Government agents ‘directly involved’ in most high-profile US terror plots

Human Rights Watch has examined about 500 U.S. trials related to terrorism and came to a “shocking” conclusion.

  • 18% of those cases are “tenuous” “material support” charges  (e.g. “providing military gear to al-Qaida” actually mans having “waterproof socks” in your luggage)
  • another 30% are “sting” operations, where government agents play a significant role in inciting, planning, supplying, preparing for execution and finally arresting

So this means that at least 50% of cases where they were “confident” enough to even go to trial fall flat on their faces when taking a closer look. :/

Declaring People Terrorists so They Don’t Become It

Remarkable (para-)phrase attributed to French examining magistrate Marc Trévidic :

Declaring people terrorists–who are not–so they don’t become it.

This is to become the basis for new French “anti-terror” legislation.

I couldn’t find the original (French) quote, but a German translation of it.

Es gibt Leute, die man als Terroristen kennzeichnet, damit sie es nicht werden.

Which translates into something like

There’re people who get branded terrorists so they don’t become it.

Intriguing Serious Games

I don’t know how people come up with this, but I’ve come two very interesting games that pick up topics you wouldn’t immediately think of. I haven’t played them yet, but I’m intrigued by the concepts.

Papers, Please! puts you into the shoes of an immigration officer at an airport of a fictional country. You have to examine visa applicants and finally granting or denying them entry. You earn money from how many people you correctly admit or reject. And you need the money to pay for your own expenses: rent, food, heating, medicine. Screw up and you won’t be able to afford them.
This puts you into a difficult spot. Your performance doesn’t only affect the live of the person you’re examining, but yours too. You learn that (surprisingly)  You’re swayed between concern, duty, diligence, suspicion, courtesy and cynicism … and you get why border are no laughing matter. :/ I think the review on Arstechnica captures the feeling well.

In Blackbar is a different twist on puzzle games. You get to read mail between two fictional people with parts blacked out. Your task is to reconstruct the blacked-out parts. It’s as simple as that. You get drawn in into the story between the two and you need this context to deduce some of the parts. It feels creepy. :/ TUAW has a nice review of it.

Forensic Architecture

Forensic Architeture is an interesting research project analyzing target sites of drone strikes from publicly available information. They remodel and reconstruct the architectural features of those sites and provide necessary context for human rights violation investigations carried out by UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights (UNSRCT) Ben Emmerson.