Accounts of the protests that brought down the Mubarak government stressed the role of new internet-based social media, which helped organisers and supporters plan the protests. The critical event in toppling the regime, however, was the initial seizure of Tahrir Square on 25 January – a development in which the social media functioned partly as […]


I’ve written before about some problems with biometric security: it seems convenient to be able to use facial recognition to log in to your computer, until you find your co-workers doing it with colour photocopies of your picture. Computers aren’t the only context where we use biometrics for identification. “Don’t you recognize my voice?” has […]


A recent technology quarterly about new quantum innovations, published in The Economist, referred to a disturbing development in quantum sensor technology: Military types are interested, too. “You can’t shield gravity,” says David Delpy, who leads the Defence Scientific Advisory Council in Britain’s defence ministry. Improved gravity sensors would be able to spot moving masses under […]


Coercive institutions are a dictator’s final defense in pursuit of political survival, but also his chief obstacle to achieving that goal. This book argues that autocrats face a coercive dilemma: whether to organize their internal security apparatus to protect against a coup, or to deal with the threat of popular unrest. Because coup-proofing calls for […]

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This is an interesting case: Spyware’s Odd Targets: Backers of Mexico’s Soda Tax Related: Protecting your computer Dealing with some MediaWiki malware Google’s new malware notifications Black Code The Stuxnet worm The Storm Worm


It is one of history’s little ironies that al-Qaeda itself was set up as a JSOC-like group. The main trainer of al-Qaeda in the years before 9/11 was Ali Mohamed, an Egyptian American army sergeant who had served at Ft. Bragg, the headquarters of JSOC. In the 1980s, Mohamed taught courses on the Middle East […]


This [claim by Al Qaeda military commander Saif al-Adel that Osama bin Laden deliberately provoked the United States into attacking Afghanistan] was a post facto rationalization of Al-Qaeda’s strategic failure. The whole point of the 9/11 attacks had been to get the United States out of the Muslim world, not to provoke it into invading […]

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This slam poem has been acutely and importantly confrontational for ten years or more, and it’s worth re-considering in light of Friday’s inauguration in Washington D.C.: “Homeland” by Marty McConnell

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In the closing days of his administration, President Obama has chosen to commute the 35-year sentence of army whistleblower Chelsea Manning, who will now be released in May. Late-term commutations are always controversial, and this one is sure to be at least doubly so. Related: Wikileaks and whistleblowers


For the Afghan government to gain the upper hand, however, the foreign money needs to continue flowing. If salaries aren’t paid, local police could turn into insurgents or bandits. Problems with the pay structure would also threaten the integrity of the Afghan military, possibly breaking a key national institution into feuding factions. Donors have promised […]

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