Charles Stross's "Dark State": transdimensional, nuclear-tipped mutually assured destruction by way of a first-rate spy novel

Dark State is the sequel to Empire Games, a reboot/latter phase of Charles Stross's longrunning, excellent economic science fiction/high fantasy Merchant Princes series.

When Justin Trudeau was in opposition, he voted for Canada's PATRIOT Act but promised to fix it; instead he's making it much, much worse

Back in 2015, Canada's failing, doomed Conservative government introduced Bill C-51, a far-reaching mass surveillance bill that read like PATRIOT Act fanfic; Justin Trudeau, leader of what was then a minority opposition party, whipped his MPs to vote for it, allowing it to pass, and cynically admitting that he was only turning this into law because he didn't want to give the Conservatives a rhetorical stick to beat him with in the next election -- he promised that once he was Prime Minister, he'd fix it. Read the rest

Terrorism is way, way down, except in countries torn apart by civil war, often where the US has sent occupying troops

In Terrorism before and after 9/11 – a more dangerous world? , researchers from the US Department of Defense and the RAND Corporation used data from the University of Maryland's Global Terrorism Database and the Uppsala Conflict Data Program to produce a quantitative look at the long-term trends in terrorism: the short upshot is, terrorism is up globally because of massive increases in places where US troops have been sent as occupiers, presenting a target-rich environment for terrorists -- but when you take those places out of the data, terrorism is way, way down worldwide. Read the rest

The DoJ's top crypto warrior wants "strong" encryption that he can break at will

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has made a name for himself as a crypto warrior who promotes a murky idea called "responsible encryption," through which software would somehow be designed so that its security worked 100% of the time when criminals and foreign governments were trying to break it, but fail 100% of the time when the US government was trying to break it. Read the rest

How landscape architects fight the last war while designing against mass shootings

Landscape architects are increasingly in the business of designing spaces that are resistant to mass shootings, terrorists driving their cars into crowds and other forms of murderous, technology-assisted rampages. Read the rest

Last Friday, a white dude tried to blow up a plane to "fight a war" in America and no one cared

Last Friday, a white guy named Michael Christopher Estes walked into Asheville Regional Airport in North Carolina, dressed in black and carrying an AN/FO chemical explosive as well as sharp nails and bullets, used to create shrapnel in such bombs. Read the rest

UK press doesn't understand chemistry or Amazon, launches bomb-making panic

UK public broadcaster Channel 4 sparked a presswide panic with a story: "Potentially deadly bomb ingredients are ‘frequently bought together’ on Amazon." Read the rest

Donald Trump will not condemn the terrorist attacks on anti-Nazi protestors

Donald Trump represents the eminently foreseeable outcome of Reagan's Republican bargain: welding together a coalition of racists and religious fanatics with the finance sector and its lobbyists, making two groups who had spent a century cordially loathing each other into one. Read the rest

Jury to rule on whether the CIA's torture architects will stand trial for killing and maiming

Psychologist James Mitchell is the self-described "architect" of the CIA's torture program (a consulting gig that netted him a cool $80m at taxpayer expense), along with his partner John "Bruce" Jessen -- they're the pair who oversaw black-site torture programs that killed and maimed people who'd been convicted of no crime by any court, anywhere in the world. Read the rest

EU's highest court strikes down passenger data-sharing arrangement with Canada

The European Court of Justice has ruled that the 2014 EU-Canada passenger name record (PNR) agreement was "incompatible with the fundamental rights recognised by the EU," because the records ("names, travel dates, itineraries, ticket and contact details, travel agents and other information") were used for purposes "beyond what is strictly necessary for the prevention and detection of terrorist offences and serious transnational crime." Read the rest

Australian police seek the right to install malware on home devices during "emergencies"

The Queensland Police have asked the Australian Parliament to give them the right to covertly install malicious software on your home devices in order to conduct mass surveillance during times of "national emergency" Read the rest

China forces Xinjiang Uyghurs to install mobile spyware, enforces with stop-and-frisk

China's Xinjiang province is home to the Uyghur ethnic/religious minority, whose fights for self-determination have been brutally and repeatedly crushed by the Chinese state: now, people in Xinjiang are being required to install mobile spyware on their devices. Read the rest

Tropic of Kansas: Making America Great Again considered harmful

Chris Brown -- long known as a writer of perfect, jewel-like demented cyberpunk stories -- makes his long-overdue novel debut today with Tropic of Kansas; a hilarious, dark, and ultimately hopeful story of a terrible authoritarian president whose project to Make America Great Again has plunged the country into an authoritarian collapse that's all too plausible.

Canada: Trump shows us what happens when "good" politicians demand surveillance powers

The CBC asked me to write an editorial for their package about Canadian identity and politics, timed with the 150th anniversary of the founding of the settler state on indigenous lands. They've assigned several writers to expand on themes in the Canadian national anthem, and my line was "We stand on guard for thee." Read the rest

Germany mulls sweeping surveillance bill, crypto backdoors and fingerprinting kids

Germany's interior ministry has announced sweeping new surveillance powers ahead of the coming national election, which would include the right to infect residents' computers with malware in order to spy on their encrypted communications (shades of the illegal Bundestrojaner program), ordering tech companies to deliberately introduce defects into their cryptography, and fingerprinting children as young as 6. Read the rest

Theresa May wants to ban crypto: here's what that would cost, and here's why it won't work anyway

Aaron Swartz once said, "It's no longer OK not to understand how the Internet works."

With Briggs Land, Brian Wood gets inside the scariest terror threat in America: white nationalists

Stories matter: the recurring narrative of radical Islamic terror in America (a statistical outlier) makes it nearly impossible to avoid equating "terrorist" with "jihadi suicide bomber" -- but the real domestic terror threat is white people, the Dominionists, ethno-nationalists, white separatists, white supremacists and sovereign citizens who target (or infiltrate) cops and blow up buildings. That's what makes Brian Wood's first Briggs Land collection so timely: a gripping story of far-right terror that is empathic but never sympathetic.

More posts