Canada has granted asylum to one of the refugee families who hid Snowden in Hong Kong

But others who helped Snowden still waiting for a decision from Canada on refugee status, with one ‘unraveling’ mentally and hospitalized

Source: Canada grants refugee status to some asylum-seekers who hid Edward Snowden in Hong Kong | National Post

HONG KONG — Vanessa Rodel was so afraid to believe the news, she asked her lawyer to repeat it, five times.

But each time, the message she had longed to hear was exactly the same, and each time it was every bit as momentous: Rodel, a Filipino national, and her seven-year-old daughter Keana would finally be leaving Hong Kong for a new life thousands of kilometres away in Canada, ending a decade of suspended animation here…

The others who helped Snowden — a Sri Lankan couple with two young children and another single Sri Lankan man — are still awaiting word on whether Canada will accept them as refugees. And the long years as second-class citizens in Hong Kong — with the ever-present threat of being returned to the countries they fled in fear — seem to be having a dire impact.

Supun Kellapatha, father of the two children, was hospitalized Friday due to increasingly fragile mental health; only his last-ditch court challenge now stands in the way of his being forced back to Sri Lanka.


University of California breaks with Elsevier and embraces open access.

The Geisel Library at UC San Diego (Lenny Ignelzi / AP)

Another woke fringe idea goes mainstream:

…the University of California, one of the largest research institutions in the world, blew up negotiations with Elsevier, one of the largest publishers of research articles in the world. The university would no longer pay Elsevier millions of dollars a year to subscribe to its journals. It simply walked away.

Not so long ago, blowing off a publisher as important as Elsevier would have been unthinkable. But academics have been joining in an open revolt against Elsevier’s extremely profitable business model. In 2012, mathematicians started a petition to boycott the publisher that has since been signed by more than 17,000 researchers. In December 2016, universities in Germany stopped paying for Elsevier’s journals. In 2018, the same thing happened in Sweden and then Hungary.

Source: University of California Drops Elsevier Contract – The Atlantic

UC press release: UC terminates subscriptions with world’s largest scientific publisher in push for open access to publicly funded research

Not woke: Incredibles 2 and Doctor Who episode ‘Kerblam!’

Contains spoilers.

Incredibles 2 isn’t the innocuous accompaniment you’d want to the stupor following a Thanksgiving meal. It seems to be unabashed propaganda, though it most likely isn’t; but it’s likely to cause dyspepsia. The movie dispenses with Hollywood’s sappy lip-service to wokeness and presents the world view of “job creators” unvarnished. Such brazenness is true to our times.

The voice that laments consumerism and choosing “ease over quality” is the villain’s, who tries to sabotage her brother’s mission to end the prejudice against superheroes, or “supers.”

Win Deavor launches a PR campaign by staging a disaster, and having Elastigirl spectacularly avert it, in order to sell superheroes as benevolent and necessary for security. These supers are benevolent of course, and the salesman trying to get people to accept them is benevolent by extension. Evelyn, his sister, sees people’s dependence on the superheroes as abdication of agency. When Win’s PR stunt succeeds, she secretly hypnotizes Elasticgirl and other superheroes, as well as the world’s dignitaries gathered to formally legalize supers. Evelyn has gone rogue and is trying to impose her will on the world through mind control. Win, the salesman, only wants people to recognize that supers just want to keep them safe.

The movie endorses deferring to those who are strong and have superior ability, treating them as inherently well-intended. Objections to this based on the resulting relegation of people to passivity are presented as sinister and destructive.

Kerblam!‘ is the seventh episode in series 11 of Doctor Who. It’s appropriate for Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving that is hyped, and duly celebrated, as the kickoff of the Christmas Holiday shopping season in the US and elsewhere. But the episode is problematic.

An automated warehouse of the galaxy’s largest retailer is 10% “organic” (human) powered. A human saboteur, posing as a janitor, modifies the bubbles in the packing bubble wrap to explode when popped, and hacks the system to have a huge number of packages sent simultaneously. The aim is to cause explosions when customers inevitably pop the bubbles upon opening their packages. He’s a militant activist protesting the low percentage of humans employed. The system sends a package to The Doctor with “Help” on the packing slip to get her to come and thwart the saboteur’s plan. After hacking the system herself to have the robots explode bubble wrap from all the packages within the warehouse, she lectures the saboteur about the problem being not with the system or technology, but with humans like him who use it for nefarious purposes. The saboteur dies in the explosion. The incident leads the “Head of People” to vow to recommend that the warehouse be “majority organic” powered.

Problem #1: The system ≠ technology. The system is how humans chose to use technology. It’s a proxy for the company that owns and operates it.

Problem #2: Portraying a human activist with a legitimate grievance as a terrorist, and the company (see problem #1) responsible for the grievance as benevolent, is an ideological choice, and not a woke one.

In which a US administration inadvertently achieves transparency

The US President clearly and succinctly lays out the policy underlying the country’s relationship with Saudi Arabia over the past several decades.

Statement from President Donald J. Trump on Standing with Saudi Arabia | The White House

After my heavily negotiated trip to Saudi Arabia last year, the Kingdom agreed to spend and invest $450 billion in the United States. This is a record amount of money. It will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, tremendous economic development, and much additional wealth for the United States. Of the $450 billion, $110 billion will be spent on the purchase of military equipment from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and many other great U.S. defense contractors.

The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region.

Feds Force Suspect To Unlock An Apple iPhone X With Their Face

Cops tell a child abuse suspect to unlock their iPhone with their face. It’s the first time since the iPhone X launched that any cop has used Face ID to force an iOS device open.

Source: Feds Force Suspect To Unlock An Apple iPhone X With Their Face

First came multiple cases in which suspects were told to unlock iPhones with their fingerprints, via Apple’s Touch ID biometric login. The same technique was then used on dead subjects. Earlier this year, this publication uncloaked GrayKey, a $15,000-$30,000 tool that could break through the passcodes of the latest iOS models, including the iPhone X. Another contractor, Israel’s Cellebrite, announced similar services.

American cops now have boiler plate language for using Apple’s Touch ID and Face ID to unlock iPhones.

…it may be more difficult for defendants to argue their face is a piece of knowledge protected by the Fifth, than it is for fingers. “Arguably if law enforcement says use your finger to unlock, the knowledge of which finger [will unlock an iPhone] is still an item of knowledge being produced by the individual,” Jennings explained. “Whereas with Face ID, by design it will only unlock with a very specific and obvious and body part.”

In modern iPhones, to hook the cellphone up to a computer and transfer files or data between the two, the passcode is required if the device has been locked for an hour or more. And forensic technologies, which can draw out far more information at speed than can be done manually, need the iPhone to connect to a computer.

Beyond the passcode, thanks to a feature called SOS mode, it’s possible to shut down Face ID and Touch ID with five quick clicks of the power button in older iPhones. In the iPhone 8 and X, the same is achieved by holding the side button and one of the volume buttons. And if the device hasn’t been opened within 48 hours, a passcode is required to open it again.

“Additionally, a long and unique alphanumeric passcode will prevent any forensic imaging attempts from decrypting your phone’s data,” said Ryan Stortz, a security researcher at Trail of Bits. “However, SOS won’t save you if the feds distract you and seize your phone out of your hand.”

(Emphasis mine.)

I was friends with the Boston Marathon bomber, and his crimes haunt me still – The Boston Globe

Photo: Webb Chappell for The Boston Globe

Balancing our family and American lives was stressful. As a junior, I played point guard on Cambridge Rindge and Latin School’s famed basketball team, and Jahar, a senior, was the wrestling team’s co-captain. During the fierce month of Ramadan or on the fast day before Eid al-Adha, the Feast of the Sacrifice, we might endure grueling sports workouts on empty stomachs and no water. At least we could complain to each other.

Maintaining separate Muslim and American lives sometimes meant keeping secrets from and even lying to those closest to us about our other life. We were shamed just for being Muslim by strangers, the media, and even some of our peers, just as our Muslim families shamed us when we were caught committing a sin. Jahar and I shared countless hours toking herb, hanging out, and hitting social events. We lived near each other, and often walked home together from parties. We’d hit Cambridge Street, dap each other up with a handclap and bro hug, then head off to our Muslim lives.

Aspects of Aadhaar, India’s biometric ID, struck down as unconstitutional.

aadhaar-1537929142.jpeg (Includes full text of the decision.)

Sections 33(2),47 & 57 Of Aadhaar Act Struck Down; National Security Exception Gone; Private Entities Cannot Demand Aadhaar Data [Read Judgment] | Live Law

Among the aspects that were ruled unconstitutional:

  • Disclosure of information “in the interest of national security” without authorization from a Joint Secretary or higher ranking officer and a Judicial Officer.
  • Permitting private entities to use Aadhaar for authenticating their users/customers.
  • Disclosure of an individual’s information without providing the individual an opportunity to challenge the order.

The court further held that Section 139AA of the Income Tax Act, 1961 is not violative of right to privacy as it satisfies the triple test (I) existence of a law; (ii) a ‘legitimate State interest’; and (iii) such law should pass the ‘test of proportionality’,

However, the bench held that the move of mandatory linking of Aadhaar with bank account does not satisfy the test of proportionality. It has been also held that Mandatory linking of mobile number with Aadhaar is held to be illegal and unconstitutional as it is not backed by any law.

Justice D.Y. Chandrachud wrote a strong dissent (includes the full text of the dissent) to the ruling’s upholding of the Aadhaar Act’s constitutionality. The bill was passed by classifying it as one that could bypass Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of the Parliament.

“The passing Aadhaar Act as money bill is a fraud on the constitution”, Justice Chandrachud observed. The decision of Speaker to classify a bill as money bill is amenable to judicial review. The judgment also highlighted the importance of Rajya Sabha in passing laws.

“If a constitution has to survive political aggrandizement, notions of power and authority must give compliance to rule of law.”, he observed in his dissenting judgment.

Justice Chandrachud deemed the entire Aadhaar project to be unconstitutional.

“Constitutional guarantees cannot be compromised by vicissitudes of technology”, he observed.

Section 57 of the Act was held to be violating Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution. Allowing private enterprise to use Aadhaar numbers will lead to exploitation of data.

Holding that Aadhaar had potential for surveillance, it was stated that the architecture posed risk on potential violation of leakage of database. Source code is of foreign corporation. “The data must all the time vest with the individual”, said the judgment. It was held that many provisions of Aadhaar Act provide for invasive collection of biometric data.

India Supreme Court Strikes Down 157 Year Old Law Criminalizing Consensual Homosexual Acts Between Adults; Holds Section 377 IPC Unconstitutional To That Extent [Read Judgment] | Live Law


Chief Justice Dipak Misra said it is a unanimous verdict expressed through four separate but concurring judgments.

“Section 377 IPC is irrational , indefensible and arbitrary.The majoritarian views and popular morality cannot dictate constitutional rights”

India Pushes Back Against Tech ‘Colonization’ by Internet Giants – The New York Times

The overlapping tensions in India’s online business, policy and data protection

India wants to curb the dominance of foreign (mainly US) tech giants in India’s online consumer marketplace to facilitate the growth of homegrown counterparts. For this, it is looking at China’s success in establishing its own tech heavyweights by virtually walling off its citizens’ online access from the rest of the world. However, India also needs foreign investment, and Indians would not tolerate China-style restrictions on access to the web.

European regulations on the storage and use of user data are another approach for the Indian government to rein in foreign companies’ offerings in the country. While the European regulations are aimed at protecting the privacy of its residents, the Indian government wants to exempt itself from restrictions on access to its residents’ online data.