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Tuesday: One String

There aren’t enough words to describe this genius who can do so much with a lone string. Brushy One String is the stagename of Andrew Chin, son of Jamaican musician Freddie McKay. McKay died in 1986 in his late 30s, leaving behind a body of work representative of the rocksteady (ex: Rock-a-Bye Woman) and reggae genres. While Brushy inherited his father’s musical talent, he’s parlayed into an interesting Rhythm-and-Blues-meets-Roots-Reggae crossover. Check out his website when you have a chance.

Wheels

  • Volkswagen and USDOJ talking about criminal investigation (Deutsche Welle) — Up in the air yet whether DOJ goes with deferred prosecution or asks for a guilty plea from the lawmaker for criminal activity related to the promotion and sale of its so-called “Clean Diesel” passenger vehicles during the last decade. Criminal fines are estimated at $1.2 billion. VW claims to be cooperating, but the company’s failure to disclose the additional cheat software in the 3.0L engines suggests some problems understanding what “good faith” means.
  • Volkswagen’s Australian manager believes diesel fix “imminent” (CarsGuide) — And “Under Australian law, we don’t believe there’s anything on our car which is illegal.” Uh-huh. Hence the fix for 80,000 1.6L and 2.0L passenger diesels. It’s true that Australia is not as strict about NOX as the U.S., but VW’s passenger diesels didn’t meet EU or AUS limits on other pollutants.
  • Ford expects to offer self-driving car without steering wheel within five years (Detroit News) — Well, then. Better hope regulations don’t require a steering wheel, huh? Ford has also invested $75M in LiDAR-maker Velodyne; Chinese search engine company Baidu has likewise made a $75M investment. LiDAR is expected to provide navigational assistance for these self-driving vehicles.

Way Up There

Words

  • Univision’s bid wins Gawker Media (Recode) — Of the two known bidders — Ziff-Davis and Univision — the latter’s $135M bid won bankrupt Gawker Media and its brands. Gawker’s lineup joins The Onion and The Root, purchased by Univision, and Fusion which Univision originally created jointly with Disney and now owns outright. Founder Nick Denton seems pleased with this outcome as his brands and workers continue without disruption; billionaire Pete Thiel gets partial revenge on Denton for outing him by forcing the bankruptcy and sale. Univision’s editorial policy will be less personal in its coverage — probably a good thing. Let’s check back in a year.
  • ‘Not a good fit’ says Barnes & Noble as CEO shown the door (GalleyCat) — Whoa. You don’t see such blunt statements about CEOs, especially one with less than a year under their belt. The company’s stock has been up though retail sales continued to struggle in competition against Amazon. Feels like there’s more to this story. In the mean time, Ron Boire is out the door and executive chairman Leonard Riggio will delay his retirement until a new CEO is found. Hope the next one can salvage NOOK tablet platform because I can’t stand Amazon’s Kindle.
  • Turkish court closes pro-Kurdish newspaper Ozgur Gundem (Business Standard) — Claiming the paper was a propaganda outlet for Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), labeled a terrorist organist organization by Turkey, EU, and the US. The court said the closure was not related to the government’s post-coup purge of media believed to be sympathetic to Gülen movement. An appeal is possible.

I-Spy: Cyber Edition
You’ve probably heard about the alleged hacking of a NSA server and the subsequent attempt to auction contents from that server. Edward Snowden offered his perspective on the situation — I’ve Storify’d the tweet thread for your reading ease.

The disclosure and attempted auction were likely done by Russia for political reasons given the timing. Hacking and accessing the contents of the server should be expected — it’s ordinary spying, same as the U.S. does. But the revelation is a new tack; Snowden suggests it’s a warning to the U.S. about potential future disclosures. Read the thread for yourself.

I don’t think this hacking and disclosure happened in a vacuum. There’s a much bigger game to puzzle out — add the meeting between Russia and Saudi Arabia to “achieve oil market stability” as well as Russia’s express interest in Saudi Arabia’s plans to build as many as 16 nuclear reactors. Factor in a change in relationship between Iran and Russia now that Russia has deployed long-range bombers from Iran for the first time against ISIS. Russia, Saudi Arabia and Iran have some of the largest proven oil reserves in the world, all three in the top 10 and in Saudi’s case, influence over OPEC. Is Russia preparing for asymmetric economic pressure?

Late adder: #BlueCutFire in San Bernadino County, CA is very bad, now 82,000 ordered to evacuate.

That’s it for now, still Tuesday in the next time zone. Let’s see if I can make it over the hump earlier tomorrow.

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.

Thursday: Move

Need something easy on the nerves today, something mellow, and yet something that won’t let a listener off too lightly. Guess for today that’s John Legend’s Tiny Desk Concert.

I promised reindeer tales today, haven’t forgotten.

From Anthrax to Zombies

  • First outbreak in 75 years forces evacuation of reindeer herders (The Siberian Times) — The last outbreak in the Siberian tundra was in 1941; news of this outbreak broke across mainstream media this past week, with some outlets referring to it as a “zombie” infection since it came back from dormancy, likely rising from a long-dead human or animal corpse.
  • Infected reindeer corpses to be collected and destroyed (The Barent Observer) — A lot of odd details about anthrax and its history pop up as the outbreak evolves. Like the mortality rate for skin anthrax (24%) and the alleged leak of anthrax from a Soviet bio-warfare lab in 1979. Reindeer deaths were blamed initially on unusually warm weather (~30C); the same unusually warm weather may have encouraged the release of long-dormant anthrax from the tundra.
  • Siberian outbreak may have started five weeks earlier (The Siberian Times) — Russia’s Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance senior official is angry about the slow response to the first diagnosis; the affected region does not have strong veterinary service, and it took a herder four days’ walk across the tundra to inform authorities about an infection due to a lack of communications technology. The situation must be serious as the Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova has now been vaccinated against anthrax. Reports as of yesterday indicate 90 people have been hospitalized, 23 of which have been diagnosed with anthrax, and one child died. The form most appear infected with is intestinal; its mortality rate is a little over 50%. Infection is blamed on anthrax-contaminated meat; shipment of meat from the area is now banned. Russian bio-warfare troops have established a clean camp for the evacuated herder families until the reindeer corpses have been disposed of and inoculations distributed across the area’s population.
  • Important: keep in mind this Siberian outbreak may be unusual for its location, but not across the globe. In the last quarter there have been small anthrax outbreaks in Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Bangladesh, and Bulgaria. Just search under Google News for “anthrax” stories over the last year.
  • Coincidentally, anthrax drug maker filed and received FDA’s ‘orphan status’ (GlobeNewsWire) — There have been so few orders for anthrax prophylaxis vaccine BioThrax that specialty biopharmaceutical company Emergent BioSolutions requested ‘orphan status’ from the FDA, granted to special therapies for rare conditions affecting less than 200,000 persons in the U.S. The status was awarded mid-June.
  • Investor sues anthrax drug maker for misleading expectations (Washington Business Journal) — Suit filed against the company and executives claims Emergent BioSolutions mislead investors into thinking the company would sell as many doses of BioThrax to the U.S. government during the next five years as the preceding five years. On the face of it, investor appears to expect Emergent BioSolutions to predict both actual vaccine demand in advance along with government funding (hello, GOP-led Congress?) and other new competitors in the same marketspace. Seems a bit much to me, like the investor feels entitled to profits without risk. Maybe they’ll get lucky and climate change will increase likelihood of anthrax infections — cha-ching.
  • Another coincidence: Last Friday marked 8 years since anthrax researcher Bruce Ivin’s death (Tulsa World) — And this coming Saturday marks six years since the FBI released its report on the anthrax attacks it blamed on Ivins.

Cybernia

  • Facebook let police shut down feed from negotiations resulting in another civilian-death-by-cop (The Mary Sue) –Yeah, we wouldn’t want to let the public see the police use deadly force against an African American mother and her five-year-old child instead of talking and waiting them out of the situation as they do so many white men in armed confrontations. And now police blame Instagram for her death. Since when does using Instagram come with an automatic death warrant?
  • Can GPS location signals be spoofed? Yep. (IEEE) — It’s possible the U.S. Navy patrol boats caught in Iran’s waters may have relied on spoofed GPS; we don’t know yet as the “misnavigating” incident is still under investigation. This article does a nice job explaining GPS spoofing, but it leaves us with a mystery. GPS signals are generated in civilian and military formats, the first is unencrypted and the second encrypted. If the “misnavigated” patrol boats captured by Iran in January were sent spoofed GPS location data, does this mean U.S. military encryption was broken? The piece also ask about reliability of GPS given spoofing when it comes to self-driving, self-navigating cars. Oh hell no.
  • Security firm F-Secure releases paper on trojan targeting entities involved in South China Sea dispute (F-Secure) — The Remote Access Trojan (RAT) has been called NanHaiShu, which means South China Sea Rat. The RAT, containing a VBA macro that executes an embedded JScript file, was spread via email messages using industry-specific terms. The targets were deliberately selected for spearfishing as the senders knew the users did not lock down Microsoft Office’s default security setting to prevent macro execution. The malware had been in the wild for about two years, but its activity synced with events related to the South China Sea dispute.

Tomorrow’s Friday, which means jazz. Guess I’d better start poking around in my files for something good. Catch you later!

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.

Wednesday: Chansons françaises

This Parisian artist is fascinating. Indila is extremely popular in France, mostly because of ballads like this one with multi-generational appeal. Many of her works contain lyrics in more than one language which increases the breadth of her allure. This particular song is indie/dream pop, but she also works in rap and fusion raï — the latter a form of Algerian folk music.

It’s no surprise that some of Indila’s work fuses raï with other genres. She’s of Algerian descent, though she’s said she’s also Indian, Cambodian, Egyptian and Moroccan. Indian influences her work with band TLF in Criminel, African cultures shape her collaboration with Youssoupha in Dreamin’ (the video is set in Arizona, oddly enough), and Middle East in Poussière d’empire with artist Nessbeal.

Do surf YouTube for more of her solo work when you’re in the mood for something sweet and angst-y.

Troubles continue abroad

I-spy

  • UK oversight struggles with MI5’s bulk collection (The Guardian) — Jeepers, it’s like MI5 took lessons from U.S. law enforcement on resisting oversight.
  • Canada’s intelligence agency likewise resists oversight (CTVNews) — Communications Security Establishment (CSE) won’t disclose what information has been shared with other non-Canadian entities which may result in human rights violations. CSE may not spy on Canadians anywhere, but compliance can’t be proven with censored records.
  • Not even going to bother with the Trump+Russia crap here, because it’s all over social media. Probably well-fanned smoke to hide his refusal to release tax returns.

Dick moves
These are among some of the stupidest, rudest, dickiest things in my timeline today. Perps deserve a whack along side the head. Don’t like my language? Tough rocks.

Long-listen
If you have the stomach for it, listen to this Bloomberg podcast in which Laurence Ball, Department of Economics Chair at Johns Hopkins, says the U.S. could have avoided the 2008 crash by rescuing Lehman Brothers. Hindsight is 20/20 — in this case, it’s nauseating, too. Fecking Bush administration…

Hasta pasta!

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.

Wednesday: Dumb Dumb [UPDATE]

Let’s change the pace today with some K-pop — a little hyper-upbeat Korean pop music influenced by hip hop. You may already be familiar with K-pop if you are familiar with insanely popular tune Gagnam Style by the artist Psy, released in 2012. But K-pop isn’t just male artists like GOT7, Shinhwa, and BIGBANG. There are quite a few all-female groups like Red Velvet featured here, Girls’ Generation, Orange Caramel, and Girls’ Day. Americans may find a retro feel to female K-pop artists’ work, not only in content and performance, but production and presentation. They make hard work look like joy. For all the visual and audio effects, there are simple, unifying messages — love is everything, and girls just want to have fun.

So much that. We could really use some love and some fun.

THREE DAYS
*head-desk* Including today, that’s all the House will spend in session this month. Flint’s 8000 lead-poisoned kids still wait.

Carla Hayden, nominee for Librarian of Congress also waits. Some chickenshit anonymous Republican senator(s) have placed a hold on her confirmation. Why? Because she’s black. Swear to gods the GOP wants to become an irrelevant footnote in history; they certainly won’t win over minority voters this way, and they’re pissing off the publishing industry at the same time. UPDATE 5:00 P.M. EST — HAYDEN CONFIRMED Huh. Wonder what clued in the chickenshit anonymous Republican senator(s) who’d placed her on hold? Whatever, now the GOP can go back to focusing their normal obstructive intransigence on SCOTUS’ nominee Merrick Garland.

Don’t forget about China

Civil rights wronged

  • Cruel and unusual punishment continues on Rikers Island after four extensions granted for reforms (Village Voice) — Youths 18-21-years-old including some who are mentally ill remain locked up in solitary confinement. The glacial pace of reforms is repugnant, maintaining worse than third-world treatment. Fix this horror and quit dragging your feet, New York. You’re making this entire country look bad and worse.
  • Black ex-cop offers detailed analysis of race and policing (Vox) — One key problem is the propensity for 70% of police to cave into pressure from the 15% of cops who are outrageous racists — like the Milgram experiment run amok. Racists should be identified and removed from leadership positions; police departments must have open dialog about social pressure and expectations of ethical behavior in policing.

Breakit

Cyber-oddments

Okay, that’s quite enough self-abuse for one day. It’s downhill from here, see you tomorrow!

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.

Thursday: Repetition

A little Prince to make the painful repetition a little easier to take.

By repetition I mean what’s happening in Puerto Rico compared to what has already happened in Michigan.

Some of Michigan’s most financially distressed cities were forced to accept emergency managers, supplanting the cities’ democratically elected officials. Under state law, EMs were the sole point of power and authority for administration until the cities were deemed financially viable. We all know how that turned out; in Flint’s case, ten people died from Legionnaire’s disease and roughly 8000 kids will pay for the incompetence of the emergency management scheme for the rest of their lives due to the permanent effects of lead poisoning. The incompetence is further magnified by governmental bodies’ failure to do the right thing to completion, while continuing to milk the city and state of more money to no effect.

Witness the state attorney general Bill Schuette now asking for $3.4 million to investigate what can already be easily seen in records released to date. The assessments made so far have been equally wrong — like Schuette’s office suing two consulting firms when documentation clearly shows outright stupidity in contract management or malfeasance on the part of government was the real problem. And none of Flint’s water problems would have happened had not the city been forced off Detroit’s water by the state treasurer’s office, which rejected a last-minute offer far cheaper than construction of the new Karegnondi water line. Seeing this doesn’t need millions of dollars, only ethics.

Puerto Rico — with a population smaller than Los Angeles in an area a little smaller than Connecticut — is now undergoing a similar loss of democracy for similar reasons of financial distress. The territory is $73 billion in debt caused in no small part by suffocating federal policies. The U.S. Senate just voted to supplant Puerto Rico’s elected officials’ authority with a team of managers. They had too little democracy as it was before this schema, not having the same kind of representation that the fifty states have; many of the financial limitations Puerto Rico faces have been directly related to the territory’s inability to regulate commerce.

The economic hitmen have won. Now the vultures descend.

The galling part is this approach is called PROMESA (Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act) — a promise. Brace yourselves, Puerto Ricans, at least they’ve warned you. Que Dios tenga misericordia porque los buitres no lo hará.

Odd lots
I’ve got a bunch of stray cats and dogs here that didn’t fit under any theme so far this week. In other words, there wasn’t much repetition. Make of them what you will.

Thank goodness tomorrow is Friday and I can indulge in a little jazz. See you then.

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.

Thursday Morning, Late: Like a Sucker Punch

It’s true
That it kicks you in the teeth when you are least expecting
Bad news
Oh it beats you black and blue before you see it coming

— excerpt, Bad News by Bastille

This little ditty seemed appropos for today. I’m surprised it was just a B-side.

Spin Factory
BAD DOG, REUTERS — When a big event happens, news media jump all over it and churn out reporting. But in the age of social media and the failure of traditional business models, crap is published and too often blown off. Like this tweet:Reuters_tweet_813am_19MAY2016
Looks innocuous, right? But it’s not — this is the replacement for a tweet that preceded it. Same story, but with a frigging picture of Donald Trump attached. I’d post that original tweet here but they deleted it before I could snag it.

Initial reaction too often is “It’s just a tweet, it’s just Twitter.” No. Hell, no. If Reuters can’t get something as simple as a photo on a tweet correct, what else are they getting wrong with slap dash coverage?

Reuters isn’t just any news outlet; businesses pay its parent corporation, Thompson Reuters for their information products. What are businesses getting in purchased real-time feeds? Some of these businesses are broadcasters. Are erroneous feeds shaping broadcasters’ perceptions before they even reproduce news content? It’s rather important today when some news outlets sought whacko tweets and quotes from Trump before attempting to get a reaction from the White House.

Reuters’ alleged bias has already been controversial; a contributor left in 2013 claiming editorial bias for climate skepticism demanding false balance made reporting on climate change difficult. Reuters denied the claim.

ON THE MEDIA — Rather than allow media churn to burn us with bad (as in poorly executed and unethical) news, best to consult On The Media‘s Breaking News Consumer’s Guide — Airplane Edition.
OnTheMedia_BreakingNewsConsumersGuideAirplaneEd_19MAY2016

FIFTY CENT PARTY — You’ve probably seen a news story about this research. Cut out the middlemen and read it at this link:

King, Gary, Jennifer Pan, and Margaret E. Roberts. How the Chinese Government Fabricates Social Media Posts for Strategic Distraction, Not Engaged Argument. 2016. http://gking.harvard.edu/50c.

RIP MORLEY SAFER — And more bad (as in sad) news: former CBS reporter and correspondent Morley Safer has died at age 84. The three-time Peabody Award winner retired from CBS only last week. We need more journalists like Safer, who began his career with reporting from the Vietnam War that galled then-President Lyndon Johnson for its honesty.

Busy day here, can’t spend any more time at the keyboard. See you here tomorrow morning!

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.

Friday Morning: This Thing Called Life

It’s Friday, when we usually cover a different jazz genre. But we’re playing these sorry cards we’ve been dealt this week and observing the passing of a great artist.

We’ll probably all be sick of seeing this same video, but it is one of the very few of Prince available for embedding with appropriate intellectual property rights preserved. It’s a result of Prince’s tenacious control over his artistic product that we won’t have ready access to his past performances, but this same tenacity taught many artists how to protect their interests.

It’s worth the hour and a quarter to watch the documentary Prince in the 1980s; the enormity of his talent can’t be understood without reactions by professionals to his abilities.

The way his voice slides easily into high registers at 05:44, his guitar playing beginning at 06:53, offer us just the smallest glimpses of his spectacular gifts.

Good night, sweet Prince, may flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

Great Google-y moogley

  • European Community’s Antitrust Commission issued a Statement of Objections regarding perceived breaches of antitrust laws by Google’s Android operating system (European Commission press release) — The EU has a problem with Android’s ~90% market share in some member states. They may have a tough time with their case as the EU did very little to preserve the Nokia Symbian OS when Microsoft bought Nokia phone business. Their point about lack of application interoperability and portability between mobile devices is also weak as they did not make that case with Windows-based applications on personal computers. Further, Google has been aggressive to the point of annoyance in its efforts to segregate Android and Google apps — I can attest to this, having a handful of Android devices which have required irritating application upgrades to facilitate this shift over the last year and a half. This will be an interesting case to watch.
  • The second annual Android Security Report was released on Google’s blog this week (Google Blog) — Some interesting numbers in this report, including Google’s revelation that it scans 400 million devices a day. Gee, a figure intelligence agencies must envy.
  • Roughly 29% of Android devices can’t be accessed to issue monthly security patches (Naked Security) — Sophos has a bit of an attitude about the back-of-the-envelope number it scratched out, calculating a little more than 400 million Android devices may not be running modern Android versions Google can patch, or may not be accessible to scanning for patching. You’d think a cybersecurity vendor would revel in this opportunity to sell product. Or that an otherwise intelligent and successful security firm would recognize the numbers reflect Android’s continued dominance in the marketplace with more than 1.4 billion active devices. The risk is big, but how much of that risk is due to the success of the devices themselves — still highly usable if aging, with insufficient memory for upgrades? Sounds so familiar (*cough* Windows XP)…
  • Google passed a benchmark with mobile version of Chrome browser on more than 1 billion devices (Business Insider) — Here’s another opportunity to screw up interpretation of data: mobile Chrome works on BOTH Android and iOS devices. I know for a fact the latest mobile Chrome will NOT work on some older Android devices.

Under Not-Google: Opera browser now has free built-in VPN
A lesser-known browser with only 2% of current market share, Opera is a nice alternative to Chrome and Firefox. Its new built-in free VPN could help boost its market share by offering additional privacy protection. It’s not clear this new feature will protect users against censorship tools, though — and this could be extremely important since this Norwegian software company may yet be acquired by a Chinese company which placed a bid on the firm a couple of months ago.

Definitely Not-Google: Apple cracker cost FBI more than $1 million
Can’t swing an iPad without hitting a report on FBI director James Comey’s admission at the Aspen Security Forum this week in Londn that cracking the San Bernardino shooter’s work iPhone cost “more than I will make in the remainder of this job, which is 7 years and 4 months,” or more than $1 million dollars. Speaking of exorbitant expenses, why was Comey at this forum in London? Oh, Comey was the headliner for the event? Isn’t that interesting…wonder if that speaking gig came with speaker’s fee?

That’s it for this week’s morning roundups. Hope you have a nice weekend planned ahead of you!

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.

Tuesday Morning: Toivo’s Tango

Did you know the tango evolved into a Finnish subgenre? Me neither, and I’m part Finn on my mother’s side of the family. Both my grandmother and great-grandmother spoke Finn at home after their immigration to the U.S., but apparently never passed the language or Finnish music on to my mother and her siblings. The Finnish tango became so popular a festival — the Tangomarkkinat — was established to celebrate it.

The tango makes its way back again, nearly 9000 miles from its origin to Finland, in this music video. The performer featured here is a very popular Argentine tango singer, Martin Alvarado, singing in Spanish a popular Finnish tango, Liljankukka, written by Toivo Kärki. If you search for the same song and songwriter in YouTube, you’ll trip across even more Finnish tango.

Let’s dance…

Police raid in Belgium today
There were more arrests in Belgium today in connection to Paris attack in November. Not many details yet in the outlets I follow, suggesting information is close to the vest; there was more information very early, which has now moved off feeds, also suggesting tight control of related news. A raid in the southern Brussels suburb of Uccle resulted in the arrest of three persons now being questioned. This raid follows the arrest last Friday of Mohamed Abrini, who has now admitted he is the man seen in security camera video as the ‘man in the hat’ observed just before the bombing of the Brussels’ airport. Thus far, intelligence gathered from suspects and locations indicates a second attack had been planned, attacking the Euro 2016 football championship. Worth noting the media has now been reporting only the given name and a family name first initial for some of those arrested recently.

Up All Night growing, annoying some Parisians
This Occupy movement subset called ‘Up All Night’ or ‘Night Rising’ (Nuit debout) has been rallying during evening hours, protesting austerity-driven labor reforms, France’s continued state of emergency after November’s terrorist attacks, and more. The number of protesters has grown over the last 12 days they have taken to the streets, driven in part by the Panama Papers leak. The crowd has annoyed those navigating the area around the Place de la Republique where the Nuit debout gather. (More here on video.)

Upset over Burr-Feinstein draft bill on encryption continues
The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) issued a statement last night conveying their displeasure with this proposed bill which would mandate compliance with law enforcement access to encrypted digital content. The CTA’s 2200 members include Apple, Google, Microsoft, and any consumer electronic technology manufacturer featured at the annual Consumer Electronics Show each year. This formal statement follows a wave of negative feedback from technology and privacy experts since the draft bill was revealed late last week.

Odds and ends

  • Cellebrite makes the news again, this time for a ‘textalyzer’ (Ars Technica) — Huh. What a coincidence that an Israeli company attributed with the cracking of the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone 5c is now commercializing a device for law enforcement to use on drivers’ cellphones. Do read this piece.
  • DARPA still fighting for relevance with its Squad X initiative (Reuters) — Not a single mention of exoskeletons, but enough digital technology to make soldiers glow in the dark on the battlefield.
  • Microsoft’s director of research calls some of us chickenshit because AI is peachy, really (The Guardian) — Uh-huh. This, from the same company that released that racist, sexist POS AI bot Tay not once but twice. And we should all just trust this stuff in our automobiles and in the military. Ri-ight.
  • Farmers watching more than commodities market and the weather (Fortune) — Chinese IP rustlers are sneaking commercially-developed plant materials back to PRC. Hope the Chinese realize just how likely American farmers are to use firearms against trespassers.
  • CDC’s deputy director on Zika: “Everything we look at with this virus seems to be a bit scarier than we initially thought” (Reuters) — I swear multiple news outlets including WaPo have changed the heds on stories which originally quoted this statement. Zika’s observed destruction of brain cells during research is really distressing; so is Zika’s link to Guillain-Barre syndrome in addition to birth defects including microcephaly. In spite of the genuine and deep concern at CDC over this virus’ potential impact on the U.S., the CDC is forced to dig in sofa cushions for loose change to research and fight this infectious agent. Absolutely ridiculous, like we learned nothing from our experience here with West Nile Virus.

That’s it, off to mix up my tango with a whiskey foxtrot. See you tomorrow morning!

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.

Thursday Morning: Eye in the Sky

I am the eye in the sky
Looking at you
I can read your mind
I am the maker of rules
Dealing with fools
I can cheat you blind

— excerpt, Eye in the Sky by Alan Parsons Project

It’s not like I wanted to haul out all my high school and college music, but they sure seem to work well this week.

Speaking of the eye in the sky…

FBI and DHS circle overhead a LOT
Buzzfeed published its findings after looking into FBI and DHS surveillance flight records, finding a lot of planes circling over mosques. The results also looked at flights immediately after the San Bernardino shooting. You know what would be interesting? Comparing that information against the handling timeline for the Apple iPhone issued to Syed Farouk by his employer.

U.S. dealerships sue Volkswagen – but expand on Dieselgate
Not only are three family-owned dealerships suing VW for its fraudulent use of an emissions control defeat system in their diesel passenger vehicles — they are suing because of VW’s financing practices, which steered money away from dealership’s preferred financing while leaving the dealerships stuck with rapidly depreciated business value. The potential losses to VW just swelled by another magnitude.

Iceland’s new PM expects elections this fall
Rather than dissolving the government, the former Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson’s coalition partners negotiated the appointment of Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson as his replacement after Gunnlaugsson’s Panama Papers-driven resignation. Johannsson said the coalition expects elections this autumn while continuing to focus on working on stability. That’s a nice way of saying the Progressive Party and the Independence Party are stalling for time to avoid a likely rout if elections were held today. Polling indicates the Pirate Party would stomp the other three major parties if a vote was held now.

MP and Official spokesperson of the Pirate Party Birgitta Jónsdóttir was interviewed by Democracy Now! about Iceland’s current political climate. Jonsdottir, a possible contender for PM, explained her country’s reaction to the Panama Papers’ revelations:

…What is in particular disturbing about the prime minister’s conduct in this matter is that the day before new laws took effect in Iceland about how you declare and how tax havens are dealt with, because Iceland is a part of a sort of a campaign, international campaign, to stop tax havens being a part of a solution on how to get away from participating in paying tax in your own country. He signed—his sold his wife his share for one dollar the day before the laws took effect. And that, in itself, seems highly dubious. And then, he has actually been using his wife as a shield and saying that people that are criticizing him are attacking his wife. I actually think that this guy is in some sort of meltdown, because his behavior in the last few days has been so outrageous that it seems like we are stuck in a satire by Dario Fo, you know, in a complete theater of the absurd. And I’m just so deeply humiliated on behalf of my nation that this is what the outside world is looking at. …

The feeling of betrayal is palpable. It’s a good read, do check it out in its entirety.

Odd lots

  • Massive breach exposes 55 million Philippine voters’ identities (The Register) — That’s Philippines’ Commission on Elections (COMELEC) *entire* database, which COMELEC claims doesn’t contain anything sensitive. Except for stuff like fingerprints and passport numbers. Oh, and all the information for half the entire country’s population.
  • China’s ‘Great Firewall’ architect reduced to using VPN during a speech (Shanghaist) — Oops.
  • Adobe patching a Flash zero-day (Naked Security) — Again. I know, I know, when will Flash die?
  • Climate change could lengthen Europe’s dengue fever season (Science Daily) — Longer, warmer summers will extend the season for Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquito populations, the disease’s key infection vectors. Hey, you know what else might show up for longer periods of time, too? Zika, since it’s carried by Aedes aegypti.

Wow. It’s coffee break time already? Have at it. Catch you tomorrow morning!

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.

Wednesday Morning: Whip It Good

When a problem comes along you must whip it
Before the cream sits out too long you must whip it
When something’s going wrong you must whip it

— excerpt, Whip It by Devo

Can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought of this song in the last couple of days.

Panama Papers fallout
Still not as much reporting showing up in global media as one might expect from a collaborative effort the size of that mustered by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and German news outlet Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) around the leaked Panama Papers. But there is a slowly building debris field accumulating in the leak’s wake.

  • Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson resigned after ~7.5% of the population showed up at a protest rally (Channel NewsAsia) — But you probably know this much already, right? Icelanders don’t mess around with even so much as the appearance of conflict. Hope somebody will tell us if bananas are a thing at protests in addition to eggs, yogurt, and tissue paper. (see photo).
  • Chair of Transparency International’s Chile chapter resigned (Transparency.org) — Oops. But kudos to Transparency for the prompt and direct reaction after the leak revealed the Chilean chair had been involved with
  • China squelched reporting ties to leadership and revelations in Panama Papers (SCMP) — The suppression includes redirecting search engine queries to stories about sports figures involved in the scandal.
  • Amazon’s cloud now home to the Panama Papers source documents (Forbes) — And tiny Australian software firm Nuix has been helping with sifting through the documents.

What will today bring?

Related? Pfizer and Allergan nix their merger
Proposed changes to Treasury Department rules are blamed for the breakup of this corporate marriage, in which Pfizer would have moved its headquarters to Allergan’s location in Ireland to avoid U.S. tax rates. Public sentiment about offshoring after the Panama Papers leak may have clinched this split.

Miscellany

  • Heat pump technology could reduce energy use in clothing dryers by 40% (Phys.org) — Here’s a great use of our tax dollars, this research by U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratories. Dryers are the largest consumer of electricity in households equipped with them. As much of U.S. energy is produced by fossil fuel, this could have a dramatic impact on CO2 output. Let’s hope Congress encourages more of this kind of research as well as tax credits for related corporate R&D and consumer purchases.
  • Orbeus, a photo-recognition software company, has been acquired by Amazon (Business Insider) — Imagine getting this message the next time you upload your personal photos to your Amazon Prime Photo account: “People who purchased your spouse’s belt on Amazon also purchased this underwear/lubricant/sex toy.” Just, no.
  • STARZ premium cable channel will now offer a direct streaming service for cord cutters (Ars Technica) — The offering will work much like HBO Direct. But will ISPs that offer STARZ (like Comcast and Charter) attempt to throttle this service as it cuts into their bundled sales? Net neutrality is going to get a work out as more cable channels offer their content straight to consumers.
Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.