radical shift" towards "suspicious activities." The FBI acknowledged Friday that it has investigated him in 2011, after that prompt, but "did not find any terrorism activity" in the behavior they observed online and in person, when they interrogated him at his home. The 26 year old was killed early Friday morning during a firefight with police in Watertown, MA. Bonus: The name of the boat his brother Dzhokhar was found hiding in, on Friday? "The Slipaway II."

Why is it so hard to make a phone call in emergency situations?

When bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon on Monday, my Facebook feed was immediately filled with urgent messages. I watched as my friends and family implored their friends and family in Boston to check in, and lamented the fact that nobody could seem to get a solid cell phone connection.

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If you see something, say something: Liveblogging from a lecture about terrorism, security, and visual narratives

When bombs explode in a crowded city street, individuals and governments naturally ask themselves, "Could we have prevented this if we had been paying better attention to people and things that were out of place?" Trouble is, that question leads to a whole cascade of other questions — covering everything from personal privacy to racism.

M. Neelika Jayawardane is associate professor of English at SUNY-Oswego. She's giving a talk this afternoon on "If you see something, say something" and other campaigns aimed at getting average people involved in public security. I happened to be here on campus for a separate speaking engagement and thought this was something that BoingBoing readers would be interested in "sitting in" on, given the recent tragedy in Boston.

I'll be liveblogging this, updating regularly with key points and ideas from Jayawardane's talk. It's worth noting that her perspective is not the only way to think about these issues. I'm posting this in hopes that it will present some interesting information and spark good conversations. If you're interested in engaging with Jayawardane afterwards, she said that you can reach her via Twitter. In the meantime, I'm looking forward to seeing what she has to say — and what you all have to say about that.

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Interview with an expert in improvised explosive devices

At Scientific American, Larry Greenemeier has a piece about the science behind the three (possibly four) improvised explosive devices that killed at least three people yesterday in Boston. It might be easy to build bombs like these, but their DIY construction techniques also leave clues that help investigators find the people responsible.

Twitter suspends account of Somali Islamist militants linked to Al-Qaeda

Two days after a group of Somali islamist militants vowed to execute Kenyan hostages, and tweeted a video of a captive pleading for the Kenyan government to help free them, the Al-Shabaab Twitter account @HSMPress was suspended. A Google cache is visible here. Warning: includes gruesome photos. The group took a French intelligence officer hostage, then apparently murdered him after an unsuccessful attempted raid by the French military which the US assisted). An @HSMPress press release about that killing is available on Twitlonger.

The Harakat Al-Shabaab Al Mujahideen Twitter account has been around since 2011, promoting the group's vision of strict sharia law in Somalia, 140 characters at a time. The US State Department was reportedly looking in to shutting it down ages ago. Wonder what took them so long?

For its part, Al Shabaab blames its "Christian enemies" for suspending its Twitter account. And they do sound rather miffed about being blocked on the popular social networking platform.

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The Zero Dark Thirty files

The National Security Archive, a nonprofit founded by journalists and scholars in 1985 "to check rising government secrecy," has published all of the available official government documents about the mission to kill the leader of al-Qaeda.

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Death of a Prisoner: short documentary by Laura Poitras on Guantánamo detainee Adnan Latif

Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Laura Poitras, who is my colleague on the board of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, has a powerful short-form documentary film out today, via the New York Times' "op doc" series.

"Death of a Prisoner: The Tragic Return Home of a Guantánamo Bay Detainee" follows a journey to Yemen, to return the body of Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif to his family. In 2012, he "died in solitary confinement at Guantánamo at age 36, after nearly 11 years of imprisonment there, despite never having been charged with a crime."

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NSA to AT&T customers who believe wiretapping violates their rights: neener neener neener

Courthouse News Service has an extensive explainer on the state of a legal battle between The National Security Agency and a group of non-terrorist AT&T customers who claim that warrantless wiretapping violates their rights. The short version: NSA argues it is immune from their federal lawsuit because REASONS.

Mitt Romney does not understand how one creates a "dirty bomb"

Mother Jones today published a second part of the video secretly recorded at a Mitt Romney fundraiser in Boca Raton. The first bombshell will forever be known as "47 percent," but the portion getting attention today focuses on a response the Republican presidential candidate gave to a question about the Israel/Palestine peace process. The tl;dr there: he doesn't believe it'll happen, and intends to "kick the ball down the road" and let the next administration deal with it, or something like that.

But here's a derpworthy moment in the video that may be of interest to science fans, and people who have actually done some reporting on how so-called "dirty bombs" work.

Here's a transcript for the relevant portion of the video:

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Police chief in MA: “Illicit drug use is a form of domestic terrorism”

“Illicit drug use is a form of domestic terrorism to some extent,” Wilmington, Massachusetts Police Chief Michael Begonis said today. “It is preying on folks who are more susceptible and who need a better life. And it’s something that we need to deal with head on.” Like hell, writes Mike Riggs at Reason.com. (via @radleybalko)

Something new under the sea

Drug cartels are building their own diesel submarines in the jungles of South America. A recently caught version wasn't fully submersible—the engine needed to bring in air via a snorkel that stuck out above the waterline—but it did have a range of 3000 miles. (Via Mo Costandi)

Designer Takeshi Miyakawa out of prison, after art project misinterpreted as terrorism

The NYT has an update on the case of designer Takeshi Miyakawa. The 50-year-old Japanese artist, who lives in New York City, was arrested last month while he draped plastic “I ♥ NY” bags stuffed with LEDs and batteries from trees in Manhattan and Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The act frightened some observers who thought "his art installation, timed to coincide with the International Contemporary Furniture Fair, was a series of bombs." He was charged with reckless endangerment, criminal nuisance and “planting a false bomb,” then imprisoned on Rikers Island and ordered to undergo a mental evaluation. He's out now. Maybe he should have a conversation with Star Simpson.

TOM THE DANCING BUG: Li'l Barack Has a Playdate

SUPPORT Tom the Dancing Bug and receive untold BENEFITS and PRIVILEGES by joining the new INNER HIVE right now! It's easy!

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Anarchist group targets scientists in terrorist attacks

Last year, I told you about Individuals Tending Towards Savagery, a terrorist group that has mailed bombs to nanotechnology researchers in Mexico, Chile, France, and Spain. Their stated goal: Stop technological innovation. And they aren't alone.

At Nature News Leigh Phillips reports on a group called the Olga Cell of the Informal Anarchist Federation, which is dedicated to the suppression of science in general and technological innovation in particular. The group is behind several bombings and shootings, mostly targeting nuclear scientists and nuclear energy advocacy groups. Now, the Olga Cell says that it's joining forces with other anti-science terrorist groups around the world. This group is apparently communicating with Individuals Tending Towards Savagery, though it's not clear how close the collaboration is.

On 11 May, the cell sent a four-page letter to the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera claiming responsibility for the shooting of Roberto Adinolfi, the chief executive of Ansaldo Nucleare, the nuclear-engineering subsidiary of aerospace and defence giant Finmeccanica. Believed by authorities to be genuine, the letter is riddled with anti-science rhetoric. The group targeted Adinolfi because he is a “sorcerer of the atom”, it wrote. “Adinolfi knows well that it is only a matter of time before a European Fukushima kills on our continent.”

“Science in centuries past promised us a golden age, but it is pushing us towards self-destruction and total slavery,” the letter continues. “With this action of ours, we return to you a tiny part of the suffering that you, man of science, are pouring into this world.” The group also threatened to carry out further attacks.

Read the rest of the story at Nature News

Pentagon declassifies Styrofoam model of bin Laden compound, at last

A styrofoam-and-acrylic model of Osama bin Laden's compound that was used to plan the May 2011 raid that killed the al Qaeda leader has been declassified by the Pentagon.

CNN reports that the model of OBL's building and surrounding farmland in Abbotabad, Pakistan was built over a six-week period, and then was taken to the White House to brief President Obama on plans. After the raid, it sat on display in the lobby of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency in Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

Until last week, the model was considered classified and only those working or visiting the building could see it.

Now it is declassified, and agency officials wanted to bring it over to the Pentagon for a brief time to show it off to Department of Defense "customers" to highlight what the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency can do for them, according to an agency information sheet.

The to-scale diorama helped the Navy Seals literally measure the steps it would take to get to bin Laden.

More photos and background here: The very model of a successful bin Laden raid

(CNN.com, via Kristie LuStout).

Mexican drug cartels now using Claymore mines

Just after a horrific week of news about mounting body counts in Mexico from the drug war, Danger Room points to news that at least one narco arsenal was found to include Claymore Mines. The mines can be triggered with an electronic remote, and are capable of spewing 700 steel balls in any direction, with a wounding range of 50 yards. Here's a video.

How did alleged 9/11 mastermind KSM dye beard red at Gitmo? Only his stylist knows.

Adam Serwer writes at Mother Jones about KSM's recent facial hair makeover. He grew a beard, but how did he get his hands on henna with which to dye it a ginger-red? Visiting friends? Home-brewed stain from materials inside the camp? No one knows, or if the camp guards do, it's a national security secret. Snip:

As for why KSM dyed his beard? Former State Department counterterrorism adviser Will McCants says that KSM is probably trying to emphasize his commitment to Islam. KSM grew his long, flowing beard only after he was imprisoned at Guantanamo—previous photographs show him with a trim beard or a thick mustache.

"KSM is following the practice of the Prophet Muhammad, who recommended dyeing a grey beard red," McCants says, calling it "a sign of devotion, particularly after looking like Ron Jeremy all those years." But how did KSM go from the porn-star look to more of a Gimli? Apparently, it would damage national security if we knew.

More here.

PHOTOS: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who claims to have organized the 9/11 attacks, shown at left in a Red Cross photo taken at Guantanamo Bay, and at right in a snapshot by US forces shortly after his 2003 capture.

TSA saves America from 16yo diabetic, breaks $10K insulin pump which totally could have been a bomb

You probably thought we covered all possible scenarios of TSA stupidity in our recent round-up post.

You thought wrong.

Via MSNBC today, the story of Savannah Barry, a 16-year-old diabetic girl who says the TSA broke her insulin pump. Savannah was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes four years ago, and her pump is a specialized medical device that can cost up to $10,000 to replace, according to MSNBC.

Snip:

The Colorado teenager says TSA screeners forced her to go through a full-body scanner in Salt Lake City last week, breaking her $10,000 insulin pump in the process. According to Sandra Barry, Savannah’s mother, her daughter was coming home from a school trip when screeners required to her to go through a full-body scanner despite the fact that the girl had a doctor’s note describing her condition and stating that she should be given a pat-down rather than subjected to screening machines.

“Believe me, being 16 and female, she probably doesn’t want the pat-down but she knows that this is what’s required,” Sandra Barry told msnbc.com. “She tried to advocate for herself and they just shut her down.”

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CERN scientist sentenced to 5 years in terrorism case

French-Algerian physicist Adlène Hicheur, 35, was today sentenced by a French court to five years in prison for “criminal association with the intent to prepare terrorist acts.” The court ruled that the Large Hadron Collider researcher's email exchange in 2009 with a presumed member of Al Qaeda "constituted a criminal act." From the New York Times:

The scientist, Adlène Hicheur, 35, did not deny the exchange of messages, in which he suggested targets for terrorist strikes in France, but maintains that he never intended to act on his words. The trial has raised difficult questions about the possible excesses of French antiterrorism law, which in effect treats intent as a criminal act. A researcher at the Large Hadron Collider project at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, in Switzerland, Dr. Hicheur met his interlocutor on an Internet forum dedicated to radical Islam while on sick leave, nursing a herniated disk at his parents’ home in southeastern France.

A related story at the BBC. Not everyone believes he is guilty.

US doxes Bin Laden (always use encryption, kids)

CNET's Emil Protalinski reports that Osama bin Laden did not encrypt the thousands of files stored in the Pakistani compound where he was killed, and "17 of the 6,000 documents have now been publicly released." (via @ioerror)

In Veracruz, Mexico, renewed attacks on journalists

Three journalists were killed this week in the Mexican state of Veracruz, just a week after another reporter was murdered. More on the latest violence at SouthNotes. (via Shannon Young)

This week in TSA awfulness: a recap of recent American airport atrocities

Cue up the Yakity Sax! In case you missed it, there have been a number of Boing Boing posts of late documenting outrageous TSA incidents:

• A terminal in Newark airport was evacuated because the TSA forgot to screen a tiny baby.
• TSA agents discovered an "anomaly in the crotchital area" of a 79-year-old woman.
• TSA agents at JFK harassed the family of a 7-year-old girl with cerebral palsy and developmental disability.
• TSA screeners in LA ran a drug ring and took bribes from drug dealers.
• The TSA's anti-hugging squad caught a terrorist masquerading as a 4-year-old girl who loves her grandma.
• A 95-year-old US Air Force veteran from World War II and his 85-year-old friend were humiliated, searched and robbed at a San Diego TSA checkpoint.

Did we miss anything else in the past week or so? Let us know in the comments.

Photo: Carolina K. Smith, M.D. / Shutterstock.com