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Original author: 
David Pescovitz

During World War II, the US Army deployed a "tactical deception unit" to Europe. The 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, aka the "Ghost Army," consisted of artists, ad directors, actors, and other creative folks who used inflatable tanks, sound effects trucks, and good ol' fashioned bullshit to trick the German forces. It included the likes of fashion designer Bill Blass, fine artist Elsworth Kelly, and photographer Art Kane. A documentary about the Ghost Army, directed by Rick Beyer, aired last month on PBS. You can watch it for free right here! The Ghost Army story would make for a great black comedy too! The Ghost Army (Thanks, Bob Pescovitz!)    

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Original author: 
timothy

First time accepted submitter The0retical writes "A couple of mine-sweeping dolphins dredged up what is known as a 'Howell torpedo' dating from 1870 to 1889. Only 50 were ever produced, this being the second example known to exist. The 11-foot-long brass torpedo had a maximum range and speed of 400 yards at 25 knots. The new example will be displayed at Naval Undersea Museum in Keyport, Wash. alongside the only other example."

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Original author: 
Cory Doctorow


I reviewed Ronald Diebert's new book Black Code in this weekend's edition of the Globe and Mail. Diebert runs the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto and has been instrumental in several high-profile reports that outed government spying (like Chinese hackers who compromised the Dalai Lama's computer and turned it into a covert CCTV) and massive criminal hacks (like the Koobface extortion racket). His book is an amazing account of how cops, spies and crooks all treat the Internet as the same kind of thing: a tool for getting information out of people without their knowledge or consent, and how they end up in a kind of emergent conspiracy to erode the net's security to further their own ends. It's an absolutely brilliant and important book:

Ronald Deibert’s new book, Black Code, is a gripping and absolutely terrifying blow-by-blow account of the way that companies, governments, cops and crooks have entered into an accidental conspiracy to poison our collective digital water supply in ways small and large, treating the Internet as a way to make a quick and dirty buck or as a snoopy spy’s best friend. The book is so thoroughly disheartening for its first 14 chapters that I found myself growing impatient with it, worrying that it was a mere counsel of despair.

But the final chapter of Black Code is an incandescent call to arms demanding that states and their agents cease their depraved indifference to the unintended consequences of their online war games and join with civil society groups that work to make the networked society into a freer, better place than the world it has overwritten.

Deibert is the founder and director of The Citizen Lab, a unique institution at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs. It is one part X-Files hacker clubhouse, one part computer science lab and one part international relations observatory. The Citizen Lab’s researchers have scored a string of international coups: Uncovering GhostNet, the group of Chinese hackers taking over sensitive diplomatic computers around the world and eavesdropping on the private lives of governments; cracking Koobface, a group of Russian petty crooks who extorted millions from random people on the Internet, a few hundred dollars at a time; exposing another Chinese attack directed at the Tibetan government in exile and the Dalai Lama. Each of these exploits is beautifully recounted in Black Code and used to frame a larger, vivid narrative of a network that is global, vital and terribly fragile.

Yes, fragile. The value of the Internet to us as a species is incalculable, but there are plenty of parties for whom the Internet’s value increases when it is selectively broken.

How to make cyberspace safe for human habitation

Black Code: Inside the Battle for Cyberspace     

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Zothecula writes "DARPA has seen the future of naval warfare and it's falling upward. As part of an effort to reduce the logistics of sending equipment into trouble areas, the agency's Upward Falling Payloads project is aimed at developing storage capsules capable of remaining on the deep seabed for years. These would contain non-lethal military assets that could be deployed on the spot years in advance and rise to the surface as needed." Possible side benefit: they need to research communications systems reliable enough to command the deep sea capsules when needed.

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Hugh Pickens writes "Michael Crowley writes that using drones rather than soldiers to kill bad guys is appealing for many reasons, including cost, relative precision and reduction of risk to American troops. But there's plenty of evidence that drones antagonize local populations and create more enemies over the long term than we kill in the short term. The failed 2010 Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad, has said that about the U.S. drone campaign in Pakistan, and the Washington Post has described how drone strikes may be breeding sympathy for al-Qaeda in Yemen. 'It is the politically advantageous thing to do — low cost, no U.S. casualties, gives the appearance of toughness. It plays well domestically and it is unpopular only in other countries,' says Dennis Blair, director of national intelligence until May of 2010. 'Any damage it does to the national interest only shows up over the long term.' Now there's another component to the new warfare that threatens blowback: cyberwar. Like drones, cyberweapons are relatively cheap and do their work without putting American troops in harm's way. The blowback comes when those viruses get loose and inflict unintended damage or provide templates to terrorists or enemy nations that some experts think could lead to disaster and argue that cyberweapons are like bioweapons, demanding international treaties to govern their use. 'We may indeed be at a critical moment in history, when the planet's prospects could be markedly improved by an international treaty on cyberweapons, and the cultivation of an attendant norm against cyberwar,' writes Richard Wright. 'The ideal nation to lead the world toward this goal would be the most powerful nation on earth, especially if that nation had a pretty clean record on the cyberweapons front. A few years ago, America seemed to fit that description. But it doesn't now.'"


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