Researchers from the University of Toronto's amazing Citizen Lab (previously) have published a new report detailing the latest tactics from the autocratic government of Ethiopia, "the world's first turnkey surveillance state" whose human rights abuses have been entirely enabled with software and expertise purchased on the open market, largely from companies in western countries like Finfisher and Hacking Team.
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UNESCO is about as good as it gets in the world of UN Specialized Agencies, responsible for designating and protecting world heritage sites, running literacy for the poorest people on Earth, supporting potable water programs, protecting fragile and endangered ecosystems, running disaster preparedness plans for all to use, protecting indigenous knowledge, protecting the free press, and digitizing the world's libraries. Read the rest
The NSO Group is an Israeli firm that describes itself as a "cyber warfare" company, dealing exclusively to governments, including the famously corrupt and dysfunctional government of Mexico. The NSO Group is presently for sale, with a $1 billion pricetag. Read the rest
Asaf Hanuka is a celebrated Israeli cartoonist whose astonishing, surreal illustrations serve as counterpoint to sweet (sometimes too-sweet) depictions of his family life, his complicated existence as a member of a visible minority in Israel, the fear he and his family live with, and his own pleasures and secret shames -- a heady, confessional, autobiographical brew that has just been collected into The Realist: Plug and Play
, the second volume of Hanuka's comics.
Special snowflake Donald Trump has been thwarted in his plan to land a helicopter on Masada, an ancient fortress in Israel that Unesco has declared to be a World Heritage Site; he'll have to ride the cablecar up it just like every other world leader who's visited it since 1998. Read the rest
Privacy International interviewed 57 sources for their report on the link between surveillance and torture and murder in Kenya, including 32 law enforcement, military or intelligence officers with direct firsthand knowledge of the programs. Read the rest
NSO is an Israel cyberarms dealer, which buys or researches vulnerabilities in software and then weaponizes them; claiming that these cyberweapons will only be used by democratic governments and their police forces to attacks serious criminals and terrorists -- a claim repeated by its competitors, such as Italy's Hacking Team and Gamma Group. Read the rest
Last month, a hacker took 900GB of data from Cellebrite, an Israeli cyber-arms dealer that was revealed to be selling surveillance and hacking tools to Russia, the UAE, and Turkey. Read the rest
Yesterday, the Israeli government announced major steps toward legalizing marijuana. Medical cannabis is already a big thing in Israel and permitted by traditional Jewish law. According to Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, the new policy is part of a "shift to decriminalization with responsibility." Progress! Yet, the focus on "treatment" for offending minors seems a bit ridiculous. From CNN:
The new policy would apply to users carrying up to 15 grams, roughly a half-ounce. If passed, first-time offenders would face a fine of 1000 shekels (about $265), with the offense not appearing on their criminal record. Those caught for a second time would see the fine double. If caught a third time, the punishment would be at the discretion of the police. On the fourth offense, the suspect could face criminal prosecution.
Minors caught for the first time with marijuana would be criminally prosecuted only if they refused to take part in a treatment program. The second offense would be closed with a special settlement. The third time could trigger criminal proceedings.
"Israel takes steps to decriminalize marijuana use" (CNN) Read the rest
According to a federal indictment, Platinum Partners founder Mark Nordlicht and four others faked the hedge fund's books for years to allow them to siphon off one billion dollars to their personal accounts, swindling 600 investors. Read the rest
Rest in peace. Read the rest
One of the great political leaders of Israel, Nobel peace prize laureate Shimon Peres, has died. He was 93 years old. He suffered a stroke two weeks ago.
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On the eve of the Stuxnet attacks, half a decade ago, I found myself discussing what it all meant with William Gibson (I'd just interviewed him on stage in London), and I said, "I think the most significant thing about any of these sophisticated, government-backed attacks is that they will eventually turn into a cheap and easy weapon that technically unskilled people can deploy for petty grievances." We haven't quite got there yet with Stuxnet, but there's a whole class of "advanced persistent threat" techniques that are now in the hands of fringey criminals who deploy them at the smallest provocation. Read the rest
In a new paper, researchers from Ben-Gurion University demonstrate a fiendishly clever procedure for getting data off of airgapped computers that have had their speakers removed to prevent acoustic data-transmission: instead of playing sound through the target computer's speakers, they attack its fans, varying their speeds to produce subtle sounds that humans can barely notice, but which nearby devices can pick up through their microphones. Read the rest
Theodor Herzl's seminal 1896 essay Der Judenstaat called for the creation of Jewish state as an answer to the ancient evil of antisemitism; its legacy, Zionism, underpinned the creation of Israel; in Judenstaat, Simone Zelitch's beautifully told, thoughtful and disturbing alternate history, the Jewish state is created in Saxony, not Palestine, and takes the place of East Germany. Read the rest
Liyla and the Shadows of War (Google Play link) is a game about a child's struggles living in the Gaza strip, and Apple says it is ineligible for consideration for inclusion in the Ios App Store because it would be "more appropriate to categorize your app in News or Reference for example." Read the rest
Boing Boing pal Isabel Lara writes to give us a heads up about a new NPR series, “Changing Minds.” NPR launched the project this week and it looks at stories of people who’ve changed their positions in what has become a cultural moment of partisan polarization and extremism. The stories so far focus on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
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