America is in a dark place. There are no simple ways forward or easy solutions that could bring people together.

Despite a handful of new laws designed to force the Pentagon to submit to at least a partial audit in the next few years, Reuters's investigation indicates that they'll miss those deadlines. Why? In recent years, the department wasted billions of dollars installing faulty software intended to make them audit-ready.

In the meantime, a disparate patchwork of offices in the Defense Department attempt to do the best they can to "balance" the budget against what the U.S. Treasury says they should have spent. This is a monthly process, and it often involves a healthy imagination. Here's an example from the Navy's bookkeeping at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service:

Every month, they encountered the same problem. Numbers were missing. Numbers were clearly wrong. Numbers came with no explanation of how the money had been spent or which congressional appropriation it came from ... The data flooded in just two days before deadline. As the clock ticked down ... staff were able to resolve a lot of the false entries through hurried calls and emails to Navy personnel, but many mystery numbers remained. For those, Woodford and her colleagues were told by superiors to take “unsubstantiated change actions” - in other words, enter false numbers, commonly called “plugs,” to make the Navy’s totals match the Treasury’s.

The disease poses a grave and fast-moving threat to every nation. Governments have, quite reasonably, assumed emergency powers to counter it. But such powers can be abused. Governments have selectively banned protests on the grounds that they might spread the virus, silenced critics and scapegoated minorities. They have used emergency measures to harass dissidents. And they have taken advantage of a general atmosphere of alarm. With everyone’s attention on covid-19, autocrats and would-be autocrats in many countries can do all sorts of bad things, safe in the knowledge that the rest of the world will barely notice, let alone to object.

But federal authorities recently screwed up and revealed the secret themselves when they published a cache of case documents but failed to redact one identifying piece of information about the target: his email address, Ed_Snowden@lavabit.com. With that, the very authorities holding the threat of jail time over Levison’s head if he said anything have confirmed what everyone had long ago presumed: that the target account was Snowden’s.

As Green puts it, “Your computer is now only as secure as that database of keys held by Microsoft, which means it may be vulnerable to hackers, foreign governments, and people who can extort Microsoft employees.”

Remember CISA? The "Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act"? It's getting much, much worse, with Congress and the administration looking to ram it through -- in the process, dropping any pretense that it's not a surveillance bill.

After years of warning that the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership would be devastating for Internet freedom, intellectual property experts have finally gotten to look at the final draft of the proposed treaty.

And they say it’s as bad as they feared.

The leaked papers appear to show that drone strikes were often carried out based on insufficient and unreliable intelligence and when executed, often compromise further gathering of intelligence.

The documents reveal that in Afghanistan, drone strikes on 35 targets killed at least 219 other people.

Very often, new palm oil plantations result in the clearing of rainforest. Researchers at Princeton University have shown that more than half of the palm oil plantations in Indonesia and Malaysia are located in areas where there used to be rainforest. So by choosing a specific product, the consumer unwittingly has an impact on deforestation of rainforest and the fate of endangered species like orangutans or tigers.

To those of us who were accustomed to thinking of the internet as a glorious, distributed, anarchic, many-to-many communication network in which anyone could become a global publisher, corporate gatekeepers had lost their power and peer-to-peer sharing was becoming the liberating norm, Labovitz’s brusque summary comes as a rude shock. Why? Because what he was really saying is that the internet is well on its way to being captured by giant corporations – just as the Columbia law professor Tim Wu speculated it might be in The Master Switch, his magisterial history of 20th-century communications technologies.

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