- Crooked Timber responds to The Intercept's release of data regarding Russian interference with American elections.
- Dangerous Minds reports on how Melanie Gaydos overcame a rare genetic disorder to become a model.
- Dead Things seems unduly happy that it does see as if Tyrannosaurus rex had feathers. (I like the idea.)
- The Dragon's Gaze reports on our ability to detect the effects of a planet-shattering Nicoll-Dyson beam.
- The Frailest Thing considers being a parent in the digital age.
- Language Hat notes the African writing systems of nsibidi and bamum.
- Marginal Revolution notes that Trump-supporting states are moving to green energy quite quickly.
- Window on Eurasia notes how Russian guarantees of traditional rights to the peoples of the Russian North do not take their current identities into account.
- blogTO notes an Instagram user from Toronto, @brxson, who takes stunning photos of the city from on high.
- The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper examining the limits of exoplanet J1407b's massive ring system.
- The Dragon's Tales notes evidence that the primordial Martian atmosphere apparently did not have carbon dioxide.
- Imageo notes that the California rivers swollen by flooding can be seen from space.
- Joe. My. God. notes that American intelligence agencies are withholding sensitive information from a White House seen as compromised by Russian intelligence.
- Language Hat talks about the best ways to learn Latin.
- Marginal Revolution links to a paper observing a decline in inter-state migration in the United States.
- The NYRB Daily looks at the interesting failure of a public sculpture program in the United Kingdom in the 1970s.
- Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw notes the remarkable heat that has hit Australia in recent days.
- The Planetary Society Blog reports on the intersection between space technology and high-tech fashion.
- The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer looks at how Argentina gave the Falkland Islands tariff-free access to Mercosur.
- The Russian Demographics Blog looks at the countries likely to be vulnerable to rapid aging.
- Transit Toronto notes the Bombardier lawsuit against Metrolinx.
- Window on Eurasia argues that poor Russian statistical data is leading directly to bad policy.
- 'Apostrophen's 'Nathan Smith describes his writing projects for this year.
- The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper examining exomoon formation.
- The LRB Blog worries about Trump's hold on the button.
- The NYRB Daily looks at Rex Tillerson, an oil company diplomat to autocrats.
- Personal Reflections' Jim Belshaw shares the rediscovered mid-19th century painting by Legros, L'Angelus.
- Towleroad looks at the Russian tradition of kompromat, the gathering of compromising information for blackmail.
- Transit Toronto notes that TTC surveying in Scarborough is beginning.
- Understanding Society looks at path dependency in the formation of academic disciplines.
- Window on Eurasia looks at Russian tensions regarding gastarbeiter migration and suggests Russia is set to actively sponsor separatism across the former Soviet Union.
Spacing Ottawa's Dwight Williams notes an odd, and reparable, lacuna in the list of figures commemorated on Ottawa's streets.
If you’ll permit some historical stage-setting: around the time frame of 1990-‘91, the former city of Gloucester began the process of building City Park Drive, a side street looping southwards off of Ogilvie Road near the Gloucester Centre Mall. There would eventually be side streets branching off within that loop for condominiums to be built and called home by hundreds of our neighbours.
Around the same time frame, construction began on the north side of Ogilvie on the current headquarters of the first of its best-known – and perhaps least understood – neighbours: the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service. A decade or so later, their military-affiliated counterparts, the Communications Security Establishment, would set up their own shop right next door. Both buildings are striking in terms of design for different reasons, and not the kind of design that one might expect or prefer for the headquarters of intelligence services. That matter of architectural taste can be argued another time in other venues.
To the point: however misunderstood the work of those organizations may be, it can nonetheless be argued that their work – and those of their forebears in the structure of the Canadian government – has at times been vital to Canada…and particularly when it comes to discussing World War II. One Canadian citizen in particular has been honoured with some justification for his work in that field. I’ve checked and discovered that his name has yet to be commemorated anywhere within the current city limits, and perhaps it is time that was now remedied.
That person is Sir William Stephenson, better known even now in some circles as “the Man Called Intrepid” thanks to his autobiography of the same name.
- Bloomberg notes Petrobras' dismissal of rumours it is threatened by the impeachment, observes that many Europeans expect a chain reaction of departures if the United Kingdom leaves, notes that a return to high economic growth in Israel will require including the Palestinian minority, and
looks at Panamanian efforts to convince the world that the country is not a tax haven.
- The Globe and Mail remembers Mi'kMaq teacher Elsie Basque, and looks at how Mongolia is trying to adapt to the new economy.
- Bloomberg View states the obvious, noting that an expected event is not a wild swan.
- CBC notes Rachel Notley's tour of Fort McMurray.
- The Inter Press Service notes the denial of everything about the Rohingya.
- MacLean's looks at further confusion in Brazil.
- Open Democracy notes a push for land reform in Paraguay and looks at the devastation of Scotland's Labour Party.
- Wired notes the dependence of intelligence agencies on Twitter, proved by Twitter shutting an intermediary down.
- Bloomberg notes two former British intelligence chiefs saying that the United Kingdom is safer within the European Union than without, wonders if Saudi Arabia will be able to accept the economic shocks involved in transitioning away from oil, suggests South Australia could profit hugely from storing nuclear waste, and shares one journalist's experiences inside North Korea.
- Via The Dragon's Tales, I came across this Gizmag article reporting on a Dutch family living in a greenhouse.
- The Inter Press Service notes controversies surrounding transnational humanitarianism.
- The National Post wonders what non-endorsements of Trump by prominent members of the Republican Party will do to this institution.
- Open Democracy writes about the ongoing revolution in gender relations in the Syrian Kurdish enclave of Rojava.
- Wired reports on Sweden's ongoing transition away from cash to a completely digital economy.
Leah McLaren in MacLean's notes how the recent British inquest into the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, which revealed Russian state involvement, has worsened bilateral relations.
“You may succeed in silencing one man but the howl of protest from around the world, Mr. Putin, will reverberate in your ears for the rest of your life.” These words, spoken by the Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko on his deathbed at University College Hospital in London nearly a decade ago, seem as prescient today as they were ominous then.
The story of Litvinenko’s dramatically foreshortened life is the stuff of spy novels. The subsequent public inquiry into his death by the British government, which concluded last week, does nothing to dispel the myth. Last week the retired High Court judge Sir Robert Owen concluded in a 327-page report that the murder of Litvinenko was, in his view, an act of state-sponsored terrorism by the Russian government and was, almost certainly, approved both by the head of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and Vladimir Putin.
Prime Minister David Cameron condemned the plot, calling it an “unacceptable breach of international law.” He said he would consider taking further steps against Russia but went on to concede that the U.K. must maintain “some sort of relationship” with Russia in order to bring an end to the crisis in Syria, a process he described himself approaching with “clear eyes and a cold heart.”
Cameron’s critics have urged him to do more in the wake of the inquiry. Observer columnist Will Hutton condemned Cameron’s reaction as “beneath feeble” and a threat to British law and order. Labour MP Ian Austin told the press, “Putin is an unreconstructed KGB thug and gangster who murders his opponents in Russia and, as we know, on the streets of London—and nothing announced today is going to make the blindest bit of difference.”
Adam Entous and Danny Yadron's Wall Street Journal article takes a look at how the National Security Agency's surveillance of foreign leaders ended up catching Netanyahu inserting himself quite fully in American domestic politics. This can have serious conséquences.
Stepped-up NSA eavesdropping revealed to the White House how Mr. Netanyahu and his advisers had leaked details of the U.S.-Iran negotiations—learned through Israeli spying operations—to undermine the talks; coordinated talking points with Jewish-American groups against the deal; and asked undecided lawmakers what it would take to win their votes, according to current and former officials familiar with the intercepts.
Before former NSA contractor Edward Snowden exposed much of the agency’s spying operations in 2013, there was little worry in the administration about the monitoring of friendly heads of state because it was such a closely held secret. After the revelations and a White House review, Mr. Obama announced in a January 2014 speech he would curb such eavesdropping.
In closed-door debate, the Obama administration weighed which allied leaders belonged on a so-called protected list, shielding them from NSA snooping. French President François Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other North Atlantic Treaty Organization leaders made the list, but the administration permitted the NSA to target the leaders’ top advisers, current and former U.S. officials said. Other allies were excluded from the protected list, including Recep Tayyip Erdogan, president of NATO ally Turkey, which allowed the NSA to spy on their communications at the discretion of top officials.
Privately, Mr. Obama maintained the monitoring of Mr. Netanyahu on the grounds that it served a “compelling national security purpose,” according to current and former U.S. officials. Mr. Obama mentioned the exception in his speech but kept secret the leaders it would apply to.
- blogTO notes that all TTC streetcars will support Presto by the end of the year.
- Crooked Timber continues its examination of Piketty's thoughts on inequality and social justice.
- The Dragon's Tales reports on German surveillance of Germany's allies.
- Joe. My. God. notes the support of the Pope for the anti-gay marriage movement in Slovenia.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the fundamental economic problems with law school.
- Marginal Revolution notes that genetic testing may be coming to the business floor.
- The Russian Demographics Blog maps population change in Poland over 2002-2011.
- Strange Maps shares a map predicting the liklelihood of white Christmases in the continental United States.
- Torontoist notes the need not to forget non-heterosexual Syrian refugees.
- Window on Eurasia looks at continued Russian emigration from Tuva.
- blogTO notes that a TTC driver has been caught on video ... doing pushups.
- Centauri Dreams looks at the discovery of distant dwarf planet V774104.
- The Dragon's Gaze reports that white dwarf SDSS1228+1040 is surrounded by a ring of shattered planets.
- The Dragon's Tales notes widespread German espionage on allies, undermining somewhat German official protests.
- Far Outliers notes how the desire of Afghan Communists in the late 1970s for radical reform undermined their cause fatally.
- Geocurrents looks at the various heterodox Christian movements around the world, like Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses.
- Language Hat notes how people repairing a church in Russia found centuries' worth of bird nests, often made of written documents.
- Language Log looks at a photo caption translated from Tibetan to English via Singlish.
- Marginal Revolution writes about the Chinese economic slowdown.
- The Planetary Science Blog reports from Ceres.
- The Russian Demographics Blog shares a map of China, comparing life expectancy in different jurisdictions to different countries.
- Torontoist reports on a pediatric clinic that opened up in a Toronto public school.
- Towleroad notes the governor of Utah has argued a judge who removed a child from gay foster parents should follow the law.
- Window on Eurasia notes the relative disinterest of ethnic Russians in the Baltic States in Russia, and looks at the Ukrainian recognition of the Crimean Tatar genocide.
- The Financial Times' The World links to a paper noting, in Africa, the close relationship between city lights and economic growth.
CBC News' Janet Davison reports on the latest revisiting of the famous Igor Gouzenko espionage case.
It is an intriguing slip-up in the annals of international intelligence — did Igor Gouzenko's crying baby help make it easier for the Soviet cipher clerk to defect with a bunch of secrets stuffed under his shirt in Ottawa 70 years ago?
U.K. author and historian Jonathan Haslam suggests that it did in his recently released book, Near and Distant Neighbours — A New History of Soviet Intelligence, showing how Gouzenko's domestic circumstances flummoxed his Moscow watchers
Gouzenko's story, says Haslam, demonstrates the role of accident and personality in intelligence, along with how some plain good luck can pay off for the other side.
He also argues that this history has relevance today as some of these Russian intelligence methods, and especially the mindset behind them, still seem to be in play.
The 109 documents Gouzenko snuck out of the Soviet Embassy on Sept. 5, 1945, revealed a Soviet spy ring in Canada and sparked great worry in the halls of Washington, Westminster and Moscow, not to mention Ottawa. For some historians, what became known as the Gouzenko Affair marked the beginning of the Cold War.
Nicholas Keung's Toronto Star story takes a look at an interesting consequence of Canadian citizenship law. Two young men, born in Canada to Russian spy parents who had faked identities, were stripped of their citizenship as a result of this, and they want to get it back.
Alexander Vavilov, 21, and his older brother, Timothy, 25, are in the midst of a legal battle to get their citizenship back, arguing they shouldn’t be penalized for the sins of their parents.
“It is not fair to punish us for something we have nothing to do with. We have done nothing wrong,” Alexander Vavilov told the Star in an exclusive interview from an undisclosed city in Europe, where he is studying for an undergraduate degree.
“I now feel I must live in exile because of past events completely out of my control or knowledge,” the former Toronto resident said. “I believe that if I don’t fight for my rightful citizenship I may never be able to return to my birthplace.”
Alexander and Timothy have never been in trouble with the law, though it’s a different story for their parents — Andrey Bezrukov and Elena Vavilova — who acquired their new personas by stealing the identities of two dead Canadians, Donald Heathfield and Tracey Ann Foley.
[. . .]
In taking away the brothers’ citizenship, Ottawa ruled their Russian parents were employees of a foreign government when they’d lived in Canada and hence the boys should be excluded from the privilege.
[. . .]
In August 2014, the Registrar of Canadian Citizenship refused to issue citizenship certificates to the brothers under their amended surname, Vavilov.
“Mr. Vavilov does not dispute his parents’ status as illegals in the United States, nor does he dispute that their Canadian citizenship and passports were obtained by fraud,” wrote Federal Court Justice Richard Bell in a recent ruling upholding the federal government’s decision in Alexander’s case. “There is adequate evidence on the record to reasonably conclude that his parents’ presence in Canada constituted part of their (spying) mission for the Russian government.”
- blogTO suggests that the Pan Am Games are not turning out to be a disaster.
- Centauri Dreams looks at innovative designs for fast small space probes.
- City of Brass celebrates the end of Ramadan.
- The Dragon's Gaze notes the discovery of Jupiter analogue HIP 11915, and links to a paper arguing that hot Jupiters could evolve into hot Neptunes.
- The Dragon's Tales notes that there are no more large impact craters expected to be found on Earth.
- A Fistful of Euros notes the latest on surveillance in Germany.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the gay hints in late 1970s Wonder Woman.
- Marginal Revolution notes that the Yemeni capital of Sanaa is running out of water, looks at the hard time of immigrants on the Canadian job market, and notes Singapore's public campaigns for manners.
- Russell Darnely of Maximos62 makes the case for a return of the Elgin Marbles to the Parthenon.
- Progressive Download's John Farrell notes a new book on the historical Adam.
- Torontoist reviews the Stratford Festival.
- Towleroad notes how Scott Walker tried, pathetically, to backtrack from his anti-gay comments on Scouts.
- Window on Eurasia notes Dagestani discontent with pollution allegedly produced by the Russian navy in the Caspian, looks at the awkward approach of the Russian Orthodox Church to Orthodox churches in South Ossetia, and argues Kazakhstan is a role model for Russia.
- Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell looks at the political economy of the BBC.
- blogTO shares vintage photos of Weston Road.
- Centauri Dreams features a guest post on the fast radio bursts that had all astir.
- The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper about the circumstellar disk of AB Aurigae.
- The Dragon's Tales notes problems with Russia's development of a stealth fighter.
- Language Hat links to an examination of the way the words "chikungunya" and "dengue" are used to describe the same disease.
- Languages of the World takes a look at one dying Russian dialect of Alaska.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money is surprised anyone is surprised Britain is spying on Argentina.
- Marginal Revolution notes that demand in China and India is already driving research and development.
- Peter Rukavina looks at the mechanics of the Internet presences of Island political parties.
- Savage Minds announces the return of the intermittant online anthropological journal Anthropologies.
- Transit Toronto links to a collection of Greater Toronto Area transit news.
- The Volokh Conspiracy reacts at length to the finding of the report on Rolling Stone's mistaken rape story, noting that the fraternity in question has a good case for libel.
- Window on Eurasia notes Crimean Tatar news outlet closures and notes that Ukrainian government ministers widely speak English.
- blogTO notes the expansion of condo development south of Yonge and Eglinton.
- Centauri Dreams blogs about the exciting continuing approach of Dawn to Ceres.
- The Dragon's Gaze looks at the system of HD 69830, with three Neptune-mass planets and a dense asteroid belt.
- The Dragon's Tales links to a paper looking at French government surveillance of global communications networks.
- The Everyday Sociology Blog considers whether globalization is making the world subjectively smaller or larger.
- Joe. My. God. notes the refusal of a Michigan doctor to treat the child of a lesbian couple.
- Language Hat and Languages of the World react to a recent study claiming DNA evidence suggests the spread of Indo-European languages is connected to mass migrations.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at the problems of Greece with and in the Eurozone.
- The Planetary Society Blog describes an amateur's ingenious new map of Europa.
- The Power and the Money links to a paper suggesting that male advantage in Africa as a result of colonialism, at least judging by Uganda, was brief.
- Spacing Toronto shows some supposed houses that are actually disguised electricity transformers.
- Torontoist shares a list of some of this year's visitors at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival.
- Window on Eurasia speculates about the influence of Admiral Kolchak's proto-fascism on modern Russia and argues that Russia does not want a Transdniestria-style enclave in Ukraine's Donbas.
- Claus Vistesen's Alpha Sources considers the arguments for thinking stock markets will continue on their current course.
- Centauri Dreams notes the discovery of eight potentially Earth-like worlds by Kepler, as does The Dragon's Gaze.
- Crooked Timber considers the future of social democracy in a world where the middle classes do badly.
- The Dragon's Tales looks at a redesigned American anti-missile interceptor.
- Joe. My. God. notes that same-sex marriage in Vietnam is no longer banned, but it is also not yet recognized.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money reacts to reviews of bad restaurants favoured by the ultra-rich.
- The Planetary Society Blog's Emily Lakdawalla provides updates on Japan's Akatsuki Venus probe and China's Chang'e Moon probe.
- The Russian Demographics Blog looks at the immediate impact of political turmoil last year in Crimea on the peninsula's demographics.
- Mark Simpson suggests that straight men want attention from gay men as validation.
- Spacing Toronto reviews The Bohemian Guide to Urban Cycling.
- Torontoist looks at a Taiwanese condo tower that featured on-tower gardening.
- Towleroad and Joe. My. God. both note that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Miami has told its employees it might fire them if they comment favourable about same-sex marriage.
- Why I Love Toronto really likes downtown restaurant 7 West.
- Window on Eurasia notes turmoil in the Russian intelligence community and a higher density of mosques than churches in the North Caucasus.
- Caitlin Kelly at the Broadside Blog lists five reasons to become a free-lancer and five reasons not to do so.
- Centauri Dreams' Paul Gilster looks at the oddly misaligned planetary system of Kepler-56, possessing three known planets orbiting at different inclinations to their aging and expanding star's equator, two of which will fall into their star shortly.
- The Cranky Sociologists' SocProf quite likes sociologist Saskia Sassen's new book Expulsions, which examines the way people and regions and things are and aren't included in a globalizing economy.
- The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper on planetary formation in binary systems that seems to suggest it might be easier for planets to form in some binaries, owing to lower impact velocities of planetesimals.
- The Dragon's Tales notes that Canada is set to purchase 65 F-35 fighters, notwithstanding political controversy.
- The Frailest Thing's Michael Sacasas wonders about the potential anxieties associated with having a smart, on-line, home.
- Language Log shares an interesting study suggesting that the phenomenon of "vocal fry" doesn't hurt the credibility of speakers, so long as the speakers aren't trying to hide it.
- The Planetary Society Blog's Jason Davis explores the so-far promising crowdsourced attempt to reactivate the decades-silent ISEE-3 probe.
- Registan's Casey Michel argues that the new Eurasian Economic Union isn't that significant, given the reluctance of its member-states to accept transferring sovereignty to the centre and the growing influence of external powers including China.
- Towleroad notes the late great gay icon Freddie Mercury.
- The Volokh Conspiracy's Stewart Baker suggests that France and Belgium may well have direct wiretap access to telecommunications.
- Window on Eurasia links to a Russian writer who argues that the net effect of Russian policies has been to shrink the Russian sphere of influence, by alienating first Georgians then Ukrainians.
- The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly makes the point that photography can help people understand their world that more thoroughly.
- The Dragon's Gaze links to an analysis of the atmosphere of superhot hot Jupiter WASP 12b.
- The Dragon's Tales notes that Greenland's geography has survived millions of years of ice, and notes reports that Israel apparently spies quite actively on the United States.
- The Everyday Sociology Blog's Stacy J. Williams looks at the ways in which professional cooking is gendered.
- Geocurrents' Martin Lewis notes that Thailand's eastern seaboard is quite rich.
- Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that workers in North Dakota face the highest rate of workplace accidents in their country, a consequence of ill-regulated oil projects.
- Marginal Revolution links to a paper taking a look at the abortive industrial revolution of Song China.
- Emily Lakdawalla at the Planetary Society Blog observes that the ESA's Rosetta probe is set to rendezvous with Comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko in just a few weeks.
- Registan notes the preference for early marriages among Uzbeks.
- Une heure de peine's Denis Colombi reacts (in French) to the recent death of economist and sociologist Gary Becker.
- Window on Eurasia wonders if Azerbaijan will face an Islamist political challenge.
I've blogged a fair bit about my usage of one Huawei handset or another for the past few years. I've even joked to friends that I like having a Huawei, since I'm sure that my data was being backed up by the benevolent kind People's Republic of China. I hadn't really suspected that the United States might well be in the same position.
See this AFP article shared by Al Jazeera.
There's also Canada.
Do I want to know where offsite--offshore, rather--backups of my data are?
See this AFP article shared by Al Jazeera.
The US National Security Agency has secretly tapped into the networks of Chinese telecom and internet giant Huawei, the New York Times and Der Spiegel reported.
The NSA accessed Huawei's email archive, communication between top company officials internal documents, and even the secret source code of individual Huawei products, read the reports, which were published on Saturday, based on documents provided by fugitive NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
"We currently have good access and so much data that we don't know what to do with it," states one internal document cited by Der Spiegel.
Huawei, founded in 1987 by former People's Liberation Army engineer Ren Zhengfei, has long been seen by Washington as a potential security Trojan Horse due to perceived close links to the Chinese government, which it denies.
The United States and Australia have barred Huawei from involvement in broadband projects over espionage fears.
There's also Canada.
Do I want to know where offsite--offshore, rather--backups of my data are?
Wired News' Kevin Poulson reports on something that doesn't surprise me, a survivor of Russia-originating DDoS attacks on Livejournal: a Russian server network is surveilling Facebook users. (It's likely an individual, they conclude.)
Philipp Winter and Stefan Lindskog of Karlstad University in Sweden identified 25 nodes that tampered with web traffic, stripped out encryption, or censored sites. Some of the faulty nodes likely resulted from configuration mistakes or ISP issues. But 19 of the nodes were caught using the same bogus crypto certificate to perform man-in-the-middle attacks on users, decrypting and re-encrypting traffic on the fly.
At times the evil nodes were programmed to intercept only traffic to particular sites, like Facebook, perhaps to reduce the chances of detection.
“These are the ones that we actually found,” says Winter. “But there might be some more that we didn’t find.”
Tor is free software that lets you surf the web anonymously. It achieves that by accepting connections from the public internet – the “clearnet” — encrypting the traffic and bouncing it through a winding series of computers before dumping it back on the web through any of over 1,000 “exit nodes.”
Traffic is safe from interception in the middle of that tangle of routing. But when it hits the exit node it’s unavoidably vulnerable to spying, the same way a postcard is intrinsically vulnerable to a snooping mailroom clerk.
[. . .]
The new study looked at exit nodes that were going beyond passive eavesdropping on unencrypted web traffic and were taking steps to actively spy on SSL-encrypted traffic. By checking the digital certificates used over Tor connections against the certificates used in direct clearnet sessions, researchers found several exit nodes in Russia that were clearly staging man-in-the-middle attacks. The Russian nodes were re-encrypting the traffic with their own self-signed digital certificate issued to the made-up entity “Main Authority.”