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06.22.13

Links 22/6/2013: Linux Caixa Mágica 20, Syria Proxy War Brewing

Posted in News Roundup at 8:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

  • 23 Pictures That Prove Society Is Doomed
  • Health/Nutrition

    • Follow the money: Monsanto and the World Food Prize

      Although genetic engineering has been widely adopted in a few major crops—mainly soybeans, corn, cotton and canola—only two general types of engineered genes, for resistance to herbicides and for killing certain insects, have been widely commercially successful after 30 years of trying.

      These have provided some benefits, such as a reduction of chemical insecticide use on some of these crops, and some relatively small yield increases. Most of the yield increases for small farmers are from cotton, a low value crop, which is unlikely to pull these farmers out of poverty.

      At the same time, in the countries that have used these technologies the longest, big problems are emerging. Weeds resistant to the herbicide used on Monsanto’s crops have reached epidemic proportions in the U.S., reportedly infesting about 60 million acres and increasing rapidly. This has increased herbicide use by hundreds of millions of pounds above where it probably would have been had these crops not existed.

      And now insects resistant to Bt are emerging around the world. I was at the University of Illinois recently, where I heard a respected corn entomologist bemoaning the intention of corn farmers toreturn to the use of chemical insecticides to control rootworms that have developed resistance to Monsanto’s Bt gene for controlling that important pest.

    • Genetically engineered sugar beets destroyed in southern Oregon
    • Chipotle Is The First U.S. Fast Food Chain To Identify Products With GMO Ingredients

      Sure, you probably know the basic ingredients in your fast food lunch — chicken or beef, lettuce and tomato, whathaveyou — after all, you’re the one who ordered it. But if you, like many consumers, care whether or not those ingredients include genetically modified organisms (GMOs), the ingredient list usually is no help. Chipotle announced that it will now mark those ingredients on its website for discerning consumers.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • What Cop T-Shirts Tell Us About Police Culture

      Earlier this week, an anonymous public defender sent Gothamist this photo of an NYPD warrant squad officer wearing a t-shirt with a pretty disturbing quote from Ernest Hemingway

    • Noam Chomsky: Obama Is ‘Running Biggest Terrorist Operation That Exists’

      June 21, 2013 “Information Clearing House – Continuing his streak of fiercely criticizing President Obama’s foreign policy and civil liberties record, pre-eminent left-wing scholar Noam Chomsky told GRITtv that this administration is “dedicated to increasing terrorism” throughout the world via its own “terrorist” drone strikes in foreign lands.

    • CIA secretly providing training for Syrian rebels
    • CIA Training Syria Rebels: Report
    • REPORT: The CIA Has Been Secretly Training Syrian Rebels For Months
    • CIA and the US military operatives train rebels in Turkey and Jordan – report

      The CIA and US special operational troops and have been secretly training Syrian rebels at bases in Jordan and Turkey since November 2012. Up to 100 from all over Syria have gone through courses in the last month alone, according to US media reports.

    • CIA secretly providing training for Syrian rebels: Report

      The CIA and US special operations forces have been training Syrian rebels for months, since long before President Barack Obama announced plans to arm the opposition, the Los Angeles Times has reported.

    • US Leaves 700 troops in Jordan as CIA Trained Militants Fighting in Syria

      US President Barack Obama said the United States left around 700 combat-ready troops in Jordan after a training exercise in the country.

    • US special forces and CIA training Syrian rebels – Report

      The CIA and US special forces have been secretly training Syrian rebels since last year at bases in Jordan and Turkey, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.

    • Unwinding “Unwitting”

      For around fifteen years, this arrangement “worked.” Those who knew about it accepted it—sometimes queasily, more often eagerly. It made them feel important, adventurous, grown up. It meant that they weren’t just playing in a student-government sandbox. Anyway, promoting liberal-democratic ideas among Third World students, opposing Communist and Soviet influence, and helping anti-apartheid student groups in South Africa did not present problems of conscience. Moreover, while the C.I.A. money was earmarked for overseas activities, it freed up funds derived from other sources to be used for the N.S.A.’s domestic purposes, which included campaigning for academic freedom, demanding the abolition of the House Un-American Activities Committee, and supporting the civil-rights movement. (For example, the N.S.A. helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and provided it with crucial political and financial assistance.) For these reasons, it’s too simple, and not truly correct, to dismiss the N.S.A. as nothing but a C.I.A. front. It was better than that. But it was deeply compromised. The secrecy and deception inherent in the arrangement amounted to a kind of moral corruption.

    • Iran: Sixty Years After The 1953 CIA Coup That Toppled Democracy

      The election of a moderate new president in Iran, Hassan Rouhani, who has promised to enact reforms, including the release of political prisoners, comes almost exactly 60 years after a cataclysmic episode that continues to define geopolitical relations in the Middle East and profoundly influence the image of the United States in the region.

    • CIA head paid a visit to Moscow secretly – sources

      CIA Director John Brennan paid an unannounced visit to Moscow on Wednesday and Thursday, sources told Interfax on Friday.

      Russian Foreign Intelligence Service declined to confirm or deny that Brennan had been to Moscow, but senior Kremlin aide Yury Ushakov told reporters in mid-May that “a contact with the director of CIA is being planned.”

    • Libertarians Claim James Gandolfini Killed By CIA

      In the wake of The Sopranos star James Gandolfini’s sudden death,libertarians everywhere are saying the actor was assassinated by the Central Intelligence Agency.

    • CIA deputy director, Cuyahoga Falls native retires
  • Cablegate

    • Edward Snowden Asylum: Olafur Vignir Sigurvinsson Readies Private Plane To Iceland

      An Icelandic businessman linked to WikiLeaks said he has readied a private plane to take Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who exposed secret U.S. surveillance programmes, to Iceland if the government grants him asylum.

      “We have made everything ready at our end now we only have to wait for confirmation from the (Icelandic) Interior Ministry,” Olafur Vignir Sigurvinsson told Reuters. He is a director of DataCell, a company which processed payments for WikiLeaks.

    • Julian Assange Emerges As Central Figure In Bradley Manning Trial

      Bradley Manning is at the defense table. Casting a long shadow over his trial, however, is the figure of someone else the government would apparently like to put on trial: Julian Assange.

      On Tuesday, government prosecutors sparred with defense lawyers for Manning, the Army private first class who has admitted to leaking a massive cache of documents to the transparency organization that Assange founded. At issue was whether the judge should accept as evidence two WikiLeaks tweets and a crowdsourced document called “The Most Wanted Leaks of 2009.”

    • In WikiLeaks Probe, Feds Used a Secret Search Warrant to Get Volunteer’s Gmail

      The Justice Department used a secret search warrant to obtain the entire contents of a Gmail account used by a former WikiLeaks volunteer in Iceland, according to court records released to the volunteer this week.

      The search warrant was issued under seal on October 14, 2011 by the Alexandria, Virginia federal judge overseeing the WikiLeaks grand jury investigation there. The warrant ordered Google to turn over “the contents of all e-mails associated with the account, including stored or preserved copies of e-mails sent to and from the account, draft e-mails, deleted e-mails [...] the source and destination addresses associated with each e-mail, the date and time at which each e-mail was sent, and the size and length of each e-mail.” The warrant also ordered Google not to disclose the search to anyone.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Houston to buy half its power from renewable sources

      The city of Houston has agreed to purchase half its electricity from renewable sources.

      That will make Houston the largest municipal purchaser of renewable energy in the nation, according to the city, which cited estimates from the Environmental Protection Agency.

      “Houston is already known as the energy capital of the world, but we are committed to becoming the alternative energy capital of the world as well,” Mayor Annise Parker said in a written statement Thursday.

    • Billionaire U.S. activist kicks off campaign to turn Obama against Keystone

      Billionaire anti-Keystone XL activist Tom Steyer wants to rally legions of digital-savvy Obama supporters to persuade the President that Canadian oil sands crude poses a threat to the United States.

      The wealthy Californian upped the ante Thursday in the high-stakes political showdown over Keystone XL by launching a social media campaign aimed at re-awakening the fervent hordes of mostly, young Obama supporters.

    • During Record Drought, Frackers Outcompete Farmers for Water Supplies

      The impacts of 2013′s severe drought are apparent across the nation in forests, on farms and on once snowy peaks. Meanwhile, the oil and gas industry is demanding unprecedented amounts of water for hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking.

  • Finance

    • No admission of guilt. No denial. No justice.

      Financial adviser Chauncey Mayfield allegedly stole $3.1 million from the pension funds of Detroit police officers and firefighters so he could buy shopping centers in California, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

      Did he do it? Who knows? Mayfield and several of his associates settled the case last week without admitting or denying guilt. All they had to do to make the SEC go away was agree to give the money back.

    • Ex-Enron CEO Jeff Skilling to leave prison early

      U.S. District Judge Sim Lake of the Southern District of Texas announced at a hearing in Houston today that Skilling will serve 14 years. His original conviction called for him to serve 24 years in connection with the collapse of the once high-flying energy trading firm. Under the agreement with federal prosecutors, Skilling could be released as early as 2017.

    • Bless the Borrowers

      Robert Kuttner’s title refers, first, to the “medieval institution” that was the fate of improvident souls in England who could not repay their debts, including Daniel Defoe. In 1692, Defoe was committed to King’s Bench Prison in London, where he began to agitate for a change in the legal system. Forcing debtors to rot, Defoe not disinterestedly pointed out, was injurious to both parties, since “after a debtor was confined in prison both he and the creditor lost through his prolonged distress.” Society responded, eventually, with bankruptcy laws, but it is very much Kuttner’s point in “Debtors’ Prison” that we — America and Europe in the age of the financial crisis — have yet to absorb the principal lesson of Defoe’s “bitter experience.”

  • Privacy

    • The Dragnet at the Edge of Forever

      Amidst the havoc surrounding the earth-shattering revelations being made about the massive catch-all surveillance being conducted by the US government against virtually everybody with an Internet connection, a set of relatively unremarkable letters arrived in our GMail inboxes on Tuesday evening, containing a series of attachments.

      These attachments were scanned court orders, sealed and later unsealed, issued to Google by the United States District Court for the eastern district of Virginia. These orders demanded that Google hand over to the United States (yes, they were that specific), various information relating to accounts we hold with Google, including whom we communicated with, when, from where, and for how long.

      The court orders were almost certainly related to the Grand Jury investigation of the unauthorized public disclosure of information showing considerable misconduct, including a number of probable cases of war crimes, by US military forces in Iraq and Afghanistan during their wars in these countries, a list of people being held without trial or legal recourse in Guantanamo Bay, and a trove of diplomatic cables detailing the ways the US government have conducted themselves – both good and bad – over many years.

    • Mastering the internet: how GCHQ set out to spy on the world wide web

      Project Tempora – the evolution of a secret programme to capture vast amounts of web and phone data

    • GCHQ taps fibre-optic cables for secret access to world’s communications

      Exclusive: British spy agency collects and stores vast quantities of global email messages, Facebook posts, internet histories and calls, and shares them with NSA, latest documents from Edward Snowden reveal

    • NSA: If Your Data Is Encrypted, You Might Be Evil, So We’ll Keep It Until We’re Sure

      There’s been plenty of commentary concerning the latest NSA leak concerning its FISA court-approved “rules” for when it can keep data, and when it needs to delete it. As many of you pointed out in the comments to that piece — and many others are now exploring — the rules seem to clearly say that if your data is encrypted, the NSA can keep it. Specifically, the minimization procedures say that the NSA has to destroy the communication it receives once it’s determined as domestic unless they can demonstrate a few facts about it.

    • U.S. charges Snowden with espionage
    • Ex-Contractor Is Charged in Leaks on N.S.A. Surveillance

      Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor whose leak of agency documents has set off a national debate over the proper limits of government surveillance, has been charged with violating the Espionage Act and stealing government property for disclosing classified information to The Guardian and The Washington Post, the Justice Department said on Friday.

    • Latest NSA Leak Shows How Obama Misled Public on Surveillance of Americans

      Last week, President Obama claimed in an interview that the National Security Agency could not listen to Americans’ phone calls or read their emails. But newly revealed secret government documents—the latest in the series of high-profile leaks about classified surveillance—outline how the NSA can sweep up and store Americans’ communications.

      The documents, published by the Guardian late Thursday, are signed by Attorney General Eric Holder and stamped with the date July 29, 2009. They were submitted to the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and outline the so-called “minimization procedures” the NSA is supposed to follow to limit any “incidental” spying it does on the communications of Americans or permanent U.S. residents. The disclosure sheds light on highly significant surveillance procedures the government has until now managed to keep beyond public scrutiny.

    • Wired/John Hodgman animated series about NSA spooks

      Wired’s kicked off a new animated webcomedy starring John Hodgman as a crusty old NSA agent and Nicole Winters as his young protege. It’s pretty promising stuff!

    • Reassured by NSA’s Internal Procedures? Don’t Be. They Still Don’t Tell the Whole Story.

      Yesterday, the Guardian released two previously-classified documents describing the internal “minimization” and “targeting” procedures used by the NSA to conduct surveillance under Section 702. These procedures are approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) on an annual basis and are supposed to serve as the bulwark between the NSA’s vast surveillance capabilities and the private communications of Americans. As we noted earlier today, the procedures, themselves, aren’t reassuring: far too much discretion is retained by NSA analysts, the procedures frequently resolve doubt in favor of collection, and information is obtained that could otherwise never be obtained without a warrant.

    • The NSA Can Hold Onto Americans’ Communications for Years, Leaked Docs Say
    • Evil in a Haystack
    • WikiLeaks plane ‘ready’ to bring Snowden to Iceland
    • U.K. Spy Agency Secretly Taps Over 200 Fiber-Optic Cables, Shares Data With the NSA

      The British spy agency GCHQ has secretly tapped more than 200 fiber-optic cables carrying phone and internet traffic and has been sharing data with the U.S. National Security Agency, according to a news report.

    • Facebook Accidentally Exposed Contact Info for Six Million Users

      According to a post on Facebook’s security blog, a bug in the company’s friend recommendation system exposed the contact information of some six million users to others. The bug has been present for about a year, but the company only found out about it in the last 24 hours. The affected users will be notified by email. The company says there’s no evidence the bug was exploited maliciously.

    • Ellsberg Says: Put A Stop To Indiscriminate Spying On Americans

      To Daniel Ellsberg, the well-known whistleblower and lifelong advocate for freedom who leaked the “Pentagon Papers” 40 years ago, “there has not been in American history a more important leak than Edward Snowden’s release of NSA material.”

    • Timeline of NSA Domestic Spying
    • Russ Tice, Bush-Era Whistleblower, Claims NSA Ordered Wiretap Of Barack Obama In 2004

      Russ Tice, a former intelligence analyst who in 2005 blew the whistle on what he alleged was massive unconstitutional domestic spying across multiple agencies, claimed Wednesday that the NSA had ordered wiretaps on phones connected to then-Senate candidate Barack Obama in 2004.

      Speaking on “The Boiling Frogs Show,” Tice claimed the intelligence community had ordered surveillance on a wide range of groups and individuals, including high-ranking military officials, lawmakers and diplomats.

    • Mastering the Internet and GCHQ

      Nick Pickles, director of Big Brother Watch, said: “This appears to be dangerously close to, if not exactly, the centralised database of all our internet communications, including some content, that successive Governments have ruled out and Parliament has never legislated for.

      “Britain has a clear legal process in place to govern the interception of the content of communications and blanket interception is not a part of that system. If GCHQ have been intercepting huge numbers of innocent people’s communications as part of a massive sweeping exercise then I struggle to see how that squares with a process that requires a warrant for each individual intercept. This question must be urgently be addressed in Parliament.

      “The fact GCHQ staff have been discussing how light the UK’s oversight regime is compared to the US highlights why we need a wholesale review of surveillance law, including the fact that there is absolutely no judicial process within the current system and the people making these decisions are able to hide in the shadows rather than face public scrutiny.”

    • EE Dragging its Feet on Mobile Data Transparency

      Mobile company EE has been quite open in explaining the sale of data analytics based on their customers data in partnership with Ipsos MORI. But we are concerned that they think the storm is over and can return to business as usual. We may need your support to make them listen.

      EE has already met with ORG to explain how their data services work, how they aggregate data and what general legal framework they operate. For this, we commend EE on their openness and hope that it continues.

    • Police State Canada: Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) Runs Massive Domestic Spying Program

      Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC), the NSA’s Canadian counterpart and longstanding partner, has been scrutinizing the metadata of Canadians’ electronic communications since at least 2005.

      Moreover, the NSA routinely provides Canada’s security agencies with intelligence on Canadians and CSEC reciprocates by providing U.S. intelligence officials with information about people living in the U.S. This arrangement allows both agencies to circumvent legal bans on warrantless surveillance of their own citizenry’s communications.

      It was “common” for NSA “to pass on information about Canadians,” Wayne Easter, Canada’s Solicitor-General in 2002-3, told the Toronto Star this week. As Solicitor-General, Easter was responsible for overseeing the operations of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

    • Google told to delete Street View payload data or face UK prosecution

      Information commissioner’s office says it will launch contempt of court proceedings if data is not deleted within 35 days

    • In Depth Review: New NSA Documents Expose How Americans Can Be Spied on Without A Warrant

      The Guardian published a new batch of secret leaked FISA court and NSA documents yesterday, which detail the particulars of how government has been accessing Americans’ emails without a warrant, in violation of the Constitution. The documents lay bare fundamental problems with the ineffectual attempts to place meaningful limitations on the NSA’s massive surveillance program.

      Essentially, the new documents, dated July 2009 and approved in August 2010, detail how the NSA deals with the huge streams of information it receives during the collection program that gathers the content of email and telephone calls, allowing it to keep vast quantities of content it could never get with a warrant. They may not be the current procedures – more on that in another blog post shortly.

    • Spying on the World From Domestic Soil

      The world is still reeling from the series of revelations about NSA and FBI surveillance. Over the past two weeks the emerging details paint a picture of pervasive, crossborder spying programs of unprecedented reach and scope: the U.S. has now admitted using domestic networks to spy on Internet users both domestically and worldwide. The people now know that foreign intelligence can spy on their communications if they travel through U.S. networks or are stored in U.S. servers.

    • Edward Snowden is a true patriot

      A million people marched in London to stop Blair going to war.

    • US Surveillance: Doubts Over FBI And NSA Claims

      Terrorism analysts and specialist journalists say claims of thwarted terror plots from phone and data mining do not stand up.

    • Government-tech ties: Ex-Facebook exec moved to NSA, Amazon’s CIA deal, more

      • Where did Facebook chief security officer Max Kelly go after he left the social network in 2010? To the NSA, according to the New York Times, which says it’s the first to report that tidbit. Also previously unreported, says the NYT, is that Internet-call provider Skype developed a program to make it easier to cooperate with law enforcement and the government.

  • Civil Rights

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Opening Pandora’s Box

        I first placed music online in 1996, a WAV file recorded through a microphone to promote the sale of an album I had under license on my indie BeanBag label featuring Georgie Fame and Van Morrison. I cheered for other music industry executives like Larry Rosen of GRP Records when he launched Music Boulevard online around 1997. I licensed songs by Jesse Colin Young (founder of The Youngbloods) to music publishing expert Bob Kohn’s eMusic.com for a cash advance against future royalties that had us partying like it was 1999.

        But by the year 2000, any hope of that engagement between legal music and the Internet leading to a new future was pretty much dashed by an online startup corporation named Napster that provided free music downloads. Though a Federal court would find Napster guilty in 2001 of providing illegal copying similar to a counterfeiting operation, the business model known as “DMCA ‘Safe Harbor’ corporations” was launched.

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