Leaked docs reveal Koch/Walton/DeVos's anti-teacher talking points

The "State Policy Network" is a coalition of 66 far-right organizations who've been given $80M by a small number of billionaires, including the Walton family (heirs to the Walmart fortune), the Koch Brothers, and Betsy DeVos; they're terrified of the teachers' uprising, in which wildcat strikes have raced across America because teachers whose unions were neutralized have been put on starvation wages in underfunded facilities. Without any union bosses to keep them in check, the teachers have demanded the world -- and they're getting it. Read the rest

The idea behind Cambridge Analytica's Facebook data-harvesting app came from a Palantir employee, with support from Eric Schmidt's daughter

Palantir is the surveillance company founded by authoritarian "libertarian" Peter Thiel; their business-development employee Alfredas Chmieliauskas was part of a cohort of Palantir employees who worked closely -- if informally -- with Cambridge Analytica as they hatched their plan to harvest 50,000,000 Facebook profiles with a deceptive "personality quiz" app. Read the rest

Cambridge Analytica became a US powerhouse thanks Mercer's laundered money and a judas goat named John Bolton

After interviewing Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie and other CA sources and reviewing leaked documents, the Washington Post has pieced together the story of how the dirty-tricking electioneers worked their way Republican political circles, as billionaire founder Robert Mercer opened doors for them with other notorious GOP billionaire backers, with an able assist from newly minted national security adviser John Bolton, a notorious war-criminal with close ties to terrorist groups like MEK. Read the rest

White House Chief of Staff in a rage after leak reveals that Trump congratulated Putin against Cabinet advice

After Vladimir Putin stole another Russian election, Trump placed an official call to the Kremlin; his national security advisors' briefing notes for the call included the all-caps instruction "DO NOT CONGRATULATE" -- naturally, Trump congratulated Putin. Read the rest

The first-ever independent audit of whistleblower retaliation in US spy agencies was looking bad for the agencies, so it was shut down

For six months, the Intelligence Community Inspector General office investigated the cases of 190 whistleblowers who went through US spy agency channels to report corruption, waste, fraud, abuse and criminality, discovering that the overwhelming majority had faced some combination of indefinite delays and retaliation (being fired, facing paycuts and demotions, being passed over for promotions, etc) -- only one of the 190 whistleblowers had their case upheld, and that took 742 days. Read the rest

Apple iOS source code leaked to Github

Apple's been having a rough go of it this year. As if the uproar surrounding their throttling of iPhones in the name of power efficiency and damning reviews of their HomePod smart speaker weren't enough, the tech giant is now having to deal with the fact that a vital piece of their intellectual property has made it into the wild.

According to Motherboard, the code that underpins Apple's iOS operating system was posted to GitHub, leaving it exposed to jailbreakers and hackers to take a look at and, in a worse case scenario, exploit. While exploiting the code, known as iBoot, isn't a straight forward affair as a number of files in the code posted are missing, what's there could be enough for a knowledgeable programmer to probe for vulnerabilities. This is a big deal: iOS used to be easy for hackers and jailbreakers to meddle with, but recent versions of the operating system's security, combined with Apple's advances in chip design, have proven almost impossible to crack.

What this could mean for iPhone and iPad security is anyone's guess. The code has been removed from GitHub via a DMCA takedown order. But that doesn't mean it's gone: once something's been released into the wilds of the web, it's nearly impossible to wipe it out.

Image courtesy of Apple Read the rest

A pair of leaked powerpoints reveal the earliest-known evidence of the Republican gerrymandering plan that gave us Trump

David Daley's hugely important 2016 book Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy uses original documents to trace the Republican master gerrymandering plan -- which gave them disproportionate control in several states, allowing them to redraw federal districts to repeat the feat at the national level -- to meetings in 2009; but a pair of leaked Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) powerpoints show that GOP strategists were scheming and fundraising to ensure that their candidates would wield power regardless of popular support at least a year and a half earlier. Read the rest

Leaked presentation from AI snake-oil salesmen to AAA game company promises horrific, dystopian manipulation of players to drain their wallets

Techpowerup has published a redacted presentation from an unnamed AI company to an unnamed big-budget multiplayer video-game publisher, setting out a suite of surveillance capitalism tools combined with machine-learning to manipulate players to make them as addicted as possible and drain them of as much money as possible. Read the rest

Australian government's worst-ever state-secrets leak: accidentally selling filing cabinets full of classified docs in a surplus store

Australian national broadcaster ABC has gotten hold of a massive trove of state secrets that were inadvertently sold off in a pair of cheap, locked filing cabinets purchased from a Canberra junk-shop that specialises in government surplus furniture. Read the rest

Trump administration is contemplating nationalizing the 5g infrastructure, but Ajit Pai is staunchly opposed

A leaked White House Powerpoint deck published by Axios reveals that some elements in the Trump administration are trying to sell a plan for the US government to build the nation's "5g" wireless infrastructure, hardened against Chinese surveillance and attacks, and then lease access to the private telcoms sector; the network architecture could then be reproduced and given to US allies to help them defend themselves against Chinese attacks. Read the rest

New York Times profiles a sleazy Twitter follower-farm, the sleazy serial liar who made millions on it, and the celebs, politicians, sports figures and "influencers" who paid him

Devumi is a sleazy Twitter-bot farm founded by German Calas, a serial liar who buys wholesale Twitter bots from even scummier bottom-feeders than him, and pays a series of low-waged patsies to direct them to follow people who want to seem more popular and influential than their actual Twitter follower-count suggests. Read the rest

Thanks to "consent" buried deep in sales agreements, car manufacturers are tracking tens of millions of US cars

Millions of new cars sold in the US and Europe are "connected," having some mechanism for exchanging data with their manufacturers after the cars are sold; these cars stream or batch-upload location data and other telemetry to their manufacturers, who argue that they are allowed to do virtually anything they want with this data, thanks to the "explicit consent" of the car owners -- who signed a lengthy contract at purchase time that contained a vague and misleading clause deep in its fine-print. Read the rest

The guy in charge of protecting American spies who blow the whistle on corruption just got frog-marched out of his office and suspended

America's spy agencies have always talked a good game about the "official channels" available to spies who discover wrongdoing, insisting that the procedures to investigate their claims and protect them from retaliation mean that no spy should ever have to go to the press. Read the rest

Reality Winner profile is a beautiful portrait of a brilliant, principled patriot who messed up

Reality Winner is the NSA whistleblower who is accused of leaking US intelligence community documents confirming Russian interference in the 2016 elections to the Intercept and who has been a cross between a punchline (her improbable name, her ill-chosen words on recorded prison conversations with her mother) and a cipher. Read the rest

For more than half a century, the sugar industry has used Big Tobacco tactics to suppress sugar/cancer link and to confuse the science

UCSF researchers have published an important paper in PLOS Biology that draws on internal documents from the US sugar industry lobby that shows that the industry deliberately suppressed research on the link between sucrose and bladder cancer and heart disease, and then deliberately sowed misinformation about the health effects of sugar, using tactics straight out of the tobacco industry's cancer-denial playbook. Read the rest

Pentagon mass surveillance slurped up the world's social media traffic; then they dumped it on a publicly accessible Amazon cloud server

The Upguard Cyber Risk Team has found three Department of Defense mass-storage "buckets" on Amazon that are world-viewable, containing 1.8 billion of social media posts that the DoD scraped from social media over 8 years as part of its global surveillance program. Read the rest

Vault 8: Wikileaks publishes sourcecode from last spring's CIA Vault 7 cyberweapons leak

In March, Wikileaks published the Vault 7 leaks, a cache of CIA cyberweapons created under the doctrine of "NOBUS" ("No One But Us"), in which security agencies suppress the publication of bugs in widely used software, choosing instead to develop attack-tools that exploit these bugs, on the assumption that no one else will ever discover those bugs and use them to attack the people they're charged with defending. Read the rest

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