Quiet Skies: Air Marshals are following thousands of random Americans through airports and on planes, for no articulatable purpose

Federal Air Marshals are furious that they have been tasked to follow thousands of Americans who are not on any watch-list and not suspected of any crime; they shadow these people (who are selected for surveillance on the basis of flimsy criteria like once having visited Turkey) and send minute-by-minute updates to the TSA, noting whether their targets are sleeping, using more than one phone, waiting until the last minute to board their planes, observing boarding areas from a distance, and other innocuous behaviors. Read the rest

Al Shabab declares plastic bags to be unislamic, bans their use in jihadi-controlled Somali territory

Al Shabab (previously) is an Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group whose use of child soldiers, brutal murder, and attacks targeted at civilians have allowed them to carve out a jihadi-controlled territory in Somalia. Read the rest

Canadian border guards have secret access to a US "anti-terror" database of 680,000 names

Canadian border guards' terminals give them secret access to Tuscan, a database maintained by US spy agencies of suspected terrorists; the database has some 680,000 names in it and if you match one of those names, Canadian border and immigration officials are empowered to "detain, interrogate, arrest and deny entry" to you. Read the rest

Police say the Austin bomber killed himself as they closed in on him

five bombs have gone off in the Austin area this month (a sixth bomb was defused); they seemed to target people of color. Read the rest

RIP Anna Campbell, a British woman who joined an all-woman Kurdish Protection Unit in Syria

Anna Campbell, from Lewes, England, has died fighting in the Kurdish Women's Protection Units ("YPJ") in Syria; she was likely killed by a Turkish airstrike. She was 26. Read the rest

Local UK governments say identifying buildings with Grenfell cladding would be a gift to arsonists and terrorists

The lethal fire at Grenfell tower had many proximate causes, not least the defeat of a bill in Parliament that would have required landlords to render their properties safe and habitable, voted down by Tory MPs who are overwhelmingly landlords themselves. Read the rest

Austin bombings: literal American carnage meets with Trumpian indifference

Remember when Donald Trump campaigned on a promise to make Americans safe, and promised an end to "American carnage" at his inauguration? Yeah, neither does he. Read the rest

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

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