NOW LIVE ON WhoWhatWhy
Portland, Oregon, may seem like an unlikely site for a stand against the FBI-led counterterrorism task forces that have spread to more than 100 cities since 9/11. Yet the city, which prides itself on odd-man-out independence, is now voting on whether it will rejoin the feds. The question they’re considering is an important one: whether cities or states get any protection from the federally-funded operations, or are just losing their independence to a national mandate.
How Spies Stole the Keys to the Encryption Castle
Using documents provided by Edward Snowden, The Intercept unpacks the story of how American and British intelligence hacked into Gemalto, a multinational chipmaker that produces 2 billion SIM cards each year. SIM cards are like digital fingerprints for mobile phones. They can store contacts, text messages, phone numbers, and be used for financial transactions. Gemalto’s clients include “AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint and some 450 wireless network providers around the world.” By hacking into Gemalto and stealing encryption keys, the joint effort allowed the intelligence services an unprecedented opportunity to secretly monitor the world’s wireless communications. Gemalto was completely oblivious to the breach. Alas, these revelations signal the ubiquity of NSA-GCHQ efforts. Even more ominously, The Intercept reported that having the wrong SIM card could mistakenly make you the target of a drone strike.
Google Calls FBI’s Plan to Expand Hacking Power a ‘Monumental’ Constitutional Threat
Earlier this week, Google came out in strong opposition to “the government’s quiet plan” to give the FBI expanded authority to remotely access computer files. The tech behemoth said the proposed change “raises a number of monumental and highly complex constitutional, legal, and geopolitical concerns that should be left to Congress to decide.” At issue is the Justice Department’s proposal to allow judges to grant search warrants outside their jurisdiction if authorities don’t know where a targeted computer is located. Currently, the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure restrict judges from issuing the broader warrants sought by the government. The feds say they just want the rules to reflect the changes technology hath wrought. What the Department of Justice wants is an end-run around Congress, according to Google.
Clinton Foundation’s Global Network Overlaps with Family’s Political Base
Donations to the Clinton Foundation have “soared” over the last decade, reaching a staggering $1.69 billion in 2014 and heading toward $2 billion by year’s end. The timing of these donations, which jumped in 2013, has some questioning whether this spike somehow anticipates the widely-expected coronation of Hillary Clinton as the Democrats’ 2016 presidential candidate. The speculation that donors, both foreign and domestic, are laying a yellow-brick road of influence to a future Clinton White House is based in part on who gave what to Hillary’s political coffers. Nearly half the major donors to the Ready for Hillary Super PAC and half the big bundlers from her 2008 bid have dropped at least $10,000 apiece into the Clinton Foundation. And a third of those giving $1 million or more to the foundation are foreign governments or “other entities” that are otherwise barred from giving money to U.S. political candidates. Of course, the foundation counters that it’s all just a philanthropic enterprise. Uh-huh.
What The Atlantic Gets Dangerously Wrong About ISIS And Islam
Think Progress looks at the controversy around the much-discussed story in The Atlantic entitled “What ISIS Really Wants.” Author Graeme Wood’s analysis of ISIS as a purveyor of a radical, but not unfounded, brand of apocalyptic Islam has been embraced by a chorus of Islam’s critics. But Islamic scholars and many Muslims are unhappy with some of the leaps Wood makes in connecting the ideologues leading the Islamic State with the disparate population of 1 billion Muslims worldwide. What Wood left out, according to one scholar, is how Muslims read and apply the Koran—a factor that applies to all religious faiths that rely upon a founding book or writings. In fact, the literal interpretations employed by the Islamic State actually set it apart from the broader practice of Islam in the Muslim world.
‘Water ATMs’ Deliver Liquid Assets in India’s Capital
In much of the world, something as simple as access to potable water dominates the lives of the impoverished. And, sadly, a lack of clean water causes a great deal of illness. Enter Anand Shah, founder of the Indian firm Sarvajal. His company developed a solar-powered, cloud-connected ‘Water ATM’ that provides clean and inexpensive water to those who otherwise lack access to it. A pilot project with the city of New Delhi has expanded rapidly, with 24 water ATMs located around the crowded, often underserved metropolis. The public-private partnership treats the water, supplies the machines and sells clean water for a fraction of the price of bottled water.
Like what you see? Sign up to subscribe.